Blog 48 – Previously

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Ideas are funny things.  They inhabit a plane of existence outside the physical universe…the same universe that holds everything else, known or unknown, with the exception of these ideas.  When you think of something, and you picture it in your head, electrical signals are shooting around your body, but where does the idea itself exist?  Where is this image you’ve pictured in some ethereal capacity?  Nowhere, of course, but if that’s the case, how do we have those ideas?  How can something exist and at the same time not exist?

This is not to overmysticize the whole process and try to make it sound like something it’s not.  But the point of this all is WHERE DO WE COME UP WITH THESE GREAT IDEAS FOR FRANKS AND BEANS?  Another level of existence, that’s where.  And you can tell your friends this, because it’s true.  If they call you a liar, punch them right in the throat.

Previously screen shot 02

This brings us to our 46th episode, “Previously”.  The idea for this episode sprung from two places: the unknowable nothingness that I just spoke of, and the desire to do a “backwards” episode, which is not a new concept but is probably attributed to Seinfeld more than anything else, at least as far as television and the like is concerned.  Now, you may be saying to yourself that this episode of Franks and Beans is not in fact filmed in reverse sequence, and you would be right.  Ideas, fleeting as they are, sometimes change in the process, and such is the case with “Previously”, where instead we ended up with lots and lots of fake buildup, only to have no real payout in the end (just like every other episode of Franks and Beans, amIright, fellas?).

Previously screen shot 03

Speaking of change, there’s an interesting easter egg-y moment happening in this episode, as for once we try to be subtle about something.  Larry and I wear the same shirts throughout the episode, swapping them at times for no other reason than to have a background joke tossed in.

The episode took some strange turns but I think it worked to its full effect, poking fun at the really long and expository recaps that some shows put at the beginning of new episodes.  The tension builds and builds and builds (“You, all right? I learned it from watching you!”), and we even manage to keep a fairly consistent continuity throughout the “previously on…” sequence, with the exception of the non sequitur of the two of us laughing for no apparent reason.  Larry’s mysterious letter is the driving force!  What could its contents reveal?

Previously screen shot 04

Somewhere out there in the universe (but in our real universe, not the strange abscess of reality where ideas exist), there’s an extended clip of our penultimate scene, where the apparently non-long-for-this-earth Jeff takes us to the cliffhanger.  This deleted scene lasts about three times as long as the actual episode, and I go on and on about whatever I can think of.  I’m pretty sure we put it on the season two DVD.  Whatever.  Maybe Larry can dredge it up for you one day, blog readers.

Previously screen shot 05

The joke of this episode plays on all of our expectations, or more appropriately, the complete turn we take from everything that had come before.  Instead of answering any of the questions we post, either explicitly or implicitly throughout the episode, we end with us (in new shirts!) eating ravioli and spouting a “that’s what she said” line, which, let’s face it, is always sure to please (that’s what she said).

Previously screen shot 06

Not to let the backwards theme go, our “No!” ending features a backwards scene…of sorts.  It’s a stretch, but…it is what it is.  Such is the life of ideas.

Oh, and I finally (we knew it was coming) messed up with the sequence of these episodes, as I forgot we had a commentary episode lined up for “Why So Misleading?”.  We’re all probably surprised that it took this long for it to happen.  Please watch it, and listen to Larry sound like he’s happy that he’s throwing up.

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Franks and Beans/Beans and Franks DVD artwork

Franks and Beans DVD cover vol. 2

Since the “Beans and Franks” episode played so heavily into our *very collectible* season two DVD design, I thought I’d post some of those images here for all to see.  In fact, now everyone can print and mass-produce their VERY OWN copies of Franks and Beans season two DVD cases!  Won’t that be fun!

Some notes on the above image:

– The baked bean background is a Franks and Beans original.  Mitch Mitchell, he of the camera-owning status, made a trip over to the “studio” to snap some pictures of baked beans that we poured out of a can.  At high resolution, baked beans look kind of gross.

– We added our very own QR code to the back of the case.  Scanning the code brings you right to…this site.

– We should probably come up with a different logo for the show for subsequent releases, as look at this one makes me sad and wistful for the hair I used to have.  It was beautiful, really.

Franks and Beans DVD vol. 2 episode guide

The above and below images are from the DVD insert; on one side is the episode guide, and on the other, a Beans and Franks-specific reference.  The episode guide is obviously a take on the nutritional label on most foods; judging by this list, I’d say we skimped on the commentaries this season.

The special features section includes my favorite joke on the insert: “DVD becomes cheap Frisbee with varied results”.

Franks and Beans DVD vol. 2 insert

The other side of the insert is an ad for Franks and Beans Brand Beans and Franks.  Try some today, won’t you?

Franks and Beans DVD vol. 2 mini

 

When we decided to streamline the product and go with the slipcases instead, I designed this sticker to go on the back of the sleeves.  It’s basically a condensed version of the above, with a new (and perhaps funnier) slogan.  I managed to keep the QR code and the picture of the can.

Larry and I took these DVDs to Comic-Con in 2012 and – get this – actually sold a few of them.  I’ve got a stack of these sitting in my house at the moment, taking up space and making me consider throwing them off of a bridge.  If Larry and I make it back to San Diego this summer, I think we’ll take a day and hand the rest of them out to innocent and unsuspecting line-goers.  And maybe, just maybe, someone will watch ’em.

Blog 44 – Beans and Franks

Beans and Franks screen shot 01

And there we are!  It took 44 episodes for Franks and Beans to do an episode about beans.  I believe that both Larry and I should be commended for, if nothing else, our patience in introducing something that we all probably saw coming – Franks and Beans Beans and Franks.  Our show is, after all, named after baked beans.  Oh, and Larry’s last name is whatever.  But the point is, we held off until the time was right, and the right time was…episode 44, “Beans and Franks”.

Beans and Franks screen shot 02

The premise of this episode is fairly simple: Larry and I decide to branch out, and what property doesn’t attempt to do this after it’s been established for a while?  We put a lot of money into a product that ends up being a bust.  We decide to forge ahead anyway, passing the bill of goods on to whoever would decide to eat some baked beans with our faces on the can.  Any one of these concepts could serve as the primary focus, but economical as we are, we put them all into one episode of Franks and Beans, in which we spend a lot of time spitting beans into a bowl, and then making Larry’s dad eat them afterwards as we watched in horror.

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The episode was pretty easy to follow, if I can say so, but it did include a lot of dialogue and not many cuts in the action.  To combat this, we might have taken some time to study our lines, but instead we pulled a Marlon Brando and wrote some of our lines down, placing them by the camera so we could cheat and look at them while the camera rolled.  This is easiest to spot when I’m listing off the fake ingredients in our fake baked bean product, as I’m looking just a little bit to the side during the whole thing.  As is often the case, though, the low definition quality of the upload to YouTube certainly covers up some of our shame.

“Beans and Franks” also includes a few VERY TECHNICAL effects, including the picture-in-picture deal that is sure to be a feature on all televisions from the years of 1999-2003.  Seriously, who has the multitasking capabilities to watch two different shows at the same time, only one of the shows is on mute and is tiny and in the corner of the television?  Maybe this was just a feature developed specifically for pornography, like the “private browsing” feature on Internet browsers.

In all, this was a simple concept, but one that I thought worked well, to the point that I wouldn’t be surprised if a number of other comedy shows have tried different variations on the same themes, which is valid, I’m sure, in its many forms.

Beans and Franks screen shot 04

Our “No!” ending this episode gets some special attention, as it lasts nearly as long as the main segment itself.  In this extended feature, we say goodbye to Larry’s trusted (but not always trustworthy) Jeep, which took him to places like Grindstone, PA and, presumably, other places in the many years in which he had it, stretching all the way back to when he was in high school, whenever that was.  A loyal friend to the end, the Jeep, in its later years, took on the persona of a car that wouldn’t really go anywhere, with a window that wouldn’t really roll up or down, with a radio that wouldn’t really play music other than “All Star” by Smashmouth, and so we at Franks and Beans decided to give it one last sendoff by destroying it in a hellstorm of fury, complete with a sad montage from earlier episodes and a song that expressed the longing and regret Larry and I both felt about using the Jeep to kill that guy that one time.

This episode comes with an “alternate audio version”, which means that Larry and I couldn’t ultimately decide on which song to play over the final montage.  The original choice, mine, was “I Will Wait for You” by Connie Francis, which is one of the saddest songs I’ve ever heard, though this is most likely because I associate it with the “Jurassic Bark” episode of Futurama.  If you’ve never seen this episode before, enjoy the fact that you haven’t been subjected to what is possibly the most heartbreaking episode of any television show in the history of the world.  If you have seen it…then go and hug your dog.

Larry, as is his right, chose the Michelle Branch song “Goodbye to You”, which, as you might know, is actually about a car.  Also, Larry played softball with Michelle Branch one time and he won’t stop talking about it, which is cool, I guess.  Take a listen to both versions (I’ll post 44.1 in a few days) and choose your own ending, just like those books…what’re they called?  Whatever, it’s not important.

Beans and Franks can

Here’s a picture of the can itself, which looks like it contains delicious, delicious beans and doesn’t have a label that was just printed at home and then slapped onto a can of Campbell’s baked beans or anything.  This served as the theme to our highly successful (…) Franks and Beans volume 2 DVD, the case for which contained a fake nutritional guide and everything.  This was a fun episode from start to finish, and in an alternate reality where people watch this show, it’s become one of our signatures.

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.

Blog 36 – The Last Straw

The Last Straw screen shotWelcome to episode 34 of Franks and Beans, the episodic show about the many different episodes of Franks and Beans.  In tonight’s episode, we have our 34th episode, “The Last Straw”.  Franks and Beans.  Episode!

It seems that in this episode (enough already!), our main purpose, with all its lead up and exposition, is simply this: that scene with Daniel Day-Lewis in “There Will be Blood” was really weird, wasn’t it?  Why did he use a milkshake as the example?  A straw that stretches acrooooooss the room?  Man, what the heck.  That was just odd.

And yet for a few months the scene stuck with me and I found myself saying the telltale line, “I – DRINK – YOUR – MILKSHAKE!”, in any number of situations, appropriate and otherwise.  It gained a little bit of traction in the general popular lexicon of the time as well, though its recognizance has since receded a bit in the five years since the film’s release.  But here it is, immortalized for all time in what feels like a very random episode of Franks and Beans.

There’s a lot to like about this episode, starting with the opening dialogue between Larry and myself, which at this point is showing signs of gaining some traction, which is a welcome relief from earlier episodes such as “eBay” and the like.  The plot is simplistic in its approach, with Larry, me, the kitchen table and a milkshake (with two straws) as the principle players and obvious deception as the motivation.  My plan, regardless of the execution, was to play up that obviousness – we all know what will happen once Larry leaves the room – and then throw in something out of nowhere to break the easy-to-follow pathway.  And what better way than to have Larry pick up a randomly-placed crowbar and hit me in the head with it?

For all my rehearsal, I never managed to get Day-Lewis’s milkshake speech right, but I think that the feel is right.  Courtesy of our friends (not actually friends) at IMDB, here’s the text of the milkshake speech:

Drainage! Drainage, Eli, you boy. Drained dry. I’m so sorry. Here, if you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and I have a straw. There it is, that’s a straw, you see? You watching?. And my straw reaches acroooooooss the room, and starts to drink your milkshake… I… drink… your… milkshake!

Here’s a little-known Franks and Beans fun fact: we cut the ending of this episode not only because it shouldn’t be difficult to understand what will happen in the seconds to come (death), but also because Larry pulled up a little short with his swing and actually hit me in the head with the crowbar.  Not terribly hard, but enough to knock my head back and cause one of my eyeballs to pop out.  On the extremely collectible Franks and Beans DVD (a great gift for the holidays) we show this clip, which is actually pretty funny.

The “No!” ending came as the fulfillment of another obsession of mine – sound effects of punching.  It surprises me that well-funded television programs still use stock effects such as these in their productions.  Well, I suppose nothing about network television surprises me anymore, as I am generally horrified by anything that plays from the hours of 7:00-10:00 in the evening on lower channels, but still my point is valid.  But dammit if I don’t enjoy using punching sounds regardless.   I think this episode should prove why.

And in case you were wondering, yes, I do believe that our episodes get better in the not too distant future.

 

New Franks and Beans DVDs!

We at Franks and Beans have made DVDs before. We have! We’ve even sold a few of them. When Comic-Con rolled around for us this year, though, I wanted to do something different and simpler than before. The DVDs the first time around were in a standard-size clamshell case (I’m sure you can picture it), and those things take up a lot of room, which was at a premium since we were flying out to San Diego and most airlines think it’s okay to charge extra for taking things with you (thank goodness for Southwest!). Also, what’s the deal with airline food? But I digress.

Space wasn’t the only concern this time around, though. While the original full-size DVDs were bulky to be sure, I wanted this new batch to look a little bit different to reflect an image, too. The Wagon Wheel Comics booth was in the small press section at Comic-Con, and these DVDs are about as “small press” as you can get. The show isn’t going to compete with network programs on any level, so the need to make them similar to standard releases just wasn’t there. If anything, I wanted to make these DVDs stand out because of the differences in play.

With that in mind, we ended up with this:

This is obviously the disc for season two; season one has a solid black background with a silver “1” painted on. I’m happy with the results. They’re unique and they don’t just have the name written on them in permanent marker or anything. I used regular DVD-RWs: I laid them all out flat on cardboard, took them outside, and spray-painted the heck out of them. For the season two DVDs, I used two coats of green as a base. For the red, which apparently looks like blood splatter, I held the can paint sideways and just barely pressed down on the nozzle. It was a lucky moment. I used an X-Acto-knife to cut out the numbers in a comic book backing board (versatile little buggers) and used them as stencils.

The DVDs themselves went into paper sleeves. To complete the ensemble, I modified the original case artwork to fit, added quippy new taglines, and ended up with the compact, squarish pieces that you see directly above and at the very top of the post. These were printed out on sticker paper and slapped on the back.

As I mentioned before, the focus for the show was on selling comics like Teddy and the Yeti and FUBAR, and some of the other stuff, the DVDs included, took a back seat out of necessity. But we did sell a good handful of them! I wonder if those who bought it realize how giddy that makes both Larry and me. Even if they sit in the Comic-Con swag bag for months on end before being sorted. Even if someone takes it out of the bag, looks it over quizzically, wondering “where the hell did I get this?”. Even is someone throws the disc like a Frisbee, trying to stick it into a watermelon. Someone has it! And they might even watch it. To those people, I apologize for the episodes that are a little bit dumb.

This is a close approximation of what the booth looked like. I say “close approximation” because it was taken at the show and is exactly what it looked like. So perhaps “close approximation” is the wrong phrase. Whatever. Regardless, you can see the DVDs on the table, in their place of honor, waiting to find a home. We still (a hem) have a few left, and would be willing to part with them, if anyone is interested. If such a person exists, leave a comment! And I might be willing to send them to you for free, and also take a picture of you and post it on this blog as our first official “fan of the millennium.” Think about it.

Franks and Beans go to Comic-Con

The great state of California has an event so big that people there will even buy Franks and Beans memorabilia.  It is true!  I kind of have proof.

The big trip to the San Diego Comic-Con is now behind us and it’s time to get back to serious, adult things, like blogging about Franks and Beans.  But don’t worry, pictures are involved.

Larry and I made our way to the Golden State for Comic-Con 2012, and it did not disappoint.  While the primary mission was to sell comics like Teddy and the Yeti and FUBAR, we also took the time to run around the show floor (literally) once or twice and partake in some of the festivities.

Before the show, I made some new discs of F&B seasons one and two.  Previous versions were in a clamshell case and on a Lightscribe DVD.  This time around, I wanted to do something a little different and made painted DVDs such as the one above.  I’ll post more about these gems later.

If you look to the left of this picture, you might see the DVDs on sale.  Or you may not.  But they are there!  And at quite a reasonable price, too!  We sold a handful of these and handed out dozens of cards to both willing and unwilling attendees, so hopefully there’ll be some more traffic checking out our videos.  Also, if you are new to this site and found us because of Comic-Con, let me know and I’ll send you a dollar.

One of the highlights of the trip was getting to dress up as Jet Boy and Jet Girl from the Venture Bros. cartoon.  And when you look good, people stand up and take notice.  The top picture features VB creators Doc Hammer and Jackson Public, and directly above, here we are with Matt Atchity, EIC of the Rotten Tomatoes website that we all love so very much.  What began as an innocent lunch of burritos from the nearby Taco Truck (TM) turned into an interview with Sirius/XM Radio.  We plugged comics and FRANKS AND BEANS OH YEAH WOO!  So at one golden moment, for but the briefest of moments, you could hear us talk about our stupid Internet sketch comedy show across the globe.  I’m sure the world stopped for a moment to recognize the occasion.

After the show, Larry and I toured the Warner Bros. studio and some stuff.  Along the Way, we visited the FRIENDS set, where we took this very intimidating picture.  Perhaps the WB would like to pick up a great series based on an Internet comedy show made by guys who probably aren’t that young anymore, at least in Hollywood terms?

Comic-Con was overwhelming and successful on many different levels.  There are things we could have done better, but overall I think it went well.

This blog wasn’t as funny as it should have been, and for that I apologize.  But what can you do?  I’m only one man.