Thursday, February 25, 2010

Everyone's a critic

Earlier this week I posted an entry about the movie STAY TUNED, the film that single handedly ended Peter Hyams career as a comedy director. Just out of curiosity I visited the imdb.com site to see some of the details about the film.

I started reading the user comment/reviews. And while critics didn't see the high concept brilliance of the movie, Joe Sixpack and Betty Bag O'Donuts begged to disagree.

Many were quite amused by the non-stop spoofs and silly take-offs of the TV landscape. But of all the reviews, the most interesting comments came from jim3874, who was apparently looking for greater titilation.

Sadly, jim3874 did not give the movie Two Thumbs Up. Or any other appendage for that matter.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Idiots among us

I don't want to say that people who choose to smoke cigarettes are stupid, but people who choose to smoke cigarettes are stupid.

Take this character for instance, the guy standing in front of the white sedan while his girlfriend pumps high octane fuel into the car. He was in such dire need of a nicotine fix that he decided lighting up a ciggie, on a windy day, within easy sparking distance of a 25,000 gallon underground tank of refined petroleum, made perfect sense.

On behalf of the non-smoking community I'd like to thank you for sharing your emphysema-causing 2nd hand carcinogens.

And if that doesn't kill us we can always thank you for the giant fireball and the flesh-piercing projectiles of asphalt, shredded metal and broken glass.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Staying Tuned

Survival in the advertising/entertainment/branded content business is all about shameless self promotion. After all, if you don't tell people how talented and gifted you are how can you expect them to pay you exorbitant day rates?

In that spirit, I've added the movie poster for STAY TUNED to my blog adornments.

If you read the fine print you can see I've been given a story credit for the movie. When in actuality, the screenplay was truly written by my good friends Tom Parker and Jim Jennewein. I merely helped with the story development at the very beginning of the process and couldn't keep pace with Tom and Jim after my dad had passed.

Nevertheless, in a testament to their good grace, they agreed to put my name on the project in the event the screenplay ever got sold -which was a long shot considering we were all junior copywriters at the time with nary a Hollywood credit to our names. That, and nobody but nobody sells their first screenplay.

But the producers at Morgan Creek liked what they saw on the page and ignited a weekend bidding war for the screenplay. By Monday morning, the deal was struck and we were all instantly wealthy men, wealthy being a relative term in Los Angeles where 1/2 million dollars barely affords you a 1 bedroom/1 bathroom condo.

That didn't stop us from celebrating like Powerball Billionaires. The day the first checks cleared, we packed our girlfriends/future wives into a stretch limo, drank like rock stars and for 7 hazy hours, lived the life others only dream of. Just thinking back on it brings a smile to my face.

I wish I could hunt down Meg, our limo driver, for a more detailed account of the evening.

And since she was as much a part of the Stay Tuned story as any of us, I like to think that maybe Meg is somewhere out there in the blogosphere. And that she too is using this poorly produced jpg of the movie poster to promote her career.

Godpseed Meg.

Monday, February 22, 2010

RIP Mahmoud








Earlier this week, Hamas leader Mahmoud al Mabhouh was found smothered to death in his hotel room in Dubai. The consensus is that the hit/assasination/delivery of justice (whatever you'd like to call it) was the handiwork of Mossad.

Palestinian leaders, who apparently do not possess photo enlargement machines, were shocked by the covert operation. They are calling for Interpol to issue warrants and arrest the Israeli culprits.

I would suggest they take a trip to the nearest Blockbuster video and rent a copy of Munich. Then they will know that the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers and the rocket attacks on civilian targets like the city of Sderon will not go unanswered.

I am reminded of a glorious summer day in 1976. I believe it was July 4th and the Israeli army had masterfully rescued over 100 hostages being held at the Entebbe airport in Uganda. While America celebrated the bicentennial, my father, elated by the news, broke out the slivovitz to celebrate the cunning and bravery of those Israeli commandos.

I've never copped to the false belief of an afterlife and have no illusions of my father looking down and smiling about the events that have transpired. But, in his honor, I'm going to pour myself a libation and toast a world with one less cowardly terrorist.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Wiggapedia


One of my childhood heroes, George Carlin once said, "the very existence of flamethrowers proves that sometime, somewhere, someone said to themselves, 'you know, I want to set those people over there on fire, but I'm just not close enough to get the job done."

In any case I heard something the other night and got around to thinking what Carlin -- a self-professed language tactician -- would say on the matter.

Somebody had used the word "wigga" on TV. It might have been on MTV. Or VH1. Or even A&E. The fact that it hasn't raised a media firestorm is testament that the word "wigga" is perfectly acceptable. Even though if one were to explore its roots, one would find it is derived from a word that is clearly unacceptable.

If one were to follow Carlin's logic, the powers that be, who have rendered one word verbotten, should see to it that a word like 'wigga', derived from the poisonous n-word fruit, should also be banned. Particularly since the sound-a-like word is meaningless without somehow drawing on the connotations of the aforementioned banned word.

But then this leads us down a slippery slope.

If we were to start banning words that sound like bad words, where would we draw the line? What about chigger? And jigger sounds like chigger? And jogger sounds like jigger. And lager sounds like jogger. I really like lager.

It can all get ridiculous, really fast. So what do we do?
As a free thinking, partial Libertarian, I say we do nothing.

I am just happy that we live in a time when people who choose to use those ugly words bring more dishonor and shame upon themselves than the group they intended to insult.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Finger Whiffing Good
















Today, the humor gods smiled upon me.

I wanted to find out all about the buzz (pun intended) regarding LA's newest crop of legalized marijuana stores.

It struck me as so odd that, with a doctor's note in hand, I could walk into virtually any strip mall shop and walk out with a $40 ounce of high grade weed.

So I decided to check out and stopped by the Natural Ways Always store on National Blvd. You can spot an "herb" shop by the tell tale green cross.

The minute I walked through the door I caught whiff of that magical aroma that brought back so many memories. Well, there would have been memories had I not been so high.

To my surprise, an ounce of marijuana no longer sells for $40. To my even greater surprise, as I walked back to my car I spotted another legalized marijuana store not more than 100 yards away. And that's where providence prevailed.

Someone had the good sense to take a business that no longer enjoyed an abundance of demand and turned into a business with a near limitless supply of demand.

Of course if it were left to me, I would have left the word "FRIED" on the storefront.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mmmmmm, lumbar support

I'm not that big on self indulgence.

Any income I'm able to dispose of, usually gets put in the kid's college fund or the I-don't-want-to-end-up-in-a-dirty-nursing-home fund (401K).

That's why for months I've been fruitlessly trying to repair my old desk chair, with its wobbly casters and broken tilt mechanism.

I can't tell you how many trips I made to Home Depot in the vain attempt to right the ship. Perhaps I should have documented it all and posted Things Jews Don't Do Part 5: Fixing Furniture.

I broke down this weekend and made a trip to a fancy designer furniture store on Beverly Blvd this weekend and picked up an outrageously expensive ergonomic chair. And now I wish I had done this 6 months ago.

Comfortable, doesn't even begin to describe the American-made Mirra. It's as if the concept of 'sitting' has been redefined.

And because the chair is a legitimate office expense, it sits in my house complements of the American taxpayer.

So I'd like to thank you, readers of roundseventeen, from the bottom of my heart.

And thank you Herman Miller.

From the bottom of my ass.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Palin Geography 101

Last week I published this photo on my Facebook account to the delight of many, many people.
It was my little commentary on the antics of political douchebaggette Sara Palin. The woman has the intellectual prowess of a garden slug.

In any case, I'm reprinting the photo and taking this opportunity to explain my recent swing back to the center of the political spectrum. As the grandson of card-carrying Russian socialists, my friends and family have in the past been distressed by my conservative take on some issues.

"Rich, you're a quasi-successful, college-educated man with a modicum of sophistication, how can you support George Bush?" I suppose that's a fair question. But in the wake of September 11th and as a lifelong student of the Arab-Israeli conflict, I know of no other way to deal with murderous Muslim fanatics.

In fact, on this point, I have not softened one bit. The threat of Islamisation and the unyielding desire for a world caliphate is our greatest challenge.

However, with Ms. Palin at the pulpit, I find it increasingly impossible to stand with the party that is against gay rights, against health care reform, against separation of church and state, and frankly against some of the things that make America great.

Furthermore, the lack of bipartisanship (the fault of Republicans and Democrats) threatens to widen the growing gap between the haves and the have-nots. And frankly that has me very concerned. Because when the torches get lit and the mobs get assembled, where does that leave me, the have-a-littles?




Thursday, February 11, 2010

Boccaccio Botched


Last night on Jeopardy the word Boccaccio came up in one of the clues. That's not a word you see everyday. But to a pre-pubescent boy with raging hormones and a mustache just aching to be set free, it was a word filled with magical carnal visions.

Let me explain.

If you were to look on imdb.com you'd find a movie called Boccaccio 70 made by Frederico Fellini in 1962. It was an Italian film composed of four vignettes about the evolving sexual mores of the 60's. In one of the shorts, a voluptuous Anita Ekberg plays a 50-foot tall blond woman plastered on an outdoor billboard for milk. She had the mystical ability to step out of her billboard to tease a prudish college professor upset with her ample cleavage.

I never missed an opportunity to watch Boccaccio 70 whenever it came on TV. If only to fantasize about a giant blond woman snatching me from my adolescent hell and nuzzling me in her Scandinavian bosomage. Keep in mind this was long before basic cable or today's ubiquitous access to the pornographic arts.

Out of sheer curiosity, and because this week's posts all seem to have an element of nostalgia, I went to Google images did a search for Anita Ekberg.


And now I have one less happy place to go to.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Drive One

The way the economy seems to be turning around and the way my phone has ringing off the hook lately, I've been thinking about buying myself a new car. If nothing else but to quiet my daughters who claim my current Lexus is an "old man's car."

All of which got me thinking to some of the beauties I've owned in the past.

A long, long time ago, before manufacturers recalled faulty products and people wore seat belts, my father bought me a Ford Pinto (like the one spotted on my street the other day.) My mother wasn't too thrilled with his choice, particularly after there had been reports of Pintos blowing up upon rear end collisions.

But my dad grew up in the rough and tumble South Bronx and was big believer in the power of adversity.

"Poppycock (or whatever people said at the time)", he barked. "The boy needs to build character, besides what's a minor fuel explosion?" Often followed by the story of eating ketchup sandwiches and going to school in hand me down shoes and a burlap sweater.

Speaking of explosions, here's a commercial for the aforementioned Ford Pinto. Make sure you stick around for the rather Nostradamus-like end tag.



Monday, February 8, 2010

Let's go Orange


As of this writing, the Syracuse basketball team is ranked #3 in the nation. This, despite the best overall record in NCAA Division 1.

Though the team has always enjoyed great success it has rarely ascended this high in the polls. They can move up even higher if Villanova (the #2) loses to Georgetown this Saturday.

This places me in the unenviable position of rooting for Georgetown. As any Orange fan, including the little boy on the left, will tell you, that is a difficult pill to swallow.

I have such a visceral hatred for that school and their sloppy mascot and their pressing defense and their ugly grey T-shirts.
I still have haunting memories of Patrick Ewing in too-tight, too-short shorts swatting fade-away jumpers into the cheap seats of the Carrier Dome.

My daughters love watching me watch Syracuse on ESPN. They particularly like it when my team turns the ball over or misses a three pointer and Daddy has a full blown meltdown.

They, nor my wife, cannot understand my irrational love for the team. And frankly, sometimes neither do I.

Fact is, I left the university before any of the kids on the current team were even born. I don't know a single soul in Syracuse. And I haven't been back there since I snuck away with a sheepskin.

Although I did sit next to Orangemen point guard Hal Cohen in Math 598: A study of Matrices, Determinants and Vector Spaces. He and I both failed that class. That's when I switched my major from Advanced Calculus to the less-rigorous, intellectually-free field of Advertising.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Florscheim, Party of Four

Today's shout out goes to Joe Rein, an old friend who I regrettfully haven't seen it quite some time.

Joe is a Hollywood veteran. He was producing television long before the advent of technicolor.

Joe loves telling stories. Particularly how he managed to secure himself and his clients the best tables at the best restaurants on the westside of LA.

The trick he said, was to make the reservation in the name of a minor celebrity that would hold up under any scrutiny. His favorite, though I suspect it would not work these days, was to call and reserve a table for Manny Florscheim.

Upon arrival at the restaurant, most maitre de's would assume he was the founder or a close relative of the Florscheim family, fine purveyors of men's shoes. The beauty being, no one had any idea what a Florscheim looks like. It's not as if they were the Rockefellers. And besides, Joe, sporting a full head of silver hair and always adorned in the finest fashionable threads, could very well be the Florscheim Footwear King.

That was the magic of his plan. No one would bother to check. After all, who goes around impersonating a shoe salesman?

I don't know what gave Joe the bigger kick: getting seated long before the teeming masses or catching the Maitre De sneaking furtive glances at his shoe wear.

Though if you think about it, what he had on his feet merited no attention at all.

I suppose it's only human nature. If someone tells you they are the heir to the Q-tip empire, you're going to be checking their ears for errant nuggets of wax.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

There is an app for that

video

I am such a big fan of Apple. Not the new iPad mind you, I have a laptop and a phone and don't see the need for anything in between.

But like the advertising (from my alma mater agency) says if there's a problem in life, there's probably an app that can solve it. OK, they say it more eloquently than that, but I'm not on the clock right now.

As I have written before, I have an issue with barking dogs in my neighborhood. I have a bigger issue with inconsiderate pet owners who do nothing to curb the ruckus. But as the recent health debate has proven, you can't beat common sense into people.

I recently discovered Pitch Rocket. A bargain at 99 cents. Armed with this sonic missile, I can now emit ear-piercing high pitch noise whenever my cretinous neighbor lets his pit bull howl at the moon.

I've already employed the Pitch Rocket twice to great success. And now I have taken to doing all my work on my laptop. On my back porch. On the off chance I will get the opportunity to zap that mutt shut again.

Thank you Steve Jobs.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A very special blog entry

Years ago, I had the pleasure of being invited to an ABC Network Sweeps Meeting. There, the President of Entertainment hosted a round table of top brass from all of ABC's hit shows. (There were very few people in the room.)

One by one the execs pitched lame-o ideas intended to spike the ratings. There was a surprising lack of imagination. Weren't these, after all, the drivers of American pop culture?

"What if Tim gets cancer?"
"We think Michael should have a heart attack."
""First the dog gets hit by a car, then the dad gets a brain tumor."

Thanks to that meeting I grew to have a crystal clear understanding of the term, "A very special episode."

Sadly, ratings here at roundseventeen are down.

Either I've been too busy spending my time with writing assignments that actually put food on my table. Or you, the loyal reader have become bored with my antics. Perhaps a little of both.

So in the the spirit of Network sweeps and the sincere hope that I can goose the web traffic, I give you the world's greatest washing machine commercial.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Eat Me Anderson Cooper


Just spotted this story on cnn.com. It's all about how State Senator Tim Grendell of Ohio is raising a stink about government money being used to tell us government money is being used.

Of course, the loyal readers of roundseventeen already knew about this bureaucratic travesty, as I wrote about way back on November 9, 2009.

A full 2 months before CNN got to the story. Siegel 1, Cooper 0.

Maybe I should have been a journalist?

Yeah, right.

Why would I put myself through the rigor and hard work of being a writer,
when I could make 10 times the money in advertising pretending to be one?