BrokenJPG

A Copywriter’s Blog

Ninja-like copy at the top of the page here.

Some things are just too damn awesome to be fictional. So I knew, the second I beheld what might be the greatest shirt in the universe, that there had to be an actual unliving, non-breathing ninja who inspired the design.

ZombieNinjaPirate cannot speak of course, because zombie’s don’t talk much. But since he’s a ninja, and they never talk anyway, he long-ago mastered sign language.

ZNP by Chris  Wahl
So- now you’re a zombie ninja pirate. What came first?
[Ninja, of course. Your average zombie doesn’t have the coordination to become a ninja. And pirates are way too noisy as a rule. All that “Yaargh” and “Aye” and “Where’s the rum gone?”]

Ok, so you were a ninja. How did you become a zombie?
[I died. This was a couple hundred years ago, and they had just invented gun powder. I thought this guy was waving a chair leg at me and then “boom”. Dead Ninja. I was pretty disappointed, I can tell you. But thanks to the unspeakable Ninja arts and my voodoo priest cousin Fred, I got a second chance.]

Voodoo priest cousin? Japanese voodoo?
[Naw the real stuff. Fred’s really more of a second cousin, I guess. But he’s a solid guy that Fred. He’d have to be to find my corpse and reanimate me.]

Ok. So you’re a ZombieNinja. Why become a Pirate?
[It just happened after the zombie thing. It was sort of natural. See, I was on an assassin mission when, right in the middle of this sweet swordfight with the ghost of a long-dead samurai, my left hand fell off.]

Damn. Really?
[Yeah. Just decomposed, dropped right off. So I figured I’d put a hook there. Good for climbing, good for killing. It just made sense.]

I see. And the eyepatch?
[Well, I don’t actually see out of my eyes anyway, but I figured it went with the hook.]

So how well can you actually fight as a myopic, decomposing, one-handed master of stealth?
[I'm a zombieninjapirate. I can either rip off my own leg and beat you to death with it, or I can rip off your leg and beat you to death with it. Your choice.]

Point taken.

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Context for today’s Friday Feature:

Some of you have heard me boast of my foosball skills. Despite the fact that I haven’t played since I moved from Miami, I will not hesitate to face a single one of you in battle. Find me a foosball table, name the stakes, and it’s on.

You think I’m just playing around. You think you’re good at foosball. “Oh yes,” you say “we have a table in our agency too. We play for [insert stupid stakes here]. I bet I can take you.”

No you can’t. You think you can, but you can’t. You don’t know where I’m coming from. Where I come from, we play for real. Oh sure, we have a prize-

Photo 13

-but that’s not our motivation. You play hard when you have something to win. You play for real when you have something to lose.

Where I come from, if you lose 10-0, if you get shut out- shit gets real. You spin the Wheel of Misfortune, son. Respect the Wheel. RESPECT IT.

Because it will tell you if you get banned from the foosball table for a week.

Or that you’ve become the office coffee bitch- making two runs a day for weeks at a time.

And it will tell you if you’re about suffer the harshest penalty of all- Marmite. A product so foul that it’s own manufacturers have seen fit to mock it.

BEHOLD:

This shit is for real. So don’t tell me you’re good at foosball. It’s life or Marmite on the streets where I learned to play. That’s where I’m coming from. You ready to accept the challenge?

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Bonus Post Ben Levy 27, January

Went to a free creative writing seminar tonight, just to see what it was like. They had us do an exercise where we wrote about some “miracle machine from the future”. This is what I scribbled:

The Carrier Pigeon 2.0 was hailed as a marvel of robotics and artificial intelligence. Merely tell it what you need, and it would fetch it for you. Certainly the masses praised it for it’s usefulness around the home- finding keys or TV remotes. But what really set it apart was it’s ability to interpret the requests it was given. This capability was famously displayed on the day when Jonathan Pembleton, a struggling writer, crumpled up his latest screenplay and screamed “I need an idea!” within range of his Carrier Pigeon 2.0. Whereupon the device flew out the window and returned three hours later with a full manuscript. Sadly for Jonathan, it was the property of one George Lucas, and detailed the soon to be released prequel to Indiana Jones.

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I also do Bar Mitzvahs Ben Levy 24, January

Let’s get one thing out of the way right now: I don’t dance. Not well, at any rate.

I am such a bad dancer that- during the 90s- I used to get compliments on my dancing. Actual, serious, compliments.

During the 90s.

This has always been fairly upsetting to me because I have no problem finding the beat. And I know what good dancing looks like. It’s the opposite of whatever I’m doing.

However, at some point I learned to breakdance. Well, actually, I learned how to do one move. There is a whole golden-age of comic-books style origin story behind this. How I discovered the hidden lore in an unlikely place, my subsequent discovery of my natural aptitude for it, and how it took me from obscurity to 30 seconds of being the coolest kid at the middle school youth group dance.

That is a tale for another time.

I’ve been randomly throwing this single move out there for about 12 years now. I literally didn’t know “the move” was a real b-boy technique until I went to wikipedia just now in the hopes that I could find the nearest equivalent. Turns out it’s an actual step, called (depending on who you ask) the helicopter/coffee grinder/can opener.

When I busted it out at the office Holloween party a few years ago, my ex-b-boy coworkers laughed appreciatively/uproariously and dubbed it “the dreidel”.

Please understand, I haven’t done this seriously since I was 14. Now it’s all for a laugh. If I bust it out at an office party, it’s good for a round of collective gasps, a lot of “wait- he did what? DO IT AGAIN I MISSED IT”, and then everyone gets to watch as two or three other people proudly show off just how long it’s been since they did The Worm or a Backspin.

But among Jews “the dreidel” has an entirely different effect. At my best, I knew two moves (one of my ex-breakdancing coworkers taught me a “baby freeze”, which I proudly pulled off at my wedding and have never bothered to attempt since). But over the years I’ve attended lots of Bar Mitzvahs. And Jewish youth group dances. And, more recently, weddings. And dear reader, let me tell you: to a room full of white, middle-class Jews, a single helicopter is the equivalent of an olympic gymnast doing a perfect 10 floor routine in your living room.

They absolutely lose their minds.

It’s fairly embarrassing. The whole thing should be a joke. But these people scream. They demand I do it again. And again. And again. They bring the professional videographer over so they can get it on film (no I don’t actually have a copy or I’d post it up.) Kids would trail after me like I was some kind of choreographic mastermind. I’ve lost count of the number of times I wound up slightly to the side of the dance floor at a Bar Mitzvah, teaching a bunch of 10-13 year olds how to jump over their own leg. It’s reached the point where I get requests at family gatherings.

I should point out that every time I do this, The Wife threatens to divorce me. She’s gone so far as leaving the room on several occasions. “Do you ever consider how badly you’re embarrassing me?” she cries, as she picks up the nearest item in preparation to hurl it at me.

Which of course is practically the only reason I do it anymore.

You might wonder why I’m suddenly mentioning this now. This past Saturday, I attended The Wife’s Grandmother’s 90th birthday party. It was a lovely catered affair at a country club, with all of her side of the family (ie-people I had previously seen at weddings and Bat Mitzvahs) in attendance. It was not the sort of affair one should “bust a move” at.

Which was why I turned down the first three requests.

The fourth one came from The Mother-In-Law, along with a surprisingly hard shove that propelled me into the center of the circle. At which point, I busted a dreidel. During Hava NaGeila.

My Jewish readers understand how utterly ridiculous this is. For the rest of you, the closest parallel I can think of would be performing a flare in the midst of a country square dance.

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BBC2 Finds Fortress of Solitude Ben Levy 22, January


DAMN.

In other news, BrokenJPG turns 2 today. I was going to do a whole bunch of things to commemorate 730 days of being ignored by the internet, but I didn’t. Instead, I’m just going to re-post my first…um…post. Here it is:

SCOTTISH TOURISM BOARD MAKES ME LOOK GREAT

After a quarter million dollars and 6 months, Scotland unveiled a new slogan: (the faint of heart may want to sit down for this one)

“Welcome to Scotland.”

More than most people, I understand how hard it can be to sum up the entirety of a product, service, or (in this case) country in a few simple words. Still, this is just amazing. I wish I’d been there to see the final pitch. I imagine it went something like this-

”Ladies and gentlemen, we feel this tagline communicates every nuance of the tourism board’s noble task. It successfully lets the world know that they are welcome. In Scotland. Also, I got the copy off my doormat.”

If you say the above in a Scottish accent, it’s twice as funny.

That was my first post, and I still think it’s pretty good. A shame the whole blog went downhill from there.

Thanks for reading everyone.

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Humanity is trying to kill me. Ben Levy 17, January

A week ago today, CNN.com ran an article stating that thousands of people were depressed after seeing Avatar. Because real life couldn’t compare to it.

Let me say two things to start with.

First, Avatar is a beautiful movie. Visually, it raises the bar for film. It is our generations’ Star Wars, replacing Cinnabun hairdos and walking shag carpets with elongated Smurfs and braids that have planetary ethernet cables.

avatar-movie-image-3

Second, this article might very well be a hoax. A piece of marketing specifically calculated to get everyone talking about the movie for an extra week. If so, bravo sirs. You managed to get me to blog about it. But not before looking into gene splicing as a way to forever separate myself from the vomit-inducing shame-spiral of deplorableness that is humanity.

Even if it is a hoax, I am fully prepared to believe it’s true. That’s the sad part. It almost doesn’t matter whether it’s real or not. (I say “almost” because if these people do exist, they need to be rounded up, escorted into spaceships, and shot into the sun as soon as possible.) Regardless, the fact is that our species has sunk to a level where the statements in this article aren’t even a stretch.

avatar-movie

What the very existence of this forum thread named “Ways to cope with the depression of the dream of Pandora being intangible” means, is that there are thousands of people on our planet right now who feel that sitting in the dark for two and a half hours is a more vivacious experience then taking a walk. It feels more real. Some advice for these people, and I mean this in all seriousness: please consider all the sensory impressions you get walking from a dark theater, through the parking lot, back to your car.

I really want you all to try this. Listen to the crunch of the gravel and broken glass beneath your dirty white tennis shoes. Inhale deeply, and smell the heady aroma of I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Called-Butter popcorn coming from the theater behind you. Feel the way your spine twists and shatters as I run over you with my car. Take it all in. That’s reality you’re feeling. In a second you’ll feel some more of it as I back up over you.

Humanity claims to rule this planet, yet damn near none of us could survive without a roof over our heads for more than two days. And I mean in the middle of New York. If you air-dropped us Bear Grylls style into the Amazon, we’d make it just long enough to discover our iPhones didn’t get wi-fi before tripping over an exposed root and impaling ourselves on poisonous tree frogs or something. So why should I expect those same masses to be able to distinguish between reality and some bright lights?

avatar-movie-picture-4

Always before I’ve blamed Hollywood. They have mocked my childhood by building multi-million dollar, 200 minute-long dildos to shove up the ass of every 80s show I ever loved. Repeatedly. And I screamed at them. I ranted. I refused to pay even one cent to see these reborn abortions. But perhaps I owe Hollywood an apology.

If there are really are thousands of so-called people who feel that a Ferngully remake is more real than my fist hitting them repeatedly in the face, maybe I should give Hollywood a break. After all, there are millions of idiots who pay for this crap. They make it profitable. Perhaps Hollywood isn’t really to blame. Maybe, just this once, I should apologize.

Of course, those fucktards got in a bidding war over the rights to the Atari game Asteroids. A bidding war.

I’ll agree with those azure-obsessed, movie-masturbating, mouth-breathers on one point. I fucking hate this planet.

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I find it comforting that there is at least one meme besides LOLCATS that the internet never tires of:

And, because it’s only fair to listen to all parties before taking sides, I grudgingly (not really) post NBC’s perspective on things:

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I’ve Had Stranger Lessons Ben Levy 10, January

A few weeks ago, The Wife and I were on vacation in California. We were walking along Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco when the following occurred. Every word of it is true.

Walking down the street, we noticed several people, clearly tourists, having their shoes shined. This was not a fancy airport “sit in a chair and look like a Southern White Land Owner reading a newspaper” shoe shine. This was a “lift yer foot off the curb a second so I can run this dirty rag over it” shoe shine. You had 50/50 odds of your shoes being dirtier at the end of it, and everyone’s expression seemed to say “If I hadn’t agreed to this, he would have robbed me!”

I smiled to myself as we walked past them. How hard is it to avoid a guy on the street? Don’t make eye contact. Don’t talk to them. Don’t respond if they talk to you. Stupid tourists. It was their own fault that they-

“Hey, man- hold up. If I can tell you exactly where you got ‘dem shoes, will you let me clean ‘em for you?”

The Wife had moved on a couple of steps, but I was trying to figure out the catch. I ran through the most common cons in my head, but I couldn’t see where this was going. Technically, my shoes were from “a shoe store”. Was that the trick?

“I’ll tell you exactly where you got dem shoes- city, state, the exact place. If I get it right will you promise to tell me the truth, and lemme clean them?”

City and State? I took a quick look at The Wife and myself. Nothing on us screamed Florida. The shoes in question were black Converse. I could have picked them up anywhere.

“You can whisper to her where you got ‘em. Just promise me yer gonna be honest if I get it right.”

Could he read lips? There was a trick here, but damned if I could figure it out. I cupped my hands around my mouth and whispered “Miami, DSW” to The Wife.

The guy leaned over my left shoe, pulled out a rag that was significantly blacker than my Converse, and started wiping at it.

“Ok, I told ya I was gonna tell ya exactly where ya got yer shoes, right? Exactly- city and state. Well, ya got dis shoe on yer left foot.”

Oh, son of a-

“Yah got dat one on yer right foot.”

Where you “got dem shoes” not “where you got dem shoes from”. Sneaky, freaking-

“And yah got both of ‘em right here in San Francisco, California.” He tilted his head intently as he wiped at my foot. “Now, Momma always told ya not ta talk to strangers. And she was right.”

I smiled ruefully. It was a good trick, and well-played, but I wasn’t about to start making small talk.

“I’m not just a shine shiner, ya understand? I’m an entertainer. I’m like PT Barnum.”

The hell? PT Barnum? You’ve got to be kidding me here. Had this guy read Hoopla*?

He was on the right foot now. “I don’t just provide a service, I entertain. And you learn summin. So it’s $5 for the lesson, and $5 for the shoes.”

I gave him $10. 50 cents for the shoe shine, and $9.50 for the lesson. He could have been a beggar harassing people for money. He could have been a thief (he was, but an honest sort of thief). But he was out there entertaining people for some money. I respected that. And one more thing.

“I don’t just provide a service, I entertain.” That right there is pretty much my entire post-graduate education, summed up in 8 words. For $10 and slightly wet feet, I got an important reminder of what my job is as an ad guy. Sell the product. And entertain.

Oh yeah, and never talk to strangers. Idiot tourist.

*Hooplah was a book written by Alex Bogusky and CP+B about some of the philosophies and experiences behind the agency. Among the many crazy things inside it is a conversation between Alex and the deceased PT Barnum, in which the latter is given much credit for pioneering many of the techniques CP+B used to become one of the best agencies in the world.

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Talk to the Spam, Vol 2 Ben Levy 3, January

Well ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for another fine edition of Talk to the Spam. For those who don’t remember, Vol 1 detailed a comment which “…was clearly postulating a brilliant postmodern counterpoint to my hypothesis”. Let’s see what today’s automated nonsensical rhetoric has to teach us, shall we?

I recently wrote my first short story and posted it on the BrokenJPG hoping to get feedback. While only one person actually commented here on the blog, I’ve gotten quite a few responses, ranging from “It wasn’t bad” to “I really enjoyed that, do it again!”. I was ready to call the whole thing a success until I was gifted with this brilliant insight:

“I might novelty over the extent of the look well-meaning of rude for a Linux distro.”

And now I just hate everything I’ve ever written.

The beauty behind this comment is that it works on so many levels. It immediately invites a closer reading, instantly rewarding that intense interest by offering up a vast cornucopia of interpretations that reflect the reader’s own biases, which in turn invites further questioning of one’s initial questions.

For example, why is it that he “might novelty”? If he didn’t novelty, what other options would be available? And how would that effect the “extent of the look”? And we haven’t even begun to consider the “Linux distro”, regardless of how well-meaning or rudely it was presented.

In less than twenty words, I was shown that writing needs to work on multiple levels. It’s not enough to simply craft a piece of fiction- I should be struggling to present a literary masterpiece whose hidden allegories and subtleties confound and lobotomize my readers, so that every perusal of the text can impart a different and more exciting revelation. And that’s a lesson that all professional amateur first-time short fiction writers can stand to learn.

So, until next time- I pleasant grape a forthcoming spooner to you.