This archaic piece of marketing mayhem appeared, unsolicited, on my doorstep just over a week ago. I can’t think of much that pisses me off more than unwanted paper (see also: free samples of print newspapers delivered directly into our bushes, politician + happy family postcards stuffed in the mail slot) and this was no exception. As a bonus bit of unpleasantness, I had to excavate it from the icy hellscape that is winter in Western Massachusetts.

Before I address the marketing side of this pesty bit of pre-recycling, I must make the point that everyone reading this is now thinking: THERE ARE STILL PHONEBOOKS? Yes, apparently there are. I can’t imagine that even one in 100 of these are opened before they’re heaved into the bin. And yet here we are — cutting down trees and paying delivery people to launch these paperweights into people’s frozen yards. And we call this progress.

There is an upside — this complete lack of product relevance is the perfect breeding ground for laugh-out-loud marketing mayhem.

Exhibit A: Weird Anime-ish Cartoon Ads All Made by One Person

What the hell am I looking at? No, it’s not a 2003 era webcomic — it’s an ad for the plumbing section! And another ad for the furniture sales section! Every yellowbook ad features this same weird cartoon guy who looks like Zippy dressed up as Astro Boy. Is this real? Did they let someone’s anime-obsessed nephew design it? And did they think we wouldn’t notice that the same exact ad featured on two consecutive pages?

Exhibit B: Restaurant Page Where We’ve Given Up


Bless their hearts, but this is some serious slapdash. From the gargantuan text to the silhouette-only graphics, it’s clear that this design was created without 1) design software or 2) time.

Exhibit C: DARE-style Ad
Occasionally I make a DARE joke around people younger than me and their blank stares stir in me a deep, deep horror. For young onions who didn’t experience it firsthand, DARE was (and apparently still is, according to a Wikipedia) a drug prevention program that had it’s heydey in the Drug War era of the 90s. DARE is primarily remembered for its cringe-tastic program swag, particularly the black “DARE: To Keep Kids Off Drugs” T-Shirts which everyone received but no one wore.

So it was deja vu when I got to this yellow pages PSA:

What’s not to love about this? The failed attempt at cool-kid humor, the oversized pot leaf wingding, and the very idea that the PHONEBOOK is a good place for a PSA designed for teenagers… it’s spectacular, really.

Okay, now I can recycle this thing.

I literally have no idea where to start with this one:

IMG_20150224_085121

The word ARTISANS emblazoned under the instantly-recognizable Domino’s logo was powerful enough to halt my brisk walk to the train station and deglove my hands in 1°C weather to take a picture. Upon closer inspection I saw the “not,” and the combination of delight and confusion hit me so hard I thought I was going to puke. I started to read the text but “we don’t wear black berets…” was instantly too much, and tears of silent, body-shaking laughter started to freeze on my cheeks.

This pizza box essentially triggered a bout of full-blown mania, and I feel like God is speaking directly to me through it. My life makes sense. The world is a beautiful place. My thoughts are so rollicksome that I will have to make a simple list to point out everything that is going on here in this nugget of perfect, perfect awfulness:

1. Why all the pride in sucking?

The care taken in embellishing the word “NOT” is sad and confusing. The first sentence implies that “this pizza is going to be 100 times worse than any other pizza you have ever had.” I mean, you can make a pizza with all the passion you want (and how do you apply integrity to pizza-making, anyway?), but if you’re cooking it in a microwave or whatever the hell Domino’s uses, it’s still going to suck.

There’s also a bit of a hipster dive bar vs. craft cocktail establishment going on here. Like, “not sucking is so mainstream; we sucked before it was cool and we’re going to keep on sucking.”

2. Pizza chefs DO NOT wear “black berets”

Does this guy look like he’s about to start tossing some dough in the air?

http://cdnimg3.webstaurantstore.com/images/products/extra_large/15687/157980.jpg

No, it looks like he’s going to war.

3. And in the end they call their pizza artisanal!

PICK AN ANGLE, GUYS. Are you or aren’t you?

4. That blank signature field says it all

Bitch, please. Nobody wants their name attached to that shit, Domino’s. And what the FUCK is the tiny “oh yes we did!” referring to? We totally lied to you and now you’re eating something that an excess of twelve rats scampered across since yesterday when we made it and heated it up in microwave for you just now?

Film is dead. Okay, well maybe not dead. But it’s near death. Like a circa 2006 Blockbuster Video, the film industry is in the phase of downfall where it still technically exists but no one remembers that it’s there. Until the Academy Awards roll around and everyone’s like huh right, yeah. And then we all forget again.

My nostalgia for the golden age of mainstream cinema is probably what compelled us to go see Jupiter Ascending. And there is no more perfect analogy for the fall of the film industry than this movie! The once proud Wachowski’s — architects of the first Matrix movie (the others don’t exist to me) — have been reduced to making an extra long episode of Stargate:SG1. This, combined with the fact that Hollywood just made a Hot Tub Time Machine 2 means art is officially dead. But here’s the good news: movies are now so bad that they’ve circled back on themselves and become great again! You know, ironically.

The first thing you need to know about Jupiter Ascending is that it is a “splice” (to use the movie’s own goofy jargon for genetic hybrid) of every space, sci-fi, and fantasy movie you have ever seen — ESPECIALLY bad, recent ones.

A scene from the actual movie. I know!

This is actually a remarkable creative achievement. They’ve managed to make a single (somewhat cohesive) film just by combining elements from the more recent Star Wars movies, Guardians of the Galaxy, Twilight, that bad Matt Damon movie with the thing orbiting over earth, that bad Tom Cruise movie with the clones, and the other bad Johnny Depp clone movie. Except everything is a little bit dumber. To give you a sci-fi analogy, if those other movies are Star Trek, this movie is Star Trek: Voyager (burn).

Some important plot details: Mila Kunis is a secret space princess. Channing Tatum has magic flying space boots. There’s throwaway dialogue about Channing Tatum being a wolf hybrid that reminded me a lot of the scene in Dark Shadows where the daughter says “I’m a werewolf, deal with it” and they don’t mention it again for the rest of the movie. For no reason, some of the aliens look like crocodiles. I could go on and on. The plot is like a never-ending clown car where every clown that comes out is a ridiculous idea.

There’s also a crazy, yet somewhat fabulous, space wedding.

The second thing you need to know about this movie is that you really should see it. This is not a depressing bad movie (e.g., Snowpiercer) — it’s dumb, entertaining, fun, harmless… did I mention how dumb it is? You will love it . Trust me: I was in the theater for The Wicker Man — probably the best bad movie since Troll 2 — and it was glorious. It was opening weekend so everyone went in expecting a spooky thriller. Within the first ten minutes, the audience course-corrected and began openly mocking the dialogue and laughing at facial expressions and music cues. For a brief moment, I imagined a future where mankind could work together in harmony. You do not want to miss an experience like that.

If you’re on the fence about forking over $15 to see this in theaters, please PLEASE check out The Mary Sue’s amazing and inspiring review of this wonderful, terrible movie.

I’m about to say something controversial.

The Hallmark Channel is the new Lifetime.

I know what you’re thinking: The Hallmark Channel? Isn’t that like the Disney Channel for grown-ups? Well kind of but let me explain.

As I hinted in my Unauthorized Saved By The Bell review, I’ve been losing patience with Lifetime’s recent ironic self awareness. Casting Lindsay Lohan, re-making Flowers in the Attic, live-tweeting premieres… it’s a little try-hard. Besides, it’s taking all the fun out of actual, sincere hate watching.

Over on Hallmark, there’s no hype because there’s no one is pretending that these are “real” movies. Hallmark movies are straight-up filler and they know it. They’re as honest and pure as they are entertainingly dumb.

Case in point: A Wish Come True. I tuned into this one 15 minutes late and they hooked me as soon as the hip young protagonist started listening to messages on her answering machine. Answering machine, you say? When is this movie from, 1998? No! It was made this year. I have no idea. Maybe the preview will explain it.

The plot is fairy tale weird: On the night before her 30th birthday, lead girl Lindsay makes a birthday wish that all of her previous birthday wishes will come true.

I hoped this would trap her in an infinite wish loop, but instead she just loses weight and wins a bunch of money in a sweepstakes. Oh, and her eyesight gets better so she doesn’t have to wear her big old nerd glasses anymore . Now she’s hot, Janey Briggs style. No one else seems to think that the fact that her wishes are coming true is maybe a little bit unusual. Yeah! Now she can buy her tacky dream home.

Dialogue corner: When the sweepstakes dude is telling Lindsay about her winnings, he says, “Here are the keys to your brand new luxury car.” Like, not the specific make or color or anything. He just calls it a “luxury car.” It takes a gifted writer to inject awkwardness into a scene this straightforward. It’s like being able to trip yourself with your own foot.

Next there’s a scene where Lindsay bumps into a historically-dressed dude and looks up to say, “Prince Charming?” and he nods and winks. That’s when I knew I was in love with this movie. But wait! The guy is just like one of those Liberty Tax street mascots or something. Haha, fate has a sense of humor or something.

It wouldn’t be a treacly wish fulfillment fantasy unless Lindsay lands a dream job, so she’s promoted to a fancy position at Generic Company That Cares, where they do something admirable related to the environment. On her way to work, she gets into a nasty argument with some judgy stranger about the ethics of driving a Humvee or whatever (her sweepstakes car, which she’s attempting to sell). Cut to the big office team meeting, where she’s about to get introduced to one of their biggest investors and… you guessed it, it’s the judgy stranger.

This segues into flirting because all lady romance movies think arguing with a dude = true wuv. But wait! What about Lindsay’s childhood friend Dave, who’s obviously pining away for her in secret? Oh, him? “Why, we’re practically brother and sister,” she says because this movie has strict orders to stay within established romance movie guidelines.

Now there’s a scene in a bar where Lindsay and her friend meet Dean Cain, who’s playing himself because this is as weird as we can make it. Lindsay realizes it’s a wish because she’s the biggest fan of The New Adventures of Superman, even though that’s not actually a thing. I had forgotten about the whole wish thing by this point of the movie, so I was kind of like, “Huh? Oh, right” during this scene.

Judgy Investor Guy invites Lindsay to a charity ball and she blows off childhood pal Dave to go.

 

Dave gets all mopey and reminds Lindsay that she didn’t used to “need wishes to be happy.” Way to rain on the poor girl’s parade, Dave. Later, Lindsay has a romantic dinner with Judgy Investor Guy and he nitpicks her table manners. How will she ever be able to choose between these two charmers? Then Judgy Investor Guy acts all grossed out by her puppy and we know Dave’s gonna be our Prince Charming. Thou shalt not shun puppies on Hallmark.

Dave, our mopey hero.

A whole bunch of boring stuff happens at work, and Lindsay is working on pitching some solar panel project with Dave as her partner. I guess this is their dream that they’ve been working on together for a long time? I don’t know, I missed that part. Judgy Investor Guy gives her advice on the presentation that amounts to “compromise your values” and she takes it. The proposal is a success but Dave is understandably pissed. Lindsay goes with Judgy Investor Guy but realizes that she should really be with Dave and makes one last wish. Oh, right. The wish stuff again.

Dave plays hard to get, but Lindsay tags along on his rock climbing expedition without any training. That’s enough self-flagellation to be romantic, so he says yes.

It’s a happy ending, but all Hallmark movies are required to end in a saccharine explosion. MORE ROMANCE! The Hallmark viewers shout, so we cut to Lindsay and Dave’s future wedding. NOT CUTE ENOUGH! The Hallmark viewers squeal, so we get a shot of Lindsay’s golden retriever at the wedding. Then Lindsay says something theme-y about the wishes which we had all forgotten about. Oh, right.

There was certainly a lot going on in the grocery store today, and not just because of an impending blizzard. There was also a quiet kind of mayhem afoot: out-of-control claims and typos on some weird nature cereal!

Grain Berry? What was I thinking?

Grain Berry? What was I thinking?

The Silver Palate, eh? Who the FUCK are you and what are you doing in my cereal aisle?

The beauty of this discovery is that I didn’t register a single thing about this cereal box until I was back home standing in my kitchen and saw “Network of Smart Antioxidants;” I almost dropped the box. My eyes, contorted by wonder, drifted down to find:

IMG_20150126_151046

High Tannin WHAT? I can’t hear yoooou

I thought this was just some shredded wheat, for shit’s sake. Should I use red wine instead of milk so I can get some RESVERATROL PLUS ANTIOXIDANTS PLUS TANNIN too?

The best of all is the side panel. Behold:

"Drink every time you make a mistake!"

“Drink every time you make a mistake!”

No. No, you don’t “grow” the antioxidants you senile old man. And even if you did “antioxidants” do not “makes” anything. Oh, and nice title, “Grain Berry Grower…”

The back of the box contains too much text to want a picture of, but I will share with you some choice quotes.

“If you have access to a computer and the internet, I urge you to check the discussion about antioxidants by leading medical institutions and universities” Uhm, don’t tell me to just go Google shit about your product, you lazyface.

“Bottom line, antioxidants, and its helper bioactive compounds, fight the attack of these chemicals called free radicals before they can do serious damage and other very bad things.” Science just exploded.

“A leading university of public health states unequivocally that ample evidence suggests that a network of various antioxidants from fruits, vegetables and whole grains provide protection against many of the ‘scourges of aging.'” That’s some flowery language from a leading university of public health…

– –

BONUS CHECK-OUT AISLE MAGAZINE MENINGITIS MAYHEM:

Mmmmeningitis

Mmmmeningitis

What does public health have against ice cream?

Like, an Alice in Chains music video or something.

http://40.media.tumblr.com/2d428524619f088629551548744c343f/tumblr_mwkkw8zO6j1qigcnqo2_1280.jpg

Two hours of meaningless, empty, vapid, BORING plotless meandering emo bullshit. I fell asleep THREE times– on purpose! There’s that part In Amadeus where Salieri is explaining that if the Emperor yawned three times during an opera it would be a one-hit wonder and fail that same night.

http://content8.flixster.com/question/43/23/50/4323506_std.jpg

Here’s what I was able to glean from the movie in between naps. Tilda Swinton looks like Powder’s sister:

http://media.weirdworm.com/img/misc/6-movie-characters-with-actual-god-like-powers/powder.jpghttp://www.flixist.com/ul/215678-Jim-Jarmusch-Only-Lovers-Left-Alive-Tilda-Swinton.jpg

Modern vampires are nothing more than loathsome bohemian hipsters who drink artisanal blood like Fernet and make whimsical blood popsicles:

http://d1oi7t5trwfj5d.cloudfront.net/7c/99/4649161745d4a164c0fdc8db82fb/only-lovers-left-alive-tilda-swinton.jpghttp://i.ytimg.com/vi/-TbxI_oRSKI/hqdefault.jpg

Oh, and there’s no plot.

A.O. Scott is weirdly gentle in his two-and-a-half star review:

“What sustains “Only Lovers Left Alive” is less a story than a sensibility, an attitude of nostalgic and somewhat cranky connoisseurship. Plots are for squares, which is not to say that nothing happens.”

Of course things happen– vampires mope around wearing sunglasses, looking for blood, feeling suicidal, playing the lute, looking like Robert Smith– but in the end, who cares? You can go to Brooklyn or a Whole Foods and see this shit in real life and STILL not care!

If Nihilism is the underlying theme here, then really embrace it and just stay home.

https://attemptedblog.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/50716-1416263462931.jpg?w=608&h=342

Today’s edition of The Anthology of Pizza Box Graphic Design brings us to Picnic Pizza in Kingston, NY. Like so many excellent New York area pizza holes, Picnic is located in a cement building minutes away from the highway.

Don’t be alarmed by the aforementioned cement and the casual use of neon — this place is gourmet at its best. During our last visit, Mr. Max, Lena and I shared 4 slices: white with broccoli, eggplant parm, tangy roasted tomato and mushroom, and classic tomato basil (natch). All were exceptional — bold flavor, crisp crust, and the perfect amount of sauce. Massachusetts has NOTHING on this.

Before we left, we made sure to snap a pic of their collection of pizza box designs (assisted by the ever-obliging counter staff).

Box #1:

A somber take on the city scene genre. In addition to the tiled streets and brick buildings, this abandoned square features a stone fountain flanked by adorable decorative plants. Interestingly, there doesn’t appear to be any water in the fountain. And where are the people? Is this a post-apocalyptic city? Is that a drone in the sky? Should I stop watching so many war documentaries?

Box #2:

Another quaint city scene. I’ve reached the point with TAOPBGD where i have to search my own archives to find out whether or not I’ve reviewed something. It turns out I’ve seen this one before, albeit in a color scheme I termed “autumn vomit.” It looks much better in traditional pizza box red and black ink, and I definitely appreciate the classic script font. Look at those swirls and loops! God I just love tacky fonts. (Take that, Helvetica.)

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