The first week of 2005

The passing of Representative Robert Matsui (D-Ca.).

What is the glory age of NYC, if there was any? Interesting set of proposals by various famous NY’ers in the NY Times.

Virginia Heffernan of the NY Times comments on Regis Philbin as the Dick Clark substitute, and the work of other MC’s of the New Year’s Eve night. Personally, I thought Regis did ok, but sub par for him (and the on-the-street “reporters” helping him were annoying). I missed Dick Clark like anyone else, but at one point, the taped tributes to Dick Clark were annoying too and the music on the show seemed a little… well, dated (Earth, Wind, and Fire? Rod Stewart?). I caught a bit of the Carson Daly NBC New Year’s bash (thanks to my brother’s videotaping stuff or was it NBC’s considerate post-midnight Carson Daly broadcast? I forget now) – thought that Carson Daly was slightly better than Regis, in so far as he had better, more up-to-date musical acts (Heffernan thought he seemed desperate to make Rockefeller Center the Times Square New Year’s rival). (and, ok, so I’m not a big Rod Stewart fan; at least, not a Rod Stewart who’s singing 1950’s standards music – he just doesn’t have the voice for me).

Interesting NY Times article by Kate Arthur about the Zoloft commercials – the ads with the fuzzy blob that suffers from depression but then bounces happily when the chemical imbalance is corrected:

PEOPLE who suffer from panic, feelings of isolation or social phobias would be the first to admit that those conditions bring out their least adorable selves. Certainly they do not bring out the sort of images well suited to a chirpy 30-second advertisement. Facing these long odds, the antidepressant Zoloft’s campaign of four commercials – each featuring an animated blob that goes from shaky and isolated to healed and happy over the course of the advertisement – achieves the implausible. It makes the struggle for stability downright cute.

Two commercials are in regular rotation. In one, the simply drawn blob is in a dark cave. It sighs and groans, and its body, which consists entirely of a face, wears a downcast expression. “You know when the world seems like a sad and lonely place?” a narrator asks. This blob does, because it is suffering from depression. Led by an orange butterfly – is that you, Zoloft? – it emerges from the cave and joins two other blobs. Its mouth turns into a smile, and it bounces playfully after the butterfly.

The other commercial, geared to those with social anxiety disorder, takes the opposite approach. The blob is at a party, pink with embarrassment as it watches a conga line of other blobs. As Latin music plays, it sweats, hyperventilates and backs away from the dancing, party-hat-wearing revelers. There’s no butterfly here, but the Zoloft kicks in anyway: the blob begins socializing, de-pinks and bounces.

Zoloft’s blob advertisements began running in May 2001. They are directed and illustrated by Pat Smith, an animator whose résumé includes directing the former MTV cartoon show “Daria.” The popularity of the commercials can be measured not only in their longevity, but also in the volume of online commentary the blob has inspired. On one message board, participants discuss how sweet-looking the blob is and express a desire for a stuffed animal version.

Sweet-looking, medication-dependent blob. Umm, yeah, I’ve been uncomfortable by the commercials for those reasons.

And, so on and so forth. Have a good return to work-week…

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