Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Let's talk "Hooper," shall we?

The next time you are wandering around Target, you may notice an end-cap of discounted DVD titles for $5. Most of these titles are dreck and are unworthy of even that small tariff. However, if the stars align for you as they did for me, you may find a gem amongst the dross. I am of course referring to “Hooper,” the 1978 Burt Reynolds vehicle concerning the life of Sonny Hooper, an aging Hollywood stuntman.

This virtues of this movie are legion. Rather than go into some lengthy examination, I will list them in bullet-point form so as to aid in their digestion. So, here are the things that make “Hooper” awesome and well worth your hard-earned $5:

*The movie poster, which they were wise enough to use as the DVD cover, has an illustration of Burt blowing a bubble with some gum while wearing a big cowboy hat (see above).

*The movie is not only about stuntmen, but was directed by a stuntman (Hal Needham, the auteur also responsible for “Cannonball Run” and “Megaforce.”)

*It has Adam West with a moustache (he is the “star” Burt is stunting for during the filming of “The Spy Who Laughed At Danger.”).

*There is a scene wherein a horse drinks a can of beer. Burt then kisses said horse.

*Burt has trained his beer-drinking horse to crap on command, and he urges it to do so in the car of someone he is at odds with. This was big in 1978 cinema, as Clyde the orangutan in Clint Eastwood’s Philo Beddoe epics “Every Which Way But Loose” and “Any Which Way You Can” had a penchant for crapping in vehicles as well.

*There is a lengthy scene ( a ‘set piece’, as they call it in the biz) where everyone heads to a bar and drives along a highway drinking copious amounts of beer in broad daylight, heedless of their own safety or that of others. One even drives backwards at high speeds while drinking. When a highway patrolman on a motorcycle simply attempts to do his job and enforce the law, they attach a cable to his bike and then to a pole, which sends him sprawling. They escape punishment for this act as well.

*The stuntmen engage in a barroom brawl with a gang of large rednecks led by Terry Bradshaw, completely destroying their friend’s bar in the process.

*The rednecks are then befriended, as is moviedom’s custom, and everyone repairs to Burt’s ranch where, after a long night of partying, Burt is the lone man standing. As the other revelers slumber around him, he watches a home movie reel of his prior stunts. In a meta-scene of epic proportions, the home movie contains footage of Burt tackling the rapids in a canoe from “Deliverance.”

*Most of the stunts featured in the movie within the movie make no sense at all, no matter what the context. In one, Burt escapes from some villains chasing him by getting into a helicopter. The helicopter then goes straight up into the air and hovers, at which point Burt leaps out the helicopter and falls. As Hooper, he falls onto an airbag and sets the world record for the longest free fall drop. Bully for Hooper - but how does this makes any sense in a movie about a spy? The character would simply be splattered on the pavement. They repeat this nonsense in a scene where Burt rescues a dog (?) and attempts to flee between rooftops via a tracked cable of some sort. He makes it halfway across, then falls when the cable snaps. Again, this makes no sense for a lead character in a spy film.

*Brian Keith and Jan-Michael Vincent co-star as fellow stuntmen. Brian Keith is Jocko, the old retired stuntman, and Jan-Michael is the young upstart (they call him “The Kid”) looking to seize Burt’s crown.

*The movie was the inspiration for the Lee Major’s television series “The Fall Guy,” for which it deserves our eternal gratitude.

*The big stunt during the finale involves Burt and Jan-Michael driving a car around some type of industrial village that is being blown to smithereens, and when the bridge over a ravine collapses, they have to jump it in a custom-made rocket car, thus setting another stunt man record for longest jump. Sonny celebrates this by punching the film within a film’s director in the face before heading off to presumably drink more canned beer.

*Naturally, the movie has a blooper reel playing over the end credits. They take this up a notch by having a banjo-fueled song called "Nothin' Like the Life (Of A Hollywood Stuntman) playing as well.

There you go – although I’m certain I left out many laudable moments. I didn’t even scratch the surface of Sonny Hooper’s painkiller addiction, the possibility of his paralysis, and Sally Field bouncing around in tight t-shirts. In short, I wholeheartedly encourage you to run, don’t walk, and get your $5 copy of “Hooper” now.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pointless, unexplainable desires

I just opened a business and in the process cut my pay by about 70% from what I was previously making in the ad biz. We have another baby on the way and the insurance at my wife’s new-ish job blows, meaning that after the baby arrives the stork will also be dropping off a co-pay bill for about $5k, not to mention the increased daycare costs three months after her maternity leave ends. And our house needs a new roof in a bad way.

And yet, for some inexplicable reason, about once a month I find myself logging onto ebay and looking at auctions for the large-scale Shogun Warriors Godzilla figure released in the 70’s.

Why? I’m not entirely sure. Let’s peel back the layers of my cerebellum and try and find out together, shall we? A good start might be to get all of you who are not familiar with said Godzilla toy up to speed on this item. Here’s a visual to get the saliva flowing.

Very cool, yes? Here’s some background for you: this toy was released by Mattel in 1979 as part of their ‘Shogun Warriors” line of giant robot figures based on Japanese characters. The Godzilla figure stood 19 1/2” tall and as you can see, didn’t really look all that much like Godzilla. But its scale was impressive for the time.

I know what you’re thinking – “Just another Gen-X’er wanting to reclaim the toy his parents threw away.” Not so - I never owned this toy. When it was released I was 12 years old, and had outgrown toys. But I still liked Godzilla as a character / concept, so I always looked at it whenever I was stuck at Sears or JC Penny’s with my mom and headed to the toy section out of boredom. Here’s more pics.

His “atomic breath” was simulated via a flicking plastic tongue (triggered by a lever that is prone to break) and his fist also shot off, which didn’t make a helluva lot of sense either. And his feet had wheels on the bottom, but if you rolled him too fast he simply fell over. And yet, despite these many shortcomings…I want one. The overall effect of it is undeniably neat. We now pause for a word from our sponsors.

It’s not like I don’t have Godzilla figures already. I have the re-issue of the old beloved Aurora model from the 60’s / 70's that I built as a kid, as well as some nice inexpensive vinyl figures from Japan that actually look like the character. Why does this imperfect, altogether unnecessary thing keep flitting about, moth-like, in and out of my consciousness?

Cue my wife's reply - "Because you're stupid." Well, that may be true, but there must be some deeper, darker force at work. I also must clarify that I never bid much on this item when I do try and nab it - generally I go for imperfect specimens (paint scuffs, loose firing hand, the aforementioned broken tongue lever) and bid a maximum of $50. Over the last eight years or so I have probably tried to get it on the cheap somewhere in the realm of ten times, and am always defeated.

Then again, Father's Day is fast's not too much to ask for a little green plastic love on June 21st, is it?

Friday, May 22, 2009

The sweetness

An old friend of mine recently unearthed this and posted it on his facebook page - it's a segment from Steve Martin's 1981 NBC special "Comedy is not Pretty." This has been stuck in my head since viewing it way back then, but whenever I mentionedit to people they didn't know what I was talking about. Now am thrilled - nay, honored - to be able to present it to you, my loyal readers.


I'm "with it"

I just revived my Twitter account after opening one last summer and promptly forgetting about it. Why? Because I do everything Ashton, Oprah and CEO's of large multi-national corporations do.

If so inclined you can follow my whip-smart observations there, under the name Blogfoot of course. Most of the time it will simply link you back to new posts here, but hey - you'll be way ahead of those hayseeds who simply have the site bookmarked. What a bunch of cavemen!

T-shirt pwnage

After being back-ordered for the last month and a half, I finally received this beauty in the mail, thus clearly giving me the upper hand in the ongoing "white guy with the coolest obscure t-shirt wars." Surrender now before someone gets hurt.

**NOTE** that is not me in the pic - I am much cooler than that guy, nor do I use plates and utensils when I eat.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Again with the steampunk

I like Boing Boing as much as the next grown-up nerd. Maybe more. But jumpin' Jack Armstrong*, cool it with the played-out steampunk features, would ya? I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who really doesn't give a hoot what Captain Nemo's toilet would have looked like. Enough, I say, enough!

*thanks to Col. Potter

Monday, May 11, 2009

Best opening line of a book ever?

"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."

-George Orwell

That's got my vote. There's certainly no shortage of great openings of famous and feted books (Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, A Christmas Carol, Slaughterhouse Five, Something Wicked This way Comes, etc), but Orwell's opening is impressivley simple, using just one word ("thirteen") to immediately communicate that there is something different about the world he is bringing the reader into.

Discuss amongst yourselves. Or not. Watch someone get cock-punched by a kangaroo on youtube if that's what you feel like doing. This is America, after all.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The unbelievable & horrifying truth

After toiling in the trenches for years at various advertising agencies, I recently opened up my own business - a barbershop. So far things are going well - everyday we are servicing more customers than the day before, people are leaving happy, those coming in say that their friends told them about it, etc. Fairly gratifying thus far.

And as someone who worked in advertising for 13 years, and always did so at agencies that believed that smart, challenging brand communications that blazed trails in heretofore un-plowed media terrain were ultimately the only way to build your business, I have some news to report.

It's bullshit.

Now, I'll admit we've only been open for 10 days, and we have a long road to trod yet. I also admit that we are going to do some advertising sooner rather than later. But what I have discovered so far is a couple of things that will horrify all you practitioners of craft who stay at the office late in thrall of your bosses, tirelessly digging for that pure, original message that some client can ruin by slapping an exclamation point on. Those couple things I've discovered are this:

1.) The best advertising is positive word of mouth.

2.) Direct mail works.

There it is. I leave you now to writhe in agony and question your place in the grand scheme of things.

Friday, May 01, 2009

I'm salivating

When you have a man-sized appetite, just any old packaged food won't cut it. No, when your stomach begins to rumble and roar like a caged lion, there's only one thing you can really count on - Fud.

Trust Fud to deliver only the finest deli-quality meats and cheeses to your table. Fud will bring satisfaction and smiles to any picnic, lunch table or family gathering.

Remember - Fud.