It has been said that a radio station is only as good as its commercials. That axiom has served Paul Fey and Walt Jaschek well.
Widely acclaimed for their sharp sense of humor, the team is nationally recognized as the creative genius behind a number of radio spots promoting the seasonal lineup of shows for TV networks.
Their client list includes King World, Warner Brothers Television, 20th Century Television and CBS Television Network.
“If a commercial is boring and doesn’t hold their attention, we can’t blame them if they reach up and hit the button on the car radio,” said Paul Fey, founding partner of Paul & Walt Worldwide. “We want to stop them in their tracks.”
Fey and Jaschek have been on the laugh track since high school, winning some 400 awards for excellence in commercial production, including three Clios and two regional Emmys. The team walked award with the five Ollies in one evening, setting a record for the most awards won by one company in the Hollywood Radio & Television Society’s annual presentation.
One Ollie was presented for a Paul & Walt commercial, “Auditions,” in which Patrick Stewart is among the voices trying out for the part of Jean Luc Picard in “Star Trek.”
Of all the awards (which stream in at a rate of 50 a year), Fey is most partial to the team’s first Clio. Fey aspired to win a Clio since his high school years, and recalls vividly the magic feeling of creating the spot.
It was a radio ad featuring a “catalog” of types of laughter. “The whole spot was kind of invented on Walt’s front porch. It just sort of came out… It wrote itself,” he said.
What keeps this team on the leading edge? “We never want to get satisfied with doing the same thing,” Fey said, pointing out that too many comedy teams rely on formulaic humor.
“Once upon a time, and it wasn’t that long ago, funny dialogue radio spots were what broke through the clutter. Now, I feel that funny dialogue spots are becoming the clutter, because there is so much of it out there,” Fey said.
Radio in particular lends itself to production-oriented spots, where a hybrid of audio effects, humor and dialogue work together. “It’s much easier to do a gigantic-scale production on radio because a lot of it is letting people’s minds fill it in,” he said.
A recent Paul & Walt commercial for a cellular telephone carrier, for example, camped up the Beach Boys’ “I Get Around” with a polka beat accompanied by amusing dialogue, delivered in a deadpan voice:
“I get around, so I signed up for voice mail. I used to leery about sending voice mail. I wasn’t sure if I was putting enough stamps on it.”
As the music cut in and out abruptly, the deadpan voice again speaks up:
“Voice mail is easy. Think of it as rolling up a yellow sticky-note, jamming it into your cellular phone, and having it pop out somewhere else.”
Life begins for a Paul & Walt spot with an idea, either dreamed up by Fey, the production genius of the team, or Jaschek, the primary writer. Fey works from the Paul & Walt Worldwide office in Los Angeles, while Jaschek works from his office in St. Louis, the city where they both grew up.
They communicate through faxes and computer modems to tighten ideas, copy and production of radio ads.
The spot takes life in the imagination long before it is committed to tape. “It’s no exaggeration for me to say that I know exactly what a spot sounds like before it’s recorded,” Fey said. “The key is trying to put on tape what’s in my head.”
Paul & Walt fleshes out the characters, relying on a pool of creative talent from an audio studio in the same building as its Los Angeles office.
“People get accustomed to thinking of radio in a certain way,” said Fey, who claims the company owes its success to breaking those conventions. The plan for the future is to continue carving out new niches in radio commercials.
Paul & Walt Worldwide is now working on a project that Fey hopes will set a new milestone in how people perceive radio. He was mum about who the client is and the product, saying only that he is not bound to the conventions of 30 or 60 seconds for the spots.
“We’ve barely scratched the surface of what we can do with radio,” he said.
If you watch CBS or Fox during prime-time or NBC late night, chances are good that you’ve laughed at Walt Jaschek – or at least his work.
The advertising agency of Paul & Walt Worldwide specializes in tickling the funny bones of radio television audiences. The St. Louis-half of the duo –– lives and works in a three-story brick house in quiet Clifton Heights. His partner, Paul Fey, works out of a high-rise on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.
Jaschek, a former advertising executive at Southwestern Bell Telephone, writes commercials for some of the top brands in the country, including Cadillac and Anheuser-Busch Cos. But possibly his most recognized effects are his television promotions. He’s done work for NBC, specifically spots for Jay Leno’s Tonight Show, but for the past three years, the firm’s biggest clients has been CBS. Earlier this year, Fox Broadcasting signed Jaschek to create a national radio campaign for “The Simpsons.”
Jaschek and Fey, who met in their undergraduate days at UMSL, teamed up in 1991. The partnership has won the critical acclaim of most the advertising and entertainment industries. Last year, the team won five Ollie awards at the Hollywood Radio and Television Society’s 33rd Annual International Broadcasting Awards. They’ve also scored two Clio awards, three Addys and a dozen International Broadcasting awards, among others.
“It’s fun to be part of the national entertainment scene,” says Jaschek.
It’s also fun to work at home, autonomously. That leaves this father of two free to squire his son, Adam, to swimming lessons during the summer. Adam Jaschek also helps Dad review new series and is also the first line critic on shows and certain promotional spots. When the sitcoms “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “Family Matters” debuted, Adam saw the pilots before any of his classmates did. The network frequently sends by overnight express videos of new series for Jaschek to examine. Not only do his spots garner a show attention during a season, the commercials can affect its initial acceptance.
When first setting up shop in his basement, he went door to door telling his neighbors he’d be working from home. One resident responded with relief. “Oh good,” the man said. “I thought you were on a really long vacation.”
Jaschek confesses he had “no formal training” in TV promotion. Once he stumbled on the specialty, courtesy opportunities brought in by partner Fey, he simply realized “how fun it was and how many of my skills, some useless until that point, came into play.” Writing humorous promos “just evolved,” he says.
Writing a campaign can up to a week, but sometimes he has just 24-hours to come up with 60 seconds of knee-slapping wit. That’s when the glamour of working at home wanes. In the early days of Paul & Walt Worldwide, he recalls, “I worked morning, noon, night and weekends… I was totally consumed.”
These days, having settled into somewhat of a routine, he doesn’t start writing until 2 p.m. “In the morning, I’m watching pilots, taking notes, getting Adam to swimming lessons, brainstorming with partner Paul, letting the dog out…” But after 2 p.m., he gets cranking.
Just a year ago, Jaschek wrote 100 percent of the material his produces – approximately 500 commercials a year. Now he shares the work with another writer in the five-person Sunset Boulevard offices headed by Paul Fey.
Once he’s written the scripts, he sends them to L.A. via modem. “Paul prints them out and presents them to CBS,” he says.
Fey then produces the approved scripts, supervising the casting, directing and editing, in state-of-the-art recording studios in the L.A. office of Paul & Walt Worldwide. Once the approved spots are completed, the network ships them out to radio networks and stations nationally.
“CBS thinks it’s funny that I live in St. Louis,” Jaschek says. A few years ago, I would have had to live in L.A. to do what I do. But today, for all the difference it makes, “I could be in the office down the hall, across town or St. Louis.”
With Los Angeles two hours behind St. Louis time, Jaschek’s hours are also longer. “I feel like a really, really remote suburb of L.A.”
Relocating is not in the cards, he insists. “I love St. Louis. My extended family is here, and it’s a pleasant places, lush, green – and not crowded.”
Working from home is an “accountability thing,” he says. “People take responsibility for their own works, ideas and lives” when the clock that’s running is their own.
Jaschek has just completed a screenplay, is working on a comic book, and is a guest lecturer at Webster University. In short: “I’m having a blast,” he says.
This comic essay is also the intro to my new memoir project, “Walt in Progress.” Here’s how it starts… “Have I just been insulted?” I’ve been asking myself. “No, wait, that was an unintentional insult, I think,” over-thinking. In fact, a series of recent, well, let’s call them “unintentional insults” made me think it might … Continue reading Have I Just Been Insulted?
Amateur “action-thriller” film made by Walt Jaschek and friends as sophomores at Jennings High School introduces Walt’s long-time detective character, played by him. Jennings, Missouri. 1971. A quartet of juvenile delinquents makes a daring escape from a detention center and head for a hide-out of gambling and drugs. When Christopher McKarton, teen detective, learns of … Continue reading Christopher McKarton: Teen Detective (1971)
In this article by Patricia Miller reprinted from The St. Louis Business Journal, Jan. 28. 1991, Walt Jaschek reveals the source of his “basement humor:” his below-ground home office.
Walt Jaschek and his basement humor
by Patricia Miller
What strikes Walt Jaschek as funny in his southside basement often ends up on national radio.
Jaschek, 35, writer radio advertising, including national radio campaigns promoting CBS Television Network and Warner Brothers programs. His firm, Walt Now, is based in the basement of his home on Columbia Avenue.
“I figure that if it makes me laugh here in the basement, it probably works,” Jaschek said.
No only does it work, but it has also earned the St. Louis native local, regional and national attention and an number of Clio and Addy advertising awards, which line the steps of the walls leading to his basement.
“We create mind movies,” Jaschek said. “With radio, the audience is already there — you just supply the visuals.”
Larry and LaVerne, the couple addicted to the Jeopardy game show, are Jaschek’s creation. Jaschek developed the characters as pat of a story lien to promote the CBS game show for radio. (A third character, “Trebecka,” is in the making, Jaschek hinted.)
In another radio spot for the game show, Jaschek describes how “darn hard” it is to win at Jeopardy.
“I mean these categories! ‘Civil War Snack Foods!’ Famous Gynecologists! Medieval Flossing Techniques!’…”
Jaschek’s link to “Hollywood” is his college buddy, Paul Fey, a St. Louis native who at one time worked for KMOX-TV and is a producer in Los Angeles. They have collaborated on advertising projects since Jaschek “took the plunge off the 38th floor” of Southwestern Bell Corp. (where he was advertising manager) into freelancing in 1988.
The two University of Missouri-St. Luis grads are formalizing their informal business relationship this month under the name of Paul & Walt Worldwide, according to Jaschek, who said they work well together since they share “an inclination toward audio humor.”
“We brainstorm together,” Fey said. “But the way it has evolved, Walt does the lion’s share of the writing and while his is writing I’m producing the last spot he wrote.”
The two partners have completed hundreds or radio spots over the past two years, by way of phone, fax and modem, according to Fey. He declined to disclose the their revenues, but said a typical CBS Network radio spots runs about $9000 to $10,000 from concept to completion.
In some of those spots, Jaschek wrote scripts for the TV actors to promote their own programs, which has inspired him to do do bigger projects.
“Since I’ve done a one-minute script for the Golden Girls, I believe I can multiply that by 22 minutes,” he said. “I’d like to transition from promoting the project to doing own product, namely a TV sitcom.”
Jaschek’s resumes includes public service announcements for the American Optometric Association and the city of St. Lous Operation Brightside, as well as comic strips for Marvel Comics and his own original comic strip, Dang Gnats!™
His resume also includes a theme song for the state of Missouri which he developed for Kenrick Advertising. Jaschek set the song to a country and western theme calling on tourists to “relax and refresh” in Missouri enabling him to let loose the frustrated country western songwriter in himself, he said.
The theme song and other single market humor are often much more difficult than writing national humor, according to Jaschek, who counts as his early models Monty Python, the early Second City / Saturday Night Live crew, Warner Brothers cartoons and the early Mad magazine.
“It’s a challenge to write something that is funny in Seattle, Miami, New York and Los Angeles, but single market humor is harder — you really have to know the market.
Jaschek descends into his office at about 8:30 every morning Monday through Friday. Mornings are typically spent on logistics, and always include at least one phone call to Fey in Los Angeles.
The answering machine is turned on in the afternoon during which time Jaschek “hibernates” while he goes on an “intense writing blitz to meet the daily 5 p.m. script deadlines. He then picks the pace back up again from 9 p.m. to midnight, working on the next day’s assignment or other freelance.
— End Story, January 28, 1991
Walt Jaschek wishes social media had been around when he was interesting
This story by Maureen O’Donnell appeared in the March 6, 1989, edition of Adweek magazine.
A Big Hand for the Little Agency: Two Fledgling Shops Take St. Louis Addys by Storm
By Maureen O’Donnell
ST. LOUIS – The staffers at two small, young agencies had trouble applauding at the St. Louis Addys. It wasn’t for lack of enthusiasm. Their hands were so full of awards, they couldn’t clap.
“We kept passing them down the row and juggling them,” recalls Pamela Barnes, office manager at the Puckett Group. “It was hard to applaud after a while.”
The Puckett Group and another little known St. Louis agency, Jaschek Ink, stole the show here last month. Jaschek won three gold and two Best of Show Awards after submitting only three entries. The Puckett Group nabbed nine gold awards, more than St. Louis’ two oldest, largest agencies combined: D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles and Gardner. Puckett Group also won a Best of Show.
Walt Jaschek’s head is still spinning from the recognition. His freelance copywriting agency, with a staff of one – the boss – won’t even celebrate its first birthday until next month.
“I wish I could be hip and blase about it,” said Jaschek, 33, “but I must admit I called my Mom at the crack of dawn and said, “Mom! Guess what!”
Jaschek won Best of Show in radio for a 60-second spot boosting the TV show George Schlatter’s Comedy Club, featuring the sounds of different types of laughs, from the “East Coast Schmooze” to the “Glasnost Giggle.”
Jaschek’s Best of Show print collateral ad, announcing his agency’s opening, was a spoof of a warm, personal note. It was a form letter.
Before opening his company last April, Jaschek was a creative director at the Flynn Group in Colorado Springs, Colorado. “It was a small, hot shop, and that was fun,” Jaschek says. He went on to work in advertising management at Southwestern Bell in St. Louis, handling copywriting and collateral materials such as brochures.
Southwestern Bell is among his freelance clients todays, as are Eveready Battery Co., Anheuser Busch, Monsanto, CBS and NBC.
“Radio is my obession, and radio is what I do best,” Jaschek said. “It engages your intelligence.” His influences include the Monty Python comedy troupe, Bob and Ray, and Stan Freberg.
Opening his own show was an easy decision, Jaschek said. “I woke up one morning, said, ‘I’m 33 years old.’ I believe people should do not what they’re good at, but what they’re great at,” it he said.
“So, [he begins singing in a Sinatra-esque purr] it’s the free-lance life for me.”
This post reprints a 1983 article by Debbie Warhola of the Colorado Springs Sun about radio commercials, including an interview with young creative director Walt Jaschek.
Radio’s Word Magic
Putting together those essential, captivating commercials is ultimately “a roll of the dice”
By Debbie Warhola Colorado Springs Sun Friday, December 23, 1983
Commercials, so very important to radio stations and advertisers, are often misunderstood by the public.
That’s according to Phil Emmert, sales manager at KRDO radio, who says, “People are touched by radio everyday. The listen to music, news, weather … but they don’t understand that the production of a radio commercial is important.”
Although some people consider flipping the station when one is aired, commercials provide 100 percent of the revenue of radio stations.
“We haven’t figured out a way to pay for radio other than commercials,” Emmert said.
The trick is to convince those listeners not to switch the dial.
“Igniting the Human Imagination”
“It’s tricky. No, it’s very, very tricky,” said Walt Jaschek, creative director for The Flynn Group Advertising Agency.
Being an auditory medium, radio provides an intangible experience. It’s what Lee Durham of Gabel Advertising calls “word magic.” Mark Cardaronella of Z-93 says it’s “larger than life.” Emmert refers to it as “the theatre of the mind.” And Jaschek dreams of “igniting the human imagination.”
It’s what makes one listener think of a romantic, candlelight dinner when hearing the pop of a champagne cork, while another listener has visions of a broken window.
Because radio touches people differently, commercials are a gamble. Some work and some don’t. Some are good and some are bad.
“It’s a roll of the dice,” Jaschek said.
Jaschek is a copywriter/producer/director of many local commercials, including the Baron’s Saloon “Subliminal Seduction” commercial, which recently captured the “Best of Show” trophy at the 17th annual Pikes Peak Advertising Federation award ceremony.
“I was more surprised than anyone from the reaction of the public and my peers,” he said of his award-winning commercial.
Jaschek said he feels commercials are an artistic endeavor.
“I look at radio as a visual medium,” he said. “No art director can create the same emotional triggers as you can with the power of sound effects.”
Cardaronella, on the other hand, believes that the purpose of a radio commercial is to sell the product. Some commercials that are not artistically pleasing still achieve that goal.
But an offensive radio commercial may prompt a listener to switch the dial, which could be detrimental to a radio station,” particularly during a radio rating period.
“At the same time, there are some exceedingly obnoxious commercials that work better than anything else,” Cardaronella said.
Cardaronella has been at Z-93 two years, since the Transtar radio network placed him as a disc jockey there. Transtar has a satellite 50,000 miles above the equator and beams the signal to subscribers worldwide.
Although a radio station by law cannot refuse an advertiser, it can refuse a commercial because of unacceptable quality,.
Jaschek said when he created the first of five Baron’s Restaurant radio commercials, one FM Station in Colorado Springs refused to air it because it did not have any music.
“The station’s policy, at the time, was to not air commercials without background music,” he said. The station has since changed its policy and airs many voice-only commercials.
“Supply and Demand Situation”
Even though commercials are how radio station stay in business, most stations limit the amount of advertising they carry. In fact, some stations emphasize the fact they offer hours of commercial-free music.
At Z-93 there are four commercial breaks per hour. The breaks are never longer than 2 ½ minutes and not more than three commercials are run consecutively.
Cardaronella said that limiting advertising is smart in the long run.
“It’s a supply and demand situation,” he said. “Listeners want to hear music. Have fewer advertisers costs the station more, but generally it’s a more successful stations because it keeps the listeners.”
The average household has five radios which constantly bombard listeners with information.
“The trick to radio commercials is to break through the radio barrier,” Jaschek said. “You want to be heard, remembered, and remembered well.”
The “Subliminal Seduction” Story
People remembered one of Jaschek’s radio commercials so well, that they began to recit it – in restaurants, on the street, even in a swimming pool.
Jaschek’s 60-second Baron’s Saloon “Subliminal Seduction” commercial, with no music, two voices and simple copy, caused a phenomenal reaction.
And it was written overnight.
The commercial not only brought people to Baron’s Saloon, 310 S. Academy Blvd., but also had the power to prompt listeners to act it out.
Bob Chamberlain, general manager of Baron’s., said the purpose of the commercial was that Baron’s be recognized.
“It works,” he said.
The response was stronger in having people comment on the commercial and mimic it than it was in increasing the volume of customers, Chamberlain said.
Jaschek said his strangest experience came when he overheard two people acting out the commercial in his apartment building’s swimming pool.
He not only wrote, directed and produced this award-winner, but also starred in it by providing the background voice.
The commercial, which denies that Baron’s succumbs to any “subliminal seduction nonsense,” actually tells people to take our their wallets and give Baron’s their money.
First, a booming, announcer voice: “No doubt you’ve heard about this ‘subliminal seduction’ nonsense. You know, commercials that are supposed to have hidden messages in them. Well!”
Then a tiny, mechanical voice in the background: “Come to Baron’s.”
Announcer: Obviously Baron’s has that rare combination of good food…
Subliminal Voice: Take out your wallet.
Announcer: Good fun…
Subliminal Voice: Give us your money.
Announcer: And good prices.
Subliminal Voice: Give us your cash.
And give Baron’s their cash they did. After all, isn’t that what all commercials tell us?
To be effective, a commercial must intrigue the listener, Jaschek said. It must provide information that the listener will retain.
“Many commercials created an adversarial position between the advertiser and the listener,” he said. “The most effective commercials teams up with the listener and doesn’t insult their intelligence.”
Jaschek, who writes and produces six to 12 commercials a month, said the “Subliminal Seduction” commercial targets the young, profession adult who is media-saturated and can identify with the sarcasm and satire.
“In some cases, the most simple is the most complex,” as it was in this case.
What Can Go Right, What Can Go Wrong
What makes an award-winning radio commercial?
The birth of any commercial begins with an idea. Because radio is an intrusive medium which allows you to do other activities such a drive a car or do the dishes, it must be a simple idea.
Jaschek said he can struggle with an idea for a day or a week. And he daydreams a lot.
“There’s really no secret to it. You struggle and struggle and the moral is – you never know,’ he said.
Anything can throw a commercial off: the wrong voice, inaccurate sound effects, even incorrect station placement.
After deciding what information with go into the commercial and how the idea will be conveyed, it is crafted into a 30- or 60-second script.
Then the props must be set up. Will it have music or not? What kind of voices will deliver the words? Are sound effects necessary?
The voices can be professional, such as from the Screen Actor’s Guild union, or people off the street. Jaschek said agencies are always looking for interesting radio voices.
Sound effects are available from tape libraries, which most production companies stock.
A 30-second commercial can take five minutes or all to day to produce. For this market, production can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000. And the stations charge a fee for each time the commercial is aired.
Another factor to consider is on which station the commercial will air. Jaschek said the commercial should fit the station’s target audience.
After all of the considerations, whether the commercial will instill magic in the listener’s imagination or instill the desire the change the station, is always up to the listener.
St. Louis media history rediscovered! Here are KMOX-TV Channel 4’s “Big Mistake” commercials from 1985, alerting viewers to an error in TV Guide magazine. Writer/director: Paul Fey. Guy on camera: me! Yes, that’s me, Walt Jaschek, at a studio in KMOX-TV (St. Louis,) performing on-camera in 1985. I recently found these spots on 3/4″ tape, … Continue reading “Big Mistake” | Funny TV Campaign for Channel 4 St. Louis (1985)
We needed a funny product for a funny comic we’re creating. The thought of emulating a certain sweet treat often featured in the comics of our youth? Delicious. Boastess® Fructose Pies™ There’s a sugar crash in every dash! Concept: Walt JaschekPackage design and copy: Don SecreaseStay tuned to see what we do with these! The … Continue reading Walt & Don Launch Boastess® Fructose Pies™
Are they heroes? Are they super? NOT. The new, slightly unworthy team from writer Walt Jaschek and Walt Now Films. Hi. Walt here. This is an excerpt from The Hero Nots screenplay I’m writing this Fall. Hope to wrap up the script in 2021, cast and shoot in 2022, post and release to the world … Continue reading Hero Nots™
This article by Jacob Barker appeared in the April 20, 2007, edition of the Webster-Kirkwood Times newspaper. The photo is by Diane Linsley.
Green Drinks: Cold Beer, Cool Talk About the Environment
by Jacob Barker
When Kirkwood resident Walt Jaschek walked up to the house that was hosting Green Drinks, an environmental organization he heard about through friends, he couldn’t get inside.
“I walked over from my then apartment and approached this house crawling with people,” he said. “It looked more like an event I’d see in my advertising life, with a lot of young professionals arriving in their cool cars.”
Jaschek stood at the front door along with a half-dozen other people, none of whom could get into the crowded house.
Jaschek has attended two meetings held by Green Drinks, a group that holds monthly meetings of “green” thinking individuals who network and share ideas. The organization began in an English pub and now has chapters in over 150 different cities throughout the world.
“I think they’re really on to something,” Jaschek said. “You can sense the enthusiasm, you can sense that they’re on the front wave of something. I wouldn’t doubt if in the near future there would be Green Drinks Kirkwood or Green Drinks Webster.”
South City resident Terry Winkelmann joined the St. Louis chapter shortly after it began in 2005.
“The whole point of Green Drinks is to connect and provide a way for people to meet other like-minded people in St. Louis so that we realize we’re not alone in our interest in the environment and sustainability issues,” she said.
Green Drinks is not really a membership-based organization, Winkelmann said. But more than 300 people attended the last meeting and many regulars have asked her if meetings could be held weekly, she said.
Winkelmann was initially attracted to the organization when she was preparing to open her store. At her first meeting she talked to other environmentally conscious individuals and tested her ideas. This is a big part of Green Drinks meetings now, she said, to talk with a diverse group of people about global and local environmental issues.
“It’s kind of like a chamber of commerce meeting, except it’s for people who are not in any way related except for their interest and concern for the environment,” Winkelmann said. “There are business people, there are civics people, non-profits, teachers, people who work in the environmental field, people who want to volunteer in the environmental field.
“We have found that people have found jobs by coming to Green Drinks, people have started businesses going to Green Drinks and testing out ideas,” she continued. “The only real common element is that people are concerned about the way we’ve been doing things for so long and they are aware that there are better ways of working, of shopping of building, of everything.”
Winkelmann said that monthly meetings usually occur in a bar, with the next meeting to include a panel of speakers who give a presentation on a specific topic. March’s Green Drinks meeting featured a talk on handling natural areas in homeowner’s yards. Jeff Depew, professor of biology and environmental studies at Webster University and owner of Earth Designs in Webster Groves, was one of the speakers at the meeting.
“It’s a great organization,” Depew said. “The fact that it’s in little St. Louis, which is largely an un-environmental city, is great. It’s a testament to the fact that people are trying in St. Louis to make more of an environmental impact, an environmental statement, and change our ways in St. Louis, which is pretty remarkable.”
Jaschek was particularly impressed with the discussion on native plants and natural areas in yards.
“The topic at the last meeting, how to handle natural areas (in your yard), was actually one of the most interesting conversations I’ve heard,” he said. “I learned a lot. I think any homeowner with a yard would have been fascinated by the topic and the points of views. You don’t have to be ‘green’ to get useful information about how our environments fit in with the environment.”
Depew also learned from the meeting.
“There’s no one who knows all the answers, it’s just not that type of environmental problem that we’re into,” he said. “Everyone is learning something all the time. There is no one who knows all the answers.”
Last month was Depew’s first time attending a Green Drinks meeting. He said he plans to continue attending. He said the organization is a valuable informational resource and a testament to rising environmental consciousness among more and more people.
“People are hungry for this information, and they don’t know exactly where to go other than the Internet,” Depew said. “Here is a little organization that is presenting environmental topics and environmental solutions and environmental connections within the city in a comfortable social atmosphere.”
Jaschek hopes more and more people from outside St. Louis City begin attending Green Drinks. Although he has always thought of himself as “green,” Jaschek is now more enthusiastic and educated about environmental issues because of Green Drinks.
“Now is the time to be much more so (environmentally conscious),” he said. “The clock is ticking, the environment locally and globally is in peril. It’s not a political construct. We all have to do more, and sometimes that just starts with learning and talking…and drinking.”
Green Drinks held a meeting on Tuesday, April 17, to help celebrate its second anniversary as a St. Louis chapter. Representatives from a dozen environmental groups in the greater St. Louis area were be attendance.
Terry Winkelmann (left) shares a drink with Kirkwood resident Walt Jaschek at an April 17 Green Drinks gathering. Behind them are door mats made of recycled flip-flops. Photo by Diane Linsley
Comic friends!! Donate unwanted back issues to hospitalized kids! That’s what I did at Star Clipper in August, 2013, thanks to a new, worthy initiative of the Zombie Squad. Here’s Laura of said Squad accepting a box of 1980s Marvel and DCs. I’ll never miss ‘em. (Quipped a friend: “I notice you didn’t donate a box of Ditko Spider-Man.”)
Yeah, okay, I’ll buy James Morrow’s premise that people should watch TV “noisily and together,” [The Best Way to Watch TV? Noisily and Together,” April 11]. But there’s a dangerous side effect to such behavior: the compulsion to converse loudly in movie theatres. We at HUSH (Help Us Silence Half-wits) submit that the social dynamic of the living room is too often transferred to the cinema, where boorish cretins babble with no regard for those around them. Sure, discourse should be nurtured at home. But so should manners.
Walt has been channeling gnats and producing the Dang Gnats webcomic since 2002. He’s taken breaks to prove his sanity. But the gnats always lure him back. He now vows to keep turning out gnat comics until there aren’t any gnats left. That should be a long time.
Walt also writes the Dang Gnats Twitter stream, where people are complaining about gnats constantly, and seem surprised when gnats respond.
“Let Loose the Large” was the theme of my presentation on thinking big in copywriting, unleashed to a lecture hall filled with media and advertising students at the University of Missouri – St. Louis 4/13/12.
“Let Loose the Large.” Meaning: make a large list of large ideas; pick the largest one; use your large powers to make it a large reality; and be the largest version of yourself you can imagine.
The students (a fun subset pictured, playing with some props I brought,) seemed to enjoy this combination of pep talk, process peeks and portfolio pieces. The questions were smart; the connections, invigorating. After, I received this nice certificate from UMSL’s Dr. Kristy Tucciarone, head of the advertising program in the College of Fine Arts and Sciences.
(Was the “awesome advertising” certificate for me, or my Beatles t-shirt? Either way, thanks, Dr. T!)
My suspicion increased when an older couple walked out of the theatre, seemingly baffled. “I feel you,” I thought.
The movie’s early minutes are aggressively Quirky with a capital Qu. Not the naturalistic, observational quirkiness of, say, Juno, but rather a highly self-conscious Quirky – a rapidly cut mash-up of anime, arcade games, sitcoms, and of course the beloved source material, Brian O’Malley’s deceptively simple, black-and-white comics.
You’d think that would be right up my alley! Me, too. After five more minutes, I started to “get it,” but it was a slog to work up attraction for the antics of these slacker 20somethings. They seemed to be photocopies of characters, hitting beats in a script – a Quirky script! – without really touching hearts or nerves.
But, wait! There is hope for me. I did NOT follow my fellow old fogies out the door, and not just because, like the senior citizen I almost am, I didn’t want to waste $10.
Soon the unique lure of the Pilgrim-verse sucked me in, and by the end of the movie I was charmed, and sure I had seem something new in execution but classic in spirit. This is romantic comedy, after all, with its tropes and satisfactions, wrapped in the magic realism of fables and the frenetic, split-screen battles of manga.
In other words, it IS up my alley.
The turn for me was the introduction of Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), blue-haired object of Scott’s affection and the bearer of gravitas from another movie altogether. Ramona has a look that’s at once doe-eyed and hard, betraying an existential sadness at unleashing her League of Seven Evil Exes on Scott. Her lingering question: Will Scott her be her 8th?
That decision falls to S.P. (Michael Cera, pitch perfect EveryGeek.) Though I’d be happier if he’d been given funnier lines early on – why would Ramona fall for this guy, unless niceness was her only criteria for picking a BF? – I can’t fault, and in fact applaud, Cera’s winning amalgam of Juno’s Paulie Bleeker and Superbad’s Evan. (Trivia: Superbad’s Evan had no last name.)
The concept of Everygeek is (like the movie’s studio) Universal. It is Scott Pilgrim versus the world, every day. In the movie, he faces with bravado those Evil Exes, metaphor for the minefield we all navigate in relationships, brought to life by director Edgar Wright in dizzying flights of CGI fantasy.
The Exes – among them, Chris Evans (Human Torch, Captain America) and Jason Schwartzman (“Rushmore”) – are fantastic. But my favorite is Brandon Routh (“Superman Returns”) pulverizing Scott with his “Vegan-diet-generated powers.” As Routh risks losing those powers by violating that diet, this vegetarian was LOLing and submerged in the Pilgrim-verse at last.
I’m waaaay old. That we know. But I ended up loving Scott Pilgrim, and remember enough of love, jealousy, and courtship choreographies to relate. I’m always enough of a fanboy to enjoy the movie’s comic-inspired look. In fact, its very comic-ness makes me suddenly want to channel Stan Lee, who might have summed up the movie’s appeal like this:
“There’s a little bit of Scott in us all, Pilgrim!”
Top: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Pic courtesy Universal Studios.