July, 2009

THE SADNESS OF JUNE 2009

Michael Jackson (50), Farrah Fawcett (62), Ed McMahon (85), David Carradine (72), and Billy Mays (50)

The King of Pop, Charlie's heavenliest angel, a Second Banana second to none, Kung Fu's "Grasshopper", and the man who shouted his way from Atlantic City boardwalk huckster to multimillionaire product spokesperson! These were all performers who caught our imaginations, won our hearts, and died too soon.

Michael Jackson's life was shrouded in mystery and so is his death, in a gordian knot of drugs, finances, accusations, and controversy. If Farrah Fawcett hadn't already proven herself to be much more than just another pretty face with award winning acting performances, her final performance as a cancer victim, fighting her disease to the death in the ultimate reality show, was as courageous as any you'll ever see.

Ed McMahon joined us in our living rooms for years, beginning NBC's Tonight Show with the famous bellow; "Heeeeeeeeeeeere's JOHNNY!!" At the end, he was destitute. He lost everything, including his home, shortly before his death. David Carradine brought Eastern wisdom and kick-ass karate to new heights of popularity as Kwai Chang Caine, a barefoot seeker of peace in the old West. Carradine played the attentive student of martial arts Master Po, who called him "Grasshopper", in the long-running TV series; Kung Fu. His final off-screen act was one of suicide in a Bangkok hotel.

Billy Mays was the only one of the group who had it pretty good, right up to the end. Arriving by plane from a job, he bumped his head during a rough landing, complained of not feeling well that night, and was dead the next day. An autopsy discovered no head trauma or anything that could link his death to the bump he'd received a day earlier. He had suffered a massive heart attack, right at the peak of his career.

Perhaps we should take the loss of these very famous people as a reminder that life is short. ...Too short to waste on petty conflicts and a pile of "what ifs". These are hard times, but there are still things to be enjoyed and experiences to savor. Take some time to put aside life's trials and tribulations for a bit, find your happy place, and say, "Thanks Mike, Farrah, Ed, David, and Billy. Rest in peace."

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Statistically Speaking...

I don’t think anyone would be shocked if I called our present economic crisis a “great depression”. I mean, c’mon… “recession”? We’ve moved beyond a recession, friends! When was the last time this country saw banks on the brink of failure, leaders of major US corporations landing on the street, and the price of a loaf of bread something to seriously consider before purchase?

It was 1929. Eighty years ago. A time when extravagance meant going to the movies and eating a bag of popcorn! Just like today. Except today the movie is less of an extravagance than the popcorn. Look at the history, and something very disturbing can be noted.

In 1929, theaters were famous for 5¢ bags of popcorn …at least until the post-depression inflation set in. Then that bag jumped to 62¢. It was probably smaller than today’s “small”, but still roughly comparable. The price of movies jumped up to an average of $4.32 per ticket by the end of 1929.

There can be no doubt that Americans love their popcorn. We consume over 4 billion (with a “B”) gallons of the stuff annually, which breaks down to about 13.5 gallons per person! Oh, and the fat content of the average bag of theater popcorn (with butter) equals about two days of normal meals.

Today a small bag of popcorn costs roughly $4.75, and the movie ticket is up to an average of $7.20. If you do the math, you’ll see that the increase in price of a movie ticket rose 66.6%. But the price of popcorn rose 666%... ten times as much!

So here is the question: Since, in Christian belief, 666 is “the number of the beast”, are the figures telling us that eating popcorn is ten times more evil than watching a movie?

Think about it!

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Petty Pride!

I do a lot of work for NASCAR, but the latest projects have been especially enjoyable. Leading up to the July 4th race at Daytona, I did a series of video promotions on STP and NASCAR internet sites telling about the special celebration planned for “King Richard”, the winningest driver in NASCAR history.

It was the 25th anniversary of Richard Petty’s record-breaking 200th NASCAR win, and the Daytona Independence Day race was the place where it happened in 1984.

The most recent, of course, was the post-celebration video that captured the sights and sounds of the event. After a quarter century, the iconic blue and red #43 car, recalling better times for the Chrysler brand, once again roared around the massive oval of Daytona at the hands of The King. But this time it was not part of the field, but a nostalgic symbol of racing greatness sharing a lap with the official pace car before the start of the race.
President Reagan came to Daytona for that historic race in ’84, the first time a US President attended an NASCAR race.

But, after 25 years, if you think you’ll find Richard Petty resting on his laurels in retirement, as my grandmother used to say, “You’ve got another think comin’!” He’s actively involved in the Richard Petty Driving Experience, where folks like you and me can learn how to take a modified stock car around an oval track like a pro and get a taste of the experience that has kept King Richard on the track for more than half a century!

I am grateful not only for being chosen to voice the 25th Anniversary video on line, but also for getting to do the voiceovers for the Richard Petty Driving Experience TV spots that air all over the Southern US
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AND... I've started to do some video editing on the side, including a three minute demo of some of my off-camera voiceover work. Check it out!

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One More June Disaster...

This time it wasn't the death of a celebrity. It was the death of a career, as SC Governor Mark Sanford displayed all the judgement of a horny frat-boy. Leaving the ship of state with no hand on the helm, he skipped off to Argentina for some horizontal Tango lessons with a mysterious senorita!

Say, Mark... Did you know that Argentina imports more silicone implants per capita than any other nation earth? I'm just sayin'....

Bank'n On It!

Several of you have called or written to say you've noticed my voice popping up on Joseph A. Bank commercials for men's clothing. ...Glad you noticed!

They are produced here in Charlotte, NC, by GVA productions. The one-man-band that conducts the whole affair is George Van Allen (yep...GVA), agency CEO, account rep, creative director, and producer.

I wont be telling tales out of school if I say that George is one of the toughest producers I've ever worked for! By the time a session for a 30 second spot ends, I am drenched in sweat, slightly hoarse, and as whipped as if I'd just carried a grand piano up three flights of stairs!

But I must say that George gets a sound and style from me that works very well for the client, and is decidedly different from anything else I do on the air.

Bad Ads

One thing that bothers me about the industry in which I work is the propensity towards deception in place of information. Sometimes it get so blatant that you wonder who is more stupid; the person who answers the ad, or the one who created it. A case in point.....

Can you spell P-h-o-t-o-s-h-o-p? And at least get the grammar right!

Another problem in advertising is client over-kill. Take a hypothetical situation, say designing an intersection stop sign, and think what could happen if it were to be the commercial product of a typical client-agency relationship. Click here.

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