Shorties #16

What better way to wrap up the shortest month than with a Shorties post? THERE IS NO BETTER WAY. Let's get to it!

#1: Hours: One evening, James picked this 2013 Paul Walker movie for us to watch, stretched out his legs (thus pinning me to the couch), and promptly fell asleep. So I was the only one who had to suffer through this. Not to speak ill of the dead, but it's unlikely that Paul Walker would have gone on to win an Oscar. I'm told he was fine in mindless action flicks, but when an entire drama rests on his shoulders (he's alone for about 97% of the screen time here), he...doesn't shine. His character's wife dies in childbirth, and while still at the hospital, the worst of Hurricane Katrina strikes. He refuses to evacuate with everyone else, because his infant daughter needs to stay in the incubator, so it's soon just him and the baby, trying to stave off the elements and looters. It's not a terrible premise, but Walker was just not strong enough an actor to carry this. (Grade: C)

#2: Don Jon: Good actors have their creative valleys, too. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is one of my favorites, but I'm not quite sure what to make of this 2013 movie, his writing/directing debut. He also stars in it as Jon, a Jersey meathead who spends his evenings banging girls from the bar, and his days jerking it to internet porn. He agrees to knock off the porn when he meets Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), but finds it difficult to keep his promise. The movie also likens Jon's unrealistic expectations of women with Barbara's unrealistic expectations, which she has acquired from the romantic comedies she's obsessed with. Jon wants to make it work with her, but is also intrigued by the more straight-forward older woman in one of his classes (Julianne Moore). It's not a bad movie, but I have some difficulty about its message regarding women. Though I'm a fan of JGL, I almost don't want to know what his point is here, because I might just not be as big a fan after I heard it. (Grade: B-)

#3: Troop Beverly Hills: I've heard this 1989 movie bandied around the internet as a cult favorite, but had never seen it before now. It's your basic, '80s, overcoming-your-adversities-via-pluck-and-a-montage-or-two romp, which is a genre I happen to enjoy heartily. Shelly Long is widely derided for leaving Cheers for movies, but she's made some good ones, and this fun little jaunt fits nicely among them. Long plays a spoiled Californian shopaholic who is in the midst of a separation, and attempts to distract herself and prove herself by leading her daughter's pseudo-Girl Scout troop. Hijinx ensue. This movie is a hotbed of before-they-were-famous sightings. Shelley Morrison! Carla Gugino! Tori Spelling! Kellie Martin! Jenny Lewis! That...neighbor girl from the show about VICKI the robot! Though Troop Beverly Hills will never land on the AFI Top 100, it was certainly a fun way to spend the evening. (Grade: B+)

#4: A to Z: I like Cristin Milioti a lot, and after she was treated so shamefully by How I Met Your Mother, I was happy to see her chosen to star in another show. Unfortunately, it was for this slightly underbaked show that got cancelled after its '14-'15 debut season. It was a romantic comedy starring her, Ben Feldman (of Mad Men fame), that British lady from that one episode of Black Mirror, and one of the fall season's 1250 fat, bearded sidekicks. Sorry, that's a little unfair to Henry Zebrowski. It's not his fault he was written to be such an annoying loser, and to his credit, he's the sole fat, bearded sidekick that had an attractive charm to him. There were some other promising secondary characters, from the wry, sarcastic IT team to the selfish, uncaring boss of Andrew's company, but there just wasn't enough there to sustain the show. Unlike my beloved Trophy Wife, I'm not rending my clothes over this one not getting a second season. (Grade: B-)

#5: Trivia Crack: I've mentioned before that trivia apps can be pretty darned fun, so when the internet started exploding over a new one called Trivia Crack, I happily jumped on board. And speaking of bored... This is not a well-designed game. All the questions are user-submitted, so a lot of them are either laughably easy or ridiculously esoteric. It imposes time restrictions between turns and is lousy with intrusive ads starring Kate Upton's boobs. It was diverting enough for a couple of weeks, but after that, I lost interest quickly. It might just hold the record for the app that has spent the shortest amount of time on my phone. (Grade: C-)

This American Knife

I'm sure you've caught on, now that I've mentioned it approximately forty-thousand times, but even though I keep this digital repository for the entertainment I consume, food and drink is a far bigger obsession in my life. I try not to be a huge glutton, of course, but I just never get tired of talking about food. And not just the food I (or others) like or dislike. I'm equally into food trends. Recipe tweaks. Restaurant practices. Culinary etymology. And, in this instance, food history.

That's why I was so excited to get my hands on Libby O'Connell's 2014 book, The American Plate: A Culinary History in 100 Bites. This is certainly no dry recitation of facts and dates. O'Connell is the chief historian (and the historic food expert) at the History Channel, so she's well-versed in writing for a general audience. The book encapsulates the foods and ingredients that have represented American as a country, from its very beginnings to today.

Sometimes, the representative foods she writes about are quite literal; Native Americans owed a large part of their subsistence to maize and squash. But O'Connell isn't above trading in symbolism, either. Plenty of events in American history, both good and bad, don't have a specific food or drink associated with them, but can be tied to a handy stand-in. For example, there isn't a "Women's Liberation Era" food, but quiche rose in popularity at the same time, and was utilized by both the women who needed a convenient, fast meal so they could get back to their activism, and by the resistant men who pointed to quiche as a sign of namby-pamby oversensitivity.

This book was essentially designed to hit all my sweet spots. It digs into hidden pockets of American history, and the way that earlier generations went about the challenges of feeding themselves. It uses food as a backdrop to explore the topics that Americans are passionate about, and what trends we embrace. It organizes everything into neat capsules. In fact, it appealed to me so much that I bought a copy before I even finished reading the one I borrowed from the library, which is a feat that no other book has ever accomplished.

I've left the food offshoot of this blog lying fallow for a while (time is short, and my obsession is generally kept satisfied by doing the podcast), but this book has inspired me to take on a new eating project, so keep your eyes peeled for updates on the Tastes of Lime. In the meantime, for anyone who takes as much of an interest in American food and its history as I do, this is a must-read, so go track down a copy. You can't borrow mine just yet - there are things to prepare. Happy eating and happy reading!

The American Plate: A Culinary History in 100 Bites: A

Salmon Fury and the Tower of Spice

Four Courses Podcast - Episode 14

The cold weather continues, and has driven us indoors. Whether it's heaps of meat or heated breweries, we're doing the best we can to assure our caveman brains that we're going to be all right. We've got a range of topics and new segments starting this month, so tootle over to Four Courses for Episode 14. Or...just subscribe to us on iTunes and/or Stitcher and we'll appear like magic!

This month, we talk about Stacked Burger Bar, the beers at Perennial Artisan Ales, the way that mood can affect our cooking/eating habits, and which foods are best homemade versus getting them at the store. We go out on a brand new Carryout format, and introduce a culinary gladiatorial competition as well, so be sure to tune in! Email us at fourcoursespodcast@gmail.com with any feedback, and be sure to suggest more combatants for the Battle Royale!

Oscar the Grouch

Usually, Oscar season is the most exciting time of the movie year for me. People love to complain about awards shows, and I get it. Their complaints are not unfounded. I completely ignore the Grammys. I'll watch the opening number of the Tonys, and skip the rest. I'll read about the Emmy winners the next day. But when it comes to the Oscars, I'm in. Every year. No matter how much they stink. And yet this year, I have to open with an apology for a lackluster post to come, because the 2015 Oscars was one of the dullest slogs I've ever sat through. Maybe my relatively low number of movies watched in 2014 was a sign! There just wasn't that much to celebrate.

Thank goodness I was at a small house party, where I could be distracted by cute dogs and good snacks and fun people and catty remarks about celebrities' clothing. The most shocking letdown was Neil Patrick Harris' hosting job. I was so optimistic about it going in, and though the opening number was cute, a sackload of stale puns and drawn-out gimmicks soon mired him in eye-rolling mediocrity.

Also, I didn't fill out an official ballot this year, which turned out to be a good thing, because I wouldn't have scored very well. That was another thing I didn't like about this year; I just plain didn't care for a lot of the winners. We'll get to why in the individual categories, but as far as the overall ceremony goes? Zzzzz....


And hey, here's one of those categories now! Birdman? Really? As you'll recall, I didn't care for this movie as much as a lot of people did. It seemed to me like a pretty shallow stab at critiquing the state of modern art, but I should have known. Hollywood LOVES to pat itself on the back by giving awards to movies about Great Artists Rising Above it All. I would have been much more satisfied with a Boyhood or Selma win, but I can take heart in one thing: At least Birdman did something different. It wasn't a tepid, sanded-down hagiography. So while I'm not thrilled about its win, I was happy to see it defeat The Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game.


Eddie Redmayne wins for The Theory of Everything. Shrug. I would have given it to Michael Keaton, but by all accounts, Redmayne did a fantastic job, and if it couldn't be Keaton, he's the only other acceptable choice.


I doubt I'll ever see Still Alice, but I'm not letting that dampen my enthusiasm for Julianne Moore's win. She's been nominated so many times, and this movie made so little impact, that I think we've got a textbook example of Compensatory Oscar on our hands. A lot of people don't care for those, but I have no issue with them, as long as a compensatory win doesn't take the award out of the hands of someone more deserving. And this year? It didn't. (Though I did really love Rosamund Pike's performance in Gone Girl. Just had to put that out there.) So yay!


Everyone knew it was going to be J.K. Simmons for Whiplash, and it was. I haven't had an opportunity to see the movie yet, though I'm actively looking forward to it. And I really like Simmons in general, so I'm pleased about his win. He also gave a very cute acceptance speech in which he pleaded with everyone watching to go give their parents a call.


This was the one "main" category that made me happy. There's a lot to like about Boyhood, but as I said in my post about it, Patricia Arquette was the big standout for me. She did an absolutely fantastic job in that movie, and I'm really chuffed that she was recognized for it. She also veered into a passionate acceptance speech that advocated for equal wages for women, which I can definitely get behind. Next time she's nominated, all she has to do is take the time to run a comb through her hair, and we'll be all set!


Alejandro G. Iñárritu took it for Birdman. Nope. Nope, nope, nope. They may as well have put this award in a sack with dollar bill signs on the side, this was such a robbery. What, exactly, could Richard Linklater have done any better? Even if it couldn't have been him, Wes Anderson would have been a more acceptable choice. But whatever. This isn't even the most head-scratching win for Birdman. Look down for that.


Birdman?!? This is one of the few categories that I actually wouldn't give the award to Boyhood, since that script wasn't the reason the movie was such an achievement. But The Grand Budapest Hotel is sitting right there. This is the category that quirky little offbeat movies often win, since they don't have much clout in the Picture/Director races. The Grand Budapest Hotel had a charming, breezy, intricate script, and deserved this win, hands down. But sure, let's give the award to a script that has a three-minute fight about what social media pages the main character has.


I didn't particularly care who won this category, so kudos to Graham Moore for winning for The Imitation Game. Fewer kudos to his disjointed acceptance speech, in which he enjoined the audience to accept themselves and their weirdness, but insists that despite the strong overtones, his speech had nothing to do with the LGBT community. Yes, the inspiration for the script written about a man who was chemically castrated for being gay is about non-gay people accepting their own weirdness, but no so weird that they may be attracted to their own gender.


Big Hero 6. Didn't deserve it, but since the movie that did deserve it wasn't even nominated... Sure, why not?


Poland wins for Ida, which I haven't seen, but as soon as they announce it, my friend Tiffany tells me that I'll enjoy the hell out of it. To the Netflix queue!


Birdman. OK, I did like the camera work in that movie, so I suppose I can begrudgingly accept this one, especially given the next two categories.


The Grand Budapest Hotel. Yes!


The Grand Budapest Hotel. YES!


What's weird is that I expected that Citizenfour winning this award would lead to the most politically-charged acceptance speech of the evening. But no, the winners sedately thanked a list of people, then shuffled off.


Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1. I haven't seen any of the documentary shorts, so I have no evidence that this didn't deserve the win. What I can assert is that the title needs some work.


Whiplash. Did Richard Linklater throw rocks through all of the voters' windows? How could Boyhood not win an editing award?


Interstellar. As of Oscar time, I still haven't seen it, which is unacceptable. I really need to get on top of that.


Another visual win for The Grand Budapest Hotel, which I'm always happy to see.


And here's an audio win for The Grand Budapest Hotel as well! It's nice to see such a fun movie picking up a lot of awards, but I do feel bad for Wes Anderson, who is consistently dismissed, even as his work is lauded.


The presentation of "Everything is Awesome" from The Lego Movie was... Well, awesome. It brought some much-needed levity to the ceremony, too. I was pulling for it to win, but have absolutely zero problem with "Glory" from Selma taking the prize. I'm not as sure about the directorial choice to cut to every black member of the audience after the performance of it, like, "Look, we're honoring black people! Not in any of the acting categories, but see? There they are!!!" It's a powerful song, and the sheer whiteness of this year's nominees (in most categories) is a good reminder that there's still a lot of work to be done.


Feast was the only animated short I saw, and it was super-cute, so even though Big Hero 6 is being over-praised, it was nice to see this one win.


The Phone Call. Okay, if you say so!


This is the sole award to go to American Sniper. And sound editing is the perfect award for jingoistic war movies, so everyone's happy. Everyone except the people who insist that a big liberal cabal conspired to get this movie made, release it, get it nominated for Oscars, and then not vote for it. Damned pinkos!


Whiplash. I mean, you could tell me that The Smurfs 2 had the best sound mixing of the year, and I'd believe you, so sure.

So, that's that! It was a boring year with mostly unsatisfying winners. Here's hoping that next year, I'll have more to be excited about than the almond cupcakes at the Oscar party.

Welcome to the Dollhouse

What is it about quiet desperation that attracts so many authors? I've lost count of the books I've read that feature a protagonist suffering in silence for most (if not all) of the story. I'm not morally opposed to it or anything, but it's a bit akin to that movie convention where a series of misunderstandings could be cleared up by a two-minute conversation.

Nella Oortman, the protagonist of Jessie Burton's 2014 novel The Miniaturist, can now proudly take her place in this long list of dour heroines, though at least she has the excuse of living in 1686 Amsterdam. Plucked from her family's countryside home to marry a man she hardly knows, Nella finds it difficult to adjust to city living. Though her husband is wealthy, he ignores her, her sister-in-law rules the household with an iron fist, and even the servants don't seem to care much for her.

Nella is given a massive replication of the house made in miniature as a distraction, but she notices that the craftsman that's made the miniature people and animals that populate this house are detailed in ways they shouldn't be. How could the miniaturist know so much about their lives? As Nella attempts to dig into this mystery, she gains a certain amount of agency, but life has other plans.

In the back third of the book, a series of disasters befall Nella and her new family, and although she's gained a new understanding about how to make her way in the world, she's left in an extremely precarious position. I won't reveal the ending or anything, except to say that it doesn't do much to bring meaning to the story that has led up to it. I'm not one of those readers that demands everything be tied up in a neat little bow by the end, but I was left wondering why this book asked for such investment in characters that it would then turn around and abandon.

It's a well-written book, and I'm not sorry I read it, but in a way, Burton treats her characters like the very dolls Nella grimly marches around their tiny domicile.

The Miniaturist: B-


Bringer of Jollity

I swear, I didn't plan to have two sci-fi entries in a row! Things just shake out weirdly, sometimes. A friend wanted to know if I wanted to go catch an IMAX 3-D screening of the Wachowskis' latest movie, Jupiter Ascending, and I was instantly on board. It's not so much that I'm a mega-fan. But so much about this movie seemed interesting to me. I'd heard that it was spectacularly eye-popping. That it was a jumbled mess. That moving its release date spelled its doom. That its action scenes were technical marvels. That its production design was top-notch.

Curiously, all these preconceived notions came in equal amounts of positive and negative buzz, with the result I went in with basically zero expectations. Yay! Say what you will about the Wachowskis', but you can't claim that their movies are boring. I enjoyed Cloud Atlas for what it was, and admired its ambition, and after seeing Jupiter Ascending, I can report that I have almost identical feelings now.

Attempting to summarize the plot is a fool's errand, but let's give it a whirl: OK, so Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) is a depressed house-cleaner in Chicago who lives with her big, loud, annoying family (except her dad, who was murdered while her mother was pregnant). Aliens soon show up to kidnap and/or kill her at the behest of some royal siblings from beyond the stars, who through a genetic fluke, are actually her biological children. They want to prevent her from taking her throne and thus inheriting the Earth, because that would end their plan of massacring planets for human juice that keeps people young forever. So an albino half-wolf man (Channing Tatum), who originally agrees to kidnap Jupiter winds up falling for her, and with the help of one of his old compatriots (Sean Bean) who lives in a house filled with bees, tries to assist her instead. This enrages the royal siblings, the most violent of which (Eddie Redmayne) doubles-down on his efforts to murder her.

Got all that? And that's only, like, 65% of the plot. As a deep, trenchant science-fiction movie, Jupiter Ascending doesn't work at all. It's full-to-bursting, and is kind of a disaster. But a beautiful disaster! As a hyper-kinetic, Cinderella-in-space fairy tale, it's a lot of fun. So nothing makes sense. Who cares? The action set-pieces are exciting, the hair and costuming are campy and gorgeous, and the actors are all game for the silly things they're called upon to do. Don't think of Jupiter Ascending as science-fiction. Think of it as futuristic kabuki. As long as you're capable of sitting back to enjoy the ride without putting too much stock in the plot, it is well-worth the price of admission.

Jupiter Ascending: B


Everyone has genres they're not wild about, and for me, it's sci-fi. Actually, that's not fair. There are some science-fiction movies that I really like. They're just few and far between. I've discovered that the key to enjoyable sci-fi is depth and intelligence. That may sound like an obvious thing to say, but there are so many disappointing movies that call themselves sci-fi just because stuff that blows up happens to be in space, or because the writer injects the script with a bunch of technical gobbledygook.

That's why when a halfway-decent science-fiction movie comes along, I'm always pleasantly surprised, and happily, the 2009 movie Moon gave me one of those pleasant surprises. If you like Sam Rockwell, this one's for you, because he takes up about 99% of the running time. I didn't have much experience with him other than when he's acting goofy, like in Galaxy Quest or The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. This was my first time watching him in a drama, and he handled it with aplomb.

Moon is about Sam Bell (Rockwell, natch), a one-man mining operation collecting a resource on the lunar surface that has solved a lot of Earth's energy problems. His only companion is a computer/robot named GERTY, voiced by Kevin Spacey. Bell is nearing the end of his three-year contract, and is beginning to go stir crazy with loneliness and anticipation of going home. After an accident on the moon's surface, he awakens after medical ministrations by GERTY, but things are more off-kilter than ever.

He decides to revisit the accident site and makes a surprising discovery, which I won't spoil here. I will say that this twist would be the end of most movies, but in Moon, the story continues, dealing with the fallout of what Bell has stumbled upon. Everything he thought he knew about his mission has to be re-evaluated, and a whole new set of challenges must be faced.

Apologies for how vague that sounds, but I'm being obfuscatory on purpose, because I think this is a movie worth your time. It's not perfect by any means; Bell has some not-quite-realistic reactions to his discovery, and the film can't quite stick the landing. But overall, it was a fun movie to watch, and I hope I get to see more like it. Because if more science-fiction like Moon were being produced, this genre could redeem itself in my eyes in no time.

Moon: B

Pop Culture Homework Assignment #12: The Fault in Our Stars

I am not a book hipster. Or at least, I don't think I'm a book hipster. That is to say, I don't dislike popular books just because they're popular. I admit that I don't get the acclaim that a lot of heralded authors get (Jonathan Franzen springs to mind), but I try to give everything a fair shot. In reading glowing articles about John Green's 2012 smash hit, The Fault in Our Stars, I did worry about its popularity. A little nagging voice in my head told me that it would be the book equivalent of a Hallmark Card or a Lifetime Original Movie about cancer.

I did my best to ignore that voice, put myself on the waiting list at the library, and in the meantime, avoided absolutely everything having to do with the movie. I wanted to be sure and experience this in the same way the other first-time readers did. I managed to stay unspoiled, and after a lengthy wait, finally worked my way to the top of the list.

The Fault in Our Stars is told from the point-of-view of Hazel, a sixteen-year-old girl with terminal lung cancer. She has to navigate not only the obvious health problems her disease brings, but the societal problems of being a kid living on borrowed time. When she meets fellow cancer sufferer Augustus, they instantly connect. Since he's in remission, their relationship is fraught with her fears that she's adding another heart to be broken when she succumbs to the cancer, but he's persistent.

They bond over a book and the reclusive author who wrote it, making plans to go overseas to speak with him. Nothing turns out the way they expect, and soon they have to contend with problems much more dire than a mean old alcoholic author.

Make no mistake, this is a textbook tearjerker, but thankfully, it's not exploitative. Hazel's inner monologue is very relatable, with understandable mixtures of guilt and hope and fear and love and lust and resignation. Far from coming off as three-hankie melodrama, all of the characters' feelings are discussed openly, frankly, and honestly.

If I have to fault to book for anything, it's for Hazel and Augustus' hyper-intelligence. They're both far smarter and emotionally mature than any real teenager ever could be; it's almost as if their disease feels bad for them, and has compensated for all of their failing organs by supercharging their brains and souls.

That's a minor complaint, though. Overall, I really enjoyed the thoughtful, quiet nature of this book, and wound up liking far more than I thought I was going to. Sometimes, the Pop Culture Homework Project confirms the initial biases that kept me away from a popular title in the first place. But books like these are why I keep it going. Because sometimes, I really did miss something special.

The Fault in Our Stars: A-

Are You Ready For Some...Suicidal Depression?!?!?

Woooooo! Football! OK, fine. You caught me. I watch maybe three football games a year. But even though I'm not a superfan, there's often fun to be wrung out of the Football Experience. Normally, I'd watch the Super Bowl with friends, but this year, I headed over to my dad's house. Snacks were distributed and we two macho dudes settled down for some real man bonding time. And...my dad started crying at the National Anthem. I've told you, he emotional! But I'm sure the anthem will be the only downer part of the evening. After all, we're here for some FOOTBALL! GRRRR! Get ready for the joyous expulsion of testosterone, and...

I mean, it's nice that the NFL doesn't want women to be abused, but they could stand to check out some of the cracks in their glass house before throwing that stone. Oh well, no big deal. Back to the FOOTBALL! The refs aren't calling enough penalties (according to my dad - I was focused on the M&M's at this point), the points are finally starting to accumulate, and...

Um. What, exactly, was the point of this ad? Absentee Father Shows Up Once: Is Hero. I was honestly baffled by this commercial. I have no idea what message it was trying to get across, or if they just thought sad music plus family scenes was enough to tug at the heartstrings. Oh, and maybe don't play "Cat's In the Cradle" when showing a racecar driver getting into crashes? Just a thought.

Anyhow...FOOTBALL! Get your blood pumped, you guys! Get excited! Get...

Er... This one is almost as baffling. I mean, sure. Don't do heroin. Good message! But there doesn't really seem to be any there there. Jaunty music as a kid ODs. BOOM. Your mind is blown now. This was actually a local commercial that wasn't seen nationwide, so I guess St. Louisans have just been having too good of a year and needed an extra dose of bummer.

Seriously, though, what is up with the commercials this year? There are some cute ones here and there. Some of the celebrity cameo ones are clever. I'll never need to buy maxipads, but the Always #LikeAGirl campaign has a great message. If you'd have told me the funniest commercial was going to be for avocados, I would never have believed it! But as a group, these ads were so maudlin and morose.

And of course, it wouldn't be Super Bowl without some controversy. This year, it's over something way more important than spousal abuse, drug addiction, and neglected kids. That's right. The big fight this year is over...beer.

I come not to bury this ad, but to (sort-of) praise it. My Facebook wall is full of comments both for and against it. It's already started taking a beating online. And frankly, I can't argue with a lot of the points that article makes. I will say that there is a place in this world for both meticulous craft beer and cheap swill, just like there's room in my heart for both coq au vin and chicken strips. It all depends on the occasion. So, I won't argue that Budweiser is actually a superior product or that they're the good guys when it comes to business practices. What I will argue is that the trope this ad makes fun of does exist, I have definitely run across beer hipsters who sneer at other people's drinks, and thus, the commercial made me laugh. I'll leave it at that.

But here's Katy Perry to cheer us up! I liked the halftime show this year. The dancing sharks were a bit...odd, but the light and effects work was fantastic, and I was really happy to see Missy Elliott looking and sounding so good. Plus, the game is getting more competitive, so let's all take a deep breath and get back on track with some FOOTBALL! We're all happy! We're all...

WHAT?!? Jesus fucking Christ, 2015! Apart from this being just a tonal disaster (starts off light-hearted, ends on DEAD KID), what is this supposed to imply? Become more of a helicopter parent so your kids can take a dog to the open ocean? Buy insurance so you can get a replacement child once your accident-prone one has been buried? This has been, bar none, the weirdest and most off-putting year of commercials I've ever seen. In a way, the game ending with a blown play, a fistfight, and the most insufferable team in the league walking away with another win was fitting. And if this is what we have to look forward to in the year of advertising, let's all stock up on our Paxil now.
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