Friday, May 9, 2008

'80s Flashback: Freddy Krueger

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: 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

This week's flashback is brought to you by the untied, high-top basketball shoe often worn by "headbangers" in the '80s. I had a friend who wore them all the time, with jeans and a black concert T-shirt. Even when temps hit 100 in Phoenix, that's what he wore. He had to kind of drag his feet as he walked so his shoes wouldn't fall off. I remember the sound of his shoes plowing through the gravel as we walked home from school.

OK. This week we remember Freddy Krueger, who first appeared in 1984's Nightmare On Elm Street. I was 12 at the time and my parents wouldn't let me see a movie involving a man with finger blades.

I saw it later, and several of the sequels. I'm not a big fan of horror movies, but Freddy was kind of the icon of fright back then. He had a sick sense of humor, and the idea that he could attack you in your dreams was really frightening. Especially for teens who fought to stay awake in class every day.

There was Jason and his hockey mask, of course, but by '84, the Friday the 13th series was already on Part IV and dying on the vine. Halloween and Michael Meyers was also into multiple chapters.

Another interesting tidbit about the original Nightmare on Elm Street: it was Johnny Depp's first movie.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Commercial space travel almost here (maybe)

Have you got your tickets for space travel yet?

If not, they could be going fast. Or slow. Hard to tell. But at, you can make reservations for a flight with one of their accredited space agents. I bet you can even ask for a seat near the solid rocket booster, you know, so you can really get the full effect.

Sure, it will cost $200,000. But don’t be scared off by that. By the time a ship is actually ready to take you into space, $200,000 might be what you pay annually for groceries. Or a tank of gas.

So when will the flights begin?

Well, Virgin Galactic doesn’t know exactly when it will start sending people into space (and hopefully bringing them back). But my guess is the Rolling Stones will be starting a tour.

The Tourist Remover

Ever want to remove unwanted people from your photos?

The Tourist Remover might be for you. It takes multiple photos and blends them together, making it perfect for getting the other tourists out of your blurry picture of the Statue of Liberty.

I wonder if people ever use this to eliminate a spouse from a family photo after a divorce. Should check the photos at the home of Alec Baldwin.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Another amazing basketball shot

Just like the other one, this shot was right on target. If the little boy was the target, that is.

Amazing basketball shot

This is just amazing. I hope the kid who made the shot wasn't injured when his teammates crushed him afterward.

More crushing, of course, is the feeling for the players on the other team.

Thanks to Don R. for the link.

Table tennis or Ping-Pong, it's pretty crazy

Back when I was a kid, my family had a Ping-Pong table on the patio. Maybe if I had been really into it, and practiced each day, I could've done this.

(In longer shorts, of course.)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

No wizardry in the classroom

Attention teachers:

Just a reminder that, as you put together your lesson plans for the day, you should not include any wizardry.

Yep, no wizardry. Because if we allow that, pretty soon we'll have to allow cauldrons in the classrooms and create parking spots for brooms.

If you claim to not be a wizard, no problem. We'll just need to throw you in a river to see if you float.

New American University: Underwear party!

According to its Web site, Arizona State University ...

"has a vision to be a New American University, promoting excellence in its research and among its students, faculty and staff, increasing access to its educational resources and working with communities to positively impact social and economic development."

Apparently, it's working. I can't see how running around in your underwear wouldn't "positively impact social and economic development."

Before you check out this video, I'd like to remind the many people who believe I'm an Arizona State University alum that I actually graduated from the University of Arizona.

It can be confusing, I know, because a lot of people believe ASU and U of A are the same university. I think it's because any time an athletic team from either university plays on national TV, the network shows the same video loop of cacti and rattlesnakes.

So for the record, I remember students at the University of Arizona being much more civilized during my time in Tucson. At least when the videotape was rolling.

Monday, May 5, 2008

A former camper responds

A response to the "You'll love summer camp" column:

Geez....I thought summer camp was where you learn to stretch plastic wrap tightly across the top of the toilet, so the next little camper gets a wet surprise when she uses the restroom - (and nobody ever admits who brought the roll of Saran Wrap) - or camp is where you fall off the top bunk and break your collar bone, so the camp nurse and the cabin counselor rush you to the hospital and call your parents in the middle of the night - or camp is where you play mud football and get ringworm or weird sores on your legs a few days later - or even is where you get a new haircut and it's free! - oh yeah, fond memories!

Humor Me: You'll love summer camp ... really!


The parent-child bond is rarely stronger than when the summer-camp
bus pulls out of the parking lot. Children press their faces
against the windows and flash teary eyes that ask, "How can you do
this to me?"

Let's see, where should parents start? There's the fruit punch
stain on the carpet and the broken window in the living room.
There's the T-shirt that got flushed down the toilet and the dent
in the wall from a game of indoor baseball. And can somebody please
explain how a chair from the kitchen table ended up in the pool?

Yes, parents have their reasons to pack the kids off to Camp
Idontwannago. And now is the time to start planning where to send your kids. Or so I'm told. I'm not an expert on this because my kids are too young for camp.

But I do know this:

Camp is supposed to be fun, not punishment. So when departure
day arrives, and some kids act like it's more punishment than
privilege, parents naturally worry.

They worry that their child will get lonely. They worry that their
child will get lost. They worry that their child will get lonely,
then lost, then bitten by a snake coiled in poison ivy in a
flash-flood area near a dangerous ledge.

Relax, parents. Your children will have a great time. They'll
ride horses, tell stories around the campfire and learn how
to steer canoes. Either that or they'll get lost and really get in touch with nature as a search party is organized.

I'm kidding, of course. As a camp counselor during my teenage
years, I don't recall ever losing a camper. We lost at least one
sock each day, a pair of shoes per week, and during the course of a summer, several comic books and a couple of asthma inhalers. But we never lost a whole person - unless you count counselors, who sometimes
discovered midway through camp that they must have lost their minds
to accept such a job.

For kids, however, camp is usually fantastic. Whether they go to a
sports camp, fine-arts camp, computer camp or wilderness camp, they
make new friends and memories that last a lifetime.

My wife, for example, went to a gymnastics camp and will never forget when a fellow camper hit her on the head with a flashlight during a fight
over who would sleep on the top bunk. She also got sick on the last
day, took medicine that turned her tongue black and thought she was
dying. But other than that, she reports that camp was a good

She also learned a lot, which is an integral part of every camp.
Summer campers learn independence (no parents to cling to), bravery
(trying to find the bathroom at night) and ingenuity (how to lather
up some fun by puncturing a shaving-cream bottle with a needle and
throwing it into another cabin). These are important skills each
camper will use in the future, or at least in his or her first week
of college.

Unfortunately, some camps are very expensive, which makes it hard
on parents. Prices in the thousands are not unusual, and camps
don't ease the burden by advertising "FREE CAMP T-SHIRT PROVIDED"
in their pamphlets. For $4,000, a free T-shirt better not be the
highlight of camp. I would think each camper would get several
T-shirts, some shorts and an extra pair of shoes, which would come
in handy. Shoes just seem to disappear during camp and -- don't ask
me how -- are often found stuck in high branches of trees.

The price is something to consider, but parents should remember
that summer camp memories are priceless for kids. And when camp
ends, and your child comes running to you with one shoe missing and
no sock on the other foot, calling your name and proudly waving a
ceramic dish made especially for you, is there anything more
priceless than that?

How about this: A few weeks of not hauling anyone to the movies or
discovering a kitchen chair floating in the pool.

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