Monday, January 21, 2008

The "City Guys" theme song.

Back in the day when Saved By The Bell was insanely popular, NBC ran a block of shows on Saturday morning called "TNBC". One of those shows was called "City Guys". It was a Saved By The Bell style show about an inner city show. Basically, the cast contained more "diversity" than other shows of it time featuring three black people (one being the female principal) and an asian guy named Al. By comparison, there were only three white regulars on the show, a blonde girl, a brunette girl, and a guy. In other words, the show took place in the "inner city" because there was only white guy.

A couple of the cast members have reasonably successful careers. Wesley Jonathan was one of three regulars on all four seasons of What I Like About You (the other two being Amanda Bynes and Jenny Garth). Marcella Lowery guest starred on Law & Order and her episodes always seem to be on TV (even though she was only in like four). She also played Donovan McNabb's mother in the Campbell's Chunky Soup commercials. Otherwise, the show was pretty marginal and forgettable besides being a childhood memory of mine. Well, except for the theme song.

Ever since I first saw the show, I've found myself wandering around mumbling "C-I-T-Y you can see why these guys", the opening lyrics to the theme song, but never completing the rest. My lack of recall of the entire song bugged me for awhile before I decided that I had more important things to worry about. However, in today's world, I enjoy worrying about unimportant things and have downloaded the theme song and (through e-research) have deciphered the entirety of the lyrics.

The City Guys Theme Song

C-I-T-Y you can see why
these guys, the neat guys, smart and streetwise. (x2)

City Guys pose those looks in street clothes.
It's all good coming from city people.
They're all the same, open up your eyes.
Roll with the City Guys.

C-I-T-Y you can see why
these guys, the neat guys, smart and streetwise. (x2)

Check the class from school to the playground.
You'll make it there if you just stay 'round
the right crowd. Come on, sign it loud.
Roll with the City Guys.

C-I-T-Y you can see why
these guys, the neat guys, smart and streetwise. (x2)

City wide
roll with the City Guys. (x4)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Cloverfield is a destructive experience.

J.J. Abrams has done it again. Once again, I am in awe of what one person can conceive of and create with his closest compatriots. Yes, at its core, Cloverfield is a monster movie in the same vein as Godzilla. However, what makes it so spectacular is that it's the first truly American incarnation of the genre. To be honest, Godzilla, Mothra, and the rest of the cuddly crew of chaos never appealed to me much because their reigns of terror were way too over the top for my taste. Abrams, director Matt Reeves, and writer Drew Goddard have found a way to walk that fine line though, mainly through their utilization of the "Blair Witch" technique.

For the sake of brevity and your enjoyment of this picture, I won't go beyond two details of the story:

1. Yes, you see the monster and you shouldn't be disappointed unless you have an intense hatred for science fiction/fantasy. In my viewing, a group of five or so high school guys left upon immediately seeing the creature. However, since I'm guessing you probably aren't trying to maintain your image as a badass, you'll probably be able to stay stomach it. The CGI is done well and, for those LOST fans out there, this monster is much more terrifying than the infamous "Black Smoke".

2. Yes, the movie utilizes Post-9/11 imagery. I refuse to say it "exploits" such imagery though because to truly scare our current culture you need to use it. 9/11 is the defining moment of our generation. Everyone has their "Where They Were When Bambi's Mother Was Shot" story because we have no scarier memory than watching the World Trade Center collapsing without one clue as to why. Cloverfield captures every bit of that terror and more. It has to. It's how you scare us now-a-days. If you were in New York City on 9/11 or somehow connected to the events, you may want to avoid this film. I know a bunch of people connected to 9/11, but have only been to NYC a few times and still had difficulty dealing at times. It's not sad (except for a couple points). It's simply scary.

And when I say scary, I mean the following: Cloverfield is the most horrific movie I have ever seen. An eerie tone is combined with just the right amount of jump moments to make the terror both psychological and immediate. The true triumph of the movie though is the realism it portrays. The characters seem like people you could actually know and spend time with, and even though you just met them at the opening party, you still care about them. Cloverfield lulls you into a sense of security and familiarity for 15 minutes and kicks your ass for the following 60. Yeah, it's reminiscent of 9/11, but that's why it's so terrifying.

5/5 Stars.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Follow Up: "It's the mirrors." The Origin

Following my entry about the Texas Instruments DLP Commercials with the little girl and the magic box (I still feel funny writing that description), my brother linked me to a commercial on YouTube. Apparently it is the first one in the series, or at least acts like it is. It was posted on February 7th, 2002.

The ad starts with the girl and the elephant in the middle of a field. The elephant hands her the box. Well, he more trunks her the box, but you get the idea. It still doesn't really make any sense though. There is no explanation as to the relationship between the girl and the elephant. Were they playing in the field and the elephant discovered the box? Is the elephant the keeper of the box? How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?

On a positive note, the girl and the elephant interact. When she first opens the box, he does whatever sound an elephant does. Then later, in her rant of amazement at "something so small with so many mirrors", she says she has never seen anything like it and asks the elephant "Have you?". He scratches his head with his trunk. So, we know he's not imaginary now. It's a start.

What I want to know is when this commercial first aired. It was posted on YouTube in February, but I'd never seen it before, and I watch a lot, a lot, of TV. The decision making of the Texas Instruments marketing team baffles me. If you're going to run such an advertisement series, if you're going to create any series, the origin is the most important part of the story. We need to know that the little girl is sharing her curiosity with the world rather than just being magically creepy. We need to know that there's something in the box besides magical light (rather it's a magical "something so small with so many mirrors"). Also, it took me about five views to even realize that the elephant might be handing her the box, and a few more views to confirm it. Isn't that interaction kind of important? "Honey, why is there an elephant following you?" "I don't know. He hasn't left me alone ever since he gave me this magic box."

I would suggest, however, that the origin story here is not a sufficient explanation. I want to know more about the elephant. I want to know why she wanders to such desolate places. I want to know why people listen to her. Is it the pink dress? Is it the magic box? Is it the elephant? Oh, that's right, "It's the mirrors."

Here's hoping that for a Super Bowl ad Texas Instruments delivers us a prequel about the little girl in the pink dress, the magic box, and the elephant.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

"It's the mirrors."? More like: "There's an elephant!"

I want vent about something that's been bugging me lately. With all the football I've been watching in bowl season, one series of advertisements has stuck with me...well, beyond Peyton Manning dominating my television screen ever five minutes. I mean seriously, how many commercials does that guy film? Is that all he does in the off season, film commercials? Seriously, I can't even watch bowling without seeing him. Why do people who watch bowling care about Peyton Manning? They don't!

No, believe it or not, Peyton Manning is not the most annoying television commercial personality. What bothers me more is those Texas Instruments DLP ads where the little blonde girl in the pink dress whispers, "It's the mirrors."

First off, isn't it a little ineffective to advertise HD television on regular television? There is a 0% chance of you demonstrating your product. The creators of this commercial's solution to this problem is to make your picture worse, only to restore it to normal, which only really works for people with good eyesight. For example, my Dad is blind and hates HD because "It won't be blurry anymore? It's always blurry. Everything's blurry. You look blurry right now." So, it only works for people with good eyesight and we already know the picture sucks, so we either already own a HD TV, are too poor to afford one, or don't give a shit. Yeah, good marketing plan.

Second: "It's the mirrors." Really, it's the mirrors? What's the mirrors? It's like a God damn magic trick! Streaky light? Undersized image? Blurry picture? Mirrors! It's like deus-ex-machina. There's no explanation. There's a problem and the solution is mirrors. Except actually, the solution isn't mirrors. It's a box full of light. The little girl just says it's the mirrors. She walks over, opens the box to let the light out, and whispers, "It's the mirrors." How does that make any sense? She like some type of miniature Criss Angel trying to freak with your mind.

It's not even viable symbolism, like the box of light represents mirrors or something because light bounces off of mirrors. Like a burglar breaks into your house and rushes into your bedroom and the little girl walks in. You all stop and stare at her and she points the box at the burglar, opens it, and hits him with the light. He melts away and all that remains of him are his vampire his teeth. You look at her like, "How did you know he was a vampire?" She leans in and whispers, "It's the mirrors."

Speaking of a random little blonde girl in your bedroom at night, why do the commercials always take place in the most inappropriate places with people the little girl should most likely not be with? In one she's in a fishing boat with two guys and she actually says something like, "It's always better bigger. Wanna see?" and then opens her box. Someone's probably going to try to Google porn and end up with this blog entry. That's how messed up that sounds when you think about it.

In another one she's in the middle of a long two lane road with no traffic coming from either direction and a black basketball player and his girlfriend approach her. Is that where you go if you want to find the little blonde girl in the pink dress if she doesn't decide you need her help first? Why do I feel like pedophiles are going to drive out to remote highways just to test out that theory? Isn't that like a pedophile's dream? "Just whisper 'It's the mirrors' for me, honey." So the whole time it seems like the basketball player's girlfriend is added into the commercial because the creators were aware how wildly inappropriate it was. She doesn't do anything. She just stands there while this big black guy asks some little blonde white girl how to improve his basketball game and at the end she offers some cliche phrase of encouragement. It's like the creators were sitting in their meeting going, "You do you realize how ridiculous this is, right?" "Yes, there's something missing, he needs a girlfriend." "Hmm, that's not bad, but the little girl needs someone too." "What about an elephant?"

Ok, this is where I give up trying to understand. The people who created this commercial had to have been high. Most commercials, even if they're crazy, I get. The Geiko Gecko, alright, the words sound the same. Coke suing Coke Zero, alright Coke has a new product with similar taste and they're mocking frivolous lawsuits, got it, good, I will consider buying your product. These commercials however, you have a little blonde girl in a pink dress that whispers "It's the mirrors" so creepily I think that maybe it's a trailer for another horror movie that was brought over from Japan, a magic box that shoots light, and an elephant.

Why? Why is there an elephant? No one ever talks to the elephant. No one ever talks about the elephant. It just stands there. Is it supposed to be a reference to the saying "the elephant in the room" where bad picture quality is the elephant in the room? If so, how am I supposed to get that? Is it supposed to be her bodyguard? Did they think no one would accept the little girl unchaperoned in the random locations because it's unsafe? If so how did they decide on a God damn elephant?

There is no explanation. None. At All. Not one character even looks at the thing. Instead, after the fiftieth time I've seen the commercial, I don't even care about the mirrors. I'm just staring at the elephant seeing if it reacts to anything. And it doesn't. It just stands there. Then, the little girl opens the box, light spews out, and she whispers, "It's the mirrors." I'm like, "Ok, got it. It's the mirrors. There's an elephant!"