Friday, January 19, 2007

Ring Around the Collar: The Greatest Victory of the 20th Century

In the 20th century, the enemy was clear. There was no speculation on where to look, nor did exotic measures need to be taken to find him. He was a looming adversary capable of completely destroying everything we believed in* and making us indistinguishable clones all falling victim to the same dark circle of conformity...ring around the collar.

Nearly every commercial even remotely having to do with a detergent of some kind mentioned its effects against this silent killer of shirt-collar whiteness. Slowly, the enemy receded through powerful breakthroughs in washing technology. Now, here in the 21st century, there is hardly a whisper of what was once the great plague of our times. Surely these problem-solving geniuses are now tackling AIDS and cancer with the sure-footed confidence that they once stared into the face of a monster (the monster consisting of mostly filthy children and men who never wash their necks) and won!



Dave said...

I never had ring-around-the-collar as a kid (when I was forced to wear white button-downs every day for school).

I wanted it though. I felt like I was missing out on something.

Pat said...

Yeah, me neither. I remember the commercials where a woman would be staring at a shirt and then make a face into the camera like she just received a call that her husband was hit by a bus. I even remember asking my Mom if it was something to worry about because there were so many commercials about it. She said "I WOULD". And I always have.

Dave said...

This would be a great way to open our movie 'Vincible'.

His wife leaves him because she can't handle all the ring-around-the-collar!

Pat said...

Ah. Vincible

Here's the backstory on that:

Pat: "We should make a movie called "Vincible" where I keep trying things but fail, then I give up and sit in a bar for the last 45 minutes silently, sipping bourbon."

Dave: "Montage for the 2nd Act wherein you resolve to attempt to "try things"...

Pat mowing lawn
Cut To: lawnmower chasing Pat on the Ben Franklin bridge

Pat reading cookbook and nodding in approval
Cut To: Smoke billowing out of Pat's home. Sirens.

Pat trying on sneakers at FootLocker
Cut To: Pat on floor wrestling with store manager"

Randy said...

Yeah, there was a definite stigma about ring-around-the-collar. It sprang from the same sinister aura that surrounded ring-around-the-rosy, which, rather than being the innocent nursery rhyme with which we 20th-century children grew up, originated as a child's song describing the Black Plague.

Parents knew the source of this song and feared another worldwide catastrophe brought on by ring-around-the-collar.

Fortunately, improved techniques in the field of detergents all but eradicated ring-around-the-collar by the 1980s, thus saving untold millions from mild social embarrassment.

Pat said...

Yeah. In the 50s the fear was nuclear destruction and the brilliant "get under your desk" routine (all desks were heat resistant up to 8 million degrees back then). Then by the 80s it was fear of dirt on your collar. Man, that wasn't so bad compared to the the stuff that has happened in recent years. I'll take some dirt around the collar any day.

Randy said...

Why don't we remove the collar from clothing altogether? Having a taut segment of material surrounding the neck and throat is both physically and psychologically uncomfortable.

Let's face it -- a starched collar is a noose waiting to happen...

Pat said...

True. You never see collars in visions of the future. It's always that shiny silver spandex. You've gotta be in shape for that though. No one is ever fat in the future. Probably because they just eat food in pill form.

Randy said...

Yes, in the future, all food will be served in pill form.

However, vitamins will be administered as a seven-course meal of supplement-enriched mashed potatoes and gravy.

The future is going to be very ironic...

Randy said...

Okay, let’s see what we’ve got so far for Vincible:

(I've included specific actors for roles that I think would be best served by their talents.)

Act I

At wit’s end from her husband’s ring-around-the-collar and incessant humming, Gwyneth Paltrow finally snaps, and in a Wisk Detergent–soaked tirade that rivals the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan in visceral brutality, she declares that she’s leaving. [Production note: Motorhead covering “She’s Leaving Home” would work well here.]

Hitch-hiking by train from Chicago to the “Big City” of Philadelphia [Production note: Make clear that character possesses poor knowledge of current population statistics], Paltrow finds herself waiting at mid-span of the Ben Franklin Bridge for the final train ride into downtown Philly. While standing there, she sees Sam Waterston being chased down an eastbound lane by a John Deere JX75 Walk-Behind mower. [Production note: Send Waterston to Berlitz for six weeks of intensive training on Pat’s Delaware County accent. Also, shoot entire film at night to mask their extreme age difference.] As Waterston and the mower race by, she hears Waterston yell, “I just wanted to mow the lawn!” Then she steps into the train, muttering to herself, "This is my kinda town." [Production note: As there is no train stop mid-span of the Ben Franklin, be sure to establish early on character’s remarkable hitch-hiking prowess.]

Act II

One week later: Paltrow is talking to a souvlaki vendor, played by Carrot Top {Production note: Have him play role straight; agent pressing for new image.] Gazing up, she spies Waterston in the second-floor window of an apartment across the street. He’s studying a large book and nodding approvingly. As Carrot Top drones on about Magna Carta’s long-reaching effects on the English feudal system, Paltrow again looks up at the window. Waterston, now wearing a chef’s hat, drops some type of food into a skillet. A fire immediately erupts, and smoke billows out of the window. Seconds later, Waterston comes running out of the building, and as he runs past her, he yells, “I just wanted to cook pork chops!” Then Paltrow makes the hitch-hiking signal and a local news station’s weather chopper lands in the parking lot next door while fire crews rush to the mounting conflagration. [Production note: Have Carrot Top’s character die in a billiards mishap.]


The next morning, Paltrow is in the check-cashing store in The Gallery on Market Street with the Blue Man Group. Across the atrium is a Foot Locker, in which Waterston is attempting to buy a pair of sneakers, since he’s continually running for his life. As Paltrow and the Blue Man Group discuss skin care, she notices an argument breaking out between Waterston and the Foot Locker employee offering to help him. When the referee-shirted employee appears to call a technical foul on Waterston, the argument turns violent, and they begin grappling on the floor. [Production note: Use only very wide shots of the argument and fight; more striking from a distance and with reduced sound. Possible cameo for Ewan McGregor as a mannequin in adjacent men's store?] While the Blue Man Group cash their check, Paltrow watches the fight in an amused yet metaphysically detached way, until the bruised and disheveled Waterston runs by her yelling, “I just wanted to buy sneakers!” Then Paltrow walks down to the riverfront, makes the hitch-hiking signal, and the USS New Jersey steams over to pick her up.

Act IV

[Production note: Undeveloped; suggest subplot involving a high-speed unicycle chase under the Market-Frankford El.]

So when can we start filming, fellas?

Rich said...

I keep looking for it, it's still on the DHS website.

Pat said...

We should start filming shortly. The budget is only $7.54. So we are really gonna have to tighten our belts on this one. In fact, no belts at all. We can't afford them.

Randy said...

Rich's breakfast burrito and apple fritter alone are going to eat up half the budget. I tried to get him to keep it to a plain bagel, but he says the protein really sharpens his cinematography skills.

Plus, he's union...