Friday, June 6, 2008

'80s Flashback: Rondo soda

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: Roller skating
'80s Flashback: Garbage Pail Kids
'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 the series of "Choose Your Own Adventure" books that were popular in the '80s (The Cave of Time, at right, was one of them). At different points in the story, you had to decide what action you wanted the character to take. One choice would lead to success, the other to failure, more trouble, death, etc. I remember reading them in the mid '80s, and reading them to kids when I was a summer camp counselor at the YMCA.

Now on to the Flashback.

Rondo was a citrus-flavored soft drink available in the U.S. in the late 1970s and early '80s. I remember that it looked like a beer can, so we were very excited when we got to drink it -- and then crush the can like in the commercials (an example is below).

I don't think my parents bought the soda for my brother, sister and I very often. But I remember seeing the commercials a lot. Rondo ... the thirst crusher!

I also remember the announcer saying "Rondo is lightly carbonated so you can slam it down fast!" The people in the commercial would then demonstrate this. I tried it when I was about 10 years old and ended up getting most of the soda on me. One of my many proud achievements in the '80s.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

I've now got 17 Tom Thumb Reward Cards

Just an estimation, obviously, but it's not an exaggeration. Tom Thumb is not the grocery store my family usually goes to, but it's on my way home from work, and if I need to pick something up, I'll stop by.

Each time, it seems, the item I want to buy is about a dollar less expensive for people who have a Reward Card. So I tell the checkout person that I want to sign up for a Reward Card so that I can get the discount.

He or she then hands me a registration form that I don't want to spend time filling out. It usually sits in my car for a couple of weeks and then gets tossed out. I could just fill out the form, I guess, but I just don't want to. It's partly from laziness, but moreso from the fact that I don't want to have to sign up for a Reward card, or an Extra Care card, or a VIP card, or whatever kind of card at every place I shop.

One of these days, I'll fill one out. But I'm in no hurry. Tom Thumb always has plenty of Reward Card applications available.

Meltdown in the office

OK, Joe. It's time for your evaluation. First of all, you seem to have some anger issues. And we cannot have you breaking office equipment anymore, OK?

Actually, I'm not sure if this ridiculous office tirade is real or staged.

But it's impressive. And here's a second angle that was shot with a cell-phone camera.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Another Machete Attack, Part IV

Another excellent reason not to have a machete lying around your house:

Your teenage son might threaten you with it in a dispute over curfew.

Wait, it was actually two machetes.

That's one more than was used when a man attacked his friend with a machete over a case of Bud Ice.

Sorry, you can't name your daughter Elvis

Last year, a Swedish couple decided to name its daughter "Metallica." Yes, it's hard to believe anyone would want to name a girl after a heavy-metal band, but it's harder to believe Swedish authorities rejected the application.

Anyway, after a long battle, the parents were allowed to name their daughter Metallica. (Maybe the parents threatened alternatives such as Megadeth and Slayer).

But now, the Swedish government has rejected the name choice for another couple, who want to name their daughter "Elvis." Again, weird name choice for a girl. But still, should the government have the power to put the kabash on a name?

I'm glad I live in a country where the government doesn't meddle with our name choices. In the good ol' USA, we can name our kids Audio Science, Dixie Dot or Fifi Trixibell and it's not considered child abuse.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Woman trapped by technology

A woman in Utah got locked in her car last week and had to call police to help her get out.

Check this out:

When police arrived, they found the woman sitting in the car, unable to get herself out. She couldn’t hear the officers instructions through the rolled-up windows so she motioned to them to call her on her cell phone, according to police.

Her battery had died, so the power locks wouldn't work. So the police called her cell phone and told her how to manually unlock the door by sliding the lock switch over.

My favorite part of the story is the accompanying graphic that says "Trapped by technology."

Actually, I think she was trapped by something else.

Tatum O'Neal thanks the cops

Tatum O'Neal was arrested for possession of cocaine Sunday night, and she's doing something rare:

Thanking the police for arresting her.

"I'm still sober!" the 44-year-old actress told New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser in a phone call shortly after being released from custody Monday.

"Just when I was about to change that and wreck my life, the cops came and saved me! I was saved by the bell, by the guys in the Seventh Precinct."

Well, maybe. This is coming from a recovering drug addict.

Yearbook spell-check turns ugly

The spelling theme continues, and ends, with this item:

A computer spell-checker run amok christened several Pennsylvania high school students with new -- and in some cases unflattering -- last names.

Middletown Area High School's yearbook listed Max Zupanovic as "Max Supernova," Kathy Carbaugh as "Kathy Airbag" and Alessandra Ippolito as "Alexandria Impolite," just to name a few.

Pretty funny, at least if you're not involved. Back when I was a copy editor for the sports section, I accidentally hit "replace" instead of "ignore" during a spell check of a high school football story. Each instance of the word "Poteet" -- as in Mesquite Poteet High School -- changed to potato. (I did correct it before the story made the paper.)

Anyway, back to the yearbook story. I thought this was an interesting comment from the yearbook's publisher:

"It happens all the time, every year," Patrick said. "Look at any yearbook in the country."
Really? It happens all the time?

I'm just glad it didn't happen in my yearbook. I wouldn't want to be remembered as Matt Wino.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Responses to "Spelling out success"

A couple of responses to this morning's column, "Spelling out success." ...

Loved your column on spelling. Good insights. I hear the music kids listen to today (hip-hop, rap), if one can really call it that (I’m a 1975 HS grad), & wonder if anyone has a chance. Even worse, the internet & text messaging has relegated spelling & language to acronyms & phonetic shortcuts (admittedly, I too use for expediency). In addition, spelling is not emphasized in today’s school curriculums.

In my business, or anyone’s business for that matter, writing & communications skills are sorely lacking in the general work force. I am constantly amazed at the lack of verbiage, spelling, & sentence structure abilities my company’s support staffs use in proposals, etc. I even go as far to instruct some of them to forward the documents to me first, in order to peruse for typos & sentence structure.

O wel, alass wii reep the winfall of emfasizing stewdints ‘feel’ good abowt themselves vs. trooly lernin sumthin.

Oh, my gosh!! - this one hits a nerve with me - having been a skool techer and princepul for 32 yeers (part of which was teaching English to high schoolers), this bombardment of creative spelling in our environment drives me nuts.

Humor Me: Spelling out success

The Dallas Morning News

Greetings, youth of the world. I come in peace.

I admit that I come from a different world - the over-age-30 world that is confused by nose rings and the trendiness of visible underwear - but you have no reason to fear a lecture or condescending tone. As I said, I come in peace.

Even better, I come to defend you from the members of my Country Time Lemonade world who say your Mountain Dew demographic isn't very swift in the classroom. I'm here to give you a break from the know-it-all adults who claim that you don't know current events, show no appreciation for history and are lacking skills in math, science and proper use of a belt.

But first, the bad news. Some of you truly aren't so swift in the classroom. Some of you don't know the basics that I learned in high school, such as the exact year when George Washington led U.S. troops across the Delaware River to defeat the Nazis with an atomic bomb.

For those of you who don't know that, it's not all your fault. Our country doesn't stress the importance of education the way it stresses rock-hard abs, money-back guarantees and whether Angelina Jolie will name her twins Corduroy and Zweibel. It also seems we -- the Country Time crowd -- might be helping you fail.

Let me spell it out, angry adults with e-mail.

I was thinking of this last week as kids tried to spell words such as "ursprache" and "weltschmerz" at the National Spelling Bee:

If you design a line of educational toys, does it make sense to name your company Playskool?

Not if you want children, who probably started their day with a
spelling-impaired breakfast of Froot Loops, Trix or Rice Krispies,
to pass spelling tests. And what if the kids fail the spelling tests? It could be a major blow to their self-esteem, leading them to gorge on word-mangler products such as Kit Kats and Kandycorn as they kry -- darn it, cry -- in shame. They might only find solace in playing with their Lite-Brite, Glo Worm or Snoopy Sno-Cone machine.

I'm sure you can hear the violins playing as you read this. I know it's only spelling, and lots of very smart people are terrible spellers. I believe the person who invented the xylophone was one of them.

And check out this passage from Geoffrey Chaucer's famous 14th-century work The Canterbury Tales: "She wolde wepe, if that she saugh a mous kaught in a trappe."

I think today's English teachers would do more than weep if they "saugh" spelling such as that. I know my teachers would have. Actually, I think they did cry a lot at Apollo High School, home of the fighting Hawks and disappointing test scores.

But ...

Spelling was a cornerstone of my education in skool -- darn it, school -- and it really is important. No matter how "intellugunt" you are, you won't be taken seriously unless you can spell the word intelligently.

That's why I don't envy the children who are learning how to spell "cheese" while eating Cheez-Whiz, Cheez-its and Cheez Doodles.

For one thing, their hands are too greasy to hold a pencil. Second, it's hard for them to tell how anything is spelled, because apparently the way to market to kids is with wacky spelling.

"Hey kids! You'll love Beanee Weenees! They go great with new Healthee Yummee Broccolee!"

Children's toys aren't helping, either. Three toys on the list of Dr. Toy's 100 Best Toy Products of 2007 were Aerobloks, Silly Stix and Betty Spaghetty. They were among the best toys, and yet the kids playing with them may now be destined to open a Kustom Kar Kare store or a Kwik Klips hair salon.

Or maybe the misled children will grow up and reinvent a word as a restaurant in my neighborhood did on a banner a while back:

"Quarter-pound hamberger 99 cents!"

It's a spiral of doom, leaders of tomorrow. So work on your spelling today. If you do, I promise you sweet results.

Even in a world of Kool-Aid and Krispy Kreme.

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