Friday, March 10, 2006

Microwave Massacre unbound!


In less than a week, one of my favorite bad movies finally makes it to DVD!

The folks at Anthem Pictures are releasing "Microwave Massacre" with Jackie Vernon.

I'm not going to say much about the movie -- it's on my list to review later -- but I will say that this DVD is being billed as an unrated and uncut version. It gives the running time as 76 minutes, which is the same found on, so I don't know what exactly they mean by "uncut."

They're also pushing this as having been billed as "The Worst Horror Movie of All Time." It certainly isn't a great movie, it's quite bad. But I've never heard of anyone refer to it as the worst.

In fact, I have met few people who've even heard of it. Go figure.

Despite that, I'll be looking forward to Tuesday. I'm hoping the DVD print is less muddy than my old VHS copy.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

It's not easy being cheesy

My brain is working in cahoots with my stomach, and they're both against me.

While I'm doing something important (working, watching my son or delicate scratching), my brain and stomach decide that I'm in need of torment and give me random food cravings.

These can range from the inconvenient (a pastrami Hot Hat, which I could procure after a brief trip to a Straw Hat Pizza in Tracy) to the impossible (the tag-team treat of a Hostess Pudding Pie and Nacho Cheese Cheetos).

What did I ever do to them to make them hate me so much?

And more importantly, what's a guy have to do to get some good snack food to return to the shelves? I'm not the only one pining for the Pudding Pie.

And Frito-Lay seems to have room for every permutation of Cheetos imaginable. Here's the list from their Web site:

BAKED! CHEETOS Crunchy 100 Calorie Mini Bites Cheese Flavored Snacks
BAKED! CHEETOS Crunchy Cheese Flavored Snacks
BAKED! CHEETOS FLAMIN' HOT® Cheese Flavored Snacks
CHEETOS ASTEROIDS® 100 Calorie Mini Bites Cheese Flavored Snacks
CHEETOS ASTEROIDS® FLAMIN' HOT® Mini Cheese Flavored Snacks
CHEETOS ASTEROIDS® Mini Cheese Flavored Snacks
CHEETOS Crunchy Cheddar Jalapeno Flavored Snacks
CHEETOS Crunchy Cheese Flavored Snacks
CHEETOS Crunchy Twisted Cheese Flavored Snacks
CHEETOS FLAMIN' HOT® Cheese Flavored Snacks
CHEETOS FLAMIN' HOT® Limon Cheese Flavored Snacks
CHEETOS Jumbo Puffs Cheese Flavored Snacks
CHEETOS Jumbo Puffs Flamin' Hot Cheese Flavored Snacks
CHEETOS Natural White Cheddar Puffs Cheese Flavored Snacks
CHEETOS Puffs Cheese Flavored Snacks
CHEETOS TWISTED Cheese Flavored Snacks

All of that and no Nacho Cheese Cheetos? I think not. For those of you who have not sampled such a taste delight, it's like if you ate a regular Cheeto and a Nacho Cheese Dorito at the same time.

I first saw them when I was a kid vacationing in Southern California with my family. I guess it was some kind of test marketing thing, because I didn't see them back home, and no one believed my stories about them.

Many years later, I was hanging out after class at Stan State, and I checked the little store for some suitable snacks.

There on a shelf, shining like a bounty of gold, were bags of Nacho Cheese Cheetos. I moved so fast toward them that you could still see my afterimage at the end of the aisle.

I only had enough money on me to buy one bag, but I was able to snag a few more bags at a nearby grocery store.

But I had to be rational about this. They disappeared once before; they could vanish again.

I called the customer service line at Frito-Lay and expressed my joy at finding my coveted snacks.

"I'm just curious, though," I said. "Is this just a test marketing thing, or are they a permanent addition?"

"Oh no, they're here for good," the friendly woman at Frito-Lay told me.


I like to think that she was misinformed. I'd hate to think that she was deliberately lying to me just so she could rip my heart out and --

Sorry. Got a bit carried away.

I had my battle chest of Cheetos, but even I can plow my way through a big bag only so quickly. By the time I was ready for more, they glittered on the shelves no more.

But every time we go grocery shopping, I look for them. Just in case. My wife helps, too -- by testing my reflexes.

"Hey, are those Nacho Cheese Cheetos?" she'll ask, pointing to a random spot on the shelves. I look for them so quickly that I often miss the evil gleam in her eyes.

Should you want to help rectify this situation, you can call Frito-Lay at 1-800-352-4477, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Central Standard Time or write to them at: Frito-Lay, P.O. Box 660634, Dallas, TX 75266-0634

And if you want Pudding Pies to make a comeback, you can try contacting Hostess via e-mail form here or mail Interstate Brands Corporation, Consumer Affairs, 12 E. Armour Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64111. Their number is 1-800-483-7253.

And don't mention me; I might be blacklisted or something for having perhaps made disparaging comments about Twinkie the Kid in my passionate plea for the return of Pudding Pies.

I'd just like to state for the record that I have nothing but respect for Twinkie the Kid, and I'd never do anything to harm him or his hat.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Act naturally

Watching the Oscars the other day reminded me of my own limited acting career.

I'd never thought much of being an actor. Even as a kid, I think I knew I had a face for radio. I had yet to discover I also had a voice for print, but at that point, I was plenty happy just being the kid who made you laugh.

So when my friend Felicia, who lived across the street, mentioned she wanted to put on a play for the neighborhood, I didn't know if it was something I wanted to do.

When she said that I'd be the lead, I decided that maybe I should give it a shot.

It was a short little story. I don't know if it had an official title; if it did, it probably was something like "My Dog."

The story: A kid (me) wants a dog. His mom and dad (Felicia and her brother, Nathaniel) say that he needs to work to improve his grades. Our studious student buckles down and brings up his grades. His efforts are rewarded with a new puppy (my brother Josh, in his debut role).

I think I had about the easiest role. I didn't have to dress up, and I basically got to be myself. My brother had to look remotely like a dog, which meant that he got to don a pair of pantyhose on his head for ears. We had to color in part of the pantyhose with a Magic Marker so it all matched.

The hardest part for me was being able to emote on cue. In rehearsal, I had a big problem. Felicia said that I wasn't excited enough. I would have felt dumb jumping up and down about a dog, especially since I didn't like dogs.

During the performance, it came time for my big line. I decided at the last minute to take a different kind of approach.

"Oh boy," I said, completely deadpan, "a dog." The crowd -- our parents, a neighbor or two and a few other kids -- laughed. Getting the biggest laugh was the high point for me, and we decided that we should come up with another play -- maybe something a little longer.

So, just a week or so before my 10th birthday, our second effort made its debut in Felicia and Nathaniel's front yard. Such seasoned veterans were much too experienced for simple things like "My Dog," so we came up with a blockbuster. Add equal parts "Ghostbusters," "Strange Brew" and "Magnum, P.I.," and you had our play: "McKenzies, G.I." (Ghost Investigators).

I love that we predated the Sci-Fi Channel by a good decade or so for coming up with features ripped off of other popular movies.

Again, I was one of the leads. I don't remember much of the story, but I know the subplot involved a reunion with a girl from my past. How much of a past a 9-year-old had, I don't know, but that's what we came up with. My brother played the ghost in this one, a step up from being a puppy.

"McKenzies, G.I." was another success, but it was our last play. On our limited effects budget, we couldn't really top ourselves. It did give me the idea to try out for the school play a few months later. I'd toyed with the idea each time they announced one.

I'd never auditioned before, so I didn't know if I'd done well or not. I found out when they announced the cast over the intercom system. I'd made it. I didn't know what role I had, but I knew that I could make it funny.

I don't think I made it to even the first meeting. That's when my parents broke the news to me that we were moving soon. I had to quit the play.

And aside from a few school projects, I never acted again.

Aside from acting like I was paying attention in class.