Monday, January 31, 2005

Holy String Day

A children's story
"I'm a little cupcake!" shouted Little Cupcake.

"I'm not!" shouted The Knot.

Then the knot untied itself and went to the temple to celebrate "Holy String Day" with his family and Robin the Boy Wonder.

"I'm still a little cupcake!" shouted Little Cupcake.

"So? I'm a gigantic donut!" said Little Donut.

"No, you are a little donut." said Little Cupcake.

"True," said Little Donut "but I am taking steroids."

"Let's go drop crumbs on Sheetcake." said Little Cupcake.

"Tee hee hee." said Little Donut.

"Snicker, snicker, snicker." snickered Little Cupcake.

"Mounds Bar, Mounds Bar, Mounds Bar." said a Snickers Bar that happened to be wandering by.

Then they all ran over to the Sheetcake.

"Stop right there," shouted Sheetcake "or I will cover your pastry side with icing!"

"Oooh, I'm quivering in my boots." said Little Cupcake.

"Oooh" Quipped Little Donut "I am a donut and thus I do not wear any kind of restrictive footwear."

"How about something comfortable like a sandal or a loafer?" suggested Sheetcake.

"Well, maybe." said Little Donut.

So they all jumped in Snickers Bar's white luxury van and drove to the shoe store where they all got footwear and lollypops.


Friday, January 28, 2005


It seems the H. B. Reese Candy Company has a little too much time on its hands. For many years they sold a delicious peanut butter and chocolate cup. Then they offered a different product featuring peanut butter inside a small candy shell. For many years, this was enough.

However, lately the company has spiraled rapidly into some schizophrenic candy machine producing new products at a rate so high that there will soon be a different type of candy for every man, woman and child on earth.

Right now, they have scientists coating every kind of meat, cheese and carpet fiber with peanut butter in hopes of continuing their world domination.

And it started so slowly. A few years back they came up with the Nutrageous bar (the candy bar, not the male strip joint Elton John hung out in during the 80’s.) Its name conveyed the shock that people have upon encountering a new candy bar.

MAN ONE: Hey, wanna try this new candy? It has chocolate and peanuts.
MAN TWO: What are you doing in my home, you stranger?!?!?! This is an outrage!
MAN ONE: No, it’s a nut-rage.
MAN TWO: That’s a stupid name.

So, the world gradually accepted Nutrageous. Then, they mounted their second attack: a full scale roll out of enough kinds of peanut butter cups to make all of Pittsburgh diabetic just from smelling the sugar.

All this from a small company that started in the 1920s. The company was founded by Harry Burnett (H.B.) Reese, a former employee of Milton S. Hershey, founder of Hershey. Reese was so inspired by Mr. Hershey's success that he decided to make his own living in the candy industry.

The candy became more popular during the 1940s and was well recognized due to its orange and yellow package.

In 1963, the H.B. Reese Candy Company, Inc. was sold for $23.5 million to the Hershey Chocolate Company, creating a monopoly strong enough to topple any nation that opposed them.

1917: Harry Burnett Reese moves to Hershey, Pennsylvania.

1957: Reese builds 100,000 square-foot factory in Hershey.

1963: Hershey purchases H.B. Reese Candy Company.

1978: Reese’s Pieces are introduced

1994: Nutrageous makes its debut

1999: ReeseSticks, a wafer, peanut butter and chocolate is introduced

2001: Reese Fast Break becomes the newest member of the candy family

2003: Hershey introduces Limited Edition White Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Inside Out and Big Cup peanut butter cups.

2004: An Extra Smooth and Creamy variety of Reese’s peanut butter cups is unveiled

2005: Reese’s Fudge, yet another peanut butter cup is released

2007: (projected) A humanoid peanut butter cup is introduced

2009: (projected) Training on the ‘master race’ of peanut butter cup soldiers begins

2012: (projected) The end of the human race

2014: (scheduled) Tupac Shakur releases another posthumous CD.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

You’ll Never Weiz in This Town Again

Last October The Comedy Store on Sunset Blvd. in fabulous Hollywood California had a peculiar paint job. In giant letters it read “My Son Is Not Dead.”

It seems like a strange announcement to make, but it is a little clearer when you realize who owner Mitzi Shore’s son is: Pauly Shore.

…and he’s not dead. Pauly is very much alive.

Now, I know you want to make the joke “he may not be dead, but his career is!” Well, you’re too late. Pauly beat you to that joke and he made it funnier than you could have. But don’t pout, just substitute Chevy Chase and move on.

Pauly’s new movie "Pauly Shore Is Dead" is all about the death of his career and it is one of the funniest most original films I have ever seen.

Appearing briefly on movie screens in California, New York and (for reasons I don’t fully understand) Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia, the film is now on home video.

The film starts off with a Charlie Sheen cameo and a short bio of Pauly. Then we see Pauly’s life in 1997. Things look pretty good for the Weizel. He is surrounded by friends as he watches the debut of his doomed Fox sitcom. Soon, the show is cancelled and Pauly is forced to sell his house to Carrot Top.

Depressed and broke, Pauly is visited by the ghost of Sam Kinison. Sam tells Pauly to kill himself so he can become a legend.

A gunshot later and Pauly is the biggest star in Hollywood. MTV runs a 24 hour tribute and the Weizel is on the cover of every magazine. The only problem is he isn’t really dead.

The movie is a bizarre laugh riot full of cameos from some of the biggest names in entertainment. Pauly spends time in jail with Tommy Lee, Todd Bridges and Heidi Fleiss. Britney Spears, Ellen Degeneres, Chris Rock, Pam Anderson and Ben Stiller react to his death. Sean Penn talks about his desire to work with Pauly.

The cameos come so often and are such big names that it makes your head spin. Some celebrities show up to mock their own stalled careers. Remember that Rico Suave video? Well, he shows up, still wearing the same headband. Only instead of dancing and pointing at pretty girls, he is selling oranges on the side of the road.

This brings me to another question, why oranges? I always see these guys selling oranges, candy and flowers. I understand the candy and flowers, as they are impulse items, but oranges? Why not sell cans of soup or Doritos? Why oranges?

I may never know. Anyway, as for "Pauly Shore is dead," I HIGHLY recommend it to anyone who likes or HATES Pauly Shore.
Watch the trailer on

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Skipper Alan Hale's Lobster Barrel

Alan Hale, the actor who played Skipper Jonas Grumby on Gilligan’s Island once had his own restaurant in Hollywood.

There are few things in life I could imagine that would be as good as having a lobster with the Skipper.

Perhaps shaving with Abe Lincoln or splitting a box of Ho Ho’s with John Travolta would measure up to the magnitude of eating with Skipper, but I doubt it (unless Abe lets you wear his hat, then all bets are off.)

Alan Hale was the son of a very successful movie actor also named Alan Hale. The elder Hale was born Rufus Edward MacKahan when he entered the movie business he went by the name Alan Hale. When his son was born he named him Alan Hale MacKahan.
The younger Hale then followed in his fathers footsteps under the name Alan Hale Jr. After his father passed away he dropped the “Jr.”

TRIVIA: Dropping the “Jr.” is street slang drinking a small bottle of liquor concealed in a sandwich.

Alan Hale was not the first choice to play the Skipper. Carol O’Conner was the first choice for series creator Sherwood Schwartz. According to Schwartz, O’Conner and many others were not right for the part because they lacked warmth that Hale exhibited. During Hale’s screen test Schwartz said he believed that Skipper would get mad at Gilligan, he would hit him with his hat BUT never hurt him.

This was important, because if the Skipper killed Gilligan they would probably have a better shot at getting rescued, thus ending the show early.

Speaking of which, it is important to note that Gilligan’s Island was not a huge success during its initial run. The show only lasted three seasons and was a moderate success in the television ratings finishing in 18th for the 1964 season, 22 for the next season and dropping out of the top twenty on it’s final season.

The show however prospered in reruns and is probably on TV right now as you read this.

The cast became world famous from the show (and its 3 follow up TV movies) but they did not receive any residuals from the syndicated re-airings of the programs. This left the cast a need to supplement their income with new jobs.

Unfortunately for most of them were somewhat typecast by the show (notable exception: Jim “Mr. Howell” Backus) making future acting jobs harder to come by.

Being typecast is an interesting scenario. It means that the public has become so enamored with a role that you played that they can not see you playing another part. It is at once a compliment and an insult. To put it simply “typecast” is the McDLT (and yes, it keeps the hot side hot and the cold side cold.)

Hale seemed to embrace the typecasting and loved being recognized every where he went.

This led him to the Lobster Barrel. The restaurant was located smack dab in the middle of the tourist area of Hollywood. Skipper Alan Hale’s lobster barrel offered patrons steak and seafood served by tuxedo-clad waiters for moderate prices. It was only open for dinner (5pm to 10:30pm, 1am on the weekends.

But the big attraction was Hale himself who made the rounds at the eatery to the delight of the customers. At the restaurant (and most other places) he would wear his signature captain’s hat.

Eventually, the Lobster Barrel closed its doors and Hale started a new business venture, a travel company. I am sure the “three hour tour” jokes eventually turned the receptionist into a raging alcoholic.

Alan Hale died in early 1992 and his ashes were scattered at sea. I am sure Skipper Jonas Grumby would have wanted it that way.

Today a restaurant called The Spanish Kitchen occupies the address once held by the Lobster Barrel. The food is good, the atmosphere is great, but there is no Skipper to greet you.

It’s enough to make you wanna drop the “Jr.”

I just bought a GREAT new item on eBay. This is a matchbook from the Skipper's restaurant. Not sure what to do with it, though. Maybe I should light the matches one by one and smell what it would have smelled like in the Lobster Barrel (assuming some jerk was standing next to you lighting matches.)
Either way, I am jazzed to the max at this new find. Seems odd someone would save a pack of matches for a few decades only to sell them on eBay for a sum of money so small I could have barely used it for a dollar store shopping spree. I think I will play with them later (I never listened to the 'don't play with matches rule.')

Monday, January 24, 2005

The Worst of

I know what you are thinking: "Sweetie is doing a 'best of' list but as a joke, he is calling it a 'worst of' list."

Well, that is wrong.


MAD magazine (who I admittedly ripped my entire style off of) does "The Worst of Mad" and it is really just a random bunch of reprinted articles. They just use the word 'worst' to be cutting edge and clever.

I am just using it because these articles are the worst ones on this site. And THAT is saying something. It’s not like this site is full of National Book Critics Circle Award winning writing or anything. This site is fully of poorly written mumbo jumbo lacking appropriate punctuation, grammar and often INTERESTING SUBJECT MATTER.

This isn’t to say that the articles below weren’t worth WRITING, they just weren’t worth sharing with the world.

Looking back at them I can see why they weren’t any good. At the time, however, I was pretty pleased with them. I can remember printing them out and showing them to loved ones only to have them read the first paragraph, then scan through to the bottom and hand the paper back and say “interesting.”

People named Stewart
It’s hard to put a positive a spin on this one. This was an idea I had that just didn’t work. It is a list of celebrities with the last name Stewart. I was hoping to find a bunch of information I could parlay into a funny feature length article. Unfortunately, despite the fact that many celebrities are named Stewart, they are just about the most BORING celebrities in Hollywood!
I did a similar list later of People Named Gene.
That one was pretty funny, the one on Stewart was AWFUL. Unfortunately, since I had done about 2 minutes of research on that I decided to cobble together something.
The result was list of “Obscure Trivia about celebrities named Stewart.” This was like the boring facts that Pepsi puts on the screen before the movie.
Highlight: Jimmy Stewart played the accordion (shocking revelation!)
Lowlight: Patrick Stewart has a cat (the man was Captain of the Enterprise and THAT was the best I could do?????!!!???)

Movie Box Office
This was back from the days of “Behind the Junk” it is one of the only articles from those days that survived. I am not even sure why.
This was originally written just to show to a friend of mine, but I was so desperate for content that I posted it.
I listed the top ten films and then wrote wacky headlines for both negative and positive reviews. I was doing it to make fun of how lame movie reviewers are. There are some funny jabs, but mostly it is about as stupid as a rerun of ‘Frasier’ (season 4 and above.)
One more thing, longtime readers may remember that “Behind the Junk” featured a quote at the end of each article. Since this was posted there, it has a quote too.
However, since that site is as distant a memory as the Jets Superbowl prospects, it now seems even MORE out of place.
Highlight: In the comments section a poster named “HatMatt71” did his own reviews for each film. His write up on ‘Stepford Wives’ was simply “What?”
That is the most perfect review I have ever read.
Lowlight: The negative review headline for ‘Garfield: The Movie’ was "More like CIGAR-Field, because it stinks like an old cigar."

My Fair Muppet
This was my review of one of my all time favorite films ‘The Muppet Movie.’ I guess the problem was that I rushed through it.
It starts off well, but is abruptly wrapped up at the end. I may have to do this one over one day. Kermit deserves better.
Highlight: I point out that the Arby’s mitt is a cheap rip-off of the Hamburger Helper.
Lowlight: Name dropping Mike Dika. I never thought I would sink so low.

A shocking Presidential scandal
I always thought this story about Amy Carter reading at the table was interesting. Too bad I was the only one who though so.
Highlight: When listing the TV networks I called them “CBS, NBC and KFC.”
Lowlight: When listing the TV networks I called them “CBS, NBC and KFC.”

Pop-up goes the weasel
This article jumps from one subject to another, like a frog trapped in a room full of pieces of paper with the word “subject” on them.
In a rather short piece, I talk about pop-up ads, Superbowl commercials and perverts. Each subject was pretty good, on its own, but put together it reads like the writings of a drunken psychopath.
Highlight: I quote someone saying "I hate you and your website sucks."
Lowlight: “Comments: 0” NO ONE HAD ANYTHING TO SAY ABOUT THIS ONE!!! Never! It has been up there for MONTHS!!
Sad, truly sad.

This was a little piece on Dynamite magazine. I tied that in with the movie ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ because his name was Dynamite. Isn’t that clever?!?
Highlight: An mock interview with J.J. from ‘Good Times.’
Lowlight: A bunch of comments about Hilary Duff were actually funnier and longer than the actual article.

Anyway, those were the worst I could find. I enjoyed rereading them. It made me feel better about the NEWER articles. As Butthead once said (on ‘Beavis and Butthead’) "Sometimes you have to see stuff that sucks so you will know what stuff is cool."

Any junk I missed?

Friday, January 21, 2005

Roosevelt Franklin: The Muppet With the Same Name as a President

His name was Roosevelt Franklin and he was the coolest kid on Sesame Street. Growing up I worshiped this puppet. He was the ultimate bad boy and he was made out of felt.

I loved Sesame Street as a child, in fact I still do. I think it was the combination of bizarre humor and good natured puppets that attracted me to it then and still does.

This isn’t to say that the show is the same as it was then. Thing have certainly changed, with newer characters like Elmo and Zoe taking center stage along with old favorites like Oscar and Big Bird. And, for every new character that enters, it seems, another character leaves.

Some, leave with good reason. Take Sam the Robot, for example. No one really liked him and (I hear) he was cumbersome and difficult to perform.

Growing up, one of my favorite sketches revolved around a muppet named Don Music. Don would play the piano, but when he forgot the lyrics to the song, he would slam his head against the piano keys.

Don was eliminated when producers worried that kids would follow in his footsteps. Not by playing piano, but by banging their heads against the piano.

I know I did. I would bang my head so hard against the piano that I still have both ebony and ivory marks on my forehead. I also have the words ‘ebony’ and ‘ivory’ tattooed on my right and left ankles. But that is due more to my fanatical obsession with Stevie Wonder.

Roosevelt Franklin, too, did not last on Sesame Street.

You may remember Roosevelt. He was purple and had spiky hair and no nose. This meant he couldn’t wear sunglasses, but no matter, he was so cool he didn’t need shades.

Roosevelt’s skits took place in the classroom. Roosevelt would throw paper airplanes, make sarcastic comments and generally be a nuisance to the teacher.

And he often spoke in rhyme.

Here is one of his poetic verses:

Same Sound Brown was a rhymin' man
He could rhyme words faster than I bet you can
See if you said "moose,"
Brown would say "juice."
If you say ‘Moose juice,’:
He’d say ‘Loose Goose.
If you said ‘Juicy Loose Goose,’
Brown would say "Moosey Goose Juice.

Mmmmm. That made me hungry.
Roosevelt even put out a record called “My Name Is Roosevelt Franklin.” It featured such tracks as ‘Mobity Mosely’s Months’ and ‘Days of the Week” where Roosevelt tells us what he does on each day of the week.
In case you are interested he ‘eats eggs’ and ‘puts socks on his legs.’

According to Sesame Unpaved, a book about the history of the show, Roosevelt was abandoned because some felt he was a negative black American stereotype despite the fact that he was purple.

Also, they said that his behavior in the classroom segments set a bad example to the viewers.

Too bad, because there is a definite lack of Moosey Goose Juice on TV today.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Grover Cleveland: The President With the Same Name as a Muppet

When most people hear the word 'Grover,' they think of the lovable blue monster on Sesame Street. The rest of the people just think “why did someone say ‘Grover?’”

However in 1885 the President of the United States was named Grover- Grover Cleveland.

Grover was historically a very unique President. He is the only President in history to have lost reelection and then win back the presidency in the next election.

That is until 2008 when we all experience the second coming of President Jimmy Carter. That’s right kids, get your peanuts out and stock up on Billy Beer. It’s a done deal; I read it on a blog.

Cleveland was the only President born in the state of New Jersey. He lived in the town of Caldwell where his father worked as a minister.
The Cleveland family then moved to upstate New York.

Ironically, at the same time, Dr. Henry Upstatenewyork and his wife Mildred moved to Cleveland.

Grover became a successful lawyer in Buffalo until he turned to politics at the age of 44. He was elected Mayor of Buffalo in 1881 and later, Governor of New York.

For much of his life Cleveland was supporting the wife of a late friend and their young daughter. When the daughter turned 21, Grover married her in the White House.

This meant that his mother-in-law was younger than him and that his wife had grown up calling him “Uncle Cleve.”

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, during his campaign it was revealed that he had fathered a child out of wedlock with another woman.

When it came to scandal, Grover Cleveland was like Bill Clinton on STEROIDS.

Still, Grover won the election despite a particularly ugly campaign. The opposing party tried very hard to use the illegitimate child against him and went so far as to pay men to dress like babies while pushing empty strollers singing “Where's your pa, he's in the White House, ha ha ha.”

That makes for some strange small talk.

WILLIAM: What do you do for a living?
BENJAMIN: I work as a cobbler, you?
WILLIAM: I dress up like a baby and taunt the President.
BENJAMIN: Dude! That totally rocks.
WILLIAM: Wow, this IS strange small talk.

Cleveland was known as a tough, no-nonsense guy and often stood for ideas that were unpopular. For example, he was very concerned about the idea of people relying too much on the federal government for assistance. He felt that this kind of behavior weakened the nation and vetoed such legislation.
When told that this policy may lead to him not being re-elected he said, "What is the use of being elected or re-elected unless you stand for something?"

Cleveland was defeated in 1888; although he had more popular votes than opposing candidate Benjamin Harrison, he received fewer electoral votes.

Rather than just get fat and grow a beard like Al Gore, Cleveland instead focused on becoming president again. After all, he was already fat and had a mustache.

Cleveland was elected again in 1892, making him both the 22nd and 24th President of the United States.

After leaving the White House, Cleveland lived in retirement in Princeton, New Jersey.

Today, his birthplace (and boyhood home) has been preserved and exists as a small museum. On display are a few slices of his wedding cake.

Fun Facts about Grover Cleveland:

Political foes often called him the “Buffalo Hangman” because he had performed some hangings when he was the sheriff of Buffalo.

He went from Mayor of Buffalo to President of the United States in just 3 years.

During his Presidency he had a secret operation to remove a cancerous lump from his lip. He had the operation aboard a yacht and the public was unaware of the procedure until after his death.

He paid a subordinate to fight in his place during the Civil War.

The Baby Ruth candy bar is said to be named after his daughter. (I should mention that while Ruth Cleveland was famous, being the first presidential child born in the White House, the candy wasn’t manufactured until years after her death when Babe Ruth was a prominent baseball player. Babe Ruth took the makers of the candy to court since he believed that it was named after him and the Cleveland story was a cover to keep him from being paid an endorsement fee.)

Fun Facts I just made up about Grover Cleveland:

Friends called him the “Buffalo Hangman” because he once hung a 900 pound buffalo out the window of the White House as a joke.

The cancerous lump removed from his lip went on to become a moderately successful comedy writer under the name Bruce Vilanch.

His favorite movie was Animal House (Bruce Vilanch’s not Grover Cleveland’s.)

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Hollywood Sign Part 3: Alterations of the Hollywood Sign

Didn't read the first two parts about the Hollywood sign?
Here are the links:

The Hollywood Sign was built in 1923 as an advertisement for the Hollywoodland Realty Company. Back then the sign read “Hollywoodland.” In 1949 it was shortened to just “Hollywood.”

It sits there today, at the top of Mt. Lee, and looks pretty much the same as it did back in 1949.

This isn’t to say there have not been any changes to the sign.

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce estimates that they get two requests a months from people or businesses looking to make a temporary change to the sign. Current policy forbids such changes and that stopped a “red, white and blue” makeover from taking place after September 11, 2001.

Universal Studios had offered to pay to have the colors added to the sign, as well as having them removed.

Instead of painting the sign they had to settle for painting Hollywood Mayor Johnny Grant instead. It too two coats for the blue to stick.

Disney had also failed in their attempt to have the sign altered. They wanted it covered in spots for the release of their 1996 film “101 Dalmatians.”

Although the request seems absurd, back in 1992 Paramount successfully obtained the right to us the sign to promote the movie “Cool World.”
For a short time the letter ‘D’ was topped with a 75 foot tall Holli Would (Kim Bassinger’s animated character.)

When Fox started their TV network back in April of 1987, the Hollywood Sign simply read ‘FOX.’ Apparently “MARRIED, WITH CHILDREN AND OTHER LOUSY SHOWS” was too long to fit on Mt. Lee.

Other times, the sign has been illegally changed by vandals. This is not an easy task. First, you have to hike up Mt. Lee (which hasn’t been legal in over a decade.) Second, you have to drape giant tarps over the 50 foot letters to obscure them. Third, you have to be a vandal.

One of the most notorious changes (and perhaps the first) occurred in 1976 when the sign was changed to read “Hollyweed.” This was done ‘in honor’ of California’s new drug laws. To change the sign, vandals covered part of the “OO”s with black and white cloth.

Amusingly, the city allowed the makers of the 1984 film Hollywood Hot Tubs the right to alter the sign, again, to say Hollyweed as part of the 1983 filming.

In the film, the main characters get arrested for changing the sign at the start of the movie. As punishment, a judge sentences them to work for a hot tub company. They get to see lots of naked ladies and hilarity ensues.
“Amadeus” beat out “Hollywood Hot Tubs” for the best Picture Academy Award that year.

Earlier in 1983 the sign had been illegally altered to read “Go Navy” either by a group of Navy football fans or just people who really love the taste of navy beans. If so, I can’t blame them; those beans make a tasty salad.

“CALTECH” was another similar change done in 1987. What is most impressive about both is how much the sign needed to be altered to pull the prank off. For “CALTECH” none of the existing letters was left unchanged!

1987 was quite a busy year for the sign. Including the aforementioned “CALTECH” and “FOX” the sign was changed FOUR times!

One of the 1987 changes was to cover up the “H” making it “OLLYWOOD” because of Oliver “Ollie” North of the Iran Contra hearings. You have to admire the trouble they went to, even though they only changed one letter. The easier way would have been to put a piece of tape over the “H” on Buddy Holly’s Walk of Fame Star. That would have taken much less effort and would have sent a clearer message: Oliver North is your buddy.
The changing of the Hollywood Sign left people wondering if it was to support North or simply allege that he was made of wood.

The final 1987 change was made for the Pope. The Pontiff visited the U.S. that year and to commemorate it religious pranksters covered up the first “L.”

The most enigmatic of all Hollywood Sign changes was made in 1985. Residents awoke to see the sign reading “RAFFEYSOD.” People were confused, unaware what “raffeysod” was. People thought perhaps it was like a giant word jumble. In fact, to this day many books and websites list this change as one who’s “meaning has never been determined.”
Still, the sign was no real mystery. Fans of the obscure band The Raffeys changed the sign but, for whatever reason, did not cover up the “OD.”
This was unusual since usually the rock band has a publicist who covers up their O.D.s by saying they were “being treated for exhaustion.”

The last change to the sign was made in 1992. During that election campaign Ross Perot supporters changed the sign to read “PEROTWOOD.”

This political expression for an underdog candidate was a fitting end to the era of illegal alterations. Two years after “PEROTWOOD” a fence and surveillance system was installed to keep the pranksters away.

Sadly, hilarity no longer ensues.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Gofer Cakes

A few years ago I stumbled across a bizarre PSA on a the "Dr. Doolittle" video (the lousy one with Eddie Murphy.)
I had started the tape and had left the room to get a Tab and I heard this amazing, catchy jingle.

“Gofer a mouthful, Gofer the fun! Gofer cakes are for everyone!”

I ran back and rewound the tape to see what Gofer Cakes were. It turned out to be a parody of a 'Hostess type' commercial that was actually there to encourage kids to exercise and skip the junk food.

However, it shows a child’s junk food UTOPIA a place where chocolate and whip cream are in high quantity and there is no such thing as too much sugar.

It’s a great spot, with a clever twist. I thought it was a real commercial all the way up to the ending.

Here is my scene by scene review of the 30 second spot:

The spot opens with a group of four kids happily entering the house after school and running in.
“Gofer a mouthful, Gofer the fun! Gofer cakes are for everyone!”

I love how the kids are running. They dart into the house like the rest of the world is on fire. The kids are of different races and sexes. The sort of group you ONLY see on TV. I guess Gofer cakes truly are for everyone. Sadly in the next scene they have taken off their backpacks and jackets. I guess Gofer Cakes aren’t for every THING, just everyone.

“Cool, Gofer Cakes!” Exclaims on child as he opens the pantry door to find it stocked with Gofer Cakes, a hockey puck shaped cupcake in colorful box featuring a Gopher for a mascot. In the next shot the kids are shown eating the Gofer Cakes and stacking them up.
“Just one snack has what it takes and its Gofer, Gofer, Gofer Cakes.”

See what I mean about this being a child’s utopia? I bet most kids would have skipped going to Disneyland just to go to a house that was STOCKED with cupcakes. I know I would have. Remember Halloween? Every child knew which house had the best candy. This was that house. I don’t know much about this kid, but I know his friends only like him because his parents leave him with enough chocolate to kill a clinic full of diabetes patients.

The kids are surrounded by Gofer Cakes!

I do mean surrounded. Do you see the checkerboard on the floor?

 They are playing checkers with Gofer Cakes! I am not sure how that works since all Gofer cakes are the same color, but you have to admire the ingenuity.

Then one of the fat kids starts to stack the Gofer Cakes in a bizarre Gofer Cake barricade. Perhaps this is to keep the other kids away from his Gofer Cakes. I hope it worked.

The other fat kid is shown rocking in a chair. In an amazing feat of coordination he manages to cram in another Gofer Cake with every rock of the chair. His cheeks are swollen like a chipmunk. It is funny.

“Open wide, stuff your face. There’s always room for more gofer cakes.”

The kids are happily eating the Gofer Cakes as fast as they can. Then they start to shove them into a blender. In with the Gofer Cakes they pour whipped cream and chocolate syrup.

This is where things start to get strange. It is at this point that you might start to realize that you are being had.
This is really a brilliant commercial.
The kids are so absurdly happy as they makes something so fattening that a teaspoon full could provide enough nutrients to allow a starving child to live an extra month.
They pour chocolate and whipped cream into the blender to add to a product that is, in all probability, made of 50% chocolate and 50% whipped cream.

“Empty the box and then reload. Eat those Gofer Cakes ‘till you explode.”
The children are shown lying around, presumably stuffed. An announcer says “Exercise lately?” and we are shown information regarding the Presidential Council on Physical Fitness.

I have a problem with how the song lyrics go at this point. The line “empty the box” is sung so fast it is as if the singer forgot that part of the lyric and had to rush it into the song. The result is that we don’t really understand it and it sounds pretty odd.
Still, you hardly notice this because you are watching a shot of the kids sitting around looking like they are recovering from an all night party with Mickey Rourke.
Hung-over and listless, they just sit there.

It is a brilliant spot. Watch it again:

Friday, January 14, 2005

Chasing the blues away

What happened to all the good car chases?

Is it just me or is something missing on TV these days? A major staple on the tub is MIA, and it's not just that mean British lady from “The Weakest Link.”

Car chases.

Heck, just a good old fashioned car show would be great.

Remember in the 1980s every show had a car starring in it!

“Knight Rider” was probably the ultimate car show. KITT the talking car was as big a star as David Hasselhoff in every country except Germany. Of course in Germany, Hasselhoff’s mug appears on currency and the official flag.

Here is a transcript of the famous German talk show “Stuccum Chiekel”:

GERMAN MAN: Gutentag herr!
OTHER GERMAN MAN: Die etunder mistonde uster Hasselhoff.
GERMAN MAN: Des woof en Hasselhoff! Woof iz Hasselhoff!
OTHER GERMAN SHEPARD: Oh, in case you are wondering I am not a dog. I am real Shepard, the kind that tends to sheep.

KITT’s predecessor, The General Lee, was maybe even MORE. The General Lee was the orange Dodge Charger from “The Dukes of Hazzard. “

According to the “E! True Hollywood Story,” the General Lee got more fan mail than ANY of the shows human stars.

I find this hard to believe because I PERSONALLY sent a weekly fan letter to Boss Hogg. I also sent him a ham at Christmas time and on April Fools Day I would send him the following letter:

Dear Boss Hogg,
I am a big fan; I loved you in “Charlotte’s Web.” I thought your performance as Wilbur was awesome! I have just one question, what was the deal with Templeton? Was he supposed to be gay or what?
Your #1 fan,
Guy Hutchinson
P.S. APRIL FOOLS! I know that Wilbur was an actual pig, and you are just a fat guy! Have a great day.

Still, if you can’t trust the “E! True Hollywood Story,” who can you trust?
Even shows that did not STAR a car had a famous car and would use it in lots in chase after chase. Some of the best car chase shows focused on police officers. “T.J. Hooker," "CHiPs" and "Miami Vice" were all great shows BECAUSE of the car chases.

One of the best reasons to watch “Miami Vice” was the Ferrari Daytona Spider. It was such a cool car that it made every scene it was in even more exciting. Could you have imagined Crockett and Tubbs riding around in a Plymouth Duster? How about an AMC Gremlin? What if they were cruising in a LeCar?

That would have been awful.

Or imagine this: what if, instead being cops, they were traveling chiropractors and instead of wearing t-shirts under suit jackets, they wore t-shirts OVER their suit jackets.

That would have actually been pretty cool.

Take a look at the “A-Team,” every single episode would involve at least one high speed chase with the famous GMC Van. There would be entire episodes where the whole plot involved the van and what B.A. (Mr. T) would do to anyone who touched it.

Plus there was an episode where Murdock went on “Wheel of Fortune” and won a car. I am not sure how that ties in, but I loved that episode.

Magnum PI’s Ferrari was one of the coolest cars on TV, and I don’t mind saying that I asked people to call me GUY PI all through kindergarten just because I wanted to have that car.

And I wanted that mustache, but that wasn’t allowed. The kindergarten teacher insisted I shave before class.

In conclusion, I wish that “CSI” would have some car chases. I wish that “Desperate Housewives” would have a scene where Teri Hatcher is chasing bad guys screaming “nobody better touch my van!”

I also wish Boss Hogg would write back.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

The Phillie's Phanatic

Philadelphia is primarily known for three things:

A greasy sandwich
A broken bell &
The Phillie Phanatic

I am most interested in The Phanatic.

Named after Philadelphia's obsessive fans, the Phanatic debuted in 1978. He is green, shaped vaguely like a duck, with a snout that works like a party favor. He is like something you would dream about if you ate a plate of salami and doughnuts right before bed.

The ball club originally approached Jim Henson to create the mascot, Henson referred them to Harrison & Erickson, a New York firm that helped him create some of the Muppet characters.

There are many possible reasons for the success of the 300 lb. Phanatic. First off is David Raymond. For the first 16 years Raymond wore the Phanatic's size 20 shoes appearing at games, parades and other events.

Raymond created the persona of the Phanatic by watching cartoons and old Charlie Chaplin films.

The other reason for the Phanatic’s success is that he is an enigma. Think about it, he is so strange looking that he can get away with anything. If your mascot is a giant dog you expect him to act LIKE A DOG. But a Phanatic? He can act however he wants.

During the game he rides around the field on his ATV, dances and kisses anyone he can get close to.

ANYONE! He is like the Bill Clinton of mascots. Sometimes after kissing one of the players he will feign a heart attack and fall to the ground and fan himself. Thankfully, Bill got that valve surgery so this is less likely to happen to him.

He also buffs the heads of bald guys and shoots hot dogs into the crowd with his hot dog launcher.

How cool is THAT! A hot dog launcher!!! Why do some inventions take off, and others don’t? The microwave, the DVD player and the refrigerator that gives you ice and cold water on the OUTSIDE caught on so quickly.
Why then, is there not a hot dog launcher in every kitchen?
The Phanatic is one of only three mascots in the Baseball Hall of Fame. His colleagues Youppi (Montreal Expos) and The Baseball Chicken (San Diego) also are in the hall.

According to Phillies.comthe greatest moment in the Phanatic’s career was the parade in Philadelphia after the Phillies defeated the Kansas City Royals to take the 1980 World Series. He had his own float and danced for the fans.

I bet the NEXT greatest moment was his fight with (then) Dodger’s skipper Tommy Lasorda. Lasorda became so enraged at the Phanatic that he actually got into a fist fight with him almost knocking his head off.

With or without his head, the Phanatic is as popular as the Phillies, perhaps more so. A giant billboard-size photo of his mug greets visitors as they enter the stadium and the stadium has an all Phanatic gift shop called The Phanatic’s Attic.


Height: 6 feet 6 inches
Weight: 300 pounds (mostly fat)
Waist: 90 inches
Eyes: White eyeballs, black pupils, purple eyelashes and blue eyebrows
Skin: Bright green fur
Physical Defects: Overweight, clumsy feet, extra long beak, extra-long curled up tongue, gawking neck and "slight" case of body odor
Birthplace: Galapagos Islands
Mom: Phoebe
Best Friend: Phyllis
Favorite Food: cheesesteaks, Soft pretzels, hoagies, scrapple and Tastykakes
Favorite Movie: Rocky
Favorite Song: "Motown Philly" (and "Take Me Out To The Ballgame, of course!)
Greatest Moment: The parade down Broad Street after the Phillies won the 1980 World Series
Hobbies: Eating, reading, sleeping, and cheering on the Phillies!

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

It’s in their Genes

Gene isn’t a very common name anymore. It’s a shame, because it is a good name with such a rich history.
Usually short for Eugene, the name was more common in years past. This is why so many entertainment legends share this moniker.
Let us take a look at some of the greatest.

10. Gene Simmons: Best known as the co-founder of the rock band Kiss. Simmons was born Chaim Witz in Israel but changed his name as a youth after arriving in the US. He actually spent a few months teaching forth grade before he embarked on a music career. Kiss was known for their outrageous stage antics and bizarre wardrobe and makeup. The also made the two letter “s”s look like backwards “z”s when they spelled Kiss. This is because the letter Z is cool and cutting edge while the letter S is wimpy and old fashioned.
Here is Gene Simmons’ chart for letter coolness:
A= Uncool
B= Slightly cool, but only in cursive
C= Even though it is the first letter in the word ‘cool’ it is not cool
D= Very cool
E= Can be cool if it is written at an angle
F= Always cool
G= Not cool at all
H= I hate the H! He is so uncool
I= Neutral
J= Very cool! Like an I that is taunting the sky
K= The coolest of them all. I would spell cool with a K, but that’s a brand of cigarettes, so I would be confused
L= Nerd
M= Very cool
N= Not as cool as M
O= neutral
P= Cool, but only in uppercase
Q= Most cool of all letters, except K
R= Looks like a K that had to wear glasses. Definitely not cool
S= wimpy and uncool
T= Cool
U= U is for uncool
V= Like a cool U. I like V
W= Like a double cool V
X= X marks the spot- the spot where Coolville is located
Y= Not cool, ruins the very cool set of letters at the end of the alphabet
Z= Awesome
&= The 27th letter of the alphabet. I created this letter. It is pronounced “LUM” it is the coolest of them all

9. Gene Siskel: Man, how I miss him! Gene was one half of the Siskel and Ebert movie review team. The new team of Ebert and Roper is awful. I would have preferred if it was Roger Ebert and Mr. Roper from Three’s Company. That would have been good. Than Mr. Roper could have called every movie ‘fruity’ except for old people stuff. I would have liked that.

8. Mean Gene Okerlund: Famed WWF personality, Mene Gene has been out of the spotlight for most of this decade. Still, I smile whenever I think of him crooning Tutti Frutti or Rock and Roll Hochie Coo on the first two WWF albums.

7. Gene Shalit: Movie reviewer. I only put him here because of his mustache. Let that be a lesson to you kids out there: the bigger your mustache, the better you will be.

6. Gene Rayburn: Hosted Match Game where he used a bizarre skinny microphone. Lesson #2 kids, skinny microphone tops big mustache any day. Too bad there were no Genes with both.

5. Gene Roddenberry: The man behind Star Trek (that’s the one with the guy with the big ears, not the one with the gold robot) Gene Roddenberry was a WWII combat veteran who became a television writer. Gene died in 1991, but, in 1997 his ashes were shot into space on a research satellite, orbiting the earth.

4. Gene Kelly: Considered the Marlon Brando of dancers. I have no idea what that means. He wasn’t fat; maybe he was just difficult on the set like Brando. Either way, in Anchor’s Aweigh he danced with Jerry the Mouse. As a side note, Jerry was their second choice. Walt Disney would not let MGM use their first choice, Mickey Mouse.

3. Gene Wilder: Actor. Did not star in Van Wilder.

2. Gene Hackman: One of the most prolific actors working today, Gene has appeared in over 80 films. His films cover every imaginable genre and he is always a tremendous presence. He was the first choice to play Mike Brady on the Brady Bunch and he turned down Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Unfortunately, he accepted The Mexican, The Quick and The Dead and Superman IV.

1. Gene Autry: Known as 'America's Favorite Singing Cowboy', Gene has the most stars on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. He has one each for radio, records, film, television and live theatrical performance. At the height of his fame, he was regarded as one of the biggest stars in the world.
He starred in nearly 100 films (mostly westerns), wrote over 200 songs and was once the owner of the California Angels. Today, the AUTRY MUSEUM OF WESTERN HERITAGE in Los Angeles greets thousands of visitors each week where they learn about the cowboy lifestyle he loved so much.

Who was your favorite Gene?

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Top 10 Cartoon Mice of All Time

10. Fievel: The cute and cuddly star of 'An American Tail' truly only made this list because I couldn't think of an 11th mouse. Still, he charmed us with his immigrant journey in 'An American Tail.'
With a title like 'An American Tail' I am sure many a video store accidentally put this title in its ADULT SECTION. Hilarity must have ensued.

9. Danger Mouse: The eye patch wearing crime fighter was a staple on British television for almost a decade. He also wore a belt and no pants. The British are so weird.

8 and 7. Pixie and Dixie: As part of the 'Huckleberry Hound' program Pixie and Dixie struggled to outwit their nemesis, Mr. Jinks the cat. Jinks was always saying "I hate meices to pieces." Jinks did not know that plural of mouse is mice.
If he had, he would have been stuck saying something like "hating mice is nice" or "how would you like your sisters to marry mice?"

6. Stuart Little: What is there NOT to love about this mouse? He sounds like Marty McFly, he rides a skateboard and he has bizarre cross species love affair with a BIRD in the sequel.
You may be little, but you are BIG on this list. Har-dee-har-har.

5. Jerry: Always dueling with Tom, Jerry is a wiz at causing harm to his feline foe. Considered the model for The Simpson's 'Itchy and Scratchy', Tom and Jerry have feuding for over 40 years.
By the way, if you are wondering why Itchy isn't on this list: I am saving him for a new list in 2045.
Also, if you’re wondering why Pinky and The Brain aren't on this list: It's because I hate them.

4. Minute Mouse: Part of the series "Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse" created by Bob Kane. This series was a satire on the OTHER famous Kane creations Batman and Robin.

3. Speedy Gonzales: The "fastest mouse in all Mexico", Speedy made his debut back in 1953. He wore a large brimmed sombrero on his head and often feuded with another Warner Brothers star, Sylvester the Cat.
Speedy was often joined in his cartoon by Warner's other offensive stereotype mice: The Irish 'Drunky O'Malley' and the Dutch 'Wooden Shoey Agneese.'

2. Mighty Mouse: The mightiest of ALL mice. He first appeared way back in 1942, but did not get his own show until 13 years later.
Every episode followed a simple 3 act pattern:

ACT 1: Mice party in a mouse utopia
ACT 2: Mean cats arrive and chase the mice
ACT 3: Mighty Mouse arrive and punches the cats

1. Mickey Mouse: Of course he is number one. You didn't expect anyone else to top the list, did you? He debuted in 1928 in the film 'Steamboat Willie', a parody of Buster Keaton's Steamboat Bill. The cartoon was actually the THIRD Mickey Mouse cartoon made, but the first to be shown in theaters.

The origin of Mickey Mouse is very difficult to pin down, since Walt Disney was a master storyteller and would often spin the tale of Mickey's creation differently depending on what audience he was speaking to.
Some stories include:
Walt created the mouse because he once had a pet mouse in his apartment
Walt named the mouse Mickey after Mickey Rooney
Walt named the mouse Mortimer but changed the mouse's name after his wife suggested Mickey

The documentary film "Ub Iwerks: The Hand Behind The Mouse" tells what is likely the most accurate version of the mouse's creation.
Ub Iwerks was Walt's friend, co-worker and sometime business partner. After hearing that their main creation, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, was being sold to Universal Studios, the two set out to quickly make a new cartoon. After searching through magazines and trying out every animal Ub could draw, they settled on a mouse.
Today Mickey is a corporate logo and appears at the dozen or so Disney parks that may have never existed without him.
He is a superstar in every sense of the word and the number one mouse of all time.

So, that is my list. I was a bit surprised at the number of cartoon mice that exist! Who was your favorite?

Monday, January 10, 2005

The History of Gum

Chewing gum seems to be as American as apple pie, baseball and high car insurance. We chew gum to relax, to freshen our breath or for the sheer entertainment value of blowing bubbles.

But how did it get its start?

Chewing gum was invented in 1796 by Wendell Hollings as an inauguration present for his friend, newly elected President, John Adams.
Hollings and Adams had met only two years before, but had formed a lasting bond of friendship. Oddly enough, their friendship started because of the style of Hollings horse and buggy. Hollings would put candles all over his wagon and covered his horses with a shiny red silk.
In his memoirs, Adams later called Hollings' buggy “Ye olde pimpin-est ride of yore.” It should be noted that Adams wrote his memoirs at a time when his mental health was, at best suspect. When they were penned, Adams was ten years removed from the Presidency and working as both a ‘song and dance man’ and a ‘chicken and egg man.’ Such jobs were not entirely uncommon (George Washington himself once worked as a ‘butter and antelope man’) but Adams also exhibited strange behavior such as saying ‘goodbye’ when he entered a room and ‘put up your dukes' when he exited.
As for chewing gum, it was said at the time that Adams wore false teeth that would often come loose causing him to make a chewing motion with his teeth. Hollings wanted to create something that everyone (except Adams) could chew that would make this gesture seem less strange.
Hollings, a chemist by trade, created a gooey material by combining the extracts of maple syrup and mint leaves, with his own saliva to create a special mixture he called Hollingstuff. He then took this mixture to Pennsylvania where a local man had created a chewable substance made of spruce sap and beeswax. Hollings threw his Hollingstuff in the local man's eyes, and while he was writhing in agony, Hollings stole the spruce sap and beeswax substance.
Thus, gum was born.

Today, chewing gum is a common as disappointed Jewish mothers. It is chewed by children, athletes and Michael Keaton (in ever film where he plays a tough guy.)
It is the bane of custodians who constantly have to clean it off the undersides of tables and desks.
It is a trouble to janitors who list it as one of their biggest problems ‘next to those uppity custodians.'

Gum is available in many different ways. Some gum comes in packs, other comes in gumball form. Everything from sugarless to sugar coated exists at your local grocery store.
If you venture into a candy store you are likely to fine even more varieties. Gum packaged in tubes and gum in unusual flavors like licorice and coffee.

Let’s take a look at some of the major brands of gum.

Big League Chew: Sold in pouches made to resemble chewing tobacco, this gum has been a favorite for many years. It’s sister gum ‘XFL Chew’ was not as successful lasting just one year.

Wrigley Spearmint: Created by the Wrigley family that currently runs Chicago. This makes Wrigley the only gum sold in the city. There is no law against any other gum, but residents still live in constant state of fear. Stories of intimidation abound. In 1998 a man from the North Side was bludgeoned with a deep dish pizza for trying to start his own gum company. The victim, John Sportus, was trying to market Gum-nail a fingernail flavored gum. Sportus started the company because as he said “people like chewing nails and chewing gum, now they can do both at once!”

Chicklets: Remember that episode of Punky Brewster where there was a girls club called the Chicklets? Punky and Cherie wanted to join, but then they found out the girls in the club did drugs and so they didn’t join. That was a touching episode.

Dentyne: Recommended by 4 out of five dentists for patients that chew gum. The other dentist recommends that you send me $50. Right now, cash only. Thanks.

Bubble Yum: Made by the Hershey Company, this gum’s mascot is a duck with a nose ring. That may sound like the silliest sentence on the whole page, but it’s true.

Bazooka: A gum that comes with its own comic strip. So you can read it while you are shredding the roof of your mouth into a bloody mess.

The End

(By the way, this is the first article ever on to end with the phrase “bloody mess”!!! I am so proud!)

Friday, January 07, 2005

The Greatest Sandwich Ever Made

Quiznos is not known for the quality of their commercials.

The sub chain once had a bunch of bizarre sponge monkey creatures in their ads that left consumers more confused than hungry.

Still, they serve top notch meats and cheeses on well toasted breads and they have been expanded rapidly over the past few years.

I had never been to a Quiznos until I saw the commercial for their Steak House Beef Dip.

The ad showed a giant roast beef sandwich being dipped into a container of ‘pan roasted au jus.’

I’ll be honest with you, I don’t speak Spanish, and so ‘au jus’ looked like a bunch of mumbo jumbo to me. But it looked so good in the commercial.

So, I grabbed my keys and jumped in my car with one mission: TO FIND AU JUS!

Oh, and I had some things to pick up at the dry cleaners.

That was four months ago. When I tried the sandwich then, I was convinced it was the best sandwich I had ever tasted. Still, first bites can be deceiving.
I thought the McBLT, Friendly’s Kickin' Buffalo Chicken sandwich, Jack in the Box’s Breakfast Jack and Taco Bell’s Chili Cheese Burrito were the greatest sandwiches I had ever tasted- AND THEY WEREN’T ALL SANDWHICHES.

They say the passage of time brings knowledge and experience. (Frankly, I don’t know that anyone actually said that before, but there are pretty good odds that I am not the first.) Now I had enough Steak House Beef Dips to know it IS the greatest sandwich ever made.

The sandwich comes on a toasted roll and features a very generous helping of beef and Swiss cheese. It also comes with French onion sauce, but I always ask them to hold the sauce because I feel it clashes with the au jus.

Speaking of which, I found out au jus is French for 'with broth.'

This means that when they say they are giving you a sandwich with au jus, it's like they are saying 'a sandwich with with broth.

Redundant or not, this stuff is AWESOME. You are supposed to dip the sandwich in the au jus making it moist and tasty (like a donut that has been left in the bathtub too long.)

I don’t know why, but I love this stuff. I finish dipping my sandwich and then I dip my chips and my chocolate chip cookie in the au jus. Heck I would bathe in this stuff if my bathtub wasn’t already full of donuts.
The Steak House Beef Dip was originally scheduled to be just a promotional item available only from Sept. 6 through Oct. 17 2004. However, the sandwich was so popular that they decided to make it part of their regular menu.

Trey Hall, a spokesman for Quiznos said "The Steakhouse Beef Dip Sub was the most successful menu item introduction in our history."

Some think he was talking about the history of Quiznos, but I’d like to think he is talking about the history of mankind.

So, have you tried the Beef Dip?

Thursday, January 06, 2005

The locations of San Andreas

Since 1997 Rockstar North has been stirring up controversy and exciting video game fans with it’s Grand Theft Auto series.

Their newest title is called San Andreas.

I had never played any of the previous games, but I was intrigued by the new game after I saw a faux-Hollywood Sign in the commercial.

For most of the game you simply drive fast and run people over. You really get the feel of what it is like to BE Halle Berry (didn’t get that reference? CLICK HERE.)

During the game there are many challenges you must face. Each of these is like a mini game. Still, these mini games are surprisingly very well done and are fun in their own right.

The game layout is HUGE! You can drive on and on for what seems like forever.

You start in the city of Los Santos (which is Spanish for THE Santos.) Los Santos is modeled after Los Angeles. Most of the streets bear only a vague resemblance to any real place, but there were several streets and buildings that were almost perfect replicas of Golden State landmarks. Among them are:

Hollywood Blvd: The famous ‘street with stars under your feet’ is here in gritty polygon form. The Walk of Fame is there, but the detail is not clear enough to read the names.

Grauman’s Chinese Theater: On one of my first games I tried to make a right onto (what I thought was) a side street and I drove onto the forecourt crashing into the building over Van Heflin’s handprints.

The El Capitan Theater: Located (in the game and in real life) across the street from the Chinese is Disney’s El Capitan (which is Spanish for THE Capitan.) Of course the name and the movie on the marquee are obscured, but most physical details are there.

Encounters: This is a bizarre restaurant at LAX that is shaped like a spaceship. The version in the game is a perfect match.

The Hollywood Sign: Reading VINEWOOD, the sign looks very familiar to everyone. However, rather than being high atop Mt. Lee the sign is much closer to the road and very easy to hike to in GTA. I tried to jump off of it like Peg Entwhistle but that didn’t seem possible.

The Capital Records Building: The famed building that looks like a giant slinky is here too, but it’s on the wrong side of the street.

The Santa Monica Pier: I was stunned by the accuracy of this. The pier is represented really accurately. After entering under the famous ‘Yacht Harbor’ sign I ran to the end of the pier to find one of my favorite restaurants Mariasol Cocina Mexicana (which is Spanish for THE Mariasol Cocina Mexicana ) right where it should be only with a different name. Every detail of the exterior was dead on right down to the shape of the doors.

And, L.A. isn’t the only city in the game. There are also representations of Las Vegas, San Diego and San Francisco.

In addition to the great locals, you also get a pretty good mix of music and talk thanks to the radios in the stolen cars. Everything from gangsta rap to obscure bluegrass tunes populates the airwaves with over 150 songs. Plus, a stellar voice cast that includes Samuel L. Jackson and James Woods. Sadly they are not dueling gangsta rappers.

I can’t tell you much more about the plot, basically because I haven’t gotten very far in the game. I would have spent more time on it but I was busy working on that Halle Berry joke. I think I made the right decision.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Arsenio Hall rapping in a fat suit

The year was 1991. Arsenio Hall was a pop culture phenomenon with his own talk show.

And what a show it was.

I must admit I never really liked his show. I only watched it a few times and I found him annoying. Here is everything I remember:

-Arsenio wearing a bright orange shirt with ripped jeans
-Arsenio pointing at one section of the crowd and calling them "people that use Grey Poupon"
-Rowdy Roddy Piper calling Arsenio ‘Arse’ which is British for ‘butt’
-Arsenio's bandleader reading a poem about Sadaam Hussien where he rhymed the word "Iraqi" with "must be on crack-y"

So, I probably wasn’t the target audience for his rap album, but I bought it anyway.

‘What rap album’ you ask?


See, Arsenio’s show had been a springboard for successful rappers like De La Soul and Mc Hammer, so Arsenio decided to cut a record of his own.

The album Large and In Charge was released by MCA records with Arsenio rapping under a new persona.

He called himself Chunky A. See, kinda like Heavy D. Isn’t that funny? I should try this and release an album under the name Zagnut. That would be a play on Eminem because they both sound like candies. Or I could call myself Burbo the Clown. That would be a play on P. Diddy because they both sound stupid.

Chunky A lived up to his name by being fat. Arsenio wore a giant fat suit, but not a very good one. This was more like those silly sumo wrestler suits you see people fighting in on MTV.

The album contained a mix of parody tracks and original comedy songs.

The first track was called Owwww! and was a parody of the Cameo hit Word Up. Owwww! talks about his romance with a fat woman who causes him great physical pain in the bedroom. The lyrics include a section where he compares her to some famous women of 1991:

Whitney Houston
And even Brooke Shields
Don't come close to you
the real deal

There are two things I like about this passage.
1. He rhymes ‘Shields’ with ‘deal’
2. Brooke Shields is the ultimate test of beauty in his mind.

The second track is the title track Large and in Charge followed by Stank Breath. Never before has such comedy been minded from halitosis. Example:

Girlfriend's got stank breath, I aint lyin'
Girlfriend's got stank breath, I almost started cryin'


The breath made him sad! That is some stanky breath.

After that, a parody of Fine Young Cannibal’s She Drives Me Crazy called Ho is Lazy. Rather than give you the lyrics, let me sum up the song:

It’s about a lazy ho.

Sorry is the next track, a spoken word apology. Unfortunately it was not Arsenio apologizing to the record buying public for this fiasco. Instead Chunkton (oh yeah, Chunky was short for Chunkton) is apologizing to an angry girl for a bunch of reasons. Among them is that he put he poodle in the microwave.

After that is I Command You to Dance. I didn’t follow commands.
Very High Key is an amusing track where he tries to sing really high like Prince. I was hoping it was about a car key that huffs paint fumes.
The album ends with a romantic ode called Dipstick and the anti-drug rant Dope: the Big Lie.
An anti-drug song is probably a good way to end things. After all, listening to Chunky A made me wish I was on crack-y.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

The Dick Vitale Alarm Clock: It's Awesome Baby!

One of my favorite times of year is the week after Christmas. I think I like it better than Christmas itself.

I can't pinpoint a specific reason; perhaps it is because I am done buying, wrapping or even thinking about other people's gifts. Maybe it's all the leftover food, or the thrill of finding a Christmas program on TV that somehow got held over until AFTER the holiday.

Most of all, it is the joy of actually USING some of my new gifts.

One of the most unique gifts I got this year was the Dick Vitale Alarm Clock.


Born June 9, 1939, in East Rutherford, N.J., Dick is a college basketball analyst famous for his exuberant and outlandish announcing style.

You have probably seen him on TV before; he’s a tall bald guy full of energy. Think of an older Terry Bradshaw hopped up on Pixie Stix.

Dick started his career in NJ coaching at East Rutherford High School and Rutgers University. Then he coached at the University of Detroit from 1973 to 1977, compiling a winning percentage of .722 (78-30).

Today, working for ESPN he has called over a thousand games.

What he called them, I’ll never know!

Now I have to puff a big cigar and wiggle my eyebrows like a vaudeville comic.
Dick is known for his upbeat (or annoying- depending how you look at it) announcing style and his catch phrase ‘It’s awesome, baby.’

The Dick Vitale Alarm Clock retails for $39.99 at places like, but you can find it much cheaper if you shop around.

In the package, it is about as bizarre as you would expect. It has basketballs for buttons and a large picture of Dick in the center. The words “Press my face BABY!”

If I had a nickel for every old man that said that to me, I could buy enough bottles MD 20/20 to wash away the bad memories. Ahhhhh.

Press him and he shouts several of his ‘alarm’ sayings. Things like:

“I don’t mean maybe, it’s time to get up baby!”

“Shake and bake, it’s time to wake!”

“You need to get up, because you’re a PTPer, a prime time player!”

“Hey this is the Vitallion Stallion tell you to rise and shine!”

I’m not kidding! He really says that he’s the Vitallion Stallion.

I tried the clock out the other day and I was stunned. It is actually a REALLY GOOD alarm clock. The front of the clock looks like a scoreboard with two digital readouts on it. The top one tells you the time, the bottom tells you what time the alarm is set for. This may not sound like a necessary feature, but if you wake at different times everyday, it make it easy to know how much sleep you have left when you wake in the middle of the night.

To set the alarm, you simply press the alarm button once and then set the hour and minute. Most alarm clocks I had before required you to HOLD the alarm button with one finger and set the time with another finger. Half the time my fingers would slip and I would end up changing the TIME setting. I always felt like a drunken midget trying to type a suicide note with the buttons on my old alarm clock, but the giant basketball shaped buttons prevent that feeling with the new clock.

One final cool feature is the ‘two minute warning.’ Two minutes before the scheduled time, Dick shouts ‘its two minutes to tip off’ three times.

Sleep for two more minutes and you are awakened by an announcer saying “Mr. Dick Vitale” after that Dick delivers one of his catch phrases. This repeats until you either turn it off or hit his face.

Yes, his face is the snooze button.

It also has a mini decorative basketball hoop attached. It serves no purpose, but I used it to allow my Barbies- er… uh.. my GI Joes to slam dunk.

I love my Dick Vitale Alarm Clock; I hope to wake up with Dick Vitale for many, many years.

Monday, January 03, 2005

The Giant Metal Cabinet That Told Jokes

A children's story

"So a chicken walks into a bar and says 'Do you serve chicken?' and the bartender says 'No but we serve beer.' said the Metal Cabinet.

The Fat guy and Connie The Chair sat and stared at him.

Suddenly a light bulb went off in The Fat Guy's head.

"Turn that blasted light off, I'm trying to think." The Fat Guy shouted at his head.

"I get it!" remarked Connie The Chair "The joke is that beers don't talk."

Suddenly a blender went off inside The Fat Guy's head.

"Stop blending things!" shouted The Fat Guy "Well, actually that feels pretty good."

Then Vin Diesel ran in and stabbed Connie The Chair and The Fat Guy. They died a painful death.

Moments later the police arrived.

"Why didn't you try to save them?" queried the Officer.

"I can't" conceded Metal Cabinet "I'm just a giant metal cabinet that tells jokes."

Then he went on a pinball and Jell-o bender. There were no survivors.