Sunday, October 28, 2007

Some exciting movie ads before the trailers.

Yesterday, I attended Steve Carell's latest mainstream comedy DAN IN REAL LIFE (as films directed and partially written by Peter Hedges go, it's an improvement over PIECES OF APRIL, which included Katie Holmes as the world's most mild-mannered punkette) and was fortunate or unfortunate enough to see these advertisements:

1. A 3 Doors Down video meant to promote the National Guard, with intercut footage involving Guard members saving disaster victims, fighting in the Revolutionary War and kicking ass and rescuing a downed guard member in Iraq.  The most fascinating aspect to this video (besides the craven commerciality of 3 Doors Down) is the attempt to sell mainstream youth the vision that joining the Guard is now another viable military option--just like the Army, Navy and Marine Corps.  And if the ad inspires enough recruits, a draft will be again avoided and the Iraq and forthcoming Iran wars will continue being fought in a sort of stealth fashion, with affluent youth staying in their iPod and Halo 3 bubbles and not being forced to think about war and its consequences.

2. A crappy Honda commercial for a new van that uses 1960s graphics but decides instead to use a few bars from Heart's one-decade-later "Barracuda."  Obviously, ad agency reps don't remember (or, if they do, don't care to pay the rights for) Sammy Johns' 70s single "Chevy Van", which, in my mind, is a perfect encapsulation of the 70s middle-class travel-the-country-and-let-the-one-night-stand-out-in-the-next-town ethos.  But it's probably too mellow-sounding for a target audience sitting in a theater waiting for (most likely) SAW 4.

Or maybe Honda couldn't meet Pete Townshend's price for the use of The Who's "Going Mobile" from WHO'S NEXT.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

One more day for the Random List Entry motif.

Here's another day of homages to Larry King-style free association.

1. I watched Olbermann and saw a clip from the Larry "I'm not gay" Craig interview with Matt Lauer.  Perhaps I might be wrong, but I saw Lauer (who once played golf with George Butch Sr.) roll his eyes as Craig gave off the odor of self-righteousness and kept rattling off his "as long as my vote counts for the party, I'm not resigning" schtick.

2. It's obvious that Borders, like all good corporate bookstores, needs to sell mass quantities of books that are intended as Preordained Bestsellers.  But I'm currently reading the book SCHULZ AND PEANUTS--the biography of cartoonist Charles M. Schulz--and it's amazing that a Borders e-mail ad is trying to sell it as escapist entertainment.  The book is actually a fascinating and sad tale of an inhibited man who only really came to life when creating Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, et al at his drawing board.  Inevitably, Schulz faltered when it came to sustaining relationships with real people.

Sounds like a laugh riot that will appeal to those who buy PEANUTS comic strip compliations, doesn't it?

3. Having read about the Ellen DeGeneres-passing-dog-to-member-of-staff mess, I can't help but say that the dog adoption agency's rigidity in terms of taking the dog away from the staff member and her children is a perfect example of California behavior (both business and social)--think in abstract, these-are-the-rules terms, ignore the human factor and nurse your anger over being criticized in a public forum.



Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Time for another random list entry.

Here's another homage to the old Larry King USA TODAY columns.

1. Isn't it a perfect epitomy of the age we live in when the old euphemism "the f-word" has been replaced by the new euphemism "the f-bomb"?

2. Yes, I downloaded the new Radiohead album IN RAINBOWS and found it to be the most listenable and accessible since Thom Yorke spent most of a decade in the wilderness of experimentation.  But I wonder sometimes about the way Radiohead and its management have trained the rock press to applaud everything the band does as sheer unadulterated genius.  And, given the recent exodus of veteran artists from traditional record labels to controlling their own careers (it's probably considered irrelevant to have a memory of John Prine doing exactly this over two decades ago), it's kind of amusing to see Radiohead treated as if they're the first band to think of such a radical notion.

3.  Tim Rutten, in Saturday's LOS ANGELES TIMES, paused in the middle of an article about Ann Coulter's anti-Semitism (another in her periodic "everyone should convert to Christianity" rants which began after 9/11) to mention the current belief system that offensive speech must be silenced.  Unfortunately, the Left and Right won't let go of this notion.  And don't get me started about certain members of the Los Angeles poetry community--where the bar for "offensiveness" tends to be set according to whether or not you're talking about someone universally regarded as "popular."

4.  Having been to San Francisco last week, it's quite sobering to observe the gentrification going on in the poorer neighborhoods (just like neighboring city Oakland and my city Los Angeles) where mayor Gavin Newsom is hot to lock up homeless people for "quality of life" violations (meaning "get them out of the eyelines of the affluent and the tourists") and even hotter to build more housing for the Priveleged Classes at the expense of the less well-off.  At this rate, maybe Alcatraz could be razed to build luxury condos for those who like the idea of island living and safe isolation from the little people--becoming the equivalent of BLADE RUNNER's Off-World Colonies.  

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A few words about Clarence Thomas and Britney Spears.

Clarence Thomas, the "I'm here to be a strict constructionist and nothing else" member of the Supreme Court, is back with a new book I'm not planning to read.

I remember the fall of 1991 when the confirmation hearings took place.  My reaction to Anita Hill's sexual harassment testimony was that it needed a public airing because Thomas' allegedly-boorish behavior (remember the mentions of the porn star Long Dong Silver and the pubic hair on the Coke can?) would be relevant in terms of how he voted on issues pertaining to women.  A friend of mine disagreed, saying he thought that Thomas' confirmation needed to be opposed, but not by dragging in alleged sexual misconduct.

But Thomas managed to utter the magic words about the hearings being a "high-tech lynching" and George Butch Sr. (who appointed Thomas) made a lasting contribution to American jurisprudence--and one that came in handy when the Supreme Court appointed George Butch Jr. to the Presidency.

And the door was opened wide for both political parties to play "gotcha" regarding private sexual behavior from public officials for the next decade-and-a-half.

Regarding Britney Spears losing her two sons to Kevin Federline: it would have been more merciful for the children to be put in foster care than to be handed from one irresponsible jerk to another.

But perhaps Star Jones was right when she mentioned on Larry King's show recently that, no matter how good or bad Britney's behavior is, the kids will be pretty much raised by the nannies.