Blog 43 – Chariots of Mire

Chariots of Mire screenshotIn nine years, I will be 41 years old.  Perhaps at that time, a time at which I will most certainly be evaluating my life (41 seems to be a good age to do that, as opposed to 32, when I pay attention to nothing except basic emotions like hungry and sad), I will come back to SuperYouTube and watch Franks and Beans episode 41, “Chariots of Mire”.  I wonder what type of reaction I will have to this, an episode that features a number of common F&B tropes.  Perhaps I will remark at the already dated cultural references, or note the effort we made for special effects.  Maybe I’ll look back and say, hey, I still have a little bit of hair here, and punch a window.

In any case, “Chariots of Mire” does in fact show off some of the best of Franks and Beans.  If you watch this episode and hate it, well, then chances are you might not like too many other episodes.  Except for “Mailbag/Bloopers” or “The Sandwich”, which lots of people like.  Whatever.  What I’m trying to say is that this episode of the show features a lot of things that I like: physical comedy, irreverence, quick timing and callbacks to previous jokes.  And shouting.

Let’s tackle the first topic.  Did you see what I did there?  I used the word “tackle” in reference to a scene in which I bowl over a wagon full of, well, leaves and things.  Wow.  In filming this, I learned that it is really hard to purposely fall over things.  This is why, no matter how many times we tried (and we did several takes), I still braced myself before ultimately tumbling over.

Our music for this episode is, of course, the classic “Chariots of Fire”, which has been used for comedic effect to the point that it’s almost certainly used for that purpose more than it is in a serious manner.  It’s also very tough to find without a laugh track when you’re searching the Internet for a sample.  Music tends to add something intangible to a video, something that can’t be recreated with just ambient sound, and this is an extreme example of it.  And it gave me the opportunity to add in two more Franks and Beans favorites: word parodies and running.  I really do run a lot in this show.

Larry in bed, and the implication that he sleeps fully clothed (and later, the line “let’s go!”), is a reference to our sort-of popular (it depends on how you define “popular”) first episode, “High School”.  The reference to Avril Lavigne was about as random as they come…I wanted to think of a pseudo-celebrity that neither Larry nor I particularly liked, and her name was one of the few I thought up and was considering.  Plus “Avril Lavigne” sounds funny to say.  Also, here’s a funny “Weird Al” Yankovic video featuring Ms. Lavigne:

I enjoy that this episode, in contrast to basically everything before or after, features a fairly honest critique of Avril Lavigne.  She wasn’t really relevant at the time we filmed this episode, and she REALLY isn’t relevant now, but seriously, what was up with her image?  She’s a preppy blonde Canadian (hi, Lauren) who suddenly pains her fingernails black and wears socks on her arms and now she’s punk?  Come on, Michael.

The Oreo callback is one of my favorite sequences of the entire show.  “Hey, last cookie!” is a fairly generic line, but the callback to the “Chariots” music, the quick pace and Larry’s disinterested reply really makes is work for me.

Our “NO!” ending is a pretty good one, if you can make out what the heck I’m saying.  Basically, Larry is waking people up, and I’m not happy about it.  It may not seem like much, but I do get to say the line “for crap’s sake!”, which makes it all worth while.

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YouTube knows what’s goin’ on.

Naked Chicken Dead YouTube suggestionsA smattering of “suggested videos” from YouTube reveals that the popular online video service has Franks and Beans pegged.  If you watch one of our videos, what else are you likely to enjoy?  Apparently, you’d either enjoy watching more episodes of Franks and Beans (a pretty nice selection, from the screengrabs we see), OR you’d like to watch videos about ACTUAL baked beans.  And who wouldn’t want to do that?  In fact, let’s watch one now!

Wow!  Look at those beans grow!

FYI, that video has nearly 150,000 views.  You might be on to something, YouTube.

Blog 42 – 666

666 screen shot

Hey, everyone.  Who here likes the devil?  Now, I don’t mean you LIKE him like him, but just that you see him as more of an abstract concept, or a silly cartoon character, like a skinny guy with a goatee, painted red skin and silly horns, and you think, “hey, I like the Devil.  He’s funny and I bet he’s pretty misunderstood!”  Well, according to beloved author C.S. Lewis, you’re going to Hell.  No two ways about it!  Really, just punch your ticket now, bucco.  You should probably be ashamed of yourself, but since you’re already on a one-way trip to eternal fire and torment, I suppose there’s really no use in it.

While you’re there, taking part in having your teeth smashed in with a lava rock, please ask the Devil (he’ll be the guy in charge) what he thinks about episode 40 of Franks and Beans, the aptly-named “666”.  I’ll bet he just looks at you and spits snakes into your eyes or something, but what if he was like “Franks and Beans?  That’s a great episode!  I love the chaos montage!  They’re performing over in subsection five, right before we force them to eat their own intestines stuffed with razor blades.”  And then you could both laugh and laugh, and maybe Hell would be just a tiny bit more tolerable at that point.  But probably not, because, you know, Hell and all.

666 is a higher-concept episode than usual, with a lot of buildup and an immediate callback that, on a lot of levels, really works for me.  It does take a moderate-sized leap of faith in that we’re apparently professing that just saying the phrase “666” brings forth demonic possession and wild spasms of uncontrollable rage, but once you’re there, everything else falls into place.

If I had to change one thing about this episode, it’d be to add just a little more buildup.  I think that we would have benefited in taking things a bit more slowly; specifically, I wouldn’t jump right into the gravely “666!!” line right away.  Instead, I’d add up the numbers and say something like “and that comes to…six hundred and sixty-six dollars even.  Six…sixty six.”  And then pause for effect, look up to Larry, and THEN launch into the “SIX SIXTY SIX!” tirade.  I think that would have sold the joke better than what actually transpired, but overall I think it worked out fine, and hindsight is a tough sonofagun in any case.

666 screen shot 03

Here’s an amusing anecdote that should possibly make you sad and a little ashamed to know or even know OF your pals at Franks and Beans: it took both Larry and I several times to figure out how to subtract $6.66 from $10.00.  At first I embarrassed myself by saying $4.44.  In the editing process, Larry’s Mom (“got some mail for you”) pointed out the obvious flaw.  Contrite, we re-filmed the scene and I instead said “$3.44.”  This is ALSO incorrect, but we were lucky enough that you never see me saying it – so I just recorded myself saying the correct numbers (whatever they are) and we slapped it in.  This is what an educational system that doesn’t put enough emphasis on science and math produces, world!  What a damn shame.

666 receiptA few months ago, I went to the store and bough, apparently, three squeeze pops.  The price of three squeeze pops, plus 6% sales tax, some out to exactly $6.66.  This was a fun coincidence, and I took full advantage of it by looking at the cashier and saying “666!” in a gravely voice before gesticulating wildly.  The cashier didn’t enjoy the reference, as she perhaps hadn’t yet watched Franks and Beans, but I’m sure that has been rectified in the time since the encounter, because who ignores a sign like that?

666 Lion-O screen shotOur “NO!” ending features another of Larry’s many costume changes.  Since we’ve slowed down in filming episodes lately, it seems that all of the endings are just Larry in various Halloween costumes, but this one here is memorable for sure, as Larry had some fleeting Internet fame (that is, other fame than what is allotted to us from Franks and Beans, which is considerable) in the same outfit.

Around the time we filmed this episode, Larry and I went to the New York Comic-Con, where Wagon Wheel Comics had a booth for one of the first times ever.  On the Saturday of the show, Larry dressed as Lion-O, and everyone loved him.  LOVED him.  It was something to see.  In face, searching for “Lion-O NYCC” on Google shows that Larry is still well remembered:

Larry as Lion-O Google screen shotHe’s got the first five slots!  Wow.  It was like walking around with a celebrity, and I was just a hapless member of the entourage.

Larry as Lion-O at New York Comic-Con NYCC Hellboy Larry as Lion-O New York Comic Con NYCCLarry even campaigned for America’s Libraries…apparently.  While we were at the show, we actually sold a few Franks and Beans DVDs, which, of course, requires photographic evidence to be believed:

Franks and Beans - New York Comic-Con NYCC

Look at that exchange of money for goods!  After the show, we took the parade to the streets of New York:

Larry as Lion-O New York Comic-Con NYCC TImes SquareNice photobomb, kid.  Later that evening, Larry made the front page of IGN:

IGN ScreenshotAnd a fun time was had by all, until Larry had a terrible reaction to the cat-eye contacts he was wearing.  And by that time, everyone was cranky anyway.

This blog took a strange turn.  Perhaps the Devil made me do it.