In this post we depart from the usual focus on neighborhood geography, although we do remain specific to Los Angeles. The subject is an advertisement the L.A. Times has been running for a couple of weeks, and you've probably seen it if you're a regular reader.
|Termites Of 2010! You'll convulse.|
Since termites thrive in hot weather, I can only assume that this is timed in response to our recent spate of extremely warm weather. As the ad makes crystal clear, there is every reason for homeowners--or even anyone who lives in a home--to take the termite menace very seriously. What's more, these exterminators seem to have everything you'd want in an exterminator. No tents, no moving out, and so on. But the ad's title seems to belie the threat. This isn't one of those half-baked shillfests that tout once-in-a-lifetime discounts, but then when you get there you find that all the good termites have been sold. No--this is a Termite Spectacular! You should order your tickets early and plan to bring the kids.
But you know, this isn't the first Termite Spectacular, for that trail was blazed over seventy years ago by some well known comics who worked at Columbia.
|Termites Of 1938. Call the Acme at once!|
This is a great title card in so many ways. First, the film's title Termites Of 1938 is a send-up of several major 1930's features that had a year in the title, including at least three variants of The Big Broadcast Of (Year), and also Gold Diggers Of 1937. Still you can't help wondering if there are some lost, legendary Stooge shorts like Termites Of 1937 or Mice Of 1934. It's also one reason the Curly shorts are the best. It's true that Shemp tends to be vastly underrated by present day Stoogeophiles, even though he was probably as good as Curly in his own way, and almost certainly more versatile as an actor. But in my opinion the shorts with Shemp never quite matched the earlier ones for sheer surreal bizarreness.
I also like the use of the word "in" in the title card: THE THREE STOOGES in TERMITES OF 1938. It almost sounds as if Harry Cohn and the others had to deliberate over the casting of this film. You can almost imagine the meetings at the studio. "Hmm...who should we cast in in that new Termites film? How about Cary Grant, Clark Gable, and James Stewart...no?...Then how about those other three...damn!...What are their names again...?" As if it could have been anyone but Moe, Larry, and Curly. The Stooges weren't in their films, they were them.
The Acme Exterminating Company was very discrete. Their customers didn't have to go through the tedium of covering the furniture or moving out, and they never had to suffer the embarrassment of those circus-like tents that other exterminators use to protect the environment from their customers' houses. They utilized many ingenious methods of combating pests, many of which are unknown to have ever been used by anyone else...
|Quiet As A Mouse|
...but it must also be conceded that their quarry could be quite resourceful in their own right.
Again unlike most exterminators, the Acme Exterminators were also masters of disguise. Below, we see them employing one of their favorite ruses, which was to transform themselves into gentlemen. This enabled them to conduct their business completely undetected by their well-heeled customers' party guests. Moreover, since the vermin that lived in these elegant houses were accustomed to people who were well-mannered and well-dressed, this "gentleman" ruse was effective at lulling these rodents and insects into a false sense of security.
|Over the top, gentlemen!|
And given their exceptionally proficient grasp of the customs and etiquette of the era, the Men of The Acme were able to effortlessly...
The exterminators responsible for the advertisement above continue to amuse. This month they are running the version pictured below:
|Termites Of The Holidays|
We can only say: Beware termites bearing gifts.