September 11, 2006

Thank You For Being A ...Fitness Instructor? Maybe I'm too young to remember, but I might have cognizantly bypassed a period of time in pop culture when everyone had a workout video. Cher, Mary Tyler Moore, Regis Philbin - they've all had their own, so why shouldn't even less qualified be entitled, as well? Five words: Estelle Getty's "Young At Heart." In a royal blue oversized sweatshirt and heather gray leggings, Estelle Getty (known best as Sophia Petrillo) musters up all the energy she can (at 70, when the tape was produced) to provide a reasonable fitness workout catered to seniors. Getty, herself, didn't devise the regimen, but does introduce who did. His name is Raphael Picaud, and he's both a fitness instructor and a "full time French hunk." (Excuse the poor quality ...ahem, the black spots... in the following videos. I can't figure out the Internets.) When and why does irony become lost on the elderly? I mean, honestly, look at the guy's teeth. The pony tail. The walk. Listen to him pronounce "tiger." Is he Pepe Le Pew? The only people who speak like that are American tourists while in France. Furthermore, hearing Estelle throw out the line, "Oh, please, I could live in one of your thighs" is a mere sign of what's to come. Even at seventy, which I consider a respectively young age, Estelle seems half-awake throughout the entire video. There are plenty of obvious flubs in the voice-overs, as well, but no one could catch Estelle's lack of emphasis in the whole line? "Oh please" takes bounce upward, before Estelle drives it into the ground with "I could liveinoneofyourthighs." Huh? Where'd she go? Estelle's workout buddies, Jack, John, Mimi, and Adrianne, all exercise at different levels according to their age and body type. In other words, Mimi is compulsive, Jack is lazy, John is gay, and Adrian is fat. And Black. (Double whammy!) With a retched instrumentals and poor editing, it's immediately a dead giveaway that Young At Heart is going to be an adventure in low budget, dead air-filled, discount bin filmmaking. Note the following: Jack's face is melting. Working out in a chair might not be the best idea, buddy. Whyyyy is Adrianne dancing? There's no music playing. Although, judging from the wardrobe choice (fashion tip: if you're a fat old lady, dressing up like Toucan Sam may not flatter), she might just be crazy enough to be have "Proud Mary" blaring inside her head. Arthritic John calls Adrianne "heavy." I know this isn't a criticism of John (I'll get to that soon enough), but why is Adrianne's natural response to silently continue to dance before ...jabbing her elbow at his? Mimi is on top of this shit. And when Estelle refers to her "well-stacked cans," she's actually denoting Mimi's perky bosom. Get it? While working the upper body, Estelle's workout buddies begin the sob stories. Mimi's got bad posture, Adrianne's arm is fucked up, and John is a widower (*cough*homo*cough*) who has to "be careful of both [his] shoulders." One of several awesome moments from the whole video appears above, when Adrianne literally walks offscreen to work out against a wall. Here begins her arbitrary commentary, responded to by no one ("I need to support myself against the wall for these"). Notice the apparent snarl of her lips. Sista ain't happy. She makes up for the lack of screen time, though, with an offscreen quip regarding Estelle's weakness for nacho chips. (When's the last time you heard anyone not on television call them "nacho chips"? I love the fourth wall.) Don't feel bad for Aid. She may not have been "born Tina Turner," but she is really good at neck stretches: I've got to stop talking about Adrienne. But if you, like me, find her ambitious-meets-constipated facial expression reach its peak, check this out. Estelle takes a moment to explain what motivated her to begin exercising. At just five feet tall, Estelle is, indeed, short. But the other word with which she uses to describe herself is mildly absurd. "Dumpy?" Come no now, Estelle. You're a tiny, if not frail, adorable old lady. "Dumpy" is the least appropriate adjective to use, unless you looked like this: Now if that doesn't say "fatass," I don't know what else comes close. Before working out on the floor, the gang does so with weights (or, like Mimi, canned food). This clip is a prime example of how Estelle's pale gaze keeps her from leading the group aloud during the exercises, although she does, incidentally, burst out with "I'm proud of you!" (whoa, Estelle, take a step back). Do note how the creepy camera angle captures Mimi's silent counting, one second behind Estelle's voice over. Brilliant. Are you ready to get down? Well, so are these folks. Down on the floor, that is. No, literally, they're ready to get down on their backs. On the floor. Back exercises. Once again, Adrienne tries to steal the show. Listen to her here, grasping onto her last breath, yell out, "It relaxes my back!" Were the editors on horse tranquilizers during post production? Apparently not, as immediately following Adrienne's attempt at taking center stage, you can see that Estelle's counting out loud is dubbed over, not matching her moving lips (although it may be hard to spot on YouTube, but trust me here - pixels don't do it justice): Sometimes, when you do crunches, you can feel your rib cage expanding. Again, Adrienne just wants you to know. In what becomes the most entertaining two minutes and thirty sex seconds of the entire video (and, thusly, my life), the gang engages in some senior citizen banter, including sex talk. What they say is almost as absurd the cold, dead stare painted on Estelle's face as she lifts her weight up and down with two hands. You heard it here first, folks: Estelle Getty is a fan of the "slower" sex had by senior citizens. I guess that means that Estelle Getty...*gulp*...enjoys...slow, gentle vaginal penetration. Cool. Or, as she puts it, "pretty good." In less nauseating territory, the statement "You know, these exercises look pretty simple..." would usually end with a "but" followed by a positively-spun statement. No need here, though. The audience has heard it all. These exercises do, indeed, look simple, says Estelle, "and they are!" ...Got it. This clip includes any item you could ever dream of with a group like this: Jack bans Estelle from his house, John mishears "hunch" for "crunch" (which, ironically, still applies), Adrienne cries out for an "easy" exercise, and Estelle calls John "Mr. Prissy" before shouting, "It means muscle tone!" What...means muscle tone? And why are you staring at me like that? Did she have a stroke?? DID ESTELLE GETTY HAVE A STROKE? Also, "Arnold Schwartz-er-stiller." I get the first part, but...where were we going with this one, 'Stelle? After Estelle instructs everyone to keep their right leg straight with shoulders on the floor, Adrienne makes sure to ask if the right leg is kept straight. John, at his gayest, asks where his shoulders go. Watch Estelle bark! Is it me, or are things getting tense in this suburban living room? Now, I could easily end this post with a depressing look into our respective futures: But I won't. Because you need to see Adrienne dance like a retard. Again. Want to review with a professional? Want him to impersonate Ben Stein? Done. If not, another option is to hear our ensemble use metaphors! If it were a contest, Adrienne would win (although only because she dips into the Race pool):
Check Your Box My job in television production often takes me to the local post office, ours being the Canal Street station. It goes without saying that the post office, in general, can be a harrowing experience. The lines, the terrible service, the often-outrageous costs -- it all adds up to what can feel like a torturous number of hours filled with stationary frustration, as an elderly woman trying to mail one envelope can't seem to strike a proper repartee with the clerk behind the barred window, leaving the mile-long line trailing behind her justifiably irritated. The Canal Street station, however, is particularly trying. With hanging "digital" artwork that hasn't been changed since the late eighties ("THAT'S what the inside of a computerbox looks like???") and a dank, stuffy interior, one surely doesn't feel welcome upon entering. Worse, however, is having to wait on an unmoving line as the especially unfriendly staff pays no mind to a line of customers that grows in equal length and impatience no matter what the hour of day. Not only do they neither notice nor care, but it's almost as if a silent war wages between customer and staff as the rackety old windows are somehow always closed shut the moment you reach the head of the line. Being that this post office station is located in the heart of Chinatown, the majority of the staff is Chinese. Without a clear grasp of the English language [or professionalism], the staff is the last source to whom I would have expected the delegation of creating ad copy to be assigned. But my eyes were not being deceived when I took notice of this sign hanging inside a bulletin board tacked with posters of specialty stamps: As it may be difficult to read here, I've re-posted the text below, word for word, each grammatical mistake left gloriously untouched: "WHY BUY STAMPS? BACK TO SCHOOL? Let all your friends, know where you are. WANT ROMANCE? WRITE A LETTER Build a little tension and anticipation in your relations.(Anthony & Cleopatra) WHERE can anyone buy pieces of Art, Learn about history and have portraits of famous people and even cartoon characters! And send them to folk, just by licking them? Post Office! Finance- get a Post office box! You can always state "I just did not check my box!" I will send payment in a stamped envelope! Secret Clans and Clubs, Masons and The White lotus clan used mail in code to inform their members." So it's fair to say that whomever wrote this "advertisement" is either a child, illiterate, or a foreigner not likely suited to a job in customer service. In this case, I would safely bet money on two out of three. According to said writer, slapping a stamp on a letter may liken your romantic life to a Shakespearean tragedy. There's also the chance for an original Picasso to be shipped directly to your house, unless the artist from the mall kiosque sends the watercolor of The Lockhorns under one-day delivery. Additionally, giving more money to the Post Office will apparently allow you extra time to pay off your credit card bill. (Incidentally, does "I just did not check my box" qualify as a valid dispute against a charge?) Most importantly, however, is knowing that the next time you send out a birthday card to your baby nephew, you can imagine yourself part of an underground clan! And it reads: "Some folk might not like it, but the Ten Commandments, could have been Express Mail to Moses! So, while other companies tell you what they can do and what colors they wear, We at the post office, as you can see have been Around a very long time. Now, our Eagle might be missing some feathers, and one or two bumps on the head! But " We get it done! UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE" That's right: The United States Postal Service is not afraid to throw Bible references into the mix, nor are they afraid to wear their red, white, and blues with pride! Indeed, the eagle (?) might be missing some feathers (??), but... Actually, there's really nowhere to go with this. Is the bruised, naked eagle a symbol of how poorly the USPS functions? Is this an advertisement for or against said establishment? Sometimes, the words don't need to be sized down by a displeased customer such as myself. Because, when it comes down to it, if fucking MOSES could have received Express Mail from my post office, why go anywhere else?

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