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.