Episode 43.1 – Disgusting Commentary on “Why So Misleading?”

Two great tastes don’t always go great together.

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Blog 47 – Long Distance

Pittsburgh Comicon Spawn

The Pittsburgh Comicon used to be big time.  Back in the 1990s, when Larry wore South Park t-shirts and I wore hats for reasons other than to cover up hair loss, the yearly Pittsburgh Comicon was something to look forward to, especially as a way for young fans to meet up with professionals and other fans in a way that didn’t involve weird newsgroups that would inevitably devolve into searching for naked pictures of Pamela Anderson.   The Pittsburgh shows of the 1990s featured celebrities and big-time comic book creators whose work went all the way back to the Golden Age of comics in the 1930s and ’40s.  Heck, we even got our picture taken with Spawn, both some guy dressed in a costume and the actual Al Simmons, who I’m pretty sure got a booth and handed out stickers or something.

Jeff and Larry Action Comics 1The Pittsburgh Comicons of today just aren’t the same.  When the old Monroeville Convention Center closed down several of years ago, I remembering thinking, “thank goodness, now the show can move to a real location, like the state-of-the-art Pittsburgh Convention Center (located conveniently downtown)”.  But it turns out that the Comicon did not heed or receive my well-constructed thoughts, complete with parentheses, and to this day they remain in Monroeville, the least convenient location for an event that identifies itself by the adjective “Pittsburgh”.  These days, they don’t haul out copies of 1938’s Action Comics #1 anymore only to have a 16-year-old Larry almost knock it and millions of dollars worth of other comics off a shelf, no siree.

Pittsburgh Comicon Mart NodellAnd the Pittsburgh Comicon doesn’t seem to have guests like Mart Nodell, creator of Green Lantern, anymore.  One good reason for this is that Mr. Nodell has been dead for a few years.  Another is that…well, I’m not exactly sure why.  But when I think back to the heyday of the show and compare it to what it is now, well…there’s really no comparison, and this is a shame, because Pittsburgh deserves a nice mid-level comic book show.  It doesn’t have to be a media extravaganza like those in New York, Chicago or San Diego (or Toronto…or Seattle for that matter), but a comic-centered show with new talent and a better location are musts for the Pittsburgh Comicon to recapture its former glory.

Pittsburgh Comicon Chase Masterson

If the show ever regains some of its luster, perhaps I’ll wear a nice silver jumpsuit like our friend Chase Masterson, here.  As it is, Larry and I will settle for what we’re now able to do at the Pittsburgh Comicon, which is hastily film an episode of Franks and Beans while getting yelled at to not film an episode of Franks and Beans, namely our 45th episode, “Long Distance”.  I believe that at one point we were thinking of naming the episode “Comic-Con” or something of that nature, which would have been a bit of an overstatement, all things considered.

Long Distance screen shot 01Our episode begins with a collection of establishing shots, which is one of Larry’s editing signatures.  There are more exciting ways of introducing the necessary setting information, but with time constraints, this served well enough to get the point across: the episode apparently takes place at a convention with a disinterested Margot Kidder…

Long Distance screen shot 03…Scott McDaniel…

Long Distance screen shot 02

…some booths — WAIT, IS THAT THE WORLD FAMOUS WAGON WHEEL COMICS?  Publisher of Teddy and the Yeti?  Boy, what a coincidence to get that booth, empty in this shot for some reason, captured in a seemingly random sweep of the convention floor.

Long Distance screen shot 04 And also “Franks and Beans” star Jeff McClelland using a flip phone.  Oh, wait, this is part of the actual episode.

When I look back at this episode, I think that it’s got a decent joke that’s executed fairly well, but there’s always room for improvement.  I’ve often wrung my hands over the quality of the audio on this show.  Some times there’s nothing to be done about it, and this is the case with “Long Distance”.  In general, convention center employees don’t enjoy productions taking up floor space, and a boom mic (even if we had one) is a pretty big giveaway that you are doing more than just taking creepy videos of the person dressed as Black Cat.  Trying to keep a low profile dictated many of our shots and how quickly they were filmed this day…and in our first few shots, we get soft-talking Jeff, the bane of video editing Jeff’s existence.  But even so, it’s pretty clear as to what’s going on, and it serves as a pretty good setup for what’s to come next.

Long Distance screen shot 05 If I could change one thing about this episode (besides having Margot Kidder as an actual guest star), it’d be Larry’s first shot, where he talks on the phone and lies about his current whereabouts.  A medium shot reveals the same colored walls and what is obviously the same location.  Editor Jeff wants a tighter shot that doesn’t reveal the main joke quite as soon.

Even with this early giveaway, the main joke – where Larry and I still talk on the phone even after running into each other – is still a satisfying one, I think.  And the “head chest cold” line is a nice addition.

Most episodes of Franks and Beans are filmed over the course of a day.  Few span different days, and sometimes this is out of something other a very long shooting session.  This episode, though, was probably shot the fastest, because we literally had people telling us to leave as we were trying to get the last shots.  Someone even came over the intercom system to tell us to get out of there as they closed up shop.  It was a good exercise in getting the hell done really quickly.  And then we went and had some Mexican food.

Long Distance screen shot 06Our action-packed “NO!” ending for this episode features Larry’s worst nightmare.  An interesting thing to note is that unless Larry decided to jump out of his bedroom window, he was running toward the flames and not away from them.  I’m going to imagine that he was desperately trying to save some of his more unique Dukes of Hazzard memorabilia, and really, can any of us blame him?  Other than people who think that running into fires for material possessions is a shortsighted and irresponsible idea that might leave someone dead or horribly burned?

A few years after we filmed this episode, Wagon Wheel Comics got another booth at yet another installment of the Pittsburgh Comicon.  It is much the same as it was in this episode, except now they give out panels to people like me, who have no business running a panel.  If you’ve got an hour to kill, feel free to relive the magic, just like tens of others have on YouTube:

Blog 45 – Why So Misleading?

Why So Misleading screen shot 01

You wanna know how I got this internet show? My friend, had a camera, and a computer. And one night, he goes off crazier than usual. I write a script to defend myself. He likes it. Just. A little. Bit. So, me watching, he puts together a set, laughing while he does it. He turns to me and says, “Why so misleading?” Turns the camera on. “WHY SO MISLEADING?” He points the camera at my face… “Let’s put a smile on the faces of audiences everywhere.” And…

And the rest, my friends, was HOLLYWOOD MAGIC.

Welcome to the blog for the video for the show for the computer, this one titled “Why So Misleading”.  If you didn’t notice, this episode marks the second Christmas episode in Franks and Beans lore, the other being “The Gift” way back at the beginning.  And while “The Gift” was fairly slow moving (I like to think of it as “understated”), this episode features a number of interesting tidbits that I would talk about if only I had the online space in which to do so.

Oh, right.  Moving on, then.

Why So Misleading screen shot 02

Our 43rd episode revolves around two separate soundtracks, at least one of which is easily recognizable.  Both Larry and I were (and are) fairly taken by the newest Batman movie trilogy, and it’d be a tough sell to claim that “The Dark Knight” weren’t the best of the three.  One of the things that stands out about the film is, of course, the ominous music that plays every time something truly awful was about to happen.

This, of course, speaks to a larger convention of music in films, and the almost hypnotic power that music holds over audiences, to the point where it’s almost become a parody of itself every time a hopeful or sinister tune plays.  Well, I guess we’re parodying it now, so you’ll just have to find some new tropes, movies.

The joke in this episode, then, revolves around the scene playing out in the exact opposite manner in which the music might indicate.  The Dark Knight music that lends an eerie tone to anything it touches?  It’s just me wishing Larry a Merry Christmas.  That happy “Peter and the Wolf” music near the end?  I GET A FRIGGIN’ KNIFE TO THE CHEST!

Why So Misleading screen shot 03

Perhaps I even die.  Perhaps.

Some notes from this episode:

– Larry is reading some pretty interesting material, in a manner that is not at all promotional or obvious, at the beginning of the episode.  What could it be?  Oh, it’s none other than Teddy and the Yeti #1 from Wagon Wheel Comics, probably still available for sale from fine online retailers!  We must have been reading it and enjoying it right before this was filmed.  What a fun story.

– If I get one, then Larry gets one: the gift I give to Larry is none other than a Dukes of Hazzard DVD.  True story: I actually did get this for Larry for Christmas this year.  Also true: Larry hated it.

– The happy music you hear at the end of the episode is from “Weird Al” Yankovic’s collaboration with Wendy Carlos in the semi-obscure album “Peter & the Wolf: Carnival of the Animals part II”:

Weird Al Peter & the Wolf

 

I got the synthetic orchestra album for my birthday a long time ago.  I’ve actually listened to it straight through a couple times.  It’s pretty strange and very different from any other album from Weird Al.  Anyway, it has some pretty light and airy stuff on it, which I thought would be perfect for the sequence of me getting stabbed in the chest (and let’s not forget…I might actually be dead).

There are some technical issues with this episode that keep it from being as good as it can be: sound being one of them (which is unfortunately not something new), and the fact that we should have made the knife more clear at the end.  I think that most people get the point (pun!) when they see me clutching the knife, but a close up or, heaven forbid, a clearer shot wouldn’t have killed us, either (obvious pun!!).  Overall, though, I enjoy the way that we incorporated music into the episode and I think that this turned out to be a pretty solid episode, front to back.  And Larry makes his bid for a catch phrase at the end with his very convincing “Today has been so misleading!”

Why So Misleading screen shot 04

 

Our wonderful “NO!” ending makes its return…for the 43rd time…with a bit of auto-tune.  We also used some auto-tune (I figured out how to make it work in Garage Band…which I’m pretty sure that I now forget how to do) for the episode “Perfect”, which featured quite a bit of singing, but it didn’t come across nearly as well as it did here.  I guess there’s nothing inherently funny about the auto-tune process, but I’ll take it if I can get it.  Obviously, I couldn’t let Larry steal all of the spotlight this time around (because I’m a terrible friend), so I stuck my head in there at the last second.  Classy.

Franks and Beans: The Comic: “Artistic License”

I’d say that it was fairly inevitable that we would come to this point.  With my stubborn insistence that I keep trying to work in the comics field (dear comics: notice me, dammit!), the limitations of a single camera, no-budget production and a desire to promote ourselves a little bit more, thus is born Franks and Beans: the comic.

Putting a comic together is similar to filming, in that it usually takes more than one person to put together a complete product.  This short, two page story took efforts from a few folks new to the Franks and Beans world but not to that of some comics that I’ve worked on before.  Pencils and inks on this story are by Alan Gallo and colors are by Michael Wiggam, both of whom I’ve worked with on Teddy and the Yeti and a couple other projects.

Alan took on the difficult task of drawing likenesses, which is a challenge not many are up to.  Add to the fact that Alan had to draw four distinct individuals and I think it’s easy to see what a task he had before him.  Given all of this, I’d say that he did just a great job.  On an unrelated note, here’s a little known Franks and Beans fact for you – Larry when on a diet after this comic first showed up and he lost like 20 pounds.  I don’t know why I mention this here, but it was something that just stuck in my head for some reason.  I did not start working out, if anyone is curious.

As with any neurotic comic book fan, you might find yourself thinking, “where does this story fit into Franks and Beans continuity?  Does it fit into the established storyline?”  The answer, of course, is yes, valued viewer/reader.  Everything that happens in anything Franks and Beans related goes into the F&B universe as cold, hard fact.  This, of course, changes the whole tone of Franks and Beans, as it now becomes a show about a man who dies over and over again, only to find new life and new, strikingly similar situations.  Or perhaps it’s an alternate universe Jeff, I don’t know.

This comic, which, if it had a title would be called “Artistic License”, features several references to previous Franks and Beans episodes, including “Sandwich”, “Tree Hugger” and “Milkshake”, as well as showing off in no subtle manner nods to other F&B staples like the Dukes of Hazzard, Thundercats and He-Man.  How do we work in so many nods to previous episodes and themes?  One can only wonder.

This comic will live, perhaps forever, long after Larry and I are dead and our bones decaying under the soft earth (or maybe I’ll just get cremated, who can say), in its own tab at the top of this page and on the Internet, leaving people to ponder deep questions like “what the hell is Franks and Beans?”  The question, then, becomes if we will ever have another Franks and Beans comic to marvel at.  The answer is not clear, but let’s say that I have no immediate plans for one, though I do sometimes get anxious and have a desire to spend my money on comics that will never see the light of day other than on my own websites.  So you never know!!

This posting marks a milestone in this website’s history – it’s our 100th post to the site!  Let’s take a look at our running tally of blog posts to date:

Jeff: 100
Larry: 0

So it’s still neck-and-neck and anyone’s game at this point, which I guess is obvious.  Be sure to check back later for more of this exciting competition!

We’re not dead yet!

 

As you may have realized, the F&B blog as taken a bit of a hiatus.  But that doesn’t meant we’ve stopped caring about you, loyal Franks and Beans fans.  Oh no, we still think longingly about each and every one of you right before we go to bed each night.  It’s true!  Why would I make something like that up?

In any case, I’ll start posting content again soon and will try to keep these fallow periods to a minimum.  In the meantime, why not head over to the Teddy and the Yeti blog and read about our costumed adventures at Comic-Con?  Or check out the DukesCollector blog and read about…other things we did a Comic-Con?  The picture at the top of this post is a screen shot from the next new episode of Franks and Beans…so stay tuned!  And thanks for not hating me for ignoring this blog for the last few weeks.  Unless you do hate me.  That might be awkward.

Blog 20 – How To

Originally Published 9.15.08

If you’re like me, there’s nothing quite like a well placed unexpected f-bomb to make you laugh.  That being said, being me’s not all it’s cracked up to be, so take that for what it’s worth.  Get out of my head!

This blog marks the release of the presidential eighteenth episode of Franks and Beans, “How To”.  For those of you who are math wizards, you’ll notice that eighteen is divisible by six, which means that you are in store for another of Jeff and Larry’s “episodes that no one watches because they feel burned by the ‘Commentary’” episodes.  It’s okay – Larry and I don’t take it personally.  Honestly, though, if you’ve abstained from watching “How To”, you’re missing out on some of our best stuff.  And like we’ve always said, Franks and Beans is firmly against abstinence of any kind.

This episode wrapped up a long shooting week for Larry and me, but it had been planned for quite a while.  I tend to imagine the episodes in no particular order, and though it’s true that Franks and Beans doesn’t employ any hard and fast continuity, sometimes an episode is too thematically similar to the previous one to air it right away, or sometimes we run into minor issues like wanting to introduce “Hardcore Mark” in one particular episode over all others.  This episode remained entrenched in this spot due more to math than anything else, but you get the point – we film neither scenes nor episodes in order, at least not always.

One thing that I wanted to avoid, and try to avoid in a more overall sense, is too much of an overlap with previous episodes where we speak directly to the camera.  Beyond the familiar opening of “Hi, I’m…”, I wanted to make this style of episode distinct from “Commentary” and “Mailbag/Bloopers”.  With this in mind, the early line about receiving questions from fans was something I wasn’t entirely sure about leaving in, as it is rather reminiscent of the scene in “Mailbag” where we get a letter from the mythical Josh in Ft. Wayne, Indiana (as good a place as any to get mail from).  The two episodes do begin rather similarly, mostly by design, and I didn’t want people to think that we were just repeating ourselves…though we probably do plenty of that as well.  Still, the decision was made to leave the line in, because frankly I couldn’t think of a substitute that was better.  Sometimes simple works.

The premise of this episode is fairly straightforward – we start out with me making apparently outrageous claims that Franks and Beans is a collaborative effort, and Larry (not too tactfully) tries to keep his indignation to himself.  I really don’t want anyone to look to far into any of this.  While many projects that whisk members off to superstardom may end in bitter feuds and acid-laced barbs about the creative participation of others involved, Franks and Beans is still a friendly venture between all who take part in it.  Well, maybe that’s not always the case.  Larry’s parents sometimes get annoyed when we film and they want to sit down to dinner.  But other than that, this episode is very much a farcical look at such rivalries.

I’d like to point out that while I do think that swearing can be funny in specific contexts, it usually has the propensity to lose some of the humor by taking on a life of its own.  I think that sometimes movies or comedians (or whatever) who are known to use strings of expletives can sometimes get caught up in that to the point where it all becomes about shock value and one-upmanship rather than the joke.  And swearing without humor is just that – swearing.  But swearing with humor?  That’s just effing funny.

Something you may be interested to know about: okay, so that paper I’m seen writing on during this episode?  We did a few takes, and I’m actually writing what I’m saying, so I would just trace the words for subsequent takes.  At the end of the day I took the piece of paper, folded it up, stuck it in my pocket, and completely forgot about it.  I have no idea where it is.  I’m hoping that this doesn’t happen, but there’s a chance that my parents will one day soon find the sheet of paper, open it up and find nothing but my profanity scribbled over and over again, one on top of the other, bold and for all to see.  If this becomes reality, I wonder what the chances are that I’ll be able to explain that it’s not mine to any level of believability?

Before filming this episode, I explained the main ideas to Larry and told him that, at some point, he would grab me by the throat in a fit of anger.  I told him to make it look real and to not be afraid to actually choke me, and Larry didn’t disappoint.  This was pretty fun the first time we filmed it, but the luster wore off quickly, even though Larry was being rather gentle when squeezing the life out of me.  As we fall back, we’re landing on the soft support of every cushion on Larry’s basement furniture, as neither of us really wanted to get hurt during this episode.  As it was, there were some near misses with desk corners and other protruding objects.

There are a few sound effects to take note of here, the first of which is directly at the end of our main feature.  Larry winds up to punch me and seems to connect, but what actually happens is more blind luck than anything else.  Though we tend to forgo the choreography in this and any episode, our struggle was about as real-looking as, honestly, it’s going to get, especially with the smack to the face.  Larry actually took that very realistic sounding punch noise from another point in the fight an overlaid it quite masterfully.

I truly do wonder what other people think of this episode and those others like it.  While I thoroughly enjoy the regular Franks and Beans fare, these little side projects are things I take great pride in as well.  I realize that “Commentary” might not have been everyone’s most revered show (to me, that in itself is funny), but I do hope that people will give this and “Mailbag” a genuine try before rejecting it out of hand.  I said this before, but I truly do think that these are some of our best.

Speaking of our best, how about the “No!” ending for this week’s episode?  As with many visionary ideas of mine, this one came to me while I was in the shower.  It’s as if I was asking just how we could spice up our cliffhanger endings, and lo, someone from on high answered, “put Jeff in it!”  Well, okay, I don’t want to be in all of these, or, really, many at all (that’s not the point of them), but this was one that I couldn’t pass up.  Even though you can’t see it, I’m actually sitting on a toilet in Larry’s house, and that is pretty funny on its own merits.  Larry again surprised me by digitally adding in the ‘call waiting’ sound that I react to, and it is Larry’s Dukes of Hazzard hat that actually looks pretty good on me here in this scene.  The split screen, Larry tells me, was a rather difficult effect to render here, but it does look rather effortless as a finished product.