Hooray for Captain Spaulding

Thursday, December 30, 2004

I went ahead and got the Sony TV I said I was going to buy. The first thing I watched on it was Superman for two reason: 1) It was on top of the DVDs I had to box up since I was losing the shelves of my old TV stand and 2) it was the first thing that made me aware of VCRs or cable; I forget which but I remember being invited to a friend's house in 1980 to watch Superman on television and being amazed that such a thing was possible.

Fun time Activity: When the salesman hawks the extended warranty, ask if it covers burn-in. If he says "Yes", find the line item that says it doesn't cover burn-in.

Related Fun time Activity: Go to Best Buy. Ask various clerks if they have extension cords and if so, where. Collect the contradictory answers!

Speaking of the amazing age we live in, here's the link to donate to the American Red Cross via Amazon.

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Sunday, December 26, 2004

M.E. Russell reviews the Fat Albert and feels that it's like school in the summer: summer school. Two things in his review intrigue me:
  1. There's an epilogue sequence featuring the real-life guys who inspired the Junkyard Gang (or actors playing the real-life guys).
  2. There's a "musical montage where Fat Albert tries on a succession of funny hats" (no indication if someone gives approval/disapproval on the different kinds o' hats)
The fundamental thing wrong with a hat sequence (besides being cliche) is that Fat Albert doesn't normally wear a damn hat. If you were doing something with Beetle Bailey or Snuffy Smith, then sure, maybe you do a scene where someone sez "Hey, let's get you a more stylish hat" and then he tries on hats with "One Week" playing in the background or whatever the hell they're using for montages these days. But what's the point with someone who doesn't normally wear a hat?

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Saturday, December 25, 2004

File this story under "Maybe I'll splurge and get a flat-panel LCD television".

Instead, I'm considering this Sony model or an equivalent Toshiba, depending on what the post-Christmas sales look like. Thanks to your LCD's and your plasmas and your DLPs, a nice TV like that is "only" $1700, give-or-take. If I were posting this on Reason.com, I'd wonder how much of that price-tag is on government-required crap I don't want/need such as V-chip and closed captioning. Hell, my saving some dough by buying an HD-monitor as opposed to a fully equipped HDTV with tuner is an option that (if I understand the law correctly) won't be allowed in a year or two, despite the fact that many folk will be getting their HD programming from cable or satellite and don't need the tuner.

The fun part is reading FAQs like this or FAQs on burn-in and trying not to scream "Dammit, I just wanna watch TV!"

Speaking of burn-in, when's the first class-action suit against a network because their station logo or ticker tape caused burn-in? Someone get overlawyered on the phone!

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How can you tell that it's Christmas time? Entertainment news sites have to fill space with articles like this one asking how come there ain't a Martian Manhunter movie in development.

My brother tried to create a tiff between Mark Evanier and myself by pointing out the quote where Evanier refers to the Manhunter as "the Shemp of the Justice League". Fortunately I remembered this article where Mark comes to the defense of Shemp. Comparing Manhunter to Shemp is an insult to neither; both are misperceived as lesser members of their group. In the Martian Manhunter's case, you have a hero with near-Superman-level strength, flight, telepathy, and shape-shifting. Who wouldn't want that on the team?

Via Evanier, a Shemp web site by his granddaughters.

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Every year at my friend Robin Jones's Christmas Eve party, I learn of a movie to which my immediate reaction is "Why did no one have the decency to tell me thsi film existed?!?!?" This year the movie in question is Viva Max, a tale of a Mexican general retaking the Alamo.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Regarding the mini-controversy I posted here as to SNL depicting Limbaugh as a strung out junkie, reader Rolly reminds us in the comments that Smigel did a cartoon on his Comedy Central show called "Downey, Kidder and Heche" which made fun of the titular actors' drug abuse problems. Arguably the staff member's anger is with Lorne Michaels for approving the cartoon, not just with Smigel for making it but the point's the same.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2004

This post by my brother on Overlawyered raises an important question: If I had two questions, one about frosted Pop Tarts and one about unfrosted Pop Tarts, can I consult a "frosted-sugar pastry expert" on both matters or do I need to find a seperate expert on unfrosted sugar pastries?

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I link to this Reason Hit & Run article to call attention to the fact that there is a "Florida Tomato Committee", a branch of the federal government dedicated to determine tomato standards including, apparently, whether it's pleasing to the eye. More info in this New York Times article.

They've also declared that some old guy is Santa Claus; I'm not quite sure how that works.

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Monday, December 20, 2004

An outraged SNL staff member expresses anger to Drudge over a Smigel cartoon featuring Limbaugh passed-out from drug abuse. "Did we ever have some laughs about Robert Downey Jr.'s serious drug addiction?" he asks.

A transcript from a Downey fansite indicates that Downey did a monologue making fun of his arrest.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Last Saturday, I played the role of Santa Claus. A friend of mine (the one I mentioned here) organizes every year a fun-time-activities/gift-giving deal for underpriviliged children. Her Santa flaked so I volunteered to save Christmas.

The ovation I got from the kiddies was, of course, the biggest I've had in my performing career. My portrayal of jolly St. Nick was phenomenal. How good was I as Santa? I spoke Dutch to a war orphan.

Kids are easy to fool. "Hello, Veronica," said I to a young girl. "How did you know my name?" she asked. The truthful answer was "It's on your name tag." My answer was "I'm Santa Claus! That's how I know."

In front of the kiddies, I took the role seriously. When I finished dressing in the gift room, I threw a pretend diva fit when I saw some individually-wrapped Lemonheads. "Lemonheads! Are you putting &%#^ing LemonHeads in the &%#^ing stockings going out in my &%#^ing name?!?! You don't cheapen the brand with &%#^ing Lemonheads!!! Spend a dollar and get real candy!"

And of course, I was careful to be off-mike when saying "That should hold the little bastards."

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Thursday, December 09, 2004

Over in overlawyered, my brother wonders if there was any law suit between Sad Sack and Beetle Bailey. No reason for there to be as they were two different characters.

Sad Sack is a sad sack, that is to say a schlemiel. The humor there was that nothing would ever go right for poor Sad Sack ("Oh, Sad Sack, will you never win?", so to speak).

Beetle Bailey is a lazy ne'er-do-well. The humor is the various ways he avoids (or tries to avoid) work.

The same fella (my grandmother's brother Dave, as I recollect) who brought Sad Sack comics also brought over a huge chunk of the Harvey oeuvre as well as a mess o' Archie comics.

UPDATE: According to Toonopedia's Sad Sack entry, after WWII, Sad Sack had an unsuccessful career as a civilian. The same attempt to make Willie and Joe civilians didn't work either.

And once again, I post a link to the crossover between Sad Sack and Joe.

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Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Penn and Teller will be on tonight's episode of West Wing (news here). They make the quality of the show disappear. Har! Har!

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Speaking of the X-Mas, one of my all-time favorite movies is the original 1947 Miracle on 34th Street, the originator of the "That nut's not really Santa....or is he?" story structure. What I've hated about the remakes, both the David Hartman made-for-TV one and the Richard Attenborough one, is that they don't have the scene where Jack Albertson* the mail sorter gets the brilliant idea of forwarding Santa's mail to the sanitarium. Rather, the mail arrives there due to an idea had by the lawyer protagonist who runs to the post office to arrange it.

When I've made this complaint to others, I've heard the argument that the new way is better because now the resolution is due to actions by the protagonist. And I'm sure that was the logic behind the change. Except that the original way was due to protagonist actions. Natalie Wood, the girl who can't have faith, believes in Santa enough to write him a letter and addresses it to the home. This letter catches the attention of Jack Albertson and a Christmas miracle results. Whereas originally faith leads to Kris being declared Santa Claus, now it's the result of lawerly manipulation.

*Although I haven't found it yet, I'm sure there's a brilliant piece of fan-fiction telling the tale of how the mail clerk eventually raised a family and had a grandson who won a trip to a magical chocolate factory. And perhaps part of the money from his grandson's new chocolate factory was put into his Senatorial campaign.

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Eric Akawie writes an interesting article that the Xmas-ization of Chanukah is antithetical to Chanukah's story. To wit, the Maccabees were fighting against assimilation and puffing Chanukah up to be just the same as the birth of a Messiah goes against what they were fighting.

I would argue that there's a difference between conversion/assimilation at sword-point and that due to peer pressure or whatever. The Maccabees were fighting for the right to choose (unless there was a purge of collaborators that's not included in the traditional tale). I sympathize with his trying to keep his household and his kids Xmas-free. I've come lately to side with the commenters to this Reason post that the secular parts are fun (now that I'm not the only Jewish kid in school) although I still keep my house X-Mas decoration free out of principle.

On the subject, a friend asked me to fill up some stockings for underpriveleged children, the most goyische task she could find for me and one I'm not entirely sure if I'm doing right. One little bit of humor I've injected is that I'm including in each stocking a bag of Paskesz chocolate coins, a traditional 7th day of Hanukah gift (socks were the 8th day).

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