Thursday, December 28, 2006

Happy birthday to The Man

Just wanted to give a birthday shoutout to Stan Lee. I've always been more of a DC Comics guy than Marvel, but Stan the Man has been an influence on me nonetheless.

In fact, I'd have to say that he's one of two influences on my writing voice. The other is Judy Blume. You probably won't detect either one reading this blog, but they're there, I assure you.

Happy birthday, Stan.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas time is (almost) here

You know that tingling sensation you get when you lick a fresh 9-volt Duracell? Imagine that feeling in your stomach. That's how waiting for Christmas felt like when I was a kid.

I don't know if I ever got any sleep on Christmas Eve. Back in the days before insomnia, I could count on two sleepless nights a year: the night before the first day of school and Christmas Eve. The difference: Christmas Eve usually didn't involve a lot of thinking, "Oh God, what are they going to do to me this year?"

Instead, it was all about potential; the unknown. When you're a kid, you don't think about budgets or supply and demand; it's all about the magical list you penned faster than any homework assignment could ever be done, even at gunpoint. It's the time that you simply ask for what you want without thinking about how much things cost or how unlikely it is that you'd get it.

It was almost like magic.

Well, magic fueled by a week of Christmas specials on CBS, with the bongo-fueled special presentation intro.

My brother and I -- when we shared a room -- would talk about what we thought we were going to get until we finally fell asleep despite all the kid-adrenaline. And after a few hours of sleep, we were wide awake again, eager to head out into the living room to see what Santa brought us.

In what we assumed was a cost-saving move to offset the expenses of toy production, Santa always wrapped our presents in layers of tissue paper. You could just see through it just enough to have an idea of what the present was.

Our stockings would be bulging with candy, socks and for some reason I never quite understood, a tiny bottle of after-shave. Maybe Santa was trying to tell us that we stunk. I don't know.

My brother was always trying to get out there before anyone else.

"I'm gonna go see what we got!" he'd whisper.

Then I'd remind him that our parents wouldn't be up for another 2 or 3 hours and he'd scowl at me.

I still remember the year we got the Hall of Justice from the Super Powers Collection. It was the one toy we wanted the most. We had most of the Super Powers figures already, and now we'd have a cool playset for them to hang out in.

When opened, the Hall of Justice had a jail cell (with a trap door) for any villains who meandered by, a meeting table for four (you know Superman always got first dibs on a chair) and an elevator that led to a landing pad for the Supermobile (or if you had a good imagination, Wonder Woman's invisible jet).

And if that wasn't cool enough, when we opened the box, out came the last three figures we needed.

A Christmas miracle.

So now I'm gearing up to celebrate Christmas with my own family, which means one non-TNT viewing of "A Christmas Story," complaining that they showed all the Christmas specials too early again and some serious eating.

But the thing I'm looking most forward to is watching my son open his presents. I can't wait to see his face when he sees what he got.

In fact, I probably won't be able to sleep on Christmas Eve because of it.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Random thought

At what point exactly did "American Pie" decide to challenge National Lampoon for the throne of Once (Arguably) Funny Franchise Now Offering Crappy Direct-To-DVD Movies?

And Eugene Levy, why? Really. Why?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Pac-Man fever

I think it will be hard to explain to my son when he gets older just how popular Pac-Man was in its heyday.

You had your Pac-Man cereal, which was essentially sweetened Kix with marshmallow bits. The Star Wars cereal a few years back was similar to Pac-Man cereal -- or at least was close enough for my brother and me. After it had been out for a while, General Mills made a concession to all the Ms. Pac-Man fans out there and added marshmallows with a "shocking pink bow."

I don't know that I was as excited as this commercial would expect you to be, but it was still pretty good.

There was, of course, a Pac-Man cartoon, which featured Marty Ingalls as the voice of our hero. I'd love to say that it was a groundbreaking cartoon worthy of many repeated viewings, but, well, it was teamed up with the Rubik the Amazing Cube cartoon. That right there shows you the state of Saturday morning cartoons in the mid-80s. Cool song, tho.

Yes, there was Pac-Man pasta. Another brief offering from Chef Boyardee, I don't know if I ever got this as a kid. The only Chef Boyardee product that I really liked was UFOs, which had giant cheese ravioli motherships along with the regular pasta spacecraft. But if you ever wanted to see a cartoon character based on a video game shill for bland pasta, hey, all you have to do is click play.

"Pac-Man Fever" by Buckner and Garcia, was a hit single that was the first big indicator of the yellow one's fame. Imagine someone writing a song about Monopoly.

My favorite Pac-Man tie-in was the board game, which you can read about in great detail at X-Entertainment.

And I've already mentioned the cool Super Pac-Man scratch-off cards.

The hardest part, though, will be explaining how a game this popular was one of the worst games for the Atari 2600.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Robble robble

I realized the other day that as advertising mascots go, Ronald McDonald is a little unusual.

Not because he has his snappy clown ensemble that gets updated every decade or two, but because he likes to share. Ad icons I grew up with seemed to revolve around greed. The Trix Rabbit wanted Trix but couldn't get it, Lucky the Leprechaun had Lucky Charms but wouldn't share it and Sonny the Cuckoo Bird had a mental episode if he managed to get one spoonful of Cocoa Puffs.

While Ronald was pretty free with the food (like the old adage, "The first one's free..."), there were a few in McDonaldland who didn't share Ronald's food, folks and fun philosophy.

There was Captain Crook, who mainly just wanted Filet O' Fish sandwiches, which, honestly, is like someone who wants to steal nothing but Michael Bolton CDs. Really, how much of a criminal mastermind can you be if they pick you to be the catcher at an exhibition game with the San Diego Chicken?

There was also The Evil Grimace, whose ethically challenged rehabilitation I speculated upon previously.

But mainly, when you think of McDonaldland criminal genius, you're talking about the Hamburglar. If you go to the official McDonald's site, you can check out what they're passing off as Hamburglar these days. Just to prove how much thought went into it, the main Hamburglar page has him welcoming you to his page: "Who's there? Who are you? I'm glad you found my secret hideout! Come on in!"

Awfully wordy for a guy whose entire vocabulary consists mainly of "Robble robble" and sometimes "cheeseburgers." Why he wasn't called the Cheeseburglar is a question for another day I can't think of a proper subject to write about.

Because I care (somebody has to, darn it...), here is a retrospective of how Hamburglar has changed over the years.

Here's the old-school Hamburglar. Far from the cute and cuddly version around these days, the early Hamburglar looked quite creepy. I like this one. But then, everything in McDonaldland back then looked bizarre.

And then there's this version, which I think of as "my Hamburglar." He's still a little creepy looking, but he looks a little younger than before. Maybe old Ham opted for some plastic surgery, or better yet, conned The Professor into creating some kind of youth potion.

Then something went wrong. The youth potion appears to be working a little too well. From this point on, Hamburglar looks like a little kid. He also seems a little more chatty, which just isn't Hamburglary.

By the time my son starts writing pointless essays about half-forgotten pop culture, Hamburglar may be an infant in a black-and-white stiped onesie.

Hopefully he'll still have the floppy pimp hat.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Two great tastes...

Hey, you got your "Scrubs" in my "Charlie Brown Christmas!"

Hey, you got your "Charlie Brown Christmas" in my "Scrubs!"

My Charlie Brown Christmas

(via Fark)

Monday, December 04, 2006

...form of a hopeless dork

Some time ago, I was talking about superhero cartoons and mentioned that somehow people were under the false impression that the Wonder Twins activated their powers by touching their rings.

Then I talked more about it, coming up with a possible reason why this might be the case, even supplying pictures. To make a long story short (too late...), there was an earlier Hanna-Barbera cartoon called "Shazzan" that featured two teens who summoned a genie by touching two rings together and saying his name.

They've been showing some of these on Boomerang lately, and when Chuck and Nancy touch their rings together, they use the same sound as in the Wonder Twins' transformation. Technically, that should be the other way around, since "Shazzan" predates the Superfriends shows, but you get the idea.

I've dug up some video clips, and while you get to see Chuck and Nancy's ring thing, the familiar transformation sound is different in the opening credits.


Wonder Twins (as seen in the opening to the Superfriends)

I figured I may as well go nuts here with the anal-retentive superheroey clarifications, so something that sometimes gets confused with Shazzan is Shazam, the magic word young Billy Batson says in order to change into Captain Marvel. Honestly, I lay some of the blame on Hanna-Barbera for using such a similar word for such a similar circumstance.

Another part of the problem is that to a lot of people, Captain Marvel is Shazam, thanks to legal weirdness. I tried explaining this to my wife the other day, and I'm sure I'll screw up somehow, but here's the gist of it: Back in the '40s, Fawcett Publications unveiled their hero, Captain Marvel. DC Comics (then called National Periodical Publications), publisher of Superman, sued Fawcett in the '50s, saying that Captain Marvel was too similar to Superman, and in 1953, Fawcett stopped publishing the adventures of The Big Red Cheese (best superhero nickname ever).

In the early '70s, DC Comics licensed Captain Marvel from Fawcett and began publishing new stories, which would've been swell but for the fact that between the '50s and the '70s, Marvel Comics (home of Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, etc.) had published their own Captain Marvel, which meant that DC couldn't use the name "Captain Marvel" in the title, so they went with "Shazam!"

DC later bought the rights to the characters, but Shazam remains in the titles of the comics. Here's the opening from an episode of the Filmation cartoon from the early 1980s:


Because of their red costumes with shared lightning motif, Captain Marvel is sometimes confused with the Justice League of America's resident speedster, the Flash. Here's the opening to his show:


And just to be petty, I should mention that one of my biggest pet peeves as a kid was when people referred to the Flash as Flash Gordon. Here's that guy, again from the folks at Filmation. If you like it, the show was just released on DVD, so knock yourself out.

Flash Gordon

Flash Gordon teamed up with The Phantom, Lothar and Mandrake the Magician on a later cartoon called "Defenders of the Earth," which was supplemented by a line of action figures. I got a few of these as a kid and picked up a Flash Gordon figure at an antique store a few years back. The figures were different in that while the rest of each figure was plastic, the forearms were cast-iron, which I guess gave them a little more heft when you used the power-action knob on the back. The cartoon also featured the heroes' children, Rick, LJ, Kshin and Jedda (not to be confused with the Volkwagen Jetta). This show is also on DVD now.

Flash Gordon should not be confused with

Chef Gordon Ramsey,

who should not be confused with Tootie Ramsey,

who should not be confused with Tutti Frutti,

which, of course, should not be confused with Scritti Politti

Is everyone clear on all this now?

Friday, December 01, 2006

Dumb Things I've Done (8 in an occasional series)

I thought that I had a snowball's chance in hell of writing 50,000 words in one month. Alas, it was not to be. I punked out at 10,069 words, which is better than I did last year, and I wasn't even sick last time.

Maybe next time I'll make it. The trick will be to have a story idea I'm really keen on. I figured out how my first story ended, and once I knew how it ended, I didn't really care how everyone got there. The second story isn't too bad; I'm still not wild about it, but it might end up finished someday.

Some of the content on this blog aside, I have a hard time writing things without obsessing over them and rewriting endlessly.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Your thought for this morning...

I was listening to one of the XM Radio Christmas channels, Special X-Mas, and I heard a song that featured Fred Flintstone singing about some Christmassy thing or another.

And then I thought, "Why would the Flintstones celebrate Christmas?"

Monday, November 27, 2006

Sick and tired

It's time for some more YouTubery here at Siftin'. This stupid cold is almost gone, but since hacking up a lung makes it hard to type, I'm sticking with something a little easier.

Take today's items, for example. The first one, a commercial for Cock o' the Walk Low-Calorie Fruit, really needs no extra comment from me. I think you've probably got a few in mind yourself. You should be ashamed.

The second one is a pretty standard McDonald's commercial. It's not particularly funny, but those of you readers out there who happen to be my brother (and you can probably smell if you are) will likely find this disproportionately funny for reasons that I'm really not going to go into.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some DayQuil with my name on it. Or it would if I legally changed my name to DQuil, which, at this point, could happen without me noticing. Enjoy.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Dumb Things I've Done (7 in an occasional series)

Today, we have a guest sharing their dumb moment. He doesn't know he's doing it, but that's the beauty of the Internet, right?

This time, I'm on the other end of the dumbness in question. My friend and I were in yearbook class discussing some pressing issue (having absolutely nothing to do with the yearbook), and a carrot-topped classmate joined in the conversation.

I said something he thought was stupid, which prompted the following comment:

"Dude, you're such a Polack!"

My friend and I looked at each other, mystified, not because a classmate used a disparaging term for one of Polish descent, but because both of us were plainly aware that I was not, in the strictest terms, Polish.

"What?" I asked.

"You're such a Polack."

"How do you figure?" I asked.

"You just, uh, you just are," he said, his face getting perilously close to the same color as his hair.

"I'm not even Polish, moron."

"So? You're still a Polack."

My friend decided to spell it out for him, explaining that one generally had to be Polish to be called a Polack. I don't think he actually believed us or understood the distinction.

Sheesh. Redheads...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Switching gears

If you look over at my NaNoWriMo progress bar to the left, you might see that I finally have written more.

I abandoned my first story and started a new one, which I'm sure they recommend you not do, but here I am with a bit over 8,500 words. And this with another furshlugginer cold.

That still leaves me with an average of over 4,000 words a day to meet the goal, but stranger things have happened.

Wish me luck.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Dumb Things I've Done (6 in an occasional series)

When I was a little kid, I had somehow convinced myself that "La Bamba" was the Spanish version of "Twist and Shout." Why I thought this, I have no idea. No one told me this, and I hadn't read it anywhere. Apparently, this what the best my little brain could come up with.

This is the same brain that didn't make the connection between TP-ing someone's house and toilet paper until many years after what would be considered normal.

I knew toilet paper was involved, and it had nothing to do with Native American tents, but somehow it just never occurred to me.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Brickabracka, firecracker, sis boom bah...

I read in the paper this morning that some students at UC Merced want to change the mascot from the Golden Bobcat to the fairy shrimp.

That got me to thinking about mascots in general. My high school had the Tracy High Bulldogs (Class of 92 represent...), and my brother's high school had the West High Wolf Pack. I think he might have wanted the Wolverines, but I could be wrong.

And I'm sure if that's the case, he will not hesitate to let me know. And possibly make fun of my hair.

Since I was a jock, I guess technically I was an official Tracy High Bulldog, though given that I played badminton, that's really more akin to a wiener dog or whatever else is a step up from those dinky little yap dogs.

My friend Jeff and I were the boys doubles team, and could not have sucked more unless we were a Sci-Fi original movie. I guess part of the problem was that we hadn't ever played badminton before, and the teams at all the others schools had. Our lucky Burger King crowns we tried wearing at one match didn't help, either.

We tried to make it entertaining, at least. There were hopeless dives for the birdie, complete misses and lots of improvised swearing. The largest audience I can remember at a home game was one person, and that's only because she was another team member's ride home.

She also didn't share her Slurpee with me, even though I had almost worked up a sweat.

While our team didn't win a single match, we did almost get to the end of the season without giggling every time someone referred to the birdie as the shuttlecock.


But I'm not here to relive my glory days as a jock, I'm talking about mascots -- specifically, why are they always the same old thing? Seems like schools picked from a list of maybe a dozen choices. Bulldogs, Wolf Pack, Panthers, Lions, Tigers, Bears (no, I'm not going to do it -- I have some standards, you know.), Warriors, Pork and Beans, Hubcaps from a 72 Pinto Hatchback, and a few others.

I don't know how thrilled I'd be about the fairy shrimp, but then again, I work in a town where the local baseball team is The Modesto Nuts. I guess I can deal with anything. Still, they are memorable, and goshdarnit, different. You have to appreciate things like that.

But I know how hard it is to come up with a good, strong name. Car makers, who once used strong-sounding animal names for their products, now have resorted to making up words and then adding a ZX, SX or some other pairing that vaguely sounds like the word "sex."

But because I am a generous fellow, I decided to offer a few ideas for team mascots, categorized for your convenience. If you have to name a team and you end up using one of my suggestions, I am perfectly happy to accept large sums of money.

Failing that, a hat and T-shirt.

Big animals

Teams like big animals, because they give the team the appearance of being strong and uh, animally.

Mastadons (big, strong, woolly -- a good start)

Diplodocuses (I was going to say Brontosauruses, but they're really Apatosauruses now, even though everyone who's not a nerd or a paleontologist still calls them Brontosauruses, and then you'd always have to explain it to people, and it really would be a hassle.)

Caribou (maybe the prom queen could be called Princess Caribou. Or not...)

Large Unspecified Quadruped Mammals (Unique, but a pain to fit on jerseys and helmets)

Sea creatures




Sea Cucumbers

Clown Fish


I'm surprised they haven't used these already. Some would be off-limits, of course, but some could work well, I think.


The Plague


Chicken Pox

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Crabs (Hm. I guess this one could fall under sea creatures, too)

Natural Phenomena

You've got Thunder, Lightning, Earthquakes. Let's think a little large-scale, maybe even delving into physics.




Einstein-Rosen bridges

Schrödinger's cats (of course, this could cause problems in terms of win/loss records or even the coin toss)

Other ideas

That Team

This would be fun just for the conversations that would ensue.

"Who's playing against the Bulldogs?"

"That Team."

"I know, but what team is it?"

"That Team."

Both: "Third base!"

Teh L33t (you know, in case one of those computer science magnet schools fields a team)

Bulldogs SX

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Return of Bad Movies From A to Z: Just One of the Guys

There are some movies that, in the 1980s, were on cable around the clock. Most people my age can name a few: "Beastmaster," "Summer Rental," "Super Fuzz," the list could go on for days. You may rarely if ever have watched them from beginning to end, catching the last part one time, and the middle or beginning another. Today's entry in the mighty Bad Movies From A to Z pantheon is one of those movies.

The movie in a nutshell: High school student Terry Griffith (Joyce Hyser, who later appeared in a few episodes of "The Flash") feels that she's not being taken seriously as a journalist because she's a woman. So she does what any other rational person would do: she dresses up in men's clothes and enrolls in a different high school as a student.

The story: We meet Terry Griffith, who seems to have everything going the right way. She has a buffed college boyfriend and is interested in journalism.

In fact, she's working on an article when her friend Denise bails out of science to ask her advice on her prom prospects.

I mention this because one of the guys she mentions is named Gibbler. This movie was co-written by Jeff Franklin, who is the guy who brought us "Full House," which featured annoying neighbor Kimmie Gibbler.

Terry is hoping to get a shot at an internship at the Sun-Tribune. But of the two winners, Terry isn't one of them. She waits to talk to her teacher and overhears another teacher talking to him about her good looks.

She confronts him about her article and tells him off after he suggests she should have something to fall back on -- like being a model.

Terry's boyfriend Kevin doesn't understand why she's so upset, and her constantly horny brother Buddy (Billy Jacoby, later Billy Jayne of "Parker Lewis Can't Lose" fame) is no help, either.

Fed up with not being taken seriously because she's a woman, Terry gets an idea: She'll dress like a guy.

Buddy gives her pointers on how to look like a guy, including detailed instructions on scratching.

She's going to the other high school in town to submit her article for the internship. She cuts her hair and shows up, trying to blend in. There she meets Greg Tolan, played to asshat perfection by William Zabka (the asshat guy from "The Karate Kid"), when he lobs her into the bushes for talking to him.

On Terry's first day, she comes across a few logistical problems, such as which bathroom to use, and figuring out how to get around dressing out for PE.

Nature calls, and Terry has to make her first trip to the men's room. Mild hilarity ensues.

At lunch, Greg's daily ritual involves tormenting some nerds by lifting their bench.

Later, Terry has that school's journalism instructor look at her story. He says her writing's good, but the story is boring. He's not going to choose the winners for another week or so, so Terry has time to write another story.

She sees Rick Morehouse the next day at lunch. He was the guy who she talked to when she got dumped in the bushes. Rick likes music. This will be mildly interesting later. While Terry is talking to Rick, a girl named Sandy has set her sights on Terry.

She gives Rick a ride home and they hang out and have beers.

Generic beers.

Every now and then I remember when grocery stores added generic everything to their product lineup. The packaging was either plain white or yellow, with the product name in plain black letters. Some stores were so big on generics, they devoted the center aisles to a gigantic generic display.

Thank you, eBay...
This was also the time when "generic" was school slang for anything that sucked.

I even remember one kid named Eric who I only knew as "Generic Eric." To this day, I have no idea who the hell he was.


Terry decides that she's going to help Rick find a date. Sandy offers to set Rick up with her cute cousin if Terry will go out with her. The double date is on.

As it turns out, Sandy's cousin is a sixth-grader. She and Rick leave Terry and Sandy so they can be alone. When Terry gets back, blitzed on more generic beer, she has to sneak in because Kevin is waiting to see her.

It's getting complicated keeping all this up; luckily, her parents are out of town.

She buys Rick some new clothes, and Greg's girlfriend notices. Greg notices, too; he dumps spaghetti on Rick at lunch. Terry tells Rick in the bathroom that he shouldn't let Greg get away with that.

The next day, when Greg goes to dump the nerds' lunches, Rick gets up on a table and makes fun of Greg and his obsession with teasting the nerds. Everyone thinks Rick is cool now. Greg is now less cool, even with Deborah.

Afterward, Rick asks Deborah to the prom, and now that she's pissed at Greg, she says yes. But Terry doesn't seem happy about it. But Rick won't go to prom unless Terry goes, so later at her house, Terry asks her pal, Denise. She reluctantly agrees, but as Denise is leaving, Debbie shows up, looking for Terry.

Debbie has a few kissing fish for her. And something else.

And then Kevin shows up, also looking for Terry.

Terry sends Buddy up to take care of Sandy, but she leaves.

Out in the car, Kevin gripes about Terry not looking "hot." He says that her writing is just a hobby, which doesn't go over well, and reiterates sentiments her teacher had voiced.

The next night, it's time for Prom. Rick and Deborah are dancing close, and Greg doesn't look very happy about it. Neither does Terry, but for a different reason. She thinks Rick can do better.

Meanwhile, Kevin shows up at Terry's house, looking for her. Buddy will tell him where she is, but only if he gets to go with Kevin.

At the dance, Greg and Deborah are named prom king and queen, but she won't dance with him. Instead, she dances with Rick. This doesn't go over well; Greg walks over and punches Rick. Terry jumps on Greg, but he throws her into the water.

By this point, Buddy and Kevin are there to see the action.

Rick wants a rematch with Greg, and they fight. Rick throws him into the food table.

Kevin asks Terry what's going on. Before he can say that Terry's his girlfriend, Terry takes Rick aside to talk to him.

Rick assumes that Terry is going to come out to him. She does, sort of. She admits that she's a woman.

"Right," says Rick. "And I'm Cyndi Lauper."

Except Rick, who loves music, pronounces it "Low-per" with an "ow" sound, unlike anyone else I knew in 1985. Or now, for that matter.

He doesn't believe Terry, but there is a way she can convince him.

Here it is, kids, the reason for this movie's PG rating...

"Wait a minute, are those what I think they are?"

Rick storms away, angry with Terry for lying. Terry follows him and kisses him in front of the whole crowd, which Rick explains nonchalantly.

I swear, this is just like "Yentl."

Terry tries to finish her story ("I Was a Teenage Boy") while fighting back tears.

It makes it into the paper, and she gets the internship. But she doesn't seem happy about it. Her teacher congratulates her and asks what happened to Rick. She says he hates her.

After graduation, she bumps into Rick outside the Sun-Tribune after work. They make up and decide to go out. He missed her, he says.

Happy ending.

Afterthoughts: How can you not like a 80s teen comedy that opens with a slow reveal of a pretty girl in underwear?

You'd think that this was a raunchy sex comedy in the vein of Porky's, but instead is essentially a TV movie with brief nudity and some swears. It's kind of sweet in a way, but it wavers between sex comedy and romantic comedy without committing fully to either, and doesn't really come off focused.

Still, for kids who couldn't watch R movies and still wanted to see naked chestal regions, this was like a goldmine.

The thing I noticed this time around is that Terry decides to work undercover at the other high school in town. Her parents are out of town, so she doesn't have to explain her odd behavior to them. But how is it that she doesn't go to class at her real high school? And there wasn't anyone at the school who knew Terry and would've seen through her disguise?

Still, it's worth catching from beginning to end; there are a handful of mild yuks.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Quite possibly the dumbest thing you'll read today

So let's say you can't wait to get your hands on Nintendo's newest video game console. Instead of waiting in line and paying for one, you decide to steal one. Alas, you are caught by security before you can beat your hasty retreat.

Would you then be arrested for taking a Wii in public?

I am so sorry.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Jen, a fisher

While out enjoying the crisp November air out on the Delta with my wife, her parents and of course, young Mr. Brody, we took in a little fishing, something Jen and I don't do much of.

I've only fished a few times, and had only caught a fish once. But I think I was asleep most of the time, so I can't really take credit for it.

This time, I was wide awake and actually caught a fish without too much trouble. It was too small, so back in the drink it went. Having tried to catch a fish and succeeded, I was pretty satisfied.

Jen was really enjoying herself. She gave us -- and her dad, especially -- a running total of her haul. Brody even helped on one, holding the net.

We didn't really need the net, but that's what Brody thought fishing was all about, so he was our netter.

All told, Jen's tally included 10 fish and a clam. All 10 fish (and a clam) were too small, alas, so Jen didn't have a tasty fish dinner as a result of her efforts.

I was standing around sucking up the oxygen (as I often do) while Jen and her dad were fishing. Her dad handed me his fishing rod and said, "Here, hold this."

So like a dummy, that's what I did. After the rod bent and bowed enough times that I noticed, I realized, "Oh, there's a fish. Reel it in."

So I did.

And that was the fish that Jen had for dinner. I had provided a meal for my wife. I felt very Charles Ingalls-y. Maybe next time I can go fishing for something I actually eat, like bacon or Cheez Doodles.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Hey there, vampire lovers

My cold is finally gone. Birthday extravaganzas have been completed. NaNoWriMo block is in full effect. Sounds like it's a perfect time to come on back to blogland for a landmark 250th post. Just think how many posts I'd have if I was a real blogger, huh?

I've been thinking of vampires (part of the fun of said NaNoWriMo project) lately, so I thought it interesting that this is coming out soon. Thankfully, it doesn't sound similar to what I'm doing, so that makes me even more interested.

"Slayer" is not, as you might have thought, a biopic about the metal band.

Instead, it is "a story of a company of soldiers sent on a mission into the South American jungle where they discover a new breed of vampire, deadly by day as well as by night!"

I've never much cared for vampires, but like I said, I've been working with one as a character, and now I'm interested in different takes on vampires in general. This sounds pretty interesting.

"Slayer begins when a peace-keeping army is dispatched to a remote jungle in South America to investigate a series of horrific attacks. Headed by Captain Tom 'Hawk' Hawkins (Casper Van Dien) and his second-in-command Grieves (Kevin Grevioux – 'Underworld,' 'Angel,' 'Bowfinger'), the squad finds itself in a deadly confrontation with a nest of vampires impervious to daylight. And these vampires are growing in number, for they have gone beyond preying on the local villagers. Now they are directing their thirst towards Hawk's fellow officers, intent on absorbing their military knowledge for their own bloody campaign!"

Also starring in the film is Lynda Carter, which is reason enough right there to look into this.

I repeat: Lynda Carter.

This was written and directed by Kevin VanHook, who also brought us "Voodoo Moon." It hits shelves near you on Nov. 21, courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment, which would occupy a special place in my heart even if they only released the extended cut of "Supergirl," let alone all the other stuff they've put out.

As usual, there are a host of extras, including commentary, galleries and the script. If you can't wait to see what I do with vampires, you might want to check this out.

And given my paltry progress on my book so far, you'd better just check it out anyway.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

On the write track...

This may be the only time during NaNoWriMo that this happens. Yesterday, on the first day of the event, I was actually ahead of my goal. To reach 50,000 words by the end of the month, I need to write 1,666 words a day.

I haven't worked on the story today; naturally since I'm off to a good start, I've gotten a cold.

But hey, 1,867 words; it's a start.

Halloween: The Aftermath

We took Brody trick-or-treating, and while there weren't as many people manning their doors when we went out as there were when I was a kid, he still nabbed a pretty decent haul. Check it out:

Yes, if you look closely, you'll see that young Brody managed to nab a full-size candy bar as part of his treasure.

Had there been actual other trick-or-treaters out there, we'd have done our part and told them about the cool house giving them away.

Oh, and he got Play-Doh, too. How cool was that? Let's ask Brody:

There you go.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Hey, it's Halloween already

Making funny horror movies isn't always an easy proposition.

In my days of renting nothing but horror flicks from the video stores, I fondly remember Rolfe Kanefsky's "There's Nothing Out There," which contained a lot of riffs on horror cliches that predated "Scream" by a good couple of years.

I thought it went a bit overboard near the end when a character uses a boom mike that he pulls from out of frame, but other than that, good times.

And back in the day (as the kids used to say back in the day), there was "Student Bodies," a full-blown horror spoof. Given how old I was when I saw it on video (or cable, I can't remember), just the scene where a dog farts for no reason was more than enough to keep me laughing.

On Nov. 7, Anchor Bay will offer up "Freak Out" from director Christian James. It's already won some awards, and it sounds like it will be fun:

Turning the great horror movie clichés on their severed ears, Freak Out opens like all great slasher films -- with a flashback of an incidental character. Young Cliff is being dropped off at school by his alcoholic mother, only to be tormented by his teacher and peers. Thirteen years later, Cliff escapes from a mental institution to find that the school that he vowed revenge on is no longer standing. Disappointed and with nowhere to go, Cliff wanders onto the doorstep of horror film addicts Merv and his best friend Onkey. With visions of slashers and maniacs and box-office grosses (oh my!) dancing in their heads, wannabe schlock kings Merv and Onkey fit Cliff with a potato sack on his head and cover his face with a hockey mask, transforming him into the ultimate homicidal filmaniac. Things soon take a turn for the worst after the killer “finds his groove,” dispatching shoppers and employees alike in a supermarket. With their Frankenstein officially out of control – killing everyone in sight -- Marv and Onkey start to have second thoughts. Can they stop their own creation or are they – and the town -- doomed?

The 2-disc set will also feature a host of extras and commentaries, so it looks like you get a lot of bang for your buck.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Tricks, treats, and deranged ninjas

I was talking to my brother the other day about Halloweens past, and I have to admit, I'm a little envious of my son because he gets to go trick-or-treating.

I'm going with him, of course, but now I'm a parent. I also get most of his loot, since he still doesn't like candy.

But there was something fun about going out with a bunch of your friends to go pillage entire neighborhoods. My friends and I were good kids -- let's face it, we weren't cool enough to be invited to the parties where there was underage drinking and egging trips. Every now and then we'd get a little carried away. Sugar rush and all, I guess.

One year we were heading to the next house on the block. This one appeared to have a corpse decorating the driveway, which I thought was a nice touch. We wondered if it was a full dummy or just a fake head and newspaper.

So one of my friends, who was dressed as a ninja -- let's call him "Fred" -- casually walked up to said corpse and gave it a light kick with his boot.

Fred was a pretty mild-mannered guy, so we were a bit surprised that he would do that. We were more surprised when the corpse got up and moaned, holding his hand up to his head.

"Owwwww," he said.

We assumed that Fred, a conscientious sort, would immediately apologize. Instead, he ignored that he kicked a kid in the head and just asked for some candy.

Still rubbing where he was kicked, the kid replied, "You don't need any candy, you fat bastard..."

I should mention that Fred was not, in fact, fat. His ninja attire was a little ill-fitting. But that comment must have made him mad, because he swiped my friend's cane (he was the Joker) and started waving it around like a lightsaber.

"Never underestimate the power of the force...," he said.

We tried to steer our Jedi ninja to the next house before the kid went to get his parents or something.

"Come on, Fred," I said, actually calling him Fred instead of his real name. "Let's go."

Another time, our group had heard about a bunch of high school kids who were going around beating the crap out of kids and stealing their candy. We didn't give it much thought until we were crossing a vacant lot.

We saw another group coming from the opposite direction. At that point, my flashlight (a Star Trek: The Next Generation phaser) died. As we got closer to the shadowy figures, we slowed down. So did they.

Finally we got close enough to see that the shadowy strangers were other guys from our class who thought that we were the candy snatchers.

Over my many (too many, to be honest) years of trick-or-treating, I found that there are certain types of candy-giver-outers. This may have changed these days, but I'd bet it's pretty much the same.


You almost always encountered one house that, instead of dealing with freeloading kids ringing the doorbell every couple of minutes, decided to leave a large bowl of candy out on a folding chair with a note that said "Please take one." This always struck me as optimistic or lazy or both.

It wasn't uncommon to see these bowls empty except for any butterscotch disks and other dog-end candies. In a staggering display of semantics at work, some kids (not me, honest) would take the "one" in "Please take one" to mean one bowl of candy. We They were just following instructions.


That house that's giving away regulation-sized Snickers and/or dollar bills. Easy to spot because they also offer unicorn rides and live at the end of the rainbow. Sometimes they are mistaken for the house farthest out of the neighborhood, causing trick-or-treaters to miss out on valuable candy-gathering time.

So I hear.


We always heard stories about them, and sometimes we'd swing by the hospital to get our candy X-rayed to make sure there were no needles in our candy, but among my friends, we never encountered any tainted candy, unless you count those random decades-old peanut-butter taffies.

Wishful thinkers

Some houses (often occupied by dentists or crunchy-granola types) would offer you a shiny apple (only in the early days, really) or boxes of raisins. These were impossible to trade for anything good and ended up either in the garbage, not wanting to get a razor-blade apple, or in the pantry where someone might end up taking them. You'd think dentists would see Halloween as an opportunity to drum up some more business and give out rock candy and Pixy Stix, but no. Sometimes, they'd even give out toothbrushes.

That qualified as a trick, I think.


Some people -- and it's totally up to them, as they are giving out candy for free to kids they don't know -- have rules. Some folks won't give candy to people they think are too old to be trick-or-treating, which is a total bummer to bored teenagers who don't get invited to Halloween parties and have nothing else better to do. If said students are on the short side, all future costumes would involve full masks and strategic silence.

Others would tempt you with a cornucopia of candy and then tell you to only take one. Then you have to choose between the Bottle Caps or the Wacky Wafers. A dilemma, I assure you.

Angels in disguise

This didn't happen all that regularly to me, but one year my friends and I, on the tail end of our looting, went to one of the last houses on our list. It was pretty late, but the porchlight was on, which made it fair game. We waited for someone to answer and were about to leave when the lady opened the door, balancing a giant bowl of candy on her hip.

She'd just gotten back from dinner late and hadn't gotten a chance to give out the candy she'd bought. Since it was so late, she said -- this is true -- the three of us could divvy up the candy among the three of us. We thanked her profusely and split up the candy.

It doesn't get much better than that.

Unless you get to see a ninja kick a kid in the head. Good times.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Bridge School Benefit Concert: A Little Later The Next Day

I'm still not completely awake, but I'm close enough.

You know that scene in "Airplane!" when Rex Kramer and the other guy are driving to the airport and he hits a bicyclist who shouts at him as they drive on?

That's sort of what it was like riding on the shuttle bus from the parking lot to the amphitheatre, except we didn't hit him. The shuttle was packed full, standing room only, so when we got to the next shuttle stop, we kept going.

And boy, did he not like it. We all heard him call the driver an a-hole as we drove past. Someone said they heard a rock hit, but I missed that.

The funny part is that a) He was disproportionately pissed about not getting on the shuttle; and b) he got there before we did because we had to wait in a line of cars.

You could see the little daggers with dotted lines coming from his eyes as he walked toward the gate and saw the shuttle. We weren't sure if he was going to throw something or what.

We got to the gate, and after getting our bag and tickets checked, we were in.

Our seats were about in the middle; not back on the lawn, but not up front, either. I could see pretty well, but Jen had a little problem, given that most everyone in the venue older than 10 was taller than her.

One thing I should have brought -- a hat. Ten years ago, it wouldn't have mattered much, but you know, all that breakdancing and headspinning has taken its toll up there. Early on, Jen made a trip out to the vendors to see what was out there, and she picked up a hat and T-shirt for me.

It was a little warmer than I expected, but it got cooler as the show went on.

And the show was pretty sweet.

The lineup included Neil Young, Gillian Welch, Devendra Banhart, Death Cab for Cutie, Trent Reznor, Foo Fighters, Brian Wilson, Pearl Jam and Dave Matthews Band.

I'm sure I've mentioned I'm a huge Brian Wilson fan, and honestly, I never thought I'd have to chance to see him perform. But there he was up on the stage. He's not the most rambunctious stage presence, but he did smile several times. Brian and his band had one of the longest sets in the whole show.

He smiled right after this. I just missed it.They started with the vocal instrumental, "Our Prayer." It's always been a beautiful piece, but it has a special connection for me now. It was the first song we played at our son Harrison's funeral. I wasn't sure how I'd take it, but I got through it okay. Another high point was hearing one of my absolute favorite songs, "God Only Knows." Just that alone made the night awesome for me. Getting to spend it with my beautiful wife made it even that much better.

And the french fries we got -- awesome.

We almost missed Pearl Jam because of those fries. For some reason we thought Dave Matthews was up after Brian Wilson, so we weren't rushing to get back to our seats. Nothing against Dave; I just haven't had the time to get into his catalog. We were moseying back to where we were sitting, the lights dropped and there was Eddie Vedder up on stage.

After a short sprint, we got to our seats, where, unfortunately for my pint-sized partner, everyone was standing.

They did four songs, one of which was Jen's favorite, "Black." There was an empty seat at the end of the row, so I told her to sit there for the duration while the seat's occupant was out.

The show was longer than we'd expected, and given that we not only had to pick up our son from my parents' house but also had to work the next day, we had to leave before the end of the show. I would've liked to have stayed, but it would've been just too late. Maybe next year.

One of the things that was really neat was the positive vibe you got from the performers. I'm pretty much a stick in the mud, but I really enjoyed being there and being a part of the event, which was for a good cause.

Bridge School Benefit Concert: The Next Day

Hi, y'all...

As an early anniversary present to ourselves (a day early), Jen and I went to the Bridge School Benefit Concert yesterday.

In a word, awesome.

We were out late and I was up early, so I'm still trying to sort everything out in my head.

I'll be back to write more about it when words of more than one or two syllables come back into my brain.

I got to see Brian Wilson. W00t!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

70s children, rejoice!

I heard about it a few days ago, but now there's more information out over on

Next month, Navarre Corporation's BCI is releasing a 4-disc box set of one of my favorite game shows, Match Game.

The set has 30 episodes, and according to the release, they are uncut, which I think is pretty cool. I doubt I've seen them without cuts since they originally aired -- and that means some of them I've never seen in their original form, as the show predates me by just a bit. There are also extra features, including an interview with Match Game regular Brett Somers.

I loved this show as a kid because -- among other reasons -- it just looked like they were having a bunch of fun. Watching the show now, I get even more jokes than I did when I was a worldly 7-year-old. Some of them, I'm surprised actually made it to air. It was like a grown-up version of Mad Libs, and the word "boobs" cropped up on the show almost as often it was by my friends and me.

You also never knew what was going to happen. If one of the props didn't work, all kinds of craziness would erupt. On one episode, host Gene Rayburn made a slip of the tongue when he tried to compliment a contestant on her pretty dimples.

It always struck me odd when either Brett Somers or Charles Nelson Reilly was missing from the panel. It just looked incomplete -- like Mount Rushmore without Washington.

The set is just under 35 clams, so those of you who have to buy a birthday present for your favorite pop-culture junkie within the next month are in luck.

Monday, October 16, 2006

That tastes super...

Getting kids to eat better is nothing new. It's just the trends well-meaning adults end up foisting upon the kids that change.

And if you were a kid in the 70s or early 80s (especially here in California), you probably encountered more than your fair share of carob, which all the grownups said tasted like chocolate but was better for you.

Suuuuuuure it did.

I mention this because I when I was unpacking some books, I came across my trusty DC Super Heroes Super Healthy Cookbook. The recipes inside were healthy alternatives to the usual kid fare, tarted up with cool pictures of the members of the Justice League of America.

Looking at it now, there are more than a few things that strike me as goofy.

For starters, there are an awful lot of recipes that call for wheat germ or (eek) carob. Still, though, I've made a few of the dishes -- mostly the Quick As a Flash Apple Crisp -- and they're not that bad.

But one will always be a sore spot for me.

The Mild Mannered Burger calls for you to slap your freshly cooked burger (which, yes, contains wheat germ) on a whole wheat bun. On the top bun, you put a couple of pickle slices and a bit of red pepper in the shape of a face with a few toothpicks like so:

And underneath this disguise, your super burger looks like this:

Unless you put the top bun on the burger and ruin the Superman insignia you spent forever and a day getting just right before you had a chance to show anyone.

Ah well.

This cookbook is a treasure because it offers at least one sentence never before uttered by anyone.

Okay, to be fair, it's from the recipe for Wonder Woman's Rocket Pops, which calls for both wheat germ and carob. Yum-O.

If you see this at a used book store, pick it up. Whether you try out Perry White's Great Caesar's Salad or Hawkman's Egg Birds, there's a bunch of fun stuff in there.

Feel free to substitute real chocolate in place of carob. I did.

Friday, October 13, 2006


Well, it's Friday the 13th, so to celebrate, I thought I'd dust off a gently used but completely related blog entry from a few months back.

Do you dare read my review of "Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives"?


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Write Stuff, 2006

It's almost time for National Novel Writing Month again. That means it's almost time for me to try to write something slightly longer than my average bad movie review.

The goal is to write 50,000 words in the month of November. Last year, I got all the way up to a measly 6,428.

So if nothing else, I'd like to at least beat that total. The trick so far is coming up with something to write about. I don't want to try anything similar to what I did last year, because those stories tend to trip me up a little when it comes to things like progress.

I have a few ideas, but none are really spinning the old cheese wheel, if you know what I mean.

To some extent, I believe the old saw, "Write what you know." Now obviously, none of us have lived on another planet, but we can use our life experiences and imagination to extrapolate what it might be like.

The problem comes when you are slightly deficient in the life experience department, which happens if you are an exceptionally boring person who managed to avoid doing much of anything growing up.

I'm told.

Monday, October 09, 2006

More changes

In case you came to the blog this morning and it looked like something went kablooey, I was goofing around with template changes.

The old Siftin' graphic has returned, and we've got a nice color scheme suitable for autumn.

I'm sure you are all in a whirlwind of "I care" about it, but I figured I'd let you know.

As always, more pointless posts pending.

New (to me) Pez flavor

This just shows you how out of the loop I am.

At the grocery store yesterday, I passed the PEZ display and -- thanks to reflex -- scanned the racks for anything out of the ordinary. Having been caught by surprise by the resurrection of cherry Pez earlier this year, I want to try to stay on top of things.

I noticed a few rolls in some packs had an odd color. A closer look revealed that I was looking at raspberry Pez. Cool -- another new flavor.

It's pretty good -- the raspberry is strong (but not too much so) before you get hints of the sugary Pez base flavor.

So I thought I'd hit the Internet to see what was going on. It seems that raspberry is just as new as the cherry, and I had just managed to not encounter it all year long until now.

Go figure.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Can you tell I'm hungry?

Today, in lieu of actual content, it's Jeff's Cavalcade of Lamented Snacks.

Hostess Pudding Pies

I got a Safeway-brand vanilla pudding pie when I went shopping recently, just in case my beloved Hostess pies were hiding under an assumed name.


Wacky Fruit Bubble Yum

If I had to put a name on which fruit was represented by Wacky Fruit, I'd have to say peach. Why call it Wacky Fruit? How many guys would go asking for peach gum?

Okay, besides me.


Added this just so any youngsters reading this would understand that joke in "Back to the Future."

Cookie Crisp

I know they still have it, but they don't use Cookie Jarvis as the mascot anymore. It's a travesty.

Banana Frosted Flakes

Because we really need more banana cereals.


I had this commercial when I taped the last season of the Superfriends -- until someone taped over it, even though I had labeled it clearly.

The cereal tasted like orange-flavored dog butt, anyhow.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

What's the scenario?

I couldn't wait for it to be done. I only had a few minutes until it was time.

The steady chatter of my mom's sewing machine stopped, and she turned around in her chair to show me the project she'd been toiling over at my request.

"Here you go," she said, whirling it around.

Just in time. My Greatest American Hero cape was ready just as the familiar strains of the theme song came on our TV in the living room.

Yes, I was a nut for that show. Don't believe me? Check it out:

I loved the idea that a superhero could also be a klutz despite the powers. And I fully thought that Bill Maxwell was the coolest guy on TV. He was so cool, he'd even eat dog biscuits out of the box.

Ralph Hinkley was a high school teacher who, while out in the desert on a field trip, was given the suit by aliens to combat crime. Bill Maxwell was the tough FBI agent he met there.

Along with the occasional help from Ralph's girlfriend Pam Davidson, they took on all kinds of foes, from crooks trying to fix baseball games, to lonely spirits who just want to live again.

As a kid, I couldn't understand Ralph's reluctance to be a superhero. Just being able to fly (more or less) would've been worth it. Now I understand it a little more, though flying would still be pretty sweet.

I mention this because on the shelves today, you might spy The Greatest American Hero: The Complete Series box set.

Not only do you get all three seasons of the show, but it comes in a limited numbered tin with a full-size cape, an iron-on of the suit's emblem and (this is my favorite) an instruction manual replica with working lights. That is just plain cool, I say.

Even cooler for GAH fans, 200 of the sets -- at random -- will contain an autographed photo of William Katt, who played our hero Ralph Hinkley.

So if your favorite Greatest American Hero fan has, say, a birthday coming up in just over a month, this would be a make a cool gift.

Here's a clip to whet your appetite:

Monday, October 02, 2006

Nilsson news

I'm still looking forward to seeing "Who is Harry Nilsson... (And Why is Everybody Talkin' About Him)?" If it makes it out near me, I'm so there. You can also visit the film's MySpace page.

I also found out today about a project from Sean Nelson of Harvey Danger. It's called Nelson Sings Nilsson, and if you want to hear some tracks, check out the MySpace page here.

And don't forget -- later this month, The Walkmen are releasing a track-by-track cover of Nilsson's Pussy Cats album.

Cool beans.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

More bad movies on the way

I haven't forgotten about the old Bad Movies from A to Z list. I haven't had much time to watch movies lately, let alone to take notes. But I've got the next few lined up, and as soon as I get around to viewing them, I'll add the reviews.

Someone asked if "Plan Nine From Outer Space" was going to be on the list. After lots of thought and consideration, I decided not to add it to the lineup.


To start, while Plan Nine is not a great movie, I've seen much worse. Ed Wood might not have had much in the talent department, but God bless him, he loved movies -- even if he couldn't make a good one.

Also, everybody picks on Plan Nine when they talk about bad movies. I honestly don't know that I would have anything new to add.

Plus, I already have a P movie picked out, and I don't think I've ever seen a review of it. Of course, this being the Internet, I'm sure someone will find it and chastise me.

Friday, September 22, 2006


File this under "I really shouldn't have laughed that hard..."

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Voodoo Moon

There are certain actors whose work I almost always enjoy. Consequently, I'll often watch things based solely on the appearance of one of those actors.

So when I found out that Jeffrey Combs will be in the upcoming release from Anchor Bay, "Voodoo Moon," it got my attention. Heck, I caught an episode of "CSI" the other day with him in it. His first listed credit on IMDB is a small part in "Honky Tonk Freeway," a movie from 1981 that I remember solely because a little kid (Peter Billingsley of "A Christmas Story" fame) pees on the side of the road, which I found supremely funny at the time. I should add that I was about 6 or 7 at the time.

Anyhow, here's the synopsis from the press release:

Twenty years ago, a demonic massacre in a sleepy Southern town left two young siblings as the lone survivors. But for adult Cole (Eric Mabius) and his younger sister Heather (Charisma Carpenter), an obsession with their parents' satanic slaughter has lasted a lifetime. Now through Cole's psychic connection with a group that includes an outlaw biker (John Amos, "The West Wing," "Die Hard 2: Die Harder"), a traumatized cop (Jeffrey Combs, "Re-Animator") and a mysterious healer (Dee Wallace , "Cujo" and "The Howling"), vengeance is about to take a very unholy turn. Tonight they will all be brought together in a place where depraved secrets are exposed, legions of the damned are unleashed, and the final battle between Good and Evil will be fought beneath the Voodoo Moon…

As Abraham Lincoln once said, "For those who like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing they like." That's exactly how I feel about the movies I watch.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Avast, ye swabs!

Well, here it is, International Talk Like a Pirate Day, and if you need any pirate-like information, head on over to The Original Talk Like a Pirate Day Site.

And here's my pirate name this year:

My pirate name is:

Bloody Jack Bonney

Every pirate lives for something different. For some, it's the open sea. For others (the masochists), it's the food. For you, it's definitely the fighting. You can be a little bit unpredictable, but a pirate's life is far from full of certainties, so that fits in pretty well. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from
part of the network

Monday, September 18, 2006

Not just for the few...

The perils of watching old TV commercials and public service announcements: I catch myself humming this song and have to tell someone what it is.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

A dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind...

There are things I shouldn't think about early in the morning. Late at night, just about anything goes. But in the morning, I find that I have to be careful not to overload the circuits.

I presume this is why having an early morning math class didn't pan out much for me.

Math in general is not one of my strong suits, so I was pleased to discover that I was able to keep up with Imagining the Tenth Dimension.

I want to learn more about tesseracts, but my brain refuses to cooperate. It's frustrating to want to learn about something that is just beyond your reach. I can almost wrap my head around it, but I'm just missing that "a-ha!" moment.

Maybe if there was a model made of Lego...

(via WFMU's Beware of the Blog)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Merrily we roll along

I just told gently suggested to my wife what her next crocheting project should be. Because hey, who doesn't need the prince from Katamari Damacy to decorate your desk?

I do, however, draw the line at this. Cool it may be, but I don't think I can really pull that off.

(via Boing Boing)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Save the clock tower Fruit Pie the Magician!

I like to support worthwhile endeavors when possible (read: when it requires little actual effort on my part).

So when I learned of the Save Fruit Pie the Magician campaign, I figured I'd try to spread the word. Please pardon the crudeness of my Sharpie likeness.

I always liked Fruit Pie the Magician. Better than Twinkie the Kid, at any rate. Don't get me wrong; The Kid is a nice enough fellow, but he just seems a little too eager, you know?

Fruit Pie just seemed a little more badass, even despite being saddled with the name Fruit Pie. He was also a magician, but I think he just conjured up fruit pies for little kids to eat. Now think about that. He is a living breathing fruit pie, and he gives little kids smaller replicas of himself (nonsentient, of course) to eat. And not once does he look a little uneasy about that.

A few years ago, when I used to get a Hostess fruit pie almost every day at work, I'd cut out the images of FPtM from the empty packages and tape them to my monitor. Within a few days, it looked like a miniature shrine.

These days, Hostess has changed the wrapper for their line of pies, and our boy Fruit Pie got the heave-ho. Instead, they use a bland design. Clearly, no one at Hostess asked me what I thought. If they had, not only would FPtM be on the wrappers, but they'd also be making the pudding pies again.

The new wrapper, which I presume was designed to make them stand out on the shelves, has (for me, anyway) the opposite effect. I keep thinking they're the store brand or other off-brand pies.

Compare this:

with this:

Way to go, Hostess.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

The line broke, the monkey got choked...

I've been listening to "It: The History of Pop Music" on XM Radio over the past few weeks, and it's been pretty cool.

What's even cooler is that the XM site has PDFs of the decade-by-decade playlists so you can see what's coming up or what you missed.

Today covered the early 80s, so I've gotten to hear such gems as Styx's "Mr. Roboto" and "The Clapping Song" by Pia Zadora. That last song was stuck in my head for years until I heard a snippet of it on one of those "I Love the 80s" specials on VH-1.

Why it was stuck in there, I have no idea. It's certainly not because I liked it. My brain likes to play tricks on me, I guess.

Dumb ol' brain...

Friday, September 01, 2006

I'll teach your grandmother to suck eggs...

OK, I just saw a Sara Lee commercial that used "The Happy Happy Joy Joy Song" from Ren and Stimpy.

Discuss among yourselves.

And while we're at it, how many people thought it was "Nobody Does It Like Sara Lee"? Someone who is married to me (who will remain nameless) would undoubtedly feel better if she wasn't the only one.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Don't toss those cookies

As anyone who has read this blog before can attest to, my brain works in mysterious ways.

Every time I hear Phil Collins' cover of "You Can't Hurry Love," I am reminded of an afternoon at the Naval Air Station in Alameda. My dad was in the Navy Reserve at the time, and we were on base for reasons I can't remember. It didn't involve cartoons or comic books, so it was above my radar.

I do remember stopping at the little store there because they were one of the places at which I could always count on finding my favorite Super Heroes cookies.

Each box was emblazoned with the Super Heroes logo that, under a deal my young brain could scarcely fathom, was shared by rivals Marvel and DC Comics. I knew this because I had a puzzle of the Marvel heroes with the same logo.

On that afternoon, my brother and I each got a box, and as we got in the car to go back home, "You Can't Hurry Love" was playing on the radio. We opened our boxes and gave a running commentary on how many of which superheroes we had.

The cookies themselves were a fairly bland, graham crackery affair, but honestly, they could have put dog poo in some superhero-themed packaging and my brother and I would've wanted it.

In later years, I found out that one of my favorite comic book artists, George Pérez, supplied the artwork for the boxes. And as my obsession from about eighth grade through high school was to collect as much of his output as possible, that made me wish I had saved a box or two of those cookies.

More recently, I'd seen pictures of the cookies on the Internet, and on a whim, checked eBay, even though I'd done so many times before without success.

I ended up getting three boxes of cookies for about 11 bucks. Two of them were the slightly later Supergirl boxes that tied in with the box office bomb, but the cookies inside were still the same. The other box featured Pérez art on front and back.

Like many of my eBay acquisitions, the cookies remained in storage, seen only when we were moving to a new place and I had to make sure they didn't get thrown out by accident.

Then I wondered what the cookies (now in the realm of 22 years old) looked like. I decided to (very carefully) crack open one of the Supergirl boxes since I had two of them.

Of all the cookies, only about half were still intact, which, as I recall, was about the same as when they were new. Nothing was quite as disappointing as finding only the head or legs of a hero you didn't already have in the box. Well, until they stopped making them, anyway.

In this box, I found Wonder Woman (in two slightly different poses), Superman, Supergirl,

Penguin, Batman (in two different poses), Batgirl and Robin.

The second Batman cookie, now that I look at it, reminds me a bit of this picture of Batman. You be the judge:

I was a bit surprised that the cookies still seemed to be in good shape. I wasn't quite adventurous enough to taste one, as they smelled like 22-year-old cardboard, but I appreciated their lack of deterioration nonetheless.

This is the part where I usually have some pithy thing to say that sums up the whole post, but since the whole thing was about opening a 22-year-old box of cookies, I don't think I have anything profound to say other than that I need a hobby or something.


Saturday, August 26, 2006

International Astronomical Union to Pluto: "You cold busted."

Alas, poor Pluto.

After about 75 years of being the ninth planet, everyone's favorite celestial snowball got busted down to dwarf planet status. Now we're left with Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune as official planets.

I've seen some complaints about how the old mnemonic we learned in school -- along the lines of "My Very Educated Mother Just Sent Us Nine Pizzas" is now obsolete.

I always found it easier to, I dunno, remember the actual names of the planets. I think I was a weird kid, though.

I'm not against mnemonics; they're pretty handy. I've always been partial to "Eskimos Go Bananas Drinking Fresca" over "Every Good Boy Does Fine." You can guess how long ago my music class was based on the inclusion of "Go Bananas" and "Fresca."

In old issues of "The Flash," one of the enemies -- The Rainbow Raider -- was named Roy G. Bivolo. I read about that long before I learned about Roy G. Biv representing the colors of the natural spectrum.

My friends and I came up with quite a few mnemonics in my high school science classes, most of which I'm, uh, not at liberty to share, if you know what I mean.

Am I bummed out about Pluto getting sent down to the minors? No, not really. I always thought it had a goofy name (So to speak; the cartoon dog was named after the planet, according to Wikipedia). Besides, it's going to be decades before Pluto is removed from the collective knowledge pool of the general public.

If nothing else, it will be the best-known dwarf planet, which admittedly is sort of like being the coolest nerd (so I hear), but it's something.

Friday, August 25, 2006

YouTube resurrected the video star

I hear YouTube wants to someday have every music video ever made online for people to watch. I guess they mean they want to do this in cooperation with the music labels, as there's already skillions of videos on YouTube.

I figured I'd see what I could find.

"Calling All Girls" by Hilly Michaels. This is what I think of when I think of old MTV. I actually caught this on ALTV, one of the specials "Weird Al" Yankovic did on MTV back in the day, and it looks like that's where this clip came from. Now that's a music video. Awesome.

"Building a Bridge to Your Heart" by Wax. Another one I saw on ALTV back in 1987. It's a catchy little tune.

"We'll Be Right Back" by Steinski and Mass Media. Wow, 3 for 3 for videos I saw via ALTV. This particlular clip was from a showing of Night Flight. Homina! Homina homina!

Should you want to check some videos out on your own, there's always They've done the dirty work of finding and indexing, and you just click and watch.

And here's a quick "How well do you know Jeff" quiz: When the video below came out, what do you suppose was the reason I watched it every time it came on? Those of you readers who happen to be my wife are ineligible to take the quiz. And unless you want to explain why you're watching cheesy music videos, you might not want to check these at work.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Well, turn it up, man...

Oh jeez.

This commercial is solely responsible for my violent dislike of the song "Bread and Butter." I probably wouldn't have lilked it much anyway, but this commercial made sure of it.

This clip is for my brother.

Freedom Rock. If there was a spot in which stations could possibly air this commercial, they did. Even if there wasn't, they did. Every time I hear the beginning of "Layla," it's all I can do not to ask whoever's listening with me, "Hey, man, is that Freedom Rock?"

Ah, I miss K-Tel Records commercials. I have quite a few in my vinyl collection, but not this one. I loved how you could get a random assortment of artists one just one K-Tel collection. I have one that has Sylvers, Kiss, England Dan & John Ford Coley, Gary Wright, Alice Cooper and Heart as the first six tracks. Yikes!