You can know Jack
Since this issue of TB is "dedicated" to light truck tires and other off-road kinds of stuff, you might be interested in a unique trail-rating system we found on the Internet.
It seems Larry Soo, identified as an avid member of a four-wheel-drive club in Vancouver, British Colombia, has found a practical use for the promotional antenna balls sold by Jack in the Box Inc. (JIB) restaurants. He epoxied the ubiquitous rubber head with the frozen smile on his antenna, then headed out for some off-road driving fun.
"The rougher the trail, the more frantic Jack's dance became," he discovered. So, based on "lacerations" to Jack, the following rating system was born:
Unscathed JIB: "Trail, what trail?" the Web site said—meaning no real off-road challenge.
Nose gone, mouth gone: "Wow! That trail left Jack speechless. Hope you have larger-than-stock tires and a lift kit...."
Nose gone, eyes gone: "Yowee! Jack had so much fun that he went blind. You'll need a rear locker for this trail. You'd better stay home if you value that shiny paint job."
Partially decapitated: "Jack had such a great time that his grin gland blew up. This trail is for serious fun pigs. Dual lockers are highly recommended, as is a cavalier attitude towards the preservation of your sheet metal's appearance."
A clever—and unrelated—Web site from the San Diego-based restaurant chain notes that more than 11 million antenna balls in Jack's likeness have been sold in the past five years, acting as "Jack's sales force in the field."
Under the "cool careers" heading, JIB pointed out that "if you think only a clown would work in fast food, think again." However, the corporate CEO is simply listed as "Jack." So presumably, you can at least say you work for a clown.
The "blockbuster" news on June 23 that Goodyear and Group Michelin were joining forces to research and develop an "industry standard" run-flat technology had a surreal side to the momentous occasion.
Journalists from the Cleveland and Akron areas were invited by Goodyear to a teleconference held in the Cleveland video studio of Classic Worldwide Productions and beamed by satellite from New York City. But secrecy abounded—they weren't told beforehand what the event was about.
Some surprise ensued when they walked in and were greeted at the door by a Michelin PR guy handing out Michelin press releases. (Goodyear had PR reps there, too.) Had the French tire maker bought Goodyear?
Initially, a temporary glitch brought in the French-language audio feed from the Big Apple press conference with Goodyear Chairman Sam Gibara and Michelin Chairman Edouard Michelin, leading writers to wish that French-English dictionaries had been part of the press kits. Even more bizarre, at one point Edouard replied in English to questions while Sam—master of several languages—answered in French.
We couldn't help but wonder how or if the two huge corporations' respective "mascots" might be used for tandem marketing in the future. Perhaps a Goodyear blimp with a smiling Bibendum, all done up in flashing lights, waving from the skies? Then a more sinister vision came to mind of Bib striking a King Kong-like pose atop a skyscraper, with the blimp in one hand and a flat tire in the other.
We'll leave it to the respective corporate braintrusts to devise better images.
Who's afraid of monsters?
Michele Dees and her husband Mike may have wondered what they'd gotten themselves into.
According to the Press Journal in Vero Beach, Fla., the couple, who own Coastline Tire in Sebastian, Fla., received what they probably figured was a simple call from someone asking if they could fix a regular old flat tire.
To their surprise, in pulled a large semi carrying the "Carolina Crusher," a huge monster truck.
The Dees and the Crusher's owner, Gary Porter of Waynesville, N.C., got the truck into the garage where Mr. Dees proved he wasn't scared of any monsters by fixing the flat.
What kind of flat-repair warranty do you give for a monster truck tire, anyway?
This 'n that
Dumb and dumber quotes—Words of wisdom by boxer Julio Cesar Chavez, about his relationship with fight promotor Don King: "We have a marriage, like a father and son."
Baseball player Mickey Rivers, discussing his relationship with the New York Yankee's late manager, Billy Martin, and owner George Steinbrenner, said: "Me and George and Billy are two of a kind."
And you can't go wrong with philosopher and baseball great Yogi Berra, who uttered such immortal catch phrases as: "You can observe a lot just by watching;" and "A nickel ain't worth a dime any more;" and the astute observation, "There's no stopping the future."
In case you've been looking for Joisey—A notice on a government office building in Newark, N.J., declared: "The State of New Jersey has moved four blocks west."
Yum yum—We were doing a search on the Internet for financial news about Memphis, Tenn.-based TBC Corp., the private brand marketer that owns Big O Tires Inc. and recently purchased Tire Kingdom Inc.
Typing in the TBC acronym in a search engine brought up news about the Tasty Baking Co., which might make a nice little sideline acquisition for the tire folks if they ever, uh, tire of this round-and-black industry. Possible headline: "TBC sweetens deal for TBC."
Cashing in on `Bib'—Recent news that Michelin North America Inc. had begun licensing its "Bibendum" mascot for various uses brought speculation by several Tire Business wags about potential lawsuits over trademark infringement. Might the tire maker now control marketing of bib overalls, not to mention kids' bibs? What about Bibb lettuce?
So long, Jeff
Editorial cartoonist and three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Jeff MacNelly died much too young recently at the age of 52 from lymphoma, a form of cancer.
Creator of the wry Shoe comic strip, Jeff had been on the Chicago Tribune staff since 1982. "When he's not plugging away at his cartoons or illustrating Dave Barry's column," his bio said Mr. MacNelly paints, sculpts "and tries to keep his 1959 DeSoto running."
On the day he died, a number of news organizations reprised some of his many, many editorial cartoons, including one he once drew for the infamous April 15 federal income tax return deadline. Poking fun at the reams of forms many have to slog through, Jeff's fictitious version asked: "Have you rotated your tires lately? If no, file tire rotation schedule F."