Jennifer's Journal


Sunday, February 05, 2006

On My Mind

It’s a tradition at this time of year, around Super Bowl Sunday, to pay attention to commercials--mainly because of the ridiculous sums paid for mere seconds of air time during the Big Game.  They are a truly modern phenomenon, one that says much about our society.  It seems to me that ads we particularly like or dislike say something about us personally, as well.  For instance, some of my favorites are those for United Airlines that are simply stylized line drawings set to background music from Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.  They touch a chord because they are about people and what’s important to them, about helping bring out the best of the human spirit in the areas of innovation, dedication and caring for others.  Well, maybe the fact that it’s always “Time to Fly” for me has something to do with my enjoyment.J  I’m also fond of the Geico gecko lizard in the newer skits with the voice-over done by an actor with an Australian accent.  Are gecko’s Australian?  I thought they were from Central America and the Caribbean, but no matter.  I enjoy the accent, quiet tone, and subtle humor.  On the other hand, I dislike intensely the commercials for a credit card company which include rather cruel put-downs and dumb pratfalls—I mute the volume or change the channel when these come on.  And the mortgage company ad with the spokeswoman who makes the same mechanical gesture with her hands over and over as she talks?  Drives me nuts.  Car ads that feature crazy stunts done at high speeds raise my blood pressure too, as if teen drivers need any encouragement to risk death and maiming. Of course, advertising agencies claim people don’t have to like a particular commercial for it to be effective – it just has to grab their attention so they remember it.  I happen to think they’re wrong; I throw out snail mail from companies with ads that annoy me, just on general principles.  Besides, commercials are so omnipresent in our lives it seems they ought to enrich the culture in some way.  Or if they can't make it better they should, at the very least, be prohibited from making it worse. 


Saturday, February 04, 2006

Food Matters

Mardi Gras is coming in Louisiana this year, just as in all the years before.  Fat Tuesday will fall on the last day of the month, February 28, with Ash Wednesday on March 1.  The parades won't be as fancy this year, or the streets as crowded, but those who love the Grand Old Lady of the South will still dance in the streets.  No amount of wind and flood water can wipe away the joy of this last big celebration before Lent.
The King Cake, a gaudy yeast bread coated with icing that is sprinkled with sugar in the traditional colors of gold, purple and green, is a Mardi Gras tradition.  Baked into this cake are always one or more symbols of good luck, the most enduring of which is the tiny plastic "baby" which promises that the finder will be lucky all year long.  Bakeries in southern Louisiana have always specialized in these cakes, though they have gone mainstream in the past few years.  It's probably a natural for the King Arthur Flour Company to feature a King Cake Kit at this time of year.  What makes it really special, however, is the company's promise to donate of $2 for the rebuilding of New Orleans for every King Cake Kit sold.  I mention it here because it seems a great way to have a taste of Louisiana Mardi Gras while also sending a bit of help and hope to the Big Easy.  FMI:
Best, Jennifer