June 2006

2006
Jun
30

Productive Placement

“Product Placement” is distracting, annoying and uncool, right? “ET” would have been a better movie if Elliot had shared ubiquitous M&Ms or generic jelly beans with the little alien instead of Reese’s Pieces. But then, maybe I’m just saying that because I’m allergic to peanuts. I’ve quit caring about the make of car James Bond drives, and I never cared what brand of sunglasses Tom Cruise wore (unless they were endorsed by Scientology, in which case I’m staying far away from them).

On the other hand, “Namechecking” (not to be confused with Trainspotting), when the creative forces behind a movie, TV show, song, book, etc. use a brand name for a real creative purpose (even if the brand owner ends up paying them for it) is cool. The Kinks’ “Lola” was drinking Coca-Cola, sure. The Goodyear blimp was in the movie “Black Sunday” (but then, those days, Goodyear was the only people who had a blimp… why deny it?) It couldn’t have been “Harold and Kumar Go to Some Burger Joint”, now could it? And Paul Simon’s old hit song:

Momma don’t take my Kodachrome®?
Momma don’t take my Kodachrome®?
Momma don’t take my Kodachrome®? awa-a-ay
(Because you’re already over-developed…)

“Seinfeld” was incredible in its placement of real brands, real companies and real people into its ongoing tales of nothing in particular. (For the record, the show never really was about “nothing”, it was always about “whatever happened to be around”). Let’s see… Snapple, Bosco, Entenmann’s, Häagen-Dazs, H&H Bagels (yes it was real), Kenny Rogers’ Roasters, Frogger, Trivial Pursuit, the Today Contraceptive Sponge (which was already off the market), J. Peterman – the three-way relationship of the real J. Peterman catalog, the show and John O’Hurley is a show-biz legend that will last forever – the New York Yankees and George Steinbrenner, Oh Henry! (the candy bar heiress), Pez – lots of candy brands mentioned, including the most infamous – Junior Mints. Not where you’d expect a Junior Mint to end up, right? But brand names appeared only when they served the story – or the funny. Did you know Jerry’s computer was an Apple? It had to be the most inconspicuous Apple computer in Hollywood, because the writers never did anything with it.

The plot of the Tom Hanks movie “Cast Away” was very well-served by its association with Fed Ex – and no company wants to see its plane crash, that’s why the “Airport” series used fake airline names – in that it gave the character a way to end up marooned without killing off a lot of other passengers (always a downer), and who will ever forget his well-branded desert island companion “Wilson”? Voit would never have been right.

But the placement in the new Adam Sandler movie “Click” almost (I said almost) entices me to spend a few matinee-priced bucks to see it. I’ve shopped at Bed, Bath and Beyond. Some of their merchandise is good quality, some not, some a good bargain, some eye-rollingly-not-worth-it. It was the first retail place you could find OxiClean and other “as seen on tv” products and buy them without “shipping and handling charges” and see if they were any good (nothing was as good as the TV claims, but OxiClean and the Gopher reaching tool were good enough). But I have always considered the “Beyond” to be totally meaningless. “Bed Bath and Kitchen”: that’s truth in labelling. Alton Brown used to go to Bed Bath and Beyond on “Good Eats” and his “equipment expert” W. used to work there – that’s a non-obtrusive product placement. So, when Sandler acquires his really really universal remote control gadget from the “Beyond” department… sold to him by Poster-Boy-for-Creepiness Christopher Walken, that’s great Namechecking.

But there is one other possible brand placement that hasn’t been done, but would be cooler than Peterman, Wilson, Kodachrome or Beyond… if, in either “Smallville” or the “Superman Returns” movie, Lex Luthor drove a Lexus.

Lex’s Lexus, get it? Lex’s Lexus?

That was a helluva long way to go for that pun, wasn’t it?

Postscript: If “Smallville” did do a mention of that five years ago, I really don’t care… I don’t watch the show regularly, ok? Nitpicking about anything else is welcome.

AND NOW A WORD FROM SOMEBODY WHO MAY HAVE NEVER HEARD OF ME...
2006
Jun
29

Wendell 2.0

Everybody who is anybody who is willing to communicate with me has been asking me “Are you going Web 2.0? And if not, can I have your website?” And I generally reply, “no, I’m waiting for them to get the bugs out in Web 2.1”. And then everybody replies with “….NO SIGNAL”, even when we’re in the same room.

It makes me feel like I’m one step behind and out of step, shunned by the cool kids and the nerds, which is basically how I got through High School. Of course, since then, I’ve learned to march to the beat of my own different drummer, who was apparently Keith Moon after he died, so I bought a used drum machine from the Captain and Tennille and love kept me together after that. But in the mid-80s, the drum machine broke down after a weekend with Brian Wilson, so I needed to replace it. I got another used drum machine, this time from the Joy Division/New Order name-change clearance sale, and love has been tearing me apart ever since. But enough about me.

The question that came to my mind was: “Is Web 2.0 really worth it and what do I have to do for it?” The Grammar Police cited me for asking two questions in one sentence, and I was left with twice as much uncertainty (and a mark on my poetic license that is really going to cost me the next time I renew my talent insurance).

So, reversing the order of my queries, I set out to see what was required to achieve a state of 2.0ness.

  • First, I needed to take down my cute little “Under Construction” signs and replace them with “beta”. Fortunately, when the Alpha Beta grocery stores were bought out by Lucky who were then bought out by Albertsons, I made an investment in their second-hand signs. I had made a slick deal selling the “Alpha” part to the producers of the remake of “Alfie” who didn’t even notice until Marisa Tomei pointed it out to them on the set, but by then it was too late and all deals are final. So, I still have “Betas” I can use (In fact, I have plenty extra, so if you need one to go 2.0 yourself, just email me: wendell@betamax.com… I also have a whole bunch of “Luckys” from that second buyout; wendell@yuckylucky.org).
  • Next, I needed to change my domain name to something with at least one missing vowel. I have always been proud of my vowels, and my vowels have been good to me. (Do I dare throw in a “vowel movement” joke here? I think I just did.) I thought the most expendible vowel was the second “E”, but it didn’t look quite right until I also dropped the second “L”: WENDLWIT.COM. Then a grand idea struck me: I could drop the “O” in COM! Some quick negotiations with the Internet Registrar of Camaroon (It turned out they had recently opened a casino in Douara, so I unloaded some “Lucky” signs) and WENDLWIT.CM was ready.
  • Next, I had to update my design. This was going to be tough. The last time I went in for a serious makeover, I switched from doubleknit slacks to khakis, and – well let’s just say the change resulted in some chafing. According to an absolute authority on the subject (the first Google result for “Web 2.0 Design” that wasn’t O’Reilly or kottke), the essential elements were (1) Rounded Shapes (I aready have those, on my site and my self! I felt more 2.0 already), (2) Shades (That was okay, my blinds were getting pretty old), (3) Sans Serif – Arial or Helvetica (So glad I’d gotten that DVD of “The Little Mermaid”), (4) Pastell – that was how the absolute authority spelled it, I remembered it differently from my Paint With Bob Ross lessons, (5) Footers, which I deduced was a European spin-off of Hooters specially for soccer fans, (6) Buttons (Now I understood the popularity of Poke the Bunny), (7) Oversized Fonts OKAY.
  • Now it was time to work on my backend. That scared me. The most successful internet backend I’d ever heard of was Goatse. I wasn’t reassured when I was told I’d have to use AJAX. I’d been a devoted Bon Ami customer for years… and it hasn’t scratched yet. Imagine my relief when I learned it was an acronym for other acronyms. Apparently the “J” stood for Javascript. Now, I’ve never liked the taste of coffee, but a quick trip to Starbucks and I had some pretty cool Frappacinoscript. The “X” stood for XML. Anybody who’s ever met me in person knows I’m XXL, and that was certainly close enough. But what about the two “A”s? Fortunately, I have plenty of old ABBA albums on vinyl… no you may not ask me why, but I’m glad I did.
  • I had to deal with more acronyms: RSS, CSS (both of which I covered by being a total ASS), SOAP (Softsoap Brand Shower Gel, my fave), API (fortunately I have one of their old news ticker machines from a radio station I once worked for… yeah, same place I got the ABBA records) and REST – finally, an acronym I can totally get behind.

So, here it is. WendellWit 2.0 (or WendlWit 2.0). How does it look? The same? Well, that’s the most important thing I learned about Web 2.0. Nobody has set any standards for it, so you can call throw just about anything into a website and call it “Web 2.0”. It’s just like Blogging! So I added this little icon here:Fat.gif  Isn’t he cute? Oh, and I threw out the drum machine and got myself a real different drummer. His name’s Russel and he usually drums for Gorillaz. Yes I know he’s a cartoon character. He’ll get along well with my conscience, Dudley DoRight and my inner child, Baby Huey.

2006
Jun
28

Random Thought-bursts

It has become clear that the Sports Media has become more responsible than the News Media, based on the fact that Sporting Events are the only place where if you try to make a public spectacle of yourself they turn the cameras AWAY from you…

If guns don’t kill people, you’re obviously not using them right…

If guns were outlawed, only outlaws would have guns, which would make it a lot easier to tell the outlaws from the law-abiding people. (But, to quote another joke, you couldn’t tell the outlaws much.)

Anybody who claims to have all the answers has most of the wrong answers.

Opinions are like noses, everybody’s got one, and you don’t want to come near somebody when theirs is running.

Okay, enough thinking. Time for pudding:

Jun
28

Steering Testicles

I usually don’t like jokes about certain body parts, but these two gonad-based jokes are more than funny, they’re punny…
A pirate walked into a bar with a steering wheel attached to his crotch. The bartenders said “Hey, buddy, you know you’ve got a steering wheel attached to your crotch?” and the pirate said “Arrr, and it’s driving me nuts.”

There was a crisis on the Tickle Me Elmo production line… The woman who was just hired as an inspector had slowed everything to a halt. The manager went up to the woman and said “You had the best references; you’re a very diligant worker; what’s going on here?” She replied “Well, I had to go find some marbles and extra red fabric, so that with every new Elmo that comes down the line I can sew a little sack with the marbles in them…” And the manager stopped her and said “but all you’re supposed to do is give him “two test tickles”!

And this joke I like because of my days in the woodwind section of the high school band, begging for a chance to play the saxophone because the clarinet looks… well…
A guy was at his doctor’s office and the Doc asked him what the problem was. The guy said, “Well, Doc, it’s my willy…you see, whenever I pee, it sprays out in all directions and that tends to upset the blokes at the next urinals”. The doc started examining it and discovered it was full of little holes. “How on earth did it get like that?” he asked. The guy explained, “Well, Doc, I like to play darts down at the pub, and some nights, after I’ve had a few pints, I put my darts in my front pants pocket and walk home.” The doctor scribbled a name on a piece of paper and handed it to the patient. “I want you to go see this man”, he said. “Is he a specialist or something?” asked the guy. The doctor said “No, he’s a clarinet player…he’ll show you how to hold it”.

2006
Jun
27

Alien Vs Predator (Late Night Talk Show Version)

Doesn’t there just seem to be a website for just about everything? Well, maybe once I get the rest of the OneSwellFoop NetWorks on line there will be. Until then, one of the oddest sites has to be the one dedicated to displaying artwork showing Conan O’Brien vs. Bear. Now, I have nothing against Conan… or Bears… but with about 500 different variations on the theme, I think that concept is pretty well covered. And didn’t he already have a rivalry with the President of Finland?
Therefore, it is time to introduce the next red hot viral concept meme to hit America right in its collective (but never collectivist) consciousness: Ladies and gentlemen, Iam proud to present:

Craig Ferguson vs. Tigers!!!
craigvstigger.jpg

craigvshobbes1.JPG

craigvstony.jpg

Yep, this is it. The vehicle that’s going to move this blogger from total obscurity to general ridicule…

Jun
27

it’s hp to be square

Having to look at the Hewlett-Packard logo (the one that says “invent”) every time I turn on my laptop compy should inspire me… and it finally has…

dyinvert.jpg

Now all I need are a couple guys with the initials D. and Y. to start a company…

2006
Jun
22

Missed and Pissed

I’m sorry I wasn’t able to blog this earlier, but yesterday, June 21st, was more than just the Summer Solstice. It was Pee on Earth Day. Combined with a report that Americans may be taking too many vitamin suppliments, it makes you think differently about “the Golden Globes”.
globulousgold.JPG
Ewww. Definately hold that trophy by the base…

And, no, I’m not going to go looking up every holiday in the next month for excuses not to update the blog.

2006
Jun
8

Emu-sing

I’ll bet you can’t guess what my all-time favorite funny-looking bird is…

opus.gif
You’d think so, but nope…

Flamingo.gif

Sorry…

dodo.gif
Well, not anymore…

foghornleghorn.GIF other07_7.jpg
Now, those guys are kinda funny for their species, but no…

My all-time favorite funny-looking bird is:
emu1.jpg
Rod Hull’s Emu. I mean, just read this piece by Hollywood Blogger and My Personal Web Idol #4 Mark Evanier about man and bird’s appearance on The Tonight Show in which the puppet attacked (which was the puppet’s main schtick) both host Johnny Carson and guest Richard Pryor. I commented earlier this week that Steven Colbert’s White House Dinner performance was “courageous – in parts”, but that was nothing compared to Hull’s World Championship Courage of engaging not one but two legends of comedy in a flurry of physical humor aimed directly at their most vulnerable body parts! Regretably, video of this once-in-a-lifetime event has not ended up on YouTube yet (and YouTube will remain suspect until it does), and there is no indication that it is included in the The Ultimate Johnny Carson DVD Collection, but I put an Amazon.com link there anyway because I’m shameless.

Hull was killed in 1999 in a tragic but freaky accident, falling off his house’s roof while adjusting his TV antenna. Conspiracy theorists suggested the Emu may have pushed him, angry that their act had gone out of favor in the ’90s, but the CSI team found no feathers near the scene, so his death was declared accidental. Still fondly remembered in Great Britain, where just last year, BBC.com put their picture in a business article for no apparent reason.

Well, there is good news for Emu lovers around the world, because Hull’s son Toby is working with producers on a new “Emu” children’s show (the bird had headlined three kidvid series in the ’70s and ’80s). Of course, there is much to worry about this new project. The children of great entertainers do not usually handle their parents’ legacy well (I’m looking at YOU, Ross Bagdasarian, Jr.), and the producers saying things like “Emu will actually, for the first time ever, make a range of sounds that will give you an idea of what he’s thinking inside his skull”. Didn’t Emu do quite well for 20-plus years without that?

At least, Emu’s new producer said one thing that is quite promising: Chat show hosts be warned – the beak is back.” I would so love to see the bird come to America and take it to Leno and Letterman and Kimmel and Regis and Oprah and Ellen and Larry King and O’Reilly and Ryan Seacrest and Carson Daly and all the Women-of-the-View (old and new) AND Colbert… but probably only Conan and Ferguson will have the guts to face the beak… Hey, could this have something to do with why both Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson went for the ‘guest-free’ evening news gigs?

2006
Jun
7

Car Talk with Click and Whatthehellwasthatnoise

It’s an oft repeated gag on television, where the guy sits down to watch TV and all the local stations are showing a car chase, and after just enough pause to (hopefully) make it funny, the guy says “OH MY GOD, THAT’S MY CAR!”

And it’s a rare opportunity when I see something that makes me react with BOTH: (a) “Now I know how that feels!” and (b) “Now I can rest assured that will never happen to me”. But that’s exactly the mixed emotions I got when I discovered that the beat-up old American car I drive is the model LEAST likely to be stolen. And also “Car thieves have better taste than I thought”.

Yep.
Ford.
Taurus.
Station wagon.
Don’t ask why.
Please.

Jun
7

So How Was My Day?

Well, I survived “06/06/06”, and “Armageddon or Not” got a boost in traffic leading up to the big non-event. Now, apparently, it won’t be popular again until December 2012.
I have a bit of a “666” connection, because my California Drivers License number has FOUR sixes in it, and three of them areconsecutive:  Nx666x6x (non-6 digits obscured to prevent identity theft of the devil)

Back in the day when all the stores required me to show my photo ID when paying by check (maybe they still would; I always use my debit card now), about half of the cashiers would comment on it, most just about the unbeatable liars’ poker hand in the number, but a few about my satanic digits, and I would usually respond “Well, if I had sold my soul to the devil, would I be shopping here?” (It got a good laugh at Target)

Believe it or not, I’ve never tried out the theory that having those digits in my DL made it legal for me to drive like a demon…