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MCI: '10-10-HOTSEX!'
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I bought this great new toy the other day; a caller-ID module that blocks calls from telemarketers. Honestly, if it's a telemarketer, the phone doesn't even ring. Isn't that wonderful? No more droning sales pitches from long-distance telephone service representatives who can't even pronounce my name. What would be really great, though, is if it could block those maddening '10-10-321' television commercials from MCI. Compared to the revival-style yammerings of MCI's has-been pitchmen, a sales call would seem almost pleasant.

I'm not saying MCI's '10-10-321' ad campaign is ineffective. On the contrary, I can't get the damn numbers out of my head. As a matter of fact, the selection of '10-10-321,' '10-10-220' and '10-10-9000' as service numbers was based on two little-known facts about the human brain:

1) The average person can memorize about seven or eight numbers at a time.

2) The average person will be unable to forget the most annoying thing they've heard on any given day.

Don't believe it? Remember the chorus from Tommy Tutone's 1982 hit '867-5309/Jenny?' You do? Good, now try to put it out of your mind. Think of me at 3 a.m. when 'eight-six-seven-five-three-oh-niiiiiine' is driving you to thoughts of mass-murder.

The other disturbing thing is MCI has somehow convinced two of my childhood heroes, James Garner and George Carlin, to appear on TV and repeat '10-10-this-that-and-the-other' over and over and over again. Is that any kind job for the former star of 'Rockford Files?' Is MCI worthy of the man who taught an entire generation of boys how to swear? Apparently so, and you know what that means - Garner and Carlin are now officially washed up. Not only do I have '10-10-9000' looping endlessly in my brain, each repetition reminds me that James and George are now just decrepit, desperate, money-grubbing old men... and that I am all grown up. Ugh.

So now that MCI has taken over my brain and soured my boyhood dreams, perhaps the only thing left to do is "...join 'em." It is in this (crushed) spirit that I offer the following ideas for future MCI commercials and service offerings:

'10-10-911' - Any call involving a life-threatening emergency is just 10 cents a minute. (Two minute maximum. Excludes peak hours, weekends and public telephones.) Spokesperson - that stupid kid from "Eight Is Enough" and "Emergency."

'10-10-666' - The first 10 calls to a relative who has recently joined a satanic cult are free. (Excludes The Mormon Church and Jehovah's Witnesses). Spokesperson - Charles Manson.

'10-10-HOTSEX' - MCI will connect you to any phone sex number for just $1.99/minute on wednesday afternoons between 12:17 and 1:24 pm. (Note: $1.99/minute fee is in addition to regular phone sex rates. If you're desperate and lonely enough to use this service, you deserve whatever you get). Spokespeople - Pewee Herman and George Michael.

'10-10-411' - 10% off any incorrect number you dial. (Compare to Sprint's "Wrong Number Weekends"). Spokesperson - Lily Tomlin's 'phone operator' character from the early 80's.

In the final analysis, MCI has accomplished what it set out to do; increase mindshare by torturing television viewers. Though I find this reprehensible, the nature of the human mind prevents me from doing a single thing about it. As the old saying goes, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. That way maybe you can bring 'em down from the inside."


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