Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Steve Wilkos: Tossing chairs for America

I try to keep away from television during my days at home, mainly because there's absolutely nothing to watch and, once you start, you can't stop. 

But, I occasionally make an exception for the ridiculous Steve Wilkos Show. Airing here in Connecticut at 3PM, the Steve Wilkos Show, or Wilksy, as I like to call it, basically consists of the host, Steve Wilkos (formerly the head security guard on Jerry Springer), belittling rather stupid humans that have been somehow duped into appearing on his stage. These attacks, more often than not, consist of Mr. Wilkos, who must have the world's largest collection of bowling shirts, taking the guest's chair and throwing it across the set. This is usually followed with him ejecting said guest from his show.

And this happens every episode.

I just want to know why people actually show up to get screamed at. Are they all in on some sort of joke? Are they for real or actors? Do they at least get to leave at the end of their taping with a T-shirt that says: "I've been Wilkosed!"?

Here's Steve throwing some chairs, then getting angry because his guest wants to throw them, as well:


Just imagine that clip running for about 45 minutes and you'll have an pretty good idea of what an hour of Wilksy offers.

But it isn't all a drill sergeant routine. Before the awkward closing credits of an episode, in which Steve makes the entire audience form a line to shake his hand on their way out the door, he occasionally dips into his email bag. This segment always seems to begin with some sort of praise for Wilkos. Then, not surprisingly, there is always an email from someone who just plain hates Steve. In this clip, someone claims Steve looks like a carrot and isn't as entertaining as Ricki Lake.

Steve doesn't take criticism very well:


There you have it. The Steve Wilkos Show, making the unemployed like myself feel better about themselves on a daily basis!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Dude, we got a monster in town! Oh, wait, no we don't.

I don't know how I missed this in the news a couple weeks ago, but West Hartford apparently has a mysterious monster living in the local reservoir. This NBC30 report, taken from YouTube, explains:


This is pretty cool, right? Our own monster, and just in time for Halloween. But, before we get too excited, it seems all is not what it seems. NBC30 did a little investigating and got to the bottom of this story. The monster, shockingly, is not a monster at all. Find out the results of their in-depth report here (hint: it's a turtle).

That old Hartford Courant ain't what she used to be

Today brings into the world the first weekday edition of the newly revamped Hartford Courant. And, as suspected, things don't look good for the old news factory.

Gone are the five or six sections you'd expect to find folded together. Now only three remain and everything is crammed within these last men standing. You still have section A, the "news" section, which also houses all business stories (though none were found in today's edition). You still have the "sports" section (which, I assume, is probably the most read section of the paper). Things actually seem pretty status quo in this area. And, in today's paper, there is the new "CTLIVING" section, which stuffs everything from comics to classifieds to obits and weather into one awkward melange of newsprint.

But, condensed format aside, there are other changes in store for loyal readers. Along with the shrinking sections, Courant-philes, if today's edition is an indicator of things to come, should expect shrinking news coverage.

Take today's front page as an example. Actual news, meaning blocks of text anchored to a headline, on this page take up roughly a rectangular space of 8" length x 6.75" height. In comparison, the front page illustration of Senator Dodd that accompanies the main article takes up 8" x 6" of space. So, on a front page that's 11.5" x 23", you have about the same amount of article news text as you do illustration.

It gets worse.

Of the 14 pages in section A, 6 devote less than 16% of their space to news. Page A6, the most egregious offender, contains only a single article that takes up 5" x 3 1/8" of space. That's about 6% of the overall area of the page.

If you're an ad junky, then I suspect the new Courant will rock your socks off.

Of course, I'm not counting headlines or margins in these calculations, but when your state's newspaper has their "news" section reduced to having multiple pages dominated by advertisements, I think one feels it may be time to raise the white flag.

An article written by editor Barbara Roessner on the back page of section A, titled "Welcome to the new Courant," tries to reassure us readers that these changes are good. "We are historic and modern . . . We are prestigious and provocative" Roessner writes. But, by becoming "modern," the Courant seems to have lost the idea of what a newspaper is supposed to be. Their "bolder, modern new look" is nothing more than an expansion of advertising and a reduction of actual news.

It is a sad day for the nation's oldest continuously published newspaper.

Perhaps they can start calling themselves an adpaper. It would be a bit more accurate.

An honor the Courant touts on the front page is that it is read by 800,000 Connecticut residents every week. After today, sadly, I think that number will drop.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Innovation of the day: Security Shredder Scissors

Thumbing through my newly-relaunched copy of today's Hartford Courant (less paper means less recycling!), I couldn't help but comment on an advertisement found in one of the paper's coupon inserts. Next to the ads for creepy porcelain children and orthopedic shoes sat the following announcement for a new innovation in scissor technology:
  
Security Shredder Scissors! This must be the coolest and lamest invention I've ever seen. Now you can cut things . . . faster! I love how the photo in the bottom corner of the ad shows a pile of shredded papers. Do you know how long it would take to do that with these things? Now you can sit for a very long time and shred papers too! Or, instead of tearing up those unwanted credit card offers, you can now meticulously cut them up into tiny, tiny shreds! 

I'm tempted to get a pair just to see how well they work, though I can't imagine they hold up very well. There's probably more wear on certain blades than others. And how does one exactly sharpen this thing? Plus, the scissors cost $13. For $30, you could buy an actual shredder from Best Buy. Unless you like spending 5 minutes cutting up envelopes. If so, then have at it, I say!

Still, there's something really cool about having 5 blades on a pair of scissors. Do you think Dream Products, Inc., the SSS manufacturer, has a competitor out there seeing this ad and saying, "They did five? Then we'll do six!"? Before long, we'll have 10 blade scissors, wider than a piece of paper. Children will one day ask what life was like when scissors only had one blade. And we'll have to tell them, "It was horrible, little space child. It took so long to cut through credit cards."

Of course, this being the future, we'll then have to explain what a credit card was, but that's a whole other can of worms.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Barker Character, Comic, and Cartoon Museum: Nostalgia reigns


It was a rainy Saturday today, so the Professor and I decided to take a trip. A museum was on our radar, but what museum would we visit? A bit of Google searching later, I suggested the Barker Character, Comic, and Cartoon Museum in Cheshire. 

What is it?, the Professor wondered.

Honestly, I couldn't tell her. Not because I wanted it to be a surprise, but mainly because the website for the establishment only gave me a vague idea of what the museum actually contained. Was it animation stuff? Was it comic strips? Was it toys? I didn't really know.

What I did glean was that it had 80,000 items and that the admission was free to the public, and that was enough to get us in the car for the 30 minute trip down 84.

And, if you ever were a child (and, I think most of you were at one time or another), this place is totally worth the ride.

As you pull into the driveway of the Barker property off of Route 10, you're greeted by several wooden replicas of famous cartoon characters, from Porky Pig to the Animaniacs to Popeye and Olive Oyl. Sort of a little monument park, only everyone replicated never existed in reality.


Curiosity piqued, we parked and made our way inside.

A short audio clip at the museum's entrance informed us of the BCCCM's purpose (generally, to get children into the hobby of collecting). Talking to the on-site guide that met us at the front door, we also learned a bit about the creator of the museum, Mr. Herbert Barker. Having spent his youth working, Mr. Barker decided, 40 years ago, to begin his childhood again through buying toys. Eventually, this collection got too large for the Barker's home, and the museum became a reality.

Our appetites were whetted. Toys! Tons of toys! 

After signing the guest book, we began our trek.

It was pretty amazing.

80,000 toys! I mean, 80,000 toys! Lining the walls, the ceiling, in cases, on cases, just about everywhere you could fit anything. There were old toys, retro toys, new toys, animation props from Art Clokey's Gumby and Will Vinton's California Raisins, old lunch boxes, comic books, Pez dispensers, collectable glasses; if it was a childhood toy that you cherished, or an item that contained an image of your favorite cartoon character, the BCCCM has it somewhere in the collection.

Here's an image from the museum's website of the interior (photography was not allowed):


The Professor and I could have spent an entire day in the museum and still would have missed half the collection. There's just so much stuff, our eyes got buggy after staring for so long. It got a bit overwhelming, especially once we realized there was a second floor! And everything contained in the museum has a tag telling you the appraised value of each item (though nothing is for sale). So, you can look at all of the old toys of yours that your Mom threw away and slap your forehead at the current market value for each piece.

Popeye fact: Olive Oyl's first boyfriend was named Ham Gravy. How do I know this? Well, on your way out the door, staggered by the mass amount of plastic your eyes have just processed, you get a pamphlet listing 99 little known facts about Popeye. Certainly gives you something to read on the ride home.

I can't recommend this place enough. It brought back so many memories, I felt like I shrunk in my shoes, a six-year-old boy surrounded by every toy in the world. A kid in a candy store, as the saying goes, only the candy is every toy you can ever remember.

In addition to the museum, the Barker grounds also contain an animation gallery. Everything inside the gallery can be purchased, but the items do not come cheap. Animation cels, even limited editions, can run up to multiple thousands of dollars each. Still, the artwork was nice to admire and felt very subdued after exiting the overstuffed museum.

The Barker Character, Comic, and Cartoon Museum is only open on Saturdays, from 11 AM to 5 PM. They can be found at 1188 Highland Ave. in Cheshire.

Go and be a kid. You've earned it. 

Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday night tangents . . .

Sitting and watching the presidential debate, a drinking game seems ripe for the creation. How about, every time someone says "fundamental" a drink is taken. Every time McCain calls himself the anti- "Miss Congeniality," another drink is taken. For every smirk, take a drink. Every time the moderator (in tonight's case, Jim Lehrer) reminds the candidates to address each other, take a drink. Better yet, scrap this idea. You'd be drunk before the end of the first 9 minute segment.

Today was the first day of rain in at least a week and a half or longer, and yet I already wish it would end. Why does that happen?

Can Rolling Stone still be considered a viable source for music criticism? I'm pretty sure they've started taking CDs and are just tossing them up the stairs to decide on star ratings. Highest stair gets 5 stars. Lowest gets 1. That's the only way I can understand how the new Jessica Simpson disk (hey, I couldn't do pop, so let's try country!) scored the same number of stars as Okkervil River (don't know them? Google the song "A Girl In Port." Absolutely killer). Or, how Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers scored equal or better recent reviews than Lou Reed, Fela Kuti, and Elton John. Why is Rolling Stone reviewing these fad albums? Is the new age demographic for the magazine girls 10 - 14? Wait, does Disney own them now, along with everything else? Instead of classic journalism like Hunter Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas gracing the pages of RS, should we now expect a continuing series written by a Jonas telling us about a bender on Space Mountain? Time will tell . . .

Actually, now that I'm sitting in the other room, all I can hear from the debate is the slight whistle every time John McCain speaks. He sounds like an old prospector. Maybe he's telling us about gold! Aw, if he is, Obama doesn't seem interested. Guess I should go back in and pay closer attention. You know, just in case McCain IS talking about where we can find gold. 

Until later, I'm signing off.   

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Disappointed Dogs in Star Wars Costumes

There are a ton of tiny dogs here in West Hartford. And, I know you owners are thinking about dressing the little things in Halloween costumes. Yes, I admit this can be funny. But, before taking the plunge, watch the video below, found at Funny or Die. I think the dogs represented may turn you away from the costume cheer:

Local flavor, courtesy of the West Hartford library system

As I continue to be unemployed (or job hunting, or house-husbanding, or "unsuccessfully freelancing," or whatever I decide to call my situation this week), I have found myself spending quite a bit of my abundant free time at the local library. I rent movies, take out too many books, borrow CDs, and generally enjoy the quiet space and the knowledge that I'm surrounded by millions of words and sentences. There is a certain comfort in being engulfed in stories that I can't quite describe.

And, as I browse the shelves or sit for a moment to enjoy the silence, I've taken to listening in on the library's information station. Not to the librarians themselves, but to the West Hartford residents that try their patience day after day. I've got to hand it to the librarians. They always keep their cool, no matter how convoluted the question or situation is that approaches their desk.

For example, today I got to hear an exchange that began with a young man (I assume, as I only heard voices) telling the info desk worker that there seemed to be a problem with one of the computers in the computer lab.

"What seems to be the problem?" the librarian asked.

"The computer is unplugged," replied the young man.

Now, tell me if I'm wrong, but shouldn't the average individual be able to solve such a dilemma? Yet, the woman acted as if the question were completely valid and told the young man that, most likely, the computer was unplugged for a reason and that he should find another unit to work on.

Another incident I overheard dealt with an older woman who came in to pick up a book requested from the New York Public Library. The book, however, was nowhere to be found. When the librarian asked if she received a notice stating the book's arrival, the woman replied, "Yes." When the librarian asked when she received notice, she replied, "Last week." After a bit of digging, the librarian found that the book had indeed arrived, but that, after 4 business days, it was returned to the NYPL, per their policy.

"But, this is for my husband! He needs this book!"

"I understand, but the book isn't here anymore."

"He NEEDS this book!"

"I understand, but once the book isn't picked up after a few days, we have to send it back."

"You don't see. He NEEDS this book! It's only been four or five days!"

This went on for a few more minutes until the woman was convinced that, regardless of her husband's needs, the book was not hiding anywhere in the library. I assume she re-requested it, but I couldn't hear.

Something makes me wish the book was titled something like "How To Get Your Arm Unstuck From Your Dishwasher" and the poor husband was sitting in his kitchen, arm in machine, patiently waiting for his wife to return home. 

Then there was the teenager who seemed to be trying to use someone else's library card to access the computers. I came into this conversation at midpoint, but from what I gathered, he was "borrowing" his friend's library card to go to the computer lab, but he couldn't get them to work. When the information desk librarian asked what his friend's name was, he said he wasn't sure.

"You don't know the last name of your friend?"

"No, not really."

(For those not from West Hartford, town library cards all have signatures on them. So, even if you don't know a name, you should be able to at least make a guess).

"Well," the worker said, "I suggest you go over to the customer service desk and get your own library card. It'll take five minutes, and you'll be all set."

Reluctantly, the kid replied, "Okay. Where's the desk to do that?"

"Right over there." To solidify her statement, the librarian pointed clear across the library, at the desk that had the gigantic words "CUSTOMER SERVICE" hanging above it.

The teen turned and, with a confused look on his face, wandered halfway across the room. Then, he stopped at one of the computers used to look up items in the card catalog and began to stare at it. I genuinely think he was fully expecting it to somehow create a library card of his very own.

I almost approached him to help, mostly out of sheer frustration with the kid, but I let him figure it out himself. He was still wandering when I left. You could almost smell the moth-ball odor of his infrequently-used brain as it tried to process the situation.

And these are just a few examples. I can only imagine what the librarians themselves have for stories. I'm happy to see so many people at the library. It just freaks me out to hear how many of them are completely helpless.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Vanishing Sidewalk #3 - In 3-D!

Here's number 3 in the seemingly endless series of vanishing sidewalks here in West Hartford:



This one is found on Albany Avenue, near Prospect Avenue. Unlike the other vanishing sidewalks I've come across thus far, this one certainly falls more into the "aw, screw it" category of ending sidewalks, as the asphalt just slowly peters out, leaving the confused pedestrian to hustle across 4 lanes of traffic to get to the sidewalk on the other side of the road.

Following the tradition of many movie franchises, I've decided that this 3rd installment of the Vanishing Sidewalk series should be in 3-D. So, get out your red and blue glasses and prepare to have your mind blown:


I don't think this actually works, but I don't have any 3-D glasses to check.

Free Wilco music!

Jeff Tweedy and Wilco, starting today, are offering their take on the Bob Dylan classic "I Shall Be Released" as a free download on their website. The cover, recorded on August 23rd in Bend, Oregon, is a collaboration between the gents and the group Fleet Foxes. It can be found here.

The exchange for the free download is a simple promise to vote on November 4th. Pretty easy, eh? Agree to vote and have the track emailed to you. If you haven't yet registered to vote (tsk, tsk), the site provides links to do so, as well.

So, start downloading! And, keep your promise to vote!

"Street Patrol" - Best show ever!

I was lucky enough to flip the television over to myNetwork TV tonight to catch a clip from the new Cops knock-off Street Patrol. And this was the guy I got to watch:


I don't know, but if I was Judah Friedlander from 30 Rock, I'd maybe make sure my investments were generating a nice retirement fund.


Here's a link to the only clip I could find of this wacky fellow, courtesy of the myNetwork TV website.

Who knew myNetwork TV had the Dickensian powers of the Ghost of Christmas Future?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Remind me again how the "new" Hartford Courant is going to be good for me?

The full page ads have begun, with one nestled comfortably on page A12 of today's edition of the Hartford Courant. "INTRODUCING HARTFORD COURANT VERSION 9.28.08" it announced in large font. 

You know what this means?

Those of us that still read the paper are about to get less paper to read.

Below the headline of the ad, an attached blurb boasted how the Courant "deliver(s) in-depth reporting . . . uncover(s) the truth . . . bring(s) you the latest on sports, health, religion, the environment and the economy" in more of a mission statement-style than anything. Never did the ad announce HOW the "VERSION 9.28.08" Hartford Courant was going to please readers. Maybe that's because, no matter how they candy-coat the change, America's oldest continuously published newspaper is only going to get more generic.

Print is dying. It's a fact. I mean, you, the reader, are getting information right now via the web. We all do it all day long. And the more we click, the smaller the newspaper gets. 

Back in June, the Courant staff received a memo detailing the cutbacks. Weekly pages were being cut by 25%. Staff positions by 25%, as well. These changes are what we'll all get to experience when the "new" paper launches on the 28th. I'm sure we'll get more ads and less news. More AP stories and less local flavor. More stories from sister papers like the Chicago Tribune and The Baltimore Sun and less from the Courant itself.

The paper will still be delivering "in-depth reporting," it'll just be coming from a newsroom outside of Connecticut.

Speaking of which, editor at the Courant, in lieu of a full time reviewer, why do you constantly use movie reviews from "I-seem-to-like-nearly-everything" critic Roger Moore at the Orlando Sentinel when you have the great critic Michael Philips over at the Chicago Tribune never getting picked up?

Moving on . . .

Maybe I'm just looking at this in the wrong light. I should be seeing this as a half-full glass. I should be celebrating the fact that, every Monday, I'll have a slightly lighter pile of newsprint to carry out for recycling. I should be happy that the daily read of the paper will be 25% quicker. I should be happy that . . .

Nah. Can't do it.

Well, as long as they keep Mary Worth, I guess I can't complain too loudly. 

Johnny Pesky to have his number retired

Today, it was announced that Johnny Pesky, beloved former Red Sox infielder, would have his number retired by the team this weekend during the regular season-ending series against the New York Yankees. Pesky already has the right-field foul pole named after him at Fenway Park (for the two of you that didn't already know that) and has been a fixture with the Red Sox for almost sixty years, from player to manager to team cheerleader. I swear, they must have a cot for him inside the Green Monster. The guy is always around the team.

Personally, I think this honor is great for the man. But, I wonder about the timing of the event. With the Yankees closing their stadium just the other night in New York, is the front office of the Red Sox trying to draw some attention by doing this in front of their New York rivals? Is this some sort of strange counter-punch? If so, then I feel bad for Mr. Pesky. I understand that the event, to happen in the regular season, has to take place within the next week, but I just wonder why the Sox chose to wait for the Yankees series, fully aware that Yankee Stadium was going to be in the thick of press coverage for closing, to honor Pesky? Why didn't this event happen earlier in the season?

I'm glad for Johnny. The man is a legend and lives and breathes for his team. I just hope the front office treats him with as much love as he has shared with their players for so many decades.

For an article about Mr. Pesky's number retirement, click here.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Where have all the panuchos gone?

I admit, I was spoiled. Back in Boston, I had the best little Mexican restaurant down the street from my apartment called Yucatan Tacos. They advertised themselves as "Mexican Food Made By Mexicans!" and, let me tell you, they always delivered. They even introduced me to the Yucatan dish known as the panucho: refried bean-stuffed crispy tortilla with an array of lettuce, chicken, onion, avocado, sour cream and salsa on top. Much like the way Mitch Hedberg described Ritz crackers, the panuchos from Yucatan were beautiful "edible plates."

And, man, I'm jonesing for a panucho. But, being in West Hartford, I'm completely lost.

Where's a good Mexican place around here? I've had a burrito at Moe's in Blue Back Square, but that doesn't count. Burritos are a dime a dozen at this point. Honestly, anything McDonald's can not only make but make and then call a breakfast food immediately lowers that food on the grand scale of cuisine. The Professor and I even went to On The Border in Rocky Hill to try to quench our urges. And, surprisingly, for a chain owned by the same company as the dreaded Chili's, the place wasn't that bad (though the cheese on the "just okay" enchilada I had in my sampler was really liquidly. Kind of "liquid Terminator" liquidly, if you need a visual). Of course, comparing any restaurant to Chili's kind of automatically makes the place seem amazing, doesn't it?

Isn't there an ACTUAL Mexican restaurant out here? One that doesn't belong to a conglomerate? If so, let me know. 

I can't hold out for much longer . . . 

. . . And this picture of panuchos that I stole from the MattBites website here just doesn't help.  

Mmmmmm . . . Panucho . . .

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Our superficial political wants, tracked by Google!

Every presidential election, like a stomachache after eating too much ice cream, we get bombarded with stupid polls, like the infamous "Who'd you rather have a beer with . . ." brainteaser during the Bush/Kerry race in 2004. The most recent example of this nonsense has been the "Who would you rather have take care of your children . . ." poll between candidates John McCain and Barack Obama. Obama won, most likely because folks were afraid their kids would get too hopped up on hard candy if they were left alone with Ol' Grampy John for an afternoon. I mean, we've all seen the Simpsons episode when Grampa babysits Bart and Lisa:
Bart: Grampa, Mom was in such a hurry, she forgot to give you this.
It's a list of the things Lisa and I can and can't do.
Grampa: [reads] Eh heh. Uh huh. You're allowed to smoke cigars?
These sort of mindless polls made me wonder about our superficial political desires, from candidate's looks to clothes. Honestly, I can't tell you how many people have stumbled upon my Cindy McCain/Crypt Keeper comparison since I posted it. It seems, regardless of our political desires, we always want to find out really useless info on our potential leaders.

So, I headed over to Google Trends to do a little test. Google Trends essentially tracks the popularity of web searches over a range of time and projects them into a volumed index. I kept my searches simple. I only wanted to know info from the past month, and only in the United States. I started with straight trend searches for both the names "Barack Obama" and "John McCain." Here are Obama's trend numbers:

And, here are McCain's:
Both seem to have spiked around the same time and have tapered off in the past week and a half.

Now, I wanted to know what kind of physical attributes each candidate had that struck Americans. Surprisingly, most of my combinations of phrases did not bring up results (well, not completely surprisingly, as McCain pretty much has nothing eye catching about his appearance). The only thing that I got a hit from was a search for "Obama Shirt." Here are the results:
 
For whatever reason, Mr. Obama's standard white shirt is consistently getting higher trend searches than the candidate himself. Granted, the Y-axis of each Google Trend search represents only the volume of searches on average and not a "real" number, but this may be a sign for the McCain camp to start putting their candidate in some sharp outfits over the next two months. Maybe that'll be the next challenge on Project Runway! I can just see the uncomfortable runway show now . . .

Moving onto the candidates for vice president, I skipped the straight trend search and only searched for physical attribute trends. So, for each candidate, Sarah Palin and Joe Biden, I ran the same phrases: hair, face, glasses (for Sarah Palin), clothes, suit, shirt, shoes, and tie (for Joe Biden). Not surprisingly, the biggest hit I got was for Sarah Palin's glasses:

What are all the hip art chicks going to do now that their frames have been snatched by soccer moms across the country? Seriously, this could be problematic.

The only trend result I got for Senator Biden was when I searched for his hair. I doubt these searches were attempts by anyone to compliment his style, but rather to make light of his follicle foibles:

Biden, like McCain, apparently just doesn't have any physical attributes that people want to search for.

Finally, I decided to do a search for each presidential and vice presidential candidate and the word "underwear." This being America, I expected the worst. But, I was happy to find no trend searches for any of the candidates. However, when I changed my search terms to swimwear, things changed. Of the 4, only Palin came up in a trend. Honestly, I thought more folks would want to see Biden or McCain in a speedo, but what do I know?

Here's the search results for "Palin Bikini:"

So, what does all this mean? Perhaps it shows that we're all a little superficial in our political choices. It also means that women are far more mature in their web searches than men, at least when it comes to wanting to see a candidate in little clothing. Also, if you're Tina Fey or Lisa Loeb, you'd better stock up on spare frames before Lens Crafters gets backordered. And, I'd sink some money into the Oxford shirt industry. It may be the solution to our shaky economy.

But, what I think it really means is: Obama Shirt vs. Palin Glasses. Two items enter the caged ring, only one leaves! Someone get on making that viral video!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Hey, look, more frustrated "Mary Worth" readers exist!

Seems like I'm not the only person in West Hartford that finds Mary Worth disturbing. Though I just find it incredibly dull, this person, writing to the editor of the Hartford Courant, feels the paced antics of Mary and her cohorts are often too close to "news" to be entertainment:
I have always relied on the comics section to provide a respite from the news and a moment of escape. This is not always the case anymore because many of the comic strip artists have decided it is their duty to continually remind us about our responsibilities and concerns. For example:

•"Mary Worth" is now educating us on identity theft

•"Rex Morgan, M.D." lectures to us on the issue of adequate and affordable health care.
 Read the full letter to the editor in the Hartford Courant here.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Making the neighbors' Halloween decorations look bad

Ah, the brisk New England morning air of late September is here. The leaves are beginning to turn ever so slightly to browns and oranges. Fall is almost upon us. And, you know what that means -

Halloween decoration time!

Now, I'm not a big decorator. But, I totally dig checking out houses that go whole hog. And, if you're one that gets into the All Hallow's Eve festivities, here are a few must-haves for your front lawn graveyard and your living room horror show.

First up, and least expensive at around $50, is a changing portrait from theghoulishgallery.com. These things are pretty cool and remind me of the stretching paintings found in the Haunted Mansion at Disney World. Maybe you're an art fan and are interested in the Gallery's version of American Gothic?


Or, maybe you're more of a photography person? The folks at the Gallery also make lenticular portraits using sepia photos of creepy children and old men with beards! One of these hanging on your wall or front door is sure to get attention from the neighbors. And, as an added bonus, it can scare away trick or treaters, leaving more candy for you at the end of the night!

Creepy photos not your cup of tea? Well, then perhaps a lawn zombie is for you. This little number can be found at thehorrordome.com:

Isn't he just adorable? I love the way the woman is hugging him in the photo, to show us that he isn't scary, just misunderstood. And for only $279.99, how can you go wrong?

Now, I hear you. "That zombie doesn't move!" you're saying. "How INAUTHENTIC!" Well, for those who need their zombies in action, check out this guy:



He doesn't come cheap. Retail on Dead Fred is $2650. But, when your neighbor has a yard full of stiff, styrofoam zombies, you may just need to plunk down some coin to one-up the competition, right?

While on the subject of expensive props, let's turn our attention to home decor. For you moneybags out there looking to change your normal homes into haunted houses for the holiday, Scare Factory is the place for you. The premise is simple. Basically, they take anything and make a ghoul jump out of it.

For example, here's a TV with a ghoul:


Here's a table with a ghoul:


Here's even a chair with a ghoul:


I think you see where I'm going here.

Your whole house can become props! What a way to welcome your new in-laws! Or the pastor from your church! Or your brand new boyfriend or girlfriend! Of course, these things are pretty elaborate. Each one costs over $3000. But, the memories they bring. Who can put a price on those?

Ok, maybe you've already bought the changing portrait. Maybe your lawn is already littered with moving and non-moving zombies and your home is one jumping ghoul after another. What's a Halloween-junky like you to do?

Buy your own haunted house, of course!

The Blossom Hill Fun Farm in Guelph, Ontario, Canada is for sale. And, despite the name, the place has a haunted house on site that can be yours for only $10,000. Here are a couple images from their website:



All props are included. And, look at it this way, after Halloween, you've got a pretty unique vacation home!

So, there you have it. Halloween gadgets to separate your home from the silly fake cobwebs of the neighbors this season. Get to work. I'll be looking for your set-ups in the upcoming weeks. Don't disappoint!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Mysterious phone calls

Since moving to West Hartford, we've had to re-enroll in the national "Do Not Call" registry. Because of this, we've been bombarded with calls. My favorite is the annoying recording telling us that our car warranty is about to expire (except that the car in question is 9 years old and has one foot in the grave). Usually, these calls pop up in our caller ID as the same "location," so we have an idea of who will be on the other end. I've even tried to play along with some out of sheer boredom, but they usually disconnect before I can get a chance to tear into anyone.

But, we registered with the "Do Not Call" list at the beginning of August, and the calls slowed to a trickle before vanishing completely at the beginning of this month.

Until yesterday, that is.

We received a mysterious missed call from 954-354-8438, a number our caller ID was kind enough to tell us was from "Out of Town." 954 is an area code from Florida, so the caller ID didn't do much to help crack this for us. Never one to be satisfied with such a mystery, though, I called the number back, only to get a chipper recording telling me that the call was from a customer service department doing a follow-up to make sure we were satisfied with our recent purchase.

Now, this sounds like a telemarketer, doesn't it? And, why do I need this kind of call? Wouldn't one think that an interruptive phone call in the middle of the day would NOT be a satisfying experience? Wouldn't said phone call help cancel out any satisfaction received in purchasing something in the first place?

Within five seconds of Googling the number, I found a few forums of folks complaining about these calls. These are worth looking at, as some people get REALLY bent out of shape by these calls. Here's one of my favorites:
"Some one from this number keeps blowing up my cell at least 2 times a week. And when I call back I get NO ONE !!!!!!"
Wow, one call a day, maybe once or twice a week, has led to these companies resorting to setting off explosives for attention? When will this end?!?!? (Of course, I'm kidding. At most, they'll probably just tase you into submission to listen to their pitch.)

In seriousness, the calls apparently stem from automotive outlets, like Midas. Coincidentally, we just purchased a new car earlier this week. So, Ford must be in on this, as well.

Does this mean we'll start to get the calls about a car warranty again? And, if so, can I continue to hang up on them?

Anyway, bottom line is that if you've done any business with a car dealer or big chain auto shop, expect a call from Florida. Just let them know how satisfied you are.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A quick "Mary Worth" update

For those dying to know what has happened in Mary Worth since I dubbed it "worst comic strip ever" a few weeks ago, due to the slow, dull nature of the storytelling, here's a summary:

Toby, the woman afraid her identity was stolen, called her bank and found out someone DID steal her identity (I know, this was a shocker that only very careful readers of Mary Worth would have seen coming). This revelation lead to days upon days of Toby saying things like "I can't believe this is happening to me!" and "I'm so upset I can hardly see straight!" while holding one hand to her forehead in a dramatic fashion.

Of course, this also got Toby flustered about talking to her husband, professor/Prince Valiant guest-star/Gorton's Fisherman enthusiast Ian (who doesn't seem the type to fly off the handle at all, but what do I know?). So, instead of giving us some meaty phone rage between the couple once Ian heard the bad news, Toby says nothing about the identity theft and we all got to learn about the dull conference Ian is attending and how invigorating the people he met were. And . . . sorry, I nodded off there for a second.

Toby then spoke to Mary Worth about her situation, and Mary, assumedly back from a fun vacation doing ANYTHING other than starring in Mary Worth, told her she should talk to someone about how to protect oneself from having their identity stolen. You know, so this doesn't happen AGAIN, torturing readers with three more weeks of watching a woman make two phone calls! 

Judge Parker had someone get shot on a golf course during this time! Heck, even Rex Morgan has moved from his office to a boat over the past two weeks! 

C'mon, Mary Worth, pick up the pace!

2 1/2 weeks of comics. Virtually nothing happened. And, yet, I keep reading it. The train wreck that you can't stop staring at, that's my Mary Worth.

One month in . . .

Monday was the one month anniversary of Observations of the Trailing Spouse. In the first month, I've gotten over 500 unique visitors and almost 900 page loads, far more than I would have thought. Thanks to everyone who has stumbled upon me.

To celebrate, I've decided to run a clip show, of sorts.

Here are the top 7 (7? Why 7?) pages of month one, according to page load activity. This is pretty unscientific, but, nevertheless, here's what you've all clicked on the most (outside of the main page, of course):

5. 88 Minutes vs. Bourne Supremacy - Box Art War! (Now with new added Photoshopping!)

And . . . number one for month one is-


Thanks everyone. Now, let's get month two started.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Live Music: Hayden at the Iron Horse, Northampton, MA

The Professor is a sweet gal. As a little "pick-me-up," she got us tickets to go see Hayden perform last night at the Iron Horse in Northampton. The show was at 7, so, once she got out of work, we headed up 91 and made it just in time to have a quick slice of pizza before heading inside.

For those of you who don't know who Hayden is, let me give a little background. Hailing from Ontario, Canada, Hayden is a folk/rock musician who, in the mid-90s, released his first album Everything I Long For to both critical acclaim and a certain amount of play in the U.S. It was followed up by The Closer I Get in 1998. 

These first two albums contained quite a few "bummer" songs that, as a late-teen to twenty year old art school student, fit my likes perfectly. His lyrics told stories that, as a budding film major, helped me figure out how to fit a narrative into 4 minutes of imagery. Of course, these "bummer" songs were often about tragic events, from drowning to break-ups, but the stories were told in such vivid ways that I couldn't resist.

As the years passed, Hayden's music and subject matter matured, evidenced on his absolutely amazing record Skyscraper National Park, which contained the single "Dynamite Walls."
 

I can't recommend this album enough.

Since Skyscraper, Hayden has released a live album and two more studio efforts, Elk-Lake Serenade in 2004 and the Neil Young-influenced In Field & Town this past year.

Okay, now that we're all up to speed, onto the show.

I have seen Hayden perform live three times over the past decade. And, honestly, at each show he has been a better stage performer. Sadly, though, the guy is criminally unknown and plays in front of extremely intimate audiences. Last night, I think I counted 40 people in the crowd. At a previous performance I saw, back in 2004, there was roughly the same amount of fans. Come on, people! This guy should be filling clubs!

The set consisted of mainly selections from In Field & Town, but reached back as far as The Closer I Get. Touring with Hayden as his backing band was the four-piece Cuff The Duke, who have a few records of their own. They complimented him well, adding depth to his sometimes simplistic melodies and filling in the silences with extreme technical dexterity. 

The band played as if they were hosting a full hall, having us clap along and provide back-up vocals to the night's closing number "Carried Away." And, what was nice, was that the 40 of us there were big enough fans to oblige. There was a certain sense of camaraderie in the room, a certain "were in this together" vibe that gave the night a warm feeling. And the band didn't mind playing to such a small audience. They seemed to almost get a kick out of having so few of us there and fed off of each and every one of us for the 75 minute performance.

Opening the night was Northampton-based singer/songwriter Dennis Crommett. His acoustic set reminded me at times of Iron and Wine and was a nice compliment to the main event. The Professor picked up one of his CDs on the way out at the end of the night. I'm interested in giving it a listen.

Hayden will be jumping onto indie-darling Feist's tour next month, which should lead to bigger crowds. Until then, he's doing a little tour of the Northeast. If you see him coming to your area, you should check him out. As he put it last night, "Tell your friends about us. We're not creepy!"

For more on Hayden or Cuff the Duke, you can click here to go to Hardwood records.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Corner Pug wins!

The Corner Pug edged out the competition in the first "Where Should I Eat Next" online poll. My wife and I will have to check it out this week. Thanks to all who participated. 

Now, I hope you pointed me in the right direction!

CT Lottery: Red Sox and Yankees

After posting yesterday about the Red Sox, I noticed that, here in Connecticut, the Lottery has issued scratch tickets for both the Sox and the New York Yankees (hiss). As a promotion, the good people at the CT Lottery have been running ads showing the accumulated total of each game's ticket sales. As of Saturday, September 13th, the totals stood at: 

image from CTLottery.com

Woo hoo! The Sox are in the lead! I can hear the "Let's go Red Sox!" chant already!

So, do these numbers mean that my new state is home to more Red Sox fans (and, by conclusion, more sane people)? The totals seem to say yes. But, (there's always a but) maybe these numbers mean something else. Maybe these numbers just show me that Red Sox Nation has a bigger gambling problem than Yankee Universe, or whatever they're calling themselves today. Could this be true?

I'd like to think Red Sox Nation is more prominent, but we've had so many lean years before 2004, we might just be hooked on gambling, as well. Something to ease the pain of so many defeats. This one's a toss-up. I'd flip a coin to decide, but I'm busy losing $5 to the Lottery with it at the moment. 

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Red Sox player advertising: At least these guys can play baseball

Winning a World Series ring often comes with more than a bit of celebrity spotlight if you're a baseball player. Add in the fact that you're also a member of the Boston Red Sox, one of the biggest franchises in MLB (and one with the most rabid fans), and you've got yourself some embarrassing advertisement opportunities. I've tried to collect a few of these below, in hopes of inspiring others to think before signing on the dotted line.

Now, it should be noted that I am a big Red Sox fan. I've stated this here before. And I don't think it's a bad thing for these guys to get some attention off the field. In fact, most of the big, national ads that have been made, like the David Ortiz Vitamin Water spot, are actually very good. Then, you have the radio spots, which are always pretty forgiving (like Jacoby Ellsbury's Volvo ad, which is fine, though probably highly edited from multiple takes). 
 
But once you get into the regional spots, things only us New Englanders will ever see, I just have to admit, my team can't act.

First up, and possibly the winner of the "worst Sox actor in a local advertisement" award, is Dustin Pedroia. MVP candidate. Second base sensation. Tire salesman:



Dustin's done a few of these ads for Sullivan Tire. And he's always wearing those pleated pants. Granted, the wiry-haired face of Sullivan Tire isn't much to work off of, but Dustin seems completely lost and nervous, regardless of who his acting partner is.


Why can't he believe Jim Rice is there? Was he so lost in thought that he didn't see him walking across the field? Unfortunately, we'll probably never know.

Next is Kevin Youkilis. Yoooooooouuuuuuukilis. Though not much of a T.V. pitchman, last year's Gold Glove first baseman has popped up here and there in some print advertising. Here he is selling canned beans:

(My wife and I find this so amusing that we have it hanging on our fridge) 

And, here's Kevin selling electronics:


In both cases, I feel like Kevin will seriously hurt me if I don't follow his orders. And I'd assume you don't want a mad Kevin Youkilis on your hands, especially after eating that whole can of beans. Honestly, though, how could he have approved that bean photo? Was that the best shot of the session? If so, I'd hate to see the out-takes. Or was the photographer just goading him on the whole time?

"No, Kevin, meaner! I need to to show how ANGRY you are at the beans! Show your DOMINANCE over the beans!"

"Uh, what?"

"Just get angrier and eat the beans!"

"Um, okay."

Moving on, we come to the ubiquitous Jonathan Papelbon. From bad radio ads for car dealerships to the Dunkin Donuts ad seen here, the man has done it all:


Of course, this ad is light-years better than the ad he did a couple seasons ago for 125 Auto:


The difference in these two ads brings up an interesting observation. Watching the Dunkin Donuts spot, it seems that one can come to the realization that, compared to the car ad, the more the athlete keeps his mouth shut, the better he is in the commercial. Of course, for Papelbon, the exchange is having your hind-quarters slapped on television. But, to further this argument, here's the nationals Vitamin Water ad that Ortiz did and a link to a Phiten ad that Josh Beckett filmed:



In all three cases, the less the men have to act, the better actors they appear to be.

So, is this the solution to the embarrassing ads we get to watch every year? Do we just have players show up and smile? Do we keep their vocal cords rested to argue balls and strikes?

Maybe not.

The best actor of this season's local Sox commercials is rookie Justin Masterson. Even though he got caught in an Olympia Sports ad (fact: the closest Olympia Sports to Fenway Park is over 1 mile away, inside the Prudential Center, not "just around the corner"), he still seemed to get his lines out in a realistic fashion:


So, maybe Masterson is a glowing hope. A relief pitcher and potential acting coach for future Sox players making the leap to the glitzy world of advertising. 

Maybe next year we'll see some real acting chops. If so, they'd better get started on the basics. Masterson's got a lot of work ahead of him.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Excellent things from my childhood: The Batman Batbook


When I was a little 80s baby, growing up in Massachusetts, Channel 27 (now a Univision affiliate) out of Worcester had the best early evening program line-up. You had Lost In Space, Vegas, and Batman. I tuned Vegas out most of the time, and watched Lost In Space here and there, but I always tried to catch my man Adam West and his cowl and cape every night after dinner.

And, to my luck, it was around this time that author Joel Eisner released the amazingly thorough The Official Batman Batbook. More encyclopedia than anything, the Batbook listed every episode, cast member, plot synopsis, original air date, trivia, and fact from the three seasons the series lasted; if you had any question about Batman, an answer was most likely found between the front and back cover of this book. There was even a list of every "Holy Bat Word" used by Burt Ward's Robin. My personal favorites, in no particular order: 

"Holy Purple Cannibals" 
"Holy Knit One, Purl Two"
"Holy Chutzpah"

Also included were interviews with different producers and cast members that gave readers an inside look at the show's creation, from the initial thought of adding a laugh-track to let people know that the show was supposed to be a comedy, to the up-and-down relationships shared between actors and crew. Mostly little tidbits, but items that brought the show to a new level of surrealism, especially to an eight-year-old boy flipping through the pages.

Looking online, I saw that Eisner released a "new and improved" revised version of The Official Batman Batbook this year (can you say cashing in on The Dark Knight?). Honestly, I don't know how revised this could be. I mean, the show has been off the air for 40 years. A good chunk of the cast members are dead. Plus, this new version is $32 on Amazon. You can get used copies of the old version for $2. 

If you're into the old Batman show, you should check this book out. It'll tell you all you need to know and more about the series. Reading my copy today, 30-years-old, I'm brought back to the spare room of my parents' home, adjusting the rabbit ears, watching Batman through the static, hoping my Mom and Dad somehow forgot about my bedtime once the show ended. Ah, the memories. 

Friday, September 12, 2008

Yet another vanishing sidewalk incident!

A couple weeks ago, I posted about a sidewalk in West Hartford that I came across that just - well, ended. No crosswalk, no slope to the street. It just stopped. I wondered in my post if this vanishing act was what Shel Silverstein meant when writing his book Where The Sidewalk Ends.

The other day, I came across another of these abnormalities. This one is on Fern Street. Here's a photo, hastily taken from inside my car:


Like the other vanishing sidewalk, this one just ends without warning. Something makes me wonder if there's a secret transport beyond the cement slab, bringing you from one vanishing sidewalk to the other, kind of like in the board game Clue. If so, it would be a much easier way to get across town. But, something tells me this isn't the case. 

Boy, first it was sidewalk holes, now it's vanishing sidewalks. I must really be getting bored to notice these things!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"88 Minutes" vs. "Bourne Supremacy" - Box art wars!

Do you think the designers responsible for the cover art for the DVD release of Al Pacino's movie 88 Minutes happened upon a DVD copy of The Bourne Supremacy while brainstorming?



They didn't seem to even try to tweak the formula. Maybe they'll assume Pacino is Matt Damon or that 88 Minutes is supposed to be good (full disclosure, I haven't seen this movie, but it was shelved from release for nearly 3 years, which is never a sign of quality). This is just a sad example of lazy artists. Why'd Drew Struzan have to retire?

UPDATE: Here are a few comparisons of the posters, via my bad Photoshop skills.


Battle of the two-chord songs

I've been thinking about simple rock today. And, you can't get much more simple in rock that the two-chord song. Well, you could do a one-chord song, I suppose. Something like Bob Dylan's "Ballad of Hollis Brown," as seen here:


(Nice faux western background, Bob)

No, I'm not looking for one-chord songs today. What I'm interested in in two-chord rock. It isn't too simple, not too monotonous, but not as "aren't-I-fancy" as three-chord rock ("Ooh, look at me, I know THREE chords!").

And, as two-chord rock goes, I don't know if you could beat the three songs I've included below. First up is Wreckless Eric's "Whole Wide World." Great, simple love song that gets right to the point. The chorus is as catchy as can be:  


Next is the Velvet Underground's "Heroin." Who knows what exactly was going through Lou Reed's head when he was writing this song, but with lyrics like "Heroin, be the death of me. Heroin, it's my wife and it's my life," Lou couldn't have been in the best shape. Thankfully, he's still around to tell his tale. There is an amazing live version of this song that you can see here on YouTube, but it cannot be embedded. As an alternative, here's a boring YouTube video of the song in its original form, plastered over the cover art of VU's first album:


Last up is the Modern Lovers and "Roadrunner." Though technically a three-chord song, the third chord doesn't come into play until the final five strums of guitar at the song's finale. Being from Massachusetts, perhaps I'm partial to the shout outs to 128 and Stop n' Shop, but this is a song I could wake up to every morning. Again, here's a boring YouTube video of the original song. The Lovers had broken up before this album was released in the late 70s, thus making live performances hard to find:


Now, for those out there looking for some fun. Play all three videos at once. Two-chord anarchy!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Lost in the corn, thankfully without a child named Malachi or the ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson

The Professor and I visited Lyman Orchards in Middlefield today and, after fueling up on cider donuts, attempted to conquer the 4 acre corn maze contained within the grounds. This is pretty much what we saw for the 45 minutes we were inside:


Wait, let's back up a second. I forgot to mention that we also fed the ducks:


I did my best to keep the feed from the geese (vicious creatures), but they were bullies. Big surprise. I truly dislike two types of animals in this world: snakes and geese. Snakes are creepy and geese, well, geese are just mean.

Okay, back to the maze . . .

As we paid for our admission, we learned that the folks at the orchard donate 1 dollar from every ticket sold to the American Cancer Society. Since starting the maze, they have raised over $200,000 for ACS. Not bad for a corn maze. One could even say it is an aMAIZEing total! See what I did there, because corn is also called maize and - never mind . . .

Where was I? Oh yes, the maze.

The course was brutal. And, for a few moments, I thought we were going to have to seek shelter in the stalks for a night of rest. Then the Professor slapped me and brought me back to my senses. Okay, none of that happened. But the maze itself was very fun. It caught us by surprise. The first half seemed really easy, almost too easy, if you know what I mean. Then, as we passed the mid-point, a lot more options were suddenly presented and we found ourselves turned around more often that not. Being a former Cub Scout, I used my brilliant outdoor skills to always get us back to our starting point when we took a wrong path. I did this by making a gigantic "X" in the dirt before we chose a path. Sure, not the "fairest" method, but it did the trick (and, yes, I wiped the ground clean each time afterwards to not ruin the fun for anyone else).

One interesting thing that the orchard provided was a trivia sheet that corresponded to certain signposts contained within the maze. When we got to the post, we read the matching trivia question, which also listed several possible answers accompanied by left or right directions. If we knew the answer to the question we also learned what direction to turn. Sadly, I had the sports question sheet and knew about 50% of the answers. The Professor, on the other hand, had the T.V. and movie sheet, which was much easier, so we breezed our way though using her answers.

We each got a sticker at the finish that we wore proudly, declaring that we SURVIVED the maze (in fact, 7 hours later, I still have mine on). Though we relished in our accomplishment, it seems as if some participants didn't seem to care to flaunt their skills:   


Either that or this R is a really smart letter.

We asked what happened to the corn each year once the maze is closed. Apparently the course is mowed down and the salvageable corn becomes feed that the orchard gives to local farms. So, besides raising funds for charity and helping the orchard make money, the corn is also put to a use. Take that, High Fructose Corn Syrup!

If you plan on checking this place out, note that on the orchard's website you can download coupons to save 1 dollar on each admission. Oh, and you can't pick the corn. So, eat a donut before heading inside. The maze is open until November, but you probably want to go before the punks start to mess it up. 

The Courant puts Shamwow! to the test

Over the weekend, the Hartford Courant ran an article about the Shamwow! "super chamois cloths." You've probably seen the commercials for these on television. The shill, I mean, salesman for the Shamwow! is a guy named Vince Offer (as the article points out, this is his actual name), who practically tells you you're an idiot if you don't purchase these wondercloths immediately, as if chamois technology just was invented last week. Here's a shot of Vince in action:

Well, the Courant went ahead and bought a pack of Shamwow!s and put them, pardon the pun, thorough the wringer. Not shockingly, the results weren't spectacular:
"Shamwow holds 20 times its weight in liquid," Offer claims. And to illustrate this, he smushes a rolled-up Shamwow into a glass pie dish filled with water and the liquid is instantly sucked up into the cloth. "Doesn't drip. Doesn't make a mess," Offer says, unrolling the Shamwow and dangling it over the countertop.

It's an impressive demonstration, and one that I imagine moves a lot of merchandise at carnivals and county fairs. As luck would have it, I own a nearly identical pie dish, giving me a chance to test that amazing absorption for myself. But no matter how I rolled and folded, and folded and rolled, I could never quite soak up an entire pie dish worth of water — and certainly not without a steady drip when I unfurled the waterlogged cloth.

Moreover, that pie dish doesn't come close to holding 20 times the Shamwow's weight. In repeated tests, I couldn't get the Shamwow to hold on to more than about eight times its weight. That's still impressive for such a thin cloth, but it's a far cry from the infomercial claim.
The tester goes on to try more of the Shamwow! commercial claims, to similar results. It's a pretty entertaining article. You can find the complete story here.

Eddie Izzard, James Bond, and Lego

I'm a James Bond fan and just came across this fan-made YouTube video that uses audio from an Eddie Izzard stand-up routine involving James and his numerous gadgets. And the entire thing is presented through animated Lego figures. Something about "Jam Trousers" just makes me laugh. The maker, Thorn2200, seems to have a whole roster of Lego-related animations, mostly of Eddie Izzard routines. This may be a bit NSFW because of language.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

More High Fructose Corn Syrup commercial goodness!

Thanks to a tip, I came across the OTHER sweetsurprise.com High Fructose Corn Syrup television ad. This one's just as awkward as the first. In this episode, the dreaded catalyst spurring on the HFCS debate is . . . a popsicle. Enjoy!



My question is, who brings a single popsicle to a picnic?

See the other ad here, and my original rant here.