Thursday, November 29, 2007

For Better — But Worse

Last year, I became taken with the 60s parody folk rock duo Allen & Grier, and in doing so felt compelled to pick apart their song "Celebrities Cake Walk," which namedrops a ton of famous people who are now either dead or considerably less famous. I blogged about it, and in the process of trying to identify each of the once-famous people, I came to Mae Busch's IMDb filmography — a list of films and roles that should rightly make you laugh and then feel bad.

Though the below list appeared in the initial blog entry on "Celebrities Cake Walk," I stumbled across it recently and thought I should re-post it on its own.
  • Mable and Fatty's Married Life
  • Ambrose's Sour Grapes (as "second twin")
  • Beating Hearts and Carpets
  • A Human Hound's Triumph
  • For Better — But Worse
  • Fatty and the Broadway Star (as "actress")
  • Wife and Auto Trouble (as "a speedy stenographer")
  • A Bathhouse Blunder (as "swimming instructor")
  • The Folly of Fanchette (as "Mrs. Rayburg")
  • The Love Charm (as "Hattie Nast")
  • Foolish Wives (as "Princess Vera Petchnikoff")
  • Brothers Under the Skin (as "Flo Bulger")
  • The Shooting of Dan McGrew (as "Flo Dupont")
  • Nellie, the Beautiful Cloak Model (as "Polly Joy")
  • Flaming Love (as "Sal Flood")
  • Love 'Em and Weep (as "old flame")
  • San Francisco Nights (as "Flo")
  • Chickens Come Home (as "Ollie's blackmailer")
  • The Man Called Back (as "Rosie")
  • Doctor X (as "Cathouse Madam")
  • Them Thar Hills (as "Mrs. Hall")
  • Tit for Tat (as "grocer's wife")
  • The Amazing Exploits of the Clutching Hand (as "Mrs. Paul Gironda")
  • Prison Farm (as "Trixie")
  • Women Without Names (as "Rose")
  • The Bride Wore Boots (as "woman")

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Leave the Limbs You've Lost

Occasionally, editing news allows you access to a certain bit of trivia that you just know will come in handy one day. I've written about it before and I'm always happy to be reminded of it. Last night, for a news story, I had to look into whether carrying a ninja throwing star could constitute possession of a concealed weapon and, therefore, a felony charge. It can, apparently, depending on the circumstances. However, in looking into the California Penal Code on the subject, I was introduced to a whole list of what I can only interpret as miscellaneous weapons included alongside throwing stars — or shurikens, as the code correctly identifies them — which are surely listed in the code because some lunatic, somewhere, was at some point involved in an incident that involved one of these bizarre utensils for hurting somebody else.

The list, condensed to bullet points-form:
  • any cane gun or wallet gun
  • any ammunition which contains or consists of any flechette dart
  • ballistic knife (which I'd never heard of before but sounds utterly useless)
  • any multiburst trigger activator
  • any nunchaku
  • any short-barreled shotgun or short-barreled rifle
  • any metal knuckles
  • any belt buckle knife (Read more at!
  • any leaded cane
  • any zip gun
  • any shuriken
  • any unconventional pistol (which seems like a tragic catch-all that could have developed into a wonderfully detailed list of obscure handguns)
  • any lipstick case knife (!)
  • any cane sword
  • any shobi-zue (a staff or rod concealing a knife and which is apparently different from the aforementioned cane sword)
  • any air gauge knife (not a knife employing some kind of air pressure mechanism to kill, but just a knife disguised as an air gauge… because such a thing apparently exists)
  • any writing pen knife
  • any metal military practice hand grenade or metal replica hand grenade
  • or any instrument or weapon of the kind commonly known as a blackjack, slungshot, billy, sandclub, sap, or sandbag. (or, as it's known to me, a whack-bonk)
Highlights: the slungshot, of course and the lipstick case knife, because the incident inspiring that note in the penal code must have been amazing.

A minus: nothing about boomerangs. (Or is that a plus, given my upcoming heist schemes?)

She Forgot "Tired"

Way late now, but nonetheless worth a post. Meg H. of Meg H. — The Blog! fame and her little friend, whose name is also Meg, came for a visit to the Indy a few weeks back, and though the office was finishing up the behemoth Best Of issue and therefore beaten-down as all get-out, I did what I could to give them a tour. In all honesty, I failed as a guide. I was pretty frazzled myself and was running all over the place more than usual. However, as a thank-you note-plus-homework assignment, Big Meg had Little Meg write up her own newspaper describing what she learned in the tour. I finally brought it home and scanned it. It's really only viewable in full-size form and it's entirely worth the effort it will take to click this hyperlink. For those that need further incentive, here's a selection.

Pay special attention to the part I highlighted. For what it's worth, she nailed it — both in her description of me and of the office itself.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Dandelion Who Could, Part Two

Spencer eagerly pointed out that the pot of dandelions that normally does nothing but makes leaves that quickly turn brown had sprouted another puff over the Thanksgiving holiday. You might recall how heralded the previous freakishly tall blossom. This time, the plant outdid itself.

A daylight shot from below:


The long stem in all its curvy glory:


The tall dandelion situated next to a Lego person to demonstrate relative size:


And one final shot, with a detail of the Lego person, in case you forgot what one looks like:


Please do not ask why I, at age twenty-five and no longer living with my parents, had access to a Lego person. Please do not ask why I only have the one and no actual Lego blocks. And finally, please do not ask why the one Lego person I have is an overly made-up farm girl with pigtails.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Unseen California

NOTE: Though I'm posting this late on Thursday night, I wrote this at about 3 p.m. on Wednesday, when I was heading up north for Thanksgiving.

My train—the Pacific Starlight, or something to that effect—just passed another headed the opposite direction, resulting on one of those momentary seizures in which the background that has steadily rolled by for the last hour is suddenly replaced by screaming metal and glass. Not that I knew straight off that it was another train, mind you. The passing trains have stunned this railroad novice each and every time they passed. Once I realized what exactly that gray blur was, I then had to contend with being reminded that I was, in fact, riding on a train and not just somehow flying through the little-seen parts of California I'd been staring at — trees and beaches and all manner of backgrounds not visible from the 101.

Anyway, the passing seems as good a time as any to write about my first-ever cross-California train trip.

Most of those whom I've told of my Thanksgiving plans have shuddered. For them, train time is bad time, a means of making an already tedious commute even longer. "Six hours on a train?" they ask. "I'd rather just wait in traffic." For me, however, this railroad adventure has already paid for itself. First off, I love trains, even though I haven't ridden any with any frequency since the D.A.C.K. days. Not only do I get to escape the horror that is Thanksgiving traffic on the 101, but I also get valuable downtime to write whatever I please. (Technically, I'm supposed to be writing a feature for the Indy, but I'm currently deprived of both internet access and cell phone reception, and I'm far to starved for a distraction-free environment to let this opportunity pass by.) And as this Amtrak iron horse slowly chugs toward Salinas, I get a chance to reflect on the strangeness of having lived in California all my life, mostly, and yet never having seen what I'm seeing now. If it's not altogether new new, then I'm just now seeing it from the unique railway perspective — the backs of what faces the 101, for example, or the piles of gravel and debris that the state shoves away from the view of highway motorists. For every pile of rubble, however, there's also a pristine stretch of California coastline that's seemingly evaded being marred by human hands — an immaculate slope of sandy hillside with only the occasional deer or fox footprints to leave an indication that anything had ever been there. I'd never seen Vandenberg Village until today, and I'd only once ever seen the Hollister Ranch. (And even that time, it was through some savvy Veronica Marsing on Spencer's part.) I'm thrilled at the prospect of seeing how, exactly, the train manages the Cuesta Grade, but being a train newbie, I'm no less stoked on just hearing the train blare its whistle — I'm hearing it from the inside for the first time, don't forget — or the fact that I'm on my fourth gin and tonic but nonetheless working my way home for the holiday.

And seriously — this train couldn't have a more motley assortment of passengers. The very old, the very young, the driver's license-deprived, the poor, the college freshmen, the environmental, the just plain mental, and every other conceivable classification of public transportation user. I can't decide whether I'm more put off by my 300-pound seatmate, the guy whose rowing team t-shirt would seem to contradict any of the physical attributes people usually associate with the sport, or the high school-aged lesbian couple behind us, who refuses to come up for air for fear that stopping kissing might allow somebody to mistake them for not-lesbians. None of these strangers, however, can hold a candle to the two I sat with in the dining car for my fancy people lunch. Sitting beside each other, opposite me and my issue of Juxtapoz in the booth, were a guy who manages a construction company in Santa Barbara and who went to a Halloween party in Los Angeles held by his "adult industry" brother and then another guy who made Dwight Schrute look like the definition of cool. The former wanted to talk more about how the porn industry makes for easy money. The latter wanted to talk about nothing but missile launches at Vandenberg and why he didn't "know much about the adult industry." (I kept ordering drinks to go with my gardenburger.)

As I finish this, I'm now in San Luis Obispo, parked, so to speak, waiting for the train to chug toward Paso Robles and looking out at a lot full of the parked cars of Thanksgiving out-of-towners. I have three more hours ahead of me before April picks me up in Salinas. Lord knows what I will do until then.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

And the Villain Still Pursues Her

Below is the image that I found to accompany Starshine's column this week, which concerns sex ed. I find it rather fitting.

and the villain still pursues her

It's old enough that the copyright has lapsed, so it's all hunky-dory with the legal eagles. Hurray for strange old-timey Victorian cartoons illustrated for God-knows-what, God-knows-why.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Not So Grrrreat

A text from Spencer-on-a-train: "Did you know that your initials, when read as a word, sound remarkably like the slogan of that Sugar Smacks frog?"

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Plumber, the Slayer and the Dominatrix

Funny thing about the newest Mario game, Super Mario Galaxy, which was released November 12. It doesn’t abbreviate so well for me. Just use the initials and you get “SMG,” a three-letter string that Buffy fans like myself have come to associate strictly with actress Sarah Michelle Gellar. Shorted the more familiar first two words and you get “SM Galaxy,” which is exactly one ampersand away from sounding like a sex dungeon, or at least a store where one could buy items to stock his or her sex dungeon.

I foresee myself writing this one out a lot.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Spatula Disaster

From Nate, proof that wherever you work could be a zillion times lamer.

Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe, eat your heart out. And yes, the Longaberger Company does, in fact, make baskets.

Gaylord Q. Tinkledink

When Dansy text messaged me that I should watch The Simpsons tonight, I figured there'd be something Drew-specific in it. It turned out to be better than I could have ever hoped for: tonight's episode, "Little Orphan Millie," takes place, if only for a few moments, in Solvang, the Disneyland-for-Danes quilting store of a town that I resent for more reasons than I care to list. I can't quite believe that Solvang registered on radar of the episode's writer — Mick Kelly, quite possibly writing for the first time — but at the same time, I note that the show took nineteen seasons to get around to mentioning it. That, I'm positing, is precisely how long it should take any show to feature Solvang in any way. For what it was, the episode dealt with Solvang just how I would have wanted it to: jokes about butter cookie and boring Danish architecture. Amazing.

One more quick note: The Simpsons episode concerned Milhouse thinking his parents were dead after they fell over the rail of a cruise ship and were lost at sea. The episode weirdly mirrored last week's 100th episode of Family Guy, in which Lois seemingly died after she fell off a cruise ship. Even more weirdly, last week's Family Guy episode was "to be continued," meaning we had to deal with even more fake-dying-by-falling-of-cruise ships with the part two that aired just one half-hour after tonight's Simpsons.

Jumbo Versus Peewee

No joke: The little one is smaller than the larger one's head. How often can that phrase be spoken about a meeting between two Guinness record holders?

[ From The Daily Mail, via electro^plankton ]

Sunday, November 4, 2007

We Like to Ride on Executive Planes

Today we discovered the perfect activity for an aimless Sunday afternoon in Santa Barbara: walking through the Mission rose garden, reading the names on the plaques and deciding if each sounds more like a sex act, a cocktail, a girl band, a self-help book or a name you shouldn't call a person to his face. Some results:
  • Chrysler Imperial Hybrid Tea (a cocktail)
  • Apricot Nectar (a cocktail)
  • Barbra Streisand (something you shouldn't call a person)
  • Chicago Peace (sex act)
  • Double Delight (sex act)
  • Escapade (a cocktail or a sex act)
  • Fragrant Cloud (sex act)
  • Indonesian Queen (something you shouldn't call a person)
  • Mister Lincoln (a girl band)
  • Opening Night (sex act)
  • Color Magic (cocktail, possibly a self-help book)
  • Duet (sex act)
  • Gemini (a sex act, much in the manner of the previous entry)
  • Broadway (sex act)
  • Marmalade Skies (a cocktail)
  • Special Occasion (maybe a perfume, definitely a sex act)
  • Celebrity (a terrible perfume)
  • New Beginning (a self-help book)
  • Black Jade (something you shouldn't call a person)
This, of course is a natural evolution of the usual game for any conspicuous group of words: band name, album name or book title.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Pink Typhoon

I think we can start here.

I know, I know. Not only is this the first and probably only time I've heard anything about Here's Boomer, but the prospect of The Facts of Life being a "new series" is so strange to me that it's funny. (Also, please note the presence of Molly Ringwald among the show's main cast before her character, whose name is also Molly, was blinked into obscurity.) Then, of course, there's the show that I'm focusing on in this post: Pink Lady, which before it was cancelled was better known as Pink Lady and Jeff. It featured comedian Jeff Altman — of whom I'm only aware otherwise as being one of the lesser Hoggs on Dukes of Hazard — and the Japanese pop group Pink Lady side-by-side, Tony Orlando & Dawn-style.

Yes, the name of the band in which two ladies don't always wear pink is Pink Lady, singular. I suppose Pink Ladies would create associations with Grease, though, so I can forgive this bit. Believe me, the group's name is small potatoes compared to the staggering weirdness that's going on here.

I learned of Pink Lady and Jeff only after seeing it listed on the Chicago Tribune's list of the 25 worst TV shows of all time. (Also dinged: Petticoat Junction, Small Wonder and My Mother the Car.) The purported suckiness of Pink Lady and Jeff stemmed in part from clunky jokes and the fact that singers Mie and Kei spoke almost no English and had to learn their lines and lyrics phonetically. You can't really tell, at least, in their cover of "Boogie Wonderland," as they sing with appropriate funk levels and in accents no worse than anybody else who didn't grow up speaking English.

Occasionally, however, they'd give these poor ladies a break and let them sing one of the songs that made them such a huge hit in Japan. Like this below performance of "Monster," in which Mie and Kei dress up like Captain EO.

They seem like they're having more fun when they sing in Japanese. I'd place their sound somewhere between the B-52s and The Go! Team, which might help explain why American audiences weren't too interested in Mie and Kei's antics, Jeff Altman or no Jeff Altman. Shortly into the run of Pink Lady and Jefffive episodes, according to IMDb — the show was canned by NBC. Mie and Kei trudged back to Japan, with only the fawning love of millions of fans to comfort them, and the once-omnipresent variety show format sputtered and died. Eventually, Mie and Kei shed their Pink Lady personas and returned to being Mitsuyo Nemoto and Keiko Masuda, the names under which they had successful acting and solo singing careers.

But that's not to say Pink Lady and Jeff can't be remembered for being not just a colossal failure but a flamingly colossal failure that emits multicolored rays of lights and can be seen from well beyond the Shizouka Prefacture. Personally, I can't wonder how life might have ended up if this show were the one to run for nine seasons instead of The Facts of Life, perhaps even incorporating Mrs. Garrett and Tootie after the hypothetical demise of Facts. Pink Lady and Jeff stands as a testament both the astounding weirdness that can result when American and Japanese pop culture collide and to network TV's desire to capitalize on quite possibly anything it can. (Come to think of it, in light of the looming TV writers' strike, I wonder the ladies of Pink Lady might be asked to clear their schedules on Monday and head back to our shores.)

On that note, I'm leaving you with one last bit by Mie and Kei: their Japanese hit single "UFO," which they also performed on the show in their native language. Between the green-screened space opera backgrounds and the back-up dancers who look like extras from Xanadu, you have to admit that, if nothing else, it's a spectacle you wouldn't have thought would have been aired on prime time.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Strange Invitation

Another doodle, done in a moment of boredom:

I'm calling it "Rachel's Boyfriend." On some level, I think, it's as best an homage to Frank Miller as I can do.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Giygas Attacks

An advertisement for my beloved Earthbound, which I believe ran in Nintendo Power back when the game was released.

I couldn't find a bigger version, so I unfortunately can't make the text readable, but I still really like this ad.