Saturday, January 31, 2004

I Used To Believe

Today's fun link is I Used To, a website where people submit what they used to believe as children about the world. It's funny, nostalgic, and weird. Here's a good example:

"My cousin moved from Texas to Illinois when she was about 4. At the time it was winter and she had never seen snow. When her mother told her that she was finally going to see snow she started crying. As it turned out she thought that snow came out of the sky in the form of snowballs and they would hit you in the head if you went outside."
Categories: random-lynx

Flashback Friday: Great Space Coaster

Well, I wanted to post this on Friday, but I forgot so it's flashback Saturday. Here's a reminder of the classic show, "The Great Space Coaster." There is a fanbase online for it, just like everything else, but not much. I found one that calls itself The Unofficial Site dedicated to the show but which looks pretty sparse and cheezy. I think this AOL version is better with more pictures, but both reminded me of a few things.

First of all, they had some great characters. Seeing their pictures on the website was like flipping through a photo album and seeing old friends, the kind you hadn't thought about in years but triggered a flood of memories. Remember Gary Gnu (which oddly was pronounced "guh-new")? I think his catchphrase was "No g-news is good g-news." And also Goriddle Gorilla, who was obsessed with bananas.

I think my favorite moment was always when the black guy pulled out his little video gizmo and snapped in a square plastic chip that would play the cartoons. Now I realize it looked a lot like a handheld VCR! At the time, it was portrayed as magical, but would that we had something like that today. Those portable DVD players are huge.
Categories: entertainment

Blind Date: Queer Eye

I caught the end of an episode of "Blind Date" last month where this very (shall we say) flamboyant guy was on the date. It started when he first came out of his apartment to meet the girl and literally skipped down the stairs. The show rewound and played the skipping again with "What the heck" on the screen, then put little cartoon flames behind him. That kind of thing went on the whole date. He and the girl went on a carriage ride in the park and he was talking to the driver named Sam with his head tilted and the words "Is he coming onto Sam?" scrolled across.

Finally, the couple are talking in their car and the conversation turns to dating habits. The guy says how he feels dishonest when he's dating more than one person. The girl laughs and agrees and he blurts out, "I know, I hate that, when you're juggling like seventeen guys!" The show rewound and played it again: "seventeen guys...seventeen guys...seventeen guys!" Then it put up a cartoon of a suitcase slamming shut, "Case closed."

At the end of the date, the girl said, "I wouldn't date him again. I don't know how he feels about dating straight women."

Not that there's anything wrong with that...
Categories: entertainment

The Glass Liver

Strange but fascinating scientific news...a researcher is creating an artificial liver out of glass. The point isn't to make a liver replacement inside the body, but try to make a simulation of how the liver works that can be studied without animal testing. He's also running computer simulations. It amazes me that we still don't know how the liver works, after all these years. Doctors don't know everything.
Categories: science

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

African American Please

I thought I'd bring this one up again...there's a great article in about a fifty-year old African American history professor who decided to get a genetic test. Imagine his surprise when he discovered that even though he had lived as an African American all his life, he discovered that he had no genetic roots to Africa at all. A fascinating story about ethnicity, genetics, and what it really means to be "black" or "white."

NOTE: The link no longer works, but his story was profiled in the book Trace Your Roots With DNA.
Categories: science

Kitchen Fresh Chicken?

I heard an ad on the radio this morning. It was set in an office where everyone was raving for Kitchen Fresh Chicken, and wondering what it was. Only when someone said the initials did everyone recognize it: KFC. Is Kentucky Fried Chicken changing its name again? I couldn't find any info on it. I hope it's just an advertisement, because Kitchen Fresh Chicken is just lame.

By the way, did you know KFC is owned by Yum! Brands? That's another lame name. What's with these companies? You'd think the name of the company would be the first thing they get right.
Categories: misc

Dilbert: Afraid of Change

There's a Dilbert cartoon that I had pinned up to my cubicle. In the first panel, Catbert walks up to Alice in her cubicle and says "You think you're satisfied with your job." Next panel, he's pointing at her and yelling, "In reality, you're just afraid of change!" Next panel, Catbert walks away, purring and thinking, "That was some of my best work."

How many people stay at lousy jobs because they're afraid of what the next job will be? I know I do.
Categories: comedy

The Office

Have you seen the BBC sitcom, "The Office?" It won a couple of Golden Globe awards and one reviewer said it's the funniest British show since Monty Python. It airs on BBC America. Try to catch it, will ya? Let me know how it is. I've never seen it.
Categories: entertainment

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

The Way We Talk Now

The reason I brought up the "shock'n ya'll" issue is that I'm currently reading The Way We Talk Now by Geoff Nunberg. I've always loved his language-related commentaries on NPR's "Fresh Air," which are always thought-provoking and very funny. It's worth your time to do a search for Nunberg on "Fresh Air"'s archive and listen to some of them or go to his website and scroll down to "Occasional Writing."

The Way is a collection of his essays, and the latest one that struck me was his explanation of country music's obsession with puns. Another good essay explores the phrase "whatever," and my favorite so far has been his story of Phillip Morris' cigarette ad campaign with the slogan "Winston tastes as good as a cigarette should." (For the grammatically illiterate, it should be "like," not "as") People were outraged at the time. Here's a quote:

"In retrospect, it's all pretty ironic. Those cigarette ads do indeed sound a little sinister to us now, and of course they came back to haunt the companies that produced them. But the worst thing critics could find to say about them at the time was not that they were selling cigarettes, but only that they were doing it ungrammatically."

It's funny 'cause it's true.
Categories: misc

Shock'n Ya'll?!

This is another thing that caught my attention. Several times I've seen this country music CD at the grocery store, and I'll bet you have, too. It's by Toby Keith and it's titled Shock'n Ya'll. Every time I see it, I think "Huh?!"

Obviously, this is a pun on the "shock and awe" campaign waged in Iraq, but it makes no sense. First of all, it's a lousy pun. "Shock and awe" and "shock'n ya'll" don't even sound that much alike. And he had to resort to the word "shock'n," which I've never heard, but I don't live in the south. But worse, the phrase doesn't make any sense to me on its own. I mean, is the CD supposed to be so good that it's "shock'n" people, who are addressed as "ya'll?"

I can just imagine the artist in his studio on the eve of the Iraq War going "Hey, let's call it something like shock and awe. Like, shock,, ya'll. But rednecks don't say 'shock and,' so let's call it 'shock'n. Yeah, that's funny." Fast forward six months to when the phrase is a decaying relic of a failed military plan...

Of course, Keith isn't the only one who tried to take advantage of the phrase "shock and awe" in pop culture. There's a good article on it in the UK Guardian, although I think the game they're referring to has changed its name.
Categories: entertainment

Monday, January 26, 2004

Captured Saddam action figure

The company that brought us George Bush and Osama bin Laden action figures brings us the Captured Saddam action figure. You know, one could make the argument that this action figure glorifies Saddam or that it's in poor taste, but not me. I just think it's badly-made. I mean, it's obvious they just took the same body they used for all their hero figures and stuck Saddam's head on it. It's got muscles! The whole gimmick was supposed to be celebrating Saddam's humiliation. His doll looks better than he did in the spiderhole. And I don't remember Saddam wearing a T-shirt. If you're not gonna do it right, don't do it at all.

I don't recommend looking at the other action figures these guys make. The DOA Uday and DOA Qusay action figures are just offensive by any standards.

Delayed thoughts on "Armageddon"

Armageddon is on TV tonight, and this is my first time watching it. It's interesting. My first thought is that Liv Tyler is one of the most beautiful women on the planet. She's really edging up to the number one spot on my list of hottest female celebrity, currently occupied by Angelina Jolie.

My second thought is that the movie is not realistic, it's not well-written, it's got cheesy dialogue, and I don't think it's got a single accurate scientific fact in it. I mean, why would the space shuttle explode in a huge fireball? In space? With no oxygen? On the other hand, they managed to have some sort of explosion or fight scene every five minutes. There's got to be some sort of award for that.

Bad Astronomy has a good summary of all the scientific mistakes in this movie.
Categories: entertainment

Sunday, January 25, 2004

2005 Raspberry Award Winner

Those who love bad movies can rejoice, because Britney is back. One would think she would have learned to give up on acting after the horror of "Crossroads," but she didn't. She's working on starring in not one, not two, but three different movies, including a remake of "Dukes of Hazzard." The one that looks most likely is called "Door to Door," which is not about Jehovah's Witnesses. It's about an aspiring actress who gets a job at the door of a popular nightclub in Hollywood. Doesn't sound that bad, but I'm sure Britney will fix that.

First Look at "Van Helsing"

I was pretty excited about the movie "Van Helsing" starring Hugh Jackman. The poster looks awesome. Unfortunately, I've seen the first trailer and I'm less enthusiastic. Hugh Jackman looks cool, but the monsters look cheesy. I still think the best movie monster re-interpretations are the Wolfman, Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, and Creature from 1987's The Monster Squad. They changed the characters enough to make them look unique, but not so much that they become they are in "Van Helsing."

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Deadly McDonald's

We all knew fast food was unhealthy, but did you know it was this bad? There's an article in the NY Post on a man who spent 30 days eating nothing but McDonald's food and how quickly it destroyed his health. That's food for thought...

Britney Spears is an Idiot

Here are some choice highlights from an interview with Britney Spears in Blender magazine. I think it speaks for itself...

Spears's favorite smoke is strawberry flavored tobacco. "I didn't even know there was such a thing as hookah until two weeks ago," she says.

She stops abruptly and asks, "Hookah's not like weed, is it?"


She looks relieved.
Q: Do you know how much money you have?

A: I don't know. I know how much money I have in my trust fund, but that's a personal question.

Q: We're not asking for figures. Just, are you the sort of person who keeps an eye on her money? Do you know how much a quart of milk is?

A: I don't know - $4.50?
Q: In the wake of the September 11th attacks, you were mentioned as one of the reasons people were hostile to America. You were alleged to represent the immortality and hegemony of American culture.

A: What the hell are you talking about?

Q: Did you ever hear that?

A: This interview is way too deep.
Categories: entertainment, best-of

Friday, January 23, 2004

NASCAR makes sense

NASCAR always seemed like the world's most pointless sport. Cars driving around in a circle for two hours. Why would you watch that if it weren't for the crashes? Then recently I found out that there's a scoring system in NASCAR and it makes a lot more sense. You get points based on your position in the race, how long you've held the position, etc. That means they really are achieving something out there besides driving around in circles. I could get into that.
Categories: sports

Thursday, January 22, 2004

The Simple Life reflections

Well, the "Simple Life" ended a week ago and I already miss it. Whenever I told someone I loved the "Simple Life," they always said they don't watch it because they hate Nicole Ritchie and Paris Hilton. I always responded that that's exactly why I watched the show. I couldn't stand them and enjoyed watching them get tortured. My favorite part was when Nicole Richie was forced to shove her gloved arm up a cow's *beep* to do a pregnancy test. She screamed while she was shoving it in. Probably saw that even if you didn't watch the show, it was in all the commercials. After Nicole pulled her arm out, Paris recoiled in horror from her hand. So of course, Nicole started chasing Paris around the barn with it. The shrieks of terror were all I ever wanted to hear from Paris.

On a related note, I was extremely disappointed with the last two episodes. The reunion special was a waste of time, all scripted garbage with a segment on the girls visiting Walmart that was a blatant advertisement. And the final episode was all wistful, pretending the girls would actually be sad to leave. It made no mention of the trouble Nicole got into. The bleach she poured on the pool table cost $300 to fix, which the producers had to pay. This caused them to wrap production earlier than the promised 30 days. Wouldn't know that to watch the show, though...
Categories: entertainment, Paris Hilton