Monday, September 05, 2005

Sailors and Toyotas

So why did Toyota choose an orchestral version of "What Do You Do With a Drunken Sailor" as the theme music for their latest commercial?

If you're not familiar with the song, here's a link to a simpler version of the melody:

I have heard this song about eight hundred times in the past week, since Toyota (like so many other car manufacturers) seems to buy huge blocks of time to run the same and again and again until everyone hates the song and the manufacturer's vehicles. I even have new lyrics:

why would a sailor drive Toyota?
why would a sailor drive Toyota?
why would a sailor drive Toyota?
He'd prefer a schooner

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Food for Thought

"Feeding the birds" has become verbal shorthand for "feeding whatever critters happen to wander by while there's still food to be had." We routinely see our share of raccoons, chipmunks, field mice, possums (the first "o" is now invisible as well as silent), and even an occasional rat, all vying for the seed we leave out for the cardinals, finches, thrashers, woodpeckers, bluebirds, robins, bluejays, and crows that frequent our deck. However, the most dedicated munchers in the neighborhood are squirrels and rabbits; we see dozens of squirrels during the day, and a dedicated band of rabbits are familiar with the Biggers Buffet. It's not that common that I see the two groups chowing down at the same "table," though, so I thought I'd preserve the moment in JPG...

World Turned Upside Down

Like pretty much everyone else, I've followed the news from New Orleans with an ever-shifting mix of disbelief, anguish, concern, and outrage. I still can't get my mind around the magnitude of the loss--a disaster of this size is beyond imagining, I believe. Sure, we've seen massive disasters in summer popcorn films time and again... but in some way, that has almost inured us to the real thing.

I've found myself moved time again by the little stories, the human tragedies that I can comprehend. The man who sat despondently by the corpse of his wife, who had died because the medicines she needed could not be acqired. The e-mail from a woman desperately searching for any news about a lost family member--an e-mail that ended with the humble statement that hinted at an underlying ocean of fear and grief: "we are so worried." The photos of parents trying to comfort children whose lives won't return to normal for years. The woman stumbling as she enters a shelter--stumbling because she's looking upwards, rather than at the ground, at the only home she's likely to know for a short while.

But one man's words helped me to envision a bit more what he was seeing. "I was on the roof of a three-story building," he said, "and as far as I could see in every direction, it was like the world had been turned upside down." After that, i went walking this morning, and as I crested a hill, I took a minute to look in every direction, and to try to imagine if the destruction and suffering I saw in those television pictures were repeated over and over again as far as the eye could see. Every house, flooded or damaged or collapsed or gone entirely... trees uprooted... cars tossed about, or standing in filthy water... corpses haphazardly scattered here and there, yet unrecovered...

Hieronymous Bosch could not depict more human misery and suffering than these men and women and children have seen for the past week.