Saturday, February 16, 2008

I love classic commercials

I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but I love old TV commercials. One of the places I buy the commercials in my collection is Archivist Ira Gallen is my hero! Thanks to him, there's a treasure trove of television that I otherwise would never have been able to see.

I usually get a tape or two for either my birthday or Christmas. If you are at all interested in seeing how things were sold in the 50s and 60s, you should buy a tape or DVD from TVDays. I highly recommend them.

I could watch the commercials all day long. Maybe that makes me weird. It sure is weird when I have jingles stuck in my head and they're for products that don't exist anymore.

Friday, February 15, 2008


Well, much to my surprise, this is the 400th post on Siftin'. I will use the occasion to tell one of my favorite jokes:

A guy walks into a bar--and he says, "Ow!"

Thanks, folks, I'll be here all week.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Festive festivities! Huzzah!

First, there's the teaser trailer that came out today for the new Indiana Jones movie (W00t!):

In other exciting news, the Siftin' family of blog entertainment (Our motto: More than just crap) has expanded. Yep, now you can double your pleasure by coming here first, and then going to The Dynamic Adventures of Dork Dad, where I am migrating my parenting-related content.

Tell a friend!

The best export from the Garden State

Slightly more uplifting than yesterday's post, I promise.

One day in high school, I complained to my friend Ken about the paucity of dates occupying my spare time. Seriously. Michael Jackson got more baby-sitting offers than I got dates.

Already used to my near-daily lament, Ken, ever the optimist, would tell me, "There's someone out there for everybody."

"Yeah," I said, "and with my luck, she's on the other side of the country now."

"Could be."

"I scarcely see how that's helping me now."

And while I went on to recite the usual litany of gripes to my pal in sunny California, my wife-to-be was attending high school in South Jersey.

Okay, technically, she was probably already home, what with the time difference, but that's not really important.

What matters is that, despite my pessimism, I was right.

I just had to wait another 7 or 8 years to meet her. Had I known that then, I might not have been so damned moody.

All right, maybe not all the time.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Putting the 'hopeless' in 'hopeless romantic'

I don't know what the hell I was thinking.

Having bailed on the Halloween dance after getting slammed at the door by a wave of heat and too much perfume and cologne, I decided I'd try the whole school dance thing again.

On Valentine's Day.

Lost to the mists of time is any logical reason 11-year-old me thought this was a good idea.

Let me draw you a quick sketch:

It's 1986, and I've only been 11 for a few months. I'm short, have shaggy brown hair that tends to get greasy within a few hours of washing it (thanks so much, puberty), and though I know I wanted to dance in theory -- I had a mental list of songs that I'd hear on the radio and think that someday, I'd dance to them with a pretty girl -- I'd never actually danced. I had no idea how.

On top of that, I'm socially retarded, and I don't mean that in a pejorative sense. I can't read body language that well, and to make matters worse, I'm completely uncoordinated even when I know what I want to do.

And the pickle on the crap sandwich that was preteen alienation: Given the chance, I'd rather draw superheroes or read than play football. As you can imagine, living in a small football-centric town, this didn't make me the slightest bit popular with my peers, except as an easy target.

Maybe it was nothing but morbid curiosity; wanting to see what "normal" kids did. I'd become increasingly aware that I was different from my classmates -- or was at least perceived as such. Maybe I could mimic normal behavior enough to not stick out so much. Who knows?

While I was still blasted by a tangible wave of heat at the multipurpose room door, this time I paid my money, waved off my mom, who had dropped me off, and attended my first school dance.

I was given a slip of paper with a number -- 17 -- on it. This, the chaperon explained, was one of two like numbers. The other belonged to one of the girls attending. Over the course of the dance, I had to try to find my counterpart, which meant I'd have to mingle and ask girls I didn't know (pretty much all of them, really) to dance.

I frowned. I'm shy. Like really shy. Best-case scenario, I got a mad case of the stuttering duhs trying to make small talk. Keep in mind, I hadn't been in town quite a year yet, and I didn't know hardly anyone my age, let alone the older kids, let alone pretty girls with their makeup, their perfume, and in some cases, their boobs.

How was I going to interrupt their good time to make them talk to a short, dorky kid wearing floods?

I immediately needed a drink. I spied a table on the other side of the multipurpose room that had a giant orange jug with a haphazard assortment of cups next to it.

Upon closer inspection, I saw that it was the mystical McDonald's-sponsored orange drink of victory. Devoid of carbonation and watered down more than a cocktail at a cheap casino, it was barely a step above Bug Juice.

Still, it was wet, and it kept me from having to interact with anyone.


I looked up from my drink, wiped the orange moustache off my lip, and saw an eighth-grade couple.


Had I taken his drink? Was I standing in the wrong place? Ohcrapohcrapohcrap.

"What number do you have?"


They looked at each other and smiled.

"That's my girlfriend's number. Trade with me."

"Um," I said, taking another sip of Orange Death to buy time to think of a response. The chaperon said we weren't allowed to swap numbers with anyone. Why he couldn't just dance with her anyway, I didn't know, but he was adamant about wanting to trade.

"Well, who has your number?"

"I don't know; I've just been asking about both of our numbers. C'mon, buddy, help us out, wouldja?"

"Okay," I said, forking over my paper. I didn't want to stand in the way of true love, and I certainly didn't want to get my ass kicked. I got a 9 in place of my 17. The happy couple mumbled thank you and disappeared into the ocean of people.

Meanwhile, I had to find the other number 9.

I wandered among the groups of people while The Beastie Boys' "Brass Monkey" played, knocking the crap out of the auditorium's feeble speakers. I tried thinking of ways to find Miss 9 without having to, you know, actually talk to anyone.

I got a tap on the shoulder. I turned around; it was the new Mr. 17, and I had no idea what he wanted.

"Hey, little dude, I found the other 9. I think she's your age."

"Oh yeah?" That sounded promising.

"She's over there," he said, hefting a thumb at the area behind him.

"Okay. Um, thanks," I said.

Well that certainly solved that problem. Maybe it wasn't a bad idea to come to the dance after all. A girl my age had my matching number. Maybe it was one of the cute girls I saw in the hallway every day after lunch.

You all know where this is going, right?

Following "Brass Monkey" was Run-DMC's "You Be Illin'," which, in retrospect, was more than a little fitting. As various people got into the music, the crowds parted, just like in the movies, and without asking, I knew precisely who had the other number 9.

She was standing near the stairs to the stage area, her hands folded together in front of her at the waist: one of the girls in my homeroom class who didn't like me. Not that this distinction narrowed it down much, but still. She must have read it on my face, because she broke out into laughter.

"You have number 9?"

I felt the heat rise above my collar; I was embarrassed, mortified and pissed off like only an 11-year-old social pariah could be.

"Don't worry," I said over the booming bass, "You don't have to dance with me."

As the song ended, I walked away -- before she could say anything else -- and out the door, at which point I was reminded that there were no in-and-out privileges.

I silently nodded my head, afraid that if I tried to talk, my voice would crack.

I trudged to the pay phone, dropped in my dimes and called my mom for a ride, making sure to put on my best voice.

"Hi," I said evenly when my mom answered. "I'm ready. Yeah, it was pretty boring. Okay, thanks. Bye."

Before I parked my carcass on a cement planter to wait for my ride, I peered through the open door of the multipurpose room, seeing everyone dancing and having a good time, and hoping that someday I would fit in.

From me to you

Valentines were an important undertaking in elementary school. Teachers had gotten wise and sent home class lists to ensure that no one got left out.

But you first had to pick cool valentines, and for me, that usually meant ones that featured Superman and his pals. I saved the Wonder Woman ones for the girls I liked. And then you had to worry about which superhero was on which valentine you gave to which classmate.

Seriously, you would just about get your ass kicked if you gave a Catwoman valentine to one of the tough kids.

After getting tired of having to write and rewrite envelopes because I lost my place on the class list, I eventually resorted to addressing them all like this:

To: You

From: Me

All I had to do was make sure I had enough, and I was all set. And since it was plain to see that they weren't addressed to anyone in particular, I could get away with a tough guy getting a Wonder Woman valentine. Pretty clever, no?

Oh, sure, it probably seemed impersonal, but really you just wanted to make sure you got one. Some kids would make them by hand, and some would include little candy hearts, but I didn't want anyone to notice any favoritism directed toward my female classmates, as it was, you know, not cool for boys to like girls.

Well, not cool to admit it; I didn't know many guys who didn't think at least one or two girls were cute despite our protestations. I got enough crap trying to explain how, despite being a really fast runner, girls usually managed to catch me when they chased me at recess.

Luckily, I came up with the Cootie Effect, and they agreed that science really ought to come up with a cure for that.

Because I'm a caring individual, here's a free valentine you can print out and give to your pals, cooties notwithstanding.

VD is for everybody.

Monday, February 11, 2008

So happy together

Well, my wife has returned, and we got to spend a nice day together, which was nice. We all missed her, and she claims to have missed me as well.

I'm going to miss hanging out with the kids now that I'll be back at work, and I'll miss not having to commute every day, but until I hit the lottery, such is my lot in life.

Now it's back to obsessing over pop culture on the train to and from work. And at lunch. I even dug out my Totally Mad CD set that has every issue of Mad, well, up until like December 1998, but still.

I'm starting from 1974 this time to see how it has changed during my lifetime. If I come across anything interesting, I'll likely post it here.

And WonderCon is coming up in a few weeks, which is pretty cool. My pal Karyne is going with me this year (first-timer), so it'll be sorta like taking a kid to Disneyland for the first time. Except less waiting in line.

Among the scheduled guests: Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway, who will be there to promote their Get Smart movie. I promised my wife that I would do my best to dissuade Miss Hathaway from following me around the convention all day long in case she, you know, decides she just can't live without me.

Cross I have to bear, you know?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Home Alone, Day 4: The home stretch

Well, Jen gets back from her trip tomorrow, and huzzah, huzzah, I managed not to burn down the house or lose either of the kids to roving bands of gypsies or supervillains. On top of that, Ramona helped me vacuum (she hung out in the Baby Bjorn), and I got a load and a half of laundry done.

Of course, Jen does that and more while juggling various freelancing projects, but for me, it's still impressive.

So is remembering to shave both sides of my face before leaving the house, but hey, baby steps, right?