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The Morbid Tale of the Marlboro Man–And Others

20 Nov

by Roger White

A moment of silence, please, for Mr. Eric Lawson. Mr. Lawson, 72, died earlier this year from respiratory failure due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The real cause: smoking. If you don’t recognize the name, you’ll certainly know him by his professional moniker. Eric Lawson was the Marlboro Man. You remember? The rugged cowboy dude rode the range, ten-gallon hat on his head and a smooth Marlboro in his hand, in those iconic cigarette ads of the 1970s.

The MMGet this: Lawson was the latest in a string of Marlboro Men to expire due to “hazards of the job.” Before him, aspiring actor David Millar, who did TV spots for the cigarette company in the 1950s, smoked for four decades before dying of emphysema in 1987. Former stuntman Wayne McLaren, another Marlboro male, died of lung cancer in 1992 at age 51. Western TV actor David McLean, who appeared in such shows as Bonanza and Gunsmoke, played the MM in print and television ads—he kicked the bucket in 1995 after 30 years of lighting up. His widow sued Phillip Morris, claiming the company made him smoke five packs per ad; she lost when the suit was dismissed. And then there was Richard Hammer, a firefighter-turned-actor who died of lung cancer in 1999 after his reign as the smoking cowboy. Talk about a risky profession.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are many sordid stories of TV and magazine pitch men who’ve succumbed through the years, overwhelmed by their corporate personas. It’s the sort of thing that Hollywood and Madison Avenue have conspired to keep quiet, fearing the backlash of negative publicity. Here are just a few I’ve become privy to:

ow!Did you know, for example, that the original Pillsbury Dough Boy, young Timothy Yeastley of Bakersfield, California, died of peritonitis after being poked in the belly 417 times during a marathon attempt at a particular TV commercial? “The director was never satisfied,” one stagehand remembered. “We kept shooting it over and over. It was gruesome. Timothy gamely tried to carry on, even laughing that silly laugh to the very end. But by the 400th take or so, he was black and blue.” Outtakes have apparently cropped up on Youtube; don’t watch them unless you have a strong stomach. So to speak.

Or how about the sad tale of Gunther Sauber, otherwise known in TV land as Mr. Clean? Poor Gunther became so consumed by his on-air identity that he died of OCD in 1977. Near the end, he spent all his time cleaning, polishing, spit-shining, mopping, shaving his head. They found Gunther, dead of a heart attack, in the Flatbush Avenue Subway Terminal in New York. He was Mr Cdressed all in white, a bottle of cleaner in one hand, a filthy rag in the other. Notes found in his apartment indicated he intended to degrease the entire New York City subway system.

Then there was Lee David Squibny of Hastings, Nebraska—the original Kool-Aid Man. Although Lee went violently—he died of repeated blunt-force trauma after crashing through 46 walls during a grueling TV ad taping session—an autopsy revealed early onset of diabetes. An unsettling side note: All of Lee’s internal organs were stained a hideous grape purple.

And let’s not forget ill-fated Ike Lipshitz, the original Jack of Jack in the Box fame. Mr. Lipshitz, apparently obsessed with staying in character, met a ghastly fate when his bulbous Jack in the Box head became stuck in an elevator door on his way to his fiancée’s apartment. When the elevator Jack is Badarrived at the fiancée’s floor, she was horrified to find only the giant Jack head inside, and a bag of tacos.

I could go on. I would, for instance, tell you about the fate of the first two Mr. Peanuts, but you’d never look at a jar of peanut butter the same way. Or of the original Jolly Green Giant—oh, the endless skin grafts… Suffice it to say, it’s not all glamour and glitz.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

Get Pa Out of the Fruit Cellar–It’s Mashup Time Again

24 Jun

by Roger White

 

Simmer down. Simmer down, people. I know very well that it’s been months since I’ve indulged you with a Movie Mashup contest. And I know that you know, based on the influx of cards and letters and e-mails and texts and pokes and tweets and twits and skypes and likes and tags and yelps and yips and things. And you know that I know that you know, because here we are, revving our engines for another go. So you see, I know you know that I know that you know. You know? And furthermore…

Let’s start this again.

If you recall, what we have here, my fellow intergalactic itinerants, is a collection of famous lines from movies. However, quotes from two different movies have been smushed together to make one confused line. Here’s a for instance: “It’s a Sicilian message. It means Luca Brasi sleeps with Poor LucaMcFly.” That there, you see, is a conglomeration of quotes from “The Godfather” and “Back to the Future.” I suppose, then, that the mashed-up movie would be called “Back to the Godfather.” Or something. But that’s irrelevant.

What is elevant is that the name of the game is Movie Mashup. I should copyright this concept, so here you go. © 2014, by Me. All rights reserved by Me. Me Incorporated is a subsidiary of Me Enterprises, Norwalk, Connecticut.

So. Below (or to the left if you are perpendicular) are 20 Movie Mashups. Your job, if you choose to accept it, is to tell moi what two movies flirted around and had relations to produce the mixed-up quote. The first 283 people to respond with any semblance of an answer win a genuine “Jesus is Coming, Hide the Bong” bumper sticker. Seriously. If you get pulled over by the cops for displaying said bumper sticker, I will not be held accountable. E-mail moi at roger.white@tasb.org with your best guesses. Void in Iowa, Algeria, and under that bridge where the dogs wear shoes. Good luck, players. And, go:

1. “Thank you for a memorable afternoon. Usually, one must go to a bowling alley to show me the money.”

2. “Milt, we’re gonna need to go ahead and move you downstairs to infinity and beyond. Mmmkay?”

butbutbut3. “Is it safe? I’m king of the world! Is it safe?”

4. “A boy’s best friend is his mother. I’ll have what she’s having.”

5. “Keep your friends close but the Barrow Gang closer.”

6. “Round up the usual suspects. They’re heeere!”

7. “Carpe diem. Seize the day, my dear Watson.”

8. “My advice to you is to start drinking heavily. May the Force be with you.”

9. “After all, tomorrow is going to be a bumpy night.”

10. “Andy Dufresne, who crawled through a river of hakuna matata and came out clean on the other side.”

11. “I like them french fried potaters. Is that…is that hair gel?”

12. “I am big. It’s the pictures that can’t handle the truth!”

13. “You buy a hat like this, I bet you get a free bowl of soup. You know what they call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Paris?”

Calpurnia14. “That boy is your company. And if he wants to eat up that tablecloth, you’ll let him. It’d be a lot cooler if you did.”

15. “So much time and so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. You guys made me ink.”

16. “That rug really tied the room together. I spared no expense.”

17. “Oh, dear. Mister Tibbs’ idea of foreplay was ‘Effie, brace yourself!’”

18. “This isn’t the real Caesar’s Palace, is it? Did Caesar really live here? We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!”

19. “You know how to whistle, don’t you? Just put your lips together and dance with the devil in the pale moonlight.”

20. “What is your major malfunction, Molly? The love inside you, you take it with you.”

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

Well, Hit Me with an Anvil–It’s Contest Time Again

25 Jun

by Roger White

 

OK, OK, you don’t have to klonk the Spouseman over the head with an anvil. Speaking of, you don’t see too many anvils these days, do you? Think about it. When, in your daily comings and goings, have you come across a nice, sturdy yet aesthetically pleasing anvil recently? Critics of modern society may hold forth about how the increasingly technological, service-oriented nature of our economy today has killed such former life staples as record albums, newspapers, actual books, travel agencies, home phones, and the pleasure of becoming permanently out of touch with that behold the anvilglommy high school friend, but I say a true death knell for the world that was is the marked lack of anvils. There was once a time when every decent home needed a good anvil. Nowadays, I’ll bet you can go a whole year without even saying the word “anvil.” And this is so because we simply don’t make things anymore. We tweet. We blog. We text. We don’t plow and dig and forge things. Today’s kids may not even understand the term.

 

Old guy: “I need me a good anvil.”

 

Young guy: “What’s that? An Advil? Got a headache?”

 

Having said all that, however, I did find a reputable anvil supply house—on the internet, ironically enough. For all of your anvil needs, visit www.anvils4sale.com. A classic, German double-horn anvil will set you back about $2,700, but if you’re not fussy, you can land a decent, used church window anvil for right around a thousand bucks. I’m not exactly sure what a church window anvil is, but it sounds righteous.

 

I’ve been told by more than one Spouse reader that I tend to ramble. This may be true. Let me just say the word “anvil” one more time, and we can get to the meat of this column: Anvil. OK, I’m good.

 rambler guy

So, anyway, the whole reason I didn’t want to be klonked with a church window anvil is because you guys have been clamoring for another contest—namely the Movie Mashup. In retrospect, I realize it’s been since last December since we mashed up some good movies, so here we go. Father John Connor, you’re now eligible to participate again. And thanks for the rosary beads.

 

If you recall, what we have here, fellow catnip cosmonauts, is a collection of famous lines from movies. However, quotes from two different movies have been squished together to make one line. Here’s a for instance: “What we got here is failure to phone home.” This is, quite obviously, a collision of “Cool Hand Luke” and “ET: The Extra-Terrestrial.” Get it? No? Okay, here’s another one: “My precious goes all the way to eleven.” That’s a combo platter of “Lord of the Rings” and “This is Spinal Tap.” Or as I call it, “Lord of the Spinal Rings.”

 

So. Below (or above if you’re reading this upside down) are 10 Movie Mashups. Your job, if you choose to accept it, is to tell moi what two movies got cozy and had relations to make the mixed-up quote. The first 18,427 people to respond with any cinderfella storysemblance of an answer win a genuine “Jesus is Coming, Hide the Bong” bumper sticker. If you get pulled over by the cops for displaying said bumper sticker, I will not be held accountable. E-mail moi at rogdude@mail.com with your best guesses. Void in Maine, Oshkosh, and in that little gin joint over by 5th Street. Ready? Set? Bang.

 

  1. “You don’t understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been Mister Tibbs.”
  2. “Love means never having to round up the usual suspects.”
  3. “You’re gonna need a bigger damn dirty ape!”
  4. “Attica! Attica! Toga! Toga!”
  5. “Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. A former greenskeeper, now, about to become a martini. Shaken, not stirred.”
  6. “Say hello to my little wire hangers.”
  7. “Shane, you’re trying to seduce me. Aren’t you?”
  8. “As God as my witness, I’ll never see dead people again.”
  9. “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets a box of chocolates.”
  10. “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice elephant in my pajamas.”

BONUS: “I’m gonna get medieval on your pod bay doors, HAL.”

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

‘To Sir, With Desire’ or ‘A Streetcar Named Love’

4 Dec

by Roger White  

 

I can’t tell you how outrageously enthusiastic the response was from Spouseman’s latest reader contest. Actually, I can tell you, but I won’t. And you can’t make me. I will tell you, however, that Father John Connor won going away. That’s really his name. I’m not sure if Father John Connor is actually a man of the cloth of some kind or just a really proud papa, but Father John, if you’re out there, here’s to a job well done. If you had Help From Above, I don’t want to know about it.

 

Now, whether Father John enjoyed the bumper sticker I sent him for winning the contest is a whole other matter. The bumper sticker, a life-size replica of which will be awarded for this contest, reads as follows: “Jesus is Coming. Hide the Bong.”

 

Anyway. You guys seemed to get a kick out of the Movie Mashup Contest, so I figured (1) in the interest of satisfying my rabid readers and (2) since I can’t think of anything daggers daggers daggersremotely humorous this week other than poking fun at the comically menacing faces John Boehner makes at President Obama when Obama’s not looking, I will present to you Movie Mashup II 3/8ths!

 

What we have here, fellow catnip cosmonauts, is a collection of famous lines from movies—however, quotes from two different movies have been squished together to make one line. Here’s a for instance: “Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in the Matrix anymore.” This is, quite obviously, a collision of “The Wizard of Oz” and “The Matrix.” Get it, man? No? Okay, here’s another one: “My precious goes all the way to eleven.” That’s a combo platter of “Lord of the Rings” and “This is Spinal Tap.” Or as I call it, “Lord of the Spinal Rings.”

 

So. Below (or above if you’re reading this upside down) are 20 Movie Mashups. Your job, if you choose to accept it, is to tell moi what two movies got cozy and had relations to make the mixed-up quote. The first 18,427 people to respond with any semblance of an Honestly, Georgeanswer win a JICHTB bumper sticker. If you get pulled over by the cops for displaying said bumper sticker, I will not be held accountable. E-mail moi at rogdude@mail.com with your best guesses. And your PayPal account number. Void in Nebraska, Terre Haute, and in that little gin joint over by 5th Street.

 

Here goes:

1. “I’ll get you, my pretty. And your little dog, Gipper, too.”

2. “Hasta la vista, Adrian.”

3. “I feel the need—the need to put Baby in a corner.”

4. “Houston, we have a box of chocolates.”

5. “If you build it, he will phone home.”

6. “What we got here is failure to make my day.”

7. “You can’t handle the napalm!”

8. “They call me Mister Rosebud!”

9. “I’m going to make him fava beans and a nice Chianti he can’t refuse.”

coulda been a contendah10. “You don’t understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been Stella. Hey, Stella!”

11. “We’ll always have an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don’t know.”

12. “You’ve got to ask yourself one question. Do I see dead people? Well, do ya, punk?”

13. “Either get busy living or get busy trying to seduce me. Aren’t you?”

14. “There’s no crying in hakuna matata.”

15. “Greed, for lack of a better word, is shaken, not stirred.”

16. “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to need a bigger boat!”

17. “Dammit, Jim, I’m a country doctor, not on a mission from God.”

18. “Hoo-ah! Schwing!”

19. “Is it safe, Bueller?”

20. “What is your major malfunction, Scarlett?”

BONUS: “Earn this, McClane.”

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

An Insider’s Peek at Hollywood, Part II

26 Mar

by Roger White

I suppose I had my one real insider’s look at how Hollywood works some years ago, when I attended a screenwriters’ session on how to “pitch ideas” to producers during an Austin Film Festival annual gathering of would-be writers.

A panel of so-called idea people (a Hollywood oxymoron if I ever heard one) sat at a table and critiqued writers’ script ideas, based on approximately 30 seconds of monologue. If writers didn’t have what the idea people called a high-concept proposal, if writers paused for a breath, if writers tried to explain a complex plot turn, they were toast.

The guy who won the pitch contest did so with the following idea, I kid you not:

“So you’re walking along the street, a nice sunny day, and suddenly everything goes blank. Then you’re like HOLY F@#K!! WHERE AM I?!”

“Ooh,” said the idea people. “Nice.”

Cursing and yelling seemed to be high on their list. “High concept,” to these folks, who I must say all looked to be about 25 to 28 years old, meant explosions, gruesome terror, betrayal, deadly animals, killer robots, slasher horror, or Brad Pitt. This particular pitch session occurred as the movie “Snakes on a Plane” was in production. One of the idea people could hardly contain himself as he explained what a fantastic high-concept film this was going to be—a classic in the making.

“Imagine it,” he gushed. “Snakes set loose on a plane! Don’t you see? There’s no way off of a plane. And all these snakes are slithering all over the place!”

I sat and wondered how this expert panel would have rated the opening scene to the 1951 epic “A Place in the Sun,” in which Montgomery Clift is quietly thumbing for a ride along a lonely stretch of road. It was then and there I realized I would never be a Hollywood screenwriter. No, not sour grapes. I’m just not young and stupid enough.

Am I alone here? With very few notable exceptions, this is the state of film-making today. If it bites, blows up, bleeds, beheads people, or is Brad, it’s got a green light. If we run out of ideas, we do it all over again as a sequel.

Even my kids, teenage movie buffs both of them, understand by now the banal, bottom-line instincts of your basic Hollywood producer. Both my daughters are big “Twilight Saga” fans, but even they balked at the notion of “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Wind—Part II.”

Did I say “Wind”? I meant “Dawn,” of course. This latest gem, which opens in November, is a part two within a multi-part series of movies, mind you, all of which are looking more and more like the same vampire movie with simply fresh blood and longer fangs.

This got me thinking again. What if the great citizenry—that’s us—rose up and dictated to Hollywood: No More Sequels! I know, I know what you’re going to say, what about “Godfather II”? Simple, this is the exception that proves the rule. Just about every other sequel I can think of never should have seen the light of day. Here are just a few: “Basic Instinct 2,” “Caddyshack II,” “Grease 2,” “Jaws: The Revenge,” “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights,” “Dumb and Dumberer,” “Blues Brothers 2000.” The list is damn near eternal.

I shudder to think of the results if such movie-making titans as director Stuart Rosenberg (“Cool Hand Luke”) or Robert Mulligan (“To Kill a Mockingbird”) had been under similar pressure to squeeze out sequels. Oh, the horror.

Come to think of it, there’s no time limit on butchering classics. They have a new “Three Stooges” now, for crying out loud. So, as much as it strikes terror in my heart, you might look for these titles soon at a theater near you:

• “Cooler Hand Luke: Revenge of Them Damned Eggs”

• “To Sir With Even More Love”

• “Citizen Kane II: Rosebud Returns”

• “The Ten Commandments II: God’s Revisions”

• “Real Gone with the Wind”

• “Bonnie and Clyde Part 2: They Were Only Flesh Wounds”

• “The Post-Graduate: Revenge of the Robinsons”

• “Mockingbird II: Rise of Boo Radley”

• “Dueling Wizards of Oz: I’ll Witch-Slap You”

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.