BrokenJPG

A Copywriter’s Blog
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Is it just me, or has Jon Stewart seemed positively inspired lately?

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If it were up to me, there would only be two movie genres: Action and Comedy. Watching the news for 5 seconds will prove to anyone that there is more than enough horrible, terrifying, depressing shit going on in the Real World as it is. I see no reason why I should pay money to spend 90+ minutes subjecting myself to more of it in a theater. Which is why, when The Wife brought home “Hachiko, A Dog’s Story” I told her I didn’t want to watch it.

That’s because a better title for this film would have been “Hachiko: The Cure for Happiness.” Let me share with you the official trailer.

A few observations about what you’ve just seen:

1. You can tell the trailer just explained the entire story of the film. All of it.
2. It is depressing as fuck.

That was the entire film. The whole thing. I will now sum up this honey-where-do-we-keep-the-sleeping-pills-I-need-to-OD-on-them story for you in two sentences: A man’s dog loved him so much that every day it waited at the train station for him to get home from work. Then one day he died, and it kept waiting for him for ten more years.

I have communicated this to you in two sentences. The trailer has shown you all of it in two minutes (and with decent editing could have done it in one). THE MOVIE DRAGS IT OUT FOR 90 MINUTES.

The worst part was, I knew what would happen. The guy was going to die. The dog was going to be more depressed than a hobo who just discovered they make non-alcoholic mouthwash. But it doesn’t happen at first. No. The film spends the better part of an hour showing you how much the dog loves it’s owner.

At this point, you have to ask yourself if this movie is the work of Satan. Do it’s creators derive sustenance from the torment of depressed souls? If so, every viewing of this film must feed all the demons in hell for a thousand years.

And just when it’s dragged on so long that you think maybe you’ve misinterpreted the trailer in some way and the guy actually lives- he dies.

And the dog can’t understand why he doesn’t come home.

It may interest you to know that I have trouble crying. This is not a macho thing I’m making up to impress you. It’s just a fact. There have been times where I have wanted to cry, times where crying would have been appropriate, and I have been unable to do so. From the time this fictional character dies, until the end of the movie, I CRIED FOR 45 MINUTES STRAIGHT.

Forty. Five. Fucking. Minutes. I am in advertising, ok? I have written scripts with montages that had to show the birth, life, and death of a human being in five seconds. The soulless assgoblins who directed this dog-lover’s nightmare went and dragged out the canine’s heartbroken, lonely existence for forty-five minutes.

You might think the moral of the story is that the dog eventually moved on, and rediscovered love in the family it’s owner left behind. You might think this is some story about how the whole town adopted the dog as their own- how they took him in and sheltered him. You might even think that maybe it turns out there was some big mistake and the guy wasn’t dead after all he just went out to get milk and then his car broke down and his GPS battery died and he got really really lost before hitting his head and getting amnesia and hey it’s all right now boy I found you at last and we can go play fetch in the yard.

None of that happened. The guy died. The dog waited ten years for him to show up at the train station. Then the dog died.

I bet you’re fairly depressed now, aren’t you? Maybe you do what I do when something in a movie scares or upsets you- you tell yourself it’s not real. Remind yourself they’re just actors. Think about how as soon as that scene ended somebody yelled “Cut!” and everyone clapped and then opened obscenely large checks before jumping into their limos and heading off to do really expensive drugs at the wrap party. That’s what The Wife was telling me to think of when the screen went black.

Some white words appeared. They say that Hachiko was a real dog. They tell you the date he was born, and the name of his owner. They tell you the year his owner died, and how he went and sat at the same spot at a train station in Japan for the next nine years, waiting for his owner until he died. And then they show you the bronze statue that was erected in the spot he always sat in. The real statue that’s still there today. At the real train station. Commemorating the real dog.

So I hope you weren’t just feeling better about yourself. Cause everything you just saw and felt was totally justified. It was a true g-damned story. If anyone needs a razor to slit their wrists, you can borrow mine. It’s only been used once.

And when the coroner rules my death a suicide, you tell him to arrest The Wife on charges of murder. I told her no, but she made me watch that damn film. Because she’s trying to kill me.

I’m not watching another movie for the rest of my life unless it contains at least 12 explosions during the opening credits or a fat man slipping on a banana peel. Preferably both.

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Sure, I’d heard about this. I remember music nerds making jokes about it in high school. But this is the first time I’ve ever seen it demonstrated.

Motherfucking Birdplane indeed.

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A Question of Confidence Ben Levy 18, April

I don’t know fashion. I’ve managed to progress to a level where I no longer get turned away from clubs (provided the lighting is bad and the doorman is half drunk already) but no one looks to me as an indicator of what they’ll be wearing in Milan next year.

I used to be much worse. There was a time when I wore shirts three sizes too big and all the shoes in my closet were classified as “running.” I wasn’t kidding before- three years ago I was turned away from a New York club because I wasn’t wearing appropriate shoes. So yeah. Changes have been made.

(I feel it necessary to inform you that I get compliments on my shoes all the time now.)

Anyhow, once my fashion sense managed to climb into the positive number range, people would occasionally say things like “that’s so you” or “that’s definitely something you would wear.” This generally had the effect of throwing me into a panic. Was this a good thing? Bad thing? Shit. I should change my clothes. But wait- I thought these clothes were ok, and I think someone just told me they’re not, so how will I ever be able to choose other clothes that are socially acceptable? I wonder if I should take a poll to see what everyone in a 12-mile radius thinks of what I’m wearing?

At this point I would usually meditate on the idea that there are no fashion critics in an insane asylum- everybody wears the same jackets with the really long sleeves.

What “that’s so you” really is, is a test of self-confidence. If you’re fine with who you are, if you know who that person is and you’re happy to be them, then someone telling you “that’s so you” is great. It’s a pat on the back.

When people said “that’s so you” about my clothing, I couldn’t deal because I wasn’t confident that the clothes that represented me were the right ones to begin with. And if they weren’t, then looking like me was a very bad thing.

But I didn’t realize “that’s so you” was a self-confidence test until a month ago, when I sent a friend a few pages of the book I’d been working on. They replied with “oh, this is totally you”. To which I responded, “Sweet. Thanks.”

See, I still may not be certain how to dress like me, but I can sure as hell write like me.*

*This is not to say I am an amazing writer. It merely means that I’ve found my personal “voice”. Whether you like it or it irritates you so much you break out in hives upon reading this blog is irrelevant. Although I suspect it’s the former, because if it’s the latter- man, why would you do that to yourself?

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I know it’s not a video. But tell me you’ve seen a video this week that’s better than this image, and I’ll call you a g-damned liar.

todaysbigthing.c9541a7006447cf959f77939e9878130

Seriously, if they added a bit of robot to it, there would be no need for Art Directors anymore. Someone would literally have created the perfect image for everything.

A Tale of Two Wheels Ben Levy 11, April

The Wife and I bought bikes today. Which reminds me of the story of the second time I rode a bicycle by myself.

I say “by myself”, but it’s important to note that most of my family was present for the spectacle. And I say “second time” because I had just graduated from training wheels the day before.

So that night was the big reveal. One night only. The main event. And I was in the spotlight. Only it was around twilight, which meant there were multiple spotlights. And they weren’t spotlights. More like lampposts.

Anyhow, I was going to show my whole family how great I was at bike riding. I had done this. Just the other day, in fact. And while that was the first time, I felt supremely confident I could do it again.

The Plan was as follows: ride out of my driveway, cross the court, turn a wide circle in the neighbors two-car driveway, and return.

It’s a good thing for this story that that is not what happened. If it had been, this would be a rather poor tale. No pacing. Barely any separation of beginning, middle, end. Up until now there hasn’t even been a cliffhanger. And so it’s fortunate that The Plan did not happen as previously described.

Because what a good story requires is an unexpected twist. Like the one I performed when I suddenly realized that the neighbors had parked one of their cars in their driveway, necessitating a rather sharp turn.

You might point out that a car is a rather large thing, and difficult to miss when one is riding directly at it. To which I would point out that that was precisely the reason I had to jerk my bike so hard to avoid it. And also that it’s presence in the driveway might have been less of a surprise had I not been so busy looking over my shoulder as I crossed the court. Just to make sure my entire family was watching me.

They say pride goeth before the fall. What they neglect to mention is that immediately after the fall, the spike on the bike chain goeth directly into the knee.

Then there’s the bleeding, the crying, the screaming, and the being carried by one’s father back into the house in a way that was at once very similar to- and not at all like- being triumphantly carried on the shoulders of one’s family members after successfully riding a bike in front of them.

As I said, The Wife and I bought bikes today. And went for our first ride. Should my second second ride prove anywhere near as exciting as my first second ride, I’ll be sure to tell you about it.

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Friday Feature: Pixels Ben Levy 8, April

The video you’ve already seen. Or if you haven’t, you’re about to.


PIXELS by PATRICK JEAN.
Uploaded by onemoreprod. – Independent web videos.

Also, I can’t help but feel that if this was how the apocalypse was described, a lot of people would have been strangely ok with it.

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Technically, it only cost $9, but I bought a url so I could send people somewhere besides the listing on Lulu.com.

People far more talented than I have been talking about how easy it is to go out and do stuff on a professional level (whatever that means). People like Wil Wheaton and Warren Ellis. The cry has generally been “get excited and make things“. It was in that spirit that I started a blog. I started selling shirts for the same reason. And now I’ve got a book out.

What Wil and Warren and a host of other creative-types are trying to say isn’t just that people should get excited and make stuff. It’s that these days it’s so damn easy to do it.

I made this post a while back, but it’s one of the ones that has haunted me. Because it was the first time I admitted- even to myself- the sheer number of things I wanted to do, could do, meant to do- and didn’t. I got a surprising number of responses to what basically amounted to my personal “projects to-do list”. Turns out there are a ton of people who suffer from the same ailment. We want to do stuff. Sometimes we even start to do stuff. But a lot of the time? We don’t wind up doing stuff.

The really cool thing is there’s a growing niche of businesses dedicated to helping people help themselves do things. For example, I sell shirts using spreadshirt.com, which is a print-on-demand service. It costs me nothing to create a shop and fill it with designs. I don’t have to buy 100 shirts before they’ll even print one. I just put the designs out there. If they sell, spreadshirt and I get paid. If not, we don’t. No risk. No upfront costs.

I Have A Dick. Now What? is handled the same way. If you like the book, you order it. I don’t have to go bankrupt purchasing 500 pallets worth of books just to get started. I had to purchase a proof copy (hence the $9). That was it.

There’s no risk. There’s no cost.

Oh sure, there’s the risk that no one will give a crap about what you did. But then you can just call your mom up, and she’ll tell you whatever you did is great and you’re still her special boy/girl. (Unless what you did is write a book with the word “dick” in the title, in which case she’ll sort of get this forced smile and will nod mechanically until someone changes the topic.)

And it costs time. But here’s the thing- I have more control over where my time goes than where my money goes. And if I want to spend all the hours The Wife works night shifts by writing a book about how to stare at breasts, I can do so without reprisal. The same cannot be said if I spend all my money staring at breasts while The Wife works night shifts. Time is easier to find than money.

(It really is. Look at the amount of work involved in staring out the window. Ya gotta open the blinds. Then hope something is out there to stare at. Then find a comfortable position to sit in. Then turn off or ignore the cell phone. Not think about work. Not watch tv, listen to music, or play video games. Shit, it takes a hell of a lot of effort to be lazy these days.)

I point this out because I think it’s a cool trend. And a lot of BrokenJPG readers are the creative sort, and I know they have ideas they keep meaning to produce. There are a hundred different things that threaten to get in the way of people doing stuff. I just wanted to call attention to something that actually makes it easier.

Also, for those who purchased a book, helped spread the word, or just listened to me yammer on and on and on about it for the past 5 months- thank you. The response so far has been incredible. This is something I would have done for myself even if no one ever bought a copy, but it makes me indescribably happy that people think something I’ve written is worth their money. Thank you.

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Obligatory Friday Feature Ben Levy 2, April

But I think we can all agree that the real news is that I wrote a book.

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