Why Is The “Jake From State Farm” Commercial Still On The Air?

I’ve been watching college basketball on TV lately. That means one thing: I’ll see the “Jake from State Farm” commercial another dozen times or so. What pitiless person keeps running that ad during every bit of sports programming on broadcast television?

This commercial has been on the air for years. Why? Why? It’s a very weird storyline. A sweaty, shifty-eyed, whispering guy is calling State Farm at 3 a.m., apparently to get a quote. His suspicious wife thinks he’s calling some trollop or phone sex service, so she seizes the phone and hears the voice of Jake from State Farm — who says he’s wearing khakis.

Are we supposed to think the wife is a shrew? Because I actually sympathize with her. Why is her husband disturbing her sleep by calling for an insurance quote in the middle of the night? Why is he acting so secretive? I’m betting she has good reason to wonder about his whispered phone calls.

So, I repeat — why has this commercial been a staple of sports TV for years? It’s not funny. Maybe it appeals to guys who feel hen-pecked? And what’s supposed to be our takeaway about State Farm? That it keeps a call center staffed with beefy salesmen at all hours of the day?

It’s time to retire “Jake from State Farm.” Please, I beg you — let sports fans watch a game without being exposed, again, to this sordid family tale!

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Survive And Advance

For the first time in years, the Ohio State Buckeyes played on Thursday in the Big Ten Tournament. Today they were fortunate to win a squeaker, 63-61, over a game Purdue Boilermakers team that gave the Buckeyes all they could handle.

The Buckeyes have been a cipher for months, and today was no different. For stretches they look putrid, then then look pretty good. They can’t make a three-pointer, and their free throw shooting is abysmal. Today they were 1-14 from behind the arc — that’s a nifty 7.1% for the mathematicians out there — and a limp 64% from the free throw line. Once again, they missed free throws that could have put the game away. They also turned the ball over 12 times, and a lot of those turnovers were simple mental mistakes. It’s got to be maddening for Coach Thad Matta when March rolls around and those mistakes keep being made.

With such miserable shooting, it’s amazing that Ohio State won today’s game. If they’d played a better team — Purdue finished last in the Big Ten — they probably would have lost. But the Buckeyes survived and advanced, which is all you can ask for when tournament time rolls around. We can be sure of one thing, though: if they don’t play better, they aren’t going to advance very far. Maybe this game is the one you somehow win when everything goes wrong, and now everything will click into place. Or, maybe this is just another reflection of a team that can’t shoot straight.

Who’s Spying On Whom?

The interaction between the Central Intelligence Agency and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has grown increasingly bizarre — even by the standards of the weird, symbiotic world of Washington, D.C.

California Senator Diane Feinstein, normally a stout defender of intelligence-gathering programs, has accused the CIA of spying on the SSCI as it performs its “watchdog” function and attempts to exercise oversight over America’s intelligence-gathering agencies. The CIA denies that charge, but says the SSCI improperly obtained access to documents the CIA did not intend to share. Indeed, the CIA has referred the matter to the Justice Department to consider whether a criminal investigation should occur. Yesterday’s Washington Post has a good recap of the issues and competing versions of events.

I don’t know who is telling the truth. I do know, however, that this dispute perfectly captures the “down the rabbit hole” nature of the relationship between our increasingly powerful administrative agencies and their purported congressional watchdogs. So, the CIA gets to decide exactly what the “watchdogs” can see? And if the “watchdogs” get hold of documents the CIA doesn’t like, the watchdogs might be subject to criminal prosecution — even though the documents clearly are being used in furtherance of the oversight function that is a key part of Congress’ job?

Doesn’t all of this suggest that the fox is controlling access to the henhouse? Does anyone believe we’ll ever truly get to the bottom of all of these surveillance programs and understand who is spying on whom? This kind of story strikes at the core of the credibility — or lack of credibility — of congressional fact-finding reports and raises serious questions about whether anything, or anyone, is keeping our intelligence-gathering agencies in check.

Pinfoot

I’ve now got steel pins in the bones of the middle three toes of my left foot. It sounds pretty painful, and it is. In fact, it hurts like hell.

Curiously, I didn’t really focus on this aspect of the surgery before going under the knife. I guess I thought it would be like having a dental implant, or some other painless miracle of modern medicine. It isn’t. When you’re drilling holes in bones and inserting metal rods, it’s going to hurt. The fact that the pins protrude from my toes and have little yellow plastic balls at the tip, like some kind of doll pin, just adds insult to injury. And I’ll probably never use the word “pinpoint” again without an inward shudder.

My painful, pinful experience also helps to explain the back story and motivation of that Pinhead horror movie character from the Hellraiser series. I’ve only got pins in three toes; that poor bastard had pins in every square inch of his head. No wonder the guy was always in such a foul mood! Just imagine how murderous he would have been if he had little yellow balls on the end of each pin, too.