Archive for November 2018

Those East Wing Hallway Trees…

November 30, 2018


For the second consecutive year, First Lady Melania Trump’s East Wing Hallway decorations have proven unusual and controversial. The 2017 ornamentation featured bone-like white branches, icy and devoid of warmth in a darkened hallway. This year the dystopian nightmare theme continues with blood red trees that some have commented to be appropriate backdrops to Stephen King’s The Shining.  They spring up from the ground, as if drawing from some unspeakable underground plasma pool…

Care to promenade through the gauntlet of forty towering, blood red trees devoid of decoration? Perhaps we can hear them whisper, “Feed me, Seymour!  Must be blood!  Must be fresh!”  The Internet has had a field day with memes and commentary. And as if resonating on the same wavelength, it bears mentioning that black Xmas trees are making inroads this year.- -Bring on Jack Skellington in his Santa suit!

So have yourself a scary little Christmas!  It’s perhaps only payback for holiday merchandising beginning in October…

 

  

Stan Against Evil…

November 25, 2018


A comedy-horror series is a rare and wonderful thing, especially if it’s done well.  If you’ve missed this gem, you may want to check out Stan Against Evil, now in its third season on the IFC network.  The show takes place in the fictional New Hampshire town of Willard’s Mill, which was the site of witch burnings in the late 17th century.  As a result of that history, strange and creepy supernatural things continue to emerge there which are dealt with by the town’s former sheriff, Stan Miller (John C. McGinley) and it’s current one, Evie Barrett (Janet Varney).

Now Stan Miller is a delight as an aging, cynical, slovenly antihero who just wants to be left alone, but can’t even manage to do that! Teamed reluctantly with the young and beautiful woman who is his successor, Stan is pressed into service to battle legions of demonic monsters that include witches, vampires, evil puppets, and even a were-pony! Although he’d much rather be drinking and watching television, Stan uses traditional and improvised weaponry to devastating effect, repeatedly bludgeoning for example a large winged skeleton-bird wraith creature (at right) with a shovel until it moves no more .- – You gotta love this guy! 

 The show parodies horror in a loving fashion, and manages nods to The X-Files and other traditions from which it has drawn.  I’m glad to see something like this still in active production…long may its demonic beasties thrive!

 

 

Animals and Thanksgiving Parades…

November 22, 2018

Being a big fan of Halloween, I love images of early Thanksgiving parades because they had balloons and floats back then that were, well, creepy! Animals have had a long association with Thanksgiving Day parades since their inception, with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade beginning in 1924 and including live animals, many of them actually borrowed from the Central Park Zoo for the occasion.

The early Thanksgiving Day parades often had a circus orientation, and hence the animal elements. Actual lions, tigers, and bears were trucked down city streets, traumatizing them and causing the elicitation of roars and growls that frightened observing children. Wisely, the use of living animals was abandoned after a few years, with animal balloons and floats substituted, together with some great vintage cartoonish stuff that was rather surreal. Felix the Cat was an early parade favorite.

In the 1930’s, Macy’s actually released their balloons at the end of the parade for a few years, with rewards of $25 offered for their return, a princely sum in depression-era America. Macy’s wasn’t the only Thanksgiving Day parade on the block, either, with Newark, New Jersey having memorable ones as well as other cities in diverse locations.

So while you enjoy that traditional Thanksgiving feast, remember those poor souls who marched, danced, and performed in frigid twenty-some degree weather this year in parts of America dressed among other things as fried eggs and sticks of butter. As I said, I like my holidays surreal, which makes them and family easier to take…

 

Progressive’s “Checkout” Commercial…

November 16, 2018

Perhaps he’s just big for his age…the man/child riding in the kiddie seat of the grocery cart in the Progressive “checkout” commercial, that is.  He’s a bad boy, too…showing the grocery store employee his toy dinosaur, drinking milk directly from a carton, spilling out a bulk food container chute, and throwing items snatched from the shelf on the floor.  You’ve seen poorly supervised brats in supermarkets doing things of this sort, and more…but have you ever seen a guy in his thirties pulling the same stunts?  Talk about a case of arrested development…

…we are later shown the character called “babyman” in daycare, a Goliath among his peers, as he sits nonchalantly on the floor dressed in bib overalls, enjoying a snack, and later becoming visibly startled by a “pop-up” book.  “Act your age!  Get your own insurance!,” gruffly admonishes the announcer in this commercial encouraging millennials to chart their own course and question insurance decisions that their parents might have made.  Iconic spokesperson Flo is nowhere to be seen…

Perhaps the babyman could use a little firm correction from Flo during his more inappropriate moments, and possibly even a spanking…of course, he might enjoy that, and we don’t want to venture too far into the adult baby fetish thing lest absurdist humor become creepy…

  

KFC “Chicken and Waffles” Commercial..

November 12, 2018

When you’ve seen KFC icon Colonel Sanders in his trademark white suit dancing with a human-sized animated bottle of Mrs. Butterworth’s, you’ve seen pretty much everything, or at least need to cut back on the recreational drugs. It’s not that I’m judging them, you see, and the Colonel is surprisingly light on his feet, at one point hoisting Mrs. Butterworth aloft in a performance worthy of Dancing With The Stars. They are, after all, promoting chicken and waffles at your KFC franchise, and I wish them every happiness together…

The commercial spoofs the “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” dance scene from the movie Dirty Dancing. The dance moves aren’t quite as spectacular as those in the original choreographed scene, however, in large part because a bottle of syrup doesn’t have, well, legs. One must work with what one has, I suppose, even if the end result is kinda surreal and freaky. I’m cool with that, although if I start dancing with my syrup bottles I’ll be ready for institutionalization. One also must presumably take care to separate bottles of Mrs. Butterworth’s from Aunt Jemima’s lest a sticky business develop. I don’t know what extremes syrup bottles might be capable of, after all, either as rivals or co-conspirators…

The POM Worry Monsters…

November 6, 2018

I’m no stranger to Worry Monsters; we’re intimate associates, actually. It’s just that I never imagined them looking quite as they are depicted in commercials for POM Wonderful juices. Managing to look both disturbingly human and grotesquely cute at the same time, these monsters look like rejected prototypes from a Disney/Pixar movie, or perhaps toys for children that you hate. They’re covered in pastel-colored fur, have distorted or exaggerated facial features, and monster appendages like horns and pointy ears. There are scarier monsters in real life American politics, nudge-nudge, wink-wink!

The underlying notion seems to be that as you get older you worry more about your health, so you turn more to things like running in the case of the male profiled, or yoga in the case of the female. But if you drink POM Wonderful juice that boasts ingredients like pomegranate juice, you’ll worry less about your health, and your Worry Monsters won’t be either as bothersome or as potent. The blue furry monster pursuing “Jake” in our commercial is winded, not able to keep up with his running, and the only fear that he can cast to his charge is over chafing. “Julie’s” purple-hued yoga monster bewails the fact that she can’t spend quality time pouring over the Internet with her host over diseases that she might have. These are ineffective, underutilized monsters with issues, you see. Perhaps they need to see Dr. Phil; that might make for memorable viewing…

…one might fantasize about the Mountain Monsters crew plugging one of these critters during a search for Bigfoot; heck, they’d probably wear their hide as a vest to the hoots of their fellows over the pastel shades. And when it comes to inner demons, I’ve stopped fighting with mine…we’re on the same team, now! So eliminate those free radicals, people, and remember to VOTE! It’s never been more important…

Robitussin Honey “Window Bear” Commercial…

November 1, 2018

“Hi Susan!,” greets the anthropomorphic CGI bear cheerily as he rolls back a woman’s kitchen sink window in this Robitussin commercial.  The woman has been coughing, and her cough is visible as a blue spray; drat, mine never is!  In her hand, the woman holds a honey container, appropriately enough one of those molded in the shape of a bear. She has been self-medicating her cough, you see, with honey, a popular home remedy for the ailment.  

“Honey?  I respect that,” comments this genial bear.  “But that cough looks pretty bad!”  He extends a helpful paw to offer a box of Robitussin.  “Try this new Robitussin Honey!”  This is a better bruin; articulate, affable, and helpful.  We cut then to the announcer commentary…“the real honey you love, plus the powerful cough relief you need.”

Then it’s back to the woman and bear again.  “Mind if I root through your trash?,” he asks the woman.  It only seems a fair exchange, after all, and the bear’s been so helpful.  But sadly in this brief 15 second spot, we are not told if she grants permission to this rare bear…

…in my crazed mind, I would like to see a television series that unites a number of commercial animal spokes-creatures, including this bear, Maxwell the pig, and of course the Lactaide “milk that messes with you” cow.  We’ll throw in Tony the Tiger, Toucan Sam, and other guest animals.  It would be just the thing to heal us from the vicious political mid-term election attack ads now dunning us at every commercial interval.  And this bear? – – better than your average politician, hey hey hey hey! – – I’d vote for him!