Friday, March 23, 2012

May The Brackets Be Ever In Your Favor

It looks like the two biggest media events of the weekend will be the Regional Finals of NCAA Mens Basketball Tournament and the release of the movie adaptation of "The Hunger Games". It's oddly fitting that both are going on at the same time. March Madness and the Hunger Games themselves have many striking similarities. They're both nationally televised, single elimination tournaments, featuring mostly teenagers selected from set regions across the country that captivate the country once a year with their drama and surprises (cynically one may argue that they are also both slightly rigged by powerful, malevolent institutions).

Given the interesting parallels I always wondered while reading the books (well, technically listening to them on audio book while commuting, props to Carolyn McCormick for a boss narrating job) whether the Hunger Games (it's not like the Olympic Games, it's just one big event, shouldn't it be just the Hunger Game?) were treated anything like March Madness in Panem.

First off, I would assume that only the folks in the Capitol (and maybe some of those loyalist lapdogs in District 1 and 2) would actually watch it as a form of entertainment rather than a horrifying reminder of the government's absolute power over them. Given that, would there be many of the fun trappings of the Big Dance? I would imagine productivity amid the offices of the Capitol go down due to the organizing of pools and filling of brackets, but considering that the Capitol is just a grotesquely decadent Sodom of the privileged maintained by slave labor, I can't imagine too much office work, or really work of any kind, being done (maybe a a decline in lurid orgies and vomitorium assisted bacchanals).

I guess that would just leave even more time for focusing on the Games, constant armchair analysis of the favorites, looking over the field for possible sleepers. It's funny to think that in the case of the Games, when someone considers who this year's George Mason would be they may literally be referring to an actual former tribute named George Mason. Personally I think Katniss has all the makings of a dangerous sleeper pick poised to make a deep run: coming from an unheralded mid-major district (with only one champion in the past 73 Games for crying out loud), fundamentally sound, undersized, but with impressive range. Though, I guess it's not a true tournament, there are still a myriad of ways to gamble on the outcome: selecting the winner, over/unders, elimination order, etc. Aside from the official presentations and pageantry would there be plenty of additional analysis and insights from sports journalists and discissions on morning sports talk radio about participants and scenarios? Would there be a Capitol version of Joe Lunardi with a weird mustache and blue skin, breaking things down with his science of Hungertology? Does that make Caesar Flickerman their Dick Vitale?

Also it would be pretty awesome and apropos if they played "One Shining Moment" as the sole remaining tribute is airlifted out of the arena.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Random Wikipedia Fact of the Day!

According to Wikipedia, the famous red leather pants clad butt on the cover of Loverboy's 1981 hit album "Get Lucky" (arguably the second most iconic 80s album cover derriere behind Bruce Springsteen's "Born In The USA") did not belong to the band's frontman Mike Reno, despite the obviously male hand and all indications from the video for "Working For The Weekend". The photo is actually of the photographer's then 14 year old daughter.

So for all you die-hard, particularly homophobic, Loverboy fans out there who caught yourselves at one time or another uncomfortably questioning your own sexuality because you were inexplicably attracted to what you assumed was Mike Reno's tight, sexy, ass you can rest easy; you're just a pedophile.

Bonus Loverboy Fact!: "Working For The Weekend", by far their most memorable song, was nowhere near their highest charting single on the Billboard Hot 100 (topping out at just #29). The fairly mediocre rocker "Lovin' Every Minute of It" (which, if you listen to the lyrics may possibly be about a vibrator or some sort of sex robot) went all the way up to #9.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sweetness Is My Weakness

While it has been a couple of years since they debuted and though they are seldom really seen today, I still feel I have to belatedly profess my strange affection for the series of TV spots for the sugar substitute Truvia. While there was nothing particularly worthwhile about the commercials visually, I was utterly drawn in by the idiosyncratic charm of the individual jingles performed in each ad. I have always been a fan and supporter of the well written commercial jingle, which has become a critically endangered species as of late, so I was already halfway on board. However, what really made these songs stand out for me was their uniqueness. Each ode to the wonders of Truvia is sung in this odd, quirky acoustic-folk style in a non-traditional, slightly unpolished sounding voice (for those of you who wish to know it's some random actress-singer named Therese Hegler). As for the lyrics, they are these odd little first person love ballads to Truvia's natural, calorie free delights, with accompanying dramatization, about being in a miserable relationship with a psedo-personification of "sweetness" (who sort of comes off as a terrible boyfriend in each song) and then finding a a new love (a zero calorie true love!) with Truvia; strange rhyme schemes and weird metaphors abound.

The jingles walk an extremely fine line between shaggy charm and irritating quirkiness. If their youtube clips are any indication (the clips tend to skew about 1/3 to 1/2 dislike rate along with comments that range from "So fucking adorable. i love this commercial" to "i wanna punch that voice") they are fairly polarizing. While I normally hate this sort of overly precious (dare I say "adorkable") work, there's something weirdly genuine about these ads. I think it's because the product is so mundane (it's just another kind of Sweet'N Low) and the melodrama of the jingles are so needlessly high (seriously who has that kind of wonderous life change just from switching to sugar substitutes?) that there is a legitimacy to its cute lack of coolness, I can really believe that they are not trying hard to cool at all. It's a hell of a lot more real than that insufferable old Zooey Deschannel cotton ad.

I recall seeing at least two different adverts on TV, but from what I've gathered there are at least four different commercials. If I had to rank them by some subjective personal metric from least favorite to favorite:

Sweetness comes off as manipulator, a toxic emotional vampire that sort of delights in playing head games with the protagonist. The "guilty crumbs in my bed" line creepily infers a weird sexual relationship. In regards to the video, I don't frequent guilt laden stare downs with chocolate bunnies are all that common a complaint among modern women.

Sweetness is now a serial philanderer to which the protagonist finally resolves herself to escape his chocolate covered charms. Also, four women sharing one tiny desert? They have some serious issues with food that even Truvia won't cure.

Sweetness is just a straight up jerk here, plain and simple. I like the line about Truvia not landing on "my hips or my thighs" followed later with "it's better than flirting or french fries" (although I have to disagree, few things in this world are better than french fries).

This is the most literal representation of sweetness, it has made the protagonist's butt fat; a valid cause as any to leave a relationship (perhaps this is some sort of sick feederism based relationship?). I consider this the best because it's the most straightforward and relatable with the target audience. As an ad it works the best.

For those seeking a fuller effect, check out the medley with the lyrics.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Four references that could be used by one character to mock another character wearing a ridiculous muumuu dress in a scene from a fictional sitcom

I suppose the title speaks for itself.

Mama Harper
"On tonight's episode of 'Mama's Family..."

Mrs. Roper
"Could you tell Mr. Roper that the rent will be ready tomorrow?"

Mama Bear
"So what trouble did the other Berenstain Bears get into this time Mama? Too much junk food? Too much TV?" (Too soon? Also, I never realized how frequently the covers involved a shot of the mom glaring disapprovingly at her family).

King-Size Homer
"Didn't want to look like a weirdo, huh?" But really, any reference to the episode would be fine: "Gas break honk. Honk honk punch. Gas gas gas"; "Where's your cape?"; "Off to see 'Honk If You're Horny'?"; "Now you're a big fat dynamo!" (all these references would also work best if the muumuu wearing character was a male, preferably fat).

I also considered a reference to Lady Aberlin from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, but I figured it was a shade too esoteric; that and I always found it perplexing and disconcerting as a child that her uncle King Friday was a hand sized puppet while she was a full grown human woman.