Thursday, September 29, 2005

Gulliver's Travels

In 1937 Walt Disney and RKO released Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. The film was the first feature length American animated film. More than that, it was done in brilliant color with a wonderful story and charming characters. The songs were memorable and the film was a smash hit.

It shouldn't be too surprising that other studios noticed and 'jumped on the bandwagon.' The head of Paramount was the first of the bandwagon jumpers.

So, after a delightful ride around El Segundo he tipped the band, paid the wagon drive and hopped in a cab back to Hollywood.

Soon after Paramount made a deal with Fleischer studios for their own feature length animated motion picture, Gulliver's Travels.

Max Fleischer was arguably as big a name in the cartoon business as Walt Disney in 1937. Max had such popular stars as Betty Boop, Popeye and Superman in his stable.

If Gulliver's Travels had been able to duplicate the success of Snow White perhaps today the world would be very different.

Perhaps millions would be vacationing in Max Fleischer World and Max Fleisher Pictures would be releasing mediocre sequels to Gulliver's Travels and other films.

But, it didn't happen. Gulliver just wasn't as successful as Snow White.

This isn't to say that it wasn't a success. Reaching theaters in 1939 (just two years after Snow White and BEFORE Disney's next project) Gulliver's Travels WAS a hit with audiences and garnered two Academy Award nominations for Best Original Music Score and Best Song. They lost both awards to The Wizard of Oz.

The film was made quickly, in less than half the time it took to make Snow White, yet the visuals were very impressive. Still, the story and characters didn't click with audiences the way that Sleepy, Dopey and company did.

Perhaps the most memorable character in Gulliver is Gabby. Gabby is a little guy who looks a bit like Elmer Fudd. His cantankerous and was popular enough to be spin off into his own cartoon series after the show.

This version of Gulliver's Travels is not faithful to the book version.

It tells of a man named Gulliver who washes ashore on an island full of people who are the size of Smurfs. Two kingdoms on the island are feuding over plans for a royal wedding. Gulliver is caught in the middle but uses his wits to help them.

Paramount no longer holds the copyright on this film so various different companies have released it. It is pretty easy to find in any bargain bin.

My copy was picked up at a dollar store and looks pretty good (all things considered.)

You may like it too, so I recommending going to the dollar store ASAP and jump on the bandwagon.

Ask the driver to take you by Redondo at night, it's beautiful. Also, ask the band to play a polka! The look they will give you is priceless!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Shirley Temple


It may surprise some people under the age of 50, but Shirley Temple is not just the name of a drink that kids order from the bar at weddings.

Shirley was the most popular child star in film history. She was the top box office draw for 4 years and appeared in more movies than you could count.

Well, you probably could count them, but it would take you a while. Then you would have to tell people: "I can't hang out tonight; I have to count Shirley Temple movies."

Then your friends would call you a loser and you would cry. So let's just assume you couldn't count them.

Shirley had lost one of her baby teeth the night that she was honored, but she hid this fact from everyone including her mother. Photos of the event show the tightest lipped smile the little tyke could muster.

That sounds weird.

"The tightest lipped smile the little tike could muster."

BYSTANDER ONE: What's happening?
BYSTANDER TWO: There’s a tyke mustering a smile with a tight lip.
BYSTANDER ONE: Good lord! I better get a cop.

Shirley was honored on March 14, 1935 and wrote "Love to you all" above her name. She also put her hands and BARE feet. During Sid's life no other celebrities were permitted to do so. Shirley said she wanted to do it bare foot so she could be "different."

Shirley's last four films were all released in 1949. She has kept herself busy with other interests including politics.

Still, I keep my fingers crossed for a comeback.

Half a Cup of Coffee


I can't stop laughing when I look at that photo.

YOU ASKED FOR HALF A CUP OF COFFEE!

Get it? Half a cup?

Whoa, Nellie! That's some funny jokes!

I’m being sarcastic.

I found this in an Orlando airport gift shop. It was sort of hidden on a high shelf in a corner. Looking at it I got the feeling that it had been sitting in this store for a loooooong time. Something about it has a very 1970s feel.

Perhaps that just because when I look at the clothes people wore then; I can only imagine that they would have found this to be funny. Lord knows SOMETHING strange was going on during that decade.

I bought this a few years ago and I have waited in VAIN for someone to ask for "half a cup of coffee." No one has ever asked me.

SWEETIE: Could I get you anything? Some coffee perhaps?
GUEST: No, I'm good.
SWEETIE: You look tired. Some coffee would fix that.
GUEST: Really? I'll take a cup then.
SWEETIE: Uh... don't you mean HALF a cup?
GUEST: No, I guess if I am looking tired I better have the whole cup.
SWEETIE: Uh... how about half now and half later.
GUEST: You know, forget the coffee. I think I am O.K.
SWEETIE (throws cup at guest): Damn you! Just laugh at this cup and leave.
GUEST (frightened): Oh, that is a nice cup. Very hysterical. Bye.
SWEETIE: Bye, Mom. See ya on Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed

Don't worry, I am not planning to kill (nor encouraging the death) of someone named Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed.

Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed is the title of a 1926 German animated Arabian Knights film.

Translated it becomes The Adventures of Prince Achmed, but I like Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed it makes this article sound kinda 'artsy.'

In 1937 Walt Disney released Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs a film widely regarded as the "first feature length animated film."

At this point The Adventures of Prince Achmed was 11 years old.

So, is The Adventures of Prince Achmed the "first feature length animated film?"

Probably not.

In 1917 an Argentine animated film was made entitled The Apostle. This film was supposedly over 60 minutes (thus making it a feature.) Unfortunately no prints of that film remain so the claim can no longer be verified.

The Adventures of Prince Achmed was almost lost to time as well. The original camera negative and all theatrical prints are lost. A restored version has been made is based on a colored nitrate positive. This colored nitrate positive had been preserved in the National Film and Television Archive at the British Film Institute.

Understand all that? Me neither.

Here are some more things I don't understand:

1. The balk rule.
2. Why 24 hour drug stores have locks on their doors.
3. The popularity of Will Smith.

Anyway, there is a version of The Adventures of Prince Achmed that is available on video and DVD. It also makes the occasional Turner Classic Movies appearance.

The film looks very different than Snow White. In fact, although this is ANIMATED it is certainly NOT a cartoon. This process is silhouette animation, a type of animation is done by photographing back lit cardboard cut-outs that are moved one frame at a time.

The end result is similar to shadow puppets. Like your dad taking the lamp shade off and entertaining the kids by making his hands look like a rabbit or a dog.

The only difference is that this looks really AWESOME and The Adventures of Prince Achmed never mistook a 'Go-Bot' for a 'Transformer' ruining your 8th Christmas.

Produced in Germany, the film is directed by Lotte Reiniger. Lotte is still considered one of the most successful female animators, as well as a pioneer. In fact, in all the Disney DVD bonus features I have watched I don't ever recall a female animator! Why can't women draw? Perhaps it's because they have long nails and don't chew on them like men do. That must be it. Ladies, start biting your nails and YOU might be the next Max Fleischer.

Plus it gives you something to do when you are waiting at a red light.

The film is silent, but luckily the original musical score has been found and is featured on the newer releases.

"The Adventures of Prince Achmed" tells of an African sorcerer who creates a flying horse. The sorcerer offers the horse to the king, in exchange for his daughter Princess Dinarsade. The Princess' brother, Prince Achmed tries to save her but ends up flying out of control on the magic horse.

Later, Achmed finds a harem and begins kissing every woman in sight (you haven't lived until you see a silhouette animation orgy) until the girls become violent and start beating him (and each other.)

By the end, Achmed has found love, battled the sorcerer and witnessed a Wrestlemania-worthy battle between a rooster and a vulture.

The film clocks in at less than 66 minutes, but still feels a little 'slow' at times. It is, however, dazzlingly brilliant to look at and at points a powerful and emotional experience.

And so is biting ones nails (think about trying it, ladies.)

Create a Bug

What a rip off.

As a kid, you are often asked to "entertain yourself." They give you some crayons and blank paper and tell you to 'have fun.'

Can you imagine if they did that to adults? Imagine showing up to see The Lion King on Broadway and having an usher hand you some feathers and a pair of stilts and saying "entertain yourself."

But, kids get dealt this hand all the time. This particular bit of childhood time wasting is a blank page pretending to be a coloring book page.

We are asked to design a bug. CLICK HERE for my attempt

The Coloring Book Main Page

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Element of Surprise

Surprise is a funny thing.

Often surprises are good. Just as often they are bad.

People sometimes speak of the "element of surprise." That's stupid. Surprise it not listed on the periodic table of elements.

Surprise is not an element. If you were a scientist and you found it you would be surprised.

GET IT?

If you don't, I really don't blame you.

So, why do people say the phrase "the element of surprise?"

It is an interesting story.

Back in 1912 in Stockbridge, Massachusetts the Teider Museum was expecting an important package in the mail containing rare artifacts from the childhood of George Washington.

Instead, when the buggy dropped off that day’s mail, the package did not show up.

Days passed and Tom Nuckles, the museum's curator, waited for the package. When it was fifteen days late, he sent a wire to the delivery point (in San Diego.)

His counterpart in San Diego (noted pianist Peter Smasnth) responded with a letter that read:

Dear Tom,
Thank you for the small length of wire that you sent us. I plan to use this wire to hang many paintings in the museum.
Cordially yours,
Peter Smasnth


After reading the letter, Tom wrote back.

Dear Peter,
Send me the George Washington stuff.
Signed,
Tom


A mere 3 days later the package arrived. Inside was a note from Peter reading "these are the elements you requested."

Tom opened the box to find many historic items. They did not belong to George Washington; however, they belonged to George Washington Carver.

They included a pair of roller skates (made of peanuts), a shotgun (complete with peanut bullets) and a giant peanut (made of smaller peanuts.)

Angrily, Tom shipped the package back with a not saying.

Peter,
Yes, these are elements... elements of surprise.
Disappointed,
Tom


Peter liked the phrase and two years later when he was invited to perform at Lollapalooza '14 he called his musical set "The Element of Surprise."

The phrase stuck and is the 1,127 most used phrase in America today. It is just behind "step up the plate" and just ahead of "tuna makes me gassy."

Smitty D Goes to a Surprise Party

Smitty was in a rush. It didn't help that he was wearing new shoes that just didn't fit right.

In fact, it's safe to say they fit wrong.

The shoes were cheap. He bought them in a bin at the grocery store and to be honest, they were pretty ugly.

They looked like the shoes they give you when you rent a tuxedo.

Ugly stupid shoes.

He glanced at his watch. "Shoot" he thought "I'll never make it!"

Still, he was in a hurry and shoes or no shoes he had to go.

Wait a minute! No shoes! What a good idea.

So he kicked off the shoes and ran down an alley.

Suddenly he burst through the door just in time.

Panting loudly, he whimpered "here... this... returned" and handed the clerk a stack of VHS tapes of episodes of "Nova."

The cashier grinned.

Not a nice grin, mind you, a mean grin. The kind of grin that people get when they are getting revenge.

"Sir," the cashier said "you missed our cut off for returns. These are now late."

Smitty felt the pang of regret as he bit his lip. All that running for nothing! What will he do now? Will he have to pay a late fee? What will become of his shoes?

He held back tears.

Suddenly the cashier turned back to Smitty and handed him the tapes.

"Sir, these aren't from our store. They are from the other store across town." the cashier mumbled. "They won't be due back there until tonight."

So Smitty took the tapes back home and watched them again and again.

Later that week he went to a surprise party.

Friday, September 23, 2005

An interview with a book (entitled October Surprise)


Sure, anyone can READ a book, but how many people do you know that have actually talked to a book?

Aside from my crazy uncle (who also had "relations" with a butter separating machine) I am the only one I know.

So, I present my interview with a book.

SWEETIE: What's up, Book?
BOOK: Same old, same old.
SWEETIE: So, what is it like being a book?
BOOK: Pretty similar to being a magazine.
SWEETIE: Is it like being a pamphlet.
BOOK: What?!?! I oughta smack you upside the head for that. Pamphlets are losers.
SWEETIE: Stupid pamphlets.
BOOK: Right on.
SWEETIE: So, what is the October Surprise that your cover speaks of?
BOOK: Something to do with the hostages during the Olympics or something.
SWEETIE: You haven't read yourself?
BOOK: Not all the way through. I am more into books on tape.
SWEETIE: You like to listen to them?
BOOK: No! I date them. Are you suggesting that I am not all man?
SWEETIE: What?
BOOK: Cause I am all man and then some, brother! You can take that to the bank.
SWEETIE: I will.
BOOK: And that's the name of that tune.
SWEETIE: It sure is.
BOOK: Now were cooking with gas.
SWEETIE: The copper-top.
BOOK: Huh?
SWEETIE: I thought we were quoting commercials.
BOOK: No.
SWEETIE: What do you think of movies made about books?
BOOK: Look, I consider myself progressive and all that, you know?
SWEETIE: Sure.
BOOK: I'm pretty liberal, I voted for Kerry.
SWEETIE: Sure, but what do you think of movies made about books?
BOOK: I don't feel comfortable with it. I think all that cross-dressing is just weird.
SWEETIE: Me too.
BOOK: Wanna curl up with me? People love to curl up with a good book!
SWEETIE: Uh, no.
BOOK: Prude.

The town of Surprise

Hidden in the state of Nebraska lies Surprise! A little town that is named surprise.

Surprising?

Surprise is part of Butler County. An early Butler settler was a man named George Miller. George built a dam and was able to power his mill just using the power of the stream.

George found this result Surprising, and decided that he would name the area "Unexpected."

The next day he changed it to "Surprise."

In the 2004 film The Butterfly Effect Eric Stoltz plays a man named George Miller.

I have never seen the movie, but I bet it is about George and his dam. They probably gave him a best friend that's a talking butterfly (with the voice of Ashton Kutcher) hence the title. Stupid Hollywood.

As time went on, Surprise became a desirable place to set up shop. Many businesses decided to come because of the proximity to the railroad. Others came because they heard there were leprechauns there. Still others came because they had got drunk and told someone that there were leprechauns there and they wanted to see if that person REALLY went there looking for leprechauns.

I read on the internet that Surprise no longer receives postal service since the population has dipped below fifty.

There are less than fifty people there.

I have an apartment near mine that has about 50 guys living in it. It only has one bedroom. Most of them bus tables at the local diner.

I bet they could take on the entire town of Surprise in a fight.

Shanghi Surprise

Starring Madonna and then husband Sean Penn and produced by one of the Beatles, Shanghi Surprise is one of the most notorious film flops of the 1980s.

Still, it's not that bad.

The film takes place in Shanghi in 1937. Yes, Madonna talks and acts like a girl from the valley in 1986. However, Penn is interesting and even charming in his role.

Of set, that was another story.

Penn was, as usual, stirring up trouble with the press. He got into many fights with reporters (verbal and otherwise) and producer George Harrison tried as hard as he could to maintain peace.

After it was over, Harrison lambasted Penn for being unprofessional.

Take that, Penn, you have been lambasted by a Beatle!

LAMBASTED.

I'd put that on my resume.

Sweetie Guy Hutchinson

Occupation:
2004-2005: Writer (sort of) bunchojunk.com
2005-Present: Beatle Lambastee


The plot of the film has something to do with opium and a bomb.

Also, they were in Shanghi and someone was surprised.

Here is some dialogue I think may have been in the film.

MADONNA: Oh what will we do with all this opium?
PENN: Perhaps I can blow it up with this bomb.
MADONNA: Oh yeah! That would be 'the bomb!' Get it?
PENN: I thought this film was made in 1986, not 1996.
MADONNA: Who cares, the whole picture is a bomb.

Anyway, Shanghi Surprise was the Gigli of its day. You can probably find it in a discount bin at Wal-Mart for $5.

It's actually worth it. The plot is mediocre, but the visuals are stunning. The look of this film is truly something to behold.

Maybe that was the 'surprise.'

Surprise! The movie(s)

Surprise isn't that great of a name for a movie. It doesn't really convey anything. Is it romantic? Is it scary? Who knows?

Still, in the history of film, many have chosen this name as a movie title. Let us take a look at some of them:

Surprise (1923)
This was an animated short film from the Max Fleischer cartoon studios.
Fleischer was best known for the Popeye and Superman cartoons.
I don't know what surprise was about. Maybe it was where Superman revealed himself to be Popeye. Or Popeye got a SUPRISE call from the doctor informing him that his misshapen arms were a result of poor circulation and that Popeye would likely die of a heart attack in the next few hours. Surprise!

Surprise! (1935)
A live action short, there is little information here about this one. Here is what I know:
Vivian Duncan played Vivian and 'Eva' - Perhaps the surprise was that Vivian WAS Eva!
and
Jay Seiler played the Eccentric dancer - I have heard of EXOTIC dancers, but 'eccentric?' What does that mean? Does he dance while washing his hands till they bleed to kill germs? Does he wear tissue boxes on his feet as he dances? Is he paying Vivian to be Eva? I wish I knew.

Jing hun ji (1956) - AKA Surprise
我不知道关于这部电影。我知道它是从香港。我希望它担任主角知道空手道的动画片狗。那会是宜人的惊奇。

Surprise! (1995)
Also a short film, this is about a man who sets booby traps around the bed to kill his wife when she awakes. Then he is surprised when no one believes he should go to golf courses to try and find the real killer.

Surprise! (1996)
This comedy apparently had the tagline "Carol has made Steve a GREAT 50th surprise party! But where the hell is Steve?"
I bet Steve realized that no good has ever come from calling a movie "Surprise."
Or maybe he died of poor circulation.

Supplies!

I don't think I have ever laughed so hard at one word in my life.

Supplies!

Back in 1989 "Weird Al" Yankovic's film UHF opened in theaters. The film was funny, really funny.

First time I saw it, it was presented as a sneak preview before the Richard Pryor flick See No Evil, Hear No Evil. I was dropped off at the theater with very specific instructions NOT to stay for See No Evil, Hear No Evil. I don't recall if it was because that film was rated 'R' or if it was because that film got out too late.

Either way I wanted to see See No Evil, Hear No Evil in the worst way. Well, not EXACTLY in the worst way. I guess the worse way to see it would have been projected onto the backs of dozens of dead puppies.

But I wanted to see it very much.

Today, the restrictions are off, and I have no desire to see it. Funny how life is.

Speaking of which, UHF was being pushed as one of the silliest films ever made. The poster featured the tag line "TV the way it was meant to be seen, in a movie theater."

When we got to the theater, the line for UHF was HUGE!! Full of old, stuffy looking people. What on earth were they doing here? They could not be here for the hilarity! Perhaps they read the movie's tagline and thought that they would just be handed a remote control upon purchasing their ticket. Maybe they just wanted to watch "The Golden Girls" the way it was 'meant to be seen.'

The puzzle was soon solved when a theater manager announced that the newspaper featured a 'typo.'

Tonight's sneak preview is UHF, not When Harry Met Sally.

The line cleared up quickly and all that was left was: me, my friend and a guy reading a Groo comic book.

The movie made me laugh and laugh. I don't want to do a scene by scene recap, instead I just want to tell you about the jokes I didn't 'get.'

There was a bunch of em.

Today, after watching the film on DVD, I think I 'get' all of them.

This isn't to say I didn't LAUGH; I just had no idea why I was laughing.

Joke 1: "This means something, this is important."
In a reference to the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind Al builds a tower of mashed potatoes and repeats the famous line. I had never seen that film and didn't know it was a reference.

Joke 2: "Badgers? Badgers? We don't need no stinking badgers."
Once again it's a film reference that I didn't get. A sly take on the famous line from The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. This is a very famous line, but I and the few other people in the theater just weren't equipped to understand references to films from the 1940s. Too bad the old people didn't stay. They would have 'got' this. They would still hate it, but they would have 'got' it.

Joke 3: "Red rum"
This time the reference was to the film The Shining. Al delivers the line after being threatened by one of the thugs in the film.
I always though he said "dead wrong" and just used a funny voice. Looking back at it, the reference makes no sense and isn't funny. "Dead wrong" in a funny voice IS! Odd.

Joke 4: "Supplies"
Finally. This was said by an Asian character as he jumped out of the supply closet. Get it supplies? Because of the stereotype of Asian having trouble pronouncing the letter "r."
I didn't get it because at the time my knowledge of racist jokes and caricature was limited. Thanks to "Weird Al" I have a better understanding of how to be a bigot.

Gerald Ford: The Surprise President

Gerald Ford was never ELECTED President.

Listen closely and you can hear a slack-jawed yokel say "har dee har, neither was Bush."

Listen even closer and you can hear some erudite professor say "amusingly, neither was Benjamin Harrison."

Well, the hell with both of them.

Ford is a much more interesting case.

Gerald Ford was Richard Nixon's VP, but he didn't run with him. Nixon's running mate was Spiro Agnew.

Despite having one of the coolest names in the history of politics, Agnew resigned his office, awash in scandal.

Nixon then left office in the (unrelated) Watergate Scandal.

Thus Ford became President without ANYONE in the country voting him into office. In fact he had only briefly been acting as Vice President.

He was probably as surprised as anyone.

Ford had been a successful politician for many years when he assumed the Presidency.

As President, Ford granted former President Nixon a full pardon. He made it his goal was to curb inflation. He also worked to sustain the economy and maintain U. S. power and prestige during the Cold War.

Ford was defeated in his bid for... uh... I guess ELECTION! The victor was Jimmy Carter.

The race is said to have had all the excitement of a Tiger/Mariners game.



FUN FACTS ABOUT GERALD FORD:

Went to Yale.

Played football for the University of Michigan.

Was born in Nebraska.



FUN FACTS I JUST MADE UP ABOUT GERALD FORD:

Used to sign bills with the phrase "built Ford tough."

Wanted to paint the White House brick red so that it would be "easier to keep clean."

Recorded two rap albums under the name KRS-One.

"Surprise" on eBay

eBay is pretty much the first place when I look to find ANYTHING!

If I need a new cell phone, eBay!

A new couch? eBay!!

If I can't find my car keys? eBay!!!

If I want a mail order bride from Russia, by Monday, WITHOUT a mustache? eBay!!!!

Today I just stuck the word "surprise" into the eBay search engine. Here is what I found:

Unique workmans LUNCH BOX pail -surprise inside- STURDY

Oh man I am excited about this one! A surprise inside!!! What could it be???

I hope it's his severed head. Or maybe a nude picture of Eleanor Roosevelt. Let me take a look in the description.

Ugh.

The surprise is that there are stickers stuck to the inside from old apples and oranges. I'll pass on this.

POSTMAN PAT - Postman Pat's Big Surprise - Video

I have never heard of him, but I guess Postman Pat is some sort of cartoon character. For just $0.99 you get 5 episodes. Of course that price is in England money, so that could be worth $75 here. Or maybe an amount so low that it couldn't exist in the U.S.

Either way, it would be worth the currency exchange just to discover Postman Pat's surprise.

I bet it either:

A) He's gay
B) He once peed in a mail slot
or
C) He's gay and he peed into a mail slot


Stacking Surprise Octopus

Finally, we have this little toy. Here is the eBay description:

"Offers baby four rings to stack, bold colors and patterns, a mix of tactile fabrics, as well as entertaining sound effects and music. When baby places one of the rings on the stacking base this character comes to life with a sound effect and a tune. These rings are attached with a mix of fabric extensions that offer bright bold colors and black & white for both a visual and tactile experience."

That doesn't sound so surprising! What the heck is the surprise? Maybe it contains trace amounts of lead.

SURPRISE!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Me, Jimmy and Mr. T

On September 3, 2003 I was living in an apartment in Santa Monica, California.

On that PARTICULAR night I was playing E. T.: The Extraterrestrial on Atari and wishing that I had gone to Disneyland that day. See, just a few hours earlier I had been trying to decide where to eat dinner. I wanted to take the trip to Anaheim, but no one wanted to go with me.

So I settled for some Subway sandwiches and Atari.

These details are not important; I'm just padding the story.

Later I received a call from a friend who proceeded to talk about God-knows-what before ending the call with "oh, by the way, I heard Mr. T is on Jimmy Kimmel this week."

WHAT???

How did I not know this? Mr. T! The toughest man in the world was 20 minutes away and NOBODY told me.

I shut off the Atari and we headed to Hollywood.

I parked the car in the $10 Highland parking lot for $10. This bit of information isn't really padding. See, normally I would look for street parking for a buck an hour or I would park a couple blocks down on Cahuenga for $1.50 for 3 hours. The Highland lot is for suckers.

I didn't care about being a sucker, I knew that lot would be half empty and that I could park and get across the street QUICKLY.

So I turned off Hollywood Blvd. and into parked my car in the lot.

Did you know that the first indications of constructed roads date from about 4000 BC? Sure there was not parking until... alright maybe this is too much padding.

I paid and went to the El Capitan Theater. This complex is owned by Disney and home to Jimmy Kimmel Live. I had never seen the show live and I had only seen it on TV a couple of times. Still, I knew they start taping around that time of night AND they often solicit pedestrians to go to the taping.

I walked around the building wearing my blue Mr. T T-shirt hoping to find someone that would let me in.

I didn't exactly have a plan yet, but I had some visions of finding a weak and timid man and taking his tickets. Or a woman, I could probably steal tickets from a woman. If she was small and DIDN'T have a purse.

I have seen Ruth Buzzi hit men with her purse. I never want that to happen to me.

Luckily it didn't come to that. An intern out front asked me if I wanted to go to the show commenting "Mr. T is on tonight" as she saw my shirt.

Soon we were seated in the back of the theater. It is a pretty large audience as TV shows go, and we were WAAAAAAY in the back.

About 10 minutes before show time a man in a headset came and asked me how many were in my party. I told him.

So he went up to the front of the theater and made a group of old people get up and switch seats with us.

SUCKERS! I bet they parked at Highland, too!

Then, moments before show time I saw a door open a little bit on the stage. In the small space I could see Mr. T's hand. It was easy to recognize with the two giant gold and diamond rings on his fingers. His hand seemed to point at me. Then another hand appeared clearly pointing at me. Or the lady in front of me. But let her write her own story.

Then a cameraman came over and stood next to me. He pointed the camera at me, but said nothing.

The show started. Twenty minutes went by. Jimmy did a monologue and a staged skit. The camera man kept pointing the camera.

Then Jimmy introduced Mr. T. Mr. T came out wearing the SAME shirt as me. I have about 10 different shirts with Mr. T on them, so how cool is that! Anyway Mr. T's interview ended the cameraman leaned over and whispered in my ear "When we go to commercial, I want you to pose with your shirt for the camera."

I nodded to signify that I understood, but truly, I didn't.

Pose with my shirt? Like one of those Madonna "Vogue" poses? Or should I pose like Hulk Hogan and then rip the shirt off. Or, would it be good to remove the shirt and point at it, like when Vanna poses with the letters on Wheel of Fortune.

So many ways to pose.

Well, the break came soon and he pointed at me for me to "pose."

So I pointed at the shirt, gave a thumbs up, pointed again and then gave pointed up the "our team is #1 gesture" and then I pointed for a third time.

At this point I realized that I did not know any other gestures that were not obscene so I just shook my fist.

That night I watched the tape and there I was shaking my fist and pointing. I wish I had done the thumbs up again. Oh, well. On TV I just kinda looked like one of those crazy angry sports fans. Only more sober.

The best thing was that the camera slowly faded from Mr. T to me, so for a split second me and Mr. T were on TV together.

Mr. T was the co-host so he came back on stage several times during the night. At one point during a break I made eye contact with him. He pointed at me and shouted "My man, come here!"

So I walked towards him and a security guard stepped between us and started to push me back (just crowd control, not violently.) Mr. T then pushed the security guard out of the way and shook hands with me.

"They told me you were out there with my shirt on. I was hoping I would get to say 'hi'" he said.

I babbled something incoherent back to him about how cool he was and then shook hands and walked away.

This was not the first time I had met Mr. T, but I was still awestruck around him. I have never been awestruck around other celebrities, either. But, hey, Mr. T is way cool.

After the show I saw a line where the 'autograph hounds' hang out. I waited with them until Mr. T came out. He was out soon after and stopped to sign a bunch of autographs and take photos.

I took one with him, but at the time I was using a digital camera that would take FOREVER to take a photo. The photo I ended up with looked like most of the photos that camera took: people staring at the camera with a puzzled look on their faces.

"Did it take the picture already?"
"Is the camera broken?"
"Maybe it has a dead battery?"

Any of these quotes could be in a thought bubble above our heads.

Maybe I prefer the photo of me shaking my fist and pointing.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Chester A. Arthur: The Gentleman Boss

Born on October 5, 1829, Chester Alan Arthur was to become the 21st President of the United States.

Arthur was born in the town of Fairfield, Vermont close to the Canadian border. Political rivals later circulated rumors that he had been born in Canada, to create doubts to his eligibility the American Presidency and simply because no one in the U.S. really ever trusts Canadians. I sure find them shifty. Always watching hockey and eating maple syrup! What are you trying to hide Canada? What is your filthy secret???

The truth, however, was simply that Arthur was born near the Canadian border. His parents were William Arthur and Malvina Stone.

Arthur attended public school and in his early 20s he became principal of an academy in North Pownal, Vermont. It is assumed that he would remind children that "I am not your 'princi-PULL' I am your 'princi-PAL' and that is because I am your pal!"

It is also assumed that he would pick his nose when he felt no one was looking.

A few years later, in 1854, he begin law practice in New York City. His legal work often focused on equal rights for blacks who objected as he worked to desegregate city transportation.

In October 1859 Arthur married Hellen "Nell" Lewis Hern. Hellen (not a typo) was unwilling to take Arthur's last name at first because, as she said, "look how many danged names I have! When I sign a check I always have to write 'continued on other side.'"

Hellen later relented and took Arthur's name.

Arthur served as acting quartermaster general of the state during the Civil War. Although the title SOUNDS important the 'quartermaster general of the state' has only one job "to give the soldiers change when they enter an arcade, a Laundromat or need to make a call from a pay phone."

Arthur became Vice President of the United States with Republican President James Garfield in 1881. President Garfield was assassinated months later and, on September 19, 1881, Arthur became President of the United States.

Arthur was a very society-conscious president, earning him the nickname "the Gentleman Boss" for his fancy style of dress and sophisticated manner.

Although popular, Arthur was not re-nominated for an additional term.

His accomplishments as President including helping to establish the Greenwich Meridian which has something to do with maps and the Prime Meridian.



FUN FACTS ABOUT CHESTER A. ARTHUR:

Mark Twain once wrote "It would be hard indeed to better President Arthur's administration."

His other nickname was "Elegant Arthur."

He would often change his pants several times a day.

Is buried in Albany, New York.



FUN FACTS I JUST MADE UP ABOUT CHESTER A. ARTHUR:

Once considered changing his middle initial "A" to the word "An" so as to be more grammatically accurate.

Wrestled Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF heavyweight championship.

His third nickname was "C Double A." He hated that nickname.

Started a war with Costa Rica over an aggressive game of 'pin the tail on the donkey.'

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Microwave Massacre

It may be the greatest film of all time.

Microwave Massacre stars Jackie Vernon. Jackie's most famous role was of the voice of Frosty in the famous "Frosty the Snowman" TV special.

Remember that jolly voice that said "Happy Birthday" when he came to life? Now imagine that voice saying "if you scream I will cut you from ear to ear." The film was released in 1983 and played to the public's fascination with a brand new invention of the microwave.

The film tells the story of a man who hates his wife and so he kills her. The main reason he hated her is because she couldn't cook. So after killing her he eats her.

Yummy, cannibalism.

The film is full of shlocky gore. In fact at least every other scene features Jackie licking food dye and karo syrup blood off a rubber hand.

After eating his wife, our hero begins to kill prostitutes and eat them.

Sure, if that is all that happened Microwave Massacre would still be an awesome film. But there is more, much more.

The film is funny. Often in the most cornball of ways, but definitely funny.

Absurd out of place props are in abundance throughout the film and the dialogue features many groan inducing puns and jokes.

One example of the dialogue is:

Jackie: I have to go to Chinatown tonight. I want to pick up some Peking chick.
Someone else: Don't you mean Peking duck?
Jackie: No, Peking chick!

Get it? He is picking up a girl from Peking. He calls her a "chick." Calling her a duck would just be silly.

Still not laughing? At one point the Peking chick dons a chicken suit.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

Also, his wife's head seems to live on inside the fridge to torment him and at the end she gets her revenge. What a great film.

The reason I bought this tape was the video box:

At first glance it just looks like another film starring Nathan Lane as a chef.

Closer inspection finds a woman in a microwave and more importantly a "push to start" button.

Press it and nothing happens. Go to the drug store and buy two watch batteries that cost $5 ($3 more than the tape itself) and press the button and it buzzes.

Buzz.

I guess that is the sound we associate with microwaves. Also two lights (one red and one green) blink intermittently.

The greatest joys in life may very well be the little things.

Buzz.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Dumbo II

For many years the Walt Disney Company produced some of the most beloved films ever made. And for almost all of those years they resisted the urge that seems to plague all filmmakers: THE SEQUEL.

The first motion picture was entitled The Train. It was shot by Thomas Edison and featured 30 seconds of a train going into a tunnel. This was almost immediately followed by a sequel entitled The Train 2: The Revenge. It is worth noting that that time "it was personal."

So, like it or not, sequels have been around for a long time.

Only a few of our greatest films have been left "unsequeled." (Note to self: Copyright the word "unsequeled" then see if you can sue someone.)

This is not to say that all sequels are bad, or even that sequels in general are a bad thing. I love sequels. The reason for me is that I am lazy when it comes to entertainment. I don't like to think. Sequels tend to make you think less than non-sequels. You already know all the characters, you don't have to learn a bunch of new names, heck, even the plots are usually similar. This is very pleasing to my cinematic laziness. If only they could put some couches in the theater so I could lay down as I watch sequel it would be the perfect experience. Oh, and they could provide me with two beautiful women, one to fan me and the other to feed me nachos.

GOD BLESS, GOD BLESS SEQUELS AND GOD BLESS AMERICA!

Many sequels have been highly acclaimed like The Godfather part II and Superman II. For some reason eliminating Marlon Brando from these two epic sagas made people happy.

I wish they made E. T. 2. I would have called it E2: The MORE Extra Terrestrial. E. T. could return to stop Drew Barrymore from making Riding in Cars with Boys, Boys on the Side and Bad Girls. Instead she could make Riding in Cars with Girls, Girls on the Side and Bad Boys.
Then they could make a third E. T. where he searches for Elliot's older brother but no one remembers what happened to him.

The problem with sequels is that they often tend to be WORSE than the original. This shouldn't surprise people, since they generally only make sequels of the best and most successful movies. And The Whole Nine Yards. They made a sequel for that, too.

Disney resisted the sequels for many years. Most of their films remained the same after the credits rolled and the characters were stuck in that time and place forever.

In 1977 Disney released a film called The Rescuers. The film was a hit, and they decided in 1990 that it was time to release a sequel this time calling the film The Rescuers Down Under.

With the template set, Disney eventually decided to produce sequels to the hit film Aladdin. Unlike the Rescuers Down Under the Aladdin sequel (The Return of Jafar) was released "straight to video" and tossed aside the rich story telling and emotional content of Aladdin in favor of a more slapstick film.

This isn't to say that the film is bad, but it is definitely different.

Soon Disney was making a sequel to any film they could find in their library. I have enjoyed most of these films. They fit right into my entertainment laziness AND they are usually just over an hour long. I wish EVERY film was just over an hour long!

So recently I was watching the DVD for Walt Disney's Classic film Dumbo. Hidden among the bonus features was a featurette on the making of Dumbo II.

"Dumbo II?" I shouted "But, I bought this DVD in 2001! Why wasn't this film released yet?" Puzzled, I called over my wenches to fan me and feed me nachos.

"We are out of nachos. I did find some Fritos." She said.

I nodded.

"That is strange," she said "strange that Dumbo II was not released and even stranger that this article has changed tone severely in the past few paragraphs! Why does it sound like a Beverly Cleary book all the sudden?

I had no answers. In fact, I have no answers as to what happened to the Dumbo II project. Some web sites speculate that the project was put on hold indefinitely because it wasn't moving forward as expected.

All I know is what I saw in this "making of" documentary.

The documentary features (among others) Jeannine Roussel. Jeannine is the producer of such Disney sequels as Aladdin 3, Pocahontas 2 and Lady and the Tramp 2.

Jeannine tell us about some of the new animals we will see in Dumbo II. All of the animals are meant to represent a different stage of childhood. I think she said there was a hippo that was a "know it all" and an ostrich that wasn't potty trained. I can't be certain I had dropped a Frito behind the couch and was thus distracted at that point.



They also provided us a look at the animation storyboard process. Here a chubby old guy in a yellow shirt dances as he co-workers laugh, blissfully unaware that they would soon lose their jobs and there would be no Christmas presents under their trees that year.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Mr. T in Disney Magazine

About a year and a half ago I was reading the (now defunct) Disney Magazine and I thought "This is a great magazine, too bad it suffers from a lack of Mr. T."

I went to sleep that night and awoke in the morning refreshed and with a new goal: to get Mr. T in Disney Magazine.

This turned out to be very easy. Mr. T has a small cameo in the film Inspector Gadget. Here's how I described it on bunchojunk.com in an article titled The Ten Greatest Minor Characters In Movie History:
6. MR. T IN INSPECTOR GADGET (1999)
Cool. Finally we get to the one and only Mr. T. I am excited!
At the conclusion of the otherwise mediocre 'Inspector Gadget' we got a plethora of awesome cameos. First Don Adams as the voice of Brain the dog, then we get a Minions Anonymous meeting.
This was a pretty funny concept, a group of henchmen together in an 'AA meeting' setting. One of them is dressed as Tonto, one as Tattoo, one as Odd Job etc.
Sitting in the front row is Richard Kiel, famous for his role as Eegah in the film 'Eegah'. You may also remember him as 'Jaws' from the James Bond films (or maybe he played James Bond in the 'Jaws' films) either way, he had metal teeth.
Next to Kiel is Mr. T. Mr. T is smiling and clapping along with the rest of the Minions. What makes his appearance so special (other than the fact that he is Mr. T, damn it!) is that he is not sporting his famous Mohawk (or Mandinka) haircut, nor is he wearing his trademark gold chains. No, Mr. T is sitting there with some grey hair in his beard and a sleeve-less denim jacket to show off his biceps. Mr. T looks surprisingly different in Inspector Gadget, and for that alone he makes the list.

So I wrote an email to the Disney Magazine's Dave Smith for his "Ask Dave" column. I asked if that was Mr. T in the movie. Of course I knew it was. Heck, his name is IN THE CREDITS!
Someone must have liked it because in about 45 minutes I received the answer and a note asking if I would call a voice mail number and give them permission to use the letter.
I made the call and a few months later I found the letter in the back of the magazine. Not only was the letter there, but it was accompanied by a photo!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Coloring Book: Picture This


Yes sir, you can be Smokey's helper! Isn't that cool? Just add your face over the giant egg!

Smokey just asks that you not play with matches. I think you can't sell photos of him to the paparazzi, either.

That’s a shame because I have a juicy shot of him leaving a seedy hotel with one of the Care Bears. I think it was Tender Heart Bear or maybe it was Skanky Tramp Bear. I don't remember.

But who cares! I'm Smokey's helper. All I have to do is NOT start fires. You know what? Smokey reminds me of a friend of mine in high school. His name was Ben and one day he came into school and started talking about motorcycles. He loved stupid motorcycles. If ya asked him what he thought of the NAFTA trade situation he would find a way to steer the conversation back to motorcycles. Eventually I just tried to avoid him.

Smokey is probably just like Ben. At first you are interested in the whole 'preventing fires' thing because HE is interested. But after a while you just wanna hit 'em with a shovel.

I think I will give this page to Ben. He was badly injured in a motorcycle accident during college. Now HE kinda looks like a giant egg. He won't even have to draw his face!



Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Mr. Matzah


Oh look at that! According to his tag he's "genuine." He's also "huggable." Plus he wishes you a "Happy Passover."

What more you want? I wonder if he has been duly blessed by a rabbi. Is he kosher? Can we eat him?

I like his sandals. Very 'Old Testament.' I'm not so sure about the hat, that's not very 'Old Testament.' That’s more 'new Arizona Diamondbacks.'

I love matzah ball soup. I just hope Mr. Matzah doesn't find out. Poor guy would start wearing a cup.

Snooch to the Nooch

Shooting Location: Quick Stop and RST Video
Film: Clerks
Year of Release: 1994
Actual Location: 58/60 Leonard Avenue, Leonardo NJ
Number of Cupcakes in a Baker's Dozen: Either 13 or 11. I forget which. It may be 13 because he makes an extra one to taste. Or it's 11 because he made 12 and tasted one. Stupid baker.

I have met a handful of celebrities in my life (click here to see a list) but I have found that one thing often thrills me even more than meeting a movie star, going to a movie location.

I am not sure why, but I have a theory: when you meet a celebrity often it makes them seem more real, more normal. But when you walk onto a location that was once a set, you are walking on to a place that was "make believe" and for a moment it feels like you are IN the movie.

So, it shouldn't surprise you that this run down shopping center in New Jersey seemed like a utopia to me the other day.

If you haven't heard of it before, Clerks was a very small, independent film that ended up being a solid theatrical hit. Clerks cost $27 thousand dollars and made $3 million dollars at the box office.

The film takes place, almost entirely, at this convenience store and video store in Leonardo. The film was followed by four pseudo sequels some of which shot more footage at the store.

It even spawned a cartoon series that was cancelled after two episodes.

Soon Clerks director Kevin Smith will return to Leonardo to shoot Clerks 2.

I had been to the Quick Stop and RST Video before, but not for quite a few years. As I drove on the NJ Turnpike I wondered 'Will it be the same?' 'Will I recognize it?' and 'What in God's name is that smell?'

Luckily it hadn't really changed, and the smell was just New Jersey.


RST Video is one of those small 'mom and pop' video stores that unfortunately you don't find enough of anymore. The name "RST" stands for Rajiv, Sarla and Tarlochen the three members of the family that own the store.

I love the sign. Some odd graffiti logo and words boldly proclaiming "VHS & NINTENDO." It's like you stumbled into a time machine. Then foolishly took that time machine to 1990 AND Leonardo NJ when you could have gone to a place and time that was far more exciting.

Last time I went to RST they had a cashier working there that spent about twenty minutes telling me about the film "The People Under the Stairs." Then he showed me the video box. I offered to rent it and he told me it was "banned" in the United States and he could go to jail for renting it to me. It was very strange.

Luckily, he was not there on the day I visited. Unluckily, the store was closed. A sign in the window simply read "store closed." Nothing more. Through the window the store looked the same.

Has the store finally gone out of business? Or has someone overslept and forgot to open it? I am puzzled about this as I am about the baker's dozen.

If I had to make a choice, I’d bet it's closed for good. The VHS and Nintendo market ain't what it used to be.

RATING: *** (out of four)


This brings us to the Quick Stop. This place was most defiantly NOT closed. In fact, it was absurdly busy. A non-stop stream of customers buying lottery tickets. Seriously. That seemed to be what every other customer bought.

The store looked exactly the same as it did last time I was there. Also, it looked the same as it did in the film. Heck, it probably looked the same as it did in 1974.

The store is very small inside. Also it is not a rectangle shaped store, it's kind of an isosceles triangle (I knew geometry would pay off for me one day!)

The store is small, but defiantly very cool. It is full of those odd convenience store items like cheap toys and mini sewing kits. Some of the old stock items are probably so old that they were on set during filming.

I spent a few minutes looking around and then grabbed an iced tea and some pork rinds and was on my way.

RATING: ************** (out of eleven - which may be a baker's dozen.)

Friday, September 09, 2005

My Top 20 Favorite Amusement Parks

I love amusement parks. I love the rides, the show and the escape from reality.

I realized that in the past few years I have been to over 20 theme parks. But, I have been to less than 25. So, I present to you MY top 20:

20. Dutch Wonderland: Located in the heart of Amish Country in Pennsylvania, this is a very small park with rides that are best described as quaint. Still, they have a giant pink dragon mascot and a pretty cool train that circles the park. This park is geared towards the younger set, but it's still worth a visit.

19. TIE DisneyQuest/AdventureDome: I figured I would put these both together since they are the only indoor amusement parks I have ever been to.

DisneyQuest: A state of the art park inside a giant building in Downtown Disney at the Orlando Florida Walt Disney World resort. The park is small, but has some pretty neat, state of the art, simulator rides. This includes a Virtual Jungle Cruise, Cyber Space Mountain and a Buzz Lightyear themed bumper car attraction.
It's not the greatest, but it is certainly different from any other park in the world.

AdventureDome: Located inside Las Vegas' Circus Circus hotel, this is the world's largest indoor amusement park. Featuring a rollercoaster, miniature golf and more. It is one of the few things to do in Las Vegas if you don't gamble, do drugs or solicit hookers. Of course if ya don't like that stuff what the hell are you doing in Las Vegas?

18. Busch Gardens Virginia: A fun theme park with different themed lands and several roller coasters. They also have a 3-D movie featuring Christopher Lloyd and Weird Al.

17. Six Flags Great Adventure: This giant park features about 50 or so rides, but all of them can be fit into 3 categories: "steel rollercoaster," "log fume" or "spinning carnival ride." Still, it's a fun place to spend a day and you can get a photo with Yosemite Sam.
Just next door (and included in admission price) is one of the coolest places in the world: Six Flags Wild Animal Safari. Here you get to drive your car down a highway full of rhinos and giraffes.

16. Dorney Park: A classic coaster park, Dorney also features occasional appearances from Snoopy and friends. When you visit them, ask why in God's name their strip was called "Peanuts." Dorney is in Allentown Pennsylvania.

15. Hershey Park: Located by the Hershey Chocolate factory in Hershey, PA, this park is supposedly themed "entirely around chocolate." If this is the case, candy bars must love high speed, looping, steel roller coasters.

14. Lake Compounce: A cute little place that is considered the oldest of all amusement parks. It has an incredible "ski lift" type ride that takes you waaaaaay up a hill. It goes so far up the hill that it takes about 30 minutes to come back down. The park also features Garfield and Odie. When you visit them, ask why in God's name Garfield the Movie sucked (and don't take Brekin Meyer for an answer.)

13. Paramount's King's Dominion: In Virginia Paramount has made a fantastic themed park. The park features rides and shows themed to Scooby Doo, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Spongebob. You can dine in eateries themed to Forrest Gump and Happy Days.

12. Sea World San Diego: The first of Sea World's famous parks, this one suffers only from having a small space. Still, you have Shamu and I love Shamu.

11. Disney Studios (AKA Disney MGM Studios): The smallest of Disney's Florida parks (not including Disney Quest) this is THE place to ride Rockin' Roller Coaster and the Great Movie ride.

10. Sesame Place: The little park in the parking lot of a Langhorne, PA mall has changed a whole lot over the years. The park now features the Super Grover Vapor Trail rollercoaster as well as a handful of rides that are fun for adults as well as kids. I love to go just to get my picture with Big Bird. I usually ask him why in God's name did Garfield the Movie suck.

9. Disney's California Adventure: The second park at the Disneyland resort in California is themed to its home state. The park has a fantastic "hang gliding" ride called Soarin' over California.

8. Universal Studios Florida: Although this park (like Disney Studios) is not ACTUALLY a studio it's still a whole lot of fun. My favorite ride is the awesome simulator, Back to the Future.

7. Sea World Orlando: Shamu is here of course (and I have publicly professed my love for him - see #12) but this park beats it's San Diego cousin by having some of the most amazing rides anywhere. One ride, Journey into Atlantis, is perhaps the most unique ride I have ever seen. Its park dark ride, part roller coaster and part log flume ride.

6. Universal Studios Hollywood: This IS a real movie studio and thus the movie back lot tour is awesome! You get to see real sets from the entire history of Universal and there is always something shooting there.

5. Animal Kingdom: Located in Walt Disney World Orlando, this is park zoo, part theme park - all fun. I think I stole that from their brochure.

4. Islands of Adventure: When building this park next to its Florida 'studio' park, Universal did something very unusual: they made a second park that was BETTER than the original. IOA was amazing and full of things to do right from the opening day. The park features a Marvel superhero section, a cartoon themed land, a Dr. Seuss section and (my favorite) Jurassic Park. This section features a full scale replica of the main building from the film and an awesome Jurassic Park log flume ride.

3. Magic Kingdom: The centerpiece of Walt Disney World in Florida, this park should be well known to most people in the world. In fact, 7 out of 10 Americans have visited either this park or Disneyland California.
At a glance, this park and Disneyland look like twins. Upon closer review, the two parks are totally different. Among the highlights of the Florida park is Stitch's Great Escape, The Hall of President's and the Carousel of Progress.

2. Epcot: Located in Orlando, this park is half World's Fair and half futuristic theme park. My favorites are Journey into Imagination, Mission: Space and El Rio Del Tiempo (think "It's a Small World" with mariachi music.)

1. Disneyland: Considered the first REAL theme park, Disneyland took the idea of an amusement park and carefully created different themed lands. Disneyland has more rides per acre then any park I have ever been to. The rides are jammed in tightly and many are exclusive to this park. Some of the highlights are Matterhorn Mountain, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride and Storybook Land Canal Boats.


What is YOUR favorite amusement park?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Spidey Web Shot

I don't remember when I ate this. In fact, I am not sure if I liked it or not. I think, it was given to me at Easter time and I am pretty sure it was a gummy candy. But I am not sure.

I found the packaging (a small piece of cardboard) stuffed inside a book. I must have been using it as a bookmark.
Speaking of bookmarks, at every bookstore they have them for sale at the register. WHY? Why on earth would someone BUY a bookmark? You can just use any scrap of paper. Why spend $3 on one with a picture of Garfield on it and a yarn tassel?

The back of the package tells us little (except that I once ate "buffered lactic acid") but a closer inspection of the FRONT is much more interesting:

With each BITE comes great power and great responsibility?
Talk about beating a catchphrase to death! Plus who wants to get responsibility from a candy? I am glad I don't have the "web shot" any more. I am not sure if I would be able to make that commitment to a candy again.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A Monkey Poster

Few things in life give me the sense of awe and wonder that this poster does.

I love this poster! First off, in the center of the poster is a monkey (O.K., technically chimpanzees are members of the great ape family, but monkey is more fun to write.)

Interestingly, the fact that a chimp is on the poster is the most NORMAL thing about it.

A few years ago I spotted this on eBay as I searched for decorations for my kitchen. I couldn't resist. But I was confused. Look at the slogan proclaimed boldly at the bottom of the poster:

Watch out, McDonalds?

Why? Because some greasy spoon has obviously skirted some animal labor laws and health code restrictions to allow a chimp to serve food? How does this threaten McDonalds? Is the chimp going to storm into a McDonalds and bite people?

Also prominent on the poster is "Suga Duga."

According to the poster Suga Duga was "crazy flavored sugar."

I think the craziest flavors were "butterscotch armpit", "old man breath", and "Gigli."

In the poster they used orange and grape. The package shows grapes (or oranges) conversing with each other about what they will taste like.

I don't know if Suga Duga was a real product. An internet search returns lots of websites featuring the words "suga duga" but none are actually speaking about this crazy sugar.

If Suga Duga was a real product and not a prop, perhaps the whole poster was an advertisement for Suga Duga. Maybe the makers of Suga Duga had a plan to topple the McDonalds Empire by giving the public what they TRULY wanted: sweeteners with a history of mental illness.

Unfortunately, I assume McDonalds watched out.

Interestingly, this image popped up on eBay again recently:

This time it was a T-Shirt iron-on. The image is the same, except it is now cut around the chimp, leaving the salt and pepper and Suga Duga prominently in the picture.

The phrase "Watch out, McDonalds!" still appears, but slightly off center.

The only additional info the seller had was that this image was "dated 1976."

I bought the iron-on, I plan to slap it on a shirt and then stroll into a McDonalds.
I hope they watch out!