Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Scout

Since King Kong came out in 1933 there have been a couple of sequels a few remakes and plenty of rip-offs.

Still, it will surprise many people to know that a 1994 baseball flick is loosely based on the story of the famous beast.


It's pretty cool, nonetheless.

The Scout stars Albert Brooks in one of the few films that he STARS in but didn't write or direct. This means he DOESN'T mug for the camera or do his insipid Woody Allen impression.

Brooks plays Al Percolo a scout for the New York Yankees. It's important to remember that the Yankees were not a great team in the early 1990s. In fact they were fresh off of 4 straight losing seasons (1989-1992) and George Steinbrenner was fresh off a suspension for paying $40,000 to dig up dirt on Dave Winfield.

The team needed King Kong.

At least that is what Percolo says. He makes a case that a scout is like Carl Denham in Kong. A scout needs to go into the jungle and bring back Kong.

After a scene where Percolo WATCHES King Kong he is sent to Mexico where he finds Steve Nebraska (Brendan Frasier.)

Nebraska is Kong, but he is also loosely based on Steve Dalkowski. Dalkowski was a legendary minor league pitcher who never made it to the majors. Dalkowski was possibly the fastest pitcher EVER. He threw( what is assumed to be) over 105 MPH. But he was also very wild. At one point he threw a ball that hit a player and knocked off part of his ear.

Steve Nebraska wasn't so wild. I bet the name "Steve Nebraska" was a bit of a play on Joe Montana, too. You know, first name is normal and the last name is also a state that no one would ever want to visit.

In the film, the Mexico locals carry Steve Nebraska to the mound on a big wooden platform. The scene plays very much like the villagers sacrificing Ann Darrow for Kong.

On the mound Steve is a phenom. He throws fast, real fast. AND he can hit.

Percolo shouts "I have found Kong!"

Then they bring him to, you guessed it, New York. The day of the big show (The World Series) Steve goes a bit nuts. Just like the big ape he climbs to the top of the building (this time Yankee Stadium) and refuses to come down.

In the end they send a helicopter to take him off the roof and the film closes with a condensed version of game one of the World Series.

The film was a poor performer at the box office due partially to the baseball strike.

It features a few good cameos from real ball players and both Steinbrenner and Tony Bennett show up as themselves. Amusingly they are both depicted as total jerks.

Really unlikable guys.

You gotta commend them for taking a part like that. Unless they were duped into the part. Or bamboozled. Or beguiled. Or, perhaps hoodwinked.

Or maybe I got a thesaurus for Christmas and I love to use it.

Looking back, the King Kong references are actually pretty important to the film. They really help drive the action, and the film is a whole lot of fun. Perhaps all it needs is for Peter Jackson to spend $200 million to make a 3 hour version of it and it too will be considered a classic.

Coloring Book: Happy New Year

Here the New Year's Baby meets the Old Year's Old Guy.

This is an illustration of the second that they both share on the planet. Then the old guy dies.

Of course this coloring book page is from 2002 so they're BOTH dead NOW.

I bet the old guy is like most old people. I bet he just keeps telling the baby that everything was "better in my day."

The baby probably just sits around and drools.

I remember 2002.

He was a little stupid.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

My Christmas Tradition

Most people have a special Christmas tradition. Even if you don't celebrate Christmas you probably have one. Perhaps you go out for Chinese food on Christmas Day. Maybe you wait for someone to wish you a "Merry Christmas" so you can get offended and say "How dare you wish me a Merry Christmas! I am not Christian!"

I know that's fun. I went to Canada last year on February 15th. Some moron wished me a "Happy 'National Flag of Canada' Day."

I'm not Canadian! Even if I was, I feel it would have been FAR more appropriate for him to say "Happy Holidays." I felt so persecuted.

So, my case is before the Canadian Supreme Court this coming spring.

Speaking of which, I like to SPRING into the new year with my Christmas tradition.

It started a few years ago by accident. My good friend Mr. Freeze handed me a nicely wrapped Christmas present.

"Oh, how nice of you! I have a gift for you too, I just forgot it at home." I said.

I was lying, and I was angry. How dare he buy me a gift! I didn't want to get him a gift and I HAD to. Well, at least I have an advantage since he gave me his first. Now I can look at it and buy him something in return that costs just a little more than his gift.

Then I opened the gift.

It was a VHS tape called "Celebrities Exposed." Whaaaaat? Why would I want this? Plus, even by looking at the box I could tell that nothing was going to be exposed in this tape. It seemed to be just random paparazzi footage.

Nothing was being exposed here except for the fact that Mr.Freeze PUT NO THOUGHT WHATSOEVER INTO HIS GIFT.

"I love it." I lied.

"I knew you would." He said. "It looks awful."


"I do like awful videos. Maybe this isn't a bad gift!" I thought.

But, to truly get the best enjoyment out of the tape I made him watch it with me. Right then, right there.

We laughed as photographers questioned Pam Anderson as to why she would go to a nightclub when she has a child. And we giggled at tediously long scenes of Rosie O'Donnell walking through an airport. We had a great time.

The next day I went to Suncoast to buy his gift. For just 99 cents I found an MTV produced tape about Dennis Rodman. That weekend we watched it laughing at how few of Dennis' words were intelligible. I am still confused to be honest with you.

We also agreed that my video, "Rodman" was worse.

The next year we did a bad video exchange and the year after that and do on and so on.

1. We must watch both films back to back after opening them. This means that the film has to be watchable.
2. No well-known bad films allowed. I always feared this would turn into a night of cliché bad flicks. I buy Gigli and he buys Waterworld. We also shy away from documentaries and such unless they look really fun. Let's face it "Roofing Made Simple" might be a bad video, but it's not really fun.
3. Tape/DVD must cost under $5. Usually I get 'em at the dollar store.

So, a cheap present provides a night of wacky entertainment. I look forward to it more than any other thing about Christmas.

1. Awkwardly composed video box. The cover usually reveals a whole lot. If they couldn't put together a decent poster they probably couldn't make a decent movie either.
2. Stars, stars, stars! The more the better. If you find a film that you have NEVER heard of, but it is full of big name actors it's a pretty good bet that it wasn't any good.
3. The 1980s. Older films are fun because they play as period pieces. And no period was more funny than the 1980s. The costumes and hair and background details are often HYSTERICAL.

Here are the match-ups we have had (including this years flicks):

1999- Celebrities Exposed (FREEZE) vs. Rodman (ME)
Rodman was the clear winner because of the strange way that MTV wasted all the stars in this film. Jenny McCarthy pretends to make out with Dennis, John Lovitz pretends to play tennis with Dennis and MTV pretends Dennis is worthy of 60 minutes of video tape.

2000- Get it Together (FREEZE) vs. Burt Reynolds Teaches Football (ME)
Burt Reynolds explaining a forward pass to a group of women was bad. Really bad. On any other year it could have been a winner. But on this year it had no chance.
Let me say this clearly: Get it Together is EASILY the worst film I have ever seen. It stars no one, but features a young Danny Devito in a couple scenes. It tells the story of a guy turning 30 and how depressing it is for him. We have yet to see anything else this bad.
ME: 1

2001- True Identity (FREEZE) vs. Deadline (ME)
Truly the darkest year of the trade. This year semi-quality films almost sucked the life out of the whole deal. True Identity was the more ludicrous of the two as it told the story of a black man who disguises himself as a white guy. Deadline was a good drama starring Christopher Walken. I couldn't think of any way to make fun of it then and I still can't.
ME: 1

2002- The Wrong Guys (FREEZE) vs. Murder on Flight 502 (ME)
The Wrong Guys is a stupid movie with a stupid cast Louie Anderson, Richard Lewis and Richard Belzer pretend to be Cub Scouts. It was an idiotic premise performed by idiots. Flight 502 was a pretty good dramatic film, but with Farrah Fawcett in the lead there were plenty of things to mock about it. We also got surprise appearances by Danny Bonaduce and Sonny Bono. A truly blessed year for bad movies, this almost ended as a tie.
Still, Murder on Flight 502 ended up the winner.
ME: 2

2003- Great Moments in History (ME) vs. Freedom (FREEZE)
This was a blowout. Freedom was a dopey action flick from some other country where they speak English with awful accents. It might have been Australia or Canada or Trenton, New Jersey. I can't recall.
It wasn't so much BAD as it was just boring.
Great Moments on the other hand had a group of puppets who spoke incessantly about Teddy Roosevelt. They sung about him too.
It must have been made by someone who was half "Jim Henson," half "an untalented hack who had no idea how to make a quality or even coherent puppet show."
ME: 3

2004- Copper Mountain (ME) vs. Mob Justice (FREEZE)
Mob Justice was a really good film. It starred Tony Danza as a hitman. It sounds hysterical, but sadly it's not. To our disappointment Tony is actually very good in the part. He seems to be a surprisingly good actor. Good for him, bad for us.
Copper Mountain was just AWFUL. I did a feature on it after we watched it last year. You can read that here.
If you don't want to read that here is a summary:
Jim Carrey does impressions of Colonel Potter from M*A*S*H and Sammy Davis Jr. as Alan Thicke mocks the overweight for 55 minutes at a ski resort.
ME: 4

2005- Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (ME) vs. Whisperkill (FREEZE)
I went into this years exchange riding high on a two year winning streak. I was brash and cocky. That's why I bent the rules and picked out the notoriously bad Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.
It was a mistake. The film was bad, but bad in a "we know we are making a schlocky flick, but we had a small budget" way. It wasn't the worst choice but it wasn't a winner either.
The winner would have to be Whisperkill. Starring Loni Anderson, this film tells the story of a person dressed as a ninja killing people in a small town. Loni is a reporter covering the murders and her partner is a some dork.
The dork was the highlight of the film, however, because he had a beard. Sometimes. Other times he had a 5 o'clock shadow. Then he might have a hairy 2 month old beard. It changed rapidly and often WITHIN a scene.
I should offer a "spoiler alert" here but is there really ANY CHANCE you would ever see this film?
Well spoiler alerts be damned because here is the ending: The ninja was really June Lockhart. Yup, the mom from Lassie. She was the murderer. Not a young June, either. Old lady ninja.
ME: 4

2006- Star Odyssey(ME) vs. Bail Out (FREEZE)
Bail Out was a fantasticly bad action flick where David Hasselhoff played a man named White Bread. Yup. White Bread. White Bread is a tennis playing bail bondsman. His partner is the great Tommy Rosales Jr.
You may remember Tommy as the guy who's head explodes at the beginning of The Running Man. Or maybe you remember him as the guy who gets sliced in half in Vampires. Either way, you saw him get killed. Tommy gets killed in almost every film I have seen him in. Except this film.
Star Odyssey was a laughably bizarre foreign film where aliens bid on the right to blow up other planets as they walked around in odd fright wigs.
And there was one guy who just did cartwheels the whole movie.
Cartwheels in outer space.
ME: 5

2007- Project Kill(ME) vs. Longshot (FREEZE)
Project Kill was an action flick without action. Starring a pre-Naked Gun Leslie Nielson, I found this 1970's era piece of junk in a Wal-Mart dollar section. I should have left it there. In the film Nielson plays a killing machine who is on the run from the government. Whille on the run he meets a girl named Lee Soup (I think) and has some run in with a dictator who has a giant lollipop on the wall of his office.
Longshot was a film from 2000 that featured a bunch of boy bands and a guy named "Tony DeCamillis." I don't know who Tony DeCamillis is, but he never did another movie after Longshot. A Google image search returns a picture of Tony Danza.
Anyway, Longshot just came off as bizarre due to an immense amount of cameos.
Wanna see a member of the band Take Five beat up The Rock? It's here.
Wanna see Gilbert Gottfried yell at Art Garfunkel? This is your film.
Wanna see Joey Fatone get hit in the head with a pizza tray? Yup... this film has it. Wanna see Kenny Rogers fly a plane? Oh yeah, it's Longshot.
Wanna see Betty White make out with Lance Bass? Actually, I may have dreamed that.
Anyway, it was a good night for Freeze... except for the fact that he had the hiccups and I had nothing to drink at my house but V8.
WINNER: Longshot
ME: 5

2008 Attack from Space (ME) vs. Atlantic City Jackpot (Freeze)
This year Freeze strutted in with a sure-fire winner. An unknown 1970s flick with Danny Devito playing a small part.
The film tells the story of guy who kidnaps a couple kids and holds them for ransom. It contains some subplot about a bad gambler and a some good footage of a 70s era McDonalds.
One problem... it's not that bad. Sure, there are bad mustaches and bad chest hair... but the movie... not that bad.
Attack from Space, on the other hand, was a wickedly bad campy Japanese film.
It tells the story of a superhero who punches bad guys in the face. Seriously, that's all I remember.
I win.
WINNER: Attack From Space
ME: 6

2009 Moving Target (ME) vs. The Swap (Freeze)
Moving Target had all the ingredients of a winner. It starred Jason Bateman and Chynna Phillips. It was made for TV and had a thread thin plot and lousy writing. It was bad.
The Swap, however, was the most gloriously rotten film I have seen in years. The story behind the making of this film is rather convoluted, but here is what I have been able to piece together from people on the IMDB's message board:
1. A film called Sam's Song was made in 1969 in NY. It starred a pre-fame Robert Deniro.
2. Ten years later a director shot a new film in L.A. and inserted about 30 minutes of Sam's Song into the film drastically changing the context and characters.
3. Syfyguy77 thinks that Robert Deniro is gay.

Anyway, this film is beyond stupid. The film jumps from coast to coast without ever explaining why and nothing really fits together. It was one of worst we have ever seen.

WINNER: The Swap
ME: 6

2010 Hip Hop Kidz (ME) vs. The Second Coming of Suzanne (Freeze)
This was a close one. Suzanne was dull as could be. It starred Richard Dreyfuss... if by starring you mean we occasionally saw him.
Hip Hop Kids was a saccharine, stupid kiddie film that showed the importance of hip hop.
WINNER: Hip Hop Kids
Me: 7

2011 The Final Goal (FREEZE) vs Unidentified Flying Oddball (ME)
This was a good year! Final goal was a dopey Erik Estrada soccer flick and Unidentified Flying oddball was a cheesy Disney film. Full write up here.
WINNER: The Final Goal
Me: 7
Freeze: 6

2012 The Last Song (FREEZE) vs Second Chance (ME)
I had trouble finding a good 'bad' movie this year. The dollar stores seemed to have less and less of the really bad junk and more overstocked mainstream pap. But, I did find a dvd with a wacky Arte Johnson dvd. It made me hopeful since he was in Great Moments In History and since they misspelled his named on the cover.
Jeff brought a Lynda Carter environmental thriller. His film started off with odd cuts and really weird edits, but settled down and played out well.
Second Chance just was all kinds of stupid. It was about a bunch of dudes who were turned into kids through a potion. It was too "adult" for kids and two dopey for adults.
When it came time for the two of us to vote, Freeze thought it was a toss up. I didn't. I really felt Second Chance was worse. No question. We eventually decided that was the case.
Interestingly, this could have tied things up, which was sorta what I was hoping for... just to keep things exciting!
Me: 8
Freeze: 6

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Duck

If you hate sports, have never been to Oregon and live in a cave you STILL know the mascot for the University of Oregon's football and basketball teams.

The reason is simple- he's Donald Duck.

Yup, the beloved Disney fowl has been pumping up the crowd at games since 1947. In fact, Donald is the ONLY major cartoon character to serve as a mascot for any major team in the United States.

So how did that happen? Why Donald? Why OREGON?

It all started back in the 1920s when the football team adopted a live duck to serve as it's mascot. The duck was named "Puddles" and he would waddle around the sidelines. I'm not sure how football fans could get riled up by a LIVE duck, but I think this was during prohibition. Without booze, sometimes a live duck is all you need.

I think I might trademark that and get it printed on T-Shirts an greeting cards and stuff.

"Without booze, sometimes a live duck is all you need."

Anyway, sometime in the 1930s the team started incorporating a cartoon duck in logos and signage. The duck looked like Donald.

Believe it or not, Disney was okay with this use of their character. So much so that Walt Disney met with the schools athletic director and made a handshake deal for them to use Donald (in good taste only.)

And they did.

Then, Mr. Disney died. The Disney company then requested proof of this "handshake deal." The best the school could produce was a photo of Mr. Disney wearing a sweater with the Donald Duck logo on it.

Soon after a new deal was reached and the school still has exclusive mascot rights to the character. There have been some restrictions, however. The school is not supposed to sell Donald merchandise OUTSIDE of the state of Oregon.

They also usually don't call him Donald. They usually call him "The Duck."

His gal Daisy also appears at some games under the name "Lady Duck."

So, now you know all about Donald's other job. EVEN if you hate sports and have never been to Oregon.

Of course if you DO live in a cave you probably don't have an internet connection and you haven't read any of this. Stupid cave people.

Einstein's tongue

Albert Einstein stuck his tongue out at someone at some point. I know this because every nerd has a photo of it on his wall.

But why? Why did Einstein stick his tongue out?

The answer is pretty simple. He didn't want his picture taken.

The photo came about in 1951 on the occasion of Einstein’s 72nd birthday. The press was on hand snapping photos of Einstein. Even after he got into the car they were still hounding him. So he stuck his tongue out at the paparazzi.

This act of defiance has become the definitive photo of Einstein.

Plus, this means that he cleared the way for future paparazzi haters like Sean Penn.

He was the Rosa Parks to Sean Penn's Al Sharpton.

It is difficult to understand the significance of Einstein’s work today so I say this:

Necessity is the mother of INVENTION. Einstein was the father of INVENTION.

Einstein was married twice (to Elsa Lowenthal and Mileva Maric) but never to anyone named Necessity.

Thus, Invention is a bastard child.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer was created by Robert L. May for the Montgomery Ward department store chain in 1939. The story was published in a coloring book and the rest is history.

Or is it?

Yes it is.

Sorry, I lost my train of thought.

May's brother in law, Johnny Marks, is probably THE key person in the success of the famous reindeer. Marks took the story and made a hit song out of it.

Let's take a look at that song:

Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer
had a very shiny nose.
And if you ever saw him,
you would even say it glows.

You know, maybe Rudolph is a superhero. Maybe he was bitten by a radioactive spider. Of course, a super-villain could easily take out a super-reindeer with a poisoned salt lick.
All of the other reindeer
used to laugh and call him names.
They never let poor Rudolph
join in any reindeer games.

Oh yeah, Rudolph has ENOUGH enemies without a super-villain. Yup, everyone around Rudolph is a jerk. You know, when I was a kid I HATED Dancer and Prancer and Comet and the rest of them.
THEY were the ones that wouldn't let him play the games!
He gets to guide the sleigh later.
I don't think that's good enough. He should win a class action lawsuit for a stressful work environment.
Then one foggy Christmas Eve
Santa came to say:
"Rudolph with your nose so bright,
won't you guide my sleigh tonight?"

This is odd. Foggy? ALL OVER THE WORLD? Santa delivers to the whole world. How could the night be foggy. Maybe in a small section, but the whole world? Even if it was, we must assume that Santa had plans in place to deal with such problems.
The bottom line is that Santa was woefully unprepared and got lucky.
Then all the reindeer loved him
as they shouted out with glee,
Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer,
you'll go down in history!

See? I was correct at the top of the page.! The rest IS history.

When I was a kid we all sung a parody of Rudolph. It went like this:
Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer
had a very shiny gun
and if you ever saw it
you would have to cut and run
all of the other reindeer
used to laugh
and call him names
they never let poor Rudolph
play in any reindeer games
then one foggy Christmas Eve
Santa came to say
Rudolph with your gun so bright
won’t you shoot my wife tonight
then all the reindeer loved him
and they shouted out with glee
Rudolph the red nosed reindeer
You’ll go down in history

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Ed Wood Demo Tape

Take a good look at that. It's a video tape of the critical hit film Ed Wood. Directed by Tim Burton, this film tells the story of another filmmaker who was a cross dresser and a bad horror film maker. That director, of course, was Ron Howard.

Anyway, I found this special demo tape. Take a look at it.

"Not video cassette packaging" it boldly proclaims. Yes, video cassette packaging is for the common folk. The rabble, if you will. Not me. I get special demo packaging.

Johnny Depp awkwardly gives me a 'come hither' look on my packaging. I rule.

At the bottom of the tape it says "for video retailers only." Well, I am no video retailer, but the only way they will get it from away from me is by prying it from my cold dead fingers.

Too bad I threw away my VCR when I bought a DVD player.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Last Rites

I have spent a whole lot of time in video stores. I worked at a couple, I have friends that work in video stores and I have a membership to at least two dozen stores in 5 states.

I love them. I have found some of the most amazing videos in the world in video stores. Not in a Best Buy or a Frys, but in the discount bins and 'general titles' sections of video stores tucked away in ugly strip malls in small town USA.

One day as I searched through a 'drama' section I stumbled across Last Rites.

I think did a triple take.


If YOU are also one who lurks in video stores you probably know what I am getting at. Maybe you also did a double take at the sight of Last Rites. (I doubt you did a triple take, and I refuse to believe it unless you have photographic proof.)

For the rest of you, if you are wondering what in the name of Ida Lupino I could be babbling about, perhaps this will help:

Let me assure you, there has been no Photoshop to these images. On the left is Last Rites, a 1988 flick about a priest with mob ties. The film was a flop and Roger Ebert named it the "worst film of the year."
On the right is the Tom Cruise mega-hit The Firm. Released 5 years later, this film told the story of a lawyer who uncovers sinister happenings at a top law firm.

The VHS tapes were produced by two different companies and it is a pretty big stretch to assume that the makers of The Firm had any desire to have the two films seem connected.

It's just one of those things. Still, it's remarkable. Both have the profile of a man, highlighted in blue. The face is almost at the exact same angle! In addition, both faces have superimposed people ghosted onto the image. Even the priest collar on Last Rites lines up with the light from the door on The Firm.

Really bizarre.

This is not the first set of semi-twin boxes I have seen.

The Snapper and Sibling Rivalry both feature pretty women who are either:

A) Doing laundry
B) Hiding the shame of their nudity
C) Getting their sheet ready for a KKK rally

The cover of the horn dog classic Spring Break has been duplicated more recently by the film American Women.

But none of these are as startlingly similar as The Firm and Last Rites.

I have never watched Last Rites, and all I remember about The Firm was a scene where Wilfred Brimley got a vicious beat down.

I have to wonder, does Tim Conway suffer a similar beating in Last Rites? If so, I suggest they file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations is up.

Take a look at the DVD cover for 2005's Casanova:
Image Hosted by

Now take a look at the cover for the 2000 film Italian For Beginners:
Image Hosted by

Didn't see the resemblance? Then take a closer look at the BOTTOM of both of those boxes:
Image Hosted by

What on Earth is going on? How does that happen TWICE? Look closely at the pig, his eyes are saying "please don't sue for plagiarism, and don't stick an apple in my mouth when you cook me. I hate apples."

"And, it's demeaning."

Friday, December 02, 2005

Bigg Mixx

Ahhhh, cereal. To a child perhaps no food is better. Because, it's ALMOST candy. It's not candy, but it sure seems like candy.

You also have a good chance of getting a toy in the box and a cartoon mascot on the box.

Few mascots have had the supernova effect that Bigg Mixx had. As spokesman for a cereal of the same name, Mixx was a big hit when he exploded on the cereal scene. Soon after he was gone without a trace.

Oh, Bigg Mixx where art thou?

The first place I looked was at my old video tapes. But after watching 4 episodes of Snorks, I tired of this method and instead took to the internet. Here is what I found:

According to Wikipedia:
Bigg Mixx was a short-lived Kellogg breakfast cereal introduced in 1990. The cereal was an assortment of other Kellogg brand cereals already in existence mixed together, commonly described as the result of cereals swept up off the Kellogg's factory floor.

This swept off the floor thing is no joke either. That seems to have been the marketing. Remember, cereal is sold to kids who are, by nature, filthy disgusting creatures and the early 1990s was a time of edginess.

Alternative rock, independent movies and unsanitary cereal. It was a golden age of edginess.

I also found 2 different boxes:




I also found this:

A Bigg Mixx plush! Aint he cute? Don't you just wanna give him a hug?

Also from Wikipedia:
The mascot, who went by the same name, was a cartoon character which combined the physical features of a chicken (lower body), wolf (face), moose (horns), and pig (snout) and was commonly depicted in commercials as being ravenously hungry. Plush Toys were available in addition to plastic trinkets found in boxes. Although the marketing proved more successful amongst target audiences than the cereal itself, the mascot was retired along with the cereal in 1992.

I'm ravenously hungry now. Perhaps I can drive into some small town and peruse the shelves in the back of some run down deli. Perhaps Bigg Mixx is still there. Old and stale, but still just 74 calories for 1/3 of a cup.

Merry Christmas from 2005

Welcome to another Christmas Spectacular.

This year I plan to watch 25 Christmas movies (films, shows, cartoons, nudie loops) during the month of December. That is one a day until Christmas. Then I will toss my tree to the curb and go back to watching films where ninjas get revenge.

As I watch 'em I will take notes and then post them up here. I won't be updating daily, but I will have 25 films by the time the baby Jesus blows out the candles. I shall rate them on a scale of 1 to 4 stars.

December 1: Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
This is a classic, and therefore a great way to start things off.
Simple story of Rudolph, Hermey the Elf and bunch of misfits. Things get a little creepy towards the end when Hermey takes a pair of pliers and viciously removes all of Bumbles (the Yeti) teeth.
It's like Marathon Man with Santa Claus.
Is it safe?
Rating ****

December 2: Santa vs. The Snowman
This one is in 3D and directed by Steve Odekirk. It tells the story of a snowman that wages war against Santa and eventually captures the guy in the big red suit and locks him in a cage.
The 3D worked well on my TV. The elves looked so real I made sure to keep my hand on my wallet the whole time.
Rating ***

December 3: Surviving Christmas
In 2004, two mainstream films were released with "Christmas" in the title: Surviving Christmas and Christmas with the Kranks.
Only one was a hit. Sadly, it wasn't Surviving Christmas. Nothing against Kranks, but Surviving Christmas was awesome.
Starting off with footage of an old lady committing suicide by sticking her head in the oven, the film seems slightly off kilter the entire time (in a good way.) Ben Affleck is at his goofy best as an eccentric millionaire who hires a group of strangers to be his family for the holidays. Hysterical.
Rating ****

December 4: Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July
When I first read "Rudolph and Frosty" I thought it was about Giuliani's senate race against Hilary Clinton. Instead, this is a 'stop motion' sequel follow-up to the previous Rudolph and Frosty films.
Unlike the shorter Frosty the Snowman (which was not 'stop motion') and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. This film WAS feature length. It may have been a bit too long. Still, it has lots of charm.
Frosty and Rudolph are tricked by Winterbolt into joining the circus. Winterbolt is a pretty cool villain (despite his absurd plan.) Winterbolt has the voice of Paul Frees who is "The Ghost Host" narrator of Disneyland's Haunted Mansion. He uses the same voice here.
My favorite scene is when Frosty says he wants to get back to the North Pole before the Fourth of July fireworks.
"Aren't you patriotic?" someone asks.
Frosty responds that his is patriotic, he just doesn't want to melt... AND HE'S NOT AMERICAN! The writers seemed to forget that the North Pole isn't part of the U.S.A.
Rating **

December 5: Christmas at Walt Disney World
In this 20 minute promo DVD Santa is answering his mail (all of which has to do with Walt Disney World, oddly enough.) During the next 20 minutes we see how WDW celebrates. Included are Epcot's global celebrations of Christmas (China has a Monkey King, that HAS to be cooler than a fat old guy in a red suit.) Also we see the parade, learn about the holiday food, the big Christmas tree and the lights. Plus Goofy falls down no less than 4 times.
Rating **

December 6: A Christmas Story
I taped this off Turner Classic Movies last year so I got to watch it with host segments from Robert Osborne. If you aren't a TCM subscriber, you should call your cable company. But make sure they don't accidentally give you TMC, that’s "The Movie Channel" and all they show is bad Traci Lords films.
Anyway, Robert Osborne makes me laugh. He said that Jack Nicholson was the first choice to play 'the father' in this film.
I know it doesn't sound funny now, but imagine a sassy guy with a lisp saying that as he walks around a set and smirks like the Cheshire Cat.
Anyway, the movie is great and in keeping with the accidental Walt Disney World theme that these films have; the film's narrator is Jean Shepard (voice of the dad in the Carousel of Progress.) Oddly enough Jack Nicholson was the first choice to play that part too.
Ha ha ha ha! Forgive me; I just pictured Robert Osborne saying that.
Rating ***

December 7: Reindeer Games
The second Ben Affleck film this month! Wow, it feels like Christmas already. This is a fast paced thriller directed by the legendary John Frankenheimer. Full of explosions and plot twists, this rocks from beginning to end. Affleck is a bit miscast as a car stealing thug, but it is the season of giving so I give it a pass on that.
The bulk of the film takes place right around Christmas with a climax where 5 guys in Santa suits rob a casino. I think I might watch 3000 Miles to Graceland tonight. In that film 5 guys dressed as Elvis rob a casino. Then I might watch Bea Strong where a casino is robbed by five guys dressed as Bea Arthur.
Rating **

December 8: Santa Claus is Coming to Town
More stop motion fun from the folks at Rankin Bass. This one shows us the journey of a young Santa Claus from birth to red suit.
As a lad, Santa is red headed and looks like a young Conan O'Brien. Of course I think all redheads look like Conan.
Conan... uh... Santa ends up with some elf toymakers. They make toys and then throw them away because they can't get past the Winter Warlock. So eventually Santa flies the toys to the kids of Sombertown- AND GIVES THEM AWAY. Great way to solve a problem, Conan.
I can imagine other circumstances where he has used this tactic.
*MR. BESTBUY(owner of Best Buy Electronics): Conan, we have thousand of copies of that Triumph the Cranky Dog CD. No one wants to buy them! I will never make my investment back.
*CONAN: No problem. I will just give them away free.
*MR. BESTBUY: You know, Mr. Nobodybeatsthewiz was right, you ARE a jerk.
Anyway, the film ends with Santa finding love and getting married to a hot gal named Jessica. Of course, we know that they both REALLY let themselves go after that, so it was kind of depressing. Sorta like seeing video of a crippled person back when they could walk. Or, like listening to that Cranky Dog CD. Really depressing.
Rating **

December 8: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
This was interesting. It was a TV special that first aired in 1983. For about 10 years afterwards it would run at least once a year during the holidays, often on Christmas Day.
With no such airing scheduled this year I decided to buy it. This wasn't exactly easy. The DVD is rather hard to find and in the end I found it at an online Christian bookstore.
The film does have strong Christian overtones, but so did most of the Christmas films. Even the Rankin Bass stuff. For every Frosty the Snowman they did a Nestor the Christmas Donkey (he carried Mary to the Bethlehem- we'll get to that flick soon.)
This special is 45 minutes long and tells the story of a group of rotten kids named the Herdmans. In search of free cookies the Herdman bully their way into playing all the leads in the local churches Christmas Pageant. By the end, the Herdmans are (somewhat) reformed and the pageant is -you guessed it- the best Christmas pageant ever.
As I do with all films from the late 70s and early 80s I played "Spot the Meathead." It's an easy game. You just have to scan all crowd shots looking for guys that look like Rob Reiner. Particularly if they look like him during his "All in the Family" days. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever has 6 young Meatheads and 1 older fat Meathead.
Viva la Meathead!
Rating ****

December 9: Santa Claus: The Movie
This was surprisingly good. It came out in the early 1980s and was from the producer of the Superman films. In fact, the film plays very much like a superman film. It starts by telling the origin of Santa and then gives some awesome flying sequences. I say awesome in the sense that they were probably awesome in 1980, today they look silly. Santa ends up firing an elf (Dudley Moore) for making shoddy toys. The elf then goes to work for evil New York toymaker John Lithgow. Lithgow is completely OVER THE TOP (much like Gene Hackman's Lex Luthor in Superman... or Lex Lugar's performance in Wrestlemania X for that manner.)
The film includes a sleigh race, a kid beating up a cat and a sleigh race. It also includes a lengthy subplot featuring a homeless kid befriended by Santa.
It seems to me that EVER THIRD film made in the 1980s involved the main character befriending a homeless kid.
Rating ***

December 10: Muppet Family Christmas
This is one of my all time favorite Christmas programs. This was no ordinary Muppet flick. It featured Kermit and the gang AND the Sesame Street characters AND the Fraggle Rock characters. Jim Henson appears in the flick as one of only 2 human characters (Fraggle Rock's Doc is the other.)
This is available on home video. Unfortunately about 5 minutes are cut from this 45 minute special on the VHS and DVD release. The cuts included my favorite joke of the film. It went something like:
FOZZIE (to a snowman): Hey snowman!
SNOWMAN: I'm not a snowman, I'm a SNUMAN.
FOZZIE: What's a snuman?
SNOWMAN: Not much, what’s a'snu with you?
Rating ****

December 11: The Veggie Tales Christmas Spectacular
A tomato plays Santa. Need I say more?
Rating **

December 12: John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together
Once again John Denver and the Muppets put on a show. This was full of music and featured plenty of Muppet humor.
My favorite exchange included Kermit making a funny joke about the word "croak." I wish I was a frog, and then I could steal it.
And I could wear a beret and say "wee wee" and "j'mapelle." Get it? Because "frog" is a derogatory name for the French.
Man, I really wish I could have used the "croak" joke there instead.
Rating ****

December 13: Winnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year
Despite the title, this is all about Christmas and Santa. It's feature length, but is actually three short films strung together with a common theme. That theme is Christmas. My favorite short is the one where Rabbit decides he had enough and is movie.
This is the first time I realized that Rabbit was a male. He's so fussy and feminine I just thought he was a cranky old broad. No, I guess he's just an old queen.
Anyway, He decides to leave because Tigger is too bouncy, Piglet is too scared, Eyeore is too depressed, Pooh is too much of a glutton and owl is too... uh... I guess he wasn't in this one. Come to think of it, he wasn't in that Heffalump flick either. Did he die? I hope not.
So in the film Rabbit is leaving (for Hawaii or San Francisco, I assume.) So to try to get him to stay they all stop being themselves. Tigger stops bouncing, Piglet becomes brave and so forth.
The most interesting change was Eyeore. He became happy.
At then end, Rabbit decides that he likes them they way they were. So they all revert to their normal personalities. Including Eyeore who goes back to being depressed.
It must be tough to live around a depressed donkey. I wonder if Owl shot himself. Or is it herself? I wonder that, too.
Rating **

December 14: Nestor the Christmas Donkey
Another Rankin/Bass flick, this one tells the story of the donkey that carried Mary to the manger when Jesus was born. Like Rudolph, Nestor has one unusual feature: big ears. This story is actually a bit sadder than most of the others. Nestor's friends are taken away to be slaves and his mother freezes to death, but the story is punctuated with a bit of humor and the cutest donkey I have seen since... uh... last night's movie.
If you were like me, you probably always found the donkey to be strange accessory to your family's manger set. Watch this and you will never think him strange again - you just might wonder why his ears are so short.
Rating ***

December 15: Christmas with Gumby
The good people at Goodtimes Video took the leap into DVD a few years back. They still offer the same inferior product; you just never need to adjust the tracking. This 30 minute DVD was actually a couple of Gumby shorts edited together to seem like one story. Also, in the Goodtimes tradition no music rights were secured. The means that a few times the characters appear to be singing as generic Christmas music is played over top of the scene.
Still, if Gumby and Pokey are on the TV, it IS a good time.
Our heroes are detectives at the start of the picture. They end up walking in and out of books to hear stories. One of the stories is about a poor idiot who wanted to buy his girl a partridge in a pear tree for Christmas. Someone fools him into buying a pigeon in a plum tree instead. The town’s people laugh and laugh "His girl friend is going to leave him." they cackle.
Luckily an elf turns the tree and the bird into gold. I guess a golden pigeon in a golden plum tree is better than a regular one.
Still, the bird’s blood and heart were also transformed into gold. That has to be a painful death.
Poor pigeon.
Rating ***

December 16: Vernon's Christmas
Released in 2003, this 30 minute DVD stars those lovable 1980s dolls: The Cabbage Patch Kids. Here they are presented in stop motion animation. The medium is PERFECT. The look just like dolls come to life.
The story isn't bad, either. A doll named Vernon promises the younger dolls that Santa Claus will deliver them Christmas presents. Then, he begins to worry that Santa might be getting "old" and "forgetful." So he dresses up as Santa for the kids.
There is also a nifty snowboarding subplot. If only Vernon mooned the camera to reveal an Xavier Roberts tattoo on his butt it would have been the greatest Christmas special ever.
He didn't, so I give it 2 stars.
Rating **

December 17: The Cabbage Patch Kids First Christmas
This was a half hour TV special from the hey day of the CPKs. A bunch of the kids travel to NYC to find "the Christmas Spirit."
They end up running into a bunch of pickpockets and a couple that wants a child. For some reason this couple didn't know adoption was possible until the Cabbage Patch Kids tell them about it.
Before that, they just roam New York moping around saying "I wish there was someway WE could have a child."
Then they jump at the chance to "adopt" as if it was some kind of new technology.
They were really stupid.
I bet they cut out a scene where the kids explain "sex" to the couple.
Rating ***

December 18: Santa Conquers the Martians
This is the notoriously bad flick about aliens that kidnap Santa so he can make toys for their kids.
Oddly enough Santa never actually conquers the martians. He just sorta goes along with them.
It should have been called Santa Pacifies the Martians.
Also notable is that a young Pia Zadora is in this film. I know who she is and that she's famous, but I don't know exactly why.
Rating *

December 19: Jingle All the Way
A fun and funny flick where the Governor of California has to find an action figure on Christmas Eve. The movie moves fast, but seems to operate on an impossible time line. I WISH I could get so much done in one day.
The ending is absurd, but for this film it's perfect.
Rating ***

December 20: Simpson's Christmas 2005
Three different stories were told in this year's Christmas episode. In the first, Homer and Marge are Mary and Joesph with Bart filling the role of Jesus. The second features Grandpa shooting down Santa. In the third they do a retelling of The Nutcracker. Man does that song ever get stuck in your head.
Rating **

December 21: Mr. T and Emmanuel Lewis in a Christmas Dream
I talked about this last year. You can read that article here . No list of Christmas programs would be complete without it!
Rating ****

December 22: Narnia: The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe
This is sort of a cheat because the film isn't really a Christmas film. Still, it features Father Christmas and has a talking lion. I like talking lions.
Rating ***

December 23: Elf
I was really disappointed by this. I thought it was called ALF. I liked how he talked. I think he was a lion. Wasn't he?
I like Will Farrell too. This film is one of the best Christmas films ever. It's original and classic, funny and touching. I loved it.
Rating ****

December 24: It's a Wonderful Life
My all time favorite. The scene I like the best is when Donna Reed screams "He's making violent love to me, Mother." Watch for that part. It's arousing and disturbing at the same time.
Rating ****

December 25: The Muppet Christmas Carol
The songs are amazingly catchy in this Muppet musical. I love it. I also watching Gonzo and Rizzo. Great way to cap off the Christmas season.
Rating ***

Check out last year's Christmas:
Christmas 2004
12 articles of holiday hilarity. Ho ho ho, ha ha ha.(more)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The Bottom 10 Cereal Mascots

A while back we covered the top 10 cereal mascots. You can read them by clicking here. The consisted of everyone you would expect, with Cap'n Crunch taking the top spot.

Now it's time to take a look at the BOTTOM of the list. Mascots that are good enough to make the top 100... just barely.

91. Cornelius:
The rooster from Corn Flakes. He's dependable and consistent. He's not funny. He's just there. He's like Bryant Gumble. That's not a compliment.

92. C3PO:
He's no one's favorite character from Star Wars. Heck, he's not even anyone's favorite ROBOT from Star Wars. He's better than Bryant Gumble, however.
He had his own cereal and not too many robots can say that.
Did the robot from Lost In Space get a cereal? No. How about the one that Rocky gave to Paulie as a gift in Rocky IV? Remember that? No?

93. The Apple Jacks Kids:
So poorly drawn that even Charles Schultz would be ashamed to take credit for them, these kids occasionally find themselves on the front of the Apple Jacks box. Other times they are not. No one seems to notice either way.

94. Bigg Mixx:
I love this guy! Appearing in 1990 (and disappearing soon after) Bigg Mixx was a cereal that purported to be a mix of all the cereals that Kellogg made. Big Mixx himself was a combination of a rooster, a moose, a pig and something else. HE would have tasted great if cooked with some Ramen Noodles.

95. Mini Wheat:
This was a piece of Frosted Mini Wheats cereal. He has a face on each side. On TV he argues with himself. "Some like the frosted side better... some like the wheat side better."
He's a liar. No one like the wheat side better.

96. Kaboom:
He's a clown that makes a cereal. It doesn't ACTUALLY explode or I would rank him higher… much, much higher.

97. Sugar Bear:
A few decades ago he could have knocked Cap'n Crunch outta the top spot. Not anymore. The anti-sugar movement of the 1990s almost killed him. The low carb craze of the past few years hasn't helped heal his wounds. Dr. Doctor, an Atkins expert, called Sugar Bear "The biggest S.O.B. in the history of the planet."
He later relented and said "Alright, Hitler was a little worse."

98. The Alpha Bits Letters:
I'm just padding the article here. 10 is a bigger number than it seems.

99. King Ayummayumma:
Sure, he's probably offensive to some ethnic group, but I'm not sure which one. Appearing around 1990 I remember a week or two where everyone at school liked to say "A Yumma Yumma" like they did in the commercial. I don't remember ever actually eating it, though.

100. The Quaker Oats Man:
Looking like a slightly drunk George Washington, the oats man stands smiles solemnly at us. I only find him solemn because, odds are, he is dead by now.