Apr 04

More Cheesy Ads

I spent a good part of the afternoon cruising YouTube in pursuit of various yuks and giggles. Apart from my usual diet of Monty Python, Epic Rap Battles of History, Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Rush videos, I also perused some of the truly bad advertisements of the 80s and 90s. So I figured, “Hey, this sort of thing makes for a quick and dirty article, so why not go with that angle today?”

“Cygnus X-1” on a ukelele, man. Awesome.

Why not, indeed.

Leevers!

Circa 1982 the absolute coolest thing to have was the Atari 2600. This was the one and only thing I wanted on my Christmas list, man. Problem was those things were expensive back then, and my parents weren’t exactly technophiles to begin with.

VCR-03

They bought their first VCR … in 1989.
Imaged credit: Priwo

As fate would have it I got an Intellivision for Christmas instead. Was that because my parents appreciated the fact Intellivision’s graphics blew the doors off the Atari 2600? Oh, hell no! It was on sale, y’all. At any rate, I played the ever loving crap out of that thing. I might still have it if the guys at Mattel didn’t design it with dedicated controllers. Thanks a lot.

Anyway, I’m digressing a bit. Home video games nearly died off in the mid-80s, with consoles such as the Atari 2600 and Intellivision (what gamer geeks call “second-generation consoles”) taking a massive dump in sales and essentially disappearing from the market. The industry was brought back from the brink a couple years later by the Nintendo Entertainment System. This ad is for an NES game which became quite popular:

Possibly an acting school project. “Be the psychopath. Feel the psychopath inside you.”

I didn’t have an NES, only returning to the ranks of home gamers with a Super Nintendo a few years later. The Legend of Zelda was a pretty cool game for its time. Apart from its batshit insane commercial, it was noteworthy for a few other things. One, whereas most NES games came in gray cartridges, Zelda came in a gold cartridge. Two, the protagonist was not named Zelda. In fact, the Zelda character doesn’t appear until the very end, after you defeat the game. I’m not even sure about that.

I beat Zelda (to this day one of the very few games I ever beat) on a friend’s NES about 10 years after it came out. As for technology, I bought a DVD player on my own for the first time … four months ago.

The Legendary Eagle of Crap

This ad ran in the Chicago market in the 90s. When I was still in college at Idaho State, I heard whispers about it. A local ad so incredibly awful that its notoriety transcended its media market. There was still doubt, though. I’d never actually seen the ad, and I couldn’t believe someone would unintentionally make something that stupid.

Then in the summer of 1996, I moved to Chicagoland and finally beheld it myself. It is very horrifyingly real:

Wow. Just, wow.

Never mind the hysterically bad acting for a moment. If you hear a thump on the roof of your car, chances are you don’t think it’s a guy in an eagle suit. If it is, you may be able to file a claim for any damage he caused. Well, assuming you had insurance.

LAPD_Police_Car

And if it were that easy to figure out, no police force would have a problem with ticket quotas ever again.
Image credit: Cliff

No, no. The best thing about this ad is that the character – specifically called “Eagleman” – lays an egg. And he does so after assuming a position like he forgot his birdie Ex-Lax that day, of course.

It’s sure a good thing society has since evolved to the point where we’re not constantly annoyed by auto insurance commercials, isn’t it?

Mar 30

Touring the 2T

Being a holiday weekend and all, it was pretty slow around the 2T today. When I lived here, I used to pass the time by driving around town. I figured, why not do that today? It’ll kill some time and perhaps give me some material for the blog. Excellent thought, I must say!

cap

I’m not the only smartass hailing from here, you know.

So it was settled. I drove around the 2T in search of the weird, wacky and stupid. My camera: the Pantech Jest, tricked out with authentic cat toothmarks. My vehicle: the usual staff car, a 2004 Ford Focus. My music: A Farewell to Kings by Rush. I was ready to find the story out there.

Bask in all its glory, supplicants.

I began with a southbound journey down the main drag, looking for hilarious and/or inane reader board errors. Unfortunately, I was unable to find anything worthy of the FAIL Blog. The closest thing I could find was the recently-opened Chick-fil-A, which is neither worth photographing nor patronizing. A quick jaunt to downtown yielded similar results. I suppose this is a good thing, since it indicates a certain degree of intelligence among the populace.

I found material through other means. Being hours away from any major population center of note, sometimes one finds some unintended mixed messages. The smaller towns around the 2T are good places to look for such things.

EXIF_JPEG_T422

Not an LGBT establishment. At all.

The evening’s unexpected highlight came when I was pulled over by the police. Yeah, I was caught doing 35 in a 25 zone. I couldn’t find my insurance certificate, which is particularly embarrassing since my insurance agent is my father. Fortunately I have all sorts of junk in the staff car, so I was able to find a copy of my current insurance declarations. The kind officer let me off with a warning.

Well, I suppose I achieved what I set out to do. With dusk approaching, I returned to my parents’ house to await the Easter Bunny, or something. Perhaps when I get a chance again I’ll go trolling for people who can’t tell the difference between a plural and a possessive. In the meantime, let’s hope for an uneventful rest of the weekend.

(Note to self: Get a new insurance certificate from Dad ASAP.)

Mar 21

Riding the Thunder Broom

I recently bought a bass guitar. I figured at this point in my life it would be a good idea for me to take up a new hobby or two. Beachy also wants me to be a “rock star” when I grow up. She approves of this purchase.

Music is not an entirely new thing to me. Dad was a guitarist in a few local bands in the 60s. I took piano lessons when I was in elementary school, although my passion for that was halfhearted at best. Most of my friends in high school were band geeks.

Strongly influenced by said band geeks, I acquainted myself with the works of Mike Watt, Geddy Lee, Les Claypool and others as a teenager. I’ve been interested in taking up bass for a good 20 years. Bass should be a good instrument for me. I fancy myself loud and low, and I think in terms of single notes rather than chords.

There were two main obstacles to that though. First, I’m left-handed. VERY left-handed. Dad tried to teach me guitar on a standard right-handed model, but I just wasn’t picking it up. Everything seemed upside down to me. What’s more, locating an affordable left-handed instrument in the pre-World Wide Web days was about as easy as picking up a bottle of Bacardi 151 in Riyadh. It just wasn’t happening.

The second obstacle – and probably the more important one – was my strong tendency to set the bar unrealistically high for myself when undertaking any new endeavor. If I wasn’t able to be a virtuoso in a relatively short period of time, it wasn’t worth it to me.

220px-LesClaypool

And when I say “set the bar high,” I’m not dicking around here.

I’m a perfectionist by nature. It wasn’t until quite recently that I became somewhat comfortable with the concept of not having to be a world-beater in absolutely everything I did. Having your ass handed to you by bipolar type II will do that to you. That and the miracle of e-commerce finally convinced me to take the next step.

So despite being 39, well past the age many people take up these sorts of things, over Christmas I found a left-handed bass online and had it shipped to the local Guitar Center. Of course, not wanting to drop a ton of money on something I wasn’t entirely sure I’d take up in the long term, I went for – shall we say – a low-end model. It’s made by an outfit called Main Street Guitar Company.

EXIF_JPEG_T422

The Chinese call it quality!

Over the next couple months I picked up other necessary items, such as an amp, a cord, a shoulder strap and a gig bag. I’m ready to RAWK!

Well, I would be if I had anything resembling dedication. Everyone tells me, “Man, you need to practice every day or you lose your touch.” I have no reason to disagree with that. However, I play maybe twice a week at the moment. Never mind CORRECT notes. At this point I’m happy with CLEAN notes which don’t sound like hitting a metal coil with a sledgehammer.

I can play the bass line from “Once in a Lifetime” fairly well, but that’s about it right now.

A couple days ago I compared learning the bass to learning to type. Honestly I don’t know how valid that comparison is, but as a writer it seems logical to me. Music theory as traditionally presented has never been one of my strengths. I get the basic concept of such things as notation and time signatures, but I’ve always found anything but the simplest sheet music absolutely confounding.

800px-Bass_ghost_note_groove

Yeah, this does nothing for me.
Image credit: Hyacinth

It seems to me it would be easier to think of notes as “letters” and bass lines as “words.” One needs to learn where the various notes are on the bass. After that it’s a relatively simple matter of constructing the line in much the same way one types a word on a keyboard. I understand this theory doesn’t take into account important things like tempo. I tend to view that as something one picks up innately.

Perhaps I’m over-thinking this and trying to unnecessarily re-invent the wheel. That’s another thing I’m notorious for.

Mar 11

Uninspired Updates

Imma gonna write only a short entry today. I’m absolutely dead tired. My creativity is also completely tapped out. I’m about as amusing as a wet dishrag.

tunasaladsandwich

Or maybe even a tuna salad sandwich. I freakin’ hate tuna salad.
Image credit: jeffkole

So what I’m doing today is updating my faithful reading public on some of the threads mentioned here at Superfluous Bloviations over the past month. Some of you might even care.

Not much movement over at Cracked. I still have an iron in the fire there but it’s been slow going the last few days. I imagine some of the rejected stuff will eventually make its way here, so look out for that.

I received another e-mail from our spammer friend. This will likely continue for the immediate future. Otherwise, there’s nothing really exciting to report on that front.

Not only is the food continuously expired around these parts, last night I found an expired box of wet wipes. Yes, there are times when a torch and a shovel seem like reasonable cleaning apparatuses.

The fine folks at Ticketmaster mailed me my tickets to the Rush concert out in the Vancouver, Washington, area in July. I put them in a safe place, namely an old H. G. Wells book. Eh, why not?

H.G._Wells_,_c1890

Neil had a mustache like that once. Close enough.

No, I still haven’t made it to the gym. Soon. I promise. Maybe. In the meantime I have been walking up the hills around the Command Center. I’m at least getting out some.

I haven’t made fun of any old commercials in some time. I should get on that.

Finally happy birthday to Grammy Lynn, who turns 91 today. She’s still going strong.

grammylynn91

And undoubtedly feeling a hell of a lot better than I am today. Salud.

Feb 26

Coming Attractions

Ha ha! I got tickets to that Rush show I wrote about yesterday. Looks like they’re decent seats, and for less than I thought they’d be. Good thing too. This puppy is going to sell out quick.

Neil_Peart_performing_at_the_Air_Canada_Centre_on_October_16,_2012

Ah, what I wouldn’t give to spend an afternoon with Neil. You know, without it being all weird and crap.
Image credit: Clalansingh

I told my daughter about scoring the tickets. She said in her best deadpan voice, “Of course you did.” Yeah, not it’s like Disneyland or anything (at least not for her). I think she’ll go if for no other reason than to see her baby cousins in Portland. I think this will be her first real rock concert. The Lifehouse show she went to with her mother when she was an infant doesn’t count.

Not long after I bought the Rush tickets I found out Primus is coming here in May to play a show in Garden City of all places. Damn. When it rains, it pours.

ABBA_-_TopPop_1974_1

They have an ABBA tribute band booked there too. I think I’ll skip that one.

As for the immediate future, my daughter will be coming up here this weekend, saving me a drive to the 2T for a change. One of her favorite places to go to here is the Idaho Aquarium. I haven’t told her about the owners’ alleged illegal purchase of some of the animals. Being a pretty hardcore animal lover, more so than most other kids, she’s not going to be happy about that. I see a trip to Pojo’s in my near future.

Chuckepizza

Which still beats the hell out of Chuck E. Cheese’s.

CRACKED.com update: Now that I’m feeling better, yesterday I managed to churn out another pitch. It got moved to the second round in less than an hour. Not too shabby. A couple of my other pitches might be salvageable. I’ve been combing through an old copy of The Book of Lists for inspiration.

Yes, The Book of Lists is one of my favorite books from childhood. That should surprise exactly no one.

Feb 25

In Concert With Indifference

I understand the Oscars were last night. Yippee skip. Did Gilbert Gottfried win anything this year? How about Penn and Teller?

Behold, unheralded geniuses.

Yes, I don’t give a rat’s ass about movies. Hell, I only recently bought a DVD player because my daughter wouldn’t quit bugging me about it. I don’t watch a lot of TV either. If I didn’t like my cable modem so much I probably would have dumped that bill a long time ago.

The_Young_Ones

Too much “ghost hunting” crap. Not enough Rik Mayall.

That leaves music. I have a large collection of 20-year-old scratched CDs I’ve been slowly converting to corrupted MP3 files. I hosted a live music show on public access in Pocatello in the mid 90s. Recently I picked up an electric bass. Left-handed, of course. More on my bass skills (or lack thereof) in a later post.

lanermi

Need an on-air bathroom break? Look no further than “The Gates of Delirium.”

Despite that, I haven’t made it to very many concerts. Let’s see, I saw fIREHOSE at the Crazy Horse in Boise in 1993. Um, there were a some opening acts I checked out: Cooler Kids (meh), Elkland (decent) and Mr. Big (no comment). As a matter of fact, there’s only one band I’ve seen in concert more than once.

800px-Erasure,_Live_at_Delamere_Forest

I may very well be Erasure’s straightest fan.
Image credit: Andrew Hurley

The best concert I ever went to was way the hell back in May 1992. I turned south, journeying into the dark, forbidding lands of Salt Lake City to see Rush on their Roll the Bones tour. Ever since then I’ve vowed to see them at least one more time before they retire. Given that all three of them are around 60 now, the clock is ticking.

As I write this I’m waiting for tickets to go on sale for a late July show at the unfortunately-named Sleep Country Amphitheater in the Vancouver, Washington, area. I chose that venue over Salt Lake City because (1) my sister, brother-in-law and twin nieces live in Portland and (2) screw Salt Lake City. I’m hoping my daughter wants to come. She likes Rush, but I’ve been accused of overplaying Clockwork Angels in her presence.

But it’s so good, y’all.

I’ve been told I need to get out more, preferably without knocking myself out in the process. I quite agree. So I’ve been checking out other events as a result. Another one of my longtime favorites, They Might Be Giants, is playing at the Egyptian Theatre in June. I’ve been following these guys since high school. Unfortunately the show is not all all ages. Despite the fact TMBG has made several children’s albums, no one under 14 is admitted (a rather arbitrary cutoff in my humble opinion), which means I can’t take my daughter to see them. I’m not sure I want to go alone either.

Does this mean I should re-open my dating site profiles? Feh. I’m not ready to pull the trigger on something that drastic.