Please Don't Squeeze the Charmin

Mr. Whipple
Dick Wilson, born Ricarrdo diGuglielmo, was paid $25,000 a day with 11 and a half months of vacation for telling women not to squeeze the Charmin.

It wasn't his only gig as an actor. According to Wikipedia, he made nearly 40 movies and had a number of semi-recurring roles on TV -- he was the drunk on Bewitched -- and before all that was an acrobatic dancer.

But it was his 500 commercials as Mr. Whipple that will be his major legacy. And there were perks in the assignment. In addition to his earnings as spokesperson, Charmin gave him a lifetime supply of toilet paper.

Those Madison Ave. Mad Men are something else, aren't they?
Who would have thought that toilet paper could be pitched with a romantic, tactile slant?

Mr. Whipple passed away in 2007 and thefox22 uploaded the memorial YouTube tribute above. Here's Mr. Whipple in action, as most TV viewers saw him.

Does a bear use toilet tissue in the woods..?
The Whipple campaign was eventually replaced by a series of commercials so edgy and disturbing that it almost qualifies as some kind of viral marketing effort.

Yes, we're talking about those damned animated bears in the wood -- get it? -- and their preoccupation with residue...

Men of the Apocalypse: Sci-Fi Edition

Who You Gonna Call...?
We're already on record stating that if all hell breaks loose we'd feel safer if our Top Ten Women of the Apocalypse were guarding the ramparts. But that doesn't mean that guys should be left totally out of the equation.

We've already identified the secret agents we would choose to be on the front lines in an end-of-days struggle and in this post we look at the heroes of sci-fi movies who in our opinion would be our go-to-guys in the Mother-of-All-Battles against unspeakable evil and devastation.

The Night of the Living Dead: Duane Jones as "Ben" 1968

Movie Storyline:
A NASA space probe explodes generating radiation which not only re-animates the dead but turns the slow-walking corpses into fleash-eating ghouls. Ben is the unlikely saviour for a group of strangers barricaded in an isolated farmhouse.

"They're coming to get you, Barbra!"
There were certainly zombie movies before this one, but George Romero's 1968 The Night of the Living Dead (NLD) is arguably film-zero for modern zombie-apocalypse cinema and the template that shaped the genre for the next four decades.

Mister Romero's Neighborhood
Greorge Romero -- who before this film had worked as a director for Mister Roger's Neighborhood -- admits that he ripped off Richard Matheson's I Am Legend to turn what, in early drafts, started out as a horror-comedy flick into a film that stunned audiences with its skin-chewing savagery.

Ben Takes Charge
At the center of the mayhem is the character Ben, played by the La Sorbonne trained stage-actor Duane Jones. Ben's courage and intelligence are all that stands between a ravenous brigade of zombies and a motley crew of strangers trying to escape.

Why does Duane (Ben) Jones qualify to be one of the Sci-Fi Men of the Apocalypse?
Ben is the epitome of the apocalyptic leader. He is cool under fire yet forceful when required. He's the kind of character in a movie who when faced with the riskiest of propositions for rescue usually gets that great cliche line: It's the chance we'll have to take!

Duane Jones was even cool about playing the hero of a movie that spawned the entire sub-genre of zombie apocalypse movies. He went on to head the Theatre Department at the State University of New York at Old Westbury. The Duane L. Jones Recital Hall there is named for him.

His role in NLD broke Hollywood stereotyping, representing the first time a black actor was cast as a non-ethnic lead in a major US motion picture and the first time a black actor had the leading role in a horror film.

Mr. Jones is quoted as saying, "It never occurred to me that I was hired because I was black. But it did occur to me that because I was black it would give a different historic element to the film."

The Blob: Steven McQueen as "Steve" 1958

Movie Storyline:
Gelatinous meteor goop consumes an entire town one resident at a time until Steve, a 28 year old teenager, convinces the authorities to act.

Steve single-handedly saves his hometown and the world from the most dangerous mass of strawberry Jell-O ever. It was curious casting to have McQueen play a teenager in this movie but it wasn't the last time this kind of thing happened. Eight years later, at the age of 36, he played a young teenager in the opening scenes of Nevada Smith.

No matter. This was his movie debut and the start of one of the biggest film careers of the last half of the 20th century.

Not exactly a film to brag about
The Blob was a surprise-hit horror movie though a number of people who were involved with it chose to leave it off their resume. Steve McQueen didn't seem to say much about the movie and it was also the only time that Terrence Steven McQueen went by the stage-name Steven. (His Vampire Diaries grandson goes by Steven R. McQueen.)

Even Aneta Corsaut who played Steve's girlfriend, and went on to play Andy of Mayberry's girlfriend Helen Crump, didn't exactly brag about her participation in the film.

Aneta Corsaut

Rain-blobs keep falling on my head...
But the most deafening silence comes from the two young men who wrote the 50's rock-and-roll inspired theme song for the movie. When audiences heard it in 1958, it would have been hard for them to believe that these two guys would go on to write some of the most beautiful and enduring music of our time.

A long way from The Look of Love, Burt Bacharach and Hal David made their film-score debut with the title track, Beware of the Blob. Take a listen...

Why does Steve (Steve) McQueen qualify to be one of the Sci-Fi Men of the Apocalypse?
Number one, he's Steve Freakin' McQueen, for goodness sake. He's the guy who wrote the book on Cool.

And number two, this is one of those movies that's so bad, it's good. It is both an awful 1950s B-movie and the perfect parody of an awful 1950s B-movie, all at the same time.

The Incredible Shrinking Man: Grant Williams as "Scott Carey" 1957

Movie Storyline:
Scott, a normal-sized guy, is briefly engulfed by a radioactive cloud that causes him to shrink so much that he has to do battle with his house cat and, before it's all over, a basement spider.

The Incredible Shrinking Man was a different kind of horror movie. There was no monster terrorizing the town. The real problem was the lead character himself. This story is more closely aligned with true science-fiction in how it explores what happens when the very foundation of a person's self-identity is stripped away from him.

And let's face it, getting smaller is no guy's idea of a good time.

Why does Grant (Scott Carey) Williams qualify to be one of the Sci-Fi Men of the Apocalypse?
Setting this movie apart from others of the genre is a transcendent final voiceover scene in which rapidly-shrinking Scott Carey articulates the majestic unity he discovers between the microscopic and the macroscopic, the earthly and the ethereal, the logical and the spiritual:

"The unbelievably small and the unbelievably vast eventually meet, like the closing of a gigantic circle. And I felt my body dwindling, melting, becoming nothing. My fears locked away and in their place came acceptance. All this vast majesty of creation, it had to mean something. And then I meant something, too. Yes, smaller than the smallest, I meant something, too. To God there is no zero. I still exist."

Apocalypzia's Men/Women of the Apocalypse Series:

Top Ten Women of the Apocalypse
mara jade
Mara Jade: Star Wars Expanded Universe

Men of the Apocalypse: Secret Agents
our man flint
Derek Flint: Our Man Flint

Hedy Lamarr: Woman of the Apocalypse
hedy lamarr
Hedy Lamarr

Titicut Follies: The Most Disturbing Movie You Will Never See


The only US film ever banned for reasons other than sexuality or national security.

This 1967 documentary by Frederick Wiseman is violent but not in any traditional way.

Its focus is -- or was -- the Bridgewater State Hospital for the Criminally Insane in Massachusetts. Largely as an outcome of this production, within 20 years, this facility and many others like it were shuttered.

Why? Watching the film it becomes quickly evident that the institution was as dysfunctional as the inmates within it. No, make that more dysfunctional.

Strike Up the Band
The title of the film refers to an unintentionally surreal talent show called the Titicut Follies in which inmates were forced to participate. The film begins with a scene with inmates singing a zombie-like rendition of "Strike Up The Band." (Titicut is a Wampanoag word for the Taunton River in Massachusetts.)

The Stuff of Nightmares
What happens to these inmates at the bullying of their keepers is something that most Americans would believe could only happen somewhere else, and certainly not in a nation which, within 24 months of the film's release, would put a man on the Moon.

The View from the Inside
Filmmaker Wiseman doesn't allow you to be merely an observer of what happens in Bridgewater. He grabs you by the neck, thrusts you inside and slams the cell door. You're not so much watching the inmates as you are becoming one of them.

36 minutes into the film an inmate pleads his case for release.
He's saying exactly what you would be saying to the prison psychologist if you were trying to get out.

Watching this film you come to realize that if you found yourself in this institution there would be no way that you would be able to convince your keepers that you didn't belong there.

Anything and everything you said or did would be filtered through the institution's belief that you were insane.

And frighteningly, after a few months , weeks or even days of living under these conditions you might indeed become just that.

It is not our point that keepers within this institution were cruel and inhumane but rather that absolutely corrupt systems corrupt absolutely.

Banned in Boston
With the claim that this film was an invasion of inmate privacy, the state of Massachusetts, in 1968, banned it from being shown to the general public and ordered copies of the film destroyed.

More likely, however, state officials feared the film was a stinging indictment of their own sanctioning of and involvement in a social policy gone horribly wrong.

After years of appeals, a Superior Court Judge reversed the state ruling in 1991 and the film was again made available to the public.

Health care reform? You'll find points here to either rally for it or rail against.
The pro-reform advocates can say that we need more and better institutions to take care of people disadvantaged in this way. The anti-reform advocates can say that this is what happens when the state is relied upon to take care of the unfortunate.

There are no answers to these questions in this documentary. There is no narration, commentary nor articulated point of view. The skillful editing, however, makes a powerful and unforgettable statement.

Titicut Follies is raw in every sense of the word.
You can watch this film for free in its 84-minute entirety at various places on the web, including EGTV or via an embedded link right here at Apocalypzia but we guess that you won't. Titicut Follies -- without physical torture, blood or gore -- is a brutal assault on the senses.

We watched the film again preparing this post and we're still reeling from the experience.

Art Imitates Life: Is Seeing Truly Believing?


What do you see?
A photo of a smiling attractive young woman? That's not what Dru Blair would tell you. Blair claims this is a portrait he painted as an art class assignment in 2005. According to Blair, it took about two weeks to complete and Photoshop had no part in the process.

Really? Yes, really!

That's Dru to the immediate right of the painting titled Tica. (By the way, this is a real photograph of these guys...)

We came upon Dru's painting in an August 2009 post on the Toy Zone blog, titled 10 Awesome Images That Are Actually Paintings.

The Toy Zone's excellent post set us on the hunt for other examples of what's called photorealism.

How could an artist really render a painting so real, so lifelike?

There are those who doubt the authenticity of some examples of photorealism and others who doubt its legitimacy as an art form. We certainly claim no expertise as art critics but what we've seen of this technique seems extraordinary. Do you agree?

Richard Estes
The art of Richard Estes brings to life a city of steel, stone and glass.

Telephone Booths

Supreme Hardware

Ralph Goings
NPR's Claire O'Neill wrote an article last September about realistic painter Ralph Goings and his fascination with diners.

Mr. Goings first photographs his subject area and uses a slide projected image to guide his hand as a painter. And at a certain point in the process, he turns the projector off and gives the pure artist within him the helm.

If you think that's cheating, we submit that this type of artistic drawing process was actually responsible for the birth of photography in the 1800s.

In the comparison images below the two examples seem somehow reversed. We expect paintings to have somewhat of a softer focus compared to the sharper, harder edges in photographs.

The Photo:

The Painting:

Denis Peterson
Denis Peterson captures dignity within despair in a brilliant series of paintings depicting hard life on the streets.

Toothbrush and a Comb (Acrylics and Oil on Canvas)

Dust to Dust (Acrylics and Oil on Canvas)

Iman Maleki
Iman Maleki is an Iranian artist who studied under Morteza Katouzian in the 1990s. His artistry brings to Western eyes a glimpse into the heart and soul of the Middle-East in a way that would be difficult to capture in traditional paintings and photographs.

Memory of that House (Oil on Canvas)

The Old Album (Oil on Canvas)

But hey, photorealists also know how to have a good time!
We're not sure if Rembrandt or Da Vinci ever tried to punk anyone with one of their masterpieces, but check out what Dru Blair did a few years ago to Chip Foose, host of Discovery Channel's Overhaulin'

Dru Blair tricks Chip Foose

Dru | MySpace Video

Apocalypzia: Six Months Down the Road

Apocalypzia was launched six months ago today.
When we started this thing, we thought we'd be lucky if it lasted six days. And how fortunate we've been to connect with kind people from the US and around the planet who have taken the time to listen to whatever it was we've had to say.

The brilliant Nancy Scott of Marketing Brillo was the first to encourage us to try this idea and we thank her for that. The omni-talented Peggy Ann Osborne has been a constant champion from the start.

Twitter Power
And our friends on Twitter have been phenomenally supportive. To name a few: the beautiful and talented @SharlzG, the deboniar droid @_C3PO, the ever-intriguing @niceguyted, the always-inspiring @Esowteric and the forever-clever @jerrybattiste. Special thanks go out to the majestic and magnificent @theMaraJade. We would follow these friends anywhere.

Looking Back, Looking Ahead
The future is forever uncertain but acknowledging this six-month mark, we're showcasing some past posts that we've shared with you on this journey, starting with our very first May Day!!! post. (Click the title links to go to the original posts)

Thank you all again for your time and support!

May Day!!! Run For Your Lives!!!
...destruction is the essential prerequisite for creativity and new growth. Out of the fragments of destruction today come the raw materials and building blocks of a yet undiscovered future.

The Wilhelm Scream
Since the Harry Truman Administration, this iconic scream has been the shriek heard round the world, appearing in over 140 movies -- and counting.

Behold a Pale Horse
At the nexus of a military without moral leadership and industry that profits from death and destruction lurks the true axis of evil.

recruitment poster

Ah Brasil Bossa Nova
Sinval Fonseca is an artistic renaissance man from Brazil, who is, among other things, a painter, a musician and a singer.

One Giant Leap...
On July 16, 1969, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin lifted off from earth atop a roman candle that soared above the clouds and roared into history.

lunar module

Sheldrake the Magnificent
...the post-apocalyptic world will need renegade thought leaders like Rupert Sheldrake to be the trailblazers and the pathfinders of the new science.

Sarah, We Hardly Knew Ye
The apocalypse came early this year for the Governor of Alaska.

palin campaign

Top Ten Women of the Apocalypse
You can have all the Batmen, the Spider-Men and the Iron Men. If push ever comes to shove, we choose Girl Power to ward off the forces of evil.

Historical Hulu
Yesterday can teach us a lot about Tomorrow.

martin and lewis

1950s Children's TV Shows. Baby Boomers Beware..!
Froggy, frozen-featured and lurching, exhibited the Jedi-Master ability to force his victims to do things (embarrassing things, humiliating things, awful things) against their will. His raspy, gutteral voice, repeating the phrase "you will, you will," was the stuff of nightmares.

Children of Stardust
Right now, anything and everything that is within your field of view -- and indeed all solid matter in the universe -- is the product of the violent and explosive death of a star.