Wednesday, October 26, 2011
My boss coined the word “Beercentennial” to mark the occasion verbally--America’s Bicentennial was still, er, Fresh in the minds of folks--and we dreamed up television ads that touched on the past, present, and (possible) future of the popular beer. (I was writer/producer for the firm that provided all creative work for the brewery.)
Rainier had a reputation for presenting strange and surprising, tongue-in-cheek and amusing, commercials back then--still a rarity back in those stolid Seventies. But the requisite seriousness of such a major benchmark for Rainier actually constrained our much-vaunted creativity. Blowing the frothy heads off a tray of poured beers was about as wild as we got... except for the "future" spot, which evolved gradually from a single sci-fi parody to a 30-second extravaganza that borrowed
Our commercial ended up inside the bizarre Star Wars bar, where the camera discovers a big reunion in progress for the Flash Gordon characters—Dr. Zarkov, the lovely Dale, Ming the Merciless, and so on, plus (renamed for ad purposes) “Fresh” himself. But this reunion is occurring many years later, with the characters showing their post-retirement age.
Most of the parts were taken by local actors, but we actually hired the original movie Flash, Buster Crabbe (famous as a handsome, virile Tarzan too), still showing serious star power at age 72 (as I recall). Crabbe was serendipitously the main guest that year at a nicely timed Seattle science fiction convention, and we were happy to use his accessibility to our advantage.
So a comics shop owner and I did just that, printed 2000 or so, and over the next year-and-some sold all of them, to sci-fi fanatics and Rainier collectors and specialty poster shops. Now, skip ahead 35 years. Searching through stuff recently, before wife Sandra and I left on vacation, I found the copy of “our” poster that I’d kept as a sample/souvenir.
I decided to write a blog post around it, and that’s what you’ve been reading. (Used to caption the poster, that tiny print you can’t make out in the lower right-hand corner was meant to sound like pulp magazine copy.)
Retro rockets firing, Fresh Gordon jockeyed his MFR-80 spaceship down onto the arid, dusty surface of planet Bungo.
Then, aided by his thirsty companions of so many years, Fresh broke through the belligerent throng of alien vizki and d’jin, forging a path straight to the barren
Even Bing the Brewless was overcome. “The Beer That Conquered the Galaxy” soon quenched five more parched throats.
Classy, huh? Oh yeah, I really thought I was hot stuff back in the day…
Monday, October 10, 2011
So here are a half-dozen Folk/Roots (&Beyond) CD releases, both new and older,
Purpose + Grace (Topic). Pride of place goes to our guest from across the Pond, Martin Simpson. Back in Old Blighty after several years’ residency in the U.S., Simpson plays a Blues-infused, Anglo-AND-American Folk now, his guitar work smooth and Root-solid, often surprising, occasionally sensational. His own vocals keep improving too, but for this eclectic set, he brought in some big guns: June Tabor, Dick Gaughan, Richard Thompson.
Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down (Nonesuch). Ry Cooder’s new album
Note of Hope (429 Records). Opening salvo in the big build-up to the 2012 Guthrie centennial. Unfortunately there’s less meat and more aimless motion in this collection of unknown Woody texts nesting in new musical settings. The whole first half of the CD just limps along, but then Kurt Elling’s boogie and Ani DiFranco’s mechanized “Voice”
Wonder Wheel (Jewish Music Group). The Klezmatics had Guthrie Estate approval to adapt some of his Coney Island-era writings to klezmer music…
World Musette (Paris Jazz Corner). Klezmer clarinets, saxes, and fiddles show up sometimes in the wonderful French music called musette—bluesy and triste (sad)
There’s More Pretty Girls Than One (Arhoolie). Both Crumb and fiddler Ian McCamy appeared on World Musette; now, a decade later, comes McCamy's
“Drunken Hiccups” and “Goodbye Booze,” “Ragtime Annie” and “Old Molly Hare,” both the “Dill Pickle” and “Pig Ankle” rags, the “Quebec Quickstep” and “Saint Jobe’s Waltz,”
Catch ya on the other side.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
My wife and I are out for a walk, and we bump into somebody she knows from business.
“Hey, Jim,” she says to him, “I want you to meet the ‘little man.’
Not really. These days Sandie can wear flats and still get above my paltry 5’8”. I’ve lost nearly four inches in height, which has all slid down to my waistline. That’s one definition of an “Adult,” of course… someone who’s stopped growing at both ends and started growing in the middle. (I qualify.)
These bleary thoughts have reminded me that back when I wrote and produced Rainier Beer ads (usually working off the buzzword phrase “Mountain Fresh,” clinging to the real tall mountain’s coat-tails), somebody among us on the creative team came up with a two-word bumper snicker that I liked well enough to stick a sample on my own car:
This time it’s RE-freshin’ I need, because… as we might have said in some other Rainier ad (but didn’t), with the unused two-word text positioned below photo of an empty sixpack-bottles carton…
Right now I’m “FRESH OUT.”
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Note: One more post coming in a few days, so there’ll be something to think about while we're gone.