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Bill Murray (bottom right) brandishes a ''Team Zissou'' Adidas sneaker (bottom left) in ''Life Aquatic.'' Yellow-and-black Tai Chi Onitsuka sneakers (top right) like those worn by Uma Thurman in ''Kill Bill.''
Bill Murray (bottom right) brandishes a ''Team Zissou'' Adidas sneaker (bottom left) in ''Life Aquatic.'' Yellow-and-black Tai Chi Onitsuka sneakers (top right) like those worn by Uma Thurman in ''Kill Bill.'' (Touchstone Pictures)
THE EXAMINED LIFE

The life athletic

OH, SADNESS. Into the dreary gap between the dreamed and the actual falls yet another thing of beauty: It looks as if Adidas -- despite Web clamor, petitions and press attention -- will not be producing a version of the gorgeous Team Zissou sneaker modeled by Bill Murray and his gang of scuba-filmmakers in Wes Anderson's "The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou."

"I haven't been able to get a response from anyone in Marketing or Product Development," emails Josh Rubin, whose "Cool Hunting" website has become a nexus for the petition drive. "But Customer Service assures me they are aware of (and quite grateful for) the attention."

That "Life Aquatic" -- easily the limpest of Anderson's films to date, puffed out with props and gimmickry -- should be the object of such fetishistic scrutiny makes perfect sense. Fail to write a good story, set your characters adrift, and the audience's collective libido will zero in on... the shoes! Rubin thinks that the Zissou sneaker campaign manifests "the overall passion of sneaker-head culture" but allows that "the accessory-obsessed nature of the film" might have had something to do with it. As to the success of such a campaign, sneaker heads have prevailed before: Classic Sports Shoes recently announced that in response to public interest they were producing 1,500 pairs of the vintage yellow-and-black Tai Chi Onitsuka Tigers worn by Uma Thurman in Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill."

The daddy of all spinoff products, however, is not a shoe at all. It is the Marshall JCM900 amplifier, produced in 1991 and aimed directly at guitar-playing fans of the heavy metal spoof "Spinal Tap." Older readers may remember the classic scene in which Nigel Tufnel demonstrates an amp with a volume knob that "goes up to 11"; Marshall, in direct homage, designed one that went up to 20. Tufnel (played by Christopher Guest) even featured in the commercial. Now if we could only get our hands on that special "satanic" guitar that Steve Vai played in "Crossroads."

James Parker is a writer living in Brookline. Joshua Glenn will return next week.

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