Also, an old Maxim article I don’t think I ever linked to: Do It Yourself — everything from hide-tanning to robot-building, plus some actually useful stuff (and good one-liners) in between.
And the first of a new series today: Profiles in Manlitude. The debut model is king of the ring John L. Sullivan, the first athlete to ever earn a million dollars, which in the 19th Century is saying something. Naturally he died with ten bucks in his pocket, but don’t forget you could live for a year off that back then.
Here’s some other recent work I’ve written for the new Dirty Briefs blog.
Making up for my extended absence on Cracked, I’m slugging in and finally building up a body of work so I have the time to review and tweak the articles with fresh eyes. I took a look at some crazy ads that may or may not have aired with Six NSFW spec commercials (plus one that really aired)
Here’s a little bit that dropped off the page because the paragraph went in a different direction, but I liked it: “It is singlehandedly responsible for Original Sin. It’s like God or Ke$sha or the Fright Night remake — there’s no reason for it to exist, but we have to deal with it anyway.”
And here’s a picture that got dropped from the final edit:
I miss you, Gizmo
If you want to hire me for a day gig, click that contact button. Unless it’s clubbing puppies or being nice to Sylvia Browne.
The more I watch that Trent Bedding ad, the more protective I get of Trent Ranburger. He looks like he’s having a lot of fun.
Somewhere between folk art and pop art lies the do-it-yourself wasteland of local advertising. It wasn’t easy, but we scoured hours of badly scripted, poorly acted and unfortunately conceived local commercials to pluck the worst — but most entertaining — ads filmed by small-business owners around the land. (Or at least the ones that made it onto YouTube before they died of shame.)
8. Trent Bedding Does Austin Powers Back in the late ’90s, you couldn’t swing your fist without clobbering someone badly imitating Austin Powers. Yet no matter how blindly we punched our way into the millennium, it didn’t stop until "The Spy Who Shagged Me" silenced our laughter forever. So there’s really no malice in watching Trent Ranburger swim around in $17 worth of spy costume; it was just what people did back then. This commercial is awful, but you’re rooting for it anyway, like watching a play performed by a cancer support group.
7. Marc Norton From Norton Furniture Marc Norton murmurs like Peter Lorre in countless acts of insanity, casually cursing and generally being terrific. This is history’s only furniture ad to become a successful local cable show. The next time someone tells you evil clowns and comedy can’t be blended into a furniture ad, you slam their head on the table and roar, "This is Marc Norton’s genius milkshake, AND YOU WILL DRINK IT UP!"
6. The Fridge BBQ Sauce This is just intolerable. After William "The Refrigerator" Perry stopped sacking quarterbacks and fighting COBRA terrorists, he released his own barbecue sauce. Like, literally, from his pores. So why isn’t he endorsing it? The Fridge appears for barely three seconds in his own ad, taking a backseat to a middle-aged surfer, the South of France and some orphans forced to live in a cartoon house. No, there’s no excuse for that.
5. Eagleman This has been called the worst commercial ever — mostly for the acting, but also for the abomination before the Lord of Mr. so-called Eagleman popping out eggs. What transthropomorphic trickery transpires here? Was he once a woman? Eagles mate in midair, so was he impregnated by a flying insurance agent? Other than that, Eagleman’s fine work of tracking down uninsured drivers is commendable.
4. CPA Claycomb in Starship Defender The first step from cult to religion is demanding the entire universe be stamped with your object of worship. Trekkies took that step long ago. They also prefer the term "Trekkers," because making up reasons to get offended is the second step. Anyway, they need a place to do their taxes, and that’s where Claycomb comes in, and where, in turn — specifically at 0:14 — a look of existential horror spreads across its employees’ faces as they look into the eyes of the Tax Monster.
3. Credit MacDaddy Some occupations just attract awful people, like spammer or CEO of The Trump Organization. While we’ve known some swell used car salesmen, they get a bad enough rap that you wonder why one would pretend to be an even more reviled member of society like the Credit MacDaddy. It’s like a pimp and a credit executive are dueling within this man, and the prize is America’s scorn, so of course their preferred weapon had to be Middle-Aged White Person Rap. The only way this could get more embarrassing would be if he proposed to his daughter’s homeroom teacher without breaking rhyme. And got turned down. And then his pants fell down. And he had a horrifying circumcision scar. Yeah, that’d be about what it takes.
2. J. Michael Gallagher Approves This Ad So you’ve just blown $5,200 on your mistress and a DUI charge, and your selfish wife wants a divorce. You’re going to need a lawyer with a bevy of lovely assistants if you want to spite your ex. Fortunately, attorney Mike Gallagher is here if you need help. It’s not like the couples doing everything to ruin each other’s lives don’t need lawyers too, but Mike Gallagher sets the bar so low he actually broke the lowest common denominator. Like a drunken voyeur, his camera sways and leers at his employees’ inappropriate attire.
1. Frankie and Johnnie’s Furniture "I say I say I say" what the hell is going on in this freak-show of a commercial? Frankie and Johnnie take the cake for integrating such disparate elements as repetition, a bad Foghorn Leghorn impression and mysterious and possibly offensive references to "the special man." Everything’s pretty normal until about 23 seconds in, which just makes the carnage that follows even more disturbing.
At the man-cave that is AOL’s lifestyle section Asylum, I cracked wise about the shame of being left hanging on a high five. You get to watch Ryan Seacrest drag a blind man into a faux pas.
The high-five: that expression of a victory beyond any words.
"I have succeeded in my efforts," says the gesture. "Let the thunderous clap of triumph inform the land of my deeds."
But the higher the thrill, the further the fall, and there are moments when we are denied our due.
Here are some of the worst moments when a man goes from feeling hung like a horse to left hanging like a horse thief.
A few months ago, the U.S. bombed the moon, just in case our celestial prisoner was getting any notions about who’s boss. The guy in the black shirt must be important since he can’t even stick around after blowing up the moon. Take a moment for the high-five!
In his defense, NASA contains more Trekkers per capita than even the Internet circa 1994, so he probably knew better than to get near a red shirt. And, yeah, the latter shrugs it off with a jovial recovery, but that casual recline says different. Black Shirt Guy has denied his cohort his well-earned thrill, looked right in his eyes and said, "I don’t give two sticks of licorice for your lunar bomb, good sir." This was an egregious, conscious decision to deny someone a once-in-a-lifetime, wholly appropriate high-five. Shenanigans!
Speaking of guys who rule the world and drink high-end scotch, here are some dudes who attend a hockey game in sport jackets.
You can pass that one off as simply turning the wrong way. If leaving someone hanging were murder, this would be involuntary manslaughter, much like this "American Idol" clip. However, if you want to see the show break new and uncomfortable ground, watch Ryan Seacrest anti-reverse-double-backflip to leave himself hanging when he high-fives a blind man.
In a way, it’s a mark of good character. Seacrest doesn’t see a disability; all he sees is a person — a person he has awkwardly dragged into his faux pas.
A converse of that is someone twisting in the wind with just cause. Watching this Tyra Banks clip with the sound off, you might think she’s chumping that lady whose head and hand she passes over again and again and again and again. But watch the man behind her.
If you give people free money, they’re gonna go crazy. But this is an extremely unwarranted high-five that still isn’t excused. In the first place, her hands are full of bills, so you’re celebrating before the job is done. Second, did you bomb the moon? No, you got free money, through neither luck nor achievement. Third, you’re a man at the Tyra Banks show. You don’t high-five anyone except the only other guy, and then only if it’s one of the 33 percent of episodes about Ms. Banks’ breasts.
Perhaps the most painful example on this list is where the shame falls not on the man, but all the men around him. Badgers QB Scott Tolzien can’t find anyone to high-five him after a touchdown.
What? A touchdown is exactly why the high-five was invented. Scoring one is considered the greatest moment in a two-year radius of a man’s existence, unless he scored a better touchdown or his wife had twins. It is the single time it’s permissible to pat another man on the butt, hoist him by the waist and carry him more than five yards.
Worse, that’s the quarterback, for crying out loud. Imagine if at the end of "Lethal Weapon 3," everyone had jostled Mel Gibson out of the family photograph. Sure, we would have gotten a hilariously drunken screed as an alternate ending, but something would have been lost. That something is called due respect to the guy spearheading the battle.
Next time, Tolzien should take a page from Andrew Bogut’s book and high-five himself. The lesson is if no one gives a man what he deserves, he takes it anyway, even if he has to steal it from ghosts.