Friday, February 29, 2008

Anti-terrorism fun for kids

Just wondering ...

Does this toy include a no-fly list?

Strange motivational tools at work

Be happy that your boss has different motivational tools:

A supervisor at a motivational coaching business in Provo [Utah] is accused of waterboarding an employee in front of his sales team to demonstrate that they should work as hard on sales as the employee had worked to breathe.

In a lawsuit, the salesmen alleges a supervisor drew mustaches on employees' faces, took away their chairs and beat on their desks with a wooden paddle.


"Because it resulted in increased revenues for the company."

'80s Flashback: Adams Atoms

Time for another Friday '80s Flashback. This week's flashback is brought to you by Fun Dip, the candy that is still around now but was especially popular in the '80s. It was recommended by four out of five dentists who wanted to make more money by filling cavities in kids' teeth.

OK ... Can you remember the '80s movie that featured a fictional university called "Adams" with the fictional mascot of "Atoms"?

Also included these lines:

First guy: "Where are they?"
Second guy: "I think they're talking about us."

Ah yes, they were talking about nerds. Revenge of the Nerds -- I know it well.

I also know that it was filmed on the University of Arizona campus, where I would later attend college. In the clip below, the freshman dorm shown is Cochise Dorm, where I lived for two years.

Which makes sense, because I was a nerd. But I at least dressed a little better than Louis and Gilbert.

Last week's '80s Flashback:
'80s Flashback: Don't you forget about me

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Drink G2 and you can say you're an athlete

One of my new favorite products on the market is G2, from the makers of Gatorade. It's a "low-calorie electrolyte beverage designed for athletes off the field."

It's one of the dumbest things out there, and yet bound to make tons of money.

According to the Web site, "results indicate that athletes often do a poor job at hydrating off the field."

It goes on to say:

"One of the challenges with off the field hydration is calories. Many athletes prefer fewer calories in an everyday beverage."

Well, maybe their everyday beverage should be water. You'll save 25 calories against every eight ounces of G2, which despite all its hype about electrolytes, is actually this:

Kool-Aid for adults. (Adults who are embarrassed that their favorite Kool-Aid flavor is "Purplesaurus Rex.")

I think one of the flavors for G2 should be GiveItUp-Berry, perfect for the 40-year-old who can jump three inches off the ground but spends $60 bucks for an UnderArmour shirt and $250 for Air Jordans.

Sorry about the whole gunman thing

An armed man burst into a classroom recently at Elizabeth City State University. "I was prepared to die at that moment," the professor in the class said afterward.

So what happened?

Uh ... it was only a drill.

Way to go administrators! Next time, maybe a little heads up beforehand?

At least university officials apologized and offered counseling to the faculty and students. Perhaps some of the counseling will be in regards to finding a different university with an administration that has common sense.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

This is high fashion, people

Who says fashion doesn't make sense?

I bet the Michelin Man thinks this creation by Belgian fashion designer Martin Margiela is fantastic.

Tour guides telling lies

In Philadelphia, tour guides will soon have regulations about what they can say because they've been telling some tall tales. According to a historian there, these are among the 84 lies he's heard from the tour guides:

*Ben Franklin had 80 illegitimate children all in Sweden.

*City Tavern is where the First Continental Congress met.

*The large house at 3rd and Walnut is where Kevin Bacon lives.

*Dolly Madison invented ice cream at Ben Franklin’s Library.

*Betsy Ross had three cats she named Red, White and Blue.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Police dogs now wearing shoes

Police dogs in the western city of Duesseldorf will no longer get their feet dirty when on patrol — the entire dog unit will soon be equipped with blue plastic fiber shoes.

Watch out for these dogs, criminals, because they are going to be mad. I know how my dog reacted when we tried to put shoes on him. He didn't like anyone touching his paws at all.

Of course, he never experienced the comfort of "blue plastic fiber shoes." How soon until those have a Nike swoosh on them?

Closed captioned by the English impaired

Have you ever watched closed captioning on your TV and noticed all the mistakes? I'm sure it's hard to do the captioning live, but sometimes the results are pretty confusing.

That's what happened during a recent screening of The Queen for the hearing impaired.

Some examples:

When a character spoke about Mr. Blair being "educated at Fettes," it appeared on screen as "educated the fattest." "Did you vote?" flashed up as "Dead in a boat?" The observation that "every newspaper proprietor has blood on his hands today" became "every newspaper proprietor has blown in his hands today."

That last one is particularly awkward.

Do Type IV Extraterrestrials like Reese's Pieces?

We can only hope so, making them the friendly type we know well.

According to the India Daily:

Signs of type IV extraterrestrial influence in Abell 1835 IR1916, a galaxy 13,230 million light-years away, merely 470 million years young from the time of big bang, have been discovered.

You can read the article here. If you think it will be too confusing, don't worry. It seems pretty straightforward to me, including this paragraph:

The Universe was a cold and opaque place. Something went wrong, according to some scientists. Intervention was needed by the Type IV civilization that created the big bang in their massive inter-universe particle colliders.

Responses to 'Memories Don't Bite the Dust'

A few responses to yesterday's column, "Memories Don't Bite the Dust."

Had to laugh at today's column. When I got my first portable cassette recorder (around 1972), I recorded a number of favorite pieces on a tape to listen to in the car, including the Hallelujah chorus from Handel's Messiah. Unfortunately, the last 30 seconds or so were cut off. I can't listen to the piece even 35 years later, without mentally expecting that break. I also used it to record music from the radio, but I was smart enough to use the headphone jack to connect the radio to the recorder. The bad news – we had a fridge that pumped out a burst of static every time the motor kicked in, so again, there are some pieces I can't listen to without expecting that sudden "gaaaark" in the middle.
Oh my gosh…..reading the Memories don't bite the dust column had me rolling in laughter!! I too did the EXACT same thing and to this day, anytime I hear "Come on Eileen" or "Heart of Glass", I repeat the words of the DJ in my head everytime!! That is too funny! =)
(Subject header: Neither do mine, and they never will)
The subject header is my response to your latest column, "Memories don't bite the dust." In the mid-'80s, I made similarly pirated audio recordings of TV shows, mainly Saturday morning cartoons, sitcoms, MTV, and so on (we didn't have a VCR just yet, so that was how I improvised), after which I'd switch to the stereo system and fill the rest of the tapes with music. Back then it was almost unheard of to have Sheena Easton and Van Halen on the same playlist, let alone the same tape, but I didn't care. I had eclectic tastes in music then, and I still have them now, though today it's rather odd for me to listen to a live version of Nazareth's "Dream On" (not to be confused with Aerosmith's hit single of the same name) without the phone ringing in the background. Looking back, such discrepancies on my recordings were really a disguised life lesson on not sweating the small stuff. And believe it or not, I still have them all. I unearthed them recently while cleaning out my storage containers, and upon setting aside a select few to play once again, I felt like an archaeologist digging up the prized artifacts I always knew they'd be, because that's exactly what they are. Suffice it to say my CD, VHS and DVD libraries have grown considerably since those days, and like the audio tapes that preceded them, they're parts of who I am and what I'm all about and I'm not ashamed of them. In conclusion, rest assured I have ways of seeing to it that my memories will never bite the dust!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Teenage student or 39-year-old man?

When students standing outside the gates started to scream at the sight of him, he dashed inside the school grounds, hoping to blend in with the crowds of teenagers.

Kind of difficult to do when you're a 39-year-old man.

Great visual:

The teenagers screamed, "forcing the man to flee, losing his wig in the process."

Michael Jackson, yes ... Thriller, no

It's the 25th anniversary of the release of "Thriller," to album that made Michael Jackson the King of Pop. He's now pretty much the king of jokes, hiding out and reminding us that he hasn't had that much plastic surgery.

Whatever you think of Jackson, that first album was pretty extraordinary. "Billie Jean" remains one of my favorite songs of all time, and I still like hearing "Beat It." Certainly beats some of the other songs of that year, such as "Maniac" by Michael Sembello and "Come On Eileen" by Dexy's Midnight Runners. (OK, I admit that I liked that second song back in '83, but I was 11 years old. And it's been played so many times now that I'm sick of it.)

So back to MJ. His album was amazing, but I never really did like the song "Thriller." I don't know why, but it never did anything for me. I think maybe it's because I had to sit through the "Making of the Thriller Video" three or four times in elementary school.

Either I had lazy teachers or this was considered to be very instrumental in our education. I just thought Michael Jackson looked a little weird with all the makeup on.

Of course, compared to his look now, he looked unbelievably normal. Even human.

Kellie Pickler is not smarter than a fifth grader

Guessing by the five million people who have watched this on YouTube, you might have seen it. But if you haven't ...

Then former American Idol finalist Kellie Pickler would like you not to watch this. It proves she's not smarter than a fifth grader, and maybe worse.

When she says, "This might be a stupid question ..."

You knew it was going to get interesting. (Click below if you don't see the video window).

Humor Me: Memories don't bite the dust

Last week, I read about how Blu-ray had won the war with HD-DVD to be the next generation of high-definition video. It made me think back to a time long ago, in a faraway place, when I produced extremely looooow fidelity recordings.

Note: This column is posted at The Dallas Morning News. My recent DMN columns can also be found here.

Humor Me: Memories don't bite the dust

The Dallas Morning News

The year: 1980. The place: A bedroom that included a doorknob-shaped hole in the wall, a Kool-Aid stain on the carpet and a new AM/FM clock radio. The event: The lowest-quality recording ever of Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust.”

It was low, low, looow fidelity. Even as an 8-year-old, I knew that, but it was the only way I could tape my favorite song. I had to pull out the enormous tape recorder, the one my dad used to tape insurance seminars, and place it on the dresser next to my clock radio, the first FM radio I owned.

Then I waited. The deejay said he was going to play the song soon, and finally, I heard the instantly recognizable opening beat. I pressed record, and for nearly three minutes, scratchy radio gold poured onto a tape formerly filled with insurance tips.

(Side note: My dad was done with the cassette tape before I used it. He had a lot of the insurance tapes, and even more jobs as an insurance salesman. He switched companies so often that we used his old business cards to write down phone messages.)

Anyway, in my recording studio, things were going well. The FM signal was strong, the deejay hadn’t talked over the music and Freddie Mercury was starting to belt out “and another one gone and another one gone” for the last time. That’s when my mom walked into my recording studio and said, “It’s time to set the table for dinner.”

Mom, how could you!

Well, it wasn’t the only time my recording space was violated. Quality control was pretty futile in a recording-studio bedroom with no lock on the door. I also shared the bedroom with my younger brother, who couldn’t stay quiet for more than 10 seconds.

So I had some interesting recordings. During Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl,” my mom started vacuuming outside my door. On my version of Kool & The Gang’s “Celebration,” a doorbell rang, followed by a dog barking.

I remember this well because I listened to the tapes over and over. I listened so much that, on the rare occasion I now hear Eddie Rabbit’s “I Love a Rainy Night,” it seems strange when it doesn’t end with a deejay saying, “But no rain in sight for us, as we’re going to have highs near 100 … ”

Pretty sad, huh?

I put a lot of time into those stupid tapes. I spent hours waiting for a deejay to play “Upside Down” by Diana Ross or for Casey Kasem to count down to Devo’s “Whip It.” I missed a lot of Brady Bunch reruns to expand my lo-fi music catalog.

Today, my music compilations are all gone, or at least lost somewhere in my parents’ house. Maybe more insurance seminars were taped over my songs. Maybe the tapes were thrown out. Maybe they’re under a stack of my dad’s business cards.

Wherever they are, I’ll probably never hear them again. And that might be a good thing. If I start getting too nostalgic for muffled ’80s radio, I’ll be scared that I’m becoming my parents — the people who spent 25 years with a toaster that rarely would leggo the Eggo.

“We don’t need a new one!” they told me for years. “This one still works.”

And then they would stick a fork into the toaster and remove a mangled waffle or bagel. Very strange. They had a deep emotional bond to that dysfunctional toaster.

I don’t quite feel the same way about my old tapes. My musical tastes have changed over the years, and even if I wanted to hear “Physical” by Olivia Newton-John, I’d probably go for a crystal-clear digital version. A version without backing vocals from my brother.

But I do wish I could listen to my old tapes once in a while. So many great memories would come flooding back as I remembered the songs I loved, the challenges of recording and the weather forecast for the greater Phoenix area.

If the tapes do turn up, I won’t lose them again. I might even record them onto CDs so I can preserve them forever.

Or at least until technology makes CDs bite the dust.