Lee Van Cleef Peddling Whisky in Japan

November 17, 2008

Thanks to his appearances in the amazing Spaghetti Westerns, I can forgive Lee Van Cleef a multitude of sins. Cleef is a powerful presence, but even he struggles with the ridiculous script for the Suntory Whisky commercial below.

-“Friends? I have a lot of friends.”
-OK, don’t get defensive. I just mentioned that you seem to be living alone in an otherwise deserted farm.
“Children… and grown-ups.”
-Er…, Lee, you’re about 70 years old, so you should have mostly grown-up friends by now.
-“Male… and female.”
-Glad to hear it. I was beginning to have my suspicions about you.
-“Violent and gentle.”
-Violent? OK. I’ll shut up now.

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Orson Welles’ G & G Whisky Ads

November 17, 2008

Japanese booze companies have a long history of recruiting western movie stars to peddle their products, assuring the actors that the ads will never be seen is the US. (In the 70s and 80s, they hadn’t, of course, accounted for the invention of Youtube.)
I’ve written in the past about the embarrassing Japanese commericals of Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford and Gene Hackman. Those guys were at the peak of their careers and shamelessly making a fast buck, but in the 1970s, no one was more washed up and desperate for cash than Orson Welles, who appeared in ads for G & G Whiskey in 1979. He was so bloated by then he only appears from the chest up!

Quite a step down for the director and star of Citizen Cain.

Welles, at least, was qualified to talk about whisky: he was a total piss-head, as you can see in these out-takes from another of his alcohol ads:

You see, although he gives the G & G Whisky brand a touch of class, the evident decline in his career was, ironically enough, a great advertisement for sobriety.

Welles’ most humiliating career low was yet to come, however, in the form of a commercial for Findus frozen peas. He berated the director, declared that the script was “shit” and stormed out of the recording session. You can hear the hilarious, oft-bootlegged out-takes below.

Via Japan Probe and Mari’s Diary


Booze Baths

November 16, 2008

Another peculiar, Japanese, alcohol-related phenomenon is bathing in booze-scented novelty hot springs.
The Japanese almost universally love “onsen” (natural hot springs) and travel hours out of their way to submerge themselves in nature’s hot water. For me, the exhausting two-hour train ride outweighs the relaxing properties of the hot spring, but to say anything bad about onsens in Japan seems to be a major social faux pas. Although, I admit I can see the appeal of the “beer bath” in Hakone’s Yunessun Hot Spring Resort.

I have already been to Yunessun once and tried a red wine bath. They always seem to have unusual baths materializing for limited times. There was also a worryingly brown and stinky curry bath there too. And a tank for you to put your feet in, which was full of little “doctor fish” who nibble at your bunions and athlete’s foot.

To be frank, though, Yunessun is not a place I’d recommend. It had the atmosphere of a municipal swimming pool, complete with baby piss, the echoing screams of children, and the smell of bleach. The kind of place where you get warts on your feet.
I wandered into the proper, authentic men’s onsen area, and it was just full of wrinkly, hairy, old men, standing in line for hours, stark naked like in some degrading prison camp. They were waiting to squeeze into an onsen so crowded that the bathers were all squashed together like sardines in a tin. Gross! The whole room stank of ball sweat, as well.
That is my idea of hell, not a relaxing weekend treat. I said “no way!” and deserted the place, bought myself a newspaper and a can of beer and sat outside, under a tree, much to the later disappointment of my then girlfriend who was inside the ladies section, and was keen for me to sample some culture.
Now, had I been squeezing into an overcrowded women’s onsen I wouldn’t have been complaining!

While we’re on the subject, I have, in fact, been to a mixed, naked onsen in Izu. I had hoped it would be like a sexy Roman orgy, but it was actually full of gossiping old ladies hiding their modesty with towels. I, meanwhile, had mistakenly assumed that towels would not be allowed in there, and was wandering around naked as the day I was born, and mildly embarrassed.
Still, it was a more pleasant experience than the curry onsen.


Heartland’s Heartbroken Gold-Diggers

November 14, 2008

Heartland Bar in Roppongi Hills is a notorious pick-up joint where gold-digging 30-something women go to ensnare generous foreign banker boyfriends. But lately pickings haven’t been so rich for the Heather Mills-es of Japan. Thanks to the recent financial shitstorm, much to the ladies’ chagrin, the bankers are few and far between, so they have to make do with “IT consultants in polyester suits”, The Times Reports. My heart bleeds!

Girls come to Heartland all the way from commuter towns in Saitama or Chiba, usually aiming to avoid squeezing into the last train home, by escorting an Armani-clad exec to his penthouse suite… but these days, after several hours of watching the ice melt in their cocktails while waiting for Mr Big to appear and buy them a drink, they have to dramatically drop their standards and settle for trudging back to a guesthouse to share a mouldering futon with an unemployed ex-NOVA teacher.

This decline has been happening for months now. It’s not for nothing that Metropolis Magazine voted Heartland the easiest place to pick up ladies in Tokyo. I can attest to that. If you’re feeling randy this weekend, and you were already too broke to have been affected by the credit crunch, slap on some Brut, throw on your cheap polyester suits and head on down to Heartland.

via Japan Probe