Friday, October 29, 2010

Johnny Depp does music . . . the rock star . . . Into the Great Wide Open - Tom Petty


Oh my, Johnny would make a
fine looking rock star,
but can he sing?

Actually, Johnny's career began with his dreams of becoming a rock star. His garage band eventually started playing clubs in South Florida while he was still under age and had to sneak in and out of the back door to perform. The band began to take off, supporting such punk/new wave era greats as Talking Heads, B-52's and Iggy Pop.

Johnny dropped out of high school at 16 to concentrate on music and in search of the big time . . . the band relocated to Los Angeles where a different destiny awaited one of the most gorgeous men on earth and one of our generation's most talented actors.

Check out his rock star moves in Tom Petty's music video
"Into The Great Wide Open"

One of my favorite Johnny Depp movies! 

 He was nominated for a Golden Globe for his astonishing performance in Benny & Joon, though the entire cast is equally impressive. Benny (Aidan Quinn) runs a small car repair shop. He must also take care of his mentally ill sister Juniper, better known as Joon (Mary Stuart Masterson). After losing a bet, Benny is forced to bring another eccentric into his house: Sam (Johnny Depp), the cousin of a friend. Not inclined to conversation, Sam expresses himself by performing Charlie Chaplin.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Where's the Beef? . . . 1984 advertising campaign featuring Clara Peller

Back in 1984, Wendy's came up with one of the most memorable ad campaigns of all time.  The phrase "Where's The Beef" caught on like wildfire . . . the connotation being that a Wendy's Hamburger was a comparatively bigger value than that of their competition. 

The slogan is a definite part of our pop culture . . . it is still part of present day slang as a saying for questioning the substance of any proposal, idea or product.  It was also used by Walter Mondale in the 1984 Democratic presidential primary campaign to critique the insubstantial proposals of one of his opponents, Gary Hart. 

The theme of the ad campaign was a disgruntled old lady who trotted into a non-Wendy's fast food restaurant, bought a hamburger with a "big bun," and griped, "Where's the Beef?"

The disgruntled old lady was Clara Peller, a retired Chicago manicurist.  She clearly represents Andy Warhol's "15 minutes of fame" adage as she went from obscurity to star after being discovered at the age of 81 . . . she passed away from natural causes in 1987 . . .

Her uniquely husky voice and quirky mannerisms caught the attention of an ad agency working on an advertising campaign for the then struggling Wendy's fast food chain.  The rest is history . . .

The advertising campaign was a huge success, finding Clara herself on a number of tie-in products . . . coffee mugs, t-shirts, posters, puzzles, bubble gum, a "Where's The Beef" game and on and on . . .

A single was even released based on "Where's The Beef"

Here are some of the television commercials . . . seems like yesterday!

A bit more nostalgia . . .

The advertising campaign ran for two years, although it seems longer . . . but left a lasting impression for pop culture historians.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A babyboomer's flashback . . .

As far back as I can remember, there was music playing 24/7. My mom and dad were known in our community as "the dancers", so you can imagine.

The first music I remember was 50's rock and roll and Elvis was the King. I love his music to this day, have seen every one of his movies at least five times and even went to one of his concerts a few months before he died.

My dad met him when he was filming "Follow That Dream" in Ocala, Florida . . . they were filming the bank scene the following day and my mom and dad parked themselves outside the bank since my mom was so pissed that it was my dad who met him and not her. They were there early in the morning and as dusk approached, they had to give up and leave, but my mom did get to touch his pink Cadillac. One of my prized possessions is my Elvis concert program that takes me back to that day . . . he was visibly ill, but still put on one of the best concerts I have ever been to (and I have been to many concerts in my life).

My early childhood musical favorites were Fabian, Bobby Vee, Frankie Avalon, James Darren . . . pop music! My first true love was James Darren until Paul McCartney hit the scene. My female idol was Sandra Dee who I thought was the most beautiful woman ever and so wanted to look like her, even though my italian background had me looking quite the opposite . . . more like Annette, I guess not such a bad thing. One of my favorite childhood movies was "A Summer Place" . . . . quite the racy movie for its time and the Gidget series of movies. Of course Cinderella is way up there on my list of favorites . . . I still have the yellow plastic record 78 LP soundtrack from the movie. Somewhere along the way, I lost my Cinderella watch. :(

It was a time where families all sat at the dinner table together without the distractions of the television, video games or the computer. Even when we finally got a television, my dad restricted us from watching it all the time as he thought life was about more important things. Of course it irritated me, but now, in a weird sort of way, I somewhat understand his thinking.

We compromised for the very favorite things to watch on television, which for me included American Bandstand on Saturdays, The Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday nights, and The Mickey Mouse Club every weekday afternoon. I was a little person in elementary school, but my musical roots were already formed. Even with the new exciting thing, the television, for me it was about the music.

It was a time when families were close, times seemed slower paced and my brother and I were quite content with the simple toys we played with . . . it occurs to me that children are very spoiled in these times with such a vast array of toys . . . and do they ever have enough of anything? I often wonder how my life would have been different and/or changed if we had all these "things".

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Office Space and the red stapler

Anyone who has ever worked in the office environment, especially one that is lined with cubicles as far as you can see, will appreciate this movie. You must see this movie if you've never seen it and have worked in one of these places. You'll see someone you know in every one of those characters. Then there's the guy with the red stapler . . . too funny.

I've seen this movie so many times, and never get tired of it.  Watch it if you've never seen it and want to laugh . . . especially if you have worked in a dysfunctional environment!

This movie needs to go in a time capsule!

An excerpt from Wikipedia, click here for the whole page on the movie:

"The film depicts a group of employees at Initech, a company plagued by excessive management, and the everyday annoyance of office work in a cube farm setting evocative of the Dilbert comic strip. Soon after the movie begins, two consultants (John C. McGinley and Paul Willson), nicknamed "The Bobs" since they both have the same first name, are brought in to Initech to help with cutting expenses. The workers at Initech are then interviewed in order to determine which employees will be downsized or outsourced.

Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) is a software engineer who spends his days updating bank software to remedy the then-expected Y2K disaster. His co-workers include Samir Nagheenanajar (Ajay Naidu), who complains that no one in the US can pronounce his name correctly; Michael Bolton (David Herman), who is angry that he shares his name with the real-life singer whom he hates; and Milton Waddams (Stephen Root), a soft-spoken, fixated collator who mumbles to himself incessantly (most notably about his co-workers borrowing his stapler) and is repeatedly harassed by management, especially the callous vice president Bill Lumbergh (Gary Cole). Lumbergh is Peter's nemesis — a stereotypical corporate middle-manager (reminiscent of Dilbert's Pointy Haired Boss) who spends most of his time wandering the office with coffee mug in hand, wears white-collared shirts, suspenders and a belt (considered a fashion faux pas), and emotionlessly micromanages his employees while engaging them with superficial small talk.

Peter finds himself stressed, burnt out, and ineffective, and will likely be on the Bobs' downsizing list. Fortunately for him, something unusual happens during an occupational hypnotherapy session urged upon him by his soon-to-be ex-girlfriend Anne. The obese "occupational hypnotherapist" Dr. Swanson, portrayed by Mike McShane, suddenly dies of a heart attack before he can snap, or "unhypnotize", Peter out of a state of complete relaxation. The newly relaxed and still half-hypnotized Peter finds out that Anne is cheating on him but takes the news in stride and doesn't seem to care. He announces that he will not work anymore (although he won't quit either), instead pursuing his lifelong dream of "doing nothing", and finally asking out Joanna (Jennifer Aniston), a waitress he's long wanted to date.

In a parallel story, Joanna is experiencing a similar frustration with her boss regarding trivial issues, notably the "flair" on her uniform (catchy slogan buttons that supposedly contribute to the "fun" atmosphere of the restaurant). Although she wears the required number, 15, she is constantly harassed for only doing what is required (although it is never explicitly stated that she should wear more).

Meanwhile, during his interview with the Bobs, Peter opens up for the first time about the absurdity of his job and of how Initech is run, including the issue with having too many managers and not having any real motivation to work except to avoid hassles. The Bobs interpret Peter's candor, easy-going attitude, and lack of regard for his job as evidence that he is unmotivated in his current position and thus a prime candidate for a managerial position. Much to his surprise, and Lumbergh's dismay, Peter receives a promotion while his friends Samir and Michael, two of the department's best employees, are scheduled to be layed off.

At a bar with his two friends, he reveals that his strange behavior is not so much because of the residual effects of hypnotism but because watching the hypnotherapist keel over in front of him gave him a new perspective on life; not to waste it on pointless activities.

In order to get back at the company, the three friends decide to infect the accounting system with a computer virus, which will round down fractions of a cent from accrual of interest and transfer the leftovers into their own account over a period of years, leaving them with a cash windfall undetected by the corporation (see salami slicing). Peter, when questioned by Joanna about what he and his friends had been celebrating, attempts to diminish the sense that he is doing something illegal by comparing the theft to taking the pennies from the penny tray at a convenience store.

The plan however backfires when a bug in the virus program's code causes it to take $305,326.13 in one day. The three friends are certain that such a large amount going missing in so short a time period will be noticed and result in their arrest. After a crisis of conscience, Peter decides to write a letter in which he takes all the blame for the crime. Peter slips an envelope containing the letter and the money (in unsigned Travellers cheques) under the door of Lumbergh's office when Lumbergh is not there, expecting to be arrested soon afterwards."

Click on the Wikipedia link for more about this movie . . .

The opening clip of the movie . . .
for adult audiences only (crude language)


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