Thursday, December 29, 2011

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen In Peace

When I set out for a brief walk on that unseasonably warm Thursday afternoon just before Christmas, I had no idea I was about to discover a disturbing new trend in yard decorations.

I strolled through a small park just down the street from my office building in San Bruno, a suburb of San Francisco, and found myself in a middle-class neighborhood of single-family homes. On nearly every lawn lay the crumpled forms of Santas, snowmen, teddy bears and elves. It took me a while to realize that these sad tableaux, which resembled some holiday version of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre that had mown down the season's favorite icons with machine gun fire, were simply inflatable decorations, their compressors shut off during the daylight hours.

The company I work for does a healthy business in what it calls inflatable decor items, selling giant blow-up haunted houses in October and giant Easter Bunnies in April. But it had never occurred to me before that for most of the day these pressurized plastic figures would have so opposite an effect, lying unfestively together on the grass like victims of the Manson family.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Springtime for Transvestites

Many years ago there was a highly improbable television sitcom called Bosom Buddies. The premise was that two best friends vie for the same job at an advertising agency and decide, because women are paid half as much, they'll try to pass as women and split the position and its salary. 

Like the much more entertaining Some Like It Hot, you never really bought the idea of the cross-dressing actors as women and had to suspend disbelief that the female co-stars didn't see the five o'clock shadows and Adam's apples under the pancake makeup. But the show had an appealing young cast and ran long enough to launch Tom Hanks' career, despite the fact that Peter Scolari was the better actor. While his former bosom buddy went on to a prestigious film career that included numerous Oscar wins, Scolari stumbled along in sitcom runs like Newhart and currently hawks an erectile dysfunction medication on radio spots. The poor guy was even cast as the dad in the short-lived television version of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.

As if to prove that network television executives are never too ashamed to resuscitate a tired idea that was lucky to succeed the first time around, ABC has green-lighted a sitcom called Work It. So low-brow and mouth-breathing an effort it makes Bosom Buddies seem like an Ingmar Bergman film, this reboot of the cross-dressing buddies in the workplace concept has angered transgender groups and makes me wonder if there isn't some bottom-line Springtime for Hitler principle at play here, where the producers make a fortune if they attempt a series that is certain to fail. The promo poster says it all, I guess, but can the gay porno version be far behind?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Elf Orgy

First, I can't be the only one who hears -- more than once! -- "Orgy Wonderland" being sung by the elves in this Samsung Galaxy commercial, instead of "4G." Is it just an aural trick, or a deliberate subconscious subversion? You decide.

Second, it might have seemed fresh back in 1939 to cast dwarves as Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz, but hasn't the practice of outfitting them as Santa's elves gone on a bit too long? Or are there union halls somewhere in the porny depths of the San Fernando Valley filled with smoking, poker-playing Little People waiting for their annual casting calls? The Will Farrell movie Elf was innovative enough to employ children as elves and that's just one of the things that contributed to its freshness ("These toilets are ginormous!"). Let's start casting dwarves as doctors, cops and sit-com stars, shall we?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Let Your Bundles Do the Walking

If I have to live in a world where every third person on the freeway is making love to his cell phone and Kardashians tweet, do I still have to also receive new phone books every year?

It's a long-standing annual ritual, the delivery of the white and yellow pages. And if you live in an apartment building, every December a stack of plastic bags containing those fat books is dumped at your doorstep -- a stack that pretty much remains there all month, because when's the last time you looked something up in a phone book? It couldn't be more anachronistic if every year a truck backed up to my lobby door and unloaded a pile of sun dials. 

Could we end the madness? And while we're at it, let's do something about those Kardashians.