BB #27: Far Less

Laurel Coppock

“Far Less” what?

Yesterday I wrote about a TV commercial with a bit of a design flaw (and, yet, without that flaw the commercial wouldn’t work). I generally go to great lengths to avoid having to see television commercials, but sadly one cannot avoid all of them. Still, as a former TV and film student, they fascinate me as much as they annoy me.

Advertisers have under a minute to tell you a story that pushes their product. Some are straight-forward about it, others are more oblique. (Generally, the more real substance a product offers, the greater the chance the commercial is straight-forward.)  Some commercials can be real works of art. One of these days I’ll write about some that I find very striking.

Today I want to talk about Toyota Jan.  And Bacon.

Toyota Jan 1

Jan gets to the truth!

If you watch TV, you’ve probably seen Toyota Jan. She made her first appearance for Toyota in the lie detector commercial.

In that one, she’s using a lie detector to grill a Toyota salesman, because she can’t believe Toyota cost less but have more features.

At one point, to verify the correct operation of the lie detector, she asks the salesman if he’s, “uncontrollably attracted to her.”

The salesman uncomfortably denies it, and—of course—the lie detector goes bananas.

I always wanted to reply, “Well, not uncontrollably…”

Lilith Sternin

Dr. Sternin!

[She is a brunette (which I favor), and she has facial features that I find very appealing (I’m into faces, in part due to life-long hearing issues and some acquired lip-reading ability). More to the point, she somehow sparkles on screen; she has one of those 1000-watt personalities that just draw you to her.  She’s mouthing the writer’s words, so unfortunately it’s impossible to gauge her intelligence (much more important than hair color or facial features).  Bebe Neuwirth‘s Lilith Sternin fooled me that way… then I saw her on Letterman… she seemed a bit of an airhead!]

So not Lilith Sternin!

Not Dr. Sternin!

Lately they’ve had Toyota Jan stuck behind a reception desk dealing with various kinds of customers. I haven’t really enjoyed those commercials.

The one with the couple and the baby who picks the car I find the most annoying (although I like her reading of the line about how they have the radio, “Oh, we have that!”).

It’s in these commercials that we learn her name is Jan. (“Hi, I’m Jan!”)

In fact, the actress is Laurel Coppock, and she has a fairly substantial work history. (But no Wiki page, yet!)

She’s ‘a main company member of The Groundlings in Los Angeles,’ and she’s made appearances in Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Office and many others.

She also has a part in Crazy, Stupid Love, a film I’ve been intending to see (and now definitely will). She’s even got a writing credit, which speaks well to her intelligence and capability.

This has all been context. The real point is the third series of commercials (so far there is only one in the series). I really liked the lie detector commercial.

Even after seeing it many times, it was still reasonably painless to watch (her facial expressions were fun, and I liked the sly attitude).  As I said, I’m not big on the second series, the car dealership customers series.

Toyota Jan 3

Well, maybe a little “uncontrollably”…

In this third version they’ve gone completely conventional (read: boring, boring, boring).

This last commercial is just a really basic car commercial.  Shots of cars driving around along with the strong saves mucho gas message.

And at long last we come to my point.

The commercial starts with “Jan” (dull face-on shot) telling us that, “Toyota can take you far… while costing you far less.”

(I’m guessing some young ad writer thought it would be totally awesome to use the same word twice in contrast like that.)

Stuck behind a desk!

I was going to complain about that use of “far,” since it usually refers to distance, not amount.

Turns out that, as an adjective, that’s true.  But as an adverb, it can be used for comparison.

So, I learned something, which is always nice.  And I don’t have to diss “Jan” for bad grammar. (My small crush remains unsullied by incorrect use of language! (Yes, it matters. (To me, anyway.)))

But the commercials are increasingly boring.  They seem to be focusing on the cars or something.

And I still have hugely mixed feelings when it comes to Camrays.

[channel change]


Supes is fighting evil. Again.

There’s a burger commercial that ties in to the new Superman movie. (Carl’s Jr., which used to be my favorite fast food chain when I lived in Los Angeles.)

In the commercial, I’m told that, in Metropolis construction workers get three times the work (due to all the Superman-based destruction—having superheroes in your city is a bit like having regular visits from Gojira).

Therefore, logically speaking, they eat three times the bacon.

As syllogisms go,…  WTF?


So I must eat more bacon!

The repetition (like the far/far above) is cute. Three times the work; three times the bacon.

But the logic really stinks.  Really, the only logical connection is: three times the bacon—generally speaking—means three times the heart attacks.

Don’t get me wrong here: I love bacon. I can almost do that cartoon trick of letting the scent of cooking bacon pick up and waft me along by the nose to the source.

On our camping trips, my buddy and I usually split a pound of bacon for breakfast.

If you think this is bad...

If you think this is bad…

I love the stuff. But I don’t wear bacon cologne or buy bacon-themed clothes, and I certainly have no plans to be buried in a coffin painted to look like bacon.

(I’m not sure if that coffin was a joke or serious.  I want to believe it was a joke.  Or perhaps it was morbidly appropriate. “We buried him in what killed him!”)

I love the stuff, but I don’t get being fannish about meat. (But then I can’t fathom many of the things people get fannish about.) I suppose bacon has a Facebore page and a TWIT’r account.

...consider this!

…get a load of this!

Maybe it’s just me. I don’t even go for autographs (although I happen to have Emmylou Harris‘—long story). I just don’t see the value in being one of the hundreds of autographs they gave. Today.

I was in the same room once with Neil Diamond (along with 60 other people), but it meant nothing (pity, too, since I was big fan at the time).  He had a solid ring of people, about three deep, surrounding him, so I couldn’t even get close.

It’s like it never happened; I had a better view of him earlier when he was on stage.

I met Raymond Burr once, and that time was able to introduce myself and shake his hand (and thank him for Perry Mason and Ironside, two shows I’ve loved).

But do you think he remembers some guy he met in passing in an airport? I doubt he even remembers the occasion.  (Well, he’s dead now, so of course he’s not remembering much of anything.)

Katherine HelmondAnd I met Katherine Helmond at a party once. I spent about ten minutes chatting with her (I was a really big fan of Soap (got the DVDs!), but never got into Who’s The Boss?).

And again, I’m sure it meant nothing to her (while I remember all these things years later).

My fantasies involve having the chance spend time with certain famous people. Enough time that they would remember me, get to know me (maybe even like me).

Anything short of that, what’s the point?

My list is very small. Most famous people don’t interest me too much.  The work supersedes the artist.

My “A” list has only three (and I would really, really love spending time with any of these three): Steve Martin, Jodie Foster and Kevin Costner.

(The “B” list is all directors: Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, Lawrence Kasdan.)

((In the Actress I Wish I Dated category: Lucy Liu, Lisa Edelstein and Tina Fey.))

How about you?  Who’s on your lists?

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

12 responses to “BB #27: Far Less

  • Lady from Manila

    I’m with you on the famous people on your “A” list, specifically Jodie Foster. She’s not just beautiful and a talented actor; she’s academically bright, too. Steve Martin is hilarious, while Kevin Costner looks hot to this day (Have you seen him in “Superman?”).
    I am glad to see you writing regularly again. You’re going to keep me pretty busy this weekend – reading your posts ;-). Feeling fab on this 2nd week of retirement, I suppose?

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Hi LM, welcome to the weekend! I’ve read some articles Foster published about fame, and she is indeed very intelligent, very perceptive and very educated. (So is Martin, for that matter.) Costner is definitely a hunk. I saw him (on TV) as a baseball game the other day. He’s a big fan of baseball; he’s been in three baseball movies (two of which are in my top five baseball movies).

      Retirement is wonderful!! I’m still wrapping my head around the idea that this isn’t vacation. I have to get ahead of my blog-a-day cycle (or cut down)… each day I’m spending a good chunk of it doing the day’s post. Then there’s usually a three-hour Twins game to watch. Retirement is *busy*!

      • Lady from Manila

        And I like the way Jodie Foster looks physically. Very neat. When I was a young girl, I clipped an article of her being a Yale scholar. I thought: whatta cool girl. “Field of Dreams” is one of your favorite baseball movies of Kevin Costner, I’m sure.
        You definitely need to cut down on blogging if it’s starting to feel like a chore or if it isn’t giving you pleasure anymore. Of course, that won’t be good news for your avid followers – that include me.
        Busy Wyrd Smythe, you can call me Marj. (shakes hands with you) 🙂

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Oh, the blogging isn’t a chore, really. But today, for example, I was up and at it around 8-ish, and here it’s just coming on noon now that I finished today’s article. I need to either get several articles ahead of myself, or stop posting every day. Probably eventually both will happen. Right now I have so much material, I’m trying to whittle it down a bit.

        Yep, Field of Dreams is one of my faves. So is Bull Durham. The Natural (Robert Redford) is in the group. A League of Their Own is in there, and I’m thinking Moneyball belongs there. I really like the Major League movies (all three), too.

        Contact is a favorite film (love the book, too), and I like Silence of the Lambs a lot (both made my Buy List). I recently saw Carnage, which is very, very good!

      • Wyrd Smythe

        So pleased to meet you! You’d better be sure to wear your badge for the next few posts:


  • Lady from Manila

    I just woke up and this is probably the most delightful gift of the day – for me. I am quite honored you took the time to come up with it. I like it. Thank you very much, my dear 421,620. 🙂

    • Lady from Manila

      Wooh, I had 3 “this” words in my last reply (yikes). Still sleepy, I guess… 🙂 I’d appreciate it if you could edit two of them for me, please? he he.

      “A League of Their Own” is a favorite of mine, too. Geena Davis was superb playing a gifted female baseball player. I haven’t watched the other films you mentioned yet. Ooh, my list of must-see is getting longer.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        (I changed the second and third “this,” but now “it” appears twice. Changing that would have been over-editing, so I left it as is. I’m the same way with repeated words, but you can drive yourself crazy sometimes!)

        Oh, you hang around with me, and your movie list will grow a lot! I majored in film and TV in college, and still love those arts, so it’s more than an idle pastime for me.

        Being a programmer, the “effort” (if you want to call doing something you enjoy “effort”) was in creating a little Python app to generate the badge image. You just type in the name, and it generates the L26 (or L27 or L80) number and puts it on the badge image.

        For example, here’s your Badge in L80:

        Marj (L80)

        I need to make an improvement. I’m using the largest font I’ve got, but the number isn’t very big. There’s plenty of room to put the original text below the number (maybe in quotes and italics).

  • Lady from Manila

    I’m impressed with the badge (It’s ok for the greeting to be prominent, I guess :-)), nonetheless, and the color (red) is one of my faves. When I was 20 years old, I took up short-term programming courses: Basic, Cobol, and Dbase (they’re obsolete now, I suppose). I did very well and enjoyed the study. So I have a little idea about your field. I loved the part where I kept on taking a look at the output even if the input was unfinished.

    You also majored in Film and TV in college? Wow!

    • Wyrd Smythe

      COBOL and BASIC are still around. The latter is more a teaching language, although I’ve used various dialects of BASIC at work.

      The language doesn’t actually matter that much; the real skill/talent is the analysis and design. It’s like being a trained musician. Playing any given instrument is mostly just a matter of learning the technique of producing specific notes on that instrument. You already know how to produce music.

      There is also the foundation lingo and concepts of software, which are also agnostic when it comes to specific languages. (In fact, it’s been mathematically proven that all “Turing Complete” programming languages (which most are) are equivalent. Just as Linguists enjoy comparing (and contrasting! :)) human languages, computer scientists enjoy comparing (ditto) computer languages.)

      Yep. Got into theatre in high school (looks like you’ve seen My Life 2.0) and added Film and TV in college. This was in Los Angeles, CA, so it wasn’t unusual. Just about everyone there is angling for their “big break” in Hollywood. Computer programming was my other career (the one that worked!).

  • Wyrd Smythe

    NEWS FLASH: If you look closely in her latest commercial (the “spelling bee” one), you might spot something interesting: Looks like Jan is expecting!

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