Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been. —Mark Twain
The dog just let out a sigh of frustration. One of the cats is noisily clawing the hell out of a scratching pad. This is one of today’s smiles because I know that while the dog does nothing now but sigh and return to sleep on top of the clean clothes I just pulled from the dryer, he’s planning on revenge when said cat is wanting to sun itself in the window later.
I am feeling emotional this morning and apologize for the disjointedness that emotion creates. I’m already planning for tomorrow’s article as the Tipster graduates kindergarten. I’ll have to start writing that one today or it won’t get done. There are plenty of smiles in that one, but also a sense of sadness as well.
That mix of smiles and sadness is running heavily across a lot of things on my mind this morning. When I first heard of photographer David Gilkey’s death in Afghanistan on Sunday, I tried to ignore it. I didn’t know David. I’m not aware of any time we might have crossed paths. So, I assumed I would be able to disconnect from the fact another colleague has given his life in pursuit of a story that no one else is telling. There are too many of these deaths each year and with every one of them, I find myself drawn to a dark place where I wonder why I’m not taking those same risks. I’ve not been able to put Gilkey’s death out of my mind, though. Every time I’ve turned on NPR the past two days there has been some mention of this loss of an incredible photographer. NPR has a wonderfully touching remembrance with several of David’s wonderful photographs. You would do well to click the link and take a look.
I’m also feeling mixed about a new video from 360 Google, the experimental VR arm of the giant tech company. Yeah, sure, on one hand it’s a somewhat rough sketch of what the new technology is capable of producing. Investors are show videos like this as proof of concept more than anything. But the story they’ve chosen to illustrate is one that tugs more on the heart strings than an investor’s pocketbook. “Pearl” takes us on a journey of a young man, a would-be musician, choosing to live out of his car. Life moves quickly in the first few scenes. There’s a woman, then a little girl, and we don’t know where the woman’s gone but she’s no longer in the picture. It’s just Pearl and her dad, moving from place to place in that car. She grows up, inherits the car and more. The end, in true story-book fashion, has you smiling through tears. There are a lot of feels in this video, and a lot of smiles, and some important statements about life. You’ll forget this was supposed to be about technology.
After that, I need a distraction or else I’m going to be nothing more than a bundle of emotion all day and that’s never productive. I’ll end up sitting on the couch with the dog watching Netflix and eating those godawful chips I should never have bought in the first place. Another pot of coffee is on. The dog is off the laundry and back in his bed. We can continue.
Advertising has delivered a couple of smiles already this week. The first came with the release of a new ad from cellular carrier Sprint. Normally, it would take a lot for anything in this sector to make me smile. There is so much fraud and disinformation in this whole sector that I usually just roll my eyes. But what makes this fun is that Sprint has stolen Verizon’s long-time spokesperson, Paul “Can-you-hear-me-now” Marcarelli. This doesn’t happen often because non-competes are usually iron-clad and indefinite. Apparently, Paul’s wasn’t indefinite. Here’s the result:
I’m sure someone’s learning a very valuable lesson about talent contracts about now.
Then, there’s the new LG ad for vacuums. Yeah, I didn’t know they made vacuums, either. What they did was pull off an incredible stunt that likely would have never gotten approval in the US. They went to Korea and asked Extreme Rock Climbing Medalist Sierra Blair-Coyle to climb a freakin’ skyscraper using nothing more than a couple of household dirt suckers. The climb took her 30 minutes with the vacuums attached to her back. Now, I don’t know if anyone’s carpet really needs that much sucking power, but it’s a pretty impressive stunt. I’m going to attempt to embed the video, but if it doesn’t work on your device you can also find it here.
Then, there was the announcement yesterday that Buzzfeed is canceling its advertising contract with the GOP. This is both huge and unprecedented. Buzzfeed is one of the top five information websites on the Internet. Millions of people are influenced by what they see there. Not being able to place ads on Buzzfeed is a significant blow to what is already a difficult task in supporting the GOP’s choice for president. I’m sure Buzzfeed could have used the $1.5 million as well. But CEO John Peretti decided the company needed to take a stand. He wrote, in part:
“We certainly don’t like to turn away revenue that funds all the important work we do across the company. However, in some cases we must make business exceptions: we don’t run cigarette ads because they are hazardous to our health, and we won’t accept Trump ads for the exact same reason.”
What will be interesting now is whether other Internet media will make similar moves in either direction. In one way, it might be seen as a way of making a political donation to the opposition without infringing upon donation limits or having to work through a super Pac. At the same time, this demonstrates how dependent campaigns are on all forms of media coverage. Should this move be replicated by other companies, the GOP effort could be substantially hindered.
One source of about 9,000 smiles this week came from funny man John Oliver. Since it’s debut last year, Oliver’s show, Last Week Tonight, has gotten a lot of attention for the clever way he brings attention to important but often overlooked subjects. He completely outdid himself this past Sunday, though. The goal was to demonstrate how easy it is for quite literally anyone to buy and collect delinquent debt. What he ended up actually doing, though, was performing the largest giveaway in television history by forgiving the nearly $15 million in debt he had bought. This seriously raises the bar in a couple of ways. First, anyone serious about being generous is going to have to cough up some serious cash. This is double anything Oprah ever did. Secondly, is challenges other so-called news organizations to do more than just talk about a news story, but to actually get involved. Is this good journalism, not exactly, but then, Oliver isn’t a journalist and this isn’t a real news show. The clip runs 20 minutes, so feel free to bookmark it and come back later to watch.
One more set of smiles and then we all need to get on about our day. I’m sure we both have more important things to do, even if we’re not especially inclined to do them. James Corden, host of CBS’ Late, Late Show, used his popular carpool karaoke segment to advertise the fact that he’s hosting Sunday’s Tony Awards. This may be the best carpool yet. Enjoy the smiles then enjoy your day.