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.

 

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Blog 35 – Greatest Hits

 

Any band worth its pressed vinyl must, at some point, release a greatest hits album.  Sometimes even terrible bands with only one or two recognizable songs put out a greatest hits collection.  Also, Three Dog Night released a greatest hits album.  They had some good songs.  As Franks and Beans is not a band, does not have hits or in general “sell” things, and has not put out albums of any kind, it’s obvious to see why we, in turn, have our recyclable 33rd episode, “Greatest Hits”, up and on display.

The concept of a greatest hits production is a curious one in my mind; it’s a celebration of a seemingly popular band with the release of an album that includes songs that all fans have heard of already.  Therefore, this lends itself to the idea that only people who are not real fans would purchase a greatest hits album (plus superfans who must own every single thing).  Let’s say you’re a big fan of Rod Stewart.  And, assuming that you are a 63-year-old lady, why not?  And let’s say that you own his albums and have a generally good knowledge of his library of songs.  What’s the point in buying the greatest hits album when you already have all of those songs on other albums, especially if you’re a progressive sextagenarian (that’s a pretty sexy description) and you have an iPod with a shuffle button?  And then – AND THEN! – if the person who buys the greatest hits album really enjoys it, wouldn’t they rather have the individual albums so they could listen to the songs that didn’t make the greatest hits cut?  Wow, these are some deep thoughts.

The concept of this episode, then, isn’t anything new or necessarily profound.  And the execution isn’t our best – looking back at this, it’s obvious that this was in our laissez-faire “anything goes” phase where we worked with a very loose script and tried to wing it (to varying degrees of success), and as such things aren’t as crisp as they could/should be, with a few screw ups along the way.  My recitation of “Milkshake” should have gone on longer, so someone watching this could tell what I was actually doing, and it would have been better served if I had added a few more references in here.  I do enjoy our callbacks to “High School”, “Mustache” and “Milkshake”, some of our more memorable episodes, whatever that means.

Even with its detractions, though, I still find that I enjoy the premise of the episode – the idea that, after 32 previous episodes, I’ve no original ideas left in my head and am simply relying on things that have worked in the past.  This is in no way a reflection of myself and the tired, husk of a man I have become in the time since this episode originally appeared online.  Why would anyone insinuate that?  It’s absolutely false.

If you can make your way to the end and this episode’s “No!” ending, you’ll see another surprise appearance by Mark Moncheck, our favorite and most loyal guest star.  The idea of Mark looking up to Larry and myself and pseudo-parental figures is apt, as I mentor the lad in my spare time.  Time to get a haircut, Mark!  You’re looking a little shaggy.

See you next time!