I stumbled across the term “elephant walk” in a photo caption describing the U.S. Air Force’s recent “show of force” in the Pacific. Instantly, I had a Proustian tea-soaked involuntary memory of Henry Mancini’s 1962 classic “Baby Elephant Walk” waddling nonchalantly, languidly, hypnotically through my mind for the next day and a half. That splendid excursion was indeed a wonderful distraction from the news of the day. Upon returning from my mini Hatari-staycation, I wanted to know more. My first thought — desire really — was to find the true meaning and origin of this charming and evocative term.
I recently came across the term “development mule” in an article at Jalopnik, and several Ford Mustang “mules” were featured in director David Gelb’s A Faster Horse, which documents the design, production, and development of the 2015 Mustang. I was fascinated with the term, so I did a little research. According to Wikipedia, a development mule, test mule, or (simply) mule in the automotive industry is,
a testbed vehicle equipped with prototype components requiring evaluation. They are often camouflaged to deceive competitors and thwart a curious automotive press.
So what is the difference between a “prototype” and a “development mule?”
The NFL recently announced that it has suspended Tom Brady for four games for his “243-page, more probable than not” role in the Deflategate (AKA Ballghazi) scandal. The Patriots will also be fined $1 million and lose their first round pick in the 2016 NFL draft and their fourth round pick in the 2017 NFL draft. And so concludes yet another chapter in America’s long running love affair with gatesuffixing every scandal du jour, which originated in 1974 with two politically motivated burglaries at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, then located at the Watergate Hotel and Office Building. Ever since we have been awash in gates, or what sociologist John Thompson calls, “scandal syndrome.”
America, however, already enjoyed a deep and rich history of promoting, hawking and branding various forms of misconduct, long before Nixon’s bumbling henchmen had a chance to immeasurably disfigure the lexicon of scandal, going all the way back to our formative years as a country. Here is an abbreviated list of some of the more the noteworthy from a naming perspective:
Brand Mascots: Procter & Gamble’s Mr. Clean (AKA Don Limpio, Maestro Limpio, Monsieur Net)
CREATORS: Harry Barnhart (concept), Ernie Allen (art direction)
AGENCY: Tatham-Laird & Kudner, Chicago
CORPORATE OVERSEER: Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati
AD SPEAK / SPIEL: “Mr. Clean leaves a sheen where you clean”
TAGLINE: “When it comes to clean, there’s only one Mr.”
I first encountered the X modifier in my youth. As an aviation enthusiast I was introduced to the radical X-3 Stiletto. The Douglas Aircraft Company designed and manufactured the X-3 Stiletto experimental jet aircraft for the U.S. National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The NACA was the precursor of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
X-Plane it to me
The X-3 looks like a personification of the beaked-nose white spy from Mad magazine’s Spy vs. Spy, with its a slender fuselage, a long tapered nose, and ultra-modern white-on-white paint scheme. The United States military developed a series of experimental airplanes, helicopters and rockets — collectively referred to as “X-Planes” — that were used to test and evaluate new technologies and aerodynamic concepts:
Brand Mascots: Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works Skunk
A wonderful account of the origins of the “mysterious and malodorous place deep in the forest” called the “Skunk Works,” courtesy of Lockheed Martin:
Brand Mascots: Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes cereal’s Tony the Tiger.
A brief history of Tony (via Tony the Tiger)
Created by ad exec Leo Burnett, Tony began his career in 1952, sharing package labels with Katy the Kangaroo on a new product, Kellogg’s Sugar Frosted Flakes of Corn. (Other contestants for representatives were Elmo the Elephant and Newt the Gnu.) Tony proved to be more popular than Katy, so she was retired after the first year.
In 1953, Kellogg’s advertising agency further developed Tony with a four color spread in the August issue of Life magazine. His career since would be the envy of any human star. Various animation studios draw Tony, with the majority of the work being handled by Hanna-Barbera.
Brand Mascots: United States Forest Service’s Smokey Bear.
“Smokey Bear,” often called “Smokey the Bear” or simply “Smokey,” is a mascot of the United States Forest Service created to educate the public about the dangers of forest fires. Smokey’s debut poster was released on August 9, 1944, which is considered his anniversary date.
I heard on the radio this morning an appropriate turn of phrase in lieu of Justin Verlander’s (“The Monarch”) performance in yesterday’s Game 1 of the World Series, and it goes something like this: The are two types of ball players. Humble ones and those preparing themselves to be humbled.
The Furniture Guy
Just who is Vinnie “T” Testeroni, the would-be daredevil spokesperson for “The Furniture Guy”? And why doesn’t “The Furniture Guy” appear in his own commercial? Whoever Vinnie “T” is, director Paul Thomas Anderson went to great lengths to recreate his character in the 2002 film Punch-Drunk Love. In fact, the main antagonist in the film, Dean “The Mattress Man” Trumbell, played here by Philip Seymour Hoffman, was based on the above commercial blooper for “The Furniture Guy.”