Saturday, February 11, 2006

WonderCon bound

Well, it's off to WonderCon shortly. Expect tales of amazing sights and sounds or bitter observations on pop-culture events.

But how bad can it be when Chewbacca will be there?

Friday, February 10, 2006

I've got a doodle in my noodle


I found Sketch Swap via Boing Boing the other day and decided to try it out. Here's how it works:

You sketch something with your mouse and submit it. In return, you get a sketch from someone else. It's pretty simple and only takes as long as it takes you to draw something that doesn't suck too much.

In the interest of time, I didn't worry so much about the suck factor. As it is, drawing with a mouse is tricky, especially since I don't have a left-handed mouse.

But here's what I submitted. A jaunty little dinosaur wearing Chuck Taylors.

And in return I got this neat sketch of a cowboy, which I think is pretty cool, especially in light of the "crap!" scrawled next to it.

Instant gratification. W00t!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Worlds of wonder

Wow. Looks like there might be an official tenth planet in our solar system soon. I read that German astrophysicists have said that the melliflously named 2003 UB313 is bigger than our ninth planet, Goofy Pluto.

It's been nicknamed Xena, and its moon has been nicknamed Gabrielle, after characters from "Xena: Warrior Princess."

If it gets the official okey-dokey, it will be given a new name.

In the spirit of giving, here are my top three suggestions:

1. Planet X

This would be a cool nod to history. I remember reading about the hypothetical Planet X in those dusty old science books I used to read over and over in elementary school. But as a name, it doesn't have much panache.

2. Krypton

Xena is cool and all, but if you're going with sci-fi/fantasy, you have to give Krypton its due. Plus it could drum up interest from the general public.

3. Mianus

Uh, maybe not. Never mind. Move along.

I asked my friend Ken for his top three name ideas. Ken's a smart guy, so I figured he'd come up with some good suggestions. Sez Ken: "I'm surprised that they haven't sold the naming rights to the highest bidder like they do for stadiums -- or at least put it on eBay." I asked him if that would make it a "for-biddin' planet." He said he remembered why I was dateless through high school.

1. Fred

Because "I thought it would be cool to have a planet named Fred."

2. Gilligan

Because "they already named an island after him." Plus, there was that cartoon spinoff, "Gilligan's Planet."

3. D'oh!

" long as they include the '!' as the official spelling." Of course, if they wanted to be real nerds about it, the official name would be "Annoyed Grunt."

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

I'm in charge of the stars and I'm here to say

A recent offering over at Tape Findings caught my eye. It's a birthday greeting from Captain Zoom. This particular greeting is personalized for someone named Alex.

My brother got a Captain Zoom record for his birthday when he was little, and for some reason, he was terrified that Captain Zoom was addressing him by name. What we thought would be a fun family experience went something like this:

We put the needle on the record.

"This is Space Command to Zoom. All systems are go for your message to Joshua.

Hey, Joshua, it's your birthday. I'm in charge of the stars, and I'm here to say ---"

"Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!" Cue hysterical crying from my brother. In his defense, he was quite young and a gigantic wuss.

After its inaugural playing, the record didn't get many more spins on the turntable -- unless my parents were in another room and I wanted to make my brother cry.

Captain Zoom is still working, apparently. And now they'll customize it for any name -- even if it's not on their list. I think you'd have to try pretty hard. It appears that children aren't the only recipients of these greetings.

On the list:

Dummy, Stupid, etc.
Loser, etc.

And my personal favorite:


Not the spelling I'd use, but still.

I'm not including a link in case my brother reads this. I don't want to make him cry again.

Not till his birthday, anyway.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

When number 2 is number 1

The number one movie over the weekend was the remake of "When a Stranger Calls," which I'm assuming is the result of some large-scale triple-dog dare.

To be fair, I didn't see it yet. I didn't think I needed to, seeing as how the ads reveal what traditionally is the biggest plot twist in that familiar story.

For criminy's sake, "Scream" did a riff on the babysitter urban legend before the opening credits. Are there really people who don't know what's going to happen?

I always figure that if you're going to take a familiar story, you dress it up with things that people haven't seen, maybe change it up a little.

Wouldn't it have been neat if the killer was that "Can you hear me now?" guy from Verizon? At least then the audience would be rooting for someone to dispatch him in an interesting way.

While I will entertain the notion that it's not a bad movie, I've read some of the reviews, and they're not pretty. Over at, it's hovering at 13%, which isn't much better than the 7% garnered by "Big Momma's House 2."

When this drops on DVD, I think I'll check it out to see if it's just as bad as everyone says.

I wouldn't be surprised if there's a direct-to-video sequel to this thing in which another urban legend that really shouldn't be an entire movie by itself is stretched out to feature length. And if we're real unlucky, we'll be getting a whole series of direct-to-video crapfests thrillers:

Don't Go Near the Microwave

Jill has sworn off babysitting for good; from now on, she's strictly a dog watcher. The Derf family entrusts their expensive purebred poodle into Jill's care. The dog is a maniac; it runs all over the place. She rescues Fido from the koi pond, and while she kept the dog from drowning, she needs to dry him before the family gets home, which will be at any minute. Suddenly, the microwave catches her eye, and she gets an idea. All hell breaks loose.

If You Can't Join 'Em, Lick 'Em

After the Fido fiasco, Jill has been getting death threats from the Derfs. To make her feel more secure at night, she gets a guard dog, Duke, to protect her. Whenever she hears a noise or gets scared at night, she just dangles her arm over the side of her bed, and Duke lets her know he's on the job by licking her hand.

One night she hears a lot of strange noises. Luckily, she's got Duke. After he licks her hand, she's able to sleep the rest of the night. When she wakes up, she finds her dog dead in the bathroom, and there's something written in blood on the mirror: People can lick, too. All hell breaks loose.

Pop Goes the Evil

Jill is on the run from the crazed members of the Derf family, who are still mad at what she did to Fido. To evade them, she holes up in a small convenience store in the middle of nowhere.

She gets the munchies, so she grabs a soda and looks for some candy. She finds some Pop Rocks, which, the clerk informs her, are dangerous. She's heard this one before. She rips open the packet and pours the Pop Rocks in her mouth. When she cracks open her soda and takes a swig, a vengeful demon that had been trapped in the candy is released and takes possession of Jill's body.

All hell breaks loose.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Dumb things I've done (5 in an occasional series)

Freshman year German class...

It was time for a gingerbread house competition, and my friend Ken and I decided to enter. Neither of us (as far as I remember) had any experience building a gingerbread house, but it didn't look that hard.

In fact, it looked too easy. I mean, jeez, anyone could build a gingerbread house. We had to come up with something different.

Before I tell you what we picked to make a gingerbread replica of, I should point out that both of us are married.

Not to each other.

In the infinite wisdom that only dorky 14-year-olds can muster, we decided that the way to win the competition was not to build a house, but a replica of everyone's favorite starship, the USS Enterprise.

Well, it had the virtue of never having been tried before.

We employed our mad engineering skillz and figured out the dimensions of all the pieces we needed and mixed up our sugary mortar.

But despite our forethought (at least 3 or 4 minutes), it wasn't until we were well into the assembly phase that we found our problem.

Here's our model. Pay special attention to the warp nacelles (those funky tube things in the back).

Okay, well, in space, that works great. Or if you are working with a substance that is strong enough to support its own weight.

Unlike, say, gingerbread.

Our nacelles -- made of giants candy cane sticks -- refused to stay put no matter how much glue we used. They'd just flop over like wilting flowers.

Well, that just wouldn't work.

After a few minutes, we went from "What would Scotty do?" to "What would Willy Wonka do?" to "Oh, crap, it's due tomorrow."

We propped up the nacelles with smaller candy cane pillars. A little inelegant, yes, but those things stayed up.

Did I mention we had to frost the whole thing, too?

We put the hull registry (NCC-1701-A) on the saucer section with little licorice bits.

Once it was done, it looked pretty sweet.

So to speak.

Project Babe Magnet was finally finished and ready to be gawked at by our impressed classmates.

Alas, we didn't get first prize. That went to someone who had -- unoriginally -- made an actual gingerbread house.


We got third place, which was still cool. We each got a Toblerone for our troubles, so it wasn't a total loss.

Hey, free Toblerone, right?

Of course, mine had nuts in it (I hate nuts).

Our edible Enterprise also made it into the yearbook. Ken scanned this in for me. That's ours on the left. The thing cropped out so you can get a better view of the regular gingerbread house.

Oh well. At least the girls thought we were cool after that.

Oh, wait...

Sunday, February 05, 2006

A genealogy question

I was sad to read of Al "Grandpa" Lewis' passing the other day. But then I noticed that in some articles, he's referred to as Grandpa Munster.

I haven't seen an episode of the Munsters in a long time, but wasn't Grandpa supposed to be Dracula? Lily Munster's maiden name was Dracula, and I assumed that Grandpa was her dad (or even grandfather, I suppose).

So why would he be Grandpa Munster? He's not related to Herman.

Just the other day I was watching one of his videos, "Grandpa's Sci-Fi Hits," which was a collection of sci-fi movie trailers punctuated with shtick from Grandpa. As always, Lewis is fun to watch, despite the painfully low budget.

Rest in peace, Grandpa.