Monday, January 29, 2007


So I was thinking the other day that I need to come up with a term that describes something that at first is invisible, but after being pointed out is unavoidable. OK, let me back up- I was WONDERING if there’s a term for something that’s at first invisible but once pointed out unavoidable, and had little luck finding such a word. I’m sure the German’s have a wort for it, and it’s probably something like Nichtvisiaftgrübenpöstverhöverdüren, but screw that, I want something in English.

Now- what the hell am I talking about? Well- I see this as two types of instances. In certain artistic endeavors, there are often little prizes hidden within the work that are craftily concealed, so that they’re essentially invisible until pointed out. (These are like easter eggs, but not on DVD, and require no special code, only the right perspective…) This could be in music, design, art, film…whatever. There are also examples of things CONSCIOUSLY concealed and hidden because of some deficiency, with the hopes that the ITEM being concealed will not be found out. Once these items are seen however, they’re really hard if not impossible to NOT see.


Sure- here are some of my favorites.

My ALL TIME favorite “design hidden type thing that’s so cool and you DON’T see it until you DO see it and then you CAN’T NOT see it and are AMAZED that you NEVER SAW IT BEFORE” is within the FedEx logo.

OK. We’ve all seen this a BILLION times.

Now look between the letters E and X. There is a white arrow pointing to the right, PROPELLING the entire logo forward. Look… See it? Isn’t that cool? Now that you’ve seen it, YOU WILL NEVER NOT SEE IT AGAIN.

This was pointed out to me about 8 years ago, and EVERY time a FedEx truck drives by, or I see a FedEx box, or a FedEx commercial comes on, I see THE ARROW. Now you will too. Lindon Leader designed this logo and he should get blown whenever he wants to.

A less clever, or well hidden but still cool example is the old Milwaukee Brewers logo. This baseball team used to have a logo that had the M and B placed together to look like a glove. I didn’t see this at first, until my Dad pointed it out. As a kid I thought this was really cool. The club changed their logo in 1994 to a much less clever, and frankly WAY OBVIOUS design. Sigh.

There are a bunch of “musical hidden type things that are so cool and you DON’T hear them until you DO hear them and then you CAN’T NOT hear them and are AMAZED that you NEVER HEARD THEM BEFORE.”

Frank Zappa is the KING of this. I STILL find new bits every now and then, even after listening to Franks stuff for nigh 18 years. A good one that’s SO obvious and makes me feel like a DOLT for not noticing it for a DECADE comes at the end of the song Catholic Girls. On the outro of the song, the sitar/guitar being played by Warren Cuccurullo plays a nice little multiple note melody that I used to sing along with. It fits nicely with the outro vamp, but hadn’t been played at any other part of the song. Well…DUH- It’s the verse melody from Jewish Princess (“I want a nasty little jewish princess…”), a song recorded a few albums previous, that got the JDL into quite a huff. Frank’s point that EVERYONE of EVERY PERSUASION can behave like an idiot is driven home by the inclusion of this melody. The Catholic and Jewish tunes are thereby tied together in a sorta cosmic… sorta, hands across the water sorta… oh just ferget it.

Another Frank example that made me throw my remote across the room occurs in his 1984 band’s arrangement of The Evil Prince. This is one of my ALL TIME favorite Frank tunes/arrangements/guitar solos… so much so that The Geologic Orchestra played it TWICE at two separate Icehouse shows. While I was re-familiarizing myself with the arrangement for the 2004 IceHouse show, I was trying to really figure out what the rhythm guys were doing during a certain section of the tune. It sort of sounded like a march, and I couldn’t figure out the timing of the fucker. (For those keeping score, it happens during the “I’ll say it’s disgusting, atrocious and dull…” section). Well- after manically transcribing what they were playing via the use of a protractor, a scientific calculator, two sextants, a copy of Anal Musician Weekly and half a tube of AstroGlide, it suddenly DAWNED on me that Chad Wackerman (drums) and Scott Thunes (bass) were playing the rhythmic figure of Holst’s MARS: The Bringer of War from The Planets. AHHHHHH! I had DISSECTED this fucking tune for YEARS throughout college, then AUTOPSIED the DISSECTION for the first time we played it at the IceHouse and was now ELECTRON-MICROSCOPING the AUTOPSY of the DISSECTION and STILL found something I hadn’t REALLY heard before. I’m sure this reveals that I’m a musical MORON but what the hell. It’s still nice to be surprised.

I humbly have a tune that has a don’t hear it/can’t not hear it moment. I’ll reveal it here because A: it fits the subject and B: no one reads this blog anyway so what the fuck.

My song Convenient is about Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. (There. I’ve said it. Whew… Feels good.) More precisely, it’s about how Rudolph should have told Santa to go sit on the north pole when asked for help. “Oh sure- make fun of my deformity until it’s of USE to you eh? Hey fatso- go screw!” Anyway- the very last thing the band plays (right after I hold out the final “’till it’s convenieeeeeeeeent!”) are the first seven melody notes from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. There. The secret’s out. Now try to NOT hear it.

Probably the most popular example of this type of effect I can think of is the movie The Sixth Sense. All of the “clues” that you see on the SECOND viewing of the movie seem so FREAKIN’ OBVIOUS, that you smack yourself in the head for missing them. It’s really quite a balancing act while making something like this to not make it TOO obvious. I remember while watching the DVD extras of The Sixth Sense that Shyamalan thought that they were really giving it ALL away, and that there would be no one surprised at the end of the film. Boy was he wrong. (Twist!) I do think it’s a little easier to do something like this with film however, because you can slowly reveal the hidden surprise. With a logo or piece of art, it’s all there, all at once. You really have to hide it in plain sight.

There are also examples of hidden stuff that is supposed to STAY hidden, but once you’re in on the secret, it’s hard to not notice.

DID YOU KNOW that Gary Burghoff, the actor that played Radar O’Reilly on M*A*S*H* didn’t have any fingers on his LEFT HAND? I’ll say that again: Radar has no fingers on his left hand. No shit. He has a thumb, BUT THAT’S IT. Watch ANY episode with Radar, and you’ll ALWAYS see him holding a clipboard, or his hat, or a SOMETHING… either that, or his hands are in his pockets, or out of frame. OCCASIONALLY you can catch a glimpse of his left hand, but it looks like he’s making a fist. The MOST obvious episode is one where Radar plays drums ( I guess Gary was an pretty decent drummer) and there’s a very clear shot where he’s holding the stick in his left hand SOLELY with his thumb. Pretty impressive. TV LAND has started showing episodes of M*A*S*H*, so go check it out.

There’s a similar example with Harold Lloyd. You know Harold Lloyd, he’s the silent movie actor whose most famous scene is hanging from a clock up on a high tower. Well, Harold Lloyd only had THREE FINGERS on his right hand. He wore a flesh colored glove that hid this. In certain scenes you can see how his right hand doesn’t flex quite naturally. This fact made all of his stunt work all the MORE impressive.

OK ok ok… so we need a WORD that can describe this.

Transvisuoreceptive? Internoilluminatious? Primovacuobvious?

Nah. Getting into long German word territory.

How about a combination of subtle and obvious…


Hmmm…. I kinda like that. The FedEx logo is the most subvious logo I’ve ever seen.

(My spell check didn' t recognize it, so that's a promising sign that it's a new word. Then again my spell checker has a huge vowel movement with "interrobang" so who knows...)

Subvious. Not bad. Any other ideas?

No comments: