Feb 16

That Miku Thing on YouTube

I’m in the 2T this weekend with my daughter. One of our favorite bonding activities is watching YouTube videos together. She’s into things like Annoying Orange, Kids React and, um … Fred.

fred

Seriously, they gave this guy a TV show. Twice.
Image credit: Scott Bedard

But the most perplexing YouTube icon we’ve come across is Hatsune Miku. Now this requires some explanation. Through software developed by a Japanese company, Miku is a programmable anime character who can sing and dance to anything you want. I think that’s how it works, anyway. Creating videos of a fictional Japanese singer is not high on my to-do list.

At the risk of sounding cliché, Miku is big in Japan.


Really, REALLY big.

As one can imagine, this is a perfect formula for creating YouTube videos for people who can’t get dates. There are well over 2 MILLION of ’em, in all their glory. Unsurprisingly most follow J-pop or anime themes, but others dare to be different.

Example: my daughter HATES Justin Bieber. Fortunately Miku has a video for that.


This sums up her feelings on the matter pretty well.

Another example: if you know me well, you know that one of my favorite bands of all time is Rush. If you know Rush well, you know that they’re about as far away from J-pop as one can get. Yeah, I think you know where I’m going with this one ….


Absolutely dumbfounding.

CRACKED.com update: Unfortunately both of my submissions were sent back to the pile. I’m not too concerned about it, though. I have plenty of other submission ideas, and content that doesn’t make the cut may just wind up here.

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.

Feb 09

The Old Kingdom Wasn’t This Gross

Ah, the DNS has renewed. Setting up this web site stuff is not only a pain in the balls, it forces me to recall arcane computer knowledge I learned 10 years ago and hope to YHWH (1) I remembered it right and (2) that it still works. It’s kind of like working on a Lexus when one only knows how to fix Model Ts. The only upside is that I only have to do it once. If you’re reading this, I succeeded without violating the Geneva Convention. That’s more than I can say after I tried to assemble my computer desk. Bent nails galore …

So anyway, I suppose the best way to start a blog is to bore the ever-loving crap out of my audience by talking about my cats. It’s a tradition, and I understand a legal requirement in parts of Scandinavia. That said, my cats are foul, disgusting creatures. Oh sure, they may look cute and cuddly, but they have some bad habits. I adopted them from the Idaho Humane Society back in October, a few months after my previous cat, Loki, went to the great litter box in the sky. Loki was pretty much copacetic with everything, so it was a bit of a shock to encounter these behavioral traits.

EXIF_JPEG_T422

Pictured: filthy, disgusting creatures

Sneferu, the smaller black one, has a penchant for dropping things in standing water. This is usually a cat toy and/or a feather in the water dish, but it can be other things in other places. About a month ago I woke up to a dollar bill in the toilet. It didn’t occur to me to take a picture, as visually documenting the contents of my toilet is not high on my to-do list. You’re welcome.

Earlier today I went to check the water dish (these cats, especially Sneferu, drink water like nobody’s business). What I found was a puddle of water approximately the same color as green death NyQuil. Apart from a small bell, There were no other foreign objects. I can only surmise Sneferu took it upon himself to a destroy a catnip-laced cat toy and dump it into the water dish. Disconcerting, but not surprising.

Yes, I did provide clean water. Thanks for caring.

Djoser, the large orange tabby, is not without his quirks either. He’s quite fond of ripping the hell out of the cat box liner. So much so that I’m forced to tape the liner down every time I change the box. If I don’t … well … that makes the water incident look tame.

CRACKED.com update: This is carried over from my Facebook statuses (statii?). I still have two article submissions in the “Ready for Editorial” folder (i.e. they made it past the first round). Imma gonna wait on submitting any more pitches until someone acts on one or the other pitch already in the pipe. Don’t want to overwhelm those guys too much, you know.