Saturday, June 15, 2013

I've Been Ad.....

©2013 by LeeZard
Advertising, more than anything, reflects the current state of society – for better or worse. Unfortunately, IMHO, it’s usually for the worst.
What has me thinking about this is the brouhaha over the recent Cheerios ad featuring a mixed race child. I love it because the commercial is so sweet and child-like. I love it more because General Mills did it and stuck to it after the reaction from the whacko right-wing reactionaries. Both sides represent a clear mirror of where we are today. 
What hasn’t changed since the dawn of advertising time is the mix of funny, touching and brilliant with the stupid, inane and insulting. I’m thinking primarily about the mass electronic media. Oh, let us count the ways.
When I sat down to write this piece I thought I’d take the time to insert examples of everything I’m talking about, the good, the bad and the ugly. I’ve decided not to sully my blog, or your senses, with the trash that often spews from the ad agencies. I’ll talk about them instead in generalities with the caveat that these are my opinions; you may actually enjoy some of this shit.
  • I am particularly insulted by any ad, Radio or TV,  in which a body part or some inanimate object “talks” to us. Okay, the Chevron talking cars are the exception. Even I have to admit they are cute and engaging, not to mention the huge market the campaign created for models of the cars.
  •  Some of these “talking” ads are outright gross, like the one in which your phlegm comes to life. Really?
  • The hair on the back of my neck goes up when the agency bards think they are clever enough to parrot a classic poem or song. It simply doesn’t work.
  • Annoying jingles. “Nuff said.
  • Any commercial involving Flo from Progressive Insurance. Aaaaarrrggggh!!!
  • Talking about insurance, a lot of people love Geico’s friggin’ gecko and its faux Australian accent. LeeZard is ready to stomp the lizard.
  • Almost any local ad where a business owner thinks s/he’s a Radio or TV star.
  • I watch a lot of classic TV shows, despite the commercials aimed specifically at “old” people. From the plethora of funeral plot and cremation ads to the likes of Alex Trebek and (former U.S. Senator) Fred Thompson selling cheapo life insurance, it’s depressing (especially if you’re old).

I could go on ad nauseum but as I said, there’s more bad & ugly than good. So now, let’s have some fun!

For my money, 1984’s iconic “Where’s the Beef,” ad starring (then) 81-year old Clara Peller is still the classic funny TV commercial. The phrase swept the nation. Unfortunately Ronald Rayguns used it in a critical debate to help defeat Walter Mondale for the White House. For a long time, Where’s the beef?” wasn’t funny to me anymore.

I’m dating myself, but I loved the 1972
Alka Seltzer campaign featuring that poor sick looking szhlub sitting on the edge
of his bed in his PJs moaning.

And, another phrase joined the lexicon.·    



One of the funniest ads of 2013, I think, is the Doritos’ Super Bowl spot I call "Football Dad Goes Drag.”

This current ad for the Audi A7 is uncommonly long but it’s worth it, especially if you’re a Spock and Star Trek fan.


Lawdy knows I hate to promote beer but pick almost any commercial featuring the famous Budweiser horses. They are simply heartwarming.


I searched for some international 
commercials and found this one from Romania. I have no idea what they’re selling but the message is powerful.


What made this commercial so heartwarming was the timing. It was the 2011 Super Bowl and Chrysler made a significant post-recession statement, “We’re Baaaaack!”


 I’m sure there are many commercials that people think are “brilliant” In my book there is only one; nothing before or since has measured up to it. I’m talking about the 1979 Coca Cola ad featuring The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mean Joe Green. Everything else is just Diet Coke.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Don't Quote Me On This.......

Note: Let’s play a little game, shall we? How many of the quotes below can you connect to their correct movie and, if missing, the character and actor without looking at the footnote? No fair looking ‘em up online either.

©2013 by LeeZard
Who doesn’t like movie quotes? In fact, many of us (myself included) use every chance we get to work our favorite quotes into our lives. Who wouldn’t love the chance to look at a lover who has spurned us and say,  “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”[1]?
But, we must be careful because, like the game of  “Telephone,” as the quotes move down the line they change.”
“Play it again, Sam!”[2] Nope, Rick (Bogie) never said it. Even so, most people use the incorrect version. What he really said was, “You played it for her, you can play it for me. If she can stand it, I can. Play it!”  You can see why the misquote fell into the lexicon instead of the original, it’s a helluva lot punchier.
Here’s a more difficult one, “Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.” Close, but no ride. What she really said was, “Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.[3] BIG difference!
Okay, just a few more, then I want to get into MY favorite quotes. I won’t challenge you on them; some are quite obscure.
“I’m out of order? You’re out of order! This whole courtroom’s out of order!”
 Actually, that quote is out of order. In this dramatic scene, he actually said, You’re out of order! You’re out of order! The whole trial is out of order! They’re out of order!”[4]
“You Dirty Rat.” Yeah, everyone knows Jimmy Cagney said that. Everyone would be wrong. The closest he ever came to it was, “Mmm, that dirty, double-crossin’ rat”[5]
Okay, last one, “Me Tarzan, you Jane.”  Me say you wrong. Actually, it was more complicated than that:
Jane: (pointing to herself) “Jane.”
Tarzan: (he points at her) “Jane.”  
Jane: “And you? (she points at him) You?”
Tarzan: (stabbing himself proudly in the chest) “Tarzan, Tarzan.”
Jane: (emphasizing his correct response) “Tarzan.’
Tarzan: (poking back and forth each time) ‘Jane. Tarzan. Jane. Tarzan…”[6]
“Merman! Mermannn!”

Zoolander (2001) is one of my favorite and most quotable films, even though it is, admittedly, over-silly at times. It's a cult classic and, you either love it or hate it. It is a total send-up on the rag business (clothing industry) and the whacko world of fashion models. Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller – you either love him or hate him) is a top male model with the brain of a pea, the awareness of a slug and an ego as big as the ocean. You can’t help but love him.
Some Zoolander quotes I’ve actually used:

  • ·       “It’s a walk-off,” when Derek challenges his rival Hansel (Owen Wilson) to an impromptu runway competition, a model’s game of H O R S E, held in a warehouse. David Bowie is the judge as each model does a move and the other must match it perfectly. It is a hilarious scene.
  • ·       Derek: “I'm pretty sure there's a lot more to life than being really, really, ridiculously good looking. And I plan on finding out what that is.”
  • ·       Moisture is the essence of wetness, and wetness is the essence of beauty,” from the Derek commercial where he swims as the MERMAN.
  • ·       “I'm not an ambi-turner.” Derek explaining why he can’t do a left turn on the runway.
  • ·       “I've got a prostate the size of a honeydew and a head full of bad memories,” Derek’s agent Maury Ballstein (Stiller’s father Jerry)
Then, there’s one exchange I’ve never used – because I couldn’t get through it without cracking up. It’s between Derek and his soon-to-be love interest Matilda, (Ben Stiller’s wife, Christine Taylor):

Derek: “Are you here to tell me what a bad eugoogoolizer I am?”
Matilda: "A what?"
Derek: “A eugoogoolizer... one who speaks at funerals.”
[Matilda looks at Derek confused]
Derek: “Or did you think I was too stupid to know what a eugoogooly was?”
The Great Escape (1963) is certainly in my all-time top five favorite movies. It’s a great (true) story with a great cast (including two of my all time faves, the ever-cool Steve McQueen and the charming rascal, Jim Garner), a stirring soundtrack and the best motorcycle chase ever (McQueen, of course). The amazing cast also included the likes of Richard Attenborough, Donald Pleasance (“Splendid”) and David McCallum.
It was in this film that I learned to love in Russian. The scene has two POWs trying to escape the German camp by slipping into a line of Russian slave workers:
Sedgwick (James Coburn): Danny, do you speak Russian?
Danny (Charles Bronson): A little, but only one sentence.
Sedgwick: Well, let me have it, mate.
Danny: Ya vas lyublyu.
Sedgwick: Ya ya vas...
Danny: Lyublyu.
Sedgwick: Lyubliu? Ya vas lyubliu. Ya vas lyublyu. What's it mean?
Danny: I love you.
Sedgwick: Love you. What bloody good is that?
Danny: I don't know, I wasn't going to use it myself.

Who can ever forget Dustin Hoffman going drag as Tootsie (1982)? My favorite quote, though, comes from co-star Teri Garr as Sandy, “I'm going to feel this way until I don't feel this way anymore.”
And, talk about an amazing cast! Aside from Hoffman and Garr, Tootsie’s cast included:
  • ·       Jessica Lange
  • ·       Dabney Coleman
  • ·       Charles Durning
  • ·       Bill Murray
  • ·       Sydney Pollack
  • ·       Geena Davis
  • ·       Amy Lawrence
  • ·       And, cameos by Gene Shalit and Andy Warhol.

Finally, there’s my drop dead favorite movie. Billy Wilder’s Some Like it Hot (1959) tops many lists as the best comedy of all time. No argument here. Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemon light it up as Tony and Jack, in drag, hide in Monroe’s all-girl band after witnessing the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in Chicago.
The supporting cast ain’t bad, either with George Raft, Joe E. Brown, Pat O’Brien, Nehemiah Persoff, and Big Mike Mazurki.
MM as the vulnerable Sugar Kane Kowalczyk  (there’s a bit of movie trivia for ya!) gets my favorite line, “That’s the story of my life. I always get the fuzzy end of the lollipop.” But that's not in my favorite scene.
The first time I saw Some Like it Hot (I was 12) I laughed out loud all the way through. But what threw me into hysterics was that final scene where Osgood, the elder sugar-daddy millionaire who’s in love with “Geraldine,” speeds in the launch toward his yacht with his “bride-to-be:”
Jerry (Jack Lemon): Oh no you don't! Osgood, I'm gonna level with you. We can't get married at all.
Osgood (Joe E. Brown): Why not?
Jerry: Well, in the first place, I'm not a natural blonde.
Osgood: Doesn't matter.
Jerry: I smoke! I smoke all the time!
Osgood: I don't care.
Jerry: Well, I have a terrible past. For three years now, I've been living with a saxophone player.
Osgood: I forgive you.
Jerry: [tragically] I can never have children!
Osgood: We can adopt some.
Jerry: But you don't understand, Osgood! Ohh...
[Jerry finally gives up and pulls off his wig]
Jerry: [normal voice] I'm a man!
Osgood: [shrugs] Well, nobody's perfect!
[Jerry looks on with disbelief as Osgood continues smiling with indifference. Fade out]

T h e   E n d

[1] Gone With the Wind (1939- duh!)
[2] Casablanca (duh.2! 1942)
[3] All About Eve, Bette Davis as Margo (1950)
[4] And Justice For All, Al Pacino as attorney Arthur Kirkland (1979)
[5] Blonde Crazy (1931) – Cagney plays Bert Harris, a hotel bellboy who cons customers out of their money.
[6] Tarzan, The Ape Man (1932), Johnny Weismuller and Maureen O’Sullivan.