Saturday, May 31, 2008

Where There's Smoke, There's Rhoda

The best of May 2008, according to the Back of the Cereal Box.

This Sounds Like Ted Max Amateur Hour

I realize now that calling the day on which I offer my word-of-the-week "Dia de las Palabras Nuevas" was a mistake. It just doesn't roll off the tongue. (Though, now that I think about that expression, it occurs to me that a great many unpleasant things can roll of tongues. Vomit, for example. Or phlegm.) In any case, I think I'll stick with The Saturday Wordiness from here on out.
jehu (JAY-hoo) — noun: a cabbie, or a reckless driver
Yes, I realize those two definitions could be considered synonymous. I think that's the point. Almost doubtlessly a term that's been around a while, judging from the fact that it comes to us from the Bible. Jehu, for you Old Testament illiterate, was one of the kings of Israel, and a military leader known for his chariot attacks, hence his transformation into a common noun. Notably, Jehu's backstory seems to be populated by other people with "J" names that have made their way into common parlance. For starters, he's the son of Jehosaphat — who, to my knowledge, wasn't known for jumping — and he's also the one responsible for ordering that slutty, smutty Jezebel to be thrown out the window, whereupon dogs ate her. (A favorite childhood story, that one.) And if "jezebel" isn't a familiar modern term for you, then you must keep especially good company.

A random note on Jezebel, while I'm on the subject: Wikipedia claims that Jezebel was the aunt of Dido, who, in my opinion, is one of the more interesting mythological ladies and another member of ancient royalty who met a fairly bad end.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Throwing Troubles to the Dying Embers

Today's inspiration: Samurai Jack, a show that consists of one drop-dead gorgeous images after another. If you've never watched an episode or actually paid attention to the plot and never noticed the backgrounds, picture them like this: vintage storybook illustrations by some artist who's watched too much Blade Runner.

Here, for example, is a shot from the opening credits that sums up Jack's universe quite well.


Conversely, other art succeeds in its simplicity. Take this image, for example: a baby, hung by its feet and none too happy about it. Jack saves him from a trio of hungry ogres in the series' last episode.



This has been today's inspiration.

Ten Times Worse Than Clawglip

A few facts about the coconut crab (a species that I feel too few people know about) followed by a few pictures of said species. Unlike that Mae West post, these are completely for real.

From the coconut crab's Wikipedia entry:
  • The coconut crab is the largest living arthropod, a biological phylum that includes insects and arachnids in addition to crustaceans.
  • Its leg span can reach 6.5 feet across.
  • On one occasion, the coconut crab was observed to eat a rat.
  • Its German name — Palmendieb, means "palm thief" — comes from the animal's ability to tear open the extremely tough shell of the coconut. (What such pincers could do to your relatively thin hide is better left to your imagination). The coconut crab climbs up palm tree trunks — meaning that they can appear at eye level, horrifyingly — and then attempts cut into the coconut while it's on the tree, often causing the fruit to fall to the ground. (People used to think they purposely knocked coconuts off trees, but they've apparently since realized that they're too dumb to make that kind of agenda.)
And with this in mind, observe these photos of the coconut crab in action.

from flickr user fearlessRich

from flickr user AnnaPang03

from flickr user salpet

You're most likely to run into one of these monsters on Christmas Island than anywhere else, but report back with nightmares nonetheless.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Shells, But No Bananas: The Women of Mario Kart

Not long after I began this blog, I (drunkenly) decided the cyberworld needed to hear my thoughts on the women of Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, it being fairly new at the time and it also being the first in the shell-chucking racing series to feature more female characters than just Princess Peach. For years, she’d been the standalone woman in any Mario game, a fact that adult me now looks on as Nintendo telling the youth of the world that the epitome of femininity must have blonde hair, wear a pink dress and be dumb as shit. I can’t say that I’m especially proud of the old post — though it did mark my coinage of the term “cocksuckasaur” to describe Birdo, which I think was one of my better moments — but I’ve nonetheless decided that I should revisit the idea, especially since I haven’t yet tired of Mario Kart Wii.

So here you have it: Updated for a stunning new age of Wiimote twirling, the women of Mario Kart, rated by Drew.

Last place: Baby Daisy


In the “My Beloved Cocksuckasaur” post, I began my evaluation for Princess Daisy with two choice words: “Fuck you.” I’m now focusing these words on this moppet of a princess, who didn’t exist in the Mario universe prior to Mario Kart Wii. (It’s fine. Babies don’t know what that phrase means. Also, for the record, I lack patience for the many other “baby” versions of Mario characters, but they at least had the good fortune to appear in actual games before they joined the rest go-karting and playing tennis.) As near as I can figure, Baby Daisy was invented so Baby Peach could have a friend, because although it’s a good idea to let babies drive racecars around tracks that run through lava, dairy farms, space and whatnot, it’s not a good idea to let them do it alone. Somehow, racing in greater numbers must protect their little fontanels from damage. Further strikes against the toddler Daisy: She’s this close from being a palette swap of Baby Peach (laziness on Nintendo’s part) and she’s occupying valuable real estate that could have been occupied by one of the beloved Mario characters I remember from childhood (wisdom on Nintendo’s part, I guess, since most of the people buying Mario Kart Wii weren’t alive to appreciate unknowns like Pauline and Wart).

Sixth place: Baby Peach


Again, I don’t dig the babies, though I understand that quite a few relative Nintendo newbies do, especially when those newbies happen to be female. Whatever. Blame my infantophobia on my relative discomfort around larval humans or on the fact that I think babies shouldn’t drive racecars. Baby Peach beats out Baby Daisy just for the fact that she came first. Also, she’s not any form of Daisy. And I have never cared for Daisy.

Fifth place: Princess Daisy


Oh, Daisy. You’ve been around longer than most and you no longer irritatingly shout, “Hi, I’m Daisy!” when you take the wheel, but I still don’t like you, mostly because I find you contrived: You exist only to offset Peach’s passive femininity with yippie, overenthusiastic femininity, which doesn’t really balance out the equation. You’re that girl at the bar shouting “Woo!” without any real provocation. You’re the pep squad. You’re the Midge to Barbie, the Meg Griffin to any female Family Guy character that Meg Griffin happens to be standing beside. A final note why Daisy gets to be the worst non-infant Mario Kart racer: She looked cooler when she was tan and vaguely non-Caucasian-looking, before they made her look downright Irish.

Fourth: Toadette


Initially, I hated Toadette, who was invented as Toad’s racing partner for Double Dash!! in the same way Baby Daisy magically appeared in time for Mario Kart Wii. Yes, she still smacks of some crime-against-nature cross-breeding of Smurfette, Strawberry Shortcake and Toad, but in Mario Kart Wii, I’ve found myself oddly transfixed by watching her weird mushroom braids bounce as she drives over bumps, much in the way I “lose time” while watching lava lamps. And on the subject of those braids: Do they grow out of her head or what? If she takes off the mushroom hat, do they go too? Does all lady mushroom hair grow in a string-of-pearls formation?

Third: Princess Peach


I have to give her credit for being the longest-lived female video game character this side of Ms. Pac-Man. However, if playing these games for most of my life has taught me anything, it’s that this woman started out with the IQ of mayonnaise and, 23 years of existence later, has only a slightly altered hairdo and a butt-showcasing motorcycle suit to show for it.

Second: Birdo


Upon seeing this monstrosity for the first time, most people ask, “What is it?” The boring answer is “She’s a Birdo.” Birdo — the only character on the list who wasn’t technically invented as a Mario character and who also the only one known as “Catherine” in Japan — lacks a widely agreed-upon gender. Depending on how you look at it, Birdo could be female, Birdo could be male but dressing like a female or, if you really want to over think matters — and if you are reading this, you totally do — you could think of Birdo as a transgendered character who was male but is now female. In the instruction booklet for Super Mario Bros. 2, Birdo is identified as a boy who likes dressing like a girl and enjoys being called “Birdetta.” About ten years later, she started appearing in games regularly as a friend for Yoshi, who himself has weird gender issues. (He, like Birdo, makes eggs.) Nintendo referred to her as a “she,” seemingly having retconned her “Birdetta” days, but I noticed that as of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Nintendo has taken to using “it” to refer to this egg spitting, be-bowed… character. That I enjoy. Plus she speaks in quacks. Birdo the Gender Mystery.

And the winner: Princess Rosalina


Yes, as in real life, the new girl gets all the attention. Rosalina — who, by the way, was the subject of an insightful essay on narrativity in Super Mario Galaxy, the game in which she debuted — takes the gold for three reasons. First: She’s not pink, a rare trait among Mario females, as you can see by scanning over the images in this post. She may still wear a dress and also have hair that blocks one eye, seemingly hindering her driving ability, but she at least helps break the law of “pink equals girl.” Second: She’s accompanied by a delightful bouncing star creature that does nothing to increase her racing prowess but delights me regardless. And third: Despite appearances otherwise, she’s apparently secretly fat. For those unfamiliar with Mario Kart racer classes, they come in three types: lightweights (babies, things with big eyes), middleweights (plumbers, princesses, bipedal dinosaurs), and heavyweights (villains and jovial simians). This time around, Rosalina got crammed in with the heavyweights, for reasons that I’d guess are based more on her height than any hidden junk-packed trunk. Aside from the obvious shame about being the only girl in a class populated by a jive-talking ape and a ghost king, Rosalina’s heavyweight classification means that she races faster than the rest of these bitches. And yes, I realize that the existence of a crown atop Rosalina’s existence raises the question of whether Mario knows any women who aren’t either princesses, baby versions of said princesses or dick-sucking dinosaurs. I’m willing to bet that he doesn’t.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Fertile Tears

Worth it not so much for the music itself but for the fact that the music is apparently composed of mostly sound clips from Disney movies other than Alice in Wonderland. Well, that and the fact that it utilizes animation from my favorite of the Disney movies.



Love those dancing pansies.

Well, you know what I mean.

[ Source: Kottke.org ]

Bean the Dynamite

Ripped from today's headlines: Ways people have been finding my blog.
  1. Paula Cole's abominable lyrics "Open up the morning light / And say a little prayer for I" jump to mind. Funny note about that song: If you hum or whistle it and flatten out the difference between the notes a bit, its beginning sounds remarkably like that of "I've Got a Car That's Made of Tin."
  2. See? She's famous. Just like I said.
  3. That would be Zelda Rubenstein, the third coolest person I know of with that first name and the actress best remembered from her role as the "This house is cleansed" psychic from Poltergeist.
  4. Like bathroom and half horse?
  5. "Canklesaurus," "Stoat Face" and one more that I'm not comfortable saying.
  6. Seriously, if you need clip art to find pictures of genitalia online, then you're a failure at using the internet.
  7. For the love of God, I hope that's a typo.
  8. The truth is that Giygas, whatever it is, was most likely the mysterious bikini-clad woman in Threed. That's my personal opinion.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Mae West Is Really, Really Interesting And Cool

Hey! I’ll bet you already think Mae West is twice as cool as your own mother, but I thought you’d worship her as your new god once you heard a little extra this-and-that about this sexy actress-turned-fishwife. Without further ado, allow me to present some wild and crazy little-known facts about a little lady named Mae West!

Wild and Crazy Facts re: Mrs. Mae Cannula West

the unforgettable mae west

  • As a result of her parents’ tumultuous home life, Mae West had to overcome childhood disabilities stemming from the fact that she was born without anything resembling a human face. That which we’ve come to know today as Mae West’s signature look was actually the result of much work on Mae’s part, as she cobbled it together using bits from the faces deceased and/or especially generous children.
  • Though she officially entered the professional world at age three, as a hand-painter of messages on conversation hearts, Mae West made her break into show business ten years later, after being “discovered” at a studio party whilst sucking on discarded cigarette butts for sustenance. Later that day, she made her debut on the DuMont Television Network’s popular Dido McGillicuddy Show as “Lesser Moppet.”
  • Mae West broke social barriers in 1954 by becoming the first American woman of note to marry a mummy, which she did in Egypt, it being the only nation to permit human-mummy marriages at the time.
  • It was Mae West who set the Cuyahoga River on fire, and she did it with a single angry glare.
  • Contrary to popular belief, Mae West was actually murdered in 1973 — by a fiendish doppelganger, who, coincidentally, was also named Mae West. This imposter fooled the media and American theater-goers, but lived out the rest of the official Mae West timeline with a decidedly more sinister bent. Being murdered also considerably hampered her attempt to fly around the world in a zeppelin, which is little mentioned in existing records.
  • As a result of plots and schemes by this second, evil Mae West, Mae West now holds the world record for “most prolific murderer.”
  • Mae West died in 1992, obese and hated — particularly by the stable of children she kept in her basement. If you want to be technical about the matter, it was that very stable of children that killed her.

[ yes, there’s a reason i'm doing this ]

Monday, May 26, 2008

Maps All Cured of Pain and Doubts

As a result of a court order, longtime Back of the Cereal Box reader Daniel now lives in South Korea, where, I've learned, the bars never close and the children find him to be unusually hairy. (Note to Daniel: American children were also put off by your hairiness.) Daniel is keeping a blog about his adventures in Busan through a website I was previously unfamiliar: TravBuddy, which specifically aims to help travelers notify the curious of the current state of their lives without having to resort to mass emails. A major downer: You need a TravBuddy account to comment.

I have so far been most amused by a photo of a milk deliverywoman that Daniel posted.


In its thumbnail form, I thought it depicted a man peeing into a basket. Which Koreans could do all the time, for all I know.

For more on Korean urination habits, read South Korea — Not Just for Soldiers Anymore.

Daniel, if you read this, know that I'm very, very disappointed in you for having moved from Hawaii before you found work as an extra on Lost.

In the Time of Chimpanzees, I Was a Monkey

Blog redesign update: It's nearly done, and should be damn near functional. However, I have a strange problem: Lists in my sidebar are showing up wonky for some reason. Currently, they look fine in Firefox but are indented far to the left in Explorer. If I fix the problem in Explorer, then the same text is indented too far to the right in Firefox. Any ideas what I'm doing wrong?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Stereotypical Nostalgia Color

While home last, I found some old photos that I don't remember taking. I'm sure that I must have been the photographer, however. No one else would have bothered with these unpopulated landscapes of the area around the house, much less have kept them in a box with a handful of unrelated papers and pointless keepsakes.

Not sure when these photos would have been taken. The back reads "Kodak — Official Sponsor of the Olympic Games," so I'd guess somewhere around the 1992 or 1996 Summer Olympics, though they could have easily been in 1994 or 1998, I guess. Ten seems about right, though, for the age I would have gotten my hands on my first camera. I scanned the photos and cropped them on Photoshop, but I didn't alter the color. What you see is what I found in the box and what I must have taken so many years ago. I'd guess I put sunglasses in front of the lens to get the color, which, you'll notice, makes them look like a flashback in a movie. They are a flashback, to be trite about it. And the areas they depict no longer look like this, with some trees being taller, some having been chopped down. No idea where I found that sunflower, though.

sepia5

sepia4

sepia3

sepia2

sepia1

Because I Don't Know Why

Maria is plucked from her crevasse of despair by an offer to open for 70s rock legends Bread.



I realize that I like any episode featuring Maria's high school nemesis. I think I know her. Or maybe it's that she reminds me of the two evil psychic girls from that one episode of The X-Files. You know — where they have the same birthday and they kill people and one of them is the older sister from That 70s Show? You know?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Aluminum Clutch

For the third installment of word-of-the-week, I've decided that Useless Vocabulary Day is too pejorative a term for something that I aim to be doing for your enjoyment. (And you will enjoy it. Enjoy it! So help me, you will enjoy it.) Henceforth, it shall be known as Dia de las Palabras Nuevas.
itaiitai — noun: a bone disease caused by cadmium
Showing up next to nowhere online, itaiitai apparently is a real thing. Its name purportedly originates from the Japanese expression for "ouch, ouch." While I can't find any pronunciation guide online, I believe it's six syllables: "eee-tai-ee-tai." The book I got this from, The Superior Person's Book of Words, notes that the word is of interest in that its etymology could be a pattern for new English names for diseases and disorders — "eekeek" for arachnophobia, "unhunh" for constipation, "uhoh" for premature ejaculation, as so forth. Seems reasonable.

There must be a way to work this word into a clever, sentence-long palindrome.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Better Hidden Than New Kasuto

More from my Google Reader shared clips.
As always, you can see my Google Shared clips or even subscribe to the feed if you so desire.

Chipped Stew on the Wall

Two items, unrelated but both aesthetically appealing, in my opinion. First, the flyer for the upcoming Outside Lands, which just might prove to be worth the trip up to San Francisco, despite the presence of Jack Johnson.



And second, a label from a Le Sueur-brand can of peas, which I like for reasons I can't explain. Simple, I guess, and looking like it hasn't changed in years. The label is reflective, though, so the scan didn't work so well. But you get the idea. Keep and eye out for them the next time you're walking down the appropriate aisle.



Click either one for a larger version.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Messages From Sahasrahla

When I'm home, I look through the boxes and folders under my bed, not so much for the joy of rediscovering forgotten keepsakes as for the amusement at seeing what my past self decided merited keeping. What's below — which I found, brought back to Santa Barbara, and scanned — I'd guess went into the box some time in 1992, after my tenth birthday. I'd received Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past that year, and I can remember opening the gift on the ride home from school that day. It rained, but I busied myself devouring the game's instruction manual. A given: Any time I had a game purchased for me when I was a kid, I'd spend the ride home carefully studying every word of the enclosed booklet, presumably in an effort to increase my appreciation of the game once I got home and inserted the cartridge into whatever Nintendo system I was playing at that point in time.

This particular Zelda game — the third in the series and a return to the wonderful gameplay that made the original so good, instead of the odd mishmash of overhead perspective and two-dimensional side-scroller that was the first sequel — included an additional booklet however, and one the likes of which I don't remember getting with any other game. This smaller booklet disclosed the secrets to solving many of the game's many secrets.

In the game, the hero, Link, receives advice and direction from an elderly sage with the unwieldy name of Sahasrahla. (Try making the average ten-year-old guess how to pronounce that. It seems simple enough now, but my mind just sorted glided over the name back then, without any regard to how the individual syllables worked together.) Sahasrahla actually doesn't do all that much in person, as I remember, aside from giving Link the speech that characters in each Zelda game give at one point or another: "You're the fated hero, you have to save the world, you don't really have much say in the matter." Sahasrahla also lends Link a pair of magic boots — as should any benevolent sage — and telepathically dispenses hints about the game's many dungeons. What my ten-year-old self apparently found noteworthy about the extra booklet was that it was written as though Mr. S himself were speaking to you.



Of course, I didn't know this at the time. Being the honest little adventurer I was, I heeded the warning on the front cover: "This booklet contains the answers to some of the toughest puzzles you will encounter during your quest as the legendary Hero of Hyrule. You should consult this booklet only as a last resort. At first, you should always trust in your potential to be the legendary hero and try to solve the game on your own." I did just that, up until the end anyway, and managed to figure out by myself, for example, that reading the Book of Mudora opens up the Desert Palace and that the apparent maiden in the seventh dungeon is actually Blind the Thief, a big bad in disguise. The Turtle Rock dungeon proved more difficult, however, and I eventually tore open the booklet's seal — a round gold sticker bearing the symbol of the Triforce, a triangular design that's been the logo of the Zelda series ever since the first game. I suppose the fact that I left the booklet unopened somewhere safe for so long helped it survive this long. I probably found the answer to whatever puzzle had me stuck and put the booklet back wherever I'd been keeping it. (Or, alternately, I looked up the solution to problem that wasn't in the book, by virtue of being deemed not hard enough. Just my luck, even then.) Whatever the case, this flimsy little booklet has endured.

I think this was a clever ploy on Nintendo's part, creating the excitement of having a book of secrets the players aren't meant to open unless under extreme duress and then framing the whole thing in the context of a special message direct from one of the video game's characters. I thought so when I was ten-year-old, anyway.

In the same box, I also found this:


It's an advertisement for yet another means of figuring the game out: Nintendo Power, the official Nintendo magazine. Its preservation still baffles me. At ten years old, I would have been subscriber to the magazine for four years and would have had no reason to keep this.

Blame packratism.

Previous Zelda nostalgia:

Mind of a Child

My review for Son of Rambow, the best Sylvester Stallone-affiliated thing to exist since Death Race 2000 — and that’s including Brigitte Nielsen.


Mind of a Child

Think back to childhood, when a movie could set your mind on fire and launch you into countless afternoons of adventure. Star Wars, Indiana Jones, whatever grabbed your young mind — you’d spin the original movie into any number of new stories. Son of Rambow captures this children’s take on cinephilia and builds around it a portrait of life for two boys in early 1980s England.

The typical movie events that often bring together the picked-on with bullies, in this instance pairs meek Will Proudfoot (Bill Milner) with boisterous Lee Carter (Will Poulter). But that doesn’t mean Son of Rambow falls victim to the sappiness of so many coming-of-age movies. No, the script by Garth Jennings rings true, likely because Jennings constructed it upon a phenomenon he knows well: pure love for a movie. Enamored with Sylvester Stallone’s First Blood to the point of obsession, the boys set out to create their own sequel, in which Stallone’s character must be freed from an evil captor (a scarecrow who employs a flying dog) by his son. Lee aims to enter the short in a BBC young filmmaker contest, but Will uses it to grapple with his father’s recent death and his family’s membership in a strict religious sect that forbids pop culture and denies Will an outlet for his prodigious creativity. Though most audiences will leave the theater chuckling at the boys’ attempts at creating action scenes, the true highlight lies in the slips into Will’s imagination. His fantastic doodles literally explode into life in animated sequences.

Jennings and producer Nick Goldsmith exhibit the level of visual flair one should expect from music video producers responsible for the phenomenal walking milk carton from Blur’s “Coffee & TV” video. The failure of their previous feature, 2005’s
A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, now behind them, the duo has seemed to gain their footing. Anyone who loves movies should eagerly anticipate their next work. And Son of Rambow — with its deft mix of comedy, heart, and art — seems a likely candidate to become a cult favorite — for those also awed by First Blood and for anyone who can appreciate the unfettered creativity of childhood.
And because it never fails to put a smile on my face, here's "Coffee and TV."



Other in-print movie reviews:

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Bitten by the Love Shark

Longtime Back of the Cereal Box associate Tharpe-Tharpe has started a new blog of her own, Misadventures in Wedding Planning. You'll recall that she was the one whose significant other met a hungry shark in Hawaii not long ago. This new blogging venture had me sold right from the moment I read the subtitle: "My name is Megan. My fiance's name is Aaron. We got engaged after Aaron was attacked by a shark in Maui. This blog chronicles my experiences while planning our wedding." Action, reaction.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Lostfice

Thoughts while watching TBS's Tuesday night Office reruns while waiting for calls to be returned so I can finish work: Is it me, or does Creed Bratton from The Office look, act and speak a hell of a lot like John Locke from Lost? Only he has hair?


Has anybody else noticed this?

Custody of Your Life

A needed diversion on a drawn-out Tuesday: this particular blog meme.

The rules, according to George, from someone named Heather:
  1. Click on this link. The title of the page is the name of your band.
  2. Click on this link. The last four words of the final quotation on the page are the title of your album.
  3. Click on this link this link. The third picture is your album cover.
  4. Take the pic, add your band name and album title.
My results, compiled:


Or, broken down, the Wikipedia article on Mexican mobile phone carrier Telcel, this photo of a daisy, and this quote from author Anna Quindlen: "When you leave college, there are thousands of people out there with the same degree you have; when you get a job, there will be thousands of people doing what you want to do for a living. But you are the only person alive who has sole custody of your life."

Could be worse. I'd guess that it's either Christian pop or some early 90s alternata-rock quartet that broke up after their frontman overdosed.

If you read this and you have a blog, consider yourself tagged. Do notify me with your results.

Why English Steals

A good read if you have the time: The Wikipedia article for untranslatability. Far better written than your average Wikipedia article, a full of food for thought... about words. Perhaps the best thing I took away from it was Wikipedia's best guess for "most untranslatable word," ilunga, or Congolese term that purportedly best translates to English as "a person who is ready to forgive any abuse for the first time, to tolerate it a second time, but never a third time."

[ Source: Prance Closer ]

Monday, May 19, 2008

King of the Umlauts and Pseudo-Dansy

Nothing could make me happier than glancing across today's Daily Nexus and seeing that a little something that I so long ago contributed to its office's much-cluttered walls is not only still existent but receiving prominent display as well.


That would be newly retired editor-in-chief Durnhoffer Dürnhöfer on the left and effigies representing three previous EICs on the left. (Curiously, the female EIC is omitted.) The Dansy stand-in uses a bit of anti-Dansy propoganda that I made during his unopposed bid for EIC a few years ago. Among other things, I claimed that he once ate a baby. Now that I think about it, it's actually documented here, along with defamatory comments about Dansy's leadership abilities and dress style.

Those truly were the days.

Makeshift Laptop

Cleaning out some files, I found this ad for the long suffering Santa Barbara News-Press, which Rachel decided would amuse me.



It does, but not only because the pictured couple look happier than anyone does when reading a newspaper, much less the News-Press. (Unless they're laughing at how crummy it is, of course.).What I thought even stranger about their pose. They're holding the newspaper precisely in the manner that someone might hold a laptop. In fact, such a computer might be subbed into the image fairly easily. The irony is killing me. Not only is the internet's usurpation of print as the world's primary news medium generally considered why newspapers nationwide are failing, but it's funny on a local level too: The News-Press's website is one of the saddest chunks of online real estate I've seen in recent months.

Desperado Crash Mambo Combo

Yes, the blog layout is different. No, it's not finished. There's a lot of things yet to be done with this apparently Irish Spring-inspired set-up, but do feel free to post any comments, criticisms or notes about anything looking especially wrong. Unless I'm mistaken, it look kinda-sorta okay on Firefox, a bit jankier on Internet Explorer. But you shouldn't be using Explorer anyway.

Thoughts? Do we miss the Brenis?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

When Dolphins Ruled the Earth

Worthwhile clicks, as per my my quasi-not-really-bloggish Google Reader shared items page.
As always, you can see my Google Shared clips a ways down on the right sidebar or even subscribe to the feed if you so desire.

Crevasse

Following the horrible outcome of last week's episode, Maria slides into the depths of despair. Then she loses her job.



Maria, apparently, is not cut out to be a girlfriend or a wife or a mother or a friend or a citizen.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Skeleton Dance

An addition to Saturday's word of the day: a Saturday morning cartoon for your face. This short terrified me back in the day when practically everything did and Disney programming was beamed into my living room by a satellite dish that we physically had to point in the direction of the channel we wanted to watch.



Viewing it as an adult, I can't help but notice four things: (1) how unlike most modern Disney animation it is, (2) how much it reminds me if the creepy-fun vibe of Disneyland's Haunted Mansion, (3) how blatantly the title "Silly Symphonies" seems to rip "Merry Melodies," even though Silly Symphonies came first, and (4) how much the rather grotesque scene of four skeletons morphing into one four-headed non-bipedal skeleton-beast reminds me of something from Castlevania.

Garden of Sleaze

It's Saturday. Prepare for Strange Word Day, which I think I'm going to rename Useless Vocabulary Day.
grandgore — noun: a Scottish word for "syphilis"
A far more impressive name for a disease that leaves an impression on you. Also something that sounds like it came from a Harry Potter novel. Next time you get syphilis, try telling your friends that you have grandgore instead. They'll respect you for it.

The first webpage of note that features this word is the Wikipedia page for Inchgarvie, a Scottish island that, under the Grandgore Act of 1497, became a place of "compulsory retirement" for syphilitics. Speaking of shades of connotation, "retirement" has a much nicer ring to it than "quarantine."

[ Source: Weird and Wonderful Words ]

Friday, May 16, 2008

Did You Hear a Bell Ring?

I know this is no more legitimate than the theory that Cameron Diaz’s name translates from Spanish to English as “shrimp of the day,” but I can’t help but laugh every time I see Fanny Ardant’s name, because I translate it to myself into English as “hot fanny.”

The Five-Letter Word

A doodle, to be interpreted correctly only by my immediate colleagues. Still, I couldn't throw it away.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Drain Angel

I suppose I could only take it as a harbinger of spring. On Monday, while washing my hands at work, a spied a single sprout growing up from the drain. This is inside, mind you, where plants usually grow from pots, not in sinks. I have chosen to dub it "The Vernal Miracle" instead of "a sign that my office lacks proper sanitation."

sink_sprout2

sink_sprout1

This really blows my mind, especially since it would seem to mean that plants don't need sun, water and soil as much as they do soap, metal pipes and coffee residue. I wonder if we can charge admission for people to see this, or possibly bring terminally ill relatives to perhaps benefit from its magic.

The Mathematical Equation for Creepy

Quick way to achieve the full-blown heebie-jeebies:

An ominous bass line

+

A good dozen different kinds of Lynchiness

+

Monochrome

+

Weirdly dispirited dancing that gives the suggestion of some kind of mind control

+

The knowledge that it came from eastern Europe

+

Beehives

=

Heebs and jeebs in abundance

The proof:



It's from a Polish film, Salto, about which I know nothing. Who new the Polish could be so subtly off-putting?

The YouTube info for the clip suggested that I also check out the dance scene from the French film Calvaire, which was more explicitly nightmarish.



[ Source: Music for Maniacs via PCL Link Dump ]

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Dinnertime Vainly

Speaking of Dina, she recently sent me something that made for an amusing few clicks: The Eater of Meaning, a little application that takes text and effectively renders it into nonsense. See for yourself: Back of the Cereal Box, with meaning completely masticated beyond recognition.

There’s also a few other flavors of nonsense you can pick from.
While we're on the subject, Dina also deserves credit for sending me an entirely different sort of what-the-fuck last week: thew news about the father of SNL alum Cheri Oteri having been stabbed to death by his country music songwriter roommate. Very odd.

Electric Ladylamp

I think of the below picture as the spiritual successor to Dina's "Lady in the Lampshade." It comes with the question, "¿Qué ves tu en esta imagen?"


Acutally, make that the lovechild between Dina's dust drawing and that old visual joke where the lightbulb looks like a fat woman bending over to put on her girdle. I actually thought this would be easier to find online than it was, so I just drew a version myself.

You've heard this one, right?


[ Source: Chuanolog, via El Toilet ]

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Baubo Siren Revisited

When I wrote that post on the history of the Starbucks mermaid and her strange double tail, I had no idea that Starbucks was at that moment reverting to its old logo — sort of. Now, if you order a hot beverage at Starbucks, you'll get a drink holder with the old logo, modified so that the mermaid's hair now covers her nipples. (And relax — it's her head hair, not her nipple hair. Thank God.)


Now I can't remember what prompted the earlier post, but it certainly wasn't that I had any idea that retro logo would be coming back. Call it a happy coincidence.

Credit for delivery of double-tailed drink holder: Spencer.

Stalkers, Gawkers and Big Talkers

True or false: A Facebook glitch allows you to see who most often searches for you.

According to a rumor that just spread through my office like wildfire — thank you, Spencer — if you go to the main page and type a simple period into the box where you'd normally search for a person, a list of the five people who've most often hunted The Book for your pops up. Don't hit enter, mind you. Just type the period and wait.

Very strange.

UPDATE: It's apparently no longer working, whatever it was. Did you see your five? I saw mine. I know who you are, you people who allegedly think I'm interesting.

All About Homer's Mother

In short, the character of Homer’s mother on The Simpsons is, to say it quickly, a little complicated, and not just because we didn’t know what her name was for years and years.


Unless I’m mistaken, last Sunday’s episode of The Simpsons, which featured Homer’s fugitive mother, was the first to every actually state her name, Mona Simpson. In her first major episode, “Mother Simpson,” Mona re-appears after having been on the run since Homer’s childhood. Homer and family know nothing of her criminal past as a 60s renegade, but they eventually suspect out that all is not well with her and go through her purse, revealing IDs for Penelope Olsen, Mona Simpson, Mona Stevens, Muddy Mae Suggins and Martha Stewart. Aside from the throwaway Martha Stewart gag, the list of pseudonyms merits a mentions for longtime Simpsons fans because it includes a reference to a name incorrectly assigned to Homer’s mother years before her appearance in the series. The Simpsons Uncensored Family Album book, one of the better early Simpsons tie-ins, included extensive family trees for both the Simpson and Bouvier families and listed Homer’s mother’s name as Penelope Olsen. I like that Simpsons writers performed that small bit of fan service for us diehards by slipping the name, even in a small way, into an actual episode.

(Small sidenote: The book also lists Marge's mother's name as Ingrid Gurney, which, as far as I know, has also ways been wrong and has never been addressed by the show. Marge's mom's name is Jacqueline, making her married name Jacqueline Bouvier.)

Regardless, that bit of trivia isn’t the most interesting thing about Mona Simpson.

I looked her up on Wikipedia and found that her creator, writer Richard Appel based her in part on his author wife Mona, whose maiden name is Mona Simpson and who continues to write under that name. (I’ve actually seen her name in bookstores before, noted the similarity to Homer’s mom’s name and didn't give it another thought.) This Mona just happens to be the full sister of Apple CEO Steve Jobs, though the two didn’t meet until adulthood because Jobs was adopted by another family.

Weird for two reasons: First, there’s the oddness in Mona Simpson the real-life author marrying a man by the last name of “Appel” when her adopted brother rose to fame by co-founding the Apple corporation. Second, the real-life Mona Simpson not meeting her adopted brother until adulthood mirrors a plotline in the Simpsons episode “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” in which Homer meets his long-lost, adopted-away brother, Herbert Powell, who is also the CEO of a successful corporation. (Until Homer ruins him, of course, but in a later episode he becomes successful again. Such is life.) You’d think that, perhaps, Richard Appel had written that episode too and was perhaps drawing on his wife’s life experiences with the Homer-Herb story, but that’s apparently not the case either: Jeff Martin is listed as the episode’s writer.

A final note about Mona Simpson: Glenn Close, who provided the character’s voice in all three of her appearances on the show, apparently couldn’t properly belt out a “D’oh!” and, thus, in the final cut of “Mother Simpson,” the annoyed grunt is provided by Pamela Hayden, who voices Milhouse.

The Simpsons, previously:

Monday, May 12, 2008

Not Extra Fancy, Neither

SuperDeluxe apparently wasn't.

Despite my best efforts to plug the hell out of the Maria Bamford Show here on this blog, a lack of customers at the comedy video website has ultimately brought about its death, according to a post today PopSmart. Where does this leave the remainder of the Maria Bamford Show episodes, which have been appearing every Sunday on Back of the Cereal Box? Apparently all SuperDeluxe content will eventually be available at the Adult Swim website. Will this render weeks of Bamford-centric posts nonfunctional? I hope not.

Rest in peace, SuperDeluxe. You'll always be the little alterna-comedy video website that could — but didn't.

Watch these while you can, for tomorrow the videos may no longer be available.
Does this mean I have to like Funny or Die now?

Stand Up for Anteater Rights

Both members of Brooklyn-based power couple Sanaemon saw fit to give me a heads-up about notable online anteater goings-on of the past few days. The male half did so with the explanation "anteaters blowing up on reddit.com." Not literally.

Notable cyberanteater unit one (a.k.a. "fuck you" anteater):


And notable cyberanteater unit two, (a.k.a. "anteaters in sweaters" and courtesy of theinternetisterribel.com):


Sanam and Aemon, in case you wanted to know, live in Brownstone that reportedly looks just like the Cosby house — which would make sense, seeing as how they are raising two scene-stealing moppets named Rudy and Olivia, respectively. (Eldest daughter Sondra moved out.)

Lalavava Astronomonov

Update: They continue to find my blog through strange and amusing ways. I will now illustrate this claim with examples.
And a few responses:
  1. Charo, though her full name is quite a bit longer.
  2. God, I hope you're trying to find the little post I made a while back on the connection between The Rape of the Lock and the one mermaid episode of Futurama and are not actually looking for mermaid rape.
  3. Easy: Open up a store everywhere you can, then pay high school students to make shitty coffee.
  4. SOMETHING WITH A VERY STRONG STOMACH.
  5. You'd have to ask Dane.
  6. Close, but not quite.
  7. That depends on what kind of lollipop the platypus likes.
  8. RACISM!
  9. Well, to be correct, you'd say "Lao whores" or "Laotian whores," sir.
  10. I'd hope it was something along the lines of "quaaaaaaaaagaaaaaaaa," but who's to say?
  11. You got one sick family, pal.
  12. Was powered by tap dancing.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Turtle Rock Ain't Got Nothing on This

I'd heard of it before, but played through the stage many times without ever seeing it. That changed today.

So Mario Kart Wii has bestowed my house with delightful, banana peel-strewn races for the last week now. But this post isn't reviewing the game so much as shedding light on what amounts to a Nintendo version of the Little Mermaid VHS box cover scandal. In addition to offering sixteen new courses to race on, Mario Kart Wii also offers retro stages from five of the series's earlier incarnations, including ones from the Gamecube title Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, which had previously occupied my houses more drunken late-night hours. One of these stages is Peach Beach, the sea-skirting Princess Peach-themed stage.

Only driving through it again, in its slightly altered, Wii-updated form, did I finally see the alleged penis in the rock archway the course runs under.

Here's the only image I could find. It's from Double Dash!!, but the rock basically looks the same in either version.


The fact that the rock is pink doesn't help, of course, but it's hard to deny that that that looks a hell of a lot like a pair of balls on the left with the shaft arching over the sandy raceway into a fairly prominent head on the right side. The above image isn't taken from the best of angles, but it's there. Here's another one I found of Penis Rock, viewed from afar.


And one more, equally bad, but equally showing the famed Penis Rock.


Strange, especially for something that came from a company as decidedly kid-friendly as Nintendo. Of course, all that on-the-surface wholesomeness has to create an opposite and equal reaction, right?

And Immediately His Leprosy Was Cleansed

Finally feeling high on life, Maria organizes a show and invites everyone she knows in Duluth to either perform or attend. Of course, things do not go well.



"Don't lie to me. I'm your doctor."

Saturday, May 10, 2008

"Who’s on First?" (Revised and Improved)

Abbott: Well, Costello, I’m going to New York with you. Bucky Harris, the Yankee’s manager, gave me a job as coach for as long as you’re on the team.

Costello: Look Abbott, if you’re the coach, you must know all the players.

Abbott: I certainly do.

Costello: Well you know I’ve never met the guys. So you’ll have to tell me their names, and then I’ll know who’s playing on the team.

Abbott: Oh, I’ll tell you their names, but you know it seems to me they give these ball players nowadays very peculiar names — strange names, like Dizzy Dean.

Costello: Strange indeed. That being said, what are the names of the athletes you’ll be overseeing?

Abbott: Well, let’s see, we have on the bags… Who’s on first. What’s on second. I Don’t Know is on third.

Costello: That’s what I want to find out.

Abbott: I say: Who’s on first, What’s on second, I Don’t Know’s on third.

Costello: Are you the manager?

Abbott: Yes.

Costello: You gonna be the coach too?

Abbott: Yes.

Costello: And you don’t know the fellows’ names.

Abbott: Well, I should.

Costello: Well, then who’s on first?

Abbott: Yes.

Costello: I mean the fellow’s name.

Abbott: Who.

Costello: The guy on first.

Abbott: Who.

Costello: The first baseman.

Abbott: Ah, I see now that I was being unclear. You see, the name of the first baseman happens to be “Who,” much like the English relative pronoun “who.” Before, when I was repeatedly saying “who,” I was answering your question, not replying with an answer.

Costello: Oh. Well, I suppose that would make sense.

Abbot: The confusion is understandable.

Costello: That’s an exceptionally strange name to have. Is he Asian?

Abbot: I don’t believe so. In fact, while most of the players on the team have equally strange names, regardless of their ethnic heritage.

Costello: You don’t say.

Abbot: Yes, as a matter of fact. It’s probably for the best that we’re having this conversation now, as I can’t imagine what manner of confusion might have resulted otherwise. For example — and this will truly confound you — the second baseman’s name is “What.”

Costello: Also a relative pronoun?

Abbott: Yes, but not in this sense. It’s a name, just like “Dave” or “Bob” or whatever.

Costello: How strange. But surely all of team can’t be named for relative pronouns, seeing as how English only has four.

Abbott: As a matter of fact, it’s only Who and What who follow this pattern. Curiously, none of the players are named either “That” or “Which.” The rest of the team are named as follows: The third baseman is “I Don’t Know,” the left fielder is named “Why,” the centerfielder is named “Because,” the pitcher is named “Tomorrow,” the catcher is named “Today,” the shortstop is named is “I Don’t Give a Darn.” So many of them are named after generic parts of speech, or at least words or phrases that one might use to answer common questions. There doesn’t seem to be much reasoning behind it.

Costello: And the right fielder?

Abbott: That’s a mystery, surprisingly.

Costello: How strange.

Abbott: Indeed. But I hope this prevents any further confusion about the team.

Costello: I think it does. Thanks for laying all this out for me.

Abbott: It seemed necessary, given the situation.

Costello: Well, I can understand that.

[ Abbott and Costello stare at each other blankly. In the silence that follows, a thousand suns rise and set. ]

The end.