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!

Monday, August 21, 2006

"I'm not a drama critic."

Back in my "I'm a total Star Trek geek" days, Universal Studios used to have an attraction called "Star Trek Adventure" in which happy park-goers could get picked to play small parts in a short Trek episode. They'd videotape the various parts and splice it together to show at the end of the attraction. If you were one of the people selected, you could buy a copy of your performance.

I went with my family in the summer of 1989. It was the one attraction I wanted most to check out, so we made sure to get at the very front. In no time, there was a sizable crowd behind us.

Finally, it was time. Someone came out to cast parts for the mini-movie. I stood as tall as I could, hoping to get picked. The guy kept looking right at me and then right past me, just like most of the girls at school did. I saw him point in my direction.

Oh jeez, did he just point at me?

Nope. Close, but nope. He picked my dad. Well, that was cool -- at least I'd know somebody in the thing.

They were still picking people, which meant that I still had a chance.

They picked my brother. (Cue sad trombone: wah-wah-wah-waaaaaaah...)

Apparently, 14-year-old dorks were not on their casting sheet.

Instead I got to watch my dad get transformed into a Klingon and my brother into an engineering trainee. It was neat to see how everything got put together, and we bought a copy of the thing as a souvenir, but it didn't change the fact that I didn't get picked (an unbelievable injustice), and I was pissed off in that way that only 14-year-olds can manage.

In fact, if you look at pictures of our trip, you can tell which ones were taken before Star Trek Adventure and which were after. The post-STA pictures feature me in a state of scowliness, which is saying something, considering I wasn't a very smiley person in the first place.

It was the second time I'd been so close to fun at Universal. On my first trip, there was a thing where they showed how a normal person could seem as strong as the Incredible Hulk, whose show was one of the big hits. Yes, it was that long ago.

They needed volunteers for a demonstration, and my hand shot up in a flash. I was excited beyond belief when the person in charge pointed right at me. I looked to my parents to smile at them, and as I got ready to stand up, the kid sitting next to me leapt to his feet and ambled down to the stage.

So I spent the next few minutes watching him pretend to lift a car and other Hulk-like feats.


There were a couple of versions of the Star Trek Adventure, apparently.

This was like the one my dad and my brother were in:

This is a different one: