Monday, February 19, 2007

The Return of Rap Cat

When you move 1200 miles from your original home state, there are many things to get used to: climate changes/weather differences, the absence or abundance of different plant, animal and insect life, driving laws, accents, and various forms of culture shock.

For me, some of the biggest were: learning to deal with sweet tea (pre-sweetened iced tea), which is a Southern staple but which I cannot stand; I receive it at restaurants roughly 50% of the time, even when I emphatically order unsweetened; preparing annually for hurricane season; becoming indifferent to the abundance of mini frogs and lizards (the true mark of a tourist is shouts of, "Oh look at those cute little things!!"; and learned to say, "We don't have roaches. Those are palmetto bugs."

But another big adjustment lies in new brand names and regional advertising. I have learned to accept Publix supermarkets and Race Trac gasoline, but I am still adjusting to some of the more unnerving examples. The worst is Appliance Direct, a local chain of appliance stores. They run both short and infomercial-length commercials which consist mostly of shouting their name while galavanting among a forest of fridges, stoves, washers, and the like.

I guess their advertising is effective in an annoying and brain-searing sort of way; we bought our washer and dryer there and were actually quite pleased with our experience. But still, their ads induce a primal survivial instinct in most Central Floridians; I, too, have learned to drown them out automatically.

It's not any worse here than in Chicago, where veterans of the late 70s/early 80s will surely remember Timmy of Long Chevrolet fame. This urchin newsboy from Hell heralded all their commercials with an annoying cry of, "Extra, Extra!" while wielding a shief of phone newspapers. Usually he yelled a headline like "Long Chevrolet announced big sale!" or some other such brainwashing drivel. He horrified an entire generation of Chicagoans until he finally got his day the headline was "Kid gets pie in face," and the climax of the commercial was annoying little Timmy getting a big, creamy one in the puss.

Here in Florida, we're subjected to the likes of a bull terrier named "Mr. Incredible," advertising Toyotas (I think), but unlike Timmy, he just sits there quietly on the hood of a car while the huamns blather.

There is one regional ad that made the move to Celebration worth it all on its own: Rap Cat. Actually, the rapping feline isn't limited to Florida; he's featured on Checkers and Rally commercials, so you can see him in a variety of states. He burst onto the scene last fall, fascinating me with what was apparently a rap version of the Meow Mix catfood song. If you'd like to see what I'm talking about, click here to open Rap Cat's MySpace profile and view his commercial in a new window. Be patient, as the good part doesn't come till the end.

Rap Cat drives my husband insane, but to me he's one of those things that's so annoying that you just have to embrace it, sort of like those hamster-looking things that used to sing shrilly in praise of Quizono's pepper bar.

Rap Cat was absent from the airwaves for a while, but now he's make a triumphant return. Checkers is putting together a website,, although most of it is still under construction. It looks like they're going to have merchandise and ringtones, so I expect to soon have a Rap Cat doll and to have my cell phone chant "Meow meow meow meow..." rhythmically whenever I have a call (hopefully to the horror of all those around me).

I don't eat at Checkers myself (any inkling I might have had to do so ended with a brutal murder a couple years ago at the Checkers just outside of Celebration...instead of bacon cheeseburgers, the chain brings me visions of a poor, innocent grandma being shot through the drive-through window). But from what I've seen on YouTube, their current bags double as Rap Cat costumes that you can put on your cat; if you videotape its performance, you can send it in for possible fame on their website. Maybe I'll have to overcome my aversion temporarily in order to get some "clothing" for Stitch and Farquaad.

If you come from an unfortunately state where Rally's and Checker's don't have a presence, be sure you fit some TV time in around your trip to Disney World. I promise you, once you see him, you will never get his trademark rap out of your head.

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Jillian Ranger said...

Been reading the site for a while and even though we aren't closing on our Celebration Townhome for another month we already feel like we have many friends down there. Can't wait to pack up the car one last time. Hope to see everyone down there. You can thank the kind folks at for pointing me to your site.

Jillian Ranger said...

We were watching the interactive sales map and everytime a red dot went up we were like, i think it's time... it's time honey. I felt like we won the lottery. Can't wait to start mailing letters out with our return address of: Celebration Avenue ; )