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.

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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.)

Feb 11

80s Commercials Worth Remembering (Maybe)

While researching pitches for Cracked articles I occasionally come across items I want to write about but which don’t lend themselves to Cracked’s desired format. That’s what today’s entry is about. It’s a theme I’ll undoubtedly follow in posts to come. Lucky you.

Today we’re going to take a look at two 80s ads which have perplexed me for almost a quarter century. Yes, yes, I’m showing my age. Nevertheless, the absurdity is timeless.

B-Boy Fails at Math

Like many of you, I remember MTV in the 80s back when they actually played music videos. But it wasn’t a more genteel age with urbane VJs spending their days playing Sonic Youth, New Order and the Pixies. Then, like now, it was mostly crap. Seriously, one could only take so much Mr. Mister and The Dream Academy before the clock tower scenario started sounding like a good idea.

So circa 1985, while jonesing for all-too infrequent episodes of Al TV, I and my like-minded comrades were bombarded with something called breakdancing. You may know it as B-boying, but breakdancing was how it was marketed to an eagerly consumptive mid-80s public. Now while my stiff, Caucasian ass had no interest in participating in any sort of electric boogaloo, I couldn’t help but notice the trend.

One particularly notable pitch came courtesy of a certain Alfonso Ribeiro, who at that time was just barely in his teens. I’ve never been much of a sitcom aficionado, so until just a couple days ago I was unaware¬†Ribeiro was later a regular on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I just remember him from this spot, hawking a breakdancing instruction book, some posters, a piece of cardboard and some proto-Kidz Bop albums, on vinyl no less.

Vinyl was an important commodity in primitive societies.

Apart from the obvious lack of a web site, the ad’s most memorable moment comes at the very end:

Alfonso: … all for under 20 bucks!
VO: Alfonso’s right! Only $19.99!
12-year-old me: WTF?

alfonsofail

Pictured: Cognitive dissonance

It was this sort of thing which prevented me from placing tiny classified ads later.

Buy Batteries! Oy!

Before they bored America with two decades of a pink drumming bunny, the Energizer battery folks – then part of Ralston Purina of all companies – thought it would be a good idea to let a recently-retired Australian rules football player market their stuff. This was the result:

This was years before the energy drink craze, mind you.

This ad campaign starred Mark “Jacko” Jackson, a guy noted for being a bit off in the already-insane Australian Football League. Energizer was apparently looking to cash in on a fad for things Australian in America. Indeed INXS and Midnight Oil were at the peak of their commercial popularity in the U.S. at the time, as was Paul Hogan and his alter ego, Mick “Crocodile” Dundee. Jacko, coming off a minor hit record in Australia, was their man.

In addition to providing some of the most obnoxious ads of this geologic eon, if you were around at the time you know Jacko burned himself into our collective consciousness whether we wanted it or not. I clearly remember Jacko posters offered as booby prizes by carnies at the Twin Falls County Fair. Being around 14 or so my friends and I were much more interested in other kinds of boobies. Hairspray, mousse and fear created a lot of collateral damage in those days.

In any event, I thought with a minor rewrite this would have made a truly epic condom ad. I still do.