Sunday, April 28, 2013

Charms Blow Pop, Take 2

It's a real shame that I am not ludicrously wealthy. Not just for me personally but for the state of the world in general. Because if I had a massive personal fortune; I'm talking obscene, outrageous money that could finance whatever ridiculous passing fancy that came into my mind, the world would be a more interesting place. Whether it would be a better place would be debatable but it would definitely be a more interesting place.

One project I'd like to tackle with my inexhaustible millions would be to a shot by shot reenactment of this ubiquitous Charms Blow Pop commercial from my youth:

I saw this commercial so many times growing up that I can probably write out the script and storyboard it just from memory. It's another one of those silly childhood things that have been so deeply branded into my brain that I'll remember it on my deathbed. Aside from being overplayed, the commercial itself was pretty unique. The whole thing had a sort of meta-behind the curtains angle to it; kids were messing up lines, there was frantic editing, kids were commenting on the commercial as it was going on. I found the whole thing to be quite jarring as a kid. 

The product itself was also pretty awesome. Although I haven't had one in years, growing up it was one of my top 5 candies. The idea of it was so elegant in its simplicity that I wondered why there weren't more copycats. I know Tootsie Roll pops had the tootsie roll center, but that always seemed more like an unfair punishment for getting to the middle rather than a treat. With a Blow Pop you got a solid, flavorful lollipop which was a pretty good deal on its own but then once you got to the middle: BAM! Bubble gum! The gum was only a shade better than Bazooka Joe but still, you were getting gum right after you finished a lollipop! Easy does it, Caligula! Additionally, the taste and mouth feel of that initial first chew where you have the gum mixing in with the thin layer of hard candy is a wholly unique and singular sensation.

So instead of casting a new group of child actors I would like to bring back all the original kids and have them act their roles again as adults; the nerdy kid in the glasses, kid who forgets to say "sour apple" on time, the token black girl, everyone. I think it would be fascinating to see the stark contrast of all the grown up actors acting within the exact some background and direction as the original; a sobering reflection of our lost childhood...or something like that.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

2 Points 1 "Cups"

For those of you who don't participate in a pop music charts fantasy league and scan the Hot 100 every week, the current number 59 song on the Billboard Hot 100 charts is "Cups (Pitch Perfect's When I'm Gone)" by Anna Kendrick from the "Pitch Perfect" soundtrack. It is definitely one of the more unusual songs to chart on the Hot 100 in recent memory. There's the obvious novelty of the credited artist being a film actress with no prior singing career. Even odder still is the actual song which is Kendrick's rendition of a roughly 90 second a cappella tune accompanied by a percussion routine involving the titular cups; a viral video that she randomly taught her self and was unexpectedly incorporated in the film. Even with some extra padding the radio version barely goes over 2 minutes. Overall I sort of dig the song. It's short, catchy, and cute, plus Anna Kendrick has a pleasant enough voice. Additionally I find it to be an excellent little button to end a mix CD with, especially if you have around 2 minutes of spare space.

With that being said I have two additional points I wanted to make about the song (and you thought  that title was just for cheap crude humor):

First is the ridiculousness of the recently released music video for the song. The video has nothing to do with the film, which sort of makes sense considering the radio single version is now being released almost a year removed for the actual film soundtrack. The real craziness of this "director's cut" music video is that they manage to stretch an essentially minute and a half long song into a 4:22 video. They use every trick in the book short of adding extra lyrics. There's the extended intro and outro scenes, extended breakdowns, and of course just straight up repetition of the limited verses. It's one of the most impressive displays of padding since "A Night at The Roxbury". On a personal note, that diner in the video looks like my dinning equivalent of hell. I don't think there is a single filled cup in that entire establishment. I'm a fairly demanding restaurant patron when it comes to water and refill service. In fact, it may be the the most important criteria for me when eating out. I think I will forgive sub par food if my glass never goes empty. So to watch this exceptionally poor display of refill service is quite distressing.

Secondly, according to one of those bizarre facts you find casually thrown into a subject's Wikipedia page that you just can't believe, "Cups" is the official song of the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup. I had to find another source that corroborated and it appears to be true. For those of you non-soccer fans (i.e. Americans) it's a biyearly soccer championship between the nations of North America, Central America, and the Caribbean; and your guess is as good as mine in figuring out why the organizers decided that this song fit so well with the tournament. I suppose "Pitch Perfect" could also be the name for a soccer movie. I mean are they really pipping this song in at the stadiums to get the crowd psyched? Does the decision process really come down to picking the most prominent contemporary song with the word "cup" in the title (I suppose Toby Keith's "Red Solo Cup" was too specific)? Did they have to out bid the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs? The Ryder Cup? The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series? I suppose there is past precedent for "cup" related pop songs being incongruously selected as themes for soccer tournaments as was the case for Ricky Martin's "The Cup of Life" being selected as the official song to the 1998 World Cup. Maybe if "Cups" can hold on for another year it can make it to Rio.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Blast From The Past

In the aftermath of a horrible national tragedy like the Boston Marathon bombing earlier this week, initial shock turns to questions of how, why, and particularly who. As the investigation as to the parties responsible for this terrible attack continues I can't help but find myself being reminded of another bomb attack at a prominent sporting event. I am of course referring to the Olympic Park Bombing at the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta.

One of the lasting lessons to be taken away from that whole tragedy is the sad story of Richard Jewell. Jewell as you may recall was a security guard in Olympic Park who first identified the planted pipe bomb. Although the bomb would eventually go off leading to 2 deaths and injuries to over a hundred bystanders, Jewell's initial actions of alerting the police and helping to evacuate the area prevented more harm. Unfortunately for Jewell, it was leaked that the FBI considered him a possible suspect and despite never being officially charged he become all but guilty in court of public opinion. He was sued by victims, unfairly portrayed in the news, mocked by late night; and essentially his life was wrecked.

With time the real bomber was eventually arrested and while Jewell was publicly exonerated by the authorities and received settlements from a bunch of libel suits; it was probably small consolation compared to all the personal grief he had to endure. At least by the time he passed away in 2007 he was properly acknowledged as a hero by the governor of Georgia. So while the search to identify the suspects continue, the media, the internet, and we the public at large should strive to execute a little bit of due diligence before doling out instant judgments (I'm looking at you Reddit).

That being said, while looking up his details I found the totally bananas fact that he made a guest cameo in a 1997 episode of SNL:

It really is as bizarre and awkward as one would expect from an SNL cameo by Richard Jewell. First off, why did they go through all the effort of even getting him on the show? He doesn't really bring anything to the table as a comedic presence and you could see poor Norm McDonald is doing all the heavy lifting. On top of him being a comedic brick wall, the writers didn't even bother giving him funny lines, just standard yes or no responses like some kind of deposition. They could have slapped a mustache on Darrell Hammond maybe put together a segment that would have been at least semi-humorous. Was this part of the undisclosed settlement between him and NBC? A generous cash payout and quick drop in on Studio 8H? 

Personally I suspect that this was just all part of the writing staff's general overarching plan during the Norm McDonald Weekend Update era of giving Norm the worst material possible and seeing how he can try to make it work (that stillborn Ike Turner joke at the end of the clip is a good representative of the period). I mean they start off with a segment based around the inherent humor of the 1996 Olympic Bombing and the trials of a man who become an unwitting victim of the media circus surrounding it, then hilariously throw in some references to the still fresh death of Princess Diana and Mother Teresa (waka, waka!). All I can say about Jewell here is, at least he can take a joke.

Odd as that appearance was, apparently Jewell made another appearance that night in another sketch where he punches Janet Reno as played by Will Ferrell. I couldn't find a clip or picture of the skit but even something as broadly humorous as having the then current Attorney General getting beat up seems funnier than the Weekend Update appearance.

One final note about the episode. I was extra surprised that I didn't remember seeing this cameo on the show considering this was during my late middle school/early high school SNL watching hey days of the late 90s and that the episode he appeared on was the 1997 Sylvester Stallone hosted season premiere. That episode in particular is a favorite of mine and contains among others the "Orange Julius Skit" which I've long since acknowledged I'm obsessed with.  

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Cutaway Gag

I noticed I haven't written much here lately so I figured in the interest of just having some content, here's a hastily written short scene. This is whole post feels like the equivalent of being asked to say something and just repeating the word "something". In terms of what could possibly be considered context, I imagine this one small scene from a fictional workplace sitcom featuring surreal cutaway/flashback gags (for now I'll call it "High-Risers"):


Tim and Mary anxiously wait for Rick near a bank of four elevators.

Where is he?

I though he said he was going to catch up with us.

I thought so.

The elevator closest to them dings, signaling its arrival.

Tim and Mary look in with hopeful expressions on their faces as the door opens.

Rick is not in the elevator. Instead, an elderly man in a rascal scooter emerges, he obnoxiously leans on his horn as he makes his way between Tim and Mary.

They jump out of the way of the scooter and watch him drive off.

The door to the stairway entrance at the far end of the lobby opens and Rick comes out. He looks as if he has exerted himself.

Rick comes up behind Tim and Mary, surprising them.

Hey guys.

Tim and Mary are spooked for a moment.

(to Rick) What happened, Rick?

Did you just run down the  stairs again?


Who was it this time?

Hank from accounting.

You really have to deal with this crippling fear of possibly being alone on the elevator and making small talk.

Yeah this is not healthy.

Hey I just ran down five flights, that is very healthy.

Mary gives Rick an unhappy look.

Come on, you’ve got to get over this. It’s just small talk, there’s no way to do it wrong. Even that new robot from HR can get through a ride.



Tim stands next to XJ2 as the elevator heads down. XJ2 is a massive, gray, boxy, 50’s style robot with extremely limited mobility. He is wearing a fedora and has a tie on.

XJ2’s white light bulb eyes light up in sync with his speech. He also starts to flail his stubby, tube-like arms wildly.

(in a distorted, robotic tone) It is a hot weather we are having.

Yeah. It’s hella hot toda-

Syntax error. Syntax error. Please repeat with-

Dark smoke starts to billow out of XJ2 as the small elevator beings to get hazy.

Tim starts to gag from the smoke.



It’s that simple.