Saturday, February 03, 2007

Super ads, Square One, and Silver Surfer sings!

THE REAL COMPETITION: With the Superbowl near again, it’s time for a quick look at everything other than the game: Our favorite ads and half-time shows!

FAVORITE ADS: My favorite Superbowl ad (so far) would have to be the Visa “Superheroes” ad. Hey, I love team-ups! And how can you not like an ad with Spidey, Thor, X-men and Underdog! Great stuff. This photo comes from the site below:

One year, our local newspaper did a story about a classic car that was going to be used in a Britney Spears superbowl ad. Watching the game with my friends that year, I told them to watch for the car in the Britney ad. When Britney came on, she was dancing in the foreground with the car behind her. “There it is!” I said. “There’s the car!” My friend Tim replied, “What car?” :)

FAVORITE HALF-TIME SHOW: Tough one. Michael Jackson’s was memorable, as was the Rolling Stones’. And of course, there was Indiana Jones’ quest for the trophy. Let’s call it a three-way tie: Jackson, Jones and Stones. Wait, there’s Paul McCartney, too! Can we have a four-way tie? Sorry, Janet Jackson doesn’t make it. The “wardrobe malfunction” may have been memorable, but nothing else about that half-time show really was.


SQUARE WHAT? You’ve all heard of Sesame Street, but do you know what “Square One TV” is? It’s another show by those Sesame Workshop (SW) people that is sadly not as well-known. I’m sorry to say that I missed out on much of the Square One phenomenon the first time around. I was in my teens at the time it debuted, and slowly weaning myself away from PBS kids’ shows. (Hard to believe, I know. But as you can see, I never left them completely.) :)

Since then, though, I have been gradually re-introduced to “Square One,” and I have learned to appreciate the show a lot more. The show actually was based on a good idea - to teach math skills the way other SW shows taught reading skills. In some ways, math is tricky to teach via the tube, but if nothing else, Square One helped kids adjust their minds into math mode, giving them the raw material to understand math concepts. And it was smart and funny. The humor of “Mathnet” and “Dirk Niblick” extended beyond most kids’ shows of the time - and of our time. Those are my two favorite recurring skits from the show, and they are missed. (If you’re a Roger Ramjet fan, you will definitely like Dirk Niblick!)

The show has many fans, and some of them gathered together in the Big Apple over the weekend to celebrate the (gasp!) 20-year anniversary of the show! That’s quite awesome that there are enough dedicated fans to not only create a fine web page, but actually meet up and talk about it. Hey, think about it - I don’t know of any “Sesame Street” adult gatherings.

They’re cool people and you can commune with them over at the Square One TV forums in the links section.


WILL THE RECORD GO PLATINUM? Speaking of great team-ups, remember “The Silver Surfer?” He kind of looks like an “Oscar,” except that he is silver, and he rides around the universe on a silver surfboard. Well, with a mode of transport like that, it was only a matter of time before he followed in the footsteps of the Beach Boys! This picture comes from a cartoon drawn by Fred Hembeck, and you can read a longer version at “The Fred Hembeck Show” at the link below. This column is a treat for Beach Boys fans, too, so catch a wave over there.


ANNE FRANK ON FILM: In my January 27 post about Anne Frank, I failed to mention that there is actually footage of Anne Frank on film! You can see it in the documentary “Anne Frank Remembered.” It is very, very short (maybe one second long) and features Anne looking down from a tall window. Very short, very historic. Isn’t it interesting how more & more stuff about Anne Frank is gradually being revealed? First missing pages from her diary are returned, then the Otto Frank letters. . . It makes me wonder if somebody isn’t hoarding another diary somewhere. :) But check out that documentary for more about Anne.


PERHAPS LOVE: The other day, I saw a John Denver album I had never seen before called “Love Songs.” I was all excited to tell the world about this new album, only to learn after an Internet search that it has been out for over a year! Out of the loop, man, out of the loop. Looking at the track list makes you realize that John had a flair for the romantic just as he had for the wilderness. Only real problem is that the song “For You” isn’t here, and that is certainly one of John’s best love songs. (Check it out from his “Wildlife Concert” if you haven’t already) Many long-time fans who already have huge J.D. collections may pass this CD by, but if you’ve always liked “Annie’s Song,” (admit it, it’s a classic!) here’s a chance to get something special for your valentine.

More about John next time, assuming no new emergencies.