Weekly Ad Uncoiling: Black and Decker Lawnmowers

Yes, these are actual ads for Black & Decker Lawnmowers out of Thailand by Ogilvy & Mather Bangkok. But they make much better posters for the Stephen King’s creepy short story Lawnmower Man, right? Anyway, nevermind. This is an ad uncoiling column (tell that to the bisected snake!). So. The product benefit here is: B&D lawnmowers cut like a motherfucker. And the main target audience is, apparently and very questionably, sadistic animal killers. Is it a cultural phenomenon that the Buddhist Thais like to take out hidden aggression by angrily mowing grass? Now these ads would be perfect for large swaths of America, where many people would kill for the perfect lawn. I will say one positive thing about this campaign: I love the art directon—wonderful respect for the white space, if not amphibians and reptiles. Jump (not you froggy!) for a third ad featuring a lizard that’s been reduced to a ‘zard. (images via: BestAdsOnTV)

YouTube Brings on the Great Prop 8 Debate

UPDATE: Read the comments for Mer’s video footage and horrifying account of a face-to-face encounter with a violent group of Yes-to-Prop 8 protesters.

In anticipation of California’s chance to vote on Proposition 8 (which aims to ban same-sex marriage) this coming November 4th, YouTube has exploded with professional and “fan-made” commercials from both camps. How do they compare? Let’s take a look.

While opponents of Prop 8 have a slim lead in California, the Mormon Church has poured millions of dollars into the effort to support Prop 8, which adds just the right touch of irony to the following:

The above ad tries to inject a viewer’s ambivalent attitude towards gay marriage with an instinctive revulsion towards pedophilia/incest. It does so by creating a sequence that’s superficially linear, yet quite visually consistent (and fun to look at), making this the strongest ad on the “Yes” side. Other ads are not so smooth. For example: who in the history of plastic dolls ever made Ken and Barbie marry each other? No, no – this is how every normal girl ages 6 – 8 plays with Barbie (the rest of us blacked out their eyes with Magic Markers before decapitating them). Mattel itself couldn’t have possibly made it more clear than when they released Ken’s buddy, Allan, back in 1964 (note the use of quotation marks on the outside packaging).

Even less realistic is the following ad – who are these people? I love the girl who says that “adoption agencies may be forced to place children in same-sex marriages.” Would they be forced to provide dowry as well? Most baffling of all is this official “Yes to Prop 8” ad, in which an annoying WASPy girl fails not just to produce a convincing argument, but in fact to produce any argument whatsoever. Verbatim quote: “uhh I hate this! You know I’m no good at arguing this kind of stuff… uh, uhm, I tell you what – I have a website, and you can look at it, and we’ll talk about it, OK?” And South Africa and the Iraq and such as. Except this was scripted.

So, what’s the best that the “No” side has got? Despite the fact that lampooning Mac vs. PC ads is a bit 2007, here’s my personal favorite:

I’m going to start using the word “amend” more. My choice for runner-up? Margaret Cho and Selene Luna, the latter appearing in “mom drag” as Margaret’s well-meaning but confused neighbor. The Molly Ringwald ad is also cute. And if it’s Serious Business you want, here’s a touching ad from a straight couple that’s been married for 46 years.

In closing, November 4th is just around the corner. Research the ballot propositions in your state, whether or not there are clever YouTube videos for them. Vote!

Scream Awards Undercover

The Scream Awards are Spike TV’s answer to the ho-hum award ceremonies that take over televisions several times a year. Scream focuses on sci-fi, fantasy and horror, with an amusing array of categories, like “Most Memorable Mutilation”. Despite such enticing details, I feared Hollywood asshattery and hesitated to accept the invitation, kindly offered to me by my workplace. Fortunately, I came to my senses quickly, bought a questionable dress, and went for the hell of it.

At first, my friends and I were overwhelmed by a rapid onslaught of attendees in Halloween costumes and alt-fashion refuse. They crowded around the end of the crimson rug, anticipating fresh celebrity blood. Fleeing our re-surfacing cynicism, we rushed into the Greek Theater where the real show was about to commence.

Inside, Very Important PAs herded new guests to their seats while beer and wine were passed around. There was a sullen Backstreet Boy in a row next to ours, unamused by the neon dragon and flaming torches on stage. Soon, the fun began. And I do mean fun – as much as I wanted to turn up my nose at the event put on by “bro TV”, I just couldn’t help but feel this was a special night. The stage spat fire, the beer was free and, suddenly, even the Backstreet Boy seemed to be having a good time. Though it’s redundant to call an awards show “star-studded”, it is of note here. As this LA Times article points out, for genres long-treading the line between fringe and mainstream, this year’s Scream awards were a culmination, a triumph, an arrival at last.

The Scream Awards presented a pop-culture environment where filmmakers like Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan shared the same stage as comic-book writers such as Mike Mignola, creator of Hellboy who said that in the old days Hollywood would strip-mine comics and scoff at the creators. Now, they walk on the same red carpet…

I won’t spoil the show for those intending to watch it tonight on Spike, but one moment must be mentioned: Tim Burton’s balloon landing. Several balloons to be exact, strapped to a striped box with Burton’s name written across its base in the Nightmare Before Christmas font. This video clip’s caption admits this was a “precarious” happening and while that’s true, it was also very, very slow. The entire descent took several hair-raising minutes, in which the danger of being vomited on from above seemed all too real. The audience expressed concern between yelps and toasts, but our fear was unfounded. Landing went about as smoothly as expected and Winona Ryder greeted the slightly ruffled director onstage with open arms. As much as I’d like to delve further into the rest of this spectacular night, I’ll resist – you’re better off seeing it for yourselves.

After 2 hours of sitting on theater bleachers we were ready to afterparty, hard. The post-show festivities took place at the beautiful Roosevelt hotel in Hollywood. Dancers dressed as absinthe fairies frolicked in the courtyard and absinthe was indeed served. There was an array of yummy treats for starving guests – everything from mini burgers and fries to pizza and chocolate. After satiating our hunger and acquiring libations, we danced and drunk-texted the night away in true Hollywood fashion. If any moral is to be taken from all this, it’s “Comics have arrived”, “Fun is where the free beer is” and “If at all possible, don’t mix the free beer with absinthe”. Sorry, mom.

The 2008 Scream Awards will air in full tonight at 9pm on Spike TV.

Better Than Coffee: Yma Sumac, Peruvian Songbird

The voice of exotica singer Yma Sumac is so effing redonk, it’s almost beyond human comprehension. In her heyday, she recorded an astonishingly wide vocal range of more than four octaves, from B2 to C?7 and could hit notes in both the low baritone and upper coloratura register.  You know how certain singers have claimed the ability to shatter crystal? I can’t find the article offhand, but I’m pretty sure Sumac actually did that once, in a controlled scientific environment. Callas and Sutherland ain’t got nothin’ on this self-styled Inca princess from Peru (at least in the glass-breaking department).

Sumac in The Secret of the Incas (1954).

On groggy mornings when your nose is plugged up and you’re afraid nothing will crack through the crust covering your cerebral cortex short of a Neti pot of liquified Naga Jolokia, try some Zoila Augusta Emperatriz Chavarri del Castillo-flavored exotica instead.

Oodles more vocalese noodles under the cut.

Weekly Ad Uncoiling: La Hacienda Mexican Restaurants

This week, let’s take a look at a highly questionable bit of “ambient” advertising, as it’s been dubbed in my buzzword happy industry. La Hacienda, tagline “The Hottest Food In Town,” is a chain of 37 Mexican eateries dotting the heartland of America. They are known for the spiciest, south-of-the-border specialties. To totally ram that point home, they’ve apparently installed mini refrigerators filled with rolls of chilling toilet paper into their restroom stalls. Erm. I guess we could give them brownie points (sorry) for their brutal no-shit honesty? Maybe they should hire attendants to hand out mini-tubes of Preparation H cooling gel, too? What do you think of this south-of-the-waistline stunt? Me, I think it might have put me off of mole poblano sauce for life. (images via: scary ideas)

A Brief Respite from Deadline Hell

So… Zo, Mer and I are in Issue 02 Deadline Hell. Posting’s slowed down until Issue 02 is sorted, with many thanks to our guest bloggers for keeping the fort. Later today, a very special post from copyranter involving Mexican food and toilet paper. For now, a quickie that I’ve been wanting to post for a long time: one of our paper dolls from the magazine’s back page (a tradition that will be carried over to Issue 02), fully dressed. For those of you who didn’t want to cut out the paper dolls but are still curious about how they look in their outfits, here’s 1 of 2, the lovely Juniper Fusion by artist Paul Komoda:

From the Continental Shelf: Dylan Dog

In every Italian railway terminal there is at least one newsstand. Invariably, physician its stock breaks down like this: half of everything is daily papers—Communist-leaning, Northern Separatist-leaning, Social Democrat-leaning, ten flavors of Berlusconi-leaning, et al.; of what remains, one third is sports-related, a third is girlie magazines (wherein the pneumatic risk pneumonia), and a third is Dylan Dog. Old issues in piles—sold and re-sold, bindings mostly broken, costing a few Euros apiece for a hundred black and white pages. This long-running horror comic, which reportedly sells half a million copies per month in Italy, is like plaque accumulating in the arteries of their national transit system.

Every issue is commute-sized: fifteen local stops long at most. First you can’t put them down, and then you throw them away. They’re like episodes of Kolchak: The Night Stalker by way of Arthur Conan Doyle and Dario Argento. But with a light touch. Despite all of the Jungian unpleasantness, there are plenty of wisecracks and visual gags to go around.

In the almost three hundred issues published since Tiziano Sclavi created the character in 1986, a dozen writers and illustrators have tried their hands at the series. There have been fat years and lean years creatively, but throughout it’s been the confection of choice for a whole generation of Italians with a sweet-tooth for the macabre. No less of a gray eminence than Umberto Eco once declared, “I can read the Bible, Homer, or Dylan Dog for days without being bored.”

What’s in the ‘Mom and Pop’ Version, Anyway?

In the non-limited, non-vaggy version of Coilhouse that’s available in stores, we replaced the offending material with a mini-editorial about piercing. The shoot was a big collaboration: Mildred was the evil genius behind this shoot’s concept (from the preliminary sketches right down to crafting that fan, along with Scar’s phallic flower-skewers in the other photo), I took the photos, Melanie Manson did the makeup, Holly Jones did the hair, and Pia Kaamos was the lovely model in the image above. Alongside the images, there’s an interview with Jenn Rose, the prosthetics artist who made this gory magic happen.

We certainly wouldn’t discourage anyone from wanting to own both versions, but those of you who happen to spot Coilhouse at a store but aren’t buying, could you do us a huge favor? Move it where people can see it, so that someone new can discover it. My parents found it on the very top shelf in the somewhat messy Art section of the Deptford Barnes & Noble and moved it, snapping the picture below. Lo and behold, the next time they visited the store two days later, one copy from the stack was gone.

Just don’t put them in those stand-alone special display cases – magazines pay a lot of money to be there. Just find a nice, prominent spot for it, ideally without displacing anything good. It would help us out a lot, and hopefully bring interesting new people to this blog. Thank you!

Some Special Coilhouse Announcements

This past Friday, October 10th, was our 1-year anniversary of going live with Coilhouse. What a year it’s been! 555 posts, 6,470 comments and one print issue later, here we are. We were going to post something on the day of, but we completely forgot, and this is why: October 10th also happened to be the final deadline for all Issue 02 content. That’s right! Issue 02 is absolutely, positively, 100% a go. Thanks, primarily, to you lot. GROUP HUG!!!

We have a lot of other fantastic news to share, as well. First off, we’d like you to know that Coilhouse Magazine Issue 01 is now available in a wide variety of wonderful independent shops across the United States, including Quimby’s, Atomic Books, Trident, and Chicago Comics. Please click here to see the growing list of businesses.* Secondly, we are very, very proud to announce that our feisty wee upstart has landed distribution in the three largest bookstores in the United States: Borders, Barnes & Noble and Books-a-Million. This means a vast majority of our US readers will be able to go into a local store and find Coilhouse (minus these two NSFW pages, which were only in our limited edition) on the shelves. Including Issue 01. Today. For a complete listing of Borders/B&N locations, click here.

This website is changing, too. The Staff Page has been updated with new bios and photos to showcase our growing family of contributors, and we’ve finally written up a proper Coilhouse FAQ. The following questions, among others, are are covered:

  • How often is the magazine published?
  • Is it possible to subscribe?
  • Who should I contact if there’s a problem with my order?
  • I want to carry Coilhouse in my store. Is this possible?
  • Can I submit to Coilhouse Magazine?

One final announcement we’d like to make: there are very limited quanities of the website-only limited edition Issue 01 left. 800 are gone, 200 remain. If you’ve been thinking about getting a copy but haven’t made up your mind yet, now is the time.

Looking to the future, we can say with confience that Issue 02 is going to be amazing. We learned a lot from Issue 01, so the bar’s been raised a notch or two. Many of you had positive things to say about the print quality; for this issue, we’re going even glossier. The paper will be of a thicker stock, and we’re implementing some surprise touches to further enhance your tactile experience. Best of all, the content in Issue 02 –which should be out before the end of the year– is incredible. Just you wait!

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for being here. Your continuing support and participation in this endeavor has meant the world us.

Photo by Lou O’Bedlam.

*Additionally, Wildilocks in Melbourne, Austrialia has some copies for sale! (Rest assured, we’re actively exploring more extensive international sales options for all forthcoming issues.)

BTC: The Heroic Miss Tandi Dupree

G’morning! Prepare to be speechless:

Miss Tandi Iman Dupree, ladies and gents. Is that an entrance or what?

No doubt, many of you will have already seen this invigorating clip, shot at the 2001 Miss Black America pageant in Atlanta, Georgia. It was Tandi’s dream to become Miss Black America, and for years she hustled her butt off, giving memorable performances at drag events across the continental U.S.  Shockingly, her rendition of “Holding Out for a Hero” did not win Miss Dupree the crown, and she passed away (from AIDS complications, according to the Associated Press) before achieving her goal.

I’m just grateful to have the footage, especially on a cold, murky morning like this one. For many of us, Miss Dupree will always be a reigning queen.