Destiny-land
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Friday, June 8



I discovered there's a "last episode" of Route 66. Tod gets married -- his bride is played by Barbara Eden -- but in the last scene, her scheming relatives immediately have him murdered in order to claim his inheritance. The episode actually ends with them throwing his body off a high bridge, while his bride weeps.

It turns out that's just part one of a two-part episode...



Click here for the rest of the story, Linc's farewell speech, and how one actor remembers the show 45 years later



Wednesday, February 22



I was walking around a beach town when I suddenly remembered the movie "Summer of '42." (A teenaged boy in a summer resort town has a crush on a woman whose husband is serving in the war...) Remembering the movie, I felt like I had to know: was the movie really based on a true story?

It turns out the answer is yes, according to Wikipedia. And there's two more big surprises...



Click here for the rest of the story



Saturday, January 21


My girlfriend likes The Monkees. So for her birthday, I'd made her a "mix tape" of 26 of their best love songs. And "As We Go Along" was my favorite. (It was co-written by Carol King!)

You can listen to the song below while watching a pretty video showing a field of flowers.


Click the link below for the lyrics.


And if you're a hard-core Monkees fan, I'll also tell you which 26 love songs I picked!


7:25 PM



Monday, January 2





Wednesday, November 23


This is getting interesting!

It looks like on Black Friday, there's going to be a three-way price war between the Kindle, the Nook, and the iPad!



8:05 PM



Monday, November 21


I wrote my first ebook!!!


It's a fun (and funny) short "Thanksgiving mystery" about four turkeys awaiting the farmer's axe -- one of which has a plan for escaping!


There's 12 cartoon-ish illustrations -- and the whole thing is written entirely in rhyme!

"For Thanksgiving, try this game / Find the guilty turkey's name!"


9:03 PM



Saturday, October 22


Okay, here's something I never, ever thought I'd hear. Lounge act "Richard Cheese" does a snazzy, jazzy cover version of...

The SpongeBob SquarePants theme.



11:30 AM



Monday, September 26


I absolutely loved the opening "season premiere" song on Community.


Click this link for lyrics and trivia.


11:03 AM



Friday, July 15



I've become obsessed with the great music that Ben Folds wrote for "Over the Hedge." William Shatner was on his (new!) version of "Rocking the Suburbs" - and there's a gentle ballad called "Still" that's really beautiful.

I love the sweet (and satirical) '60s euphoria he sneaks into songs like "(I've Always Got My) Family of Me" and even a cover of The Clash's "Lost in the Supermarket" . The melody itself is almost a commentary on middle-class suburban life.

The perfect example is my favorite song from the movie, "Heist".



3:28 PM



Saturday, July 9


Ever since I was a teenager watching Three's Company, I've been tantalized by this line from the opening credits.


"Based on the British series A Man About the House."


Today I realized I could finally just watch the original British version of Three's Company online!

"A fellow movin' in with two birds...? I'm not having it!"



Click here for video of the British "Three's Company

The opening credits are absolutely terrible.





Saturday, June 11




Yes, it's the cast of "The Office" re-creating George Seurat's painting, "Sunday in the Park".

Click here for a larger image, the back story, and a side-by-side comparison with the original painting.


9:25 AM



Sunday, April 10


Here's an inspiring story. A part-time cameraman for the news (and commercials) at a local TV station in Texas was hired in the 1970s to start filming NCAA football games. Eventually he was filming NFL games and even part of the Olympics in Mexico City. But Steve Rash had a dream. And he spent the next five years raising money to make it come true.

Click the image for the rest of the story...



9:47 AM



Friday, March 11


It's finally happened!

Charlie Sheen's Two and Half Men co-star Jon Cryer has finally broken his silence and commented on what Sheen has been saying...


Also: What Charlie Sheen says about his upcoming Kindle e-book

Later Cryer told David Letterman seriously that "It's as much a mystery to me as to everyone, I think."


11:08 PM




Thursday, February 10



Edgar Allan Poe described walking to a tomb in a brilliant but forgotten poem called "Ulalume". ("Perhaps befitting the gothic poet, Ulalume has a secret history," writes Moe Zilla). After his death, Poe's literary executor deleted the last stanza -- though the poem's even spookier without it.

And somehow, YouTube has a video of the poem being recited by Nico of The Velvet Underground.



7:38 PM



Sunday, November 28


This is one of the most beautiful advertisements I've ever seen...



And yes, that is Animal House...


Click here for the full story



Wednesday, October 13




There's a great speech about the economy towards the end of The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo.
"You have to distinguish between two things - the Swedish economy and the Swedish stock market. The Swedish economy is the sum of all the goods and services that are produced in this country every day. There are telephones from Ericsson, cars from Volvo, chickens from Scan, and shipments from Kiruna to Skovde. That's the Swedish economy, and it's just as strong or weak today as it was a week ago...

"The Stock Exchange is something very different. There is no economy and no production of goods and services. There are only fantasies in which people from one hour to the next decide that this or that company is worth so many billions, more or less. It doesn't have a thing to do with the Swedish economy."

"So you're saying that it doesn't matter if the Stock Exchange drops like a rock?"

"No, it doesn't matter at all...



7:44 PM

And click here for Stieg Larsson versus the biography pirates

More info on VoIP telecom fraud




Monday, September 6




Fonzie literally "jumped the shark" — on water skis — in a 1977 episode of Happy Days. Three decades later, the writer of that episode insists "I still don't believe that the series 'jumped the shark' when Fonzie jumped the shark."

"It aired Sept. 20, 1977, and was a huge hit, ranking No. 3 for the week with a 50-plus share (unheard of today) and an audience of more than 30 million viewers...

If this was really the beginning of a downward spiral, why did the show stay on the air for six more seasons and shoot an additional 164 episodes? Why did we rank among the Top 25 in five of those six seasons?"


It's fun to get his perspective, and he remembers that at the time, no one expected this episode would become infamous.

"...what I definitely remember is that no one protested vehemently; not one of us said, "Fonzie, jump a shark? Are you out of your mind?"



Click here to watch a video of the scene, read some funny responses from viewers,
and to see more screenshots of Fonzie jumping the shark!



Tuesday, August 3



Paul Simon remembers walking into a restaurant, where he's introduced to Joe DiMaggio, and "we immediately fell into conversation about the only subject we had in common."

"What I don't understand," DiMaggio said, "is why you ask where I've gone. I just did a Mr. Coffee commercial, I'm a spokesman for the Bowery Savings Bank and I haven't gone anywhere!"

I've always wondered about that. But it turns out Paul Simon finally explained his lyrics about Joe DiMaggio from the song "Mrs. Robinson" - in a 1999 article he wrote the day Joe DiMaggio died.


I said that I didn't mean the lines literally, that I thought of him as an American hero and that genuine heroes were in short supply. He accepted the explanation and thanked me. We shook hands and said good night.

Now, in the shadow of his passing, I find myself wondering about that explanation. Yes, he was a cultural icon, a hero if you will, but not of my generation. He belonged to my father's youth: he was a World War II guy whose career began in the days of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig and ended with the arrival of the youthful Mickey Mantle...



Click here for the rest of the story...



Sunday, August 1


Jonah Hex comic book character vs Josh Brolin - with Megan Fox

Jonah Hex was the movie adaptation of a classic western comic book. But it's more fun to read the reviews...

"Trust me, it doesn't matter that Josh Brolin's face is made up with a garish scar. Megan Fox is a hot hooker in a corset. Sometimes, she gets handcuffed to stuff.

Their first mistake was in not naming the film 'Megan Fox Handcuffed in a Corset.'"


And Box Office Magazine was especially critical of the soundtrack.

"The painful music was co-written by Mastodon, which might be a heavy metal band or, given the score's obnoxiousness, an actual mastodon."

But on the bright side, he also writes that "there are lots of death-signifying crows, so the movie should have the ornithologist demo locked up."



12:01 AM



Saturday, July 3




Things I didn't know about Bing Crosby...

A 2001 biography of Crosby by Village Voice jazz critic Gary Giddins says that Louis Armstrong's influence on Crosby "extended to his love of marijuana." Bing smoked it during his early career when it was legal and "surprised interviewers" in the 1960s and 70s by advocating its decriminalization, as did Armstrong.

Crosby even recommended that his son smoke pot instead of drinking alcohol, if Wikipedia is to be believed. They quote his son as saying that "There were other times when marijuana was mentioned and he'd get a smile on his face...."


The song Ho-Hum from The Road to Morocco now takes on a whole new meaning!


6:13 AM



Monday, June 21




Happy first day of summer!

Jan and Dean share some surfer zen - chanting "Summer means fun." (Over and over again...) I thought it was a shame that the complete lyrics to their bouncy summer surfer koan appeared nowhere on the web.

But they do now!!!



Click here for the complete lyrics to Jan and Dean's "Summer Means Fun".


Bonus link:
how to build a swamp cooler.




Wednesday, June 16


So CBS aired a special promising "TV's Greatest Surprises" (as determined by a Nielsen Entertainment survey).

Fortunately, here's a list of their top 30 of TV's Greatest Surprises - so you don't have to spend all night actually watching them! (Towards the end, it just seemed like one surprisingly grisly death scene after another.)

Though they scoured through 60 years of television, if you believe their list, only four of TV's most surprising moments happened prior to the 1980s.



Click here to see which of TV's Greatest Surprises happened before 1980!



Tuesday, June 1


Add this to the list of things I didn't know about IHOP.

The first International House of Pancakes opened up in California, however due to concerns the heavy tectonic forces prevelent in California would topple the original a-framed building it was relocated to Idaho.

This relocation process spanned the course of a year as piece by piece the original building was deconstructed and placed on flat bed trucks to be shipped across the United States.



Click here for more stories about other famous first fast food restaurants.


2:58 AM



Sunday, May 9


That was a strange re-run to show on Mother's Day.

An episode of "My Name is Earl" where Earl has to make things right with his friend Ralph -- for sleeping with his Mom!

"She wasn't young, but she was conscious..."



Is there something about Mother's Day that brings out the bad taste in everybody?

See also: Lou Cabron's 7 Worst Mother's Day Gifts. :)


11:55 PM



Monday, March 22


I've been trying to figure out how it happened - what put America on its path to the giant health care reform bill.

Barack Obama gave a hint Saturday afternoon, in a private speech to House Democrats...


Sometimes I think about how I got involved in politics. I didn't think of myself as a potential politician when I got out of college. I went to work in neighborhoods, working with Catholic churches in poor neighborhoods in Chicago, trying to figure out how people could get a little bit of help. And I was skeptical about politics and politicians, just like a lot of Americans are skeptical about politics and politicians are right now. Because my working assumption was when push comes to shove, all too often folks in elected office, they're looking for themselves and not looking out for the folks who put them there; that there are too many compromises; that the special interests have too much power; they just got too much clout; there's too much big money washing around.

And I decided finally to get involved because I realized if I wasn't willing to step up and be true to the things I believe in, then the system wouldn't change.



11:29 PM



Thursday, March 4


My friend Brian sent me an article about the new Gilligan's Island movie. But before I read it, I came up with my own dream cast.
Gilligan - Will Ferrell
The Skipper - Chevy Chase
Mr. Howell - Steve Martin
Mrs. Howell - Angela Lansbury
Ginger - RuPaul
Mary-Anne - Michelle Trachtenberg (from "Mercy")
The Professor - Stephen Colbert
Got a better idea? Send me an e-mail!


(Er, but put "Gilligan's Island" in the subject line...) :)

I'd also been thinking Steve Martin for the Skipper -- or maybe Vincent D'Onofrio?


12:36 AM



Friday, January 22


"DVD Clearance! Four for $10"

And what did I see in the bin?

Snakes on a Plane

I guess it was inevitable...


"New Line Platinum Series"

Also available: "Scary Movie 4."


Click here for my other "Snakes on a Plane" posts



Friday, January 1


I didn't know this book existed...


Here's how Publisher's Weekly described it...
In an act that should qualify him for the brilliant editors hall of fame, Dan Walsh discovered that if all traces of Jim Davis's lazy, lasagna-scarfing cat were expunged from his own comic strip, Garfield became a funnier, much darker series, about a desperately lonely, self-loathing man's existential despair.

Walsh started posting his altered strips at garfieldminusgarfield.net. And in an act that definitely qualifies him for the good sport hall of fame, Davis not only didn't sue him but approved of the project...

If Samuel Beckett had been a strip cartoonist, he might've produced something like this.



10:23 PM



Friday, December 25


The Monkees wish you a merry Christmas!



12:17 PM



Thursday, November 26



Barack Obama - interrupted by gobbling - pardoned a turkey before Thanksgiving in a ceremony at the White House. But he also revealed the secret history of the ceremony.

"I'm told Presidents Eisenhower and Johnson actually ate their turkeys... President Kennedy was even given a turkey with a sign around its neck that said, 'Good Eatin', Mr. President.'"

"You can't fault them for that. That's a good-looking bird."



Click here for the Presidents' official words of pardon



Thursday, October 22



Mark Twain describes the time he co-authored a play with Bret Harte in 1876.
"Well, Bret came down to Hartford and we talked it over, and then Bret wrote it while I played billiards, but of course I had to go over it to get the dialect right.

Bret never did know anything about dialect."


Twain's literary executor, Albert Paine, records that Twain's statement is unfair, and in fact both men "worked on the play, and worked hard."

Twain missed its opening, but sent a humorous telegram to be read during the curtain call.


I have prepared two speeches -- one to deliver in event of failure of the play, and the other if successful. Please tell me which I shall send.

May be better to put it to vote.


Click here to find out what happened to the play!



Monday, October 12


And what happened to the actor who voiced Scrappy Doo?

He was fired after asking for more money...

Losing the gig was another blow to Lennie, though far from the biggest. Larger problems persisted in his life and a few years later, he decided he needed to change that life. He sold his jade green Rolls Royce and his mansion in Hancock Park and spent the rest of his life in peace and love with a newly-started family in Chile. That's right: Chile. He used to phone me at least once a week to chat and tell jokes, and he was obviously very happy there. He passed away in 2006.


Ironically, Hanna-Barbera replaced him with Don Messick,
who was already also doing the voice of Scooby Doo.




5:11 PM



Tuesday, August 18


How many settlers were in America in 1619?

Just 2,000. (Though they were 500,000 Indians, according to this book I'm reading...)

And three interesting things happened in Virginia in 1619....

1. America's first legislative assembly met in Jamestown -- a governor, six councilors, and two burgesses from the 10 plantations.

2. A Dutch ship sold the settlers 20 slaves

3. A boat arrived with 90 women "who were to be given as wives to those settlers who would pay 120 pounds of tobacco for their transportation"


Click here for trivia about the pilgrims at Plymouth Rock



Thursday, August 6


This item "has been discontinued by the manufacturer."


So says Amazon.


12:12 AM



Wednesday, July 22


My friend Richard sent me the ultimate summertime video.



It's Mungo Jerry, singing "In The Summertime." But I didn't know that...
They had another summertime hit called Lady Rose.

The band's name "was inspired by the poem Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer, from T. S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" (according to Wikipedia).


My favorite summer song is still The Sunrays' "I Live for the Sun."


12:08 AM



Sunday, July 5


"Farrah Fawcett was the perfect practitioner of that most prized of American feminine arts: that of semi-wholesomeness... She had an utterly American sense of openness and fun, with a smile that suggested that life was fundamentally good and full of promise, that anything could happen (and that a few really fun things certainly would).

Arts and Letters Daily linked to an essay by an editor at Forbes about how Farrah's famous '70s poster affected a young boy's school in India. ("That one poster did more for America's image abroad -- and for a sturdy Amerophilia -- than all the U.S. embassies and State Department initiatives of the time put together...)

And Entertainment Weekly has a great interview with the photographer who took the picture.


Read the rest of the entry here -- and see Farrah's poster!


1:12 AM



Saturday, June 27


At a local bar, they're performing karaoke tonight. And what are the amateurs singing?

"Thriller."


Although personally, the album I'll always remember is Off the Wall.

It's currently Amazon's #2 ranked album - behind only Thriller at #1.


11:27 PM



Saturday, June 19


Nathan Lane (from "The Producers") will play Gomez, and who's playing Morticia? Bebe Neuwirth (from "Chicago").

I just found out that their making a musical out of The Addams Family. Their daughter Wednesday is now turning 18, and the family has to deal with her coming of age...


I loved the TV show as a kid.

And here's some interesting Addams Family trivia.


10:57 AM



Thursday, June 18


Google Books now lets you embed a specific page from Google books directly into your blog. So of course I had to try it...

This is my favorite page from Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.


And click here to read about Mark Twain's unfinished sequel to Huckleberry Finn.


5:09 PM



Monday, June 8


I really enjoyed this article.

It's a list of the Top 10 Creepiest Fast Food Mascots.




(And for further enlightment, here's my own essay on the first fast food restaurants in America.)


2:51 PM



Monday, May 25


Q: What was the first movie ever released on Blu-ray DVD?

A: Charlie's Angels II: Full Throttle


Somehow this Memorial Day, while everyone was watching McG's Terminator: Salvation, I ended up watching the director's previous summer blockbuster from 2003.

Click here for some cool trivia about Charlies Angels II from around the web.



7:24 PM



Sunday, May 17


"I have been and always shall be, your friend."

Mr. Spock says it again in the new Star Trek movie. But MTV has discovered what William Shatner's dialogue would've been. To convince his younger self that a friendship would bloom between Spock and Kirk, Leonard Nimoy delivers a recording from the future that Captain Kirk made before his death in Star Trek VII.

"...I want to tell you how much you've meant to me — and how amazing it was that we had all these adventures together."

It was to be played as a voiceover during the final scenes as young Kirk assumes his first command of the starship Enterprise.



2:22 PM



Friday, May 8


Celebrating the new Star Trek movie, a band called Warp 11 released a sexy music video.

It's called "She Make It So.".


Click here for the lyrics


10:52 AM



Tuesday, April 8


Roger Ebert really lays into Bill O'Reilly.

When O'Reilly listed the Chicago Sun-Times in his "Hall of Shame," 66-year-old Ebert composed a scathingly funny defense.


I understand you believe one of the Sun-Times misdemeanors was dropping your syndicated column. My editor informs me that "very few" readers complained about the disappearance of your column, adding, "many more complained about Nancy."

I know I did.

That was the famous Ernie Bushmiller comic strip in which Sluggo explained that "wow" was "mom" spelled upside-down...


Ebert says O'Reilly "turns red and starts screaming when anyone disagrees with him," then offers a perspective from his Chicago childhood.

"My grade-school teacher, wise Sister Nathan, would have called in your parents and recommended counseling with Father Hogben."


Speaking of Nancy, cartoonist Ernie Bushmiller also drew a line of sexy comic strips about her Aunt Fritzi.And some readers say they even see sexy subtexts in the Nancy comic itself...


2:14 PM



Monday, February 23


Sean Penn gave a touching acceptance speech when he won the Oscar for best actor.
"I did not expect this, and I want it to be very clear that I do know how hard I make it to appreciate me. Often..."

UPDATE: Barack Obama just awarded Harvey Milk a posthumous Medal of Freedom.


9:41 AM




Wednesday, February 11


"I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest," said Huckleberry Finn, "because Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can't stand it."

It's the last line of Mark Twain's famous novel, "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn." But there's a little-known fact: Mark Twain also started a sequel describing Huck and Tom's adventures in the Territory.


...as for me, betwixt lazying around and pie, I hadn't no choice, and wouldn't know which to take..."

The book opens with Huck and Jim having "Plenty to eat and nothing to do," but Tom urging them to head west. Twain records the boys' first friendly encounter with "Injuns" -- and then a not-so-friendly encounter which leaves them trapped in the wilderness far beyond the mid-continent boundary of the United States in 1848.

You can buy a copy of the unfinished sequel here. But last summer a fan of Mark Twain actually wrote a book in which he finishes the story.


Tom and Huck "journey homeward and meet new characters," says Amazon, "like the white man Cedric who lives with the Indians, and attend Indian celebrations. They are also able to play one final, avenging trick on the duke and the king, bringing the story full cycle."



12:27 PM



Monday, February 9


I just found a wonderful 9-minute video clip of jazz singer Blossom Dearie gently dazzling an audience with some wicked piano playing and her sweet, hipster voice.

Blossom Dearie died Sunday at the age of 82. But she'll always be remembered as the voice of the little girl in the Schoolhouse Rock cartoons who sang about unpacking her adjectives, and skated in a figure eight.

And she's alive on YouTube. Blossom Dearie, live - circa 1985.



10:06 AM



Wednesday, January 21


In The Amazing Spider-Man #583, Spider-Man stops The Chameleon from replacing Barack Obama so the supervillain could be sworn in as President instead.
Spider-Man: Well, THAT was unpleasant. I hope this doesn't ruin the inauguration for you.

Barack Obama: Honestly, I'm more upset by the Chameleon's shockingly deficient understanding of the electoral process.

But Spider-Man refuses to hang around, saying "I think Biden's still mad I confused him for The Vulture on the train that one time."


"Guess it's time to head back to New York," Spider-Man says at the end.

"It looks like Washington's in capable hands..."


Click here for more images



Tuesday, January 20


Wanna hear Aretha Franklin sing?



11:13 AM



Thursday, January 16


"Elvis's favorite recipes" seems like a great idea for a cookbook. But the title is even better.

"Are you hungry tonight?"


Yes, I DID have a peanut butter and banana sandwich for lunch...


4:07 PM



Monday, January 12


I'd mentioned that Alan Merrill sang his own version of the song Daydream Believer.

But one of my readers points out that it was one of Merrill's own songs that became pretty famous — and was covered by Joan Jett.



"He was the lead singer (and he also wrote the first version of) 'I Love Rock and Roll' with his band The Arrows in 1975," reads the email. "Joan Jett and Britney Spears later covered it."


"The Arrows" even had their own weekly TV show in England for two years -- "The Arrows Show."

I originally wrote that "Merrill played in several bands in Greenwich Village before he became a Japanese TV host and soap opera actor, and also recorded with Rick Derringer and Meatloaf..."


9:19 AM



Saturday, January 10


"When she was good, she was very good..." I've finally discovered the first person to ever say that.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. (American poet, 1807-1882)

There was a little girl, who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead,
And when she was good, she was very, very good,
But when she was bad she was horrid....


Click here for the rest of the poem...



Tuesday, December 23


My favorite Christmas song...



6:01 PM



Tuesday, November 25




In a Corvette convertible, "Buz Murdock" and "Tod Stiles" drifted across America in the early '60s TV series, Route 66.

I just watched an episode that ended with what seemed like iconic dialogue.

"Take me with you," says a woman Buzz met on the road...


"I've already bought my ticket. I'm going to stay with a girlfriend in Denver until I get a job. That's my plan -- you can change it. (Buzz remains silent)

I'm ready and you're not. I hope you find what you're looking for."


Buzz says, "We're leaving town," and the woman whispers "Good luck."

Outside in the car, a gloomy Buzz turns to Tod and says, "You know what? I've got that restless feeling. Let's just go."



2:50 PM



Saturday, November 8


I'm no hipster, but even I'm awed by the 1991 album Loveless released by My Bloody Valentine. (Rolling Stone called it one of the greatest albums of all time, and it took over two years to record -- in 19 different studios.)

I found out tonight that the band released a video for the album's final track, "Soon."




The band's beautiful, fuzzy sound is said to have launched the musical genre known as "shoegazing" -- and the video captures it perfectly.



7:24 PM



Tuesday, November 4


"Someone had to be the first," my girlfriend said.

44 years ago, Sammy Davis Jr. appeared in a Broadway musical called "Golden Boy," and sang the song "Yes, I Can."

Yesterday someone uploaded the song to the internet.

"On this, the eve of perhaps one of the most important elections of our lifetime, I would like to post this wonderfully uplifting song...

I'm urging you to go out and defend your candidate, whether you be a Democrat or a Republican, as long as your voice is heard and you use your right to vote."



A Destiny-land reader writes:

I won tickets to that play in 1965 when I was a senior in high school. I bought the album and have every song memorized.

Now, 43 years later, when I would drive to Democratic headquarters to start my day of phoning, going door-to-door, etc., I'd sing: "Yes, I Can." The golden boy image and that song just resonated the whole time.



11:28 PM



Tuesday, October 28




The ultimate Paul Newman tribute came from an episode of Friends in May of 2001.

Flinchy Chandler runs away on the day he's supposed to marry Monica. He explains his fears by arguing that it's always impossible to make a marriage work.


"The only person who can make marriage work is Paul Newman.

And I've met me. I'm no Paul Newman. I don't race cars. I don't make popcorn.

None of my proceeds go to charity."



10:39 PM



Thursday, October 9


At a rainy truck stop in Pennsylvania, Jim finally proposed to Pam on the season premiere of The Office.

         


She'd gone off to college in New York, but agreed to drive halfway back for a quick visit before her 4:00 class.


Hey! This is not halfway! I did the math. I had to drive way longer than you. Montclair would've been closer. So you have to buy lunch.

What are you doing?





Watch it here.


12:38 PM



Wednesday, October 8


A few years before his death, 59-year-old Dashiell Hammett wrote a short story called "Tulip." A no-good drifter visits a writer, offering to tell his life story as juicy material for a mystery.

Hammett's writer character isn't interested.


"[W]here in the name of God do you get the notion that writers go around hunting for things to write about? Organizing material is the problem, not getting it. Most of the writers I know have far too many things on tap; they're snowed under with stuff they'll never get around to."

I wondered if Hammett secretly wrote himself into the story. And I really enjoyed this exchange between the drifter and the writer.

"Pop, do you want me to tell you why it is you always start to sulk as soon as anybody says anything about your writing?"

"No, I don't," I said honestly.



2:45 PM



Tuesday, September 30


Henry Mancini also wrote the music for "The Great Race." In this clip you can hear the oompa-pa music for the bad guys, "Professor Fate" and his henchman Max.* (Played by Jack Lemmon and Peter Falk).

Professor Fate tries to out-do "The Great Leslie" by setting a new land-speed record with a black-and-red rocket car (decorated with a skull and crossbones).



It's a really wonderful scene. (Directed by the legendary Blake Edwards)


*On the soundtrack, the song's official title is "Push the button, Max." I was amazed to discover that hipsters had recorded their own alternative version.

And click here to hear The Pie-in-the-face Polka


3:17 PM



Tuesday, September 23


What's Barack Obama's favorite movie?

The Godfather — parts 1 and 2. ("Three -- not so much.")

In an interview with CBS's Katie Couric, Obama said his other favorite movies were Lawrence of Arabia and Casablanca. ("Who doesn't like Casablanca?)

"I asked for one," Katie Couric complained.

"I'm a movie guy," Obama replied, unapologetically. "I can rattle off a bunch of movies!"



And Barack Obama's favorite book is...



Tuesday, September 16


Henry Mancini wrote a gazillion soundtracks for movies (and TV shows). But at the age of 70, just a few months before he died, Mancini also did a surprising and funny bit as one of the troubled callers to Dr. Frasier Crane's radio show on Frasier. (According to Wikipedia...)

The joke was he played a caller so boring that Frasier and Roz can't resist goofing around silently while he rambles on about his problem...

Click here to read what he said



Monday, September 8


It's the annotated Annette!

Someone tweaked Annette Funicello's duet with the Beach Boys into a "pop-up video" that heckles her. Annette's first thought bubble?

"I can't believe I'm singing about monkeys."


Yes, it's the title song for a family-friendly 1965 movie about a college student and his super-smart monkey...


11:01 AM



Wednesday, September 3


Here's how one blogger reviewed the 1951 noir potboiler, His Kind of Woman (which stars Jane Russell).

So... yeah, toward the end Vincent Price goes nuts and starts killing people... he goes nuts in a comedic way spouting actor-y Shakespeare lines while discovering vitality in being a man, but I chose to see it as somewhat more sinister. He just cracks and finds out that he enjoys killing. It's awesome.

He also says stuff like "this is man's work, women are for weeping!"



4:14 PM



Friday, August 22


To promote the 1954 movie Underwater, Howard Hughes flew 200 journalists and movie stars to a Florida lake, then gave the journalists scuba gear so they could watch the movie 25 feet below the lake's surface.

I just received an email with some glamorous memories. Jayne Mansfield was there in a bathing suit, and "When she went into the water...it became translucent!"

55 years later, William Ray (the PR director) wanted to reminisce -- and to tell me the complicated arrangement he'd worked out with RKO pictures.


Click here to read William's memories - and see more Jane Russell!



Tuesday, August 19


Nearly 500 years ago, Little "Bo Peep" was told of her sheep to "Leave them alone, and they'll come home, and bring their tails behind them." But there are actually five verses to the poem, which explain what happened next (and why the syntax was so garbled in the first verse).

Then up she took
her little crook,
Determined for to find them;
      She found them indeed,
      but it made her heart bleed,
For they'd left all their tails behind 'em!

It happened one day,
as Bo-peep did stray
Unto a meadow hard by--
      There she espied
      their tails, side by side,
All hung on a tree to dry.



It makes more sense when you read the Wikipedia entry. "Bo Peep" was a customs house on the south coast of England.



"Little Bo Peep herself refers to the customs men, the sheep are the smugglers and the tails are the contraband (probably barrels of rum and/or brandy)...

She didn't know where to find them, but was told to leave them alone and they'll come home, dragging their "tails" behind them.

And the final verse makes more sense as a description of a dutiful British customs man assessing the abandoned booty.

She heaved a sigh and wiped her eye,
And over the hillocks she raced;
      And tried what she could,
      as a shepherdess should,
That each tail should be properly placed.



1:51 PM



Saturday, August 9


After 10 years, and the last episode of Friends, Matt LeBlanc gave a speech about his future for the first episode of the short-lived spin-off series Joey. "It's time to move on," Joey tells his sister Gina. "Change can be good."

"Oh, it's easy for you to say," Gina says. (She's angry that her son is moving in with Joey). And the writers gave Joey a good response.


"No it's not! No... Look, nobody understands wanting things to stay the same like I do. I was happy in New York, okay? And I tried really hard to keep things from changing. But everyone else got married, and had kids, and moved on. They all changed.

So I'm giving change a shot. And it has been hard. But just hoping things stay the same? It doesn't work."


"Are you smarter than used to be?" Joey's sister asks sweetly.

"Nah, I don't know where that came from..." Joey replies.


Watch it here and read Joey's OTHER speech from Friends
(about "giving and receiving" for Monica and Chandler's wedding)


5:43 PM



Tuesday, August 5


Sarah Hepola wrote a nice blog essay that combines The Dark Knight, memories of her mother, and internet trolls.

Her boyfriend was a homocide detective...


Speaking of internet trolls...

On the other hand, here's a glowing review of Craigslist


2:53 PM



Sunday, August 3


I've always loved the laid back song that Bing Crosby sang in The Road to Morocco.

He's accompanied by the "ghost" of Bob Hope's grandmother on harp...



It's been more than 20 years since I've seen the movie, but the tune still sticks in my head.
Ain't got a dime to my name
What a terrible shame.
Ho hum.
Ho ho, hum...



Click here for the complete lyrics



Friday, August 1


Mr. Rogers drove the same old Chevy Impala for years -- until one day the car was stolen. After filing a police report, every newspaper and media outlet in the area picked up the story, according to a story on CNN.

Amazingly, within 48 hours the car was left in the exact spot where it was taken from, with an apology on the dashboard.

It read, "If we'd known it was yours, we never would have taken it."



And here's my own favorite story about Mr. Rogers.


1:25 PM



Thursday, July 31





Thursday, July 24


"Elvis used to have parties at his house and — I've told this story a million times — but they weren't really parties, because there was no chips or dip. Just Elvis and his boys watching TV, and him making funny comments, and everybody laughing at them.

Is that a party? Not really. But that's Hollywood."


The Onion's AV club just published a fascinating interview with 64-year-old Teri Garr.



1:30 PM



Tuesday, July 15


In 1910, a British dance hall star sang a ditty about a man whose wife had had seven previous husbands.

57 years later, it was re-recorded by Herman's Hermits, and in 1967 became "the fastest-selling song in history," according to Wikipedia.

"I am Henry the Eighth, I am.
   Henry the Eighth I am, I am.
I got married to the woman next door.
   She's been married seven times before.

And every one was a Henry.
   She wouldn't have a Willy or a Sam.
I'm her eighth old man named Henry,
   Henry the Eighth I am.

        (Second verse! Same as the first...)

But there's a strange second verse that hasn't been been popular since 1910. Archive.org has a recording of the original 1910 version — which reveals how the marriage worked out.



Click here for the second verse



Sunday, June 29


Devo just sued McDonalds over a toy giveaway. It's a doll wearing a red "power dome" — on which Devo holds a trademark and copyright.

"They didn't ask us anything," says Devo's Gerald Casale.

"Plus, we don't like McDonald's, and we don't like American Idol, so we're doubly offended."



"The band also allege that the toy plays a 'Devo-esque song.'"

See also: Devo faces censorship from MTV and Disney


11:29 AM



Thursday, June 19


"It was against the law," Paul Simon sang. "What the mama saw? It was against the law."

It's one of the great enigmas of pop music — what exactly did she see? The song is "Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard." But what incident is it describing?

It made the mama "spit on the ground every time my name gets mentioned," according to the mysterious lyrics, and made papa determined to stick him "in the house of detention."

In a couple of days
they come and take me away
but the press let the story leak.

And when the radical priest
come to get me released
we's all on the cover of Newsweek.

It's bothered me for years, so I finally researched the song on Wikipedia.


Click here for Paul Simon's answer



Tuesday, June 17


"Fast Times at Ridgemont High" also became a TV series in 1986.

22 years later, someone has magically obtained over two minutes of video footage from the series. (Jeff Spicoli was played by Dean Cameron instead of Sean Penn -- but they kept the same actors for teachers Mr. Hand and Mr. Varga.)



The word usually used to describe this series is "short-lived"


Click here to see the book



Monday, June 9


Steve Carell wrote a funny article in Wired called How to Act Brilliant.

Here's just the headings for some of Steve's funny bits of advice.


Engage in Reading-Type Behavior

Get the Abs of Einstein

Match Your Shoes to Your Belt

Don't Chew Your Food



3:13 PM



Tuesday, May 27


1975 was a strange time.



It's "Disco-Tex and his Sex-o-Lettes."

They had one top ten hit in 1975 -- called "Get Dancin' " -- and if you look up its lyrics, here's what you get.

Doo doo, doo doo, doo-doo doot
Doo doo, doo doo, doo-doo doot
Get dancing, dancing, dancing!

Doo doo, doo doo, doo-doo doot
Doo doo, doo doo, doo-doo doot
Get dancing, dancing, dancing!
Amazingly, the song was seven minutes long.



Click here for the rest of this entry



Thursday, May 23


Not only did Depatie-Freleng create The Pink Panther cartoons. They also did the opening credits for I Dream of Jeannie.

Wait, it gets stranger.


Click on the images to view the American and German openings

When I Dream of Jeannie was shown in Germany, an entirely new opening sequence was created using a more Germanic wish-granting housewife.


Even stranger, the original opening was live-action.

(And yes, DePatie-Freleng also did "Here Comes the Grump.")


11:48 PM



Tuesday, May 20


Nearly 40 years ago, a cartoon aired for two years -- then disappeared. (Although 20 years ago it was re-broadcast on Spanish television as Ahi viene cascarrabias.)

Imagine my delight when a cartoon I last saw at the age of six turned up on YouTube.


Here comes the Grump!
Here comes the Grump!



Read the rest of this entry



Thursday, May 15


Behold! The future!

Today Amazon released a new toy that embeds playlists of song samples directly into your web page. To celebrate, I've created my own special exhibit.

41 years of the Monkees song "Daydream Believer."

Amazon found over 50 versions, each strangely trying to mimick the vulnerable "cred" of Davy Jones.




Read the rest of 50 versions of the Monkees Daydream Believer.



Saturday, May 10


I almost forgot about this...

Archie explains to Jughead about that girl "whose dad was loaded," and before long she's telling him "I want to live like common people...I want to sleep with common people...."

Veronica never got a smackdown like this before... It's a mashup of the lyrics to the subversive Pulp song "Common People" with the hopelessly square comic strip Archie.


I wish more people on the net would do stuff like this.


11:14 AM



Thursday, May 8


It was the only time a fictitious rock group had the #1 song of the year.



But The Archies got nearly all their voices from a man named Ron Dante. He was Archie, Jughead, and Reggie — and according to Wikipedia, he even sang in a falsetto voice as Betty for the song "Jingle, Jangle."


"In 1969, Ron [also] recorded an album under the group name of The Cufflinks... Providing both lead and background vocals through overdubbing, Dante hit the U.S. Top Ten with the single "Tracy", at the same time that The Archies' "Sugar, Sugar" was at the top spot on the same chart. Dante was anonymous on both tracks..."

"We recorded maybe thirty or forty songs in a three or four week period, and 'Sugar Sugar' was just another song," Ron remembers. In fact, he recorded over 100 songs for the Archies' show and five albums. But over 40 of those songs were never released on CD.

"[T]here is a chance that I will get my hands on the masters someday and release them on my own label," he vows in this interview.


In 1971 Archie's cartoon band even issued a pretentious "Summer Prayer for Peace."

"The Archies are sometimes jokingly compared to the seminal 60s rock band The Doors, as the Doors also had no bass player." — Wikipedia

The Archies burned through three different female vocalists.

Dante's voice also sang the "Coke is..." counterpart on the famous "I'd like to teach the world to sing" commercial.


10:58 AM



Tuesday, May 6


Susie Bright has a message for the D.C. Madam.

Jeane, I am so sorry. I know you swore to me that you'd never serve another term in prison for prostitution, or anything else. You almost lost your eyesight the first time. I'm sure you asked your lawyers if there was any hope for your sentencing, and I guess it must have looked bleak.

I know how pissed you were. This was an act of revenge, and I know who you're determined to haunt....


See also: The Death of a Madam


3:05 PM



Sunday, May 4


"Perhaps the web isn't shortening our attention span.

Perhaps the world is just getting more interesting."



From David Weinberger's book Small Pieces, Loosely Joined.


9:01 AM



Tuesday, April 22


I feel like I committed the perfect crime. For 100 days Helium.com promised their members up to $3 for every 400-word article they wrote. So I cranked out nearly 300 quick articles, and now they owe me about $900.

But of course it wasn't that simple...


Read the rest of "How I reviewed 300 bad movies and earned $900"


Or read the reviews here

(Or the 2009 articles here)





Friday, April 11


MTV offers lyrics to Devo songs on their web page. But they got frightened by the title of Devo's famous "Are we not men" song, and couldn't bring themselves to write "Jocko Homo" on their page.


It's no accident. They have a page listing every track on all of Devo's albums — and each of the 11 times "Jocko Homo" was included in a new compilation, MTV changed its name.

"Jocko H***"

Read the rest of "Devo changes by MTV and Disney"





Thursday, March 6


Enjoy this short clip from Amazon Women on the Moon.



6:56 PM



Wednesday, February 27


William F. Buckley talks about Graceland. Buckley actually had kind words for young Elvis Presley, but he still bemoaned...
...the spiritual inclination of the American people, who do not require that the memory being venerated should have been a martyr or a prophet. Just someone truly singular and mythogenic, who contributed to his own legend his suicidal ending as a victim of the drugs he inveighed against with the strange, disquieting, appealing innocence that marked his entire life.



11:25 AM



Monday, January 21


Ladies and gentlemen... The very first Pink Panther cartoon.

It's very funny.

"The Pink Phink" was released in 1964 (after the panther appeared in the opening credits of the first Peter Sellers movie) -- and it won an Oscar!


While we're at it, here's the first Tweety Bird cartoon.

And here's a short history of the Pink Panther and Tweety Bird


1:50 PM



Saturday, January 19


Over? Nothing is over. It's only a beginning. A kindling of the flame.

The 1957 movie Johnny Tremain ends with the story of Paul Revere's ride, the battle of old North Bridge, and "The Shot Heard Round the World." The colonies will go to war with Britain after all...

Feed it, lads, as you fed it with your blood today. It is the spark of liberty that you've touched a-fire. Its light must grow until every dark corner has vanished and it illuminates the world.



4:27 PM



Wednesday, December 19


There's an entire web site about Jan and Dean's 1964 song The Little Old Lady From Pasadena.

It was written by a med student (who later became a doctor), who'd been friends with Jan Berry.

[T]he "union man" would knock on the door precisely as the second hand would hit the "twelve," marking the end of the third hour. If the session didn't end at that second, it was "overtime pay" for the musicians--which was about triple the ordinary rates...

There are six minutes left until the three-hour deadline is up. Jan rushes out into the room and passes out the sheet music to "Little Old Lady." Take One . . . No good. Take Two is finished as the "union man" starts knocking on the door...

It spends the Summer of '64 climbing all the way to Number Three on the Billboard pop charts.



12:33 PM



Monday, November 5


More Tribbles, More Troubles.

A sequel to the famous Star Trek episode about tribbles was written in 1973 by its original author as part of the often-overlooked Saturday morning cartoon, Star Trek: The Animated Series.

Apparently Cyrano Jones escaped from his tribble-collecting duty using a stolen tribble-eating predator developed by the Klingons. Now the Enterprise is, again, on a grain transport mission at the exact moment when the Klingons attack the space trader's ship. Inevitably he's beamed aboard -- along with his tribbles.

I watched the episode tonight, and then discovered that it also has a bunch of fan pages on the web. Ultimately Mr. Spock has the best line of dialogue, after the Klingons have disabled the Enterprise's phasers and photon torpedoes.

"We could always throw tribbles at them."



8:14 PM



Thursday, October 25


She's Elvira: Mistress of the Beer.

Here's a really fascinating article about the career of Cassandra "Elvira" Peterson and how she revived the fortunes of crappy beer maker, Coor's.

According to this article...

  • She became the first female celebrity ever to endorse a beer.

  • Coor's cancelled her contract because they worried people would think they were Satanists.

  • They hired her back, because Coor's distributors insisted. "As long as we had Elvira, we were the preferred beer supplier for Halloween."

  • Those life-sized Elvira cut-outs were a problem -- because frat boys kept stealing them.



1:29 PM



Sunday, October 14


Everyone knows I have a thing for Schoolhouse Rock singer Blossom Dearie.
"Blossom Dearie's voice, critic Whitney Balliett once wrote, would scarcely reach the second story of a doll house.

"But that has never stopped her from swinging like mad."


Unfortunately, YouTube has disabled embedding for the 9-minute video at that link.

So here instead is a sad geek singing his acapella version of Blossom Dearie's "Once Upon a Summertime."


Viewed just 206 times.


10:09 PM



Monday, October 8


A poem by Walt Whitman.

   A noiseless patient spider,
   I mark'd where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
   Mark'd how to explore the vacant, vast surrounding,
   It launched forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself.
   Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

   And you O my soul where you stand,
   Surrounded, detatched, in measureless oceans of space,
   Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them.
   Till the bridge you will need be form'd, till the ductile anchor hold,
   Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.



I just read this article where various career writers suggest that we don't read enough in the internet age. That our culture is becoming shallow and snarky.

It got me thinking about how exhiliarating reading used to feel when I was younger, and all that mysterious grandeur of going to the library.

Oh well. Enjoy my next post, "Ant-Man likes Ms. Marvel's Butt."



8:20 PM



Sunday, September 2


You know who else likes Ms. Marvel's butt?

Ant-Man.

You already know he's kind of a lech if you're reading Marvel comics' The Irredeemable Ant-Man. ("The world's most unlikeable super hero.") Young security guard Eric O'Grady stole the Ant-Man suit, and is living on the run.

And being young, irresponsible, and able-to-shrink-down-to-ant-size, he's been using his powers to peep on the ladies while they're showering...

In Ant-Man #7, he stows away in a blonde woman's purse. (And yes, those were tampons in the background.) He realizes she's a super hero, but then decides maybe her apartment will be as cool as Batman's. "I bet this broad's got all kinds of cool stuff back at her lair. I could probably make off with a dinosaur, or a giant penny."

And then, it happens.

Hm. My 'Ant-Senses' are telling me that sounds unmistakably not unlike a shower running. I must go immediately -- to investigate.
It's followed by eight small panels of Eric O'Grady, sitting motionless on Ms. Marvel's shower head and smiling.
"You'd think this would get old after a while, but you know -- it really doesn't."

Marvel Comics captures the strange scene in their cover for the next issue.



Strangely, this page is now one of the top matches on Google images for the phrase "Ms. Marvel's boobs"


Eventually Ant-Man realizes he's sealed into her flying headquarters, and broods on the ceiling.
("Crap. I'm not going to get my giant penny.")

"Ms. Marvel, Ms. Marvel... I hadn't even heard of you before today, but let me tell you a secret...
You're my all-time favorite super hero."


And two years later, Spider-Man got to see Ms. Marvel naked



Thursday, August 30


Ice-T's story.
I've always felt like an outsider. Every Thanksgiving, every Christmas, it was me, sitting at someone else’s table. It was that vibe like when you're over at somebody’s house and they’re whispering in the kitchen, "Why is he here?"

I came into life so hard that when I see other adults who say they need or want their parents, it seems corny to me. When there’s nobody to hug you when you cry, eventually you stop crying. I think that’s how I ended up getting called "Ice."



From the book Always Too Soon: Voices of Support for Those Who Have Lost Both Parents.


There's more...

Via Susie Bright


10:56 AM



Monday, August 13


In the early 1970s, four American ex-patriates in Paris had formed a band called King Harvest. But their one hit single was released after the band broke up...

It reached #13 on the U.S. charts in 1972, and stayed on the charts longer than any other song that year (except one). The band re-united for their first -- and last -- American tour. (Their opening act was a young stand-up comic named Jay Leno.) Then they broke up again. (Though some members of the band later toured with the Beach Boys.)

All that remains is the song.


Dancing in the moonlight,
Everybody's feeling warm and bright.
It's such a fine and natural sight

Everybody's dancing in the moonlight...



I had no idea it was recorded in Paris.


11:08 AM



Sunday, August 5


Marvel comic books received comments from their readers about the costume on Ms. Marvel.

I wouldn't mind if you made the back show off her butt a little more...

And if you made it a thong, I wouldn't complain about that either.


The reader said he'd especially liked the way Frank Cho drew Ms. Marvel's butt. (Though the character is currently drawn by Roberto DeLaTorre.)


In reply, the comic's writer remembered the first thing Frank Cho ever said to him.

"Hey, nice to meet you. You gotta tell DeLaTorre to start drawing her boobs bigger."


Source: Ms. Marvel #7.
Image: Ms. Marvel #3.


10:44 PM



Friday, August 3


"A day after the recall of millions of Chinese-made toys because of the lead content of their paint, critics are trashing Bratz: The Movie...because of the lead content of its story."

See, this is why I enjoy reading "Studio Briefing" at IMDB.com.

Ty Burr in the Boston Globe describes it this way: "It's pure marketing chum for tweeners: a proudly shallow, purposefully bland ode to girly-girl narcissism. I could actually feel my brain stem shrivel up as I watched it."

Amy Biancolli in the Houston Chronicle begins her review this way: "O.M.G. ! This movie is SO BAD! I can't believe I just spent an hour and a half of my life, like, watching it, when I could have been totally trying on hairbands instead!"

And Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune dismisses it as "the most horrifying film of 2007."



3:02 PM



Sunday, July 8


Devo sold their songs to Disney. But the check must've cleared. Now Devo song-writer Gerry Casale is revealing how surreal the collaboration was.
...they picked the songs, then acted horrified -- the top Taliban at Disney -- when they got the lyrics.
"What? Beautiful world for you, but not for me! You can't say that."

I'd say, "But you picked the song. What do you want me to say?"

"Make it say me, too!"

It was fantastic. It was an exercise in proving our point. Even better.

59-year-old Casale hopes that when the album's audience is older, "they're gonna go to the internet and find out about the real Devo.

"Hopefully it teaches them another lesson about censorship and the corporation."


See also: Devo vs. MTV and Disney


2:25 AM



Sunday, July 1


I loved the comic book Punisher War Journal #4. "A group of B-grade supervillains get together at a wake for the recently deceased 'Stilt-Man'..."
What happened to us, man? The world used to tremble before us. The world used to shake.

We were huge...



10:04 AM



Tuesday, June 26


The Nancy comic strip attracted new interest last year after some bloggers discovered "the Sexiest Nancy panel ever."

Today I found pictures of more Nancy comic book covers which could be construed as hinting at kinky S&M themes.

Finally, since we're talking about it, here's my own "artist's conception" for the origins of the sexiest Nancy panel ever. (Google Images just put it on their fourth page of results for the phrase "bondage drawing.")


This post was inspired by the re-surrected 1960 comic... Linus Versus the Pooping Robot.

It led me to this page about strange comic book versions of Peanuts
which were supervised, but not drawn, by Charles M. Schulz!

Speaking of Nancy, cartoonist Ernie Bushmiller also drew a line of sexy comic strips about her Aunt Fritzi.

And click here for still more Nancy goodness.


1:09 PM


I've moved my older posts into the archive.

But the three most popular blurbs from the last year are going to stay on this page - below!



10:02 PM




Sunday


The Oompah Loompahs were even scarier in the original book.

In Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, they sing their stern judgments with extensive and gleeful details about the fates of the bad children.

For example, Augustus Gloop.


A hundred knives go slice, slice, slice;
We add some sugar, cream, and spice;
We boil him for a minute more,
Until we're absolutely sure....

For Tim Burton's movie, Danny Elfman changed that lyric to "We boil it for a minute more..."

Elfman sang, produced, and wrote music for all the songs. But Dahl's lyrics were apparently so vicious, that Elfman had to trim out most of them.

As an example, here's Roald Dahl's original lyrics for the Augustus Gloop song. Italics show the only lines that Danny Elfman kept.


Augustus Gloop! Augustus Gloop!
The great big greedy nincompoop!


How long could we allow this beast
To gorge and guzzle, feed and feast
On everything he wanted to?
Great Scott! It simply wouldn't do!

However long this pig might live,
We're positive he'd never give
Even the smallest bit of fun
Or happiness to anyone.

So what we do in cases such
As this, we use the gentle touch,
And carefully we take the brat
And turn him into something that

Will give great pleasure to us all --
A doll, for instance, or a ball,
Or marbles or a rocking horse.
But this revolting boy, of course,

Was so unutterably vile,
So greedy, foul, and infantile


He left a most disgusting taste
Inside our mouths, and so in haste

We chose a thing that, come what may,
Would take the nasty taste away.

'Come on!' we cried, 'The time is ripe
To send him shooting up the pipe!

He has to go! It has to be!'
And very soon, he's going to see
Inside the room to which he's gone
Some funny things are going on.

But don't, dear children, be alarmed;
Augustus Gloop will not be harmed,
Although, of course, we must admit
He will be altered quite a bit.

He'll be quite changed from what he's been,
When he goes through the fudge machine:

Slowly, wheels go round and round,
and cogs begin to grind and pound;

A hundred knives go slice, slice, slice;
We add some sugar, cream, and spice;

We boil [it] for a minute more,
Until we're absolutely sure

That all the greed and all the gall
Is boiled away for once and all.

Then out he comes! And now! By grace!
A miracle has taken place!

This boy, who only just before
Was loathed by men from shore to shore,

This greedy brute, this louse's ear,
Is loved by people everywhere!
For who could hate or bear a grudge
Against a luscious bit of fudge?"

But to be fair, 34 years ago, I remember a kid on the playground talking about Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. He'd read the book - "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" - and through the entire movie he'd waited to hear the Oompah Loompahs sing...
"Augustus Gloop, Augustus Gloop, The great big greedy nincompoop!"
But they didn't.

I wonder if he'd even remember that conversation. But I did. Saturday, watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. When the Oompah Loompahs finally sang...

"Augustus Gloop, Augustus Gloop, The great big greedy nincompoop!"



8:41 PM



Friday


Japanese "anime" comic books - artsy drawings, sometimes with adult themes - are a target for small-town censors in this naturalistic drama about a comic book store owner.

Surprisingly, it's appearing in installments in the newspaper comic strip Funky Winkerbean.

It starts innocently enough - a mother goes to the comic book store. She's startled by what she sees, and warns "Don't worry. I'll be back."

And then the story escalates.

"Great! Eight previously solicited titles have had pushbacks in their publication dates... Can this day possibly get any worse?"

"You're under arrest."

"That was a rhetorical question."
Poignantly, the kids at the store don't understand. The owner of the store is escorted to the police car.

Out on bail, he's shown sadly bagging comic books...



3:39 PM



Thursday


Last night Jon Stewart's The Daily Show did a segment about bloggers.

The highlight was its interview with Stephen Colbert...


JON: With more on the role of blogger's in today's media, I'm joined by Daily Show senior media correspondent, Stephen Colbert.

STEPHEN: Jon, before we begin, I'd like to get something off my chest, before I get 'outed' by the bloggers.

My real name isn't Stephen Colbert. It's Ted Hitler. No relation. Well, distant relation, two generations back. Directly. I'm Adolf Hitler's grandson. Anyways, it's out there. It's no longer news.

JON: Uh, uh, wow. First of all, thank you for your honesty, Stephen...

STEPHEN: It's Ted. It's Ted Hitler.

JON: Ted, you're sort of 'old media,' you're an old media reporter. What are your thoughts on, in your mind, the role of these new media figures?

STEPHEN: Jon, the vast majority of bloggers out there are responsible correspondents doing fine work in niche reporting fields like Gilmore Girl fan fiction, or cute things their cats do or photoshopped images of the Gilmore Girls as cats. That's great. Where I draw the line is with these "attack bloggers," just someone with a computer who gathers, collates and publishes accurate information that is then read by the general public. They have no credibility. All they have is facts. Spare me...

JON: But, Stephen, I mean, to be perfectly...

STEPHEN: Okay, I put myself through school as a Colombian drug mule. I put heroin in condoms and I smuggled them into the country in my colon. Okay? Fine. Post away, atrios.blogspot.com

JON: Um -- getting back to the story, Stephen, the medium of the internet may be new but what bloggers do, as you just described it, is really in many respects what journalists do.

STEPHEN: 'What journalists do', Jon? As a journalist, I think I know what I do. I'm not sitting at home in front of my computer. I'm out there busting my hump every day at the White House, transcribing their press releases, repeating their talking points. That's how you earn your nickname from President Bush. And when he stands at the podium, points at me and says 'You, Chowderneck - question?' Everyone knows its me. Ted Hitler.

JON: But as long -- as long as the blogs fact-check, as long as these bloggers check their facts, why would you even object to this kind of political coverage?

STEPHEN: Because it's not political coverage, Jon. They're reporting on the reporters. The first rule of journalism is 'Don't talk about journalism'. Or maybe that's Fight Club, but my point is this. These guys need to learn: you don't report on reporters. Nobody likes a snitch! If they've got to report on something, why don't they take some of that youthful moxie of theirs and investigate this administration. Somebody ought to! You would not believe the things they're getting away with!

JON: But Stephen...

STEPHEN: Fine, Jon. Three years ago I killed a panda. Ling-Ling! Or the other one. I can't tell them apart. In my own defense, in my own defense Jon, it was dark, I was drunk, and it was delicious. Sorry to ruin your scoop, Colbert_Killed_A_Panda.com

JON: Now Stephen, like it or not, these bloggers have already gained a certain legitimacy.

STEPHEN: Yes, Jon, and therein lies our only hope. For with legitimacy, the bloggers will gain a seat at the table, and with that comes access, status, money, power. And if we've learned anything about the mainstream media, that breeds complacency.

Or, whatever.




4:35 PM