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Excerpts from today's chat


Los Angeles, Calif.: You called this year's Superbowl commercials "unspectacular" in Achenblog. What was your favorite of the bunch? If you were put in charge of designing a Washington Post ad to be played during the Superbowl, what would the ad be like?

Joel Achenbach: I liked the monkeys with the whoopie cushion, though I'm not sure all the other monkey ads were necessary (the monkeys with the banana as a cellphone: too obvious). The ads for careerbuilder.com were quite funny and edgy, I thought: the guy on the cell who says, "you're being robbed" at the counter and gets maced and stun-gunned; the guy with the cat and the spaghetti sauce and his date thinks he's murdering the feline. And i laughed out loud (rare event) at the Broadcast Censorship Hearings sketch with the old guy on the oxygen mask.

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Greensboro, N.C.: I enjoyed this Sunday's column. But I had this nagging feeling that I was missing the point. While it worked pretty well as a kind of surreal short story, there were certain things that made me think it was parodying something very specific, but I didn't know what it was. And now you'll tell us what it was, and I'll feel dense and un-hip (usually I feel reasonably quick-witted and un-hip).

Joel Achenbach: I originally started that piece about 4 years ago. I was parodying the dot.com culture in which companies that didn't actually have a product were worth 100 billion dollars. But the dot.com boom went bust and the piece kind of skewed in a different direction. To some extent it's autobiographical -- it's a gorgeous day outside and I'm glue to this computer screen with a second computer glaring at me (whence i retrieved the writers block thing), and increasingly I sense that information technology captures us and forces us to live in the matrix (someone should make a movie with that title). The piece obviously had echoes of "Brazil," which is a dark satire of "1984," itself a very very dark satire of Soviet style communism.

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1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C.: Why does your column remind me of the TV show "The Prisoner"? Throughout the entire series, Number Six would torment a different Number Two each week attempting to learn who Number One is. At the end, it seems that the most likely prospect was that Number Six was Number One. Sort of like how things work today at the White House.

Joel Achenbach: That's very funny. One conspiracy theory is that Bush is actually in charge of the White House (in the same way that Reagan in the old Saturday Night Live skit was secretly a genius), though I find that rather far fetched.

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AchenOhio: Joel, your most recent column seemed to be a hybrid between "Gattaca", "1984", and conspiracy-theories-R-us. Major thumbs down.
Now, on to the important things -- have any good geophysicist jokes? Any chance of you and Weingarten doing a chat-swap?

Joel Achenbach: Thumbs down? Jeez. Hey where are the Social Security and federal budget questions? I think this weekly chat may have to sleep with the fishes soon, it has such a mindless, jabbering quality. Gene's chat meanwhile has like 1 million readers. We watched the Super Bowl together and I think he agreed that Paul was surprisingly good, not as cringe-inducing as one would have anticipated. And Von Drehle made the salient observation (all his are that way) that you just can't picture John Lennon doing a halftime show. and if he did, there'd be a 50-50 chance he'd get lost in the basement of the stadium. I just don't see "I am the Walrus" working in that format, you know?

By Joel Achenbach  |  February 7, 2005; 4:07 PM ET
 
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