Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas from Siftin...Merry Chriiiiiistmaaaassss....

Thanks for reading, and thanks to everyone who sent this my way last year!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Me and the Cap'n make it happen

This is how I know I'm moving up in the world: Cap'n Crunch replied to a question I asked on Twitter. The Oops! All Berries cereal had been a semi-regular offering but labeled "Limited time only!" The last box I polished off didn't have that caveat on it anywhere, so like any other normal 37-year-old, I asked the mascot on Twitter (whom I was, of course, already following. What? Shut up!).

But then of course, I had to overdo it with the nerdiness and ask for more.

Don't remember Punch Crunch and Vanilly Crunch (insert Milli Vanilli joke here, 1990)?

Time will tell...

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Unhampered amusement

My wife and I were in the living room last night investigating the wide selection of sod-all that comprises Netflix's streaming library when I heard something from one of the kids' rooms.


It was my son. Probably trying to scam his way out of having to go to sleep.


Okay, a bit more urgent. I got up to investigate. As I approached his room, I heard, "Dad, I'm stuck in the hamper!" I opened the door, and sure enough, all I could see of him was his legs sticking out the top of the cylindrical hamper.

My wife did the actual extraction because I was still busy laughing. When we asked what happened, my son said that he couldn't see where he was going. He must have crawled in a straight line off his bed to manage to hit the hamper, which lies at the end of it.

Amazingly, this wasn't the first time something like this happened. When he was a wee nubbin, he managed to slip out of his crib head first into the bin of stuffed animals.

Kid is part ostrich, I'm telling you.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

The voices behind the Superfriends

Years ago before I even started blogging, I considered writing a book about the various incarnations of the Superfriends cartoon, because amazingly, it hadn't been done yet. There were books about Saturday morning cartoons, yeah, but nothing specifically about the Superfriends. My running title for it was "WonderTwin Powers, Activate." Shortly after I gathered up as many of the episodes as I could find--they weren't on DVD at that point--and started watching them, Danny Dark, the voice of Superman, died.

Without slighting the rest of the voice cast, one of the reasons I wanted to write the book was to talk to Mr. Dark about his announcing/voice acting career in addition to being--for some people my age--the voice you heard when you read a Superman comic book. Olan Soule, who did the voice for Batman for all but the final two seasons, had died back in 1994, so that left me more or less without Superman or Batman to talk to. And at that point, finding the other voice actors would've required more detective work than I was capable of.

Even though I'd given up on the book idea, I still wanted to know about the rest of the cast. For the most part, you never really got to see what they looked like. Adam West, who voiced (duh) Batman on the last two seasons of the show, I'd also grown up with, so I knew what he looked like. And Casey Kasem, who did the voice for Robin, was no mystery, either. Norman Alden, who did Aquaman for the first two seasons, was a regular character actor (he played Frank on "ElectraWoman and DynaGirl" and was Lou the cafe owner in "Back to the Future"), so I'd seen him a number of times. And Michael Bell--Zan (among a billion other voices on Saturday mornings)--was Groppler Zorn in the first episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation."

But that still left all the other characters and the actors who voiced them. What did they look like? Little by little, it became easier to find the few episodes of TV that featured one actor or another. Danny Dark appeared as a TV anchor in the comedy "Tunnelvision," and I recognized him the minute he started speaking.

But it wasn't until last week that I learned a lot about the majority of the voices of the Superfriends. And that I owe to author Marc Tyler Nobleman, who in addition to being a prolific author, also has a kickass blog in which he has a section of interviews with a number of Superfriends cast members. Even more amazing, he has talked to actors from Hanna-Barbera's oft-mocked live-action "Legends of the Superheroes" shows. The legwork he had to do to find many of these people astounds me. It was really neat to get to hear about the people whose voices were a large part of my childhood.

And while I was even further amazed to read about the people who were in the Sea World superheroes water ski show that I saw advertised but never witnessed in person, I think my favorite interview is the one he did with actor Bo Rucker, the guy who played the pimp in "Superman: The Movie." You know:


That was one of the most-quoted lines on the playground (by me, anyway) back in the day, and it never in a million years would've occurred to me that I'd ever read an interview with him. He seems like a cool guy, too.

The Internet amazes me. In this case, in a good way. Not like one of those "things you can't unsee" kind of ways.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

TV Guide crosswords make me feel smart

I've been on a TV Guide crossword puzzle kick lately, partly because of an ongoing research project I'm trying to tame (it's mentioned in the penultimate post before my hiatus), and partly because it's awesome that in any given puzzle, Abe Vigoda is apt to be one of the clues.


I have the gigantic TV Guide crossword puzzle book, which spans entire decades, and I also have a small pocket-size compilation I picked up in 1992 and promptly stored for almost 20 years. I've just about filled that one up during the train ride portion of my commute.

Aside: My commute consists of a 15-20 minute drive to a park-and-ride lot, a hour-to-hour-and-a-half bus ride to BART, and then 45 minutes to an hour on BART to the office. Round trip, that's close to 6 hours a day. So if I seem punchy in a blog post, I may have written it while commuting. You have been warned.

The older puzzles from the 1950s are probably the hardest, not just because I'm not as familiar with the shows, but because they don't contain as many slow-pitch clues and answers. A recurring pair of clues are like 33 Down: A comedy program | 6 Across: Host of 33 Down. Was there really that little on back then? I think not. The puzzles from the 70s and 80s are the easiest, since damn near every clue reminds me of something I used to watch as a kid. It's weird; I read TONS of books as a kid, and I remember playing outside a bunch, but the amount of 50s-80s TV programming that is locked in my brain breaks some kind of math.

Over the course of doing dozens of puzzles, with clues both hard and easy ("'Magnum __ (abbr.)"), there are certain "crossword words" that stick out, like eel, alee, alit, oleo; filler words that no one outside of puzzle circles has probably encountered.

But these being TV Guide puzzles, there are certain TV-related standbys as well. Abe Vigoda is one, mostly for his first name, though occasionally for his character's name (Fish, of course). Actress Sue Ane Langdon came up an awful lot, almost always thusly: "Actress Sue ___ Langdon." Ane is great for filling spots in your puzzle. While the name sounded familiar, I couldn't figure out exactly why. I looked her up on and saw that she'd been in scores of TV shows since the late 1950s. But then I saw the one credit that explained why I recognized her name.

Zapped! (1982) 
Rose Burnhart

"Do I have to, Miss Burnfart?"

Ah, yes, the teacher from the classic cable-TV mainstay of the early 80s with the dream team of Scott Baio and Willie Aames. I have a soft place in my heart for this movie, presumably with a soft spot in my brain to match. You've seen it, I hope? Baio plays a nerdy kids who accidentally gains telekinetic powers after a lab experiment. Imagine if "Carrie" had been melded with "Charles in Charge" and you're pretty much there, except during the prom at the end, telekinesis is used to remove girls' clothes instead of killing everyone.

It is, I must say, the best film to ever incorporate a dream sequence that involves Scatman Crothers (no relation to anyone involved with the "Human Centipede" movies), pot, Albert Einstein, and salami. You doubt me?

It's even better if you close your eyes and imagine it's Hong Kong Phooey talking to Einstein.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Look what the cat dragged in...

In retrospect, it wasn't a huge surprise. I knew I was risking burning out when I blogged every day in 2008. Sure enough, little by little, fewer posts until finally, I stopped entirely in 2010. It's been almost a year and a half since I eked out the fifth of five posts in 2010.

Besides getting burned out, I kept finding a lot of what I was interested in being written better by others. Yeah, maybe no one can work in a fart joke out of left field the way I can, but still, it made me wonder why I was bothering. In addition, all that grown-up, real-life stuff was happening, making me, for lack of a better expression, not in the mood for writing.

So now I'm trying again. There are still people doing stuff better (in fact, a future post will feature one such site), but like Ben Folds said, there's always someone out there cooler than you, so what the hell, right?

Here's something I should have blogged about from last summer:

So back in July 2010, the Rifftrax folks had a contest in which fans could submit jokes for specific scenes in the cult classic "Reefer Madness" to be included in the live riff event that would play in theaters across the country. I dutifully knocked off jokes for each of the scenes in the contest video. The show itself was going to be in August.

August rolls around, and I get an e-mail that includes the following: "Hi Jeff! We used your ninth riff in the movie, where would you like your swag mailed?"

This was pretty much my response:

So in addition to all the swag, which included a signed Mike Nelson bobblehead (it stands next to Count Chocula on my desk), a T-shirt, and a mess of buttons and stickers, MY NAME would be in the end credit roll. My name. On a movie screen. Eight-year-old me was proud of aging-nerd me.

I'd planned on going anyway since it was going to be streamed to a theater in my town, but now I had to go. And it didn't occur to me till I was sitting in the dark theater, waiting for it to start, but I'd get to hear an audience react to something I wrote. One of the things I get to do at work is help write for one of our shows, but I don't really get to see how the jokes are received.

When my joke came, delivered by Bill Corbett, it got a respectable amount of laughter, and I have to admit--it felt good. The whole show was hilarious; if you get the chance to catch a live event, you really ought to. As the movie ended and the parting comments commenced, I waited for the credits to roll.

Instead, the feed just stopped. I think my theater had started playing the feed a bit late (yeah, it's not LIVE live in California, but what else is new?), so that might have been part of it. Regardless, I had missed my chance to see my name on the big screen. Yeah, I can watch the DVD at home, where my name is indeed present, but it's not the same, you know?

I guess this wasn't just in my theater, as Rifftrax released a short video on YouTube that listed the winners a while later.

So everyone in sixth grade who constantly told me I wasn't funny can go suck it see where their encouragement got me.