Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Resourceful Ninja Secretary

After having kept this blog as long as I have, I never thought I would be typing this. But following Sanam and Dina, both of whom let work stress squelch their love for regular blogging, I've decided to return the Back of the Cereal Box to the kitchen cupboard, at least for a bit. Funny how editing everybody else's verbal output has only motivated me to write less, but the thought of now spending my free time glued to a computer and contributing to the din that is the world of online writing passes through my brain about as pleasantly as an emory board thrown at high speed through one ear and out the other.

This URL may be quiet for a few days or weeks or possibly even longer, depending on how long it takes me to unwind and devise a plan to balance my pleasure writing with what I have to do at the paper. Besides, readership has been way down lately, so whatever I've been doing lately doesn't cut the mustard.

Sit tight then, you handful of loyal readers who have stayed with me. I will be back. In the meantime, I'm leaving you this baby duck. Play with him.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The State of the Kingdom Address

In a strange publicity stunt, Nintendo has posted a strange "letter" from the numero uno Mushroom Kingdom monarch, Princess Peach, regarding the company's real life profits.

Oh, my! All this attention is enough to make a girl blush!

As a princess I’m used to being adored, but this is just too much! I know I’m probably sounding like a broken record, but once again my friends at the NPD Group are telling me that Wii and Nintendo DS finished May as the most popular systems in the United States.

Thanks to everyone for your wonderful support! Nintendo couldn’t have made it back to the top without you. You’re all Mario-caliber heroes in my book.

Now I’m not one to brag, but some of the top games of this month happen to feature someone very pretty and popular – me! I’m talking about the super-fun Mario Party 8 and Super Paper Mario for Wii. Sure, Mario gets top billing, but from where I sit (on my throne), I’d say he’s earned it. Besides, my own game on Nintendo DS, Super Princess Peach, is still selling strong, showing that a girl can do anything she puts her mind to.

I think all my Super Princess Peach fans would have just as much fun working to earn their Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree. I’m not in that one, but don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere. Be sure to watch for me in my super-stylish soccer gear in Mario Strikers Charged, which arrives on Wii on July 30. I can’t wait!


Huh. That's all you can really say to that. Props to Nintendo for being creative, I suppose, but boo on them for having their psuedo-corporate head sign off a semi-sorta-business letter with the salutation "Kisses!"

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The All-Night Nippon Retrogaming Extravaganza

The three of you I've managed to retain for the last two months may remember a post I wrote on Penguin Kun Wars, a game released for the Famicom — Nintendo's Japanese version of the original NES console — that I was only able to play through the beauty of I've since revisited the collection of Japan-only ROMs available at the site. No single title managed to recapture the frustrating delight of Penguin Kun Wars, but below you'll get a good cross section of downright infuriating.

First up: Cool World. Yes, as in the 1992 Ralph Bakshi film, which I've always wanted to see even though it's notoriously bad. Though the film was released in the United States, the Nintendo video game version of it never made it out of Japan — and with good reason.

Well, that's a copyright for Paramount Pictures. That means it's at least officially sanctioned... by the movie house that made a bad, bad movie.

And then there's the title, right there on the very game I'm playing! That's encouraging!

Oh! A map! Well, "Cool World Street" seems as good as anywhere else to start.

This eight-bit monstrosity, as near as I can tell, is meant to be the film's female lead, Kim Basinger. I don't think even Alec Baldwin ever wished a fate on Basinger so unpleasant as being reduced to as crude a pixelated representation as this. I mean look at her — she lacks any facial structure and what features she does have float on her self-tanner face. It's just creepy.

And you don't think I can stop you, Ugly Pixelated Kim Basinger? "No way"? Way, Ugly Pixelated Kim Basinger. Way.

Okay, now I'm playing. Apparently I'm playing as the film's main character, Gabriel Byrne, thus making this the only video game existence or even future existence in which you can play as Gabriel Byrne. Also, poor Gabriel is apparently in a city with purple cobblestone streets. Like in the movie, I'll presume. Also, the streets of Cool World are apparently decorated with architecture depicting grimacing demonic faces and lined with nondescript anthropomorphic rodents, all of whom apparently want to kill me. Maybe I don't want to see this movie.

More mean faces. Also, rodents attacking me with pea-shooters from second-story windows. And a strange empty glass vial that I can't get to. Did I mention that I didn't have access to an instruction manual? Even if I did, it would presumably be in Japanese anyway. Jumping is difficult and I'm quickly growing weary.

Ooh! A club! Surely some patron inside will impart valuable information to me — and by me, I of course mean Gabriel Byrne. Also, let's hope they speak English. Oh, what's that? No combination of pressed buttons will open the door? Awesome! And I can't reach the police badge sitting up on the ledge for no apparent reason? I suppose that makes sense, given that the badge would probably grant my little guy some sort of invincibility or — God in heaven! — a weapon. Did I mention that Gabriel Byrne can't attack? That even Super Mario Bros.-style stomping doesn't seem to affect all the things that want to kill me? The rodents, by the way, are both relentless and identical and I don't understand why they won't leave me alone, aside from the fact that Gabriel Byrne is clearly not a rodent.

Well, okay. The rodent seem to have abated. I'll just walk around in this suspiciously rodent-free street. La tee dah, I'm Gabriel Fucking Byrne. And then—

BAM! In case the above screens don't properly explain the sequence of events, Gabriel Byrne was struck by a runaway black car, causing him to face forward and leap off the screen — a Super Mario-style death for a game that permits none of the fun or logic of Mario's universe.

Upon my initial failure, I immediately became discouraged with Cool World: The Video Game Based on the Hit Motion Picture and decided to switch to a different title. Fortunately, a new title arrives with just a few clicks. Given the crappiness of what was a mildly familiar video game-based-on-movie selection, I decided to go for new and different.

My pick: Jesus — Kyoufu no Bio Monster. Anything that includes the words "Jesus" and "Bio Monster" in the title has got potential, you have to admit.

Start please!

In the opening cinematic, the above monster leaps across the black background once or twice. When I say "leap," I just mean the static image of it — which, by the way, I'm assuming is the Jesus Bio Monster — slides across the screen in the style of cheap Flash animation, which of course hasn't been invented in 1989. So I'll forgive it. For what it's worth, it looks pretty good, considering the age of the game.

Okay, first real screen of the game. That awful man appears to be choking on a submarine sandwich. And he's nonetheless talking. In Japanese. I press the button. More text. Button. Text. Button. Text. Perhaps he's asking for medical assistance? After all, he does suffer from the unique condition of having an entire sandwich crammed into his bastard mouth. Button, button, button. Text, text, text.

Oh, something else. I assume Mr. Sandwichmouth passed away. Apparently I'm on some sort of space station. It certainly looks like the kind of place someone would name a Bio Monster after my lord and savior.

I can read that! Something is 20,000 years old. Maybe that's the year? Maybe that's a cost? Must I collect 20,000 submarine sandwiches to kill the fat man? To kill the remaining crew? Am I the true monster? And is that my mane of unruly scarlet hair? I'm the anime Brendon Small. I'm the Captain of Outer Space.

Oh, hello! A new man to talk to. You seem stern and powerful, like Dennis Franz. Again, so much talking. But at least now I have three choices. I'll be lazy and pick the first one.

Shit. That first option was apparently Japanese shorthand for "Please, I'd rather speak to another obese member of the spacecrew, only one without a sandwich humorously lodged in his mouth." And boy can this one talk. I think I've realized how the Jesus Bio Monster was allowed to wreak so much havoc on the good Space Station Japanimation: Everyone sits around blathering on instead of following the example of every other video game ever and just killing the thing. How diplomatic. Button, button, button. Text, text, text. At this point, I've been playing for nearly ten minutes.

Finally! Not a man! That pink, fanny-shaped hairdo leads me to believe this lass is my lady love. And what a girlfriend to have! I suppose beggars can't be choosers and those stuck in space need to jump on the first thing that isn't choking on a sandwich. Rather than treat me with a conjugal visit, Princess Fanny Hair seems to be talking a lot. Button, button, button. (By the way, I would make fun of her outfit, but I think I saw something remarkably similar being sold at American Apparel today. That's not a joke.)

WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT?! Fanny Hair leans in for a kiss and there's some kind of robotic big fuming at our feet? Seriously, what is that thing? I want to kill it. I want to kill something. Hell, I want the Jesus Bio Monster to eat me. Also, nice leg warmers, Fanny Hair. I'll pick the first available option again, and hope that one translates as "Kill the horrible thing."

FUCK! It's Dennis Franz again. Goddammit, I'm beginning to think this endless series of text windows is the game. Like, maybe the choices offered lead you through the game Choose Your Adventure-style. Of course, with all the text in Japanese, I am unable to make any sense of anything. Fine, you fooled me, Jesus — Kyoufu no Bio Monster. I mistook you for a game when you were actually a stupid book masquerading as a game. Utterly defeated and angry, I decide to give one more untranslated game a shot, suspecting that the game totally would have gotten good had a persevered over another dozen conversations.

A last shot, picked only because it was directly above Bio Monster: something with the tragic name Ikki.

Just one player for me, thanks. Also, this blog cannot reproduce sound, but anyone reading this should know that selecting "one player" resulted in a cheery, very Japanese and unexpectedly long intro jingle. I'd imagine they were trying to compensate for the fact that I didn't have anyone to play along with. And I appreciate that, Sunsoft.

Yep, that's right. Just me. I'm getting ready.

Oh! I already died! See, there I am in the bottom right quadrant of the screen, with a little halo over my head. How sad. The little man who doesn't move the way I wanted him to and only throws boomerangs in the direction the computer wants him to was somehow slain by marauding ninjas mere moments after setting foot into this lovely Japanese garden. Well, surely my Ikki skills will improve with another try, right?

I mean really — what the hell was that? That wasn't a game. I derived neither fun nor joy from Ikki. Six hundred lousy points and little men slain by ninjas in less than three minutes? Gah. GAH!

And then I stepped away from the computer for a few moments and collected myself.

This has been the second installment of Drew being frustrated by Japanese games intended for Japanese children. If any of you all think you'd fare better braving the Japanese psyche, I encourage you to test your skills at

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Monster Squad (Steampunk Version)


This cheerful-looking lass says hi and that you should check out this kick-ass website, The Fantastic in Art and Fiction. It's a compendium of illustrations from vintage books that Cornell has put together in order to add to online academic resources and spruce up your invitations to next year's Halloween party. It's even arranged into nifty — but nonetheless macabre — categories like Weird Science or Freaks Monsters and Prodigies in order to make sure you get to see the horrifying thing you're looking for all the more quickly.

[ Source: Little Hokum Rag ]

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Good Dogs Get Biscuits


One: Just like the story about that horse who could do math that was totally in all of our elementary school reading books, the dog is clearly just matching his crazed owner's voice, syllable-for-syllable with a corresponding groan. Two: When the dog said "Eric Clapton," I could have sworn he actually said "Someone help me." And three: I don't know what's creepier, the dog's apparently human mimicry or the owner's insane sputterings at the end of the clip.

[ fyi, all the post titles mean something ]

Spice and Exclamation

In helping his college friends move out of their house in Isla Vista, Spencer accumulated a wealth of cast-off kitchen supplies, including a jar of the below pictured spice blend.

As you can see, the makers of Oh! So Garlic! felt it necessary to frame the product in the linguistic markers of surprise. I guess that they were intending for the "oh-so-good" kind of expression but had no clue how to punctuate it. Nonetheless, the result of their lameness amuses me.

For your consideration, potential sister products for the Oh! So Garlic! product line:
  • Whee! It's Cinnamon!
  • Mmm-mmm! Allspice!
  • Look Out! It's Fennel!
  • Hummina-Hummina-Ginger!
  • Ooh La La! Coriander!
  • Whadayaknow? Saffron!
  • Mother of God! Thyme!
  • Whoa! That's Some Great Cumin!
  • Eh?! I Believe That's Cardamom!
  • Anise In Your Face!
  • What?! Chickweed Again?!
  • You Bought Paprika?
  • Anything But Celery Salt!
  • Shit, It's Dill...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Not Exactly The Carrie Nations

Girl band The Pipettes — pronounced more like "whippets" rather than like the type of chemistry equipment — first came into my life more than a year ago, when I was in Sydney and picked up an Australian Rolling Stone, which touted the group as the best think to happen to music since the kick drum. I downloaded them upon my return to the states, enjoyed them and then tired of them. Reminiscent of classic girl groups though they were, these leaders of the pack didn't have staying power.

Unless I'm mistaken, however, The Pipettes have been re-releasing their songs for American audiences with a more polished sound. A good example of this trend is the below video.

In the style of the Spike Jonze-directed video for Weezer's "Just Like Buddy Holly," this digitally inserts the Pipettes into the party scene from Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, with the girls on stage and the movie's characters providing corny reaction shots to their poppy sounds. It works well, I guess, but it makes me imagine a bad end for this British threesome. You see, in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, the central three characters form a girl rock group as well. One of them ends quite happily, one is murdered after her newfound lesbian lover dies from a gunshot to the brain, and the third — the black one, Petronella horrendously nicknamed "Pet" — takes a bullet to the torso. That's not taking into account the various drug- and jealousy-fueled shenanigans the girls somehow manage to overcome.

So yeah — cool video. But bad life plan. Good luck, Pipettes.

[ Source: The Planet of Groove, where I apparently now get my music-related news. ]

EDIT 6.19.2007: It's a remake, not a "Just Like Buddy Holly" or Forrest Gump or Nikki and Paolo on Lost kind of splice-in. I found the original scene, featuring The Carrie Nations performing "Sweet Talkin' Candyman."

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Don't Forget Large Marge

A few of the many examples of the rhyming duplications or "echo words" that follow the rule of the first half beginning with a softer sound than the second.
  • Achey-Breakey
  • airy-fairy
  • artsy-fartsy
  • backpack
  • bedspread
  • brain drain
  • chill pill
  • double trouble
  • fancy-schmancy
  • fender-bender
  • fuddy duddy
  • hanky-panky
  • heebie-jeebies
  • helter-skelter
  • herky-jerky
  • higgledy piggledy
  • hobnob
  • hocus-pocus
  • hoity-toity
  • hokey-pokey
  • holy moly
  • hootchie-kootchie
  • hurdy-gurdy
  • hurly-burly
  • hurry-scurry
  • itsy-bitsy
  • lovey-dovey
  • miminy-piminy
  • namby-pamby
  • night flight
  • nitty-gritty
  • okey-dokey
  • pell-mell
  • pooper-scooper
  • ragin' Cajun
  • razzle-dazzle
  • roach coach
  • roly-poly
  • sci-fi
  • Slim Jim
  • super-duper
  • Super Trooper
  • walkie-talkie
  • Wavy Gravy
  • willy-nilly
  • wingding
It's amusing to me that the pairs follow this rule so closely and that people would so naturally chose "super-duper" over "duper-super," even though the latter might easily make as much sense to someone who had never heard the expression before.

There are, of course, many exceptions — "Plain Jane," "tutti frutti," "teeney-weeney," "Maui Wowee" and "peg leg" perhaps among the most familiar — and some of the calls on which letter sounds softer are arguable, but in general the ones that get spoken most often adhere, I'm told.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Mr. Tater, I Presume?

Another winner from's word-of-the-day.
scrutator (skroo-TAY-tuhr) noun

One who investigates.

[ From Latin scrutator (searcher), from scrutari (to examine), from scruta (trash). ]

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo

Given the terse description accompanying this YouTube clip — "the DVD advert for Skippy" — I can only conclude that Skippy the Bush Kangaroo was a once-popular television show about a peppy kangaroo who played the drums, rescues children Lassie-style and stuffed objects into her pouch, where the mucous therein would doubtlessly prevent any humans from ever wanting to touch them again.

Oh, and also Skippy's hands apparently suffer occasional paralysis.

The Roving Ambassador of Romance


During discussion of famously unhappy heiresses — namely Doris Duke and Barbara Hutton — I learned of the existence of one Porfirio Rubirosa, a notorious Dominican playboy who kept his name in tabloids during the first half of the twentieth century by romancing a succession of ladies that reads like a Who's Who of Bombshells. The list includes, but is not limited to, the following: Delores Del Rio, Marilyn Monroe, Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, Soraya Esfansiary (wife of the Shah of Iran), Veronica Lake, Kim Novak, Eva Peron, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and of course Duke and Hutton. Beyond his ladies, Rubirosa was the subject of gossip also for the purported size of penis. The Wikipedia states that his member was described by Truman Capote (!) as "an 11-inch cafe au lait sinker as thick as a man's wrist." The Rubirosa wang was so famous, in fact, that today large restaurant-style pepper grinders are apparently known as "rubirosas."

This is perhaps one of the best legacies I've ever heard of anyone leaving, ever.

This is a fact that I find all the more hilarious in light of the following fact: At my birthday dinner, Hannah suffered the indignity of having the waitress's pepper grinder partly disassemble and drop its cap in her risotto.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Death and Life on June 4, 1982

More often than not, I read Ain't It Cool News for movie and TV geek gossip the likes of which I can't find elsewhere. Entertainment Weekly or TV Guide, for example, both love Lost and faithfully report its cast changes and smoke monster attacks, but only Ain't It Cool News writes about upcoming episode with the shameless fanboy frothing — and complementary diehard expertise — that I crave. Yesterday, however, I happened upon an entirely different sort of article that initially caught my eye only by virtue of the headline:
"Death and Life on June 4, 1982"
For those sitting at the back of class, that's my birthday, in the literal sense of the word.

The post details one film lover's viewing of two films that opened in my birthday: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Poltergeist. I've seen the latter many times, but never the former, so I will just take the writer's words assurance of thematic overlap between the two films' notions of life and death and loss and suffering do indeed share some similarities. The author then discusses his own experience with Poltergeist-like explained phenomena, but not in a way that makes him seem like the kind of loony, superstitious spiritualist who usually posts such stories online.

In all, a beautiful piece brimming with unabashed geekiness and honesty about the authors marvel at how pop culture intersected with his life in a meaningful way.

That's what I've been shooting for here, though I fear I've often missed my mark.

Monday, June 4, 2007

This Must Be the Place

It's been posted before, but this song can't stop me from crying on the night of my twenty-fifth birthday.

A nostalgic song.
Home is where I want to be.

Pick me up and turn me round. I feel numb — born with a weak heart. I guess I must be having fun. The less we say about it the better. Make it up as we go along. Feet on the ground, head in the sky. It's okay — I know nothing's wrong.


I got plenty of time. You got light in your eyes, and you're standing here beside me. I love the passing of time. Never for money, always for love. Cover up and say goodnight.

(Say goodnight.)

Home. It's where I want to be, but I guess I'm already there. I come home. She lifted up her wings. Guess that this must be the place. I can't tell one from another Did I find you, or you find me? There was a time before we were born If someone asks, this is where I'll be.

(Where I'll be.)

We drift in and out. Sing into my mouth Out of all those kinds of people, you got a face with a view. I'm just an animal looking for a home. Share the same space for a minute or two, and you love me till my heart stops — love me till I'm dead. Eyes that light up, eyes look through you. Cover up the blank spots. Hit me on the head.
Make of it whatever you will. I know I've been thinking about it for years.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Chilled Blue

I'm living in perpetual 7 a.m.

broken glass

Waking up kills me, though not in the depressed way it did two years ago. Then, I had graduated and contracted West Nile and found myself trapped in a terrible condo on Cathedral Oaks — fevered, jobless, with coyotes howling and large stretches of nothing separating me from anything. Then, I had no reason to get up. Today, as I contemplate my twenty-fifth birthday tomorrow, I have reasons to wake up and go make something of myself, but for whatever reason the May Gray and June Gloom has SADdened me more than it has before.

What's worse than waking up at noon when you didn't intend to? Waking up slight hungover at noon to an overcast sky that nearly tricks you into thinking you could get up in time enough to appreciate the morning.

This morning, I just stared, hoping I somehow hadn't wasted half the day. When I rolled over to look at time, the bedside clock was turned away — likely because the clock itself is now conspiring with the weather to set me up for a fall. (I've actually long suspected the alarm clock of malice.) Flip. Noon, right on the dot.

The next cruel trick comes with opening the window. Necessary to clear the room of the smell of sleeping bodies, opening the window lets in this cold air that gets into my clothes, through the covers I just dove back under. I hate this. The me that was standing in front of the closed window didn't know for sure that the air outside would be so mean. Somehow, this new day could have presented the warm, muggy kind of overcast that we occasionally get here in Santa Barbara. But no — it's the June Gloom, which I feel started especially early this year and I worry may not give way to the beautifully lazy upper-90s days we had here last July.

I'm still in a bathrobe as I type this, because it constitutes appropriate clothes for this permafog. In a former life, I didn't wear bathrobes, except around Christmas and possibly only on Christmas morning for the opening of presents. Most mornings of the year began with the cloudless blue skies that signify a day in which wavy lines would rise up from anything with a surface facing the sun. Not only would bathrobes be inappropriate, but more often shoes and shirts would be as well, at least for the first few moments outside. Lizards would be out, sunning themselves. Here in Santa Barbara, I worry for the lizards' welfare.

I just looked out the window again. Not so much gray at the moment, but definitely icy blue, like how you might paint a picture of Antarctica if you didn't want it to be just white. Icy blue like a pissed-off bridesmaid.

A newsflash: Something changed. The gray remains, but I'm told something has, in fact, just changed, just in this past day. We don't know what, but the closet door knob falls off now. Can I blame the weather for this too? Can I blame the weather for me now being in my mid-twenties as opposed to the comfortable early twenties demographic I previously claimed?

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Mario Hacksploitation

Online prowling for obscure bits of Mario trivia has led me to SykoGrafix, a pop culture site that includes two installments of a feature on rare, illegal NES hacks, FreakyNES. Both volumes one and two of FreakyNES showcase some great Mario hacks. Diehards probably already know of them, but I figured it couldn't hurt to post them here.


mario wears a tank top, apparently

Well-known among both Mario and Sonic enthusiasts, Somari is the Master System version of the original Sonic the Hedgehog title reworked to feature Mario as the hero. Mario seems to be a bit taller than he appears in his licensed games. Oddly, he also has the spin dash move, which Sonic did not pick up until Sonic the Hedgehog 2. The Wikipedia page on Somari claims that it's unknown exactly when the game came out, though the screens claim that the "Somari Team" released sometime in 1994, possibly in Hong Kong, South America and South Africa.

ROMs of it are available online, though many come with the warning that gameplay is a little woogy — it is, after all, a hack — and can freeze up without warning.

For more on Somari, check out the following sites:
Mari Street Fighter III Turbo

If the mental leap it took to implement Mario in a Sonic game was a small one, this one clears the moon. A hack of Street Fighter II for the NES — a system for which the title was never released in the first place — plus a bunch of weird palette swaps of the original cast and, for some reason, Mario. Check it out.

The fellow who posted the YouTube video above claims Mario plays kind of like a cross between Ryu and Dhalsim, which I guess makes as much sense as anything else in this strange, strange game.

Kart Fighter

Easily one of the better made Mario hacks out there, Kart Fighter features the original eight racers from Super Mario Kart duking it out, Street Fighter-style. Many have dubbed this a spiritual predecessor to Smash Bros. by virtue of being the first chance gamers got to see Mario and company beating the crap out of each other.

the cartridge art

Note that the above image is a slight re-styling of Nintendo's official art for Super Mario Kart, just slightly redrawn so that it doesn't look like anybody is driving a go-kart, Peach isn't wearing a crown and Mario's hardly in the image. However, everyone is still in the same basic position and standing in the middle of a raceway, now for no apparent reason. Compare:

and what the cartridge art was going for

As the below screenshots indicate, the game looks surprisingly good. Those backgrounds are mostly created specifically for the game, I think, as are the character sprites.

clearly, some of the mario kart special moves have carried over.

toad has never looked so mad. or so tall.

princess lana + chun li = kart fighter peach, apparently

not only do certain characters appear under their japanese name,
but yoshi does so under the strangely over-anglicized yossy.

Some background graphics, however, come directly from the Capcom NES title Little Nemo: The Dream Master, one of which — the mushroom forest — is seen in the Luigi vs. Yoshi fight on this page.

Here's a clip of the game in action.

For more Kart Fighter, check out the following sites:
Tiny Mario Adventures and other such nonsense

There's tragic little info on this title available online, but I'm guessing that's because it sucks. It's the NES Tiny Toon Adventures with Mario subbing in for the main character, Buster Bunny. But if I remember this game correctly — yes, I'm admitting to actually having played the original in my youth — the game gives players a choice between playing as other characters too. That would explain the Sykografix writer noting the odd phenomenon of Mario suddenly turning into Plucky Duck.
notes that various forms of this game are also known as Super Mario Adventures and, for some reason, Mario 16. Also, the between-stage cutscenes apparently still feature the Tiny Toons cast, leading to an overall nonsensical and half-assed feel. However, the screenshots posted there seem to tell a different story, given Mario's prominence. Also, the overall look of the game seems different enough from the screenshots glimpsed in the FreakyNES article that they might be referring to two completely different Tiny Toons-Super Mario mash-ups.

Here's what I got, from whatever game it may be from.

who is that blue ninja-looking fellow? i suppose we'll never know

however, that's definitely tiny toons villain montana max depicted in the statue.

What can be made of all this? No clue. Some questions are better off unanswered.

In closing, I'd like to say that I don't know who made this games or what possessed them that any of this would be a good idea. (Though I suppose they may have made a quick buck here and there.) But I'm glad they did. And an extra thanks to SykoGrafix for listing these rarities together — again, in FreakyNES Volume One and Volume Two — and prompting me to look into them.

And for more phony Mario goodness, check out "Psuedo Mario, Then and Now."

Holy Smoke

The Indy ran a film feature I wrote on a relatively unknown horror film that was filmed at a seminary here in Santa Barbara in the early 80s. Below is my take on it, in which I manage to discuss its wonderful lameness and investigate how any coherent Catholic organization would permit a horror film to be filmed on their grounds in the first place.

As with my last re-printing of an Indy article, the full names of the people involved have been altered here, just because these people really don't need to be Googling themselves and finding this blog.


The Strange History of St. Anthony’s and the Diabolical Movie Evilspeak

Something about the marriage of Catholic iconography — with its stained glass, martyr statues, and arcane Latin inscriptions — to the ultimate Big Bad has long appealed to filmmakers and filmgoers alike. That sentence alone should bring to mind some vivid memories of pop culture devilry from the likes of
Rosemary’s Baby, The Omen, or the infamous crucifix scene from The Exorcist, but the connection goes back at least to movies like 1934’s The Black Cat, which pits Bela Lugosi against Boris Karloff amid satanic-themed mayhem.

It stands to reason, then, that a city as rich in Catholic history as Santa Barbara would have popped up in some point in the horror genre, albeit in a way even film diehards may have forgotten. In 1982, the Coronet Film Corporation released
Evilspeak, a dark, schlocky chiller starring Clint Howard — Ron’s brother, perhaps best remembered for his childhood role on the TV series Gentle Ben — as Stanley Coopersmith, a social misfit at the prestigious West Andover Military Academy.

The subject of endless teasing by classmates and faculty, Stanley eventually stumbles onto a diary kept by Father Esteban, a former Spanish missionary priest who became a devotee of Satan. Stanley scans the book into his computer and ends up willfully summoning the power of the devil to wreak fiery and pointy havoc on his foes, à la the finale of

Despite its inclusion on Britain’s “Video Nasty” list of inappropriate viewing material in 1984 and its current availability on DVD,
Evilspeak seems all but forgotten. It may, however, be of special interest to Santa Barbara residents by virtue of it being filmed almost entirely at St. Anthony’s Seminary. Crews swept in one summer while St. Anthony’s Seminary was out of session and quickly shot a film so shockingly anti-Christian that Anton LaVey, founder of the Church of Satan, purportedly loved it and regarded it as an accurate depiction of his faith. Evilspeak hit theaters shortly after, but to little acclaim. Yet it raises an interesting question: How exactly does a film that would seem to glorify all things non-Christian ever get permission to film in an institution of the Lord?

According to St. Anthony’s staffers, the film got the go-ahead after higher-ups approved a preliminary shooting script described as decidedly PG. Though Fr. Mel JXXXXXXX oversaw goings-on at St. Anthony’s for years, his sabbatical in 1980 left Fr. Alberic SXXXX in charge. “We didn’t really understand the nature of the film until after it came out,” SXXXX said of
Evilspeak. “It had lots of promise and the script looked okay, and several of us read that. But they kept adding on.”

The content added in after that first script approval, one must conclude, would have probably included the graphic death sequences. The foremost of these is a particularly distasteful scene in which one of the film’s few female characters strips and steps into the shower, where she is messily devoured by pigs. That, coupled with the blood sacrifice of the world’s cutest puppy and the ending sequence — in which a levitating Stanley impales, decapitates, and burns his tormentors in the school chapel, ultimately sending a large cross altarpiece toppling to the ground — make for good reason why
Evilspeak did not make the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ top 10 films of 1982.

Perhaps most offensive to Christian sensibilities is the notion of the protagonist — whom Howard plays as the kind of undeservedly wronged loner ubiquitous to most high schools, real or fictional — turning to Satanism. Unlike the title character in
Carrie, Stanley seems to have no remorse for wiping out his classmates, teachers, and even the chaplain. The film’s final shot depicts his face, turned demonic with Tron-caliber special effects.

Both SXXXX and JXXXXXXX said they were happy few people saw the film, in Santa Barbara or otherwise. SXXXX said he never bothered to actually watch it, though he does remember hearing that it bombed. JXXXXXXX, on the other hand, did. “I went incognito down to a theater in Ventura to see it,” he admitted. He was not impressed, calling the whole incident “embarrassing.” And that would seem to mark the end of Santa Barbara’s association with
Evilspeak. (The credits, however, thank a special appearance by the Dos Pueblos High School marching band, so likely some current area residents have memories of the film.)

Though Evilspeak probably doesn’t appear on too many people’s favorite films lists, its quick run through theaters didn’t render it completely inconsequential in terms of pop culture legacy. A 1997 episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer featured a strikingly similar plot, with an evil tome being scanned into a computer and unleashing demonic forces upon the tech-savvy.

One of the unlucky classmates who suffers Stanley’s wrath — specifically by having his still-beating heart plucked from his chest — is a young Don Stark, who is perhaps best known today for his regular role on
That ’70s Show. And Clint Howard somehow managed to parlay starring in movies like Evilspeak into a career. His list of subsequent credits in the schlock horror genre include Night Shift, Leprechaun 2, Carnosaur, and Ice Cream Man, the last of which features Howard in the a title role of a mental patient who processes unpleasant children into frosty treats. Finally, Eric Weston — Evilspeak’s director, who could not be reached for comment — is currently filming the feature Hyenas, which tells the story of human-hyena hybrids who eat people.

In the end, the film offers a strange bit of Santa Barbara history about how a movie of such satanic gore could ever be permitted to film on a location owned by those who might object to such content. And for those curious to rent the film themselves, know this: The only version available on DVD is the uncensored director’s cut, which means more unholy splatter than you would have seen in the theaters anyway.

The 411:
Evilspeak can be rented on

Friday, June 1, 2007

America's Most Misunderstood Blog Post

Two lists, both directly related to Dr. Pepper. First, the history of slogans used to advertise the drink:
  • "King of Beverages" (1889–1914)
  • "Drink a Bite to Eat at 10, 2, and 4 o'clock!" (1920s–1930s)
  • "The Friendly Pepper Upper" (1950s)
  • "America's Most Misunderstood Soft Drink" (1960s)
  • "The Most Original Soft Drink Ever" (1970s)
  • "Be a Pepper. Wouldn't you like to Be a Pepper too?" (1977–1985)
  • "Hold Out For the Out of the Ordinary" (1986–1997)
  • "It's Dr Pepper Flavour, Silly!" (1997, in Australia)
  • "Now's the Time. This is the Place. Dr Pepper Is The Taste." (1997)
  • "Dr Pepper, It Makes the World Taste Better" (2000)
  • "Just What The Dr Ordered." (2000–?)
  • "Dr Pepper, so misunderstood" (2001)
  • "Be You" (2002–2004)
  • "Solves All Your Problems." (2002–present, in Europe)
  • "Dr Pepper: What's the worst that could happen?" (2004, in the UK)
  • "One Taste & You Get It" (2005)
  • "Can You Handle The Taste?" (2006, in Denmark, Finland and Netherlands)
  • "Authentic blend of 23 flavors" (2006, in Canada)
  • "Dr Pepper, Nothing Better" (2006)
  • "The Dr. knows the right touch" (2006, in parts of Europe)
  • "There's more to it" (2006)
  • "I Want It All" (2006)
Bad concluding pair. "There's more to it" plus "I Want It All"? That's megalomania.

And secondly, I present a list of all the Dr. Pepper knock-offs ever to grace supermarket shelves.
  • Dr. Path (sold in PathMark Supermarkets)
  • Dr. Topper (Rocky Top and Clover Valley)
  • Dr. Dazzle (ALDI Inc.)
  • Dr. Slice and Dr. Faygo (Faygo Family Beverages Inc.)
  • Dr. Hy-Top (Federated Group)
  • Dr. Smooth (President's Choice) — like the porn star?
  • Dr. Chek (Winn-Dixie)
  • Dr. IGA (IGA)
  • Dr. Perky (Food Lion) — worst OB/GYN ever
  • Dr. Bash (Bashas)
  • Dr. Bob (Stop & Shop) — as in, "I was raped by Dr. Bob"
  • Dr. Weis (Weis Markets)
  • Dr. Celeste (The Pantry, Inc.) — as in, "This homeopathic medicine Dr. Celeste gave me does isn't curing my diseases."
  • Dr. Spice (Target)
  • Dr. Hy-Vee (Hy-Vee)
  • Dr. Publix (Publix) — too easy
  • Pepper, MD (Path Right)
  • Dr. Fresh (Marsh)
  • Dr. Rocket (K-mart)
  • Dr. Radical (Adirondack Beverage Company) — an old burnout who runs a skate shop
  • Dr. Shaw's (Shaw's Supermarkets, Inc.)
  • Dr. Wild (J G Meyer First Choice)
  • Dr. Wow (Topco). — as in, "I was up all night because my roommate scored some Dr. Wow."
  • Dr. Riffic (Eckerd)
  • Dr. Skipper (Safeway)
  • Dr. Bold and Dr A+ (Albertsons)
  • Dr. B (H-E-B)
  • Dr. K (Costco, Kroger and Fred Meyer)
  • Dr. M (Meijer)
  • Dr. W (Wegmans)
  • Dr. Shasta (Shasta)
  • Dr. Thunder (Wal-Mart) — A.K.A. "colon blow"
  • Mr. Pibb (Coca-Cola)
[ source: The Wikipedia ]