Shithouse rat

I'm a bipolar writer in the Naked City. I'm not playing with a full deck. I don't have all my dots on the dice. My cheese is sliding off my cracker. I don't have both oars in the water. I'm a bubble off plum. In other words, I'm crazier than a shithouse rat. These are my stories. Comments--short or long, nasty or nice--always welcome!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Those juicy Apple commercials

light #2
Originally uploaded by blakie.
Sad proof of how I currently have no life to speak of: I was nearly heartbroken when someone decided to discontinue those commercials where the adorable AOL guy quells potential customers’ anxieties in a verbal volley of reassurances ("Viruses? Zapped! Spam? Blocked!"). Perhaps AOL has finally bit the dust, or can’t afford advertising anymore. Does anyone still use AOL, anyway?

In any case, despite a happy long-term relationship with my boyfriend, I couldn’t help but experience a frisson of excitement every time I saw that cute but geeky guy quelling all fears about the hazards of the Internet. I could relate, since I’m still a bit gun shy when it comes to computers myself.

Fortunately — perhaps just for me — there’s still those Geek Squad commercials. In them, a hapless consumer, usually a damsel in distress, goes ballistic when her computer crashes. But those kind-hearted, dependable geeks will go to any lengths to come to the rescue as quickly as possible.

Like Superman, they are faster than a speeding bullet in their response — gunning it in their little beetle geekmobiles, parachuting down from the skies when necessary, jet packing their way to the rescue when a traffic jam stalls them. Of course these guys really do look like true geeks, but they are still kinda cute — all you’d have to do is maybe buy them a longer pair of pants and get their glasses repaired, or put them in some tight black jeans and boots, and they’d practically be marriage material. After all, to the less than computer savvy, a geek has the power to restore lives to sanity and order once again. They are the closest thing to gods in cyberspace.

I didn't have the same feeling about the “Dude, you’re gettin' a Dell" guy. He was just some clueless, Eddie Haskell-type looking for a party rather than a truly knowledgeable nerd. In fact, I believe the Dell kid was unceremoniously dumped when it was alleged that he had been smoking herb. Party on, Dell dude!

But now, at just about the same time Microsoft’s Bill Gates has decided to, as the Microsoft website attests, "transition out of a day-to-day role in the company," Apple has come out with some ingeniously irresistible commercials. They typify the evolution of the traditional geek into a triumphant neo-geek who actually possesses social skills. Though Gates' phenomenal success may be a metaphor for the revenge of the nerds in the latter decades of the 20th century, Apple seems to have topped them by representing the sexy nerd who can actually get laid.

The commercials feature Mr. PC and Mr. Mac. Mr. PC looks alarmingly similar to, well, a poor man’s Bill Gates — outmoded glasses, cheap looking suit, awkward demeanor. I’m sure that PC is married, and equally sure that even his wife doesn’t find him sexy.

Mr. Mac, on the other hand, is a boyishly handsome, slightly scruffy, laid back guy who likes to have fun above all else. I imagine him being the fantasy of many a young lady who would love to date him, but he seems so casual and elusive, albeit affable and friendly, that I doubt he could be caught easily. He reminds me of — well, of a young Steve Jobs, the charismatic CEO of Apple.

In one spot, PC and Apple are both standing in their packing boxes. PC has his work cut out for him — loading all his software, deleting the software files that came with him, and so on. Mac is ready to do all the cool stuff, right out of the box — make a movie, set up a website, and record a song. Noting that PC has a lot to do before he can do anything, he hops out of his carton and tells PC he’ll catch up with him later.

In another commercial, PC tries to demonstrate how much fun one can have assembling pie charts representing fun things. Apple replies along the lines of “Sweet! I feel like I’m there.” A third spot has Apple modestly bragging that he’s a "PC" as well as a Mac, since he can do all the things a PC does and more.

In all the spots, PC is a hapless dude, but the affable Apple guy is always friendly and cordial to PC. He would never dream of insulting PC but it’s abundantly clear who the hippest geek of all is, hands down. I like to think of it as the revenge of the nouveau-nerd.

A fellow Blogcritic recently referred to Apple fans as a cult. If so, I’m happy to be part of the cult, which one might even consider, especially after viewing these commercials, as a cult of personality. About a year ago, I purchased Herman, my trusty Apple Power Book, and it was love at first sight. I asked the young, cute, yet geeky salesman what he would recommend, and he said if he were buying this is what he’d get.

I asked about anti-virus software, and he told me there was no need to purchase any — Apple’s virus protection was built right in. As he recommended, I purchased the Apple Care Protection Plan, which came in handy almost immediately. I could speak to a troubleshooter over the phone and get all my stupid problems resolved immediately. No need for any Geek Squad housecalls.

It just makes sense that a company that has produced one of the most must-have accessories of the last decade, the iPod, would also rock my little piece of cyberspace with their awesome computers. In my book, Mac is smart, sexy, and adorable to boot. For me, Herman is the man. I don't give a measly microchip what the fuddy duddy PC holdouts say.


At 5:06 AM, Blogger Crazy.Spoiled.bLitch. said...

My dad is still on AOL and dial up too. He's 70 and says, "I move slow so my computer needs to be slow too."

Father knows best????

At 8:47 AM, Blogger fugusashi said...

I wish I had a Mac.

I like those commercials, too, although neither one of those guys seem sexy. Not enough body hair.

About AOL, the only time I get visits from AOL people is when I get nasty anonymous comments. AOL users all have the same IP address, so the comments are truly anonymous.

At 1:50 PM, Blogger dan said...

I play games on my computer, so I can't use a Mac.

But the commercial where they're both in their respective boxes cracks me up.

At 8:19 PM, Blogger !ce said...

I would like to take the Apple guy, park somewhere remote, and make out with him in the back seat of my car with an almost pathological intensity, particularly if he had flowers in his hair. As for the Dell guy, I would like to sneak him into my room during one of the few times both parents are gone, rip his clothing off, and make out with him on the floor of my room, especially if he were wearing major bling-bling and saying "holla!"

Currently, I am working from a Dell. It doesn't make me think of the hottie, but whatever.

At 9:34 PM, Anonymous Neo Geek said...

"They typify the evolution of the traditional geek into a triumphant neo-geek who actually possesses social skills."

So thats how neo-geek is defined. I guess it's a good thing to know. :D

At 3:19 PM, Anonymous Don said...

Hi Elvira,

I'm with you all the way on this one. Although my main machine is PC stashed away in my back bedroom, when I get the chance, I enable my wi-fi network and slope off into the conservatory with my 12" Powerbook, and in complete quiet, enjoy its unique experience. As an inveterate "gadgeteer", I've yet to find anything to surpass it not only in performance, but also aesthetically. Purr.

By the way, I'll be hanging around your neck-of-the-woods in a couple of weeks time, so steer clear of a British-looking guy with wide eyes, mouth open, and staring upwards at the tall buildings!

At 3:10 AM, Blogger Walker said...

I have never used AOL they got to Canada to late I think.
I have never owned and Apple but have worked on a few.
I repair computers when I am bored, not blogging or need to pay the rent.
I have a DELL,a Toshiba, and an Angel laptop and they have been a pain except the Dell.
But its so big and heavy I dont need to go to the gym anymore to work out I just carry it around.
I almost got and Apple last month at a great price from The Orchard.
I had sent in Baby Blue my IPOD in for at replacemnt.
Thats what they do they send you a new one.
Gotta love the Apple care plan.
The Orchard rocks.
Yeah ok I love my IPOD.

At 10:22 PM, Blogger Sage said...

I'll stick with my Road Runner with no viruses, pop-ups, ads or any other crap. Fast as lightning too.

If Apple is that great then please tell me why it never really has made any great inroads into marketshare. Not trying to be critical just don't understand that's all.

At 11:38 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


You and your dad might enjoy this piece on what happens when customers try to cancel their AOL accounts. It's not pretty:

Breaking Up is hard to Do When You're Dating AOL>

At 11:40 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


Yeah, on second thought, the Mac guy is kinda weasly looking, but cooler than the PC guy, though he's sort of loveable in his own nerdy way, but not sexy.

I didn't know that about AOL users all having the same IP address. That seems like it might be problematic if you're trying to trace hackers or something?

At 11:42 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


Yes, I gather that if you're a gamer, a PC is more the way to go.

However, I do love the I-Life software, which makes it easy to make films, create music, etc.

At 11:43 AM, Blogger elvira black said...


Hey! I thought you were asexual. Does making out not count as sexual?

Good to know you're an equal opportunity employer in lust. The Apple guy and the PC guy are pretty different types.

At 11:49 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Neo Geek:

Ooh, your site looks so cool! You're my hero--neo-geeks rule!

At 12:00 PM, Blogger elvira black said...


I knew we'd be sympatico on the Mac thing! I think you'll find some or most of the major NYC parks have hot spot/WiFi access--also Starbucks coffee shops, etc.

Hope you'll keep me posted on your trip--like I said, any questions you have I'd be honored to try and answer!

At 12:04 PM, Blogger elvira black said...


I think it's a good thing you never had AOL, judging from what I've read.

Almost got a Mac? Wow. I just tend to think that PC's are kind of clunky, and the Mac is more compact and elegant. Since I don't need it for anything too complex, it works perfectly for me. I guess you qualify as a bit of a neo-geek too since you repair computers--I'm even more impressed with you than I was before!

At 12:06 PM, Blogger elvira black said...


I didn't realize Apple didn't have much marketshare, but you're probably right. Thing is, my impression is that pc's still rule in terms of office computing and certain fields. I guess the Mac is probably more of a "personal" personal computer, which makes it seem more fun to me.

At 7:33 PM, Anonymous jane said...

Just stopping by to say Hi, Elvira! I'm glad to see you're posting again. :)

At 8:47 PM, Blogger Walker said...

Happy 4th of July :)

At 2:33 AM, Blogger !ce said...

Not the PC guy, the Dell guy. Big difference. I do not gind the PC guy that attractive. This reminds me, I have a short essay about the human male on my blog, along with a few other posts, awaiting Elvira's attention.

At 7:17 AM, Blogger Brink Craven said...

I always thought AOL was rediculously expensive considering the services they offered? who needs to pay 25 bucks a month for email and chat and a slow dial up connection with pop ups all over the place? I never could fathom it. but people seemed to like it several years ago, everyone I knew had it,just because it was cool or something. I knew AOL would loose out--as providers like netzero etc came onto the market and slashed the cost of connection in half-AOL never even attempted to compete. i think they had the idea that "they were the firsat, the best nd that thier costumers were too dumb to know the diff, was thier downfall. there hubris was thier downfall.

I owned a mac when I first touched the keyboards of a computer in my mid 30's. In fact, I learned how to compute by using a amc. those early days are etched in my memory and I think back on them with a kinda wistful romantisism.

But then I moved, and the family computer was lost to me ( it was the original, color translucent i-mac-which at the time was cutting edge technology-you mean I only have to plug this one cable into that hole? Thats it?! really??)

so, a freind saw me miserbale and computerless and gave me one of his old PC's and it served me well--until the time I was able to purchase a "real"computer that is-

Sure, i thought about a PC, (" afterall, they are cheaper, my consumer brain told me)"but those early days called to me--a little voice in my head said--but look at the beautiful interface, i-tunes, the operating system. I really do think that the OS by which one's personal computer geekness is born, really does have an effect on our futer ideas of what a computer should be like. its kinda like the feelings we get when thinking of our first love.

Plus, the new i-mac was such a delight--so i plopped down over a grand for it and decided to take the plunge and commit myself to cable connection. my apple heaven was reborn.

I love my apple. sometimes I fear about how much I love it. Im afraid that if I were to loose it, I wouldnt survive. that isnt a good thing, but I fear there is nothing I can do about now. I am smitten and dependant. now and for all eternity.

good to see ya E! great writing as ususal. you always make me think.

At 4:42 AM, Anonymous Mike Johnson said...

I have thought for the longest time that Apple did well in spite of their marketing, not because of it. Apple commercials are notorious for not telling potential users a thing about why they should consider buying a Mac! They have done almost exclusively image promotion. Fine for what it’s worth, but what about all the people who might be interested in the other reasons to using a Mac? (For the moment Dave, just assume there are some.)

One ad that comes to mind as an exception. The ad for the orginal iMac that showed how amazingly easy it was to get set up and connected to the internet.
FirstMed Consulting - Male impotence specialists.

At 10:35 AM, Anonymous Jason said...

I so love those commercials too! Especially the one where PC is all covered in casts because someone carelessly tripped over his power cord. "I see a sunset over a field of hay..." "Isn't that your screen saver?" Hilarious !

At 10:55 AM, Anonymous Michelle said...

You're all right, those commercials rock! I have to get me a Mac so I'll know how it feels!

At 8:50 AM, Blogger elvira black said...

Hey all, thanks for the great comments.

Ironically, I heard that they are giving the Mac guy the boot because Apple realized that he's too snarky and people are feeling more sympathetic toward the PC guy. The Mac guy looked familiar to me--and it turns out he's been in some movies prior to this. Plus, now that I look at him, he's not so cute after all.

Anyway, I can't swear to it, but the above is what I read somewhere, and I'm pretty sure it's true.


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