Thursday, October 7, 2010

Some Particulars About the General

Perhaps he's not as ubiquitous as the Geigo gecko or cavemen, but "the General" from General Auto Insurance is beginning to show up all over the television dial. With his promise of quick quotes, low rates, and a low monthly payment, the General is aiming to take command of the auto-insurance battlefield.

But the General has several telltale flaws that betray him as unfit for command and keep me from volunteering for his outfit:

» A five-star general, such as the general in question, is a General of the Army. Only Dwight Eisenhower, George C. Marshall, Omar Bradley, Hap Arnold, and Douglas MacArthur attained this rarefied rank as active soldiers. A General of the Army wouldn't be casually referred to as "the General," which fails to delineate him from even a measly brigadier.

» More significantly, the General's rank insignia on his helmet is incorrect. A five-star general's rank is denoted not by five stars in a row, but by a "pentagon" of five stars, as can be seen here and on the shoulder of Eisenhower, Bradley, and Marshall below...which leads me to believe that the General is, at most, a four-star general who stuck a fifth star on his helmet without the approval of Congress—congressional approval being the only way a fifth star can be conferred.

» And the General's drooping biker moustache is an egregious breach of military regulation. Sure, a high-ranking officer gets leeway in the realm of facial hair, but this moustache won't pass muster even for a General of the Army, and the Commander-in-Chief should bust this Hells Angels wannabe down to three stars for its flagrancy. One cannot lead by example if one is not setting the example...even in peacetime auto insurance.

I'll support our troops all day long...but I can't support this trooper.

Now, there is an admiral for The Admiral Insurance Group, based in Wales, but I don't know enough about 18th-century Royal Navy dress to put my trust in this guy. And isn't the parrot really an indication of piracy?
For more on potential violation of military regulations,, see the Mount Drinkmore entry of January 4, 2007, "A Promoter Without a Promotion" via the blog archive or keyword military.

(Photo of the General copyright General Auto Insurance; photo of the admiral copyright The Admiral Group.)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

When the Cosmo Aligns...Giddy-up!

Like many of you, I harbor deep regrets: Ruined romantic opportunities. Misguided career decisions. Short-sighted moments of inaction. Some of these have steered the course of my life for the worse, or at least left lasting scars that I’ll carry for the rest of my days.

If I were to compile a list of my regrets, one that remains fresh bears getting off my chest:

Spring 2004: I’m walking north on 19th Street, about a block and a half from my then-residence just off Rittenhouse Square. Roaring toward me comes a hook & ladder, siren blaring as it responds to a call on the other side of the square. I saw the fire engine coming, and my immediate instinct was perfectly natural for a Seinfeld connoisseur: yell "Hey, Kramer!" to the hook & ladder's rear driver, just as in Episode 117, "The Secret Code." Maybe he'd respond as did Kramer—with a wave and a yell. Maybe not. Either way, I'd be fulfilling every Seinfeld fan's dream: to play out in reality a classic moment from the show. I had several seconds to react, but a completely irrational inhibition of drawing attention to myself on a public street cropped up and, unbelievably, kept me from seizing the Kramerian the opportunity tragically passed forever. I think about that moment a lot—perhaps not as much as foolishly opting to transfer out of what was a pretty good party school after my freshman year or failing to take Miss So-and-So to bed—but enough that the pain flares every time I see that Seinfeld episode in reruns or hear a fire engine's horn racing down the block.

Other regrets:

• Never went to a Gordon Lightfoot concert on acid
• Spent three years earning a PhD in Morse code on a hunch that e-mail was a passing fad and the telegraph would make a comeback
• Chose to see Avatar in 1-D
• Have never visited 332 Kellett St., Deloraine, Manitoba
• Got out of bed most days
• Approaching my 43rd birthday, yet still don't know what the difference is—if any—between a sweet potato and a yam
• Convicted of a Class B misdemeanor for castling in a checkers game
• Took a stunning 19-year-old, 5-foot-six, 110-pound, 38-DD, redheaded vegan to an all-you-can-eat rib joint on a first date because I was in the mood for ribs

(Images copyright NBC.)

Friday, October 1, 2010

You're a Grandma's Old Flag...You're a High-Stylin' Flag

Once again, a furor has arisen over a citizen flying the Confederate battle flag on his/her property. Annie Chambers Caddell, of Summerville, South Carolina, has opened the latest can of worms by flying the flag on her front porch. She is white and lives in a historically black” neighborhood. Caddell insists that she is merely displaying pride in her Southern heritage, but some of her African American neighbors see it as a symbol of overt racism and want her to remove the flag. Denying any hateful intentions, this rebel without probable cause refuses to comply, and objecting members of the community plan to raise the issue before a town board meeting later this month.

Regardless of Caddells constitutional right to fly the Confederate flag, or whether or not you view the rebel flag as a symbol of hatred or racism (I, personally, consider it a badge of treason, emblematic of the evil institution of slavery cloakedlike its vile cousin, lynchingin the spurious rationale of states rights”; a flag of, literally, a foreign nationand a vanquished one at thatthat has no more business flying over an American government building than does the Japanese rising sunone fact continually has been overlooked in this long-standing issue: its a good-looking flag: assertive design, attractive color scheme, lots of triangles. Sociopolitical implications aside, the Confederate flag brightens up any home, business, or official property. I find it a great shame that such an aesthetically pleasing flag carries the repulsive historical baggage it does and thus cannot be enjoyed simply as stylish decor.

Then again, The Dukes of Hazzards General Lee, with its Confederate battle-flag roof, serves as a constant reminder of one of the dumbest shows in television history (apart from Daisy Duke in her Daisy Dukes), thus doing even more to sully the flags reputation than its insurrectionist, segregationist legacy.

Those dopey good ol boys may never have been meanin no harm, but their car beats all you never saw...highlights the flags worst flaw...since the day that show was born.

(Photo of Annie Chambers Caddell by Brad Nettles and copyright The Charleston Post and Courier; photo of Bo and Luke Duke copyright CBS.)