Sunday, June 28, 2009

RIP Billy Mays

Billy Mays, famous for yelling at us to buy things that we don't really need, has unfortunately passed away according to reports that his wife found him dead in their Florida home this morning. The police found no break-ins and suspect no foul play. If there were foul play though, I'd know who to blame...let me elaborate...

Billy Mays and fellow pitchman Anthony "Sully" Sullivan appeared on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien just 5 days ago, largely to promote their new show on the Discovery Channel called Pitchmen.

Conan humorously brought out some of the products that the two guys had pitched and had them demonstrate their use. Conan also fueled some fire by bringing up the ShamWow, knowing that Billy Mays had a bone to pick with the annoyingly hypnotic pitch of fame done by an odd-looking fellow named Vince Shlomi.

Why "a bone to pick" you ask? Well because Billy Mays pitched the "Zorbeez" before the "ShamWow" came onto the scene and they're both pretty much the same product. Watch below and see the Zorbeez vs. the ShamWow:

Obviously this Vince character is a sham (*cue the rim shot*) Basically the only difference between the two pitches is that Vince is wearing a headset...but why?? Looking into the end-all be-all truth that is Wikipedia, it turns out Vince has had his fair share of legal battles...

Shlomi made a comedy of sorts called The Underground Comedy Movie which was met with horrendous reviews. Vince accused the Farrelly brothers of stealing scenes from his movie for There's Something About Mary, to which the brothers basically said "We don't even know who you are." Vince also sued Anna Nicole Smith for not committing to the movie.

More recently, Vince was arrested in Florida for felony battery against a prostitute (see frightening mug shot at above-left).

My point is that this ShamWow guy doesn't have his morals in check and looks pretty damn sketchy. It turns out that the Zorbeez and ShamWow are distributed by the same company, which led to Billy Mays and Vince Shlomi sharing a box at the most recent SuperBowl. Mays was on Adam Corolla's radio show soon after the game and challenged Vince to a threatening pitch-off:

A long audio clip, but of most importance is the end, around the 4:00 mark or so, when Billy gets real heated and makes the challenge.

Did Vince Shlomi accept the challenge and take it too far? Did jealousy and greed escalate in this battle of absorbent towels?

Obviously, I'm exaggerating and don't seriously believe that there was any foul play. Ultimately, however, I'm sure this whole incident added some unneeded stress to Mays' life. My sympathies go out to his family and may he rest in peace. The world will never have a television pitchman of his caliber ever again.

Also, don't buy anything that's pitched by Shlomi.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Summer Movies - July 09

June is winding down already. Have you seen any of the new releases this month? I like to think that my opinions on the June 2009 movies have been fairly accurate thus far, so I figured it was about time to preview what's in store for next month*...

What to see:

- Public Enemies (Release: July 1) - Johnny Depp is in it...he plays the legendary bank robber John Dillinger from the 1930's...and it's directed by Michael Mann, who wrote, produced and directed The Last of the Mohicans and Heat. That's all that you need to know. I didn't even need to see a trailer to get excited about this one.

- Bruno (Release: July 10) - Vatsup? or Isch don't think so? You'd probably pick up on that reference if you've seen this "Bruno" character in Da Ali G Show, which showcased Ali G, Borat and Bruno played by Sacha Baron Cohen. Most of the world knows and most of the country of Kazakhstan hates the character Borat, which is definitely a testament to how well Cohen can shock people. Bruno was always my least favorite character of the three on the show, but he was definitely still funny at times. I'll definitely go to see this one purely for the shock value; it was originally rated NC-17 by the MPAA, but Cohen re-edited it to receive an "R" rating.

- 500 Days of Summer (Release: July 17) - I'll admit right off the bat that about 30...ok, maybe 45% of my interest in this film is due to my celebrity crush on Zooey Deschanel. And yes, it's a pseudo-indie-romantic-drama-comedy with a no-name director, but I can honestly say that it looks good based off of the trailer. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who I believe will become a big(ger) name in the coming years) is the male role and the story structure looks creative.

- Funny People (Release: July 31) - Judd Apatow established his name before everyone could identify by name the large group of actors that he's basically made famous or atleast brought onto the scene. Two of the guys that are included in that group are in this movie: Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill. Apatow's real-life wife stars in this film as well, Leslie Mann, as do their two daughters (who also appeared in Knocked Up). A few other superstars are included though: Adam Sandler, Eric Bana and Jason Schwartzman. And this is only the main cast, because I've heard that a large number of cameos are made in this movie.

In Apatow's two other big directorial hits, Knocked Up and 40 Year Old Virgin, there were some serious tones thrown in among the comedy. Funny People keeps that same formula, with death being the serious undertone. And Adam Sandler is the perfect actor to do that with because although he's considered largely to be a comedic actor, he's done a pretty good deal of serious acting too. Also, Apatow must know Sandler pretty well, considering the two shared an apartment back in the late 80s.

"On the Bubble":

- Shrink (Release: July 24) - If Kevin Spacey wasn't the lead role, I'd probably toss this one aside. Even so, however, I can't form a solid opinion on the quality of this film. The director, Jonas Pate, has mostly worked on TV and the writer is pretty new to the scene it seems. Spacey plays a Hollywood shrink who develops some problems of his own, which obviously start to affect his work. If it's good, it's because of Kevin Spacey, but he hasn't had an impeccable track record, especially in recent years, so we'll see...

- The Ugly Truth (Release: July 24) - Gerard Butler playing anything other than a jacked-up warrior with a yell that rumbles the Earth is something worth seeing, even if it's just for a scene or two. A romantic comedy with Katherine Heigl though? Wow...didn't see that coming. It could be worth taking a date to see, though it's a predictable story mold that will probably fall short on laughs.

Probably a disappointment:

- I Love You Beth Cooper (Release: July 10) - I'm confused about this one. It's based on a novel by Larry Doyle, who has written for The Simpsons, Beavis and Butthead and Daria. And the director, Chris Columbus, wrote movies such as Gremlins and The Goonies, and directed movies such as Home Alone (1 & 2) and Mrs. Doubtfire. Based on that, it should be awesome. Based on the trailer, however, it's not even really worthy of a giggle. I also don't feel right "wooing" over Hayden Panettiere (who plays the "hot girl" in this film) considering she was the little girl in Remember the Titans.

*I didn't include the new Harry Potter film in this selection because I haven't kept up with those movies...anyone who has can feel free to express their views for the new one coming out this month (or any other release that I missed)...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Eddie Van Halen is Lame

Pablo Picasso once said, "Bad artists copy...good artists steal." In a recent case involving Eddie Van Halen's company and Nike, that quote has absolutely no relevance.

Occasionally, we hear about lawsuits between artists claiming musical or design theft, some of which are valid, but most of which are pretty vague or even ridiculous.

Coldplay's last album had the hit single, "Viva la Vida." You may have heard about the case that Joe Satriani brought up, claiming that the melody of that song was strikingly similar to his own song called "If I Could Fly" (released years before). Click the following button and you'll hear Coldplay's song first, then Satriani's...then just for fun, the two mashed together. It's easy to hear a very similar tune.

Joe Satriani is a guitar god and I don't blame him for filing a suit, especially considering he tried to contact Coldplay for months before doing so and his fans were hounding him for doing so before that. However, I think this was coincidental; I doubt Coldplay even listens to Joe Satriani's work.

Moving on, however, to a more recent case involving Eddie Van Halen and Nike. This one isn't about music, but design. Eddie apparently designed a guitar called the "Frankenstrat," pictured at right.

Obviously, a masterpiece. He combined the colors red, black and white??? In a "design" that my 3 year old nephew could replicate with a blindfold??? Man, that's insane...obviously an original idea. Ready to see what Eddie Van Halen's company, ELVH inc., is suing Nike for? Here it is:

You can lift your jaw now. ELVH inc. put out their own line of shoes with the "Frankenstrat" design. I'm going to go out on a limb and not look up the numbers, with a wild guess that Nike has sold more shoes than ELVH inc.

The point being: Eddie Van Halen deserves no compensation whatsoever for this lawsuit. I think he's just bitter that former bandmates Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony formed a "supergroup" called Chickenfoot with (coincidentally) Joe Satriani and RHCP drummer Chad Smith.

Monday, June 15, 2009

My Life is Complete

Click here to find out why.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Marketing to the Inner Child of Adults

If you're an adult, do you take a daily vitamin?

If not, why not?

If instead of a rather large pill, it was a gummy, would you be more inclined to take one?

I know I would, which is why I love the new product launch from "One-A-Day" multivitamins. I've gone on spurts on and off taking pill-form multivitamins from this brand (I'm currently on the "off" phase, evidenced by the collected dust on my current bottle) but I have a feeling I'll be kept more on track if I get some of their new "One A Day VitaCravesTM". Now everyone who feels too embarrassed to get the Flintstones gummies at the supermarket can get their playful kick while still "acting as an adult consumer."

Interested? There's even a coupon on their site to try them out: click here.

There should be more products like this - adults shouldn't have to live so seriously all the time. I'm not asking for an "Ages 21+" product line of Nerf Guns (although that'd be amazing), but I'm pretty confident that something fun like some vitamin gummies for adults won't hurt anyone.