Saturday, July 30, 2005

Blowing Bubbles in front of Millions of Viewers!

On Wednesday afternoon we headed to Trenton, New Jersey, where we caught an Amtrak train north to New York City. Because of the boiling hot temperatures (which were magnified in the bowels of Manhattan) decided just to hang out at the hotel (the deco styled Waldorf Astoria) until it was time to meet up with our group for dinner. Among our group were the 5 Bubble Blowing finalists who'd defeated numerous competitors at the 3,000+ Wal-Mart stores this past June. Each kid brought along a parent (or for the PC crowd "guardian) which just so happened to be their mothers (what, no love for dear old dad?)

We had dinner at the intergalactic themed restaurant, Mars 2112, nestled in Times Square. It's a fun place, especially the kids, combining a ride along with martian terrain and mascot like creatures who walk among the diners.

From dinner it was back to our hotel, at a reserved meeting room, to meet the constants and to practice for the next day's activities. Since we'd be on live TV, timing was everything. Besides, we "measurers" had to know the correct way to measure the blown bubbles.

Now here I was in the heart of the most exciting city in the world. A city filled with clubs, events and things to do. A city, as they say, never sleeps. But I (and especially the kids) had to sleep. "Morning TV" isn't called "Morning TV" just for the hell of it. While I had the luxury of sleeping in at least until 6 AM, most of the others and the kids had to be at the studio by 5 AM!!! So.... might as well make use of this high priced hotel room and get to sleep early. (course, early for me is around midnight, but still....)

Thursday morning as we headed for our bus, to take us over to the Good Morning America studio, a striking figure walked by. A woman, wearing an unusual garb, much like a shiny red dental floss, guarded by a huge burly figure , proceeded ahead of us to an awaiting cab. On the back of the guy's shirt read "Bunny Ranch" and my first guess was "I bet they're going to the Howard Stern show" (and I was right).

Once at the station (which is also in Times Square) we headed into the Green Room (which of course isn't green) ate some bagels, drank some coffee (to wake us up) and awaited for our cue.

The kids didn't look that nervous, in fact overall they seemed like a good bunch. Along with the five finalists was last years' winner and since all she had to do was stand by and hand over the crown to the new champion, seemed the most relaxed.

Finally though at 8:30 AM, we were called out. Walking past the on air set we were elevated down, outside to the front of the building, where the kids were lead to their risers.

(It was funny, at least I thought so, to note that most everyone who worked their was a walking cliche. The make up artist looked effeminate and had his hair in a pony tail, the director wore a baseball cap, a beard and wore a hawaiian shirt and hell, even the hired photographer wore a beret!!)

The kids filmed a few commercial break shots, "Up next, the Bubble Blowing Finals...." and at 8:45 we five measures were lead out to the risers, took our positions kneeling in front of our assigned kid, bubble calipers in hand, and awaited our big moment.

Diane Sawyer (who was much shorter and "well packed with facial make up") stood by and after returning from the commercial gave the countdown. Just before the 2 minutes began though, one of the kids preparing his well chewed mouth full, inadvertently spit it out onto the sidewalk below! As the countdown reached 30 seconds panic arose, he asked for some new gum, but he obviously couldn't do that, he had no time to get it chewed to the correct flexibility.
(15 seconds...) so what else could he do? One of the measurers grabbed the discarded, soggy glop, handed it to the kid and after he brushed off as much of the Manhattan grime, plopped it back into his mouth and chewed through the grit. Just in time for.......

Now if this was a Hollywood script, the kid with the mouth full of bubble gum grit would win, or since I'm writing this, the girl who's bubble I was measuring would win. Alas though, that's not how it went. Instead a kid from, of all places, Wye, Arkansas (population 289) blew a 12.5" bubble and was crowned the 2005 champion!

So, that was it, we all came out and stood, facing the cameras on the riser, and posed for the goodbye/end credit shot. The event was over. And since all the viewing public saw of me was the back of my head, pretty painless.

I could go on here and give you the rest of the days' events, how we had to wait three hours at Penn Station since all Amtrak trains were delayed because of a bomb threat in New England, but I've already gone on long enough.

Happy Birthday! (7/30/05)

His greatest performance may be as the current governor of California but though he was never much of an actor, he has made some good films, like Predator, The Terminator and Conan the Barbarian (as well as some lousy films like Last Action Hero, True Lies and the "ultimate" of bad films,Batman & Robin!)

An "It's not a Tumor" Happy Birthday to...

The Terminator is 58 today.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Happy Birthday! (7/28/05)

In keeping with the theme of yesterday's birthday, today's recipient may have appeared in the film Five Easy Pieces and sure, she was the voice of Pebbles on The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show, but she'll always be little Gloria Bunker-Stivic on the classic All In the Family.

Here's a "Feed the Children" Happy Birthday to.....

Mrs. Meathead is 57 today.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

I don't want to be on TV!!

But damn it, I'm gonna have to be.

The company that I'm an Art Director at, Concord Confections, Ltd., is the maker of Dubble Bubble Bubble Gum. Each year, teamed with Wal-Mart, Dubble Bubble sponsors a National Bubble Blowing Contest. They're held throughout Wal-Mart stores throughout the country in June and those individual store winners are eventually dwindled down to five finalists who are then flown to New York in the last week of July to televise the final on ABC's Good Morning America.

That's tomorrow morning.

Usually, my only involvement is in the artwork for posters, ads, in store packaging, etc... BUT
due to a quirk in schedules they've come up a few people short for bubble measurers tomorrow (the measurers use the devices shown in the picture to measure the size of the bubble), so a couple of us here in the Philly office are heading to NYC today to help out tomorrow morning.

Yes, I'll be out there tomorrow, on Good Morning America wearing a Dubble Bubble shirt and measuring bubbles.

I didn't sign on for this, but damn it, someone has to do it. how many pounds does TV add?

Happy Birthday! (7/27/05)

All I need to do is list the TV Shows he's created, Maude, Fernwood 2Nite, The Jeffersons, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, Sanford and Son and oh yeah,... All In the Family.
(and that's not all he's done, but hell, that's not too bad!)

Here's a "704 Hauser Street" Happy Birthday to.....

The man who changed the face of TV Sitcom's is 83 today.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Happy Birthday! (7/22/05)

Well, what can you say about a guy who's played both Jesus Christ (in The Last Temptation of Christ) and the Green Goblin (in Spider-Man)?
He's got a hell of a range (and picks interesting parts)
Not bad for a guy who's first movie appearance was as an extra in the dog of a film, Heaven's Gate.

Here's a Platoon-filled Happy Birthday to.....

Gill, the fish with a scar, is 50 today.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Gerry Thomas, 1922-2005

With the recent deaths of actor James Doohan (most noted for his work as Scotty on the Star Trek TV series) and comic artist Jim Aparo (most known for his work on Bat Man and The Brave & the Bold) in the last two days it was easy for the passing of this man to slip through the cracks, but he probably had more of an impact on most Americans in the last 50 years.

Gerry Thomas is credited with inventing the Swanson TV Dinner!

Yes, those great foil encased Chicken Dinners with corn, mashed potatoes and a dessert!!

In 1952 Thomas was in Omaha working for the Swanson Co., when he designed an aluminum tray and coined the name for TV Dinner, a frozen meal that caught on as a convenience food during the early days of television.

More than 8.4 billion TV Dinners were sold long before the advent of microwaves and microwave frozen meals.

Happy Birthday! (7/21/05)

What's that, you don't remember his classic comedy films like The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, The Reluctant Astronaut and The Shakiest Gun in the West or his two classic TV characters, Ralph Furley from Three's Company and of course Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show?
Well, where the hell have you been??!

Here's a "nervous" Happy Birthday to.....

The Incredible Mr. Limpet is 81 today.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

What-I've-Been-Working-On - CHICK FEED

A lot of the projects that I've been working on here at Concord recently have been personal, high priced products that have been requested from the head of our parent company (Tootsie Roll) or for products that are still speculative, so I really can't post any pictures of those here, just yet.
(oh I guess I could, if I felt like getting fired)

So instead, here's a design I came up with about a year ago. It's for a "spin-off" from one of our more popular products, Gold Rocks. You remember those, don't you? The little cloth sack filled with gold-looking tutti fruiti bubble gum?

This is Chick Feed. Which is almost the same product, the gum is now a little smaller, to look like feed instead of gold and is essentially sold around the Easter holiday.

I came up with the logo and package look.
(I'm not responsible for the taste of the gum.)

Happy Birthday! (7/20/05)

To some she was the host to the long running BBC series Mystery. But let's face it, to all of us who grew up watching TV in the late 60's early 70's she was the ultimate hot female spy/adventurer, Emma Peel on The Avengers.
(and thank god for that!)

Here's Judo chop Happy Birthday to ...

The former Mrs. James Bond is 67 today.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Want to buy a monkey?

Ever drive by a car dealer or grand opening of a new fast food restaurant and see these majestic beasts towering over the building? Did you then have the desire to buy your very own giant inflatable gorilla?

Now you can!!!!

Blue gorillas, dancing gorillas, happy gorillas, mean gorillas, advertising gorillas, hell, more giant inflatable gorillas then you can shake a stick at!!!!

All you need is a spare $3,000-$5,000 lying around the house.....
and very acceptable neighbors.

Happy Birthday! (7/19/05)

It's everyone's favorite axe toting, head hacking, parent killing New England murderess!
(and only in America can you actually stay at the murder house, which is now a Bed and Breakfast.)

Here's a "40 wacks" Happy Birthday to.....

The woman who was portrayed by Elizabeth Montgomery in the TV movie, would have been 145 today.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Happy Birthday! (7/14/05)

Here's one of those "recognize the face-don't know the name" supporting character actors. He appeared in such movies as The Glenn Miller Story and The Glass Bottom Boat as well as in various TV shows. But it's as the laid back husband to nosy wife Agness on the classic sit-com Bewitched that he'll always be remembered for.

Here's a very patient Happy Birthday to.....

Abner Kravitz would have been 104 today.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

One Final FANTASTIC FOUR Movie Review

Thanks to a pretty hefty work load (and the final few pages to finish on Action Figure #1) I haven't been able to join the masses on the net and give my $.02 on the Fantastic Four movie.
That is until now.

First, if you hadn't already guessed, I'm a big Fantastic Four fan. My all time favorite superhero/adventure comic series starring my all time favorite superhero/adventure character, Ben Grimm, The Thing. So while I really enjoyed seeing the recent Spider-Man and X-Men films, the good Bat Man films and film series like Star Wars and Indiana Jones, THIS has been the movie I've been waiting for.

(and yes, I've seen the '94 Roger Corman low budget version, and while it had all good intentions, it fell really short of the mark)

I had originally intended to see this much anticipated film (for me at least) at a Midnight show Thursday night (I love those midnight shows). According to my local cinema had a midnight show-
-which was news to my local cinema. (what had I learned? Once again, don't take what you read on as gospel.................. cause it ain't.)

Anyhoo, had to settle on a Friday night show. Not wanting to deal with the early evening crowds I opted for the 10 PM show. I was home watching the ball game (thanks MLB Package) and would have easily made the show, had the Pirates simply crumbled and lost to the Mets 5-1. But, thankfully, the Buccos rallied for an unlikely comeback by tying the game 5-5 with two outs in the 9th and then win it 6-5 in the 10th. All this of course, ran past my 10 PM show, but luckily they'd scored the winning run at 10:15 and allowed me to catch the 10:30 show, the last showing of the night.

So, finally, I'm in the theatre watching some good (King Kong) and bad (a Zorro sequel??) trailers until finally, the show begins....

By now, I'm sure you know the gist of the story of the Fantastic Four. Four people are exposed to Cosmic Rays and are forever changed, developing super powers. They choose to use these new abilities towards the benefit of mankind.

So how did the movie do? How did the writers, director and actors help convey an adaptation some 44 years in the making?

One word.


Now this wasn't "my" Fantastic Four. The origin had been changed, in order to fit a two hour film and to make a little bit of sense. In 1961 it was OK to try and beat the "Commies" to the moon, and if you want to bring along your girlfriend and her kid brother, sure, why not. Having Sue with a science background and Johnny as a hotshot pilot made sense to bring them along.

Tying in Victor Von Doom (the soon to be Dr. Doom) in with the origin is also different, and I personally don't think they needed to do that, but it doesn't kill the film for me. I learned my lesson way back when, when I was one of the masses who decried the "organic web shooters" change in the Spider-Man films. I admit I was wrong then and in order to shoe horn Doom as this films' villain I can live with his origin tied in with the FF.

The casting: Jessica Alba as Sue and Ioan Gruffudd as Reed are OK, not who I'd have chosen, but McMahon as Victor works and of course Chris Evans steals every scene he's in as Johnny, but what about the most important part? Could they pull it off?


Michael Chiklis IS Ben Grimm and he IS the Thing!!! No doubt about it. I had read that he wanted this part, that he was a long time fan of the character and it REALLY shows. And talk about pictures' NOT telling the whole story, every still photo of Chiklis as the Thing looked, well, cheesy. It looked like a guy in a suit. But NOT on the screen! You will believe that a man can be made of orange rock!

At times I'd wish they had slowed things down a bit, took more time to develop the characters and their growing celebrity (their instant fame from just the bridge rescue wasn't enough for me) and though they introduced Alicia (the blind sculptress who would steal Ben's heart) they didn't give the audience enough of the character and how important she is with Ben's decision at the end.

But what they got right; how absorbed Reed gets in his lab (much to the chagrin of Sue), Victor's vanity, the squabbling family aspect of the four and especially the mischievous pranks between Johnny and Ben all looked as if they leapt straight from the pages by Jack & Stan!

So forget what all those critics have been saying. Hell, Ebert hasn't liked a non foreign - subtitled film in years, and if I hear one more pontificating wordsmith complain that this film isn't dark or gritty like Burton's Bat Man, well guess what folks, the Fantastic Four ISN'T grim and gritty.

Stan & Jack's FF was a family. A family like yours or mine, with the exception of having super powers and going on adventures. The comics were monthly adventures that were exciting, dramatic, but above all FUN.

And that's exactly what this picture is.

Fantastic Four get's a "Clobbering Time!"

Locker Room Lawsuit, 2 minutes for roughing.

Just when you think you've heard all the "stupid law-suit stories", now we get this one from New Brunswick, Canada.

Nicole LeBlanc, mother of her 14 year old hockey playing daughter Brigette, filed a complaint with the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission, asking that her daughter be allowed to use the same change room (locker room) that her boy team mates use.

Since she's the only girl on the team she's had to use a separate room and her mother claims that this has been segregation. "They (girl players) don't have to feel like second-rate players and teammates," said Nicole LeBlanc. "They are there and they deserve equality. It's not a privilege to be there with the boys. It's not a privilege to be treated equally -- it's their right. And that's the way it has to be."

Well, that may look good on paper, but lady, your daughter is 14. Her boy team mates are 14. Have you ever heard of adolescence? Ever heard of the term puberty????

There's a proviso in the ruling. The boys must wear shorts at all times and showers must be taken separately.

Yeah, I'm sure teenagers with raging hormones are going to follow all those rules, after all, they're written on paper, and everyone knows that teenagers ALWAYS follow written rules.

Call me cynical, but why do I see a story off in the future, that may involve "inappropriate" situations or worse, a possible rape, occurring in a New Brunswick hockey locker room.

Happy Birthday! (7/13/05)

In the early '60's he was a trailblazer and template for the rush hour/morning DJ format and a supporting character on The Donna Reed Show but he'll forever be burned in our brains as the charismatic scheming POW on the hilarious TV series Hogan's Heroes!

Let's give a Superdad Birthday greeting to .....

The man who really loved his pornography would have been 77 today.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Happy Birthday! (7/12/05)

His career has included a slew of great comedy albums (I Started Out as a Child, To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With and Why Is There Air?)
some excellent TV Shows (I Spy, The Bill Cosby Show and Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids) and a few, well,... lousy films (Ghost Dad, The Meteor Man and Leonard Part 6), unfortunately, though for him, it seems that what he's most famous for these days is for (allegedly) having his way with various women.

So here's a Hey, Hey, Hey, Happy Birthday to.....

Chet Kincaid is 68 today.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Happy Birthday! (7/7/05)

It Don't Come Easy, Oh My My, Act Naturally, Back Off Boogaloo and of course Yellow Submarine are just a few of the best known songs sung by perhaps Rock N' Roll's most famous drummer.

So, "With A Little Help From My Friends", here's a Happy Birthday to ...

Richard Starkey is 65 today.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Happy Birthday! (7/6/05)

This guy has a VERY small acting resume, and considering his acting ability that's probably a good thing. Besides, if he ever did anything else it would never surpass his "greatest" role.

So here's a "Holy Happy Birthday!" to .....

The original Boy Wonder is 60 today.

Yes, I was part of the Live 8 Crowd.

Thanks to our nations' 229th birthday I was able to take a few days off (though most of that time was spent working on my comics at home).
So much for a vacation.

I did take some time and got out of the house. I saw a movie Friday night and on Saturday, July 2nd, ventured into the city and was part of the 800,000+ crowd at Live 8 in Philadelphia.

I had heeded the call by city officials and rode the train into town. Got to the city about 12:30 and as I walked up through the massive crowd, to find a space to hang out, Will Smith was ... doing something. (singing? I don't think so.)

The lineup that we had here in the U.S. wasn't that enticing, but since I lived so close to the only city in America to be part of this endeavor, how could I stay home and not be a part of it? The Dave Matthews Band had a great set, I was also impressed by Maroon 5 and of course Sarah McLachlan is always good. (luckily I had arrived AFTER Bon Jovi had performed, now that's good timing!)

The weather was great, around mid 80's and no humidity. Perhaps the most impressive thing from the entire day was the crowd. I heard later that there were only 4 arrests. 4 out of 800,000, that's not too bad, as the throngs of revelers just came to enjoy the show. Though because of the poor stage design (it was much too low) lots of folks scrambled for a high viewing point, climbing trees and sitting on (thus destroying) the many porta-pottys that lined the venue.

I also understand that if you stayed at home and tried watching the shows on TV that the coverage was HORRIBLE! At the live show, between every act, they showed sets from a lot of the other concerts on the big screen. So we got to see Green Day in Berlin and U2 in London, to name a few, without the annoying MTV announcers talking over the music.

I left about three songs into Stevie Wonders' set (he was the last performer) and that turned out to be a VERY prudent move on my part. I mentioned earlier that the city of Philadelphia had stressed to everyone to take public transport, to avoid a massive traffic problem. Unfortunately no one told SEPTA this (SEPTA, the South Eastern Pennsylvania Transport Authority), sure, they added a few cars to every train but for some unknown reason, they stuck to their Saturday schedule!!!! The train stations were packed with people, sitting, standing and waiting for trains. luckily, because I left when I did, I was able to catch my train with only a 15 minute wait, I found out later that people waited for HOURS for their ride. Yeah, I guess things were going too smoothly, something had to be screwed up.

Looking back on it, I'm not sure this day, Live 8, will be remembered much. The day of the huge massive shows for good causes may be passe', compared to how it was 20 years ago, but hell, I'm glad I went. If anything, to say I was there. And while I didn't buy a T-Shirt, I do have dorky photos of myself at the show.

Friday, July 01, 2005

One Week until the FANTASTIC FOUR MOVIE!

It's just seven short days until the Fantastic Four movie hits the screens. In seven days I'm either going to be very happy........ or extremely disappointed.

You know that this film's a big summer thing (no pun intended) what with all the magazine covers, newspaper articles and TV commercials that have been appearing lately. And of course I had to stop off at Burger King yesterday and buy a Kid's Meal so I could get one of the Fantastic Four toys.

It may not be fantastic, but that's one freaky toy.

Happy Birthday! (7/1/05)

Let's kick off July with my personal favorite SNL Cast member of all time. He could do anything on that show, whether as Beldar Conehead, Elwood Blues, the bloody Julia Child, or president Jimmy Carter (with a mustache?) he could pull of any character no matter how difficult or even degrading (the butt crack repairman and a very fat Flash come to mind).
And his years on SNL even make up for some of the crappy movies he'd go on to make.
(well... almost. I mean, Doctor Detroit????)

Here's a "Bass-o-matic" Happy Birthday to.....

Fred Garvin, Male Prostitute is 53 today.