I don’t see a lot of commercials, but since I have been glued to Olympic coverage from 7-11 pm for the last fortnight, I have seen my share of Old Navy dark wash denim and Chevy commercials. What I didn’t see coming was the most disturbing thing I have seen in a long time, the Ragu commercial. Yes, that’s right, as in pasta sauce. It was like a mirage. I almost wonder if I dreamed it, but it was quickly confirmed by the mix of horror and chagrin mirrored on Eric’s face. It must have been between 8-9 pm because my 10-year-old was subjected to it too.

If you didn’t catch it, count your lucky stars. Let me assure you, that’s not a bell that can be un-rung. Suffice it to say the storyline involves a boy walking in on his parent in a compromising moment and a family pasta dinner to make it all better. Tomato therapy, if you will.

First of all, there are story-line problems, the creep factor notwithstanding. The commercial clearly indicates that it is 8 o’clock and warns kids to knock. Then there is the tag line, “A long day of childhood calls for America’s favorite pasta sauce.” What kind of parents are feeding their kid dinner after 8 o’clock? (The kind who don’t lock the door, apparently.) The poor kid is stumbling around, racked by hunger, looking for his absent parents who are too busy addressing their own needs to provide for their offspring. True the kid didn’t look as though he’d ever missed a meal, but still, it doesn’t add up.

Secondly to make it all better, there is pasta? Who could really think about food after that?

Lastly, I really don’t know what the marketing team was going for here, but I’ll tell you what I got out of it. I can’t walk through the marinara section without associating their product with ejaculate. I’m just guessing that wasn’t part of the pitch.

Spawn of Shiitake

I once bought my brother one of those grow-your-own-mushroom log kits for Christmas. Not just any rotten log–the fancy shiitake kind. It’s a hardwood log “injected with shiitake spawn” (aren’t you glad you don’t have that job?) and promises to deliver mushrooms ¬†for 2 years after the initial fruiting and post a relaxation soak every 2 weeks.

Anyway, brother lives in Houston, and what climate is more appropriate for growing fungi than the bayou? Well, the durned thing wouldn’t sprout, so he called customer service. It went something like this…

Brother: “My mushroom log won’t fruit. I soaked it and followed the directions, but it’s been a couple of weeks.”

Mushroom Specialist: “Do you have it indoors or out?”

Brother: “Out.”

MS: “And it’s in the shade?

Brother: “Yes.”

MS: “Did you use non-chlorinated water for the soak?”

Brother: “Yes, just like the directions said.”

MS: “Hmmm. Well did you hit it with a hammer?”

Brother: “Should I hit it with a hammer?”

MS: “That’s what I would do.”

Brother: “To punish it or to spur it into action?”

MS: “Yep, give it a good crack, but no harder than you would your head.”

Needless to say, countless unborn shiitakes were sacrificed to the burn pile that year. Next time I’ll go for the Jumbo Jerky Works.