Saturday, February 11, 2012


I must apologise for getting political again, but freedom on the internet is once again threatened. The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement or ACTA is absolutely as dangerous, if not more so, than SOPA and PIPA. Like SOPA, ACTA could throttle freedom of expression of the internet and make it much easier for the corporate media to literally sue internet companies out of existence. It also encourages ISPs to essentially spy on their users, just in case they are violating the agreement.

Today several protests against ACTA are taking place in Europe. If you value your freedom on the internet, you might want to take part in some way as well!

Stop ACTA & TPP: Tell your country's officials: NEVER use secretive trade agreements to meddle with the Internet. Our freedoms depend on it!

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Friday, February 10, 2012

The Meryl Streep Oscar Email Controversy

If you have been keeping track of this year's Oscar race, you may well be aware of a controversy over an email promoting Meryl Streep for Best Actress for her role in The Iron Lady. If not, it seems that Prometheus Global Media, the parent company of The Hollywood Reporter, sent the email as a third party advertisement out to Hollywood Reporter subscribers, many of who are members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The header of the email read "From: The Weinstein Company: The Iron Lady." The subject line of the email read "Exclusive Meryl Streep Video." Within the email itself was an advert which quoted critic Thelma Adams, "It's been TWENTY-NINE YEARS SINCE MERYL STREEP WON AN OSCAR and she certainly deserves to win for her performance in 'The Iron Lady'!" Embedded in the advert was a link to a video interview with Meryl Streep on the Weinstein Company website. In the interview itself, moderator Peter Hammond notes that it has been 29 years since Meryl Streep has won an Oscar and states, "Something has to be done about that!"

On the surface the email would appear to violate rules four and five of the Academy's rule on Oscar campaigns. Rule number four forbids emails that "extol the merits of a film, an achievement or an individual" and forbids any mention of past awards or links to websites to promote a nominated film or individual. Rule number five clarifies that links to websites are only permitted if the website only contains screening information and has no promotional material whatsoever. That having been said, these rules only apply to emails sent direct to members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Since the email was sent to subscribers of The Hollywood Reporter, they are technically legal.

Regardless, the email sent by the Weinstein Company to subscribers of The Hollywood Reporter has angered many members in the Academy. Many of the angered Academy members contacted TheWrap.Com, a news site covering Hollywood, who broke the story. Weinstein Company COO commented on the controversy with the words, "“We are surprised that a media outlet like TheWrap, which normally has journalistic integrity, would print the strange accusation of an anonymous competitor and use this as a direct broadside against Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. (the email appears to have been sent out from Variety as well)."

This is hardly the first time that campaigning to win a particular Oscar has generated controversy. Perhaps the most memorable instance occurred in 1961 when the publicist of Best Supporting Actor award nominee Chill Wills from The Alamo, W. S. Wojeiechowicz, took a two page advert in Hollywood trade papers that read, "Win, Lose, or Draw, You're Still My Cousins and I Love You All" and included a list of hundreds of Academy members. In response, Groucho Marx (who was among those listed) took out an advert that read, "Dear Mr. Chill Wills: I Am Delighted to Be Your Cousin, but I Voted for Sal Mineo." Regardless, Mr. Wojeiechowicz took out another full page advert in The Hollywood Reporter that included a photo of Chill Wills from The Alamo and a photo of the cast of the film and read, "We of The Alamo cast are praying--harder than the real Texans prayed for their lives in the Alamo--for Chill Wills to win the Oscar as Best Supporting Actor--Cousin Chill's acting was great" and was signed, "Your Alamo Cousins."

This second advertisement outraged Academy members, not the least of who was John Wayne, who placed his own disclaimer adverts in Variety and The Hollywood Reporter condemning the advert, stating that the Chill Wills advert was " untrue and reprehensible claim." Needless to say, Texans were also outraged. Texas newspapers received many letters to their editors that condemned the comparison. The Alamo took home only one Oscar for Best Sound. While the fact that its competition were such films as The Apartment, Spartacus, and Psycho, there can be little doubt that at least part of the reason it won no Oscars was that Chill Wills' campaign for an Oscar left many Academy members cold.

I rather suspect that this email could result in the same situation for The Iron Lady. If enough Academy members were offended by the email, they might not only deny Meryl Streep an Oscar for Best Actress, but an Oscar for any other category in which The Iron Lady is nominated. While the email does not violate the Academy's Oscar campaign rules, it would certainly seem to be in poor taste in that it seems to advocate giving Meryl Streep another Oscar not for her performance in The Iron Lady, but because she has not won one in the past 29 years.

Of course, this brings me to another point. I have not seen The Iron Lady and I do not know how good or bad Miss Streep's performance may have been in the film, but if many Academy members agree with me there is a good reason she has not  won an Oscar for 29 years. Quite simply, my late best friend summed up Meryl Streep's performances of the past few decades, with but a few exceptions, as, "Look at me, I'm acting!" I must say that I always agreed with him. I always felt that the vast majority of her performances were self-conscious and overly contrived, that it was far too obvious that she was playing a character. To me truly great acting only occurs when the viewer doesn't think the actor is acting. In other words, Meryl Streep is like a ventriloquist who makes no effort to hide the fact that her lips are moving the entire time. I believe that is the reason she has not won an Oscar in 29 years.

By all means, The Iron Lady could be the first truly great performance Meryl Streep has given in literally years. Perhaps in playing Margaret Thatcher in the film it is not so blatantly obvious that she is acting as it has been in her other roles. That having been said, even if it is the greatest performance of her career and deserving of a Best Lead Actress Oscar, the email sent to Hollywood Reporter subscribers promoting her for a role leaves a bad taste in my mouth the way that reading about Chill Wills' campaign for an Oscar always did. Quite simply, I oppose any and all campaigning to win an Oscar, let alone campaigns that are conducted in bad tastes. To me the Oscars should not be a popularity race. The awards should not be awarded simply to those who can cajole, wheedle, or otherwise use undue influence on Academy members to vote for them. To me Oscars should only be given to those films and individuals who truly deserve them. Oscars should only be given to those films and individuals who are truly the best. I know it doesn't always work like that. I know that all too many times that films and individuals have won Oscars for reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of the film or the actor's performance. Certainly there is no shortage of examples from movie history.

That having been said, while the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences can hardly keep its members from voting for a film because they are pals with the director or voting for a particular actor because they feel he or she is overdue for an Oscar, I think the Academy can certainly insure that Oscars not awarded simply to whoever campaigns the best for one. Quite simply, I think the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences should simply ban campaigning for Oscars entirely. No advertisements. No emails. No letters. No phone calls. The only thing permissible would be screenings, at which no gifts would be given nor food nor drink available. To me the Academy Awards should not be like running for Prom Queen. They should be about who truly did the best.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The 48th Anniversary of The Beatles' 1st Appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show

It was 48 years ago tonight that The Beatles made their historic first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. It broke the record for the most watched television programme in the United States at the time and would hold that position for literally years. It remains the 26th most watched programme in the United States, although it must be kept in mind that America had far fewer television sets from what it did when many of the programmes (mostly Super Bowls) surpassed it.

Here is a video I found of The Beatles' complete performance on that historic night 48 years ago.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Zalman King R.I.P.

Zalman King, who as an actor appeared in shows ranging from The Alfred Hitchcock Hour to Charlie's Angels and later produced erotic television shows on cable, passed on 3 February 2012 at the age of 70. The cause was colon cancer.

Zalman King was born Zalman King Lefkowitz on 23 May 1942 in Trenton, New Jersey. He attended Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa to become a commercial scuba diver. He later went into acting, making his television debut in an episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. In the Sixties he appeared on such TV shows as The Munsters, The Loner, Bonanza, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Gunsmoke, Adam 12, Daniel Boone, and Then Came Bronson. In 1969 he became a regular on the series The Young Lawyers (one of the rotating shows under the umbrella title The Bold Ones).  He continued on The Young Ones until 1971.

In the Seventies Mr. King appeared in such films as You've Got to Walk It Like You Talk It or You'll Lose That Beat (1971), The Ski Bum (1971), Some Call It Loving (1973), Trip With the Teacher (1975), The Passover Plot (1976), and Tell Me a Riddle (1980). He appeared on such TV shows as Ironside, The F.B.I., W.E.B., and Charlie's Angels. In the Eighties he retired from acting, only appearing in the movies Galaxy of Terror (1981) and Endangered Species (1982). He would only appear twice more as an actor, once in a 1996 episode of The Red Shoe Diaries and again in the 2007 film Saint Francis.

It was in 1980 that Zalman King went into writing and producing, writing the story for the movie Roadie and serving as an executive producer. He would also write and produce the movie 9 1/2 Weeks (1988). It was in 1988 that Mr. King also began directing. That year he directed, wrote, and produced the movie Two Moon  Junction. Over the years he would direct (and usually write and produce as well) such film as Wild Orchid (1989), Delta of Venus (1995), In God's Hands (1988), Women of the Night (2001), Dance with the Devil (2006), and Kamikaze Love (2012). He produced the TV series The Red Show Diaries,, and Body Language.

I was never a fan of Mr. King's erotic films and TV shows (I disliked Two Moon Junction), although I did like Roadie and 9 1/2 Weeks. I was much more impressed with Zalman King as an actor. Like many of the actors who made frequent guest appearance on television in the Sixties, he was versatile. He played everything from a beatnik courting Marilyn Munster on The Munsters to lawyer Aaron Silverman on The Young Lawyers to the pushy, smug rescue team leader Baelon in Galaxy of Terror. He was a very good actor who could play a variety of roles and be convincing in all of them.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The 200th Anniversary of Charles Dickens' Birth

Today it occurred to me that 7 February must be one of the most important days in English pop culture. It was on this day in 1964 that The Beatles arrived in the United States for the first time. Of course, they would go onto become the greatest rock group of all time, as wildly popular in the United States as they were in their homeland. It was also on this day in 1812 that Charles Dickens was born in Landport, Portsmouth, England. Of course, Mr. Dickens would go onto become the greatest novelist in the English language, as wildly popular in the United States as he was in his homeland. It would seem, then that two of the most important events in English pop culture happened today, albeit 152 years apart.

Regardless of whether one agrees with my opinion of The Beatles, Charles Dickens, or 7 February, the fact is that both The Beatles and Charles Dickens have had an incredible impact on my life. Even if I did not have a good deal of English blood running through my veins (I'd have to go over my genealogy with a fine tooth comb, but it seems to me that I am mostly English in descent), The Beatles and Mr. Dickens would have been enough to turn me into an Anglophile. I am not sure when I was exposed to either of them. With The Beatles it may have been the animated series or it may have been on the radio. With Charles Dickens it may have been one of the many motion picture or television adaptations made over the years. Either way, I have never known life without either The Beatles or Charles Dickens and I have always love them.

Charles Dickens was born on 7 February 1812 in Landsport, Portsmouth, England. He was the son of John and Elizabeth Dickens, the second of eight children. His childhood would begin idyllically enough, spending much of it in Chatham, Kent. His father, John, had a huge library and young Charles read voraciously as a child. Cervantes, Daniel Defoe, Henry Fielding, Oliver Goldsmith, and Tobias Smollett would all form part of Charles' Dickens' education in English literature.

Unfortunately, this somewhat ideal childhood would come to an end. John Dickens moved to Camden Town, London in 1822, when young Charles was about ten. By 1824 John Dickens was deeply in debt and found himself imprisoned in Marshalsea debtor's prison in Southwark, London. Young Charles found himself boarding with family friend Elizabeth Roylance in Camden Town. To help pay his keep he worked ten hour days at Warren's Blacking Warehouse. He earned only six shillings a week under often brutal working conditions. His father John Dickens' release from Marshalsea would come about through what could be considered unfortunate circumstances. John Dickens' grandmother, Elizabeth Dickens died and he inherited £450.

Sadly, Charles Dickens' mother did not take him away from Warren's Blacking Warehouse right away. It would be some time before he stopped working there and attended Wellington House Academy in North London. Wellington House Academy was not the best of schools. The instruction there was haphazard at best and the headmaster tended towards downright sadistic cruelty. While young Charles was attending Wellington House, his father John Dickens sought work as a parliamentary reporter. As to young Charles, he eventually went to work as a clerk at the law offices of Ellis and Blackmore at Holborn Court, Gray's Inn. While working for Ellis and Blackmore, Charles Dickens taught himself Gurney's system of shorthand. He put it to use as a freelance reporter, in Doctors’ Commons and the police courts around London. He went onto become a parliamentary reporter, first at the True Sun and later at the Mirror of Parliament and the Morning Chronicle.

It was while he was a parliamentary reporter that he began writing of a more creative sort. His first short story, "A Dinner at Poplar Walk, was published in The Monthly Magazine in 1833. He also began writing sketches of life around London at the time. The first of these sketches was published in the December 1833 issue of The Monthly Magazine under the pen name Boz (the pseudonym he uses for all of his sketches). These sketches were eventually under the title Sketches by Boz in 1836. It was in March 1836 that his first novel he Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (AKA The Pickwick Papers) started being serialised. By Chapter 10 The Pickwick Papers was all the rage. Unauthorised copies of the chapters of The Pickwick Papers soon began to appear, as well as unauthorised merchandise. By the time the chapters of The Pickwick Papers was collected into a book in late 1837, late Charles Dickens was already a phenomenon, not unlike The Beatles nearly 130 years after The Pickwick Papwers was published. And like The Beatles, Charles Dickens would also conquer America. He was a success in the United States from the moment an unauthorised edition of The Pickwick Papers was published in five parts in 1836.

The success of The Pickwick Papers would be followed by Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby, he Old Curiosity Shop, and Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of 'Eighty. Charles Dickens made his first trip to the United States, which proved very successful. Once he returned to England, he wrote what would become one of his most enduring works. A Christmas Carol would prove so popular that it is often credited with single handedly revitalising Christmas in both the United Kingdom and the United States. It was followed by two more Christmas tales, The Chimes and The Cricket on the Hearth. It was with Dombey and Son and David Copperfield that Charles Dickens' works became more serious and more complex.

The change in the themes and styles of Charles Dickens' novels did nothing to hinder their success. In particular, A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations would prove incredibly successful. In his later years Charles Dickens' health began to fail. It was on 22 April 1869 that he suffered a mild stroke. Regardless, he started another novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. It was on 8 June 1870 that Mr. Dickens suffered another stroke, one from which he did not recover. It was on 9 June 1870 that Charles Dickens, by then arguably the most successful author of his time, died.

If Charles Dickens proved to be a phenomenon in the 19th Century and continues to be extremely popular in the 21st Century, it is perhaps because of his literary style. There can be no doubt that he owes a good deal to the genre of Gothic romance. His novels are filled with coach journeys on dark and windy nights, fog bound marshes, and even a run down estate (Miss Havisham's Satis House in Great Expectations). Although not often noted, more than one tragic romance figured in Charles Dicken's novels--Sydney and Lucy in A Tale of Two Cities, Pip and Estella in Great Expectations. Like the Gothic romanticists, Charles Dickens' prose style was often overly poetic and sometimes even florid.

While Charles Dickens' style had a good deal in common with the Gothic romances, at the same time his novels had touches of comedy. Even his most serious novels often featured humour, with the British upper classes often a target of parody. While his style greatly resembled that of the Gothic romance and humour often figured in his novels, at the same time Charles Dickens could be very realistic. Indeed, his detailed descriptions of life in London bring to life the Victorian Era more than any history book ever could.

Not only was Charles Dickens popular in his own time, but as today's many observances of his 200th birthday show, he continues to be popular. At no point have his works ever gone out of print. It was while Mr. Dickens was still alive that the first stage adaptations of his novels were made. As early as 1897 a film was based on the death of Nancy Sykes from Oliver Twist. It was in 1901 that the first film adaptation of A Christmas Carol was made. Over the years there have been over 300 short film, feature film, and television adaptations of Charles Dickens' various works.

A phenomenon in his own time whose novels continue to be popular, Charles Dickens' influence on English literature and English pop culture cannot be overestimated. There are many who believe that A Christmas Carol revitalised Christmas in the English speaking world, that Charles Dickens transformed the holiday from a more community centred, religious holiday into one that was more centred on the more festive observances of family and friends. Charles Dickens' other novels may not have had a direct social impact, but they certainly brought attention to social ills ranging from child labour to bureaucracy to sanitation.

As popular as he has continued to be since the 1830's, Charles Dickens would have a lasting impact on writers. His influence can easily be seen in the works of Thomas Hardy, who began his career not long after Mr. Dickens' death. The Russian Fyodor Dostoyevsky expressed his admiration for Charles Dickens in his Diary of a Writer, published in 1873. Somerset Maugham and T. S. Eliot praised his creation of characters. Charles Dickens was one of George Orwell's favourite writers. Charles Dickens' influence can be seen in modern writers ranging from Tom Wolfe to Anne Rice to J. K. Rowling to Neal Stephenson.

As I mentioned above, I do not know when I was first exposed to the works of Charles Dickens. I have no doubt that it was one of the many film or television adaptations done over the years. I do remember the first time I read a novel by Charles Dickens. It was after I saw a 1980 Hallmark Hall of Fame adaptation of A Tales of Two Cities starring Chris Sarandon as Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay. I checked the book out from the library and I was hooked. I would go onto read Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol, and so on. While my favourite novel is Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, Charles Dickens is probably my favourite author.

It would seem that I am not alone in having Charles Dickens as my favourite author, as he would seem to be the favourite of many. I think Charles Dickens can be safely described as "The Beatles" of 19th Century authors and I think he remains so today. Indeed, A Tale of Two Cities could well be the best selling novel of all time. At 200 million copies sold, it has sold more copies than The Lord of the Rings, The DaVinci Code, or any of the "Harry Potter" books. And while there are many who continue to argue about the relevance of Charles Dickens in the 21st Century, his books continue to sell and sell well. Charles Dickens became a phenomenon with his first novel, The Pickwick Papers, and has continued to remain a phenomenon ever since. I am not sure that any author will ever be quite so successful.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Super Bowl Commercials 2012

For many Americans the Super Bowl may be the one time they view television when they get up during the show to use the restroom or get snacks, but stay glued to their sets during the commercials. Indeed, while not every American is necessarily a National Football League fan, I think most of us are interested in the commercials that air during the big game. Even those of us don't watch the Super Bowl (I only watch if the Rams are playing, which means I have not watched the game in years) will be sure to check out the adverts online.

Over all, I thought this year's batch of commercials was much better than last year's batch, but over all I was still very disappointed.  At least very few of the commercials were downright offensive this year. The advertisement that offended me the most was TaxAct's "Free to Pee." The commercial centred on a boy who has to go to the bathroom and when he does not find one, he simply urinates in the family pool. Maybe I'm too squeamish about such things, but I do not find urinating in pools funny at all. In fact, I find it gross.

Another commercial that somewhat offended me starred one of my favourite celebrities around, model Adriana Lima. Here I want to stress I admire Miss Lima for more than the fact that she is beautiful. She is a strict Roman Catholic who apparently remained a virgin until her marriage (I'm not Christian, but I have to admire anyone who gives more than lip service to their religious beliefs). She has also done a good deal of charity work. In interviews she seems like a very sweet woman, the Brazilian girl next door. It really dismays me at the hate being directed her way last night and today.

That having been said, I did not like what I thought was the underlying message of the Teleflora spot in which she appeared. To me the underlying message of the Teleflora commercial is that a gift of flowers is a guarantee of romance in the bedroom at night's end.  Not only does this run contrary to the words I have often heard from women (not necessarily me, of course) that their favours cannot be bought. The implication that their favours can be bought then seems a bit demeaning to women to me.  That having been said, I have had several women I respect highly who have told me that they did not find the Teleflora commercial offensive in the slightest. Certainly Miss Lima did not find it offensive or she would not have participated in it.  Anyhow, here is the commercial so you can decided for yourself (here I will note that any comments insulting Adriana Lima will be deleted).

Regardless of whether one finds the TeleFlora advert demeaning to women or not, I think all of us can agree that the E*Trade commercials are offensive. I think the only thing creepier than a baby that talks like an adult is perhaps a clown (any clown will do). Another commercial offended me not because the commercial was offensive, but because it seemed too close to actress, director, and star of the web series Hollywood Girl Courtney Zito's entry in the "Crash the Super Bowl" commercial competition. The commercial in question was the Dannon Oikos Greek Yoghurt advert "The Tease." Below is the Dannon commercial.

Here is Courtney Zito's entry in the Dorito's "Crash the Super Bowl" competition, "Battle of the Sexes":

For those who are wondering, Miss Zito is the pretty brunette who tackled the guy.

Now I am not going to say that Dannon's ad men plagiarised Courtney Zito's commercial. Ideas are a dime a dozen and it is not unusual for people to have the same basic idea around the same time (I have ditched ideas for blog posts because of that). Still, the two commercials are terribly similar and Courtney Zito's commercial has been on the internet since October. I am hoping that it was just a case of different people having the same idea at the same time (and I am certain it probably is), but part of me has to wonder if it is.

Regardless, most of the commercials that I disliked I did so because they were, well, stupid. On this list was Acura's commercial "Transactions," with Jerry Seinfeld. The advert was simply silly and poorly done. I disliked the Toyota Camry advertisement "Reinvented" for the same reason. Indeed, I have to point out that many of us would be very dismayed if rain could make one lose weight (slender all my life, I could dwindle away to nothing in a sudden downpour...). The Cars.Com commercial "Confident You" was stupid and creepy. Do we really need to see a head pop out of a guy's shoulder and sing a bad song like something from a science fiction movie?

One commercial that I did not like I can guarantee most women probably loved. That was the H&M advert with David Beckham. Okay, I loved their choice of music (The Animals are one of one of my favourite bands and "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood") is one of my favourite songs, but I really do not want to see David Beckham in his skivvies. That having been said, given how many scantily clad women appear in Super Bowl commercials, I guess I cannot rightfully complain about the commercial. What's good for the goose is good for the gander (still, I'm not embedding the commercial here...).

One commercial that is causing controversy is Chrysler's "It's Halftime in America." Republicans (among them arch-Republican Karl Rove) viewing the commercial as little more than an advertisement for the campaign to re-elect President Obama. While Republicans do not seem too happy about the commercial, it seems some of my Democratic friends are not either. They saw it as an endorsement of the Republican Party. Myself, I really saw nothing overtly in the commercial. To me it simply said that times are bad, but the American automotive industry has made a comeback and so can the United States. It's then a bit hard for me to understand the controversy.

While over all I found this year's commercials disappointing, there were a few that I genuinely liked. One of them was the MetLife commercial "Everyone." What I love about this ad is it not only features the Peanuts gang, but characters from Hanna-Barbera cartoons (Atom Ant, The Jetsons, Scooby Doo, Top Cat), Candlewick Press (Waldo of Where's Waldo fame), UPA (Mr. Magoo), Warner Brothers (Pepe Le Pew, Speedy Gonzalez, Marvin the Martian), Harvey Comics (Capser the Friendly Ghost, Richie Rich), Jay Ward (Mr. Peabody and Sherman), TTV (Underdog), and MGM (The Wolf from "Red Hot Riding Hood). If you're a fan of animated cartoons, comic books, and children's book like me, this is a fun commercial to watch:

It seems as if the best commercials this year were car commercials (except for Acura, Toyota, and a few others that were just bland). I love this one for the Hyundai Veloster Turbo, not simply because it has a cat (well, a cheetah). It's also very funny.

I thought Volkswaggen's commercial this year was brilliant. "The Dog Strikes Back" combines a cute canine with a classic James Brown theme and Star Wars in a way that it all works and that, at least to me, was very funny.

Audi's "Vampire Party" also impressed me. I love the fact that it starts seriously, with a vampire party, a vampire driving an Audi, and "The Killing Moon" by Echo & The Bunnymen (the best song in any commercial this Super Bowl, except maybe for the H&M advert).

Arguably the best commercial this Super Bowl was "Matthew's Day Off." The commercial stars Matthew Broderick as Ferris Buell--I mean, Matthew Broderick, in a take off on his best known role. I thought this commercial was very good tribute to Ferris Bueller's Day Off and very funny too. I love that Matthew Broderick could step right back into a role he hasn't played in nearly thirty years.

While I still think Courtney Zito's entry in Dorito's "Crash the Super Bowl" competition was better, this finalist, "Man's Best Friend," is very funny. I must say, however, that as a cat lover I do not condone this dog's actions in any way whatsoever...

A canine out of the other sort also stars in Bud Light's "Rescue Dog." Generally I do not care for Budweiser's commercials (indeed, Bud Light was guilty of the incredibly sexist advert "Bud Light Book Club" in 2010), but this commercial is hilarious. I might also point out that it is not simply a beer commercial. The star of the advert, Weego, was indeed a rescue dog, and so Bud Light is donating $1 to Tony La Russa's Animal Rescue Foundations, ARF, (up to $250,000) for every "like" to their Facebook page. While I don't like beer, I have to admit that I like the idea of Budweiser donating money to dog shelters.

Finally, what could be my favourite Super Bowl commercial this year is from NBC. "Vocal Combat" is an advert for The Voice with the judges from that show fighting it out Hong Kong kung fu movie style for a most remarkable voice. It's the identity of that voice that really makes the commercial (anyone who knows me will know why I love the advert, even though I don't care for The Voice).