Stupid Synchronicity

I just had an annoying moment of synchronicity.

I had the NFL Network on as wallpaper while I was working but it was, as it will, beginning to repeat itself so I flipped over to HBO where Spice World was playing in all it’s High-Def glory. My finger hovered over the channel button on my remote only long enough for me to positively identify the actor on my screen as the same man who starred in one of my favorite twisted movies,
How to Get Ahead in Advertising.

It was him. And by "him" I mean Richard E. Grant. How to Get Ahead in Advertising is the bizarre story of Dennis Dimbleby Bagley, an up-and-coming young British adman who blanks when trying to come up with an idea to sell pimple cream. His stress induces a boil on his shoulder that eventually grows into a second head that embodies his evil alter-ego.

As the Guinness commercials say: Brilliant!

So, anyway, I’d confirmed that this actor in Spice World was the very same Mr. Grant who starred in my favorite twisted movie about advertising. Not being a Spice Girls fan, I switched over to Starz only to find Mr. Grant hogging my screen once more in Hudson Hawk.

I mean, what’re the odds?

And The Band Played On…

…Without Ashlee Simpson

You wanna see something painful?

If you missed Saturday Night Live over the weekend (and who could’ve blamed you? It ain’t exactly the cutting edge of humor these days), you missed a lip-sync moment that should be featured on a pop music bloopers tape.

Teen pop star Ashlee Simpson began her second song of the night with her band playing one song live, and her pre-recorded voice singing the lyrics of the song she had previously performed, "Pieces of Me." As if this syncopated pandemonium weren’t enough, the painfully embarrassed Simpson did not know how to deal with the situation: she danced for a few bars before slinking off stage.

At the end of the show, Simpson apologized next to host Jude Law, and blamed her band: "My band started playing the wrong song. I didn’t know what to do so I thought I’d do a hoe-down."

So her band was responsible for her disembodied singing? I don’t know which should be more embarrassing for her: The fact that she was humiliated on national television or her sorry excuse of an excuse.

The fact that music stars lip sync has been an unremarkable part of the pop landscape since Milli Vanilli were outed. What may be controversial, however, is the fact that the snafu occurred on SNL, which I thought was supposed to be, like, the last bastion of live televised musical performances.

In case you missed it, has posted the clip.

(While you’re there–and not at work, if you know what I mean–they have a hilarous video of a woman streaker scoring a goal at a Spanish soccer game. Damn. That shit never happens at Vikings games!)

Atari Games

Atari is going to reissue their old arcade games on the Xbox and PlayStation 2 platforms. Not surprisingly, they’re going after the nostalgia market and I’m quite sure it will be plenty successful for them.

There are certain cultural touchstones that mark a generation and Atari games is one of the Xer touchstones. I recently bought an Xbox and, of course, I needed the expert advice of two of my teenage gamer nephews.

I was already aware of Electronic Arts as one of the market leaders in game titles but that was about it, so I asked my nephews what other companies made games. Among those that they rattled off was, to my surprise, Atari.

Hearing the name sent me on down memory lane as I told them about how when I was their age, my friends and I would burn rolls of quarters and hours playing a huge box called a video arcade game with monochrome screens and two-D graphics and that my favorite was a game called Asteroids. And, of course, that these games would be completely boring to them.

Yeah, the nostalgia marketing angle will work. Don’t take my word for it. Two TV commercials for SUVs feature 80s arcade video game sounds (Hummer uses Asteroids sounds and Saturn Vue uses Pacman) to target Xers. Sure, I’ll buy that for 20 bucks.

Red Bull vs. SoBe Energy Drinks

Have I mentioned how much I love football? I do. A lot. This much [Fade in picture of me with arms outstreched to either side of my body]. I love football so much that I play it at least twice a week (touch football, that is). I’ve been playing with more or less the same group of guys for about three years now. We play pick up games every Saturday (usually three games, sometimes four).

Yesterday was a perfect day for playing, with the sky fairly clear and the temperature hovering in the mid-sixities. We’d played several games when someone spotted the Red Bull mobile. The Red Bull mobile is a modified pickup truck that wanders Minneapolis and St. Paul dispensing Red Bulls. It’s easy to spot because the truck has a huge can of Red Bull with the bottom resting in the cargo bay and the top resting on the back edge of the cab. In the cargo bay, on either side of the can, are refrigerated storage areas where they keep their supply of the energy drink.

So we were playing ball when we notice a pretty blonde girl and a nice looking guy walking toward our game. And of course, they are Red Bull employees come to give us each a complimentary cold can.

I’ve seen the Red Bull mobile around town but that’s the first time I’ve seen it in action. I gotta say that I was very impressed. Their target market is young male athletes, night owls, and college students and they nailed all three because a couple of the guys I play with probably fall into each category. Several of the guys I play with are regular Red Bull drinkers. And everyone was quite happy to get a free Red Bull.

But after enjoying a practical monopoly on the energy drink market, Red Bull is losing market share to, for my money anyway, better tasting and more effective competition (Fortune magazine calls Red Bull a "a caffeine-laced drink that tastes like cough syrup and promises to enhance athletic performance and concentration."

SoBe Adrenaline Rush

The drink does taste like cough syrup and I don’t think it works nearly as well at energizing than SoBe. SoBe has a diverse product line but I’m partial to SoBe Adrenaline Rush, a direct competitor to Red Bull. It tastes good and works longer. But don’t just take my word for it, I’ve turned three of my friends into SoBe-drinkin fools.

SoBe’s original can design displayed their sense of humor with the slogan "Get it up. Keep it up. Any questions?" Beneath that was a 1-800 number which I presume you were supposed to call and ask when it would go down.

Mmmm….I do love my SoBe but they do gotta work on both their distribution (like in bars) and their visibilty. Hey, they could always sponsor my touch football team.

Sprint Commercials

The current Sprint TV commercial that’s running in heavy rotation on your tele must not have been proofed before they signed off on airing it. You know the commercial – it’s a none-too-subtle rip-off of the "Intel Inside" idea with a Beatlesish song repeating the theme "Sprint is in here, Sprint is in there." Get it? Sprint is everywhere?

Problem is, when you’re not watching the commercial but have the TV on as background noise as you make dinner or clean up around the house, and are therefore only listening to the commercial, it sounds like they’re singing Sprint isn’t here, Sprint isn’t there. Quite the opposite message they want to get across, you’d think.