Monthly Archives: February 2011

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A couple of weeks ago I let everyone in on a decision we were facing — we needed a bigger car but couldn’t really afford one.

In our fantasy land where money was no factor, we’d pretty much set our minds on a brand new Swagger wagon — ‘specially after Angie’s glowing review.

Then, when reality set in, we started to look at used alternatives like what Scud recommended.

Able to find plenty within our budget, I still struggled to find anything that I could imagine myself driving. I’m not anti-minivan — I think they’re cool, seriously, but in the price range that we were looking at, well, let’s just say that most of them left something to be desired if even I was only judging them based on pictures posted on the internet.

So I went back to the direction I was originally leaning…used but high end. Connecticut has consistently been among the richest states in the country so we’re overflowing with snob-tacular used car lots.

I aimed lower than originally planned, skipping the Rolls Royce and Bentley places, and instead looked at the places with Jaguars, BMWs and Mercedes on the lot.

You’d be surprised at how quickly luxury cars lose their value, I mean, I was just talking to my mom the other day and my BMW is worth less than my Dad‘s Mazda Miata.

We bought them within a year or two of one another and one cost over twice as much as the other — it’s hard to fathom. I’m not knocking either car — I think they’re both great even when they’re over a decade old but still.

Anyway, so on Wednesday I locked a vehicle in my sights. Thursday, I took it for a test drive. Friday, I moved a bunch of money around. And Saturday, we officially became one of those Connecticut families with four cars.

Two drivers and four cars. I know, it’s ridiculous. The driveway looks like a parking lot.

Anyway, from the financial aspect, we paid cash for the car — no lien holder and no car payments — and I “borrowed” $7k (at 0%) from a credit card just to give us some wiggle room in case sudden expenses come up over the next month.

Here’s what we bought:

Not the actual vehicle or color — we got a few inches of snow last night so it’s currently buried in the driveway.

I’ll take a picture eventually and probably further explain the thought process that landed this in our fleet of vehicles…

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I’d bet that you’d thought I’d forgotton to list out my expenses for January. Actually, you could probably care less but I didn’t forget…

Okay, maybe I did, but better late than never…

Here’s what I threw money out the window on in January:

  • $515.00 : Hockey Jerseys
  • $498.72 : Mortgage
  • $315.00 : Drum Corps International tickets
  • $280.04 : Natural Gas
  • $233.25 : Electricity
  • $200.00 : Cash
  • $149.43 : Business Expenses
  • $135.64 : Allstate Insurance
  • $124.50 : Gas
  • $123.96 : Cable/Internet
  • $39.04 : Finance Charges
  • $14.00 : Bank of America Maintenance Fee
  • $12.71 : Toys-R-Us
  • $6.78 : Stop & Shop

All together that adds up to $2648.07.

And now I plead my case…

The hockey jersey thing is inexcusable. I know better and I’m getting better.

In a nut shell, I’m trying to limit myself to a budget of $250 of disposable income per month — if I want to buy something frivolous for $500, I can, I’ll just have to wait two months to feel comfortable doing it.

So far, that strategy has been relatively successful as these were my first purchases since October.

The mortgage is such a bargain. It makes me smile every time I see how small the payment is.

The Drum Corps tickets are part of our planned summer vacation. Kinda made sense to start paying for it months in advance. We got crappy seats even purchasing this early but it was sorta on purpose as we’ll have two young ones in tow and kinda want to sit on the fringe for that reason.

The utility bills are way up. We had over four feet of snow in January — not that that means anything but it does indicate that it was pretty cold outside which always leads to higher utility bills.

I’m still fuming over the Bank of America Maintenance Fee.

I had to buy Duncan a train at Toys-R-Us. We picked Toby (in the picture above). Okay, fine, I didn’t “have” to buy him. I wanted to.

And while I pretty much never buy the groceries, my pregnant wife had a craving for ice cream sandwiches so I made a quick trip to Stop & Shop.

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I was never “that” kid that always claimed that pizza was my favorite food. Sure, I like pizza but it’s not anywhere near the top of my list. Not even close.

I was also never that kid the put ketchup — and only ketchup — on everything. I’m sorry, that’s just disgusting.

Like pizza, I’m not opposed to ketchup. In moderation. On french fries. Or hot dogs — as long as it’s accompanied by mustard and relish.

Relating to the fries, I used to base my overall restaurant experience on the quality (or even availabilty) of french fries. It the establishment doesn’t offer fries as a side, well, chances are, I’m not going to like anything on the menu. It’s a good indicator, you know?

Anyway, I have an uncle who reportedly likes anything that comes on a bun. Even if he doesn’t like it, if you put it on a bun, he’ll eat it.

I’d never noticed this in the past and he hasn’t confirmed its validity, to my knowledge, but it got me thinking…

That’s just like me!

The restaurants that I prefer all serve french fries, yes, but in a more broad sense, they’re really just reatuarants that feature “bunned” food with french fries on the side.

Yep, I’m not longer counting on a side — the main entrée is what it’s all about.

And it’d better come on a bun.

Here’s a listing of my top 10 chain eateries, some regional, in three categories and in order:

  1. A&W (Fast Food — in Canada only)
  2. Famous Dave’s (Sit Down)
  3. Wayback Jakes (Quick Service)
  4. Roy Rogers (Fast Food)
  5. Swiss Chalet (Sit Down)
  6. Frankie’s / Big Frank’s (Quick Service)
  7. Steak & Shake (Sit Down)
  8. Checkers (Fast Food)
  9. Red Lobster (Sit Down)
  10. White Castle (Fast Food)

Oh, and yes, all of them have mighty fine french fries too!

Now, you’re probably not wondering but since you’re still reading, I’m going to tell you what I order and why I like each one of these establishments.

A&W:
I discovered my love of A&W back in university on a road trip to-and-from McGill in Montreal.

Since 1994, I’ve only ordered one item on their menu — the Teen Burger Combo. I’ve ordered it probably over 100 times now. On our most recent vacation to western Canada, we ate there at least once every single day. Duncan even dipped his first french fry in ketchup, all by himself, just north of Calgary.

To those stateside, I know what you’re thinking, “Yeah, yeah, the root beer place — seen it a few places, might have even eaten there once, but it didn’t leave an impression.”

I’d agree whole-heartedly. But there’s a catch. North of the border, yeah, it’s still A&W Root Beer with the same old logo but, outside of that, it’s a totally different company, totally different restaurant, and sports a totally different menu.

A&W is a shopping mall food court staple in Canada. The stand alone restaurants now dot the country as well — I’d say it’s about as common as a Wendy’s is in the United States.

Anyway, the Teen Burger is essenitally nothing more that a bacon cheeseburger — except it’s freakin’ awesome. They’re seldom skimpy with the fries, they have vinegar to put on them, and who could pass up a heavy glass mug covered with frost?

I don’t even like root beer but I’ll make an exception at A&W. (They serve Coca-Cola too.)

One of the best burgers around — at it’s fast food, eh? Crazy…

Famous Dave’s:
It was probably back in 2006 or so that a new restaurant called “Famous Dave’s” opened up not far from where we live. It was connected to a hotel and plainly visable from the highway so, well, it seemed like a long shot but one weekend we headed there for lunch.

Turns out that it was a barbeque place. Always a plus, that. Anyway, on that first visit, I ordered the Georgia Chopped Pork Sandwich.

Holy crap — I’m usually more a fan of beef brisket sandwiches but this this was amazing.

Since then, that location has closed (it was never a good location anyway) so we have to trek up to Massachusetts every now and then to get our fill — and carefully plan our road trips around their other locations. The midwest is full of them. I always order the exact same thing.

It’s a sit down type of place with ribs and such but you can’t go wrong with this sandwich. Their fries are big crinkle steak fries, they have an assortment of barbeque sauces to try out (Devil’s Spit is the best), and the sodas are bottomless.

Unfortunately, though, they’re a Pepsi establishment. Bleh…

Wayback Jake’s:
We actually just discovered this chain a few weeks ago and…we’ve eaten there every weekend since.

My meal of choice is their signature Jake Burger with everything on it. Everything consists of ketchup, mustard, pickle, raw onions, lettuce, and tomato.

Again, there isn’t anything overly fancy about the food or even the menu — it just tastes great. And it looks real. Like if I had the equipment they have at my house, well, this is what I’d want my burger to look like. You know what I mean?

A better way of putting it, I suppose, is to say that, unlike McDonald’s or Burger King, their food actually looks like the picture. And it taste’s even better.

Still, though, it’s another Pepsi restaurant. I hope they get a great deal on it though cause, let’s be honest, Pepsi tastes like crap.

Roy Rogers:
Oh how I miss Roy Rogers.

There used to be one in town — long before I lived here — but it’s been a revolving door of restaurants for years since.

Roy Rogers is a roast beef and chicken fast food joint that’s on the decline. Over the past decade or so, they’ve all but withdrawn from New England and I can’t imagine why — they were always busy and their food was consistently perfect.

Not an easy task.

At Roy’s, I’d always order the regular Roast Beef Sandwich. Nothing fancy but *so* much better than anything rival Arby’s could offer.

See, Arby’s meat has that slimy mystery meat feel to it — it’s like brown ham or something. I challenge anyone to deny that.

And what’s with the bubbles in their meat? It’s like overcooked carbonated ham from a cow dipped in fake butter. Gross!!!

Roy Rogers’ meat actually has the consistancy of, well, roast beef that you’d get at the deli. Further, their barbeque sauce is the perfect compliment to roast beef. Seriously, I’d drink the stuff.

Sadly, I fear their days are numbered. Many have been replaced by Arby’s (ugh!)and those that are still in business, well, it just seems like a chain slowly riding off into the sunset.

They still have a firm grip on the rest stops on the New York State Thruway but, well, foot court style eateries are never as good as the stand alone buildings. Still… I’m thankful they still exist.

Swiss Chalet:
This is another Canadian chain. There are a few that dot the border on the US side but they’re few and far between.

Swiss Chalet is a chicken ‘n ribs themed sit down restaurant. Not all phony like a Chili’s or Outback but still a full sit down type of place.

Not being a fan of ribs, I’ve always ordered the “Chicken Carver Sandwich” where you get your choice or white or dark meat. I never offer a preference so I’m assuming that I’m always given the dark meat.

Totally fine by me — when it’s in the bun, I can’t tell the difference anyway. The fries at Swiss Chalet leave something to be desired — they’re not fast food style fries — but they have this gravy/dressing that’s unlike anywhere else. I used to hate it but now I dip my sandwich in it before every single bite.

At the conclusion of the meal — probably more for the rib eaters — they bring out a finger bowl with a lemon slice in it. Neat touch. Useless but memorable.

Frankies / Big Frank’s:
Frankies and the related Big Frank’s Big BBQ are a regional chain with locations in Connecticut and, apparently, Florida too. It’s a quick service hot dog serving greasy spoon type of place.

At Frankies I order something called a “Mondo Burger”. As you can imagine, it’s a super greasy double (or triple) patty covered in cheese with all of the toppings you can imagine. You know, the type of burger where, following the first bite, your palms are soaked in hot grease with some extra running down your forearms.

At their slightly more upscale BBQ themed place, Big Frank’s, I order the Beef Brisket Sandwich. It’s hardly beef brisket, more of a thick well done Steam ‘Um type of meat, but it’s served on an amazing fresh bun. I’d love to know where they get their buns — they’re like elongated Portugeuse rolls.

Their in-house BBQ sauces complete the meal. It’s not true beef brisket, no, but it tastes great!

Steak ‘n Shake:
Twenty-four hour dining at its finest. Having grown tired of Denny’s dated and, well, overly-breakfast themed menu, someone had to start serving better food at all hours and Steak ‘n Shake delivers!

I first ate at a Steak ‘n Shake in the wee hours of the morning somewhere in Ohio while making an overnight drive from Hartford, Connecticut to Lafayette, Indiana. Let’s just say that I was thrilled to be able to order a burger and a Coke at an ungodly hour…

Since that night, err, morning, I’ve always ordered one of their SteakBurgers. I’m not certain why they call it that — it ain’t steak, that’s for certain.

They have these tiny french fries too that you’d expect to be kinda limp and mooshy but they never seem to be. No clue how they manage.

Eitherway, it’s good food at an amazing price especially when considering that it’s still a sit down type of restaurant. Oddly enough, though, I’ve never had a milkshake there…

Checkers:
The first time I ate at a Checkers was back in 1997. I was on vacation in Florida and it was pretty late, we were sick of McDonald’s and Burger King, this place was open. I ordered two CheckerBurgers.

Well, let’s just say that I haven’t been to a McDonald’s or Burger King in the State of Florida since 1997.

Plain and simple, this is fast food. Most locations are nothing more than a drive through with a few concrete tables outside but, for whatever reason, their burgers are a cut above any of their competitors. You know, like Wendy’s, McD’s, BK…

They’re super cheap too. Oh, and I should also mention that unlike some of the other fast food places, their stuff doesn’t go right through you.

You know what I’m talking about…

Yep, a Big Mac attack generally leads to a Crap Attack… Not so with Checkers.

Red Lobster:
Okay, I know you’re thinking, “Wow — how can seafood make this list?”

Well, guess who’s fries are awesome?

My menu item of choice at Red Lobster doesn’t come on a bun — I *always* order a double portion of Alaskan Snow Crab legs — with fries as my side.

I’ve always managed to clean my plate and though a lot of seafood snobs rate Red Lobster about as high as Long John Silvers, well, they’re wrong and should give Red Lobster another try.

It’s just as good — and I’ve found better — than the more expensive (an imaginarily exclusive) seafood restaurants out there.

White Castle:
Laugh if you like but there’s just something about those tiny burgers… They shouldn’t taste good but they just do…

Yeah, the service usually sucks and the atmosphere is pretty McDonald’s like but there just something different about a fast food place with crinkle cut fries.

In some ways, it’s a shame that they’ve expanded their menu so much over the years but you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do, I suppose.

And thankfully they’re a Coca-Cola establishment!

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So, for the second consecutive Valentine’s Day, I did our taxes.

Not much to report, really — my 2010 taxes were almost an exact carbon copy of my 2009 taxes.

We’re due a refund of $2634 from the federal government and $1135 from the state government.

Romantic, huh?

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So while paying my utility bills this month, something I do online, I was for the first time nagged to sign up for their Budget Billing plan.

The idea is that your electric bill (or gas or water) will be the same amount every month so you can more easily budget.

Though it sounds like a relatively good idea, I’ve always had a negative connotation towards that sort of thing as if it’s for folks who are incapable of managing their money or for folks on welfare or something. I’m not sure why.

In short — it’s not for me.

But since both my electric supplier and my natural gas supplier (both actually the same company operating under different names) nagged me, twice even — or four times if you count the nagging on both sites while trying to pay my bills this morning, I decided to click on the little “more info” link for, well, more info.

Here’s the deal.

If I sign up for Budget Billing my monthly electric bill would be $133 and my monthly gas bill would be $132.

Taking into account that I was in the process of making payments of $183 and $301, respectively, it seemed like a pretty good sales pitch.

It was probably what triggered the nag screen to come up on both sites, actually.

But is it really a good deal?

I mean, why would they offer that?

What’s in it for them — besides a more reliable and steady revenue stream?

They’ve gotta be pocketing something along the way…

Unsure of where they reach their “budget” number, the “more info” link didn’t say, I have to assume that it has something to do with my usage history so I broke down the numbers by referring back to my most recent annual utility expense chart.

Crunching the numbers, in 2010, my average electric bill was $144 and my average natural gas bill was $133.

Wow.

I wasn’t expecting either number to be spot on but the gas bill pretty much was… Let’s ignore that one for now.

So, throughout 2010, I was paying an average of $144 per month for electricity.

Why on earth would they offer to “lower” my bill, upfront, by $11 dollars?

Sounds too good to be true, right?

Well, I’d bet that that’s why they’re offering it… There has to be a catch, right?

I thought about it some more…and then I remembered an article I’d read in the paper a few months ago…

Here’s an excerpt:

New electric rates that will result in lower monthly bills for residential customers of Connecticut Light & Power were approved Wednesday by the Department of Public Utility Control.

Under the new rates, which go into effect Jan. 1, CL&P residential customers will be charged 17.6 cents per kilowatt hour, down from 19.1 cents last year — the rate since 2009.

A typical CL&P residential customer using 700 kilowatt hours a month should save $10.41 a month. Next year’s average monthly bill should be $123.85 compared with $134.27 in January 2010, a 7.8 percent decrease.

Well, that explains it…

So I guess “Budget Billing” isn’t a scam and it isn’t a rip-off either.

Still, though, it’s not for me.

I’d much rather pay a $300 bill now and know that come August, that same bill will only be $30…

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Looking for a few suggestions on what we should do — we’re in need of a new vehicle.

Here’s some background info… In roughly three fortnights, our family will be personally incremented by one — literally.

Together, that’ll make four of us.

If you’ve been a recent reader — or noticed that uterus bubble on the right — that’s hardly news.

Even still, back to the topic today: We need a bigger car.

Right now the largest vehicle in the garage is a Scion xA.

If you’re unfamilair with that model (or brand), imagine one of those Penny Racer toys from the 1980’s, you know, those little pull-back cars where you could jam a penny into the back bumber to make them do wheelies…

According to my registration, it’s categorized as a wagon (probably because it has 4 doors and a hatchback) but in reality it’s a sub-compact.

Sure, two adults and two car seats can fit — but nothing else can and that’s our dilemma…

We need something bigger.

NEW:
In a perfect scenario, we’d go out this week and buy a brand new Toyota Sienna (the swagger-wagon) or a Honda Odyssey. Both are minivans and would certainly get the job done.

But did you know that both of those cost in excess of $40k!?

I didn’t. Ouch.

I mean, I guess I knew that a minivan would cost over $30k these days but $40k? You used to be able to get a Porsche for that kind of money…

The Swagger-Wagon has, well, swagger but it ain’t no Porsche… you know, it’s not gonna get the hot moms to check me out in the day care parking lot…

And price (or pride maybe?) isn’t the only reason, though.

Well, maybe it is.

We’re still not finished paying for last year’s home renovation yet so we’re not exactly in the position to go out and spend even more than that entire project cost.

The other aspect that has me leaning against buying new is the fact that babies are messy. The back seat of my Scion has absorbed more, um, bodily fluid than I’m sure that I’m even aware of.

This might not help the re-sale value of my Scion but the air freshners wedged under the front seats are there to hide the acrid smell of vomit that coated the interior side of the rear passenger side door just a few short weeks ago.

That’s okay in a car that I’ve been driving for 5+ years. But if Duncan I or the forthcoming Duncan II projectiled all over a recent $40k purchase, well, I’m not sure a couple of Little Trees air freshners (yeah, they spell it that way) would be enough for me to “get over it.”

So a new minivan is out of the question.

USED:
Okay, so we can’t justify buying a new minivan only to coat the interior in puke. Here’s another idea — let’s buy one that’s already been coated in puke!

We spent a couple of hours last week looking at CarMax and AutoTrader for the puke flavored, err, used minivan of our dreams.

Well, it’s sticker shock all over again…

A late model minivan still costs in excess of $20k!?

These things have more miles on them than my Scion does right now but cost more than mine did when it had just 7 miles on it — and they probably have secret stank absorbers (known only to the used car industry) hidden somewhere to make them seem new.

Do we want to spend that much on a car with somebody else’s kids’ boogers all over it?

I’m not so sure. It kind of skeeves me out…

DISPOSABLE:
The internet is pretty neat. Having grown discouraged on my quest to find a suitable vehicle, I went astray and started to browse far less suitable vehicles…

I showed my wife, “Hey look — we can get a Bentley Mulsanne for far less than a used minivan…”

Less suitable?

I started to ponder…

Rolling into daycare in a Bentley would definitely turn some hot mom heads, I thought…

I should persue this…

And I did.

You can get a Rolls-Royce, if that’s your fancy, at a bargain basement price too — often for less than those late model minivans with similar mileage… Who knew?

Sure, some of them were manufactured in the 1980’s but you have to figure that anyone who could afford a vehicle of that nature new while managing to keep the total mileage low (relatively speaking) took care of it.

And for well under $10k, we could pay for it lickety-split.

It wouldn’t have to last very long — anything over two years would just be a bonus.

Best of all, the idea of boogers and vomit all over someone else’s old beater doesn’t seem to phase me much…

But, really, how many car seats have you seen in the back of a Bentley? It’d be more likely to find traces of cocaine in the glove compartment… For some reason, that doesn’t bother me too much either…

Anyway, more realistically speaking, I’ve been looking at older but more exclusive vehicles that will suit our short term needs — mainly a bigger car that we can afford right now and one that we won’t feel bad for essentially destroying…

Keepin’ it real, y’all…

What would you do?

(No, I’m not even considering a Chrysler 200…)

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

PIAC Post Extension:
Hang on, Brainy, don’t you already have three cars?

Sheesh — are you a stalker or something?

I last mentioned that on May 7th, 2008

Yes, we have 3 cars. And here’s the crazy part — we’re not planning on trading one of them in for this next purchase.

Yep — family of four with four cars. Perfect example of American excess — except we’re Canadian.

Well, three of us are…

Anyway, it’s true that we have 3 cars — and we’re looking to add a fourth — but they all serve a unique purpose. It’s not like we have three Accords and a Jetta (all basically the same vehicle) in the driveway. That would be ridiculous.

We’ve got the two seater BMW that someday will, again, resume it’s role as the fun weekend vehicle.

We’ve got a two-seater Toyota Tacoma pick-up truck that’s come in handy more times than I can count.

And then we’ve got the Scion that can actually fit all of us.

They’re all paid for so they’re not costing us anything.

At the same time, they’re all relatively worthless regarding trade-in values so there isn’t really much reason to eliminate one.

Besides, the car on the chopping block is the Tacoma and it’s the most useful of the vehicles in our fleet…

It’s not going anywhere…

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Money Beagle‘s comment to Monday’s posting was so awesome that I thought a response was worthy of its own posting.

Click here to read the original post — and his follow-up comment.

Really, you need to click on the link — otherwise the rest of this post is meaningless.

Regarding me missing the mark…I beg to differ.

Don’t get me wrong — I thought it was a good commercial. Well, the first minute or so of it was good.

I thought the soundtrack worked (partially because you never heard his (Eminem’s) nasally voice).

I thought the message was, well, it was good too.

I just thought the star was all wrong for the reasons I listed out originally.

Beag mentioned the Grammys — Eminem’s got to have some curb appeal. Good point but that’s the thing — how many folks over the age of 30 have ever heard any of the songs nominated in any of the categories?

We’re about the same age — right in the center of that most coveted advertising demographic. I don’t know about you, but I pretty much punched out of the modern music scene in the Dave Matthews era and the waning days of Pearl Jam.

Don’t get me wrong — I know who Katy Perry, Taio Cruz, and Miley Cyrus are. I’m not totally out of touch.

I’m also not ashamed to admit that I enjoy listening to all three… Back-to-back-to-back…

At the same time, though, I have zero interest in the acts performing on Dick Clark’s Rockin’ Eve celebration anymore. Haven’t had any interest in over a decade. The same holds true for the Grammys — performers, nominees, and presenters.

I think I’m in the majority on that one. I still watch the show but mostly because nothing else is on on that night — kinda like how I watched the Super Bowl even though my Bears weren’t in it.

Point is, Eminem has little appeal to me and probably everyone that I know over the age of 30.

On a tangent, since I mentioned the Dick Clark thing, I’d like to take this moment to mention that Will Smith’s daughter is terrible. Just terrible. “Whip My Hair?Huh?

Now, for the whole “Made in the USA” thing, well, I know that that hasn’t been the case in the auto industry since, well, probably the early 1970’s — just like you mentioned.

I drove a GEO Metro in the early 1990’s. It was a GM product. Inside the door, it said Suzuki. Go figure.

My BMW was assembled in the heart of NASCAR country. German engineering? Yeah, right…

My Scion was actually assembled in Japan. I’m actually pretty surprised by this.

I only mentioned the “across the river” to connect it with the Justin Bieber reference. That, and hailing from southern Ontario, I know first hand that the landscape is dotted with humongous auto assembly plants. And technically, Windsor, Ontario could be considered a Detroit-area assembly plant like you mentioned — close or not, it’s still in another country.

I also thought it was appropriate as they threw “Imported” from Detroit right in your face as if Detroit itself is another country. What’s up with that?

We’re in total agreement that Chrysler had/has lost its edge. I blame the Plymouth Voyager explosion of the mid 1980’s. Mini-vans were their bread-and-butter back then and they held on to that “image” for far too long.

They do need some “edge”. But I still say that Eminem in a Super Bowl commercial was the wrong way to go about it. On MTV, during a Jersey Shore marathon, sure, but not the Super Bowl.

When it comes to widely viewed events (such as the Super Bowl), the memorable commercials are the ones that have appeal to the masses.

Comedy is one way to get there — though that generally works best for beer commercials.

The Volkswagen Passat Darth Vader spot used comedy and a “villian” from 35 years ago. That worked. My son is the same age as your little one (to the day, I think) and he knows who Darth Vader is. My mother knows who he is too.

It appealed to all ages (and genders) making it a perfect Super Bowl commercial.

VW is not suffering from an image crisis though…

Back on topic and regarding what I think was a poor casting choice for a Super Bowl commercial.

The last big, BIG televised event that I can think of was the Winter Olympics last February. You may or may not remember the BC Tourism commercial that ran nearly every break featuring Sarah McLachlan, Ryan Reynolds, Michael J. Fox, Steve Nash, Kim Cattrall, and Eric McCormack.

If not, here it is:

Same idea as the Chrysler commerical, while not all local to Vancouver or even British Columbia, all of them are Canadian and pretty much everyone on the northern half of this hemisphere will know of at least one of those celebrities. Further, it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll have a neagative image towards any one of them either…

The 30-something crowd knows who Sarah McLachlan is, whether it’s from her music of the late 1990’s or the ASPCA commercials that can make grown men cry.

Ryan Reynolds was named People’s most beautiful person three years in a row. I’m not certain why — he’s alright, I guess — but that crown ensure that grocery store tabloid readers know who he is along with all those folks going to see his chick flick movies.

The older crowd would know who Michael J. Fox is from his time on Family Ties. Or even the Back to the Future movies. More recently, he’s the face of Parkinson’s disease. He’s well known and, as far as I can tell, pretty well respected too.

Steve Nash was the NBA’s MVP for a few seasons. All of the wannabe jocks know who he is.

Kim Cattrall covers the cable crowd. She was one of the stars in the Sex in the City series that got so many people to pay extra for HBO. She’s also been in tons of movies and even dated Pierre Trudeau (a former Pime Minister of Canada).

Eric McCormack, rightfully so or not, covers the gay crowd. I’m not sure if he’s actually gay or not, I don’t think he is — it doesn’t really matter — but from his role on the tv show Will & Grace, I’d say that the masses just assume he is.

How do these six spokespeople differ from Eminem? Well, first off, the variety alone ensures that 95% of the audience will identify with at least one of them. Maybe Chrysler should have had a few more cameos.

Further, though, and more importantly, they all have pretty squeaky clean images.

I’m not an expert on any of those celebs — I listed pretty much all I know about them — but I do know that their image is treated with higher regard than that of Eminen. Image is everything.

That’s why I thought the commercial was terrible.

You just don’t want a perceived thug telling you they’re coming back. To me, that’s the message Chrysler sent and it’s 100% because of the casting. It’s not edgy — it’s almost insulting.

Oh, and I don’t see Detroit making a comeback.

Dearborn, maybe.

Okay, does this mean we should have a rap showdown?

;0)

Seriously — I really appreciate the well thought-out, not to mention long, comment. Thanks Dude!

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Not gonna happen.

I know, I know… It’s pathetic to be giving up on it after just one week but the goal of spending less than $1500 for the entire month isn’t possible anymore.

A couple of annual business expenses that I’d totally forgotten about happen to come due in February.

Further, I just received a bill for roughly $200 from the dentist for a cleaning that I had done in January. Remind me to say “No” to the x-rays next time…

We dropped our dental insurance last year as we we’d been paying out more in premiums for years than our bills would have cost if we’d paid out of pocket.

It’s times like these where it feels like a bad decision but, mathematically, it was sound.

I only wish we could do the same for our medical insurance but that’s a whole other issue…

Combined — plus the routine monthly utility and mortgage expenses — well, I’m going to exceed the $1500 ceiling in no time so here’s the new goal…

It’s actually a tangent of the original goal — I’d wanted to spent less than $1500 so I could pay down my credit card debt at a more robust pace. Well, the new goal is to have one of the remaining credit card balances paid off by month’s end.

That exceeds the original goal and, yeah, I might need to “borrow” a bit from savings to do it but it’ll be the right move in the long run.

Just like dropping our dental insurance was…

Can You Dig It?

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