Friday, February 27, 2015

One tiny step to realize a dream!

Good morning!

Friends, I don't typically use this blog to ask you for anything.  I mean, sure, I put links to my books on here, and I I make the suggestion that you might enjoy reading them...and if you enjoy reading them, perhaps you'd please leave a positive review...but other than THAT...

Anyway...
On a school trip to France last summer..
.a trip she paid for all on her own.

My daughter was recently invited to participate in the Miss Wisconsin USA pageant in September.  Modeling has long been a dream of hers, pretty much since the first time she saw "Project Runway" for the first time.  (I know, not the point of that show...but that was her takeaway.)  This is a huge step for her.

She has some financial needs to take this step and she's set up a GoFundMe account.  Her needs are relatively small, compared to some I've seen on the site. Hubby and I would help her out, but I've been out of work for a bit and there hasn't been room in our budget for many extras.  Even if there were, Hannah is a very independent girl and takes pride in doing things on her own.  She still attends high school full time, graduates this year, and works almost full time at a restaurant, pretty much for tips. Most of her money goes to putting gas in her car, paying for her car insurance and her phone.  

I did some quick math and I figure if every person who reads my blogs donated $1, she'd have way more than enough money to take care of the entrance deposit and fees.

Freshman year...still optimistic about
everything around her
. She would not love that I'm sharing this picture.
So friends, I am putting out a call for help.  $1 from each of you.  If we are successful, my daughter, a girl who survived brutal bullying by people she thought were friends and abuse at the hands of a boyfriend, can realize a dream and see that life can be beautiful and strangers are often kinder than friends.



Thank you and God bless!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

When all else is spinning out of control...I write!

Good morning!

When I was very young, I had a hard time in school. Not because I couldn't handle the homework, my grades, except in Math and Gym, were far above average.  If it didn't involve numbers or physical activity, it came easy to me.  And it wasn't because I didn't have outside interests.  I was in 4-H, Girl Pioneers, church junior choir, I took piano lessons, and, from about the time I was twelve, I had a job.  My parents were married...to each other...and they actually liked each other.  So why was my childhood difficult?


I never felt accepted.  I have always been socially awkward.  People who know me now will find that statement surprising because I can speak and be entertaining in front of large groups.  But I've never felt comfortable in my skin, and even less so among people. As a kid, I kept busy in activities to give the impression of being popular, happy, busy, whatever.  It was at that time I was given the opportunity to write a short article for a 4-H contest.  The winner would have their story printed in the hometown newspaper.  I was the only one who wrote a fictional short story...a story about an awkward girl and her horse battling the upper crust girls and their fancy horses at a summer camp...and I won the contest.  It wasn't the first thing I wrote, but it was the first thing I wrote that really put a light on how I felt about myself and my place in society.

Yes, this is me at 13. 
Moving into my teen years, my parents did something that cracked my insecurities wide open.  They took me out of the high school where 1) my father wasn't actually on the faculty...a first for me 2)  I had friends and a social circle that seemed to like me for just exactly who I was and 3) every student had aspirations to go on to college, so academics were not just for the geeks and weirdos like me.  The basketball players and football players had to hit the books just as hard.  They moved me to another high school where all three of those points were reversed and my world went into a tailspin.  I spent three years dreaming of running away form home, all while throwing myself into activities:  Drama, band, school newspaper, clubs, and a job.  Anything to keep myself out of the house, so that my mother would stop asking me if the girls in my class had included me in some social thing. (Here's a spoiler:  They never did.)  I had a couple good friends, but for the most part I walked up and down the halls of that school, fearful for my physical well being (bullying is real, friends) and wishing I speak out when it came to what I was feeling inside.  

It's no coincidence, for me, that I started writing what eventually
became "Lies in Chance" at this stage of my life.  I created Rock Harbor, a peaceful place where life's orphans and runaways could find a place to live and be happy.  I created Shara Brandt, a prettier, smarter, more talented version of me who had the strength to battle what came at her and I created Bryan Jacobs, a man with baggage of his own, but a love big enough to look outside himself and put Shara first.  (Can we just say that my on again/off again boyfriend wasn't exactly a dream date all the time?)  I also wrote short stories, wads and wads of them. I even showed my parents some of them.  My father, my English teacher, looked at them with a businesslike eye. My mother. hoping to find something in me that would make ease her mind about my social status, praised my scribblings far more than she actually understood them.  It didn't matter. Writing was a solitary action that threw me into a place where I had friends, ease, happiness, comfort, romance, and above all, control.

Isn't that why we write, to control our surroundings?  As authors, we build worlds, we create characters, and we control every minute of what happens.  With experience and discipline, most of us can push through the thrill of control and let the characters speak for themselves.  (I didn't hear a character speak until Ramona Simms
screamed at me during the writing of "Dream in Color."  She didn't like the life I was building for her and she had plenty to say about it.)  But we as writers first and foremost control the world we write.

So it's no real surprise, as I look back over the past thirty years, that there are gaps in my writing.  I didn't write much in college.  I liked college.  I found my social niche, and while I still had plenty of anxiety about my surroundings and being among people I didn't know well, I was better able to cover it with a cheery exterior and an ability to chat.  I wrote some  my first few years of marriage.  Those were rough years, but not out of control years. I had a job I liked, we had a couple we traveled with and even though there were job changes and losses, it was just the two of us.

When we had kids, I started getting a bit more serious about writing, not as a hobby, but as a business.  I joined a writer's group.  It was a motley group, but some of my best writer friends came out of that bunch.  I keep in touch with some of them even now, so many years later.  It was a safe place where I could hear criticism, but still feel like I was making my way toward something.  I had a job where I worked at home, which was great.

Maybe it was when I decided I needed a job outside the home.  I don't know, but for the last ten years I haven't felt like I was in control of anything, which has resulted in a very prolific writing period for me.  Four novels, two novellas, under my own name, two humor books under my pen name, all written, edited, and published pretty much on my own.  Control...from start to finish.


Now my kids are growing up, and after the past two years of heartbreak, white knuckled prayer, and breath-holding, I have two adults living in my house, both of whom are on the verge of leaving me.  After these past two years, I'm in no shape to let them go.  But I can't control time. I can't control what they're going to do. I have to pray that my husband and I have done our job and whether they chose to live at home a while longer or, in the case of my youngest, if they can't wait to be on their own, I have to try and accept what I can't control.

And then I lost my job.  

My response?  I just started a new book series, my Nora Hill mysteries, and I joined a writers' group again..(Had my first meeting last night.  It was like going back in time.  Same instructor, Kathie Giorgio, but now at her new studio, Allwriters.)   

See, when the world is spinning out of control, when all else is crumbling, when I can't control anything around me...I can write.  And in writing I can control what's happening and find a resolution to problems that aren't mine.  It's therapeutic, it's comforting, and, ultimately my hope is that it is entertaining for you all.





Saturday, February 21, 2015

Sneak Peak Saturday! "Love is Enticing"

Good morning! 

For those of you not aware, I released a short romance this week.  It's part of my Rock Harbor short romance series, "Love is Enticing."  Those of you who have read "Lies in Chance" will recognize these short romances as a sort of prequel to the novel.

Today I'm sharing a snippet from "Love is Enticing."  Enjoy!








             Jennifer was quiet on the drive to Bryan’s place. So much happened, she needed to process everything before she was in a new situation, this time at Bryan’s, and then at Joanna’s.
            Bryan loves me. He said it.
            Jennifer was surprised at just how pleased this fact made her. What started as a game in a hotel bar, then a desperate grab for survival, had now become a steamy romance and knowing that Bryan loved her was a cherry at the top. Many men had loved her physically. None had spoken the actual words.
            Her story had enough truthful elements that even she almost believed herself by the end. Why not make Richard an abusive boyfriend? It’s not like he’ll ever have me back in his life again, last night was definitely good-bye to that. She hated that he’d tracked her down and drove up to tell her to stop calling him. His relationship with Shara Brandy was precarious, he told her, and she, Jennifer, was a roadblock to his real goal. Sleeping together had more to do with her promise to leave him alone if he did.  She hated that.  She also hated the fact that the sex just hadn’t been that great.
            She suspected Bryan saw something thanks to the half open curtains. She was nothing if not resourceful.  She knew if Bryan burst in on Richard and her, he’d be furious and leave her for good. But seeing a tiny bit before the lights went out, Jennifer knew, would make Bryan walk away only long enough to realize he had to come back. 
And, thanks to his tiny glimpse, Bryan was sold on her story of  a stalker boyfriend and so the women who seemed to be her biggest problem, Molly and Jo, would eventually be sold as well. It seemed important, now that she knew Bryan was in love with her, that Molly and Jo like her as well.
            I’ll own this town in six months.

            The thought pleased her, but not as much as Bryan’s declaration of love.  That kept playing in her head all the way to his house.

You can purchase Love is Enticing in print by clicking here!  If you read your books on a device of any kind, Love is Enticing is available at all online outlets, especially amazon!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

NOW AVAILABLE: Love is Enticing!

Good morning!

Being a writer means I'm working on multiple projects at any given time.  While I'm putting the final touches on the first book in my new series, MISSING IN MANITOWOC, I've also been working on a series of short romances that's been in my head for years.

Based on the characters of my "Rock Harbor Chronicles" series, I have three short romances that serve as a prequel to "Lies in Chance."  Basically, there are three romantic couples mentioned in "Lies" and now I'm telling the stories of how those three couples got together. 

In late 2013 I released "Love is Elementary" which is a sweet romance about Drew and Joanna Shepaski. It's a sweet romance, so if you're looking for a story that treats you like a warm cup of cocoa on a cold winter's night, this is the story for you. I loved Drew and Joanna's story, mostly because in "Lies in Chance" they are sort of the heartbeat and Jo is really more me than most other characters in my books.  I was surprised, as the story went on, just how much there was to this seemingly dull married couple.  

Well, as of this moment, the next story, which is actually the last in the timeline of this series, is now available.  LOVE IS ENTICING is Bryan and Jennifer's story...remember them?  Yep, that super fun NOT COUPLE from "Lies in Chance" has a backstory.  How on earth did the tall dark and morally straight laced Bryan Jacobs hook up with the big city snake charmer Jennifer Tiel?  Well, that question is answered in LOVE IS ENTICING

I say this is this third in the series, but I wrote it next because this is the most vivid story in my brain.  I've been in love with Bryan Jacobs since I was thirteen and Jennifer Tiel might be my favorite villain.  Putting them together was like making chili...just keep adding spices.  This is definitely NOT a sweet romance, there are scenes not appropriate for young children, but that's to be expected, I think, for those who have read "Lies in Chance."  Bryan and Jennifer just aren't the nice-nice kind.

So what's next?  Well, since I wrote these out of order, then next will be "Love is Eternal" which is Molly and Robert's story. This one will be more difficult of a challenge for me because, those of you who know "Lies" know that Molly is a widow.  Robert Hunter is a mystery at the moment, but it's going to be fun to discover how that romance blossomed.  At least I have a fun cover: 



So, what are the links?  Where can you get it?  

Amazon customers for print or kindle, click here! 

Smashwords customers, for almost any reading device, click here!

Barnes and Noble customers for the Nook, click here!

Createspace customers, for print books, click here!

Monday, February 9, 2015

In real life, not everything ends neatly. Should fiction be different?

Good afternoon all!

I woke up from a nightmare last night and instantly realized I had to write this blog.  The particulars of the nightmare aren't important, in fact I typically forget my dreams immediately.  I have a friend who has fantastic dreams and she remembers them, I simply cannot remember mine.  Anyway, the reason I bring this up is that the nightmare involved, in part, an argument with a former acquaintance of mine. It's one that comes up in my brain from time to time because it's an argument what was very one sided and I was never able to really resolve the outcome in my head.

We all have that relationship that ended without being neat and tied up and done.  It can be a friendship that ends, a romantic relationship, or a professional relationship that ends and you didn't get a final word, you didn't get to speak your peace, you didn't get to go out in control of what the final perception of the relationship would be for the rest of time.  Real life is like that.  Things happen, relationships ends, and it's rarely wrapped up neatly in a package. Most of the time real life is a random collection of events that leave us saying, "Wow, if only I could have said this...or done that."

I'm one of those people who like things wrapped up neatly with a bow.  It's probably why I write more romance novels than anything else.  When I watch a movie that has one of those endings that leaves me saying, "WHAT?"  I'm usually screaming at the screen..."THAT'S IT?  What about this...what about that?  How can this be the end?"  The thing is, I understand that real life tends to be
chaos and rarely fades to black perfectly.  Most of the time, the ending is a lot like the movie I just saw, "The Rover."  I'm not going to blow it for you, I'm just going to say, yeah, that ending left me yelling at the DVD.

Some years ago I wrote and published a novel called "Lies in Chance."  This was a book that took me more than thirty years to write and it truly is my favorite.  I created the world of Rock Harbor, Wisconsin, and I go back there again and again in my books because it's my favorite place to be.  I grew up with those characters in my head, it's home.  While I market it under the romance banner, I've been told time and time again that it is not a romance.  Probably why I wound up self publishing it.  The thing is, while I think the story is perfect, I've gotten plenty of feedback, especially from one friend of mine, that the ending simply horrible because it's not a neat, tidy ending.  While there's a "happily ever after" it's not ALL 'happily ever after.'  


Terrible book.  Stop looking at the cover!
Cover your eyes!  
So I have to ask, does all fiction have to be neatly tied up and given to us in a package?  Literary writers will tell you NO in big block letters. If you look at the greats from literature, you get mixed signals.  "Gone with the Wind" was hardly neatly ended.  In fact, people begged for a sequel. And we got "Scarlett" which was horrible.  Later, we got "Rhett Butler's People" which was amazing.

The Brontes tied things up neatly with a
READ THIS BOOK!
bow.  Jane Austen sure did. So okay, if you're writing romance, then yes, you best have everything done neatly I guess.


But I challenge that idea.  So much is put into series these days that I think it's almost short sited to not give yourself some element to return to if you want to.  
Maybe what we write, no matter what we write, should be more like real life, and leave the reader wondering what, exactly, is going on?

To that point, I look at the reviews for "Lies in Chance."  (And if you read a book by an indie author, and you liked it , please leave a review!  Word of mouth reviews is the only way we can survive!)  One person was less than excited that she figured out the plot in ten minutes.  Well, it's not like I hid the plot, not really.  I put it right there in words.  Anyway, I think, I hope, what the reviewer was really saying was that it was a really completely packaged book.  So there was no, "WHAT THE WHAT?" at the end. And if that's what the reader was saying, I'm okay with it.  For me, life is that random series of unresolved events.  When I write, I like to be more in control.  I think those who read, especially romance readers, are looking for that escape from unresolved into the "happily ever after."  And there is nothing wrong with that!  

So where does that leave us?  With the same question, I guess.  Life is random. Should fiction be any different?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Tell you what.  If you want a random, unresolved experience, watch "the Rover" or read the last chapter of "Lies in Chance."  If you want things wrapped up neatly, read the rest of "Lies in Chance."  Either way...just read "Lies in Chance!"




Saturday, February 7, 2015

Sneak Peak Saturday: What's coming up?

Good morning!

I might be unemployed, but boy oh boy I have been busy!

The second draft of Missing in Manitowoc is done and off to the critique partners and the editor.  I will put final touches on that, and you will have it in your hot little hands very soon!  Meanwhile, I finally finished the cover art, take a look!

Then, I opened up my flash drive and two short romances popped out!  I'm finally finishing the the "Rock Harbor Short Romance" series with "Love is Enticing" and "Love is Eternal" to go along with the one I completed last year. "Love is Elementary."  Check out the covers!


To remind you, the series takes on how three couples from my novel "Lies in Chance" actually get together.  It starts with "Love is Elementary" Drew and Joanna Shepaski.  




Love is Enticing is the "meet story" between Bryan Jacobs and the deliciously evil Jennifer Tiel.  "Love is Eternal" is the romance between Molly Krueger and Robert Hunter.  All three of these relationships have a huge bearing on what happens in "Lies in Chance" and these stories have been rattling around in my brain for decades.  I'm so excited to be able to bring them to you.

"Enticing" should be out by the end of this month.  Depending on how long I'm out of work, I'll probably get "Eternal" out in April, which will probably coincide with the release of "Missing in Manitowoc."  

So friends, yes, I have been busy.  And I will continue to be busy, so you will continue to have something to read!  Meanwhile, if you aren't caught up on my "Rock Harbor Chronicles" series, and I know most of you who read "Fresh Ice" have yet to pick up the final chapter, "A Hero's Spark" then CLICK HERE TO GET THOSE BOOKS!


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Readers, I need your help!

Hello all!

So I'm close to the home stretch for my newest project, the first book in a series about a young woman who is trying to find herself, but finds lost children instead.  I'm using places in the Upper Midwest, starting with Manitowoc, Wisconsin, and I'm using alliteration in the titles.  Now I've been working with the title "Missing in Manitowoc" but as I look at one of the characters, I'm starting to wonder if "Monster in Manitowoc" works better.

Here's a rough draft of the cover:

What are your thoughts?  Which title would you be more likely to look at?


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A review you can use: the Best Picture nominees I've seen so far.


Good morning!

Well, the Oscars are about three weeks away, and I've manged to see roughly half of the Best Picture nominees.  I' know I've mentioned my feelings about them one way or another, but I thought now is a good time to give you a proper review of the four films I've seen thus far.  And I'll put them in order from worst to best:

4)  Birdman:
I was really prepared to love Michael Keaton's return to a major role in "Birdman."  In fact, I had a very long conversation with the popcorn lady at the theater right before I went in to see the film and we both decided, having not seen the film, that this might just be the best picture of the year, since we both loved Michael Keaton.

Then I saw the film and put it at the bottom of the list. This quite possibly is the worst 2014 film I've seen. 

Birdman is the story of a washed up movie star (Keaton) whose biggest role was that of a superhero.  Now, this Hollywood has been is trying to make it big on Broadway, sinking everything he has, his money, his talent, his writing skills into a play he not only adapts, but also directs and stars in.  Of course Broadway hates him because he's Hollywood, so in spite of his best attempts, his play cast (lead by one of my personal favorites Edward Norton)  his rehabbed daughter (Emma Stone)  and his lawyer (Zach Galifianakis)  all seem to plot and scheme against him, making his triumphant play seem like a failure before it opens.  

Let's put aside the fact that this movie underscores the fact that New York and LA pretty much thinks they are the only two cities in the country...that theme is made obvious by the clash of culture between movies and culture and how those of us who aren't living in those two cities haven't a clue about what's good and what isn't.  (For the record, I did like Keaton's speech to the theater critic about how being a critic costs the critic NOTHING...sure, I write movie reviews.  But I do it so bad movies don't cost anyone else anything.  I believe those of us who have an opinion should use it to help our fellow man.  So no, writing a review costs a critic very little.  But it might save those who have little from wasting what they have.)  Let's instead turn our focus on what an egocentric, narcissistic, completely without point this plot is.  Hey, Hollywood, yah know what's better about plays?  PLAYS HAVE TO MAKE SENSE!  This movie makes zero sense in the final analysis.  Sure, there are great themes, (power vs. prestige, what is art, family vs. work)  but they are lost, much like the viewer is, in endless, endless, ENDLESS characters running up stairs and around halls, all set to a mind rattling, annoying sound track of nothing but ad lib drumming.  

I probably would have liked this movie, I may have even loved it, but the ending completely, utterly, and without conscience betrays the viewer.  All the themes build to a moment, and the moment is the ending and the ending is utterly head scratching.  

What does this all mean?  Probably means it'll win.

3)  Grand Budapest Hotel

I do not understand Wes Anderson.  I've said it many times.  I don't get assembling a huge cast of awesome actors and then telling a completely addled story.  That said, I was excited to see Grand Budapest Hotel, a frantic, colorful story about a hotel concierge (Ralph Fiennes) and his lobby boy as they try to find a stolen painting in 1930's Europe.  It's a very colorful, fast paced film, and I will give it points for bringing life and color to the screen.  And there are funny moments.  And again, Edward Norton is there.  All good stuff.  But the movie, for me, simply does not come together in any sort of cohesive anything.   

I'm told I'm wrong for not loving Wes Anderson.  Well, that means this film will probably win.

2)  Boyhood

Boyhood is a family drama filmed in real time over twelve years.  In all honesty, if director Richard Linklater hadn't decided to film the movie over the course of twelve years, this movie would not have been nominated.  It's a nice family drama, well acted.  Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette are solid as the divorced parents of Mason,(Played by Ellar Coaltrain.), a boy who seems to wander through life as things happen around him. Boyhood doesn't make much comment on anything, just points an unblinking camera at the family and lets it go.  It's heart tugging, and it's a good movie.  But the magic in this film is the fact that you see the actual actors age in real time.  Ellar Coaltrain goes from being an adorable little boy and we get to watch him go through his awkward years, his thorny years, until he grows up into a high school graduate. It's really nice, one could even call it art.  It's certainly an original idea. Best picture of the year? Well, I don't think so, so it'll probably win.

1)  The Imitation Game.

I was so wild to see this film after I'd seen a documentary about Alan Turing.  It simply does not matter what side of the homosexuality issue you fall on, Alan Turing's story is one of a hero who was treated horribly.  Very reminiscent of "A Beautiful Mind"  (one of my all time favorites,)  this film pictures Turing (Cumberbatch) as a misunderstood, barely tolerated genius who is brought in to help the British Government crack the Nazi codes.  (And not that I'm comparing homosexuality to schizophrenia, but the idea of a misunderstood genius who is socially awkward is undeniable between the two films.) Turning invents the machine that cracks the Nazi code, saving thousands of lives ultimately. (He's also known as the father of the modern computer.)  Later in his life, however, he's arrested and convicted of gross indecency because he's homosexual.  The movie barely touches on this, but the documentary, Codebreaker, goes into great detail the special sort of hell the British government heaped on this war hero because of his sexual orientation. The comparison to "A Beautiful Mind" might hurt "Imitation Game's" chances...but I hope not.  This is a beautiful film that again reminds us that not everyone is cute and cuddly, not everyone is "normal" but everyone can contribute to the greater good and should be honored for their contributions...not judged for how they live. And, since I loved it, it doesn't have a prayer of winning!

So there you go, four reviews.  I have four more films to see before the 22nd.  I can't remember the last time I saw all of the movies BEFORE the winner was announced so I'm sort of excited about completing this goal.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Seeing our society's sensibilities through commercials...and the hidden message in Bud Light.

Good morning!

For those of you who follow American Football, yesterday was the Superbowl and therefore the official end of a sport season that is uniquely American.  I love American football, I really do.  It's a game that hearkens back to a time when men were fighting machines, gladiators.  Sure, not so terribly pretty in this day and age of men being in touch with their feminine side but it's still a magnificent spectacle.  

Looking at how sensibilities have changed, one doesn't have to look much beyond the commercials in the Superbowl.  Many non football fans will turn in to the game because of the commercials. Companies pay millions for a 30 second spot in the big game and ad agencies pour blood, sweat, and tears into a Superbowl ad that will stick in our memories.  Some hire big name celebrities.  Some use sex.  Some go for the funny bone.  But all of them are a comment on society year by year. 

This year was no different, but for some reason I was more aware of what a changed world we are in  Many of the commercials dealt with men...being less violent (nomore), being more in tune with their families (Nissan, Toyota), just being more of a solid, team player who works hard and is gentle with those around them.  (Dove, go daddy)

We really looked at society in a different way.  There were multiple commercials involving people with artificial legs.  (Microsoft, Toyota) I loved those ads for how touching and amazing they were, but now seeing how Amy Purdy goes through her day really sent me into a depression about myself.

There were the product folks who have always been on the side of loving each other, and they didn't surprise.  Coca Cola put a 2015 spin on their much beloved "I'd like to teach the world to sing" ads from my childhood by showing Coke changing the endless stream of negative social media messages into positive messages.  Weight Watchers jumped into the ring by acknowledging that losing weight in a world full of "all you can eat" is hard.  (I found that one funny as I stuffed another chicken wing into my face.)  And McDonald's unleashed it's "Pay with Lovin'" campaign.

Celebrities came in with a bang in some ads and not so much in others.  I loved Liam Neeson (Clash of Clans) and Danny Trejo (Snickers.)  I know the Pete Rose ad (Sketchers) might not sit well with some, but I liked it.  Jeff Bridges (foursquare) however was a dud...I was really hoping we'd be seeing a reprisal of his "Dude" from "Big Lebowski" but not so much.

Maybe I'm partial, but since my website is through Wix, I really did enjoy the "Farve and Carve" ad. 

Nationwide, a massive sponsor for the NFL, came up with two memorable, solid ads.  Mindy Keiling, in "Invisible Mindy" was cute and funny.  "The Boy Who didn't Grow" sort of took all those "dad is totally awesome" warm fuzzy ads from earlier in the game, burned them, then tore a hole in our hearts.  

And there were funny ads that featured not so attractive folks (Dodge, Locktite) but they were hilarious.  And yes, I really did love the Avocado ad with the "First Ever Draft." I think Skittles may have had the most laughs per second with their arm wrestling spot.

So what was the best commercial and what was the worst...and what does it all say about society?

Well, for me, the best was Budweiser's lost puppy.  For all the commentary on how men need to be softer and girls need to be more confident and we all need to bully each other less and eat less crap, the ad that won my heart was that lost puppy and the Clydesdales.  

And funny?  I laughed out loud at many of them, but I think for
shear cleverness coupled with surprise value I'm going with "Missing Mindy" from Nationwide.  (Snickers gets a very close second with their Brady Bunch spot.)

The social commentary, both positive and negative, abounded, but the one that struck me was the ad I waited the longest for:  Bud Light.  Bud Light typically scores early and often in the Superbowl...this year they waited until deep in the second half with their new "Live Pac Man" ad.  The spot is funny, following a formula they've had for about a year of regular folks proving they're "Up for anything" after drinking Bud Light. This time around some dude gets to play a life size Pac Man game, where he's the Pac Man.  What's telling...and honestly I don't know if the execs at Bud light meant for this to happen, is that at the end of the game Sweaty Dude is handed a Bud Light.  Under the announcer's voice you hear Dude say, "That's all I get after all that?"

Yes, on a commercial day full of serious messages that was Bud Light's:  After playing a very fun game, somehow a beer is not enough compensation..
I'm going to hold on to the other messages of the day and just chalk that one up to poor editing.

To see the other ads, or rewatch them , click here to read Time Magazine's take on the commercials.