The Good Ole Days: Past, Present, or Future?

At what point does life reach its peak?

Last August I bought Third Eye Blind’s new album, Ursa Minor, on the day it came out. And while I love it tremendously, I realized several years ago that nothing they ever do will top their 1997 debut album with “How’s It Gonna Be”, “Semi-Charmed Life”, “Jumper”, “Graduate”, “Motorcycle Drive By” and “I Want You”. They keep making good music, even if I’m the only one still listening. But they peaked 11 years ago.

Michael Jackson experienced his peak in 1983 with the success of Thriller, personally haunted by the fact that he was never able to commercially or critically top it. And as much as I love Dave Matthews Band, I find it scientifically impossible for them to top their 1996 7x platinum album Crash, featuring the flawless “Crash into Me”.

Not that it’s an awful thing to peak early in a career. Not everyone can go out with a bang like George Burns, or remain relevant after several decades. It happens to plenty of good actors and comedians too: they continue to make movies after people stop really caring. Steve Martin. Jim Carrey. Will Ferrell. Robin Williams. Tim Allen.

A sign of a once-relevant comedian officially being past his peak is when he appears in a family movie in which he gets thrown high into the air, then lands abruptly but suffers no major injuries, then looks up at the camera with this expression that says, “Ugh, that’ll leave a mark…” (I have a visual right now of Steve Martin in Cheaper by the Dozen when he gets catapulted out of the Gymboree.)

Gone are the days of Steve Martin’s classics like The Jerk, Father of the Bride, Roxanne, Parenthood, and the legendary Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (which I refer to in about 23% of my writings). Now we’re stuck with The Pink Panther. I’m sure it makes him millions of dollars, but it doesn’t make anybody laugh.

Steve Martin: surprisingly, not Jewish.

While I don’t have a career in acting or music where I have to keep reinventing myself to please fans in the business of entertainment, I do live a life in which I am sometimes tempted to keep looking to the future for my vindication, contentment, or perfect stage of life. When those thoughts cross my mind I have to remind myself of some corny forward that someone e-mailed me a few months ago that said: These are the good old days.

Whether or not I am living in the peak happiness of my life now or in 30 years, it doesn’t matter. Because I’ve learned it’s not the bad, boring, or annoying memories I keep going back to. It’s the good ones. Those are what I keep close to heart: These are the good old days.

Robin Williams: Also, surprisingly not Jewish either.

“I’d like to think the best of me is still hiding up my sleeve.” -John Mayer (“No Such Thing”)

“And I’ve never been so alive.” -Third Eye Blind (“Motorcycle Drive By”)

Romantic Comedy: Subliminal Sexual Messages in Commercials

Using sex to sell a product isn’t always as blatant as Hardee’s (Carl’s Jr.) featuring Paris Hilton using her whole body to wash a car while eating a Thickburger as part of their “More Than a Piece of Meat” campaign. In 2005 when my sister and I shared an apartment in college, she casually made a comment one time that has changed my view on Red Lobster forever. We were watching a commercial for their “Unlimited Shrimp” special. She simply said, “They’re trying to make that shrimp look sexy.” Good call. Now, anytime I watch a Red Lobster commercial I can’t help but notice it.

For the last several years, Red Lobster’s commercials have only been showing food; no people. The food itself is used to symbolize parts of the human body and the actions of the bedroom. The music is jazzy and sophisticated, with “ooh’s” and “ah’s” in the background vocals. The camera speed is slow. The atmosphere is steamy. Words such as “indulge”, “temptation”, “sensational”, “succulent”, and “peak” are often used.

That’s what makes for good subliminal advertising: It’s so much a part of the background that it takes someone pointing it out before it can be seen by the public. Either I’m as immature as an 8th grade boy, or the clever advertisers working for Red Lobster are being so subtle that no one seems to notice.

Whereas Hardee’s uses suggestive advertising in a more pornographic style and offends people, Red Lobster is sophisticated and does it subliminally… and totally gets away with it. Because who would call them out on it and risked being labeled as having a dirty mind? Me.

The first random, most recent commercial I found:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CzpNNbzMQA

A link to a website that reveals some other subliminal advertisements. Some are a bit of a stretch and some are pretty risque. Plus the guy who commentates is more crass than I am about it. But I did think it is interesting.
http://www.artistmike.com/Temp/SubliminalAd.html