Friday, May 23, 2008

Is that really cooking oil?

If you take a trip to Zimbabwe, make sure you ask a lot of questions about how your food was cooked. For example, you might want to ask this:

Was this food cooked in oil that was purchased from a man selling bottles containing a liquid that he claimed was cooking oil?

Or you can live dangerously. Your food probably wasn't cooked in urine.

'80s Flashback: Garbage Pail Kids

Friday is here again, so it's time for another '80s Flashback.

Before a word from our sponsor, here are the recent '80s Flashbacks:

'80s Flashback: Just Say No
'80s Flashback: Freddy Krueger
'80s Flashback: Atari
'80s Flashback: OP corduroy shorts
'80s Flashback: Parachute pants
'80s Flashback: Rambo cartoon
'80s Flashback: Psyche!
'80s Flashback: Jim and Tammy Faye
'80s Flashback: Avoid the noid
'80s Flashback: Mary Lou Retton
'80s Flashback: One night in Bangkok
'80s Flashback: Adams Atoms
'80s Flashback: Don't you forget about me

OK. This week's flashback is brought to you by "Small Wonder," the '80s show that seemed to forecast hell freezing over by staying on the air for several years. It was a bad idea with even worse acting. Even the intro seemed to be outdated in the '80s. (You can see the intro here.)

Now the Flashback:

Garbage Pail Kids were a series of trading cards that parodied the nauseating cuteness of the Cabbage Patch Kids dolls. They were very popular in the mid to late '80s, featuring characters such as "Up Chuck," "Ray Decay" and "Clogged Duane."

I was into baseball cards at the time, and with funds limited to my work as a paperboy, I stayed away from collecting any other kind of cards. Also, I thought the Garbage Pail Kids were kind of lame.

Not nearly as lame, however, as the Garbage Pail Kids Movie. I never saw it, but I'll believe the critics on this one. Also, check out the movie trailer below. I mean, wow ... that just looks UNBELIEVABLY bad.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Abilify: Serious side effects

I admit I know little about bipolar disorder. Sounds like a terrible condition for people suffering from it, and it must be, because a medicine that treats it has one of the longest side-effects warnings I've ever seen.

I saw the commercial for Abilify the other night, and noticed that someone posted the warnings of the commercial on YouTube. It includes consulting your doctor if

"you have muscle movements that cannot be stopped, as these can become permanent."

The commercial is below. It reminds me of the Happy Fun Ball parody from Saturday Night Live.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A haircut like Daddy's

When I got home from work last night, my wife warned me that my 5-year-old son, Ryan, decided he wanted a new kind of haircut. He wanted to look like me, he said.

So he's now got a buzz cut, which I think looks pretty good. It does look like my hair, except that Ryan has brown hair and it still covers the top of his head.

Ryan's brother Cooper, soon-to-be 3, just stayed with his normal haircut. That's no surprise because Cooper often tells people that "Daddy's hair is broken and he needs new hair."

At least he's looking out for me.

HBO's lineup in 1987

Recently I saw an advertisement for HBO from 21 years ago. Here's what HBO was hyping in 1987:

MOVIES
Sylvester Stallone in Cobra
Back to School
The Karate Kid, Part II
Poltergeist II: The Other Side
Aliens
JoJo Dancer

SPECIAL EVENTS
Wimbledon (tape-delayed)
Cyndi Lauper's concert in Paris

A little bit stronger programming these days, huh?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The 175-dollar hamburger

Let's see ... how did that Big Mac commercial go?

Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, black truffles, seared foie gras, aged Gruyere cheese, wild mushrooms and flecks of gold leaf on a brioche bun.

Well, that started as the Big Mac. Then it became the Big Stupid when the black truffles were put on. But apparently someone will pay $175 for the burger at the Wall Street Burger Shoppe. It's a lot like the two-dollar version pictured, but it also includes a super-sized shot of pomposity.

"Wall Street has good days and bad days. We wanted to have the everyday burger (for $4) ... and then something special if you really have a good day on Wall Street," said co-owner Heather Tierney.

Or maybe you could spend the $175 on something more special than a freakin' hamburger. But hey, if that's what you want, go for it.

Don't forget to use a napkin if some foie gras and flecks of gold leaf get on your chin. If you don't have a napkin, just use a twenty.

Camouflage beer cans

Miller High Life and A-B's Busch both have a long heritage of affiliating with the outdoors. The brands index high with blue-collar consumers 45-65 years old. Their drinkers also skew higher, compared with the general population, for such activities as target shooting, hunting, fishing, watching the Outdoor Channel or Country Music TV, and subscribing to publications like Field & Stream.

That makes sense to me. So ...

Why not camouflage beer cans?

Well, maybe endorsing the connection of liquor with hunting might not be a great idea. But don't tell that to the beer makers.

According to the story, Miller High Life will roll out its "Camo Can" this fall to catch the eyes of hunters, fishing enthusiasts, campers and mountain bikers.

Yep. Mountain bikers need camo, too.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Humor Me: Planning a cheapskate vacation

By MATT WIXON

Most people never forget their family vacations. They remember the fun and laughter at an amusement park. They remember the excitement of getting on a plane bound for a faraway place. They remember the great adventures, such as when dad didn't notice the "warning: low clearance" sign on the gas station overhang and knocked the air conditioner off the rented motor home.

Ah, memories. But those memories come at a price. And for many families, especially with gas prices what they are, the price is too steep. So what is a family to do this summer? Is there a way to construct a family vacation that won't deconstruct the retirement account?

Yes, yes, yes. But it does require a little creativity and a healthy dose of imagination. So as you close your wallet, try opening your mind to the exciting ultra-cheap possibilities of a pseudo-traditional getaway.

The Beach Vacation

The sun on your face, the sand between your toes, the calming effect of waves crashing on a Sounds of the Beach compact disc.

It's not quite the Caribbean or Hawaii, but doesn't the water in the blow-up pool feel good? Move your arms and create some waves, stab an umbrella into the sandbox and watch the kids make sand castles. Every 45 minutes, play the theme music to Jaws, blow a whistle and have everyone scramble out of the pool. Now that's excitement.

In the evening, throw some food on the grill and have a luau on your patio. Turn up the music, have a limbo contest, and then watch The Brady Bunch's three-episode Hawaii adventure. Will the Bradys be doomed by the tiki?

Upside: No riptides; sand won't be in your hair for weeks; dogs are
welcome on faux beach.

Downside: Orchid leis don't hold up well in Texas wind; neighbors
may critique your backyard hula.

The Historical Vacation

In Dallas, we've got everything you ever wanted to know about John F. Kennedy. Yes, even beyond "back and to the left." But for historical trips, we just can't compete with destinations like the Liberty Bell in Pennsylvania, the White House in Washington, D.C., and Mount Rushmore in the middle of nowhere - also known as South Dakota.

Yes, the Mount Rushmore likenesses of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt are impressive. But the likenesses of historical figures such as George W. Bush and Frank Sinatra are closer to life -- and Dallas -- at The Palace of Wax in Grand Prairie. What's more interesting to a 12-year-old: carvings of presidents or wax renditions of Britney Spears?

Instead of a trip to the White House, take a trip to the Old Red Courthouse in downtown Dallas. Instead of a trip to the Liberty Bell, how about, uh ... Taco Bell. Admittedly, it's a strange replacement, but here's a history discussion question: Where did the Taco Bell name come from?

Upside: No flight to South Dakota, no tour-group leaders wearing
powdered wigs.

Downside: Wax museum can be spooky; difficulty forging history
lesson from trip to get Cheesy Gordita Crunch.

The Cruise Vacation

Cruises are popular summer getaways, but they can be expensive for a family. And what if, on the first day of your seven-day cruise, your 6-year-old son proves not to be seaworthy. That will be one very long week.

You can save yourself a headache and a lot of money by renting a boat at one of the area lakes. No, there won't be any deep-sea diving or liquor at duty-free prices, and you'll have to provide the onboard entertainment.

But two of a cruise's most popular features are available: gambling and the all-you-can-eat buffet. Just bring along some lottery tickets and a stocked mini fridge. To add romance, set a course for adventure and the television to TV Land's Love Boat.

Upside: No waiting to board, no need for luggage.

Downside: Exotic ports of call limited to "other side of lake."

The Theme Park Vacation

In commercials for Disney World and other theme parks, nobody seems to be at the park except the family in the commercial. But most of the time, the shortest line to be found -- about 15 minutes -- is the one for the bathrooms.

Of course, that's an adult view of theme parks. For children, however, it's hard to imagine an appeasing replacement for these mega-hyped fantasy worlds. But here are some low-cost possibilities:

Instead of Sea World, rent Free Willy and take a trip to the lobster tank at a grocery store. Instead of Disney World, head to the Department of Motor Vehicles, where the cast of characters rivals any theme park for creativity. If your son or daughter wants the theme-park ride experience, have them stand in place for half an hour and then spin until they are dizzy.

OK, so the cheap theme-park ideas probably won't fly with your kids. But maybe if you throw in a $100 gift certificate at a toy store, they won't write about it in their "What I did for my summer vacation" essay.

Upside: Family vacations are all about memories, and your children will never forget this vacation.

Downside: Your children will never let you forget this vacation.

***
To be on the list that is sent out when a new column in posted, e-mail mwixon@dallasnews.com. Have a great week.