By now, I’m sure most of you are aware of the new Star Trek movie coming out this weekend. (If not and you consider yourself a “Trekker”—note the distinction from “Trekkie”—you should officially have your Vulcan ears bobbed.) Needless to say, the marketing engine is in full force, with movie tie-ins showing up in every parsec of the galaxy. (Note to Burger King: Captain Kirk bobbleheads? Seriously?)
I was rather amused to find the following ad in a magazine recently, so amused in fact that I just absolutely had to share my thoughts on it. I’m pretty sure that copyrights extend to advertising just as they do to other media, so it’s probably technically infringement for me to post this. However, we’ll just throw in a link to Kellogg’s official site and say it’s a product endorsement in hopes that it makes things kosher. (Lord knows I’ve eaten enough of their cereal over the years for that to count).
There are a number of things that stand out concerning this ad. Perhaps the most obvious is Tony the Tiger’s three-fingered Vulcan salute. For those out there who don’t know their tribbles from their tricorders, the Vulcan salute is generally performed by most humanoids in the Trek universe by separating the middle and ring fingers, keeping the index and middle fingers together as well as the ring and pinky fingers together, with the thumb sticking out on its own. Having one too few fingers tends to present… problems, and I’ve always wondered how cartoon characters, many of whom tend to be finger deficient, might cope. When Fooker gave Ki the salute, I fudged; Fooker mysteriously grew an extra finger between panels one and two and subsequently lost it between panels two and three. (I’m not sure why the cast of GPF have only three fingers per hand; I just drew them that way and stuck with the convention. But I’m not above making fun of myself about it.) Tony the Tiger’s three-fingered salute just looks… wrong, and for some reason I just can’t seem to let that go.
Another thing that I find funny is what the ad promotes: In “specially marked packages” of their cereals, Kellogg’s is inserting “beam up badges”—essentially, little plastic gizmos in the shape of various Trek insignia that light up (and probably make a sound) when you press on them. You can call yourself a true Trek nerd if you take exception with this, to which all the non-nerds should reasonably respond, “Why?” Well, firstly, for those willing to receive entirely too much information, they’re not called “beam up badges”; they’re communicators. Secondly, communicators weren’t built into Starfleet insignia until the era of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the film is set just before the time of the original 1960s series. In Kirk and Spock’s (amok) time, communicators bore much more resemblance to subspace cell phones (which, in true Trek circular fashion, is doubtless the inspiration of many flip-style mobiles in use today).
But the real thing that sets off my old Trek nerd radar is this. Take a look at the image below and see if you can find the error. If you can’t, hand in your phaser and communicator go back to Sector 001; you’re not fit to enter Sto-Vo-Kor.
I will now be hiding under my desk for the rest of the week. It’s obvious I shouldn’t be allowed in public again until I am forced to watch 24 hours straight of American Idol or whatever else passes for “acceptable” entertainment for the washed masses these days.
So I was listening to this week’s edition of TWiT, during which Leo Laporte and the usual band of miscreants psychoanalyze Microsoft‘s new ad campaign featuring Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld. I had not seen the ad yet myself—apparently it debuted during an NFL opening game, and considering that I don’t watch professional sports and the overwhelming majority of my television watching now consists of shows containing magic backpacks and talking monkeys that wear red boots, it hadn’t come to my attention yet—so the discussion naturally raised my morbid curiosity. So I dug around a little on YouTube and found this. I must admit, it’s as surreal as I was led to believe. I won’t attempt to try and mine this thing for hidden meaning like Ryan Block did; the only comment I think I can really make about it is that it tells me absolutely nothing about Microsoft, Windows, or any other product they may have in the pipeline, and after watching it I am no more inclined to pick Microsoft options over the competition than I was before. I thought that was the point of advertising….
But that’s not the weirdest part. Last night, I dreamed about Bill Gates. Maybe it was exhaustion, maybe it was a prescription-drug fueled haze (I’m currently in the middle of my quarterly bout with bronchitis), but it was not something I was particularly expecting. There’s nothing really interesting to say about the dream, though. In what little I remember, Mr. Gates was there, tying his shoes. He wasn’t necessarily trying on new ones, nor was there any indication that the shoes were noticeably old. They were shiny, brown leather dress shoes, so they could have been either new or well maintained. Mr. Seinfeld was nowhere in sight. The setting was unclear; I can’t say that it was a shoe store, a men’s locker room, or any other recognizable setting. I know only that I was seated on a wooden bench which I believe was painted a dark green and that Bill Gates stood next to me, lifted one leg, and set the foot on the bench, then proceeded to tie his shoe laces. Then he left without saying a word and the dream moved on to wherever it went after that. I remember nothing else about the dream, and to my knowledge Mr. Gates appeared nowhere else within it.
I have no desire to do any research on what kind of Fruedian analysis can be drawn from watching a billionare-CEO-turned-philanthropist from one of the world’s largest and most reviled software companies tying his shoes next to me. I’d be afraid of what I’d find. So I’ll just say it was the prescription cough syrup working its magic and go back to talking to the pink elephant and the green roast beef sandwich on either side of me. It’s a conversation about world politics and an economy built entirely around edible golf balls will solve the world’s energy crisis. It’s very enlightening. Maybe, somehow, some way, we’ll figure out exactly what makes Windows “delicious” while we’re at it. Drug-enduced hysteria is about the only way I can think of in my current semi-lucid state to make an operating system taste delicious. It makes me begin to wonder, though… what would other OSes taste like? Would Mac OS be crunchy? Would Linux be spicy? Would my Treo’s PalmOS be light in calories? I certainly hope so… I am trying to lose weight….