This blog is the place where I go to wonder a few things, so here’s what I have stuck in my craw at the moment.
--Enterprise Rent a Car. Maybe they’ve been doing more of their advertising lately, but the more I look at their tagline (which is “We’ll pick you up!), the more this makes me wonder—is this enough of a value proposition to warrant making it the tagline for the entire company? How many times in your adult life have you needed to be PICKED UP in a rental car? I have been driving for 20+ years, have rented probably hundreds of cars for business and other travel purposes, have even rented cars in foreign countries, and not one time have I ever needed to be picked up. Don’t you usually just rent cars at the airport, where a pickup is unnecessary because you either walk to the car or you’re taken in one of those shuttles? Maybe I’m just a statistical anomaly and not relevant to the data for Enterprise, but I might even venture to say that if I did need to be picked up, I would take a cab to a cheaper car rental place.
--Personalized license plates. I have long had this one on my list as something I just don’t understand, and then the other day I saw one that pushed me over the edge: 42WALNUT. Like—really? Personalized license plates require extra paperwork and fees. 42 WALNUT was important enough to someone that they chose to voluntarily spend more time and money at the DMV? This is baffling to me. Others that I have seen/ photographed/ noticed on a friend’s Facebook page (he also wonders this and photographs the funny ones): “THEBOOK,” “GUTSDOCTOR,” and “ALAWYER.” I see no logical reason for these vanity plates. It’s not like your phone number is in there, so even if I happen to need a book, or a guts doctor, or a lawyer, or a 42 Walnut, there is no way for me to get in touch with you, clever license plate holder. You know it's true.
--This is more of a “wow, we found a solution for this problem” type of thing, but I absolutely had to share it with you. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but my husband is like, a total ATHLETE now. He ran the NY Marathon last year, and this year he did the NY Triathlon, and now he’s training for another marathon. The result of all this is that he looks awesome and feels great about himself and we’re all very proud of him and OH MY GOD HIS RUNNING SHOES SMELL SO BAD. You guys, I’m not even kidding, these shoes are not just stinky. They are medical-grade stinky. They are so stinky they are worrisome, like you would question the health of a person with shoes that smell that bad. I have written of this stinkiness before, in this post called "Operation Stink" when I told you all about how I BOILED HIS GYM CLOTHES, then soaked them in Oxyclean, then washed them, and that’s what I was trying to do with his shows, and still, oh my God, the stink.
Then, no lie, I bought this product, and because of magical magical science, they are about 80% less crazy stinky. It’s not often that you buy a product and it actually does what you hope it will do, but if you buy “Febreze EXTREME SPORTS” because you have some extreme smells, in fact, they will make your Exorcist Stinky Gym shoes smell better, and that is the truth. In fact, if you'll go back and re-read that post about the stinky gym clothes, I actually say "there should be a product for extreme stink," and NOW THERE IS. Is this because of my blog? Let's say it is.
Please note that I am training to run the half-marathon (with my dad) when Stephan runs his next marathon (September in Maine), and my shoes smell like normal shoes.
So, I don’t know if you know about this awesome article, where a kindergartner looks at covers of the classics and tries to discern what the stories are about, but I got a good laugh out of it earlier this week. Here is my very favorite description, which is of Ray Bradbury's "Farenheit 451" cover:
Hee-larious. Maybe that IS why that robot is so sad.
Anyhow, yesterday, an amazing convergence of circumstance happened, whereby I revisited the past (in a good way) and was part of this meme all at once, and I want to share it with you because it was great.
So, yesterday morning I’m the way to give a speech about books and marketing to the Women’s Media Group (of which I am a member) which coincidentally was held in the Simon & Schuster building where I went to my first-ever “I sold a book!” meeting back in 2007 (here’s that story in case you don’t know it). I got to see some of the people on my original “Hollywood Car Wash” team back in the day, and it was just awesome.
This was already cool enough, and I was excited about that, and then I got a tweet from a book blogger who was/ is a big proponent of my books (love her!). She runs the "Me, My Shelf, and I" blog, which you should really read if you don't already. She sent me a link to a blog post where she repeated this experiment with YA books and her eight year old, and she used my book, Hollywood Car Wash, as one of the books.
First of all, I love that she used my book, because in some lateral, “I am delusional” way, the fact that this experiment started with books by Bradbury and Hemingway and Salinger and then extended to include one of my books makes me think “Wow, I have (almost) just been included on a list with Hemingway and Salinger.” Laugh if you will, but writing books is hard, and sometimes you have to pat yourself on the back for having written one in whatever way you can.
Secondly, I super love what her 8 year old daughter came up with for what she thought my book was about (based on the cover). You'll notice that I exercised restraint and did not make the cover of my book bigger than the cover of Farenheit 451.
A girl who moves to Hollywood for school and she still needs work and the only work that she can find a carwash. She’s rich and she has to work at the car wash and she’s upset because she doesn’t want to get messy, like her hair and her nails because every morning she would get a new hairdo or a manicure.
Ha, ha, HA! I almost feel like I should write another version of Hollywood Car Wash based on this description. The whole exercise will be like a big game of “Exquisite Corpse.” I told Amber (the owner of the blog) I thought Big Publishing America should hire her daughter as a consultant immediately.
So, that was my day yesterday, and I thought the whole thing was entertaining in a very "Funny Strange" kind of way. Be sure to read both of the posts where the kids interpret the book covers, because they really are very funny.
Oh, and if you haven't read Hollywood Car Wash, don't you think it's about time you did? It's not quite as awesome as Amber's daughter describes, but it's still a good story, although it's definitely not about my best friend Katie Holmes and her marriage, ok?
I'm kind of mad at you guys right now, because we stumbled on a show over the weekend, and honestly, I CANNOT BELIEVE that this show exists, that you know full well how much I love absurd funny stuff, and that not one of you told me about this. Shame on you! If you happen upon something like this, I am the one you tell, ok?
That said, I would like to go on record as saying that Untold Stories of the ER might be the most fantastic show ever, in the history of ever.
Here's a clip, to start us off. Given the fact that this particular piece of cinematic excellence is called "Pipe in the Head," I'm sure you can imagine that it is quite gory, in a "stage makeup" kind of way. So, brace yourself, but not too hard. It doesn't look that real.
Here's what makes it so awesome:
--It has very low production value. Apparently the real doctors are actually acting as the actors in the reenactment, and they are NOT good. At all. Once they switch from "documentary" to "representation," it is clear that they are not trained actors. I wondered about this so much that I looked inthe IMDB listing for the show, and sure enough, most of the "actor" actors only worked on the show until 2006, which means that somewhere along the way, a doctor said "Hey, I can just say the lines," and the studio executives loved this because it saved them on union fees for the actors, and a whole new magical genre was born.
--The writing is not supposed to be funny, and therefore it really is. Case in point: segments titled "Pipe in Head," "Rottweiler in the ER" and "Maggots in My Baby," and reenactment writing that is so stilted, you almost feel badly for the real doctors who are saying the lines.
I said almost, because the end result is just so, SO FUNNY, I don't want to criticize it too much, because I'm afraid it might go off the air, even though it costs two cents to make and gets good enough ratings to have been on for seven years. It's like they know it's bad, and they go with it, and what results is a beautifully absurd slapstick, with wooden dialog, people falling through the ceilings, and special effects that look like they were done by castoffs from the Barnum & Bailey school of stage makeup, where you are just "suggesting" the injuries. If you watch a couple of these clips, you will get exactly what I mean.
While I'm on the subject of this show, did you know that "Discovery Fit & Health," which is the network where this show runs, should really be called the "People Making Bad Choices" network now? In one weekend, we saw this show as well as shows called "DUI" and "Women's Lockup," in which every person in each show was of course completely innocent, which is why they would let themselves be filmed getting a DUI and then screaming about it, right? RIGHT?
The bottom line, friends, is that you must watch this show, because it is so fake and funny, it is even better than Reno 911, because the people who are making it do not intend it to be satirical. They are serious, and this is magical.
This blog has been going for over seven years, and at times, I've had my moments. Here are some of the most popular posts in the history of Funny Strange, in case you don't feel like looking through the archives (and really, who would blame you? There really are alot of pictures of weird food and signs in here.)
Yard Sale Day: Packed With Funny. This is the one where I'm at a garage sale and (the late) Dom DeLuise pulls up and buys a bunch of ballet tutus.
Do This: The O.J. Simpson Murder Mystery Tour. This is where people keep asking me where O.J. Simpson's house is, so I wrote a whole post about it.
The Groovy Schwarztman. This is the one that starts with a baby shower and ends with a dead person with a weird name, and how I now seem to be the memory-keeper for this person. I'm serious.
Nice Set, Low Balls. This is a guest post my husband, funny person Stephan Cox did about the different male archetypes at his gym.
Best Story Songs of All Time. This is one that I personally think is funny, plus it is pretty well-trafficked, so I think it's earned a spot here.
Funny Robot Names. This post was based on the fact that people seem to search regularly for the term "Funny Robot Names," and my husband and his funny friend Cory decided to give the people what they wanted.
Worst Los Angeles Freeway Exits, or "You Are Now Lost" This post was also co-written with my husband, and as far as I'm concerned, contains some of the funniest lines ever written on this blog.
I Called the DMV. This is where I try to anonymously rat out my grandma to the DMV to get her driver's license taken away.
Christmas Crime Spree. This is where my in-laws and I go on a petty crime spree for your amusement.
Oh! Oh my God. I was working on a blog post about how my hair is crazy long and how I feel and look like a hippie and how summer is the absolute worst time to have long hair and how I'm doing the Blueprint Cleanse and how I am amazingly not even hungry, and then something MUCH MORE INTERESTING happened. I got cold-called by the World’s Most Obnoxious Salesman, and I actually was so mortified by his techniques, I started taking notes. This was right before I was supposed to call author Steven Pressfield on the phone and interview him about his awesome book Turning Pro, so you can imagine that what I really wanted was to be talking to a salesman who sounded like a frat boy douchebag, right?
Hey, guess what, Salesman? If you notice one of my websites on Page One of Google for a competitive search term, here are a few things I think you should NOT do.
1. Instead of identifying yourself and asking "do you have time to talk about these websites, which I only know about because they are # 1 in Google?" just start talking a mile a minute, telling me what is wrong with the sites I have built and laughing as you say this. Obviously I am going to spend money with you if you make me feel like an idiot.
2. Instead of acknowledging that it is a big deal to have the first four positions on Page One of Google for several competitive search terms, just start right in, talking about how I should buy your product because clearly I don't know what I'm doing. This makes me feel like you’re going to be a great business partner, and like I’m going to want to do business with you for years to come.
3. Have a headset / phone connection that pops in and out so much I can't understand a word you’re saying, then when I point this out, be sure to laugh again and blame it on me.
4. When I make a partnership proposal, laugh some more.
5. When I ask simple questions like "if I buy the code for the landing page, can I repurpose it?" divert the conversation into the hard sell “Let me put you on the calendar so I can demo it for you.”
In other news, I have written a blog post over on LoriCulwell.com about this guy whose video went viral and how he needs to fix his website and other digital assets so that more people can appreciate his awesomeness. Check that out!
So, I’m reading the ongoing coverage of the Tom Cruise/ Katie Holmes divorce with great interest, as I’m sure is the rest of the media-consuming world. Because I like to put up an image with my posts, I am putting up this image of my book, Hollywood Car Wash, NOT BECAUSE IT BEARS A STRIKING SIMILARITY TO WHAT IS GOING ON RIGHT NOW and because there was once a rumor that it actually was about her life, but because I am afraid to put a picture of Tom Cruise up because I don't want Scientology coming to my house. So, there's that.
As a feminist (or at least a “woman power!” kind of woman), I have to say, I am very glad that Katie Holmes seems to have come into herself as a powerful woman and mom, as indicated by her “blindsiding” the great and powerful (and, let’s admit it, kind of scary) Tom Cruise with divorce papers. I read an interesting article by a divorce and tax attorney over the weekend about how her filing in New York (instead of California, which we’re assuming is their primary state of residence) seems to have been a calculated move, and how her asking for full custody seems to be a statement as well. You go, Katie!
I’m actually glad to see this because, if I’m being honest, one of the things that bothered me the most about this all-too-public relationship was the fact that Katie Holmes (the person) seemed to have been completely subsumed by the ethos of Tom Cruise. Every interview, every time he referred to her, he insisted on calling her “Kate,” as if this was the name he had given the “perfect wife, perfect life” scenario he’d constructed in which she was starring. She never called HERSELF “Kate” and didn’t start going by “Kate Holmes” or “Kate Cruise” professionally, so one really always had to wonder—what is going on there? When is he going to stop that? Maybe that's actually what happened-- he called her "Kate" one too many times, and she was like "MY NAME IS KATIE. I HAVE HAD ENOUGH!"
Here are some other things we’re all wondering. I don’t have the answers for you even though Katie Holmes is my best friend and everyone knows this. I am just speculating.
That's all for now, I think. As you can tell, I am fascinated by this.