Saturday, December 08, 2012

Confidence is Very Sexy

For me one of the great things about the Internet, aside from the whole facilitating the worldwide democratization of information thing and the instant, anonymous porn delivery; is how it constantly reminds me that no matter how obscure or esoteric a reference or obsession I have, there is someone else on the Internet thinking the same thing. I find that oddly reassuring; that I'm not that crazy and alone in my thoughts after all and that there is a fellow weirdo backing me up. In fact, if you have a crazy preoccupation or interest and you see someone else on the Internet blogging or tweeting or pinteresting or whatever-ing what you're thinking, it makes you come off as slightly less insane since at least you didn't put the effort in posting it on the Internet for everyone to see.

So the weird little bit of past esoterica that's needlessly distracting me this week is this early 90s television spot for Skin Bracer aftershave starring the late Jack Palance:

Despite having a six decade long career filled with memorable classic film and television roles, this is my definitive Jack Palance moment. Forget his deliciously evil turn in "Shane" or his Oscar winning comeback role in "City Slickers" or the famous one armed push ups he did at the ceremony, when I think Jack Palance, it's this short clip of him selling me aftershave. 

However considering that this ad may possibly be the single most genuinely manly fifteen second TV spot in advertising history, I don't think it's that out there to have it as my lasting image of the icon. The commercial has a sort of a "Most Interesting Man" approach. Right from the start, Palance is a blinding supernova of self confidence; and really he needs all of it to make the spot work. He comes off as someone who doesn't really care for cologne or even aftershave for that matter; he just happens to not object to Skin Bracer which he just casually dabs on with one hand when he remembers to. Even the commercial itself with its brevity and bare bones production gives the impression that the whole thing is just a casual, off the cuff comment by Palance in between doing important movie star things. Skin Bracer was taking a bit of a gamble relying on the seductive sex appeal of a septuagenarian character actor who was often cast as creepy villains. Even with the charming confidence there is a subtle slight creepiness factor to the whole thing; it is easily one of the most idiosyncratic deliveries of the phrase "sexy" ever recorded (on a personal note: this commercial was probably the first time I heard the phrase "sexy" on TV and my preadolescent self was shocked to hear what I vaguely knew to be a bad word in a commercial).

So aside from finding someone else who was enough of a fan of the commercial to post it on Youtube, I was delighted to find that there was at least one couple out in cyberspace that was obsessed with the commercial enough to make a reenactment of the spot:

Sure the production quality is obviously lacking (then again not all bizarre, seemingly unnecessary, shot by shot, pop culture remakes can have the budget and star power of "The Greatest Event In Television History"), however it is obvious attention has been paid to all the small details from the bedside lamp to the final "By Mennen" (random aside, almost every commercial featuring the "by Mennen" tag line on YouTube has someone writing in the comments a variation of "Co-Stan-za").

The fact that tributes like this exists outside of just these random blog posts is pretty neat. Don't you think?

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

My Fictional Alfred Hitchcock Themed Roller Derby Team

I have to admit, despite having seen that episode of "King of the Hill" where Peggy joins a roller derby team, a roller derby focused episode of "Cheap Seats", and carefully going over the Wikipedia page I am still not one hundred percent sure how the whole thing works. I have a basic idea of scoring, the offensive players from each team ("jammers") score points by lapping members of the opposing team while the defensive "blockers" obviously try to prevent it. However, anything beyond that, actual game play strategy like the starting and ending of "jams" and the role of the "pivot" which is a "blocker" that can suddenly become a "jammer", is still fairly unclear to me. I don't think I'll fully comprehend the sport until I actually sit through a real game or maybe rent "Whip It".

Aside from the physical play itself, I also have questions about the whole aesthetics of the sport. Modern roller derby has a pretty well established sensibility to it: the whole third wave feminist, punk ethos. It's an interesting evolution from all those early black and white images of ladies falling over each other from the 40s or even the organized televised cheese of the 70s and 80s (once again "Cheap Seats"). How did we end up today with all these legions of often hot pink attired, tattooed, mean looking, mostly white girls? Where's the team of Midwestern housewives? The squad of Jamaican nannies? A vicious lot of Asian tiger moms? Or even guys for that matter? Is this one of those rare sports that are biased against men like field hockey or synchronized swimming?

Irregardless of my general ignorance and confusion, I randomly thought a good name for an improbable Alfred Hitchcock themed roller derby team would be "Hitch's Bitches". I think between the recent HBO film about Hitchcock "The Girl" and the star studded Oscar bait feature "Hitchcock" I've just had a lot of Hitchcock on the brain (random aside, once again poor Toby Jones finds himself in the lesser of two biopics released around the same time). In keeping with the whole "derby name" tradition of the sport, all the players would be variations on famous Hitchcock leading ladies:

Tippi Headlock
Janet Laid
Disgrace Kelly
Joan Fontpain
Ingrate Bergman
Kim Novakaine
Evil Marie Saint

Given Hitchcock's notorious approach to directing actors and complicated relationship with women, it would be a fascinating scenario to see him manage a female roller derby team. I smell an alternate history comedy?