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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Guess who died?

When Ernie Kovacs died in 1962, he was noted as the most avant-garde comedian of his day... a guy way ahead of his time. One of his bits on his television show was "Mr. Answer Man." When asked, "If the earth is round, how come no one falls off?"

"My good man," he responded, "people are falling off all the time."

Dick Tufeld died this week at age 85. If you are old enough, you know him as the voice of Robbie, the robot in an old TV series, Lost in Space. "Danger! Danger Will Robinson," was his classic line. He had a great announcer voice and was in so many of the TV shows and movies of that era that you would know him if you were alive then.

As Ernie Kovacs might say, people die all the time. Closest of those to my heart is my mom. She died last week. She was best known as a wonderful lady filled with wit, charm and kindness. In a nursing home suffering dementia her last years, she was still a character.

Just last fall, she was sitting half asleep in her wheel chair between my wife and me during one of our visits. For no apparent reason, she opened her eyes, looked at us and asked, "You know that old saying, into your arms I fly and there, I shall gladly die?"

After a brief pause for timing, she concluded. "That's a bunch of crap."

Pretty darned good for someone 98 years old. But then she was pretty good herself. Thanks mom. Love you.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

So at last, The Three Stooges are proven BRILLIANT! (I knew it all the time.)

I ALWAYS thought the Three Stooges were brilliant. As a bright young man myself, I could see raw intelligence seeping through their every move. 

Who could have said it better than Curly when he exclaimed "Nyuk nyuk nyuk!" as Moe stepped into a paint bucket while reeling from an opening door hitting him in the face causing him to back into Larry who was carrying a long lead pipe and turning to see what happened when the pipe swung and whacked Moe again in the back of the head? How dramatic. How spontaneous. How cogent. HOW BRILLIANT!

And that was 77 years ago (1935 for the not so quick) in a film shunned by 'The Academy' (those idiots) called Hoi Polloi... the colorized version. Now how does this prove the Stooges were leap-years ahead of science and, in a word, BRILLIANT? Pay attention.

First, the background:

In this Stooge adaption of Pygmalian, Professor Richmond, who believes it is environment, not heredity that dictates social behavior, bets Professor Nichols $10,000 that he can take three unsophisticated  men and, through environment and proper training, turn them into gentlemen. By some strange quirk of fate, the Stooges were found as unsophisticated garbage men (not that there is anything wrong with that) and deemed to be the perfect subjects for the wager.

After many attempts to teach them proper etiquette (including dance lessons punctuated by an errant bee down the instructor's bodice), the Stooges are introduced at a fancy society party.  It does not go well. Curly pulls a thread on Moe's jacket and the jacket falls apart. Larry and Moe prove to be the world's worse dancers with the biggest feet and Curly shaves in front of guests, gets his foot stuck in a spittoon, plucks a cherry from the punch bowl and battles Moe who kicks him in the butt, causing the champagne bottle Curly is holding to erupt, spraying all the guests.

Eventually, Professor Richmond concedes his experiment is a failure and forks over the $10,000 to Professor Nichols who, in turn, makes an apology to a lady guest for the rowdies. The lady, now fully indoctrinated,  is offended by the remark and slaps the professor in the face. Richmond laughs and in turn gets slapped by Nichols. Then all the other guests start laughing and slapping and gouging until the party gets helplessly out of control. 

The Stooges, disgusted by it all, realize this is what they get for associating themselves with the hoi polloi and leave... but not before the professors conk champagne bottles over their heads.

Flashback forward to present. (Got that?)

Just today, the international journal Nature reported on a new study that tried to quantify the DNA effect on IQ by tracking changes of intelligence over a person's life. The study concluded that only 24% of the life-span changes in intelligence could be linked to genes... and an amazing 76% to environmental factors. 

Those Stooges... They knew that way back when. In fact, they thought their contribution to science was so significant that they remade this film twice more... in 1946 as Half-Wits Holiday and in 1958's Pies 'n Guys. Didn't anybody ever watch and learn? As is often the case, true genius isn't recognized until years later, postumously. Where are you Mr. Nobel?

C'mon science, get with it... and if you haven't clicked the Hoi Polloi link in the third paragraph, do it now! It's worth it. Nyuk nyuk nyuk!

PS: Thanks Wikipedia, for the background info.

Friday, January 13, 2012

About rich dead people, space, God and the genius of advertising

Forbes Magazine has done it again! In it's annual survey of the 400 richest people, it also gave us the top dead earners, and to no one's surprise, Michael Jackson again led the list.

Last year, dead, he still managed to squeeze out $170 million. How does he do it when so many still can't get a job... and they aren't dead! He's Michael Jackson, for god's sake, that's how.

Dead Elvis earned $55 million. Dead Marilyn was third at $27 million followed by Dead Peanut's creator, Charles Schulz at $25 million. Pity poor dead John Lennon ($12 million), Dead Liz ($12 million) and Dead Albert Einstein at $10 million. How do they get by?

Milky Way as seem from my house
Our Milky Way galaxy has surprised us again. We now know with scientific certainty that our sky holds at least 100 billion planets, many of which, it is reasonably believed, can sustain life. So it is entirely possible, say those who theorize, that there is... or has been life, maybe like ours--give or take better or worse. Well, admit it... Superman HAD to come from someplace.

More mind-boggling to me is that, in nearly 14 billion years since the big bang, other worlds like ours may have already come and gone... like Krypton. Well, who can say we aren't as sophisticated and advanced as any of those. After all, we are increasingly advancing in so many ways that today, it would be really easy for just a few to destroy us all... and we're getting better at it all the time. Now THAT'S progress.

The "hot foot"
I don't know who will be our next President, but I do know that, according to Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum, they were all told by God to "Go for it." Makes you feel sorry for Mitt and Newt, doesn't it? Isn't that kind of like both teams praying for victory before the big game though? And how come God isn't a Cub fan? Could it be that God is also a practical joker who enjoys giving a good "hot foot" just like the rest of us? "Ow!" say Rick and Herman and Michele and Rick.


Air New Zealand came up with a unique advertising campaign a while back. They recruited 30 people to be "cranial billboards." All these folks had to do was shave their heads and have New Zealand slogans tattooed where everyone couldn't help but notice. So if you passed a sharply dressed bald man or woman with "Need A Change? Head Down to New Zealand," tattoo, you have been solicited. The living billboards were paid with airline tickets.

A British on-line beauty products store recruited 10 men and women to apply temporary tattoos with the company's Web address on their eyelids and then wink at strangers. They were paid, at the time, about 10 pence a wink ( $150) for their work.

This all started about 10 years ago when an on line gambling site paid a middleweight boxer to wear a temporary tattoo promoting its web site as he was pounded on it's "Hit me again" logo.

I guess that's how the "I'm with stupid--->" tee-shirts came about. Just call me "Stupid" I guess because I've got this natural bald head and no endorsements. What a waste. I was thinking... "Hmm, maybe Target has a trademark for me."

Freebie: Haiku's are easy
               but sometimes the don't make sense
               refrigerator.

Yeah, I didn't get it either.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Oh no! The cost of becoming a multi-millionaire just doubled! Please say it ain't so.

How unfair is that? The cost of a Powerball ticket just DOUBLED... from one buck to two! I am going to start a movement... OCCUPY EASY STREET. Who's with me on this? If enough of us with real conviction get together, we could change the world... and become part of the 1%.

BUT WAIT A SECOND!

What am I thinking? Even though my ticket to fat city just increased 100%, the odds of winning dropped from 1 in 195 million to 1 in 175 million, making it almost a sure thing. And if the cost increases... AND the odds decrease, the payoff would naturally increase dramatically.  That $340 million record jackpot will seem like chicken feed now. Shucks... talk about me looking at the glass half empty... When will I ever learn?

What this really means is that my financial future has gone from peiodically lowering the projected age of my death--and I'm already underwater--so dollars meet need, to WHOOPIE! Free strawberry ice cones for everyone... on me!

As to how I plan to use the money... with benevolence, of course. My friend to be, Steve Martin, getting serious on SNL in 1991, laid it all out in his Christmas wish:

If I had one wish that I could wish this holiday season, it would be that all the children to join hands and sing together in the spirit of harmony and peace. 

If I had two wishes I could make this holiday season, the first would be for all the children of the world to join hands and sing in the spirit of harmony and peace. And the second would be for 30 million dollars a month to be given to me, tax-free in a Swiss bank account. 

You know, if I had three wishes I could make this holiday season, the first, of course, would be for all the children of the world to get together and sing, the second would be for the 30 million dollars every month to me, and the third would be for encompassing power over every living being in the entire universe. 

And if I had four wishes that I could make this holiday season, the first would be the crap about the kids definitely, the second would be for the 30 million, the third would be for all the power, and the fourth would be to set aside one month each year to have an extended 31-day orgasm, to be brought out slowly by Rosanna Arquette and that model Paulina-somebody, I can't think of her name. Of course my lovely wife can come too and she's behind me one hundred percent here, I guarantee it. 

Wait a minute, maybe the sex thing should be the first wish, so if I made that the first wish, because it could all go boom tomorrow, then what do you got, y'know? No, no, the kids, the kids singing would be great, that would be nice. But wait a minute, who am I kidding? They're not going to be able to get all those kids together. I mean, the logistics of the thing is impossible, more trouble than it's worth! 

So -- we reorganize! Here we go. First, the sex thing. We go with that. Second, the money. No, we got with the power second, then the money. And then the kids. Oh wait, oh jeez, I forgot about revenge against my enemies! Okay, I need revenge against all my enemies, they should die like pigs in hell! That would be my fourth wish. 

And, of course, my fifth wish would be for all the children of the world to join hands and sing together in the spirit of harmony and peace. Thank you everybody and Merry Christmas.

Hold on a minute... I've just been handed a note from my wife: "Hey Jerkface... you have to buy a ticket before you can win the lottery."

"Honey... Oh honey... you forgot to put a smiley-face on the bottom of your note like you always do."

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

If I had an extra $3.5 Million right now, I know exactly what I would do.

I would buy a 30-second television ad spot during the upcoming Super Bowl XLVI (which, for those not familiar with Latin or don't have enough fingers, is 3-1/2 baker's dozen, give or take half a donut).

My commercial would feature a clever little video starring all my grandchildren--with the oldest, now 15 and really good at driver's ed, at the wheel--in a dramatic car chase through the streets of San Francisco... you know, like flying over the steep hills and careening down the crookedest street in the world... stuff like that. (Been done before? Not like this, it hasn't.)

The video would feature every cute grandchild in the car, all dressed alike in a nice plaid or paisley--for color harmony, of course--screaming, laughing, saying clever things and daring fate in a way that makes Indiana Jones look like a girl scout (not that there is anything wrong with that)... and cats, of course to capture those who hate kids but love cats... with fast, dramatic, heart-pounding music.

The car would finally race toward the outgoing ferry to Sausalito as it was pulling away, jumping the Bay and the widening gap between pier and deck, finally doing a screeching 180 halt on the deck (so the front of the car is facing the camera). Then, the cutest of the grandkids (you know who you are, right?) would hop--or crawl--out of the car, look into the camera and say, for all 100 million billion riveted fans (those not going to the bathroom), "Read papa's blog, Itsnutsoutthere.blogspot.com ... so it can go viral!"

Closing shot features the blog's web address as the music sweetens... image fades to black, then cuts to the announcer who says, "And now, on to the game."

Now THAT'S what I'm talking about.

I'm sure I would get my money's worth--only $3.5 million per 30-seconds (about $167,000 per second)--because good commercials in the Super Bowl, do. Remember the year's best commercial-- the one with the Star-Wars theme showing the cute little boy in a Darth Vader costume? The one where he tries to use "the Force" on his dog, and other stuff, then amazes himself as he tries it on his dad's VW Passat in the drive... AND IT WORKS!

It was the most popular ad on YouTube with more than 45 million views... and the spot generated over $100 million in free publicity. Not coincidentally, the Passat had more sales in its first two months on the market that the previous model sold in all of 2010.

How about the Kraft Foods ad featuring Ted Williams, the homeless man with the magic voice? Though Williams didn't fare as well personally as he couldn't shake his problems, the Kraft people say the Macaroni & Cheese product Facebook page following increased 430 % and sales of the brand grew 13% in the first quarter of last year.

Chrysler hit it big with rapper Eminem taking the viewer through the streets of Detroit in the new Chrysler 200, touting the city and Detroit pride in automaking. Hint: nostalgia, humor and touching story lines work. Inquiries for the car increased 328 % after the ad appeared... and 77,774 Chrysler 200s sold in the 11 months that followed--three times the number of the car's predecessor.

Oh yeah, baby. That's what I'm talking about. Results that make $3.5 million for the spot look cheap... unless you do it wrong.

Yes, some ads flop... but the difference between the good and the bad is often execution... and that sometimes define the fate of the advertiser and its agency... "We love you." or "You're fired." The inevitable logic, and the thing that drives advertising, is that good ads work. It is human nature to be smitten.

Oh, darn! Just tried to place the order for my blog commercial for this year's Super Bowl... and they are sold out, Oh well... there is always next year. And take it from me... as a Cub fan, I know what "Wait til next year" means.