The big picture

Spring training is underway! Time to sing along with a jingle of the day from the early ’70s, I think, about the Motorola TV set whose “works in a drawer” design let you pull out a panel in its giant cabinet to access some of the circuitry. To the tune of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”:

Watch your game on the sports set —
Quasar Color TV!
Insta-Matic tuning and Solid State
Are two of the features that make it so great!
Then you add one-button modules
To the Works-in-a-Drawer TV
And it’s one, two, three big ideas
In Quasar Color TV!


My grandmother had an even bigger Quasar with an elaborately carved Drexel cabinet on both sides of the picture tube. You didn’t mount a TV on the wall in those days; it rivaled the couch as your largest piece of furniture.

Think clean thoughts

It occurs to me that if the Michelin Man worked out, he’d be the sexy Mr. Clean in tonight’s Super Bowl ad:

Naturally, Mr. C. is a candidate for this blog’s jingle of the day feature:

Mr. Clean cuts dirt and grime and grease, it takes him just a minute
And now it’s even better ’cause there’s Ultra Power in it
Mr. Clean, Mr. Clean, Mr. Clean!

Come to think of it, if the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man worked out, he’d be the Michelin Man. There’s enough white power in this post to satisfy Steve Bannon.

All in all, his brain’s another brick in the wall

Today’s jingle of the day comes from a commercial extolling the filter tip of Pall Mall cigarettes:

Over, under, around, and through
Pall Mall flavor travels to you

Texas Senator John Cornyn reminded me of it by saying (h/t No More Mr. Nice Blog), in regards to the cost of Feckless Leader’s border wall: “I have concerns about spending un-offset money, which adds to the debt, period. I don’t think we’re just going to be able to solve border security with a physical barrier because people can come under, around it and through it.”

B – b – but the wall won’t cost us a dime, because Mexico will pay for it! Get with the program, Corny! Between this and two Republicans opposing Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education, are we seeing a rift between the GOP and Lord Boor?

Cue Steve Martin from the end of those old “Saturday Night Live” sketches: “Naaaah.”

Two tuna tunes

Commercial jingles are rarely more than a few lines long. Many are merely couplets, like

The best part of waking up
Is Folger’s in your cup

Although our jingle of the day series prefers retired or classic rather than current entries, so let’s fire up the bouzouki and sing along with this Greek classic:

Olympic Air will make you smile
But please, no dancing in the aisle

Alternatively, we could chant a couplet that my Florida niece and nephew inexplicably adored and repeatedly asked me to sing when they were young:

Bum, bum, Bumble Bee, Bumble Bee tuna
I love Bumble Bee, Bumble Bee tu – u – na

I think that one had some more lines, but I’ve forgotten them. It also had a competitor, which I do remember:

Ask any mermaid you happen to see
What’s the best tuna? Chicken of the Sea!

Yes, that’s the first question to ask if you see a mermaid. As a child, I thought it was the height of comedy to sing to the same tune, “Ask any bullfrog that you have on hand / What’s the best chicken? (Croak!) Tuna of the Land!” I was a deeply unpopular child.

It’s the top

The ’70s and ’80s were known for big hair (I had a Dorothy Hamill bob myself). How do you clean hair of that magnitude? Dishwashing detergent? Woolite? Fire? I remember the jingle of the day telling us how on AM radio:

The juice of one whole lemon
One whole lemon sets you free …

That’s what we got in every bright yellow bottle of

Lemon Up and make peace with grease
Yeah, Lemon Up sets you free
From this greasy little world, hey hey …

Surprisingly, Lemon Up is still available at the Vermont Country Store. It’s been marked up to $14.95, but I might buy some anyway. Come Friday, our little world is going to get a whole lot greasier.

Nectar of the gods

I have two or three Diet Cokes per day, which represents cutting back from five not long ago. It also represents switching from Diet Pepsi, which I preferred until they changed the recipe to remove aspartame for some silly reasons about it causing cancer and depression and whatnot. Sales dropped bigly because the new formula tasted like Tab. With customers all but marching on PepsiCo headquarters (“We want cancer! We want depression!”), the company yielded and reintroduced what’s now called Classic Sweetener Blend Diet Pepsi — Pepsi Max, by the way, is now Pepsi Zero Sugar, they’re just renaming and tinkering maniacs while Coke sails serenely on — so now I have two beverage choices.

Of course, no one believes any more that drinking diet soda will actually help you lose weight. That was decades ago, when Diet Rite was running commercials with the jingle of the day:

What have you got to lose?
What have you got to lose?
Maybe you’ve got an inch, a pinch, a flinch or a pound or two
Diet Rite’s the number one, got the taste that’s cola true
What have you got to lose?

The taste of Fresca, meanwhile, was a blizzard.

Name, rank, and serial number

What is it with carpet and flooring vendors’ skimpy version of the venerable tradition of commercial jingles? It seems all they do is repeat their name and phone number. I spent the last 20 years seeing and hearing

1-800-588-2300, Empire (Today!)

Now, since moving to Boston, the TV constantly assaults me with

877-241 (beep beep beep beep!) LUNA

This minimalist approach is the inverse of the poetry I celebrate in this blog’s occasional jingle of the day. About the only thing worse would be just telling you the name of the company …

We are Farmers!
Bum da-bum bum bum bum bum!

Absurd. If you want to play that game, Homer Simpson did it better when he had a snow plowing business:

Call Mr. Plow, that’s my name,
That name again is Mr. Plow!

Feel it tickle your toes

When I think back to the shag carpeting and avocado-colored appliances of the ’70s, I wonder how we survived at all. (Some, whose houses combined flammable shag with the era’s electric baseboard heat, didn’t survive.) Anyway, it’s carpeting that’s on my mind in the form of Kodel (pronounced ko-DELL), which I thought was a DuPont product but which the excellent History of Polyester page reminds me was Eastman Kodak’s, and which is stuck in my head as the jingle of the day:

Fat fiber, fat, fat fiber,
Carpets of Kodel,
We are lusher, so much plusher,
Kodel is swell!
Of all the polyesters, it isn’t very hard
To see that I’m the fattest! More carpet to the yard!
Fat fiber, fat, fat fiber,
Boy, do we wear well!
Carpets of Kodel!

Fashionistas look down their noses at polyester today, while buffing their iMac screens with microfiber cloths.

Song of the open road

Traffic and gas prices are too high for us to recall the sheer fun of driving. Fletcher Knebel, author of political thrillers (he co-wrote Seven Days in May, about the possibility of a military coup in the U.S., which was a huge bestseller), wrote a 1972 novel called Dark Horse about how, when a presidential candidate dies shortly before the election, a smoke-filled room replaces him with a totally unknown New Jersey highway official who runs a populist (joyful, not demagogic) campaign speaking to Americans out in their cars on the highways. Not much later, GM ran a commercial with catchy music and gorgeous shots of folks piling into their Chevys. I want a yellow Corvette to this day because of the shot of one scything through a field, to the tune of the jingle of the day:

Driving in your car
It’s all there in your hands
You’ve got room to breathe and the whole wide world to see
There’s something about the feeling
In a really fine machine
That turns you loose, that really sets you free
It’s a better way
It’s a better feeling
When the wheel belongs to you, the road goes anywhere you say
It’s a better way
It’s the feel of freedom
And it’s so much better in a Chevrolet

The Eisenhower interstate system was still relatively young and America was still relatively innocent. I live in downtown Boston now and would welcome a self-driving radarmobile, but those were good times.

Chips in space

I’ve forgotten thousands of facts, hundreds of faces, and two foreign languages, but I have an airtight memory for useless things from the ’60s through ’80s. The other day we were discussing whether Pringles are baked or fried (they’re fried, but processed from dough instead of sliced from potatoes) and all I could contribute was the jingle of the day, from the original TV commercial:

Every single Pringles potato chip is a perfect potato chip!
They’re not broken, fresh and crunchy too!
The canister keeps them that way for you!

More jingles to follow. You don’t believe I have such a prodigious memory? You dare to doubt I can sing the Star Trek original series theme song with the little-known lyrics from the Star Trek Lives! trade paperback? Just try and stop me:

Beyond
The rim of the starlight
My love
Is wandering in star flight
I know
He’ll find in strange starry reaches
Love,
Strange love a star-woman teaches.
I know
His journey ends never,
His star trek
Will go on forever.
But tell him
While he wanders his starry sea
Remember, remember me.

Yes, there are two extra syllables in the last line. Changing it to “Remember poor me” or “Remember, duh, me” does the trick, freeing you for shrieking the high notes at the end.