Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Absolutely pure, staggeringly powerful and utterly magnificent

OK, I generally try and keep the "Tales From the Advertising World" stuff on here to an absolute minimum, but today I found myself exposed to something so right, so true, that I feel compelled to share.

First, a little back story: I recently recorded a radio spot for a client of ours. It turned out funny. The client called after hearing the spot (which was recorded exactly as approved by them), deciding that the joke at the end was to absurd for their tastes, and could we make it less so, etc, etc. My argument about the spot needing to build and have a payoff in order to be effective having fallen on deaf ears, I sent them options from the original draft. They rejected these as "too flat." My second argument regarding there being very little middle ground in these matters (something is either absurd or it's not) was also brushed aside, and a beautiful piece of guidance was then bestowed upon me.

Are you ready? Here it is. I was told to:

"Err on the more humorous side of the middle."

There you have it. My business in a nutshell. Writ large, as they say.
A phrase such as this only comes along once every decade or so. It truly says it all. No, scratch that. It shouts it - loudly, defiantly, and to the heavens.

I love this. I'm not only going to have this mantra for the ages screened on a t-shirt, I'm going to get it tattooed on my back.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


Just realized I forgot to blog for about a week or so. My apologies to all. Of my absence I will say only this - babies and advertisng both obviously hate blogs with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns.

Anyway, I'm currently scouring the web and watching television in an attempt to shake loose a post or two so that your lives don't feel so crushingly empty. Until then, here's a lurid photo of 30's & 40's film star Basil Rathbone brandishing an ax (or axe, if you prefer to spell it that way):

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

What it would be like to fight George Kennedy, circa 1971 or thereabouts.

1.) George takes umbrage at some smart-ass remark you made and suggests you pipe down.

2.) You push it, and George stares at you while slowly removing his shirt. Although not "cut" or "ripped" by today's standards, George is beefy enough for you to suspect that you may have made a mistake in provoking him.

3.) You circle each other as a crowd gathers.

4.) You decide it's best to try and draw first blood, and put everything you got into a punch aimed at George's stomach, which to you appears to be a weak spot, as he has no detectable stomach muscles.

5.) Your punch connects. To your horror, you discover that his stomach is not flabby, but instead quite firm.

6.) George says "That tickles, boy!" then wallops you with an uppercut that sends you sprawling. The crowd cheers wildly.

7.) You stagger to your feet and wipe the blood of your chin. George looks no worse for wear. You decide to launch another attack, hurling yourself at him. You grab him around the waist and attempt to push him backwards. He does not yield.

8.) George brings his fists together above his head and forcefully brings them down on your back, Captain Kirk-style. You collapse in the dirt. Again, the crowd cheers.

9.) You try and get up, but you're on rubber leg street. George tells you to stay down. Defiantly, you stand up.

10.) George mercifully ends things, landing a haymaker that knocks you out. He stands over your vanquished husk, seemingly joyless in his victory.

11.) You and George go out drinking afterwards.

Putting his credentials on the table

OK, so I was over at the BFRO / Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization website doing my weekly check of their updated sightings database, and I found something amusing (something more amusing than scores of people writing in to report seeing a giant hairy monster wandering across highways, that is).

Now the sightings database is fairly well organized, and breaks the sightings down into date, province, description, other witnesses, time and conditions and other sections the reportee must fill out. So I was reading a write-up of a sighting from British Columbia circa 2003 or so, and when I got to the "Other Stories" line, what I found there made me bust out laughing.

Go forth and do likewise here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

This guy had bad luck

So I followed a link to the website of long-time TV director Kenneth Johnson, one of the driving forces behind "The Incredible Hulk" TV show, which starred Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno, and some awesome soul there took the time to catalog each and every one of the things that angered David Banner to the point where he felt compelled to turn into The Hulk (whether or not these are in chronological order, I cannot confirm, however).

And I gotta say - I feel bad for this guy having a raging monster trapped inside waiting to bust out and all, but maybe he should have just stayed at home and curled up with a good book once in a while.

Anyway, without further ado, here is....

***UPDATE*** You know what? Fuck it. Here's the link to the list.
I tried to cut and paste it, and blogger made it all screwy, and then stubbornly resisted my attempts to give it some order. So, in conclusion: blogger, you suck. But the list is funny and definitely worth checking out.

More crummy news

Now I find out that another person I really dug as a young lad, comic book writer Steve Gerber, has just died as well (here's hoping that Werner Herzog is in good health). Gerber was but 60 years old, and had been suffering from pulmonary fibrosis.

Steve Gerber was one of the great comic writers out there back in the day. He did his most impactful work in the 70's, when he wrote a slew of memorable titles for Marvel including "Man-Thing". "The Defenders", "Omega The Unknown", and of course, he also created "Howard The Duck." At his best, he had a highly-individual style that acknowledged the conventions of the medium while playfully tweaking and attempting to expand them at the same time.

If you only know of "Howard The Duck" from the justifiably reviled movie version that squirted out of Hollywood's festering bunghole in 1986, don't blame Gerber. The "Howard The Duck" comics (at least the first 27 issues Gerber penned) were highly-literate, satiric deconstructions that used absurdist humor to take aim at everything from religion to the treatment of the mentally ill, poverty, the media, politics, disco, high-energy prices, self-help gurus and anything else that dared to raise it's head during the mid-to-late 70's. It also had kung-fu, vampire cows, deadly turnips from outer space, evil cosmic accountants, Canadian villains who wore giant beaver exo-skeletons and giant gingerbread men controlled by a Hare Krishna-type leader. I am not exaggerating one whit when I say that it added many words to my young vocabulary.

Gerber was also an early and outspoken advocate of creator's rights, decrying the rather Draconian "work-for-hire" system in place during the 70's that deprived creators of ownership and revenues from their creations. He was one of the few that balked, even taking Marvel to court at one point over ownership rights to Howard, which helped create the much more creator-friendly climate that the writers and artists can enjoy today.

For a mere $14.99 you can get "The Essential Howard The Duck", a black & white phone book-sized reprint of issues #1-27, plus Howard's 1st appearance from "Fear" #19 and his subsequent mini-stories in "Giant Size Man-Thing" (possibly the inadvertently dirtiest comic book title ever) from your friendly neighborhood comics store. You'll chuckle at Howard's brief run as a 1976 presidential candidate on the "Get Down, America!" ticket ( I still have my pin with this slogan on it), watch as he spurns the evangelical rantings of The Kidney Lady, thrill as he encounters the rock band KISS at a mental health institution, read rapturously as he thwarts the machinations of the sinister Dr. Bong, and scratch your head as Howard (and Gerber himself) suffers a nervous breakdown as depicted in an issue with no panels or word balloons, just long copy prose with single illustrations. You also get great art from Frank Brunner and the fabulous Gene Colan. I'm so glad I was a young kid reading comics when this came out - it's truly great stuff.

Monday, February 11, 2008

"Bye-bye life"*

*Joe Gideon, "All That Jazz" 1979

Iconic actor Roy Scheider passed away yesterday at the age of 75. It's no secret that "Jaws" is viewed as one of the greatest films of all time here in the blogfoot offices, due in no small part to Mr. Scheider's performance as Chief Martin Brody, an everyman resort-town sheriff having to deal with a giant killer shark plaguing his beaches as well as the city's power structure acting as if it doesn't exist. The chemistry between Scheider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss literally made the movie. It had to, because the mechanical shark barely worked.

But he was more than just Chief Brody. He was without a doubt a seminal figure in 70's cinema (for my money the greatest decade of film ever), playing Gene Hackman's partner in "The French Connection" (bring him his first Oscar nomination), an ominous pimp in "Klute", doomed CIA operative Doc Levy, a man who exposes his brother to the perils of Nazi dentistry, in "Marathon Man", a guy transporting nitroglycerin through the dangerous roads of South America in "Sorcerer" (a remake of the French classic "The Wages of Fear") and topped off the decade playing self-destructive choreographer Joe Gideon, a thinly-veiled version of Bob "Chicago" Fosse in Fosse's wacky and enjoyable 1979 sorta-biopic "All That Jazz", for which Scheider received an Academy Award nomination for best actor. He also left his imprint on "The Seven-Ups"( a solid 70's crime movie), "Blue Thunder", "2010", "Naked Lunch" and many others. I've also read that he had to pass on the lead role in "The Deer Hunter" ( a role that went to Robert DeNiro) because he was contractually obligated to do "Jaws 2." Ouch.

He was a pretty big star during these years, in a glorious time when a good actor didn't have to look like freakin' Brad Pitt to be a leading man. He looked like a guy you saw on the street, which is why viewers gave a shit about him fighting a giant shark: you could relate to him. But if you had to put your finger on the quality he had that made him a star, it would have to be this: intensity.

Roy, you were cool. Adios.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Brilliant web quote of the week

So I was on youtube watching the opening credits to "The Six Million Dollar Man" (which are genuinely well-done opening credits that still hold up, in my humble opinion), and after absorbing them, decided to read a few entries from the comments section, where I was exposed to this gem from a dude known as jovan1964, who stated:

"I used to argue with my sister (5 years older than me) that Steve Austin could beat The Exorcist devil, which at the time was the big movie. She said no way. I said yes way!"

If that comment doesn't perfectly sum up the mind of a young boy, I don't know what does. The only way it could have been better is if they had a neighbor who chimed in and said that the shark from "Jaws" could beat them both.

Monday, February 04, 2008

A Dickensian tale of woe. With belching contests.

So I was doing a little research of the internet recently for a short story I'm working on that concerns aspects of the 1984 film "Revenge of the Nerds", and while doing so I noticed that the character of Ogre, the monstrous, beer-swilling henchman of the jock Alpha Beta fraternity in the movie, was listed as Fred "The Ogre" Palowakski in the credits.

Interesting. I always thought of him simply as "Ogre." He is never referred to by anything other than "Ogre" in the film, so no indication was given of his persona, beyond the fact that he liked to party, seemed to have no use for sleeves and hated nerds with a white-hot passion. Indeed, the character could scarcely be described as human.

But this changes things. We now know that "Ogre" has a name. Fred Palowalski, in fact (most likely "Frederick" on his birth certificate, but until this document is produced we can't be sure).

Using this slim piece of evidence as a springboard, here are some things I believe are germane to the character of Ogre and explain his "arc", as they say in storytelling circles. I will now weave them into the tapestry of his character:

He is of Polish descent.

His father worked in a factory, drank a lot, and beat him frequently.

To avoid being beaten, young Fred spent more and more of his of his time running amok in the streets of his working-class ghetto. It was here that he discovered that his imposing, larger-than-average frame could be used to bully and intimidate others. Thus, in classic dramatic fashion, the sins of the father became the sins of the son.

Having learned to rely on his physicality to survive, his studies suffered. Despite his high-school success on the gridiron and the subsequent college scholarship it provided, he never got over feeling dumb. Thus, he hated nerds because they were smarter than him and represented an existence he was at least smart enough to realize he could never attain.

You see? Everything has depths. You just have to be willing to plumb.