Friday, October 26, 2007

The Return of Large Oily People

As you may have heard, NBC is basically admitting defeat and complete lack of imagination and bringing back American Gladiators, the finest program ever produced in recorded history. Of course, I've been in talks with the network. They want me to return to the field of battle, and once again become what, in my heart, I've always been: an American Gladiator.

But I pause. I wonder. Would it be fair to subject the soft and pliant contestants to the full brunt of my awesome 5'11", 160 lb. frame? Let's not forget that I was the only American Gladiator to projectile vomit in the Atlasphere--and finish the match, as the vomit whirled around me, making purchase difficult, and resulting in me laying prone on the sphere's floor, crying like a little girl. That historic moment struck fear, and not a little pity, into the hearts of my foes.

But whether or not I decide to return to former triumphs, you should watch this show with something approaching regularity (incidentally, regularity was not something the American Gladiators themselves experienced, with the massive quantities of anabolic steroids and body oil those guys were ingesting). Because it makes America strong.

if I could suggest an American Gladiator viewing strategy to stop you from slipping into unconsciousness as enormous beefslab individuals wail on their hapless opponents, it would be this: wager. American Gladiators is made much more interesting when you've got a five-spot riding on that ingratiating turd from Ohio who wants to win the competition for his dying mother/sister/puppy.

And let's not forget the drinking. You can't make it through an episode without imbibing heavily. Why not make it a game? Take a drink any time:

  • One of the Gladiators poses, "Gun Show" style

  • A contestant is shown getting choked up about his or her family in a gratuitous "up close and personal" segment

  • Hulk Hogan (star of Suburban Commado and Mr. Nanny, who is commentating this time, by the way) says "Hulkamania!" or any "BAM!" type phrase that means "Oh my, that large person hit that small person quite well!"

Anyway, here's the canned blurb some incredibly misguided publicist sent me. enjoy:

NBC's classic competition show of the early 90s is back. "American Gladiators" which pits the strength and agility of both male and female contestants against each other, will be taping at the Sony Studios (Culver City, CA) from Nov 28th-Dec. 12, 2007. The host is Hulk Hogan.

For groups of 10 or more (from a registered organization), who attend a taping, NBC will write a donation check. The more people, the higher the payment. For details, please call: 1-866-515-4950

Online reservations for individuals can be found here:

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Wisdom of Bob Dylan

How many songs could a tambourine man play, anyway? And why would you want to hear one, no matter how alert and directionless you might be? Because really, no matter what song the tambourine man might play for you, it's going to sound like kss! k-kss! k-kss!

I guess it's better than Mr. Triangle Man or Mr. Kazoo.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Eight (or Ten) Arms, No Waiting

I can't believe I missed International Cephalopod Awareness Day this year. Beside the fact that I've surely offended some of my favorite cuttlefish, I've probably moved up the list for grisly disembowelment when the Old Ones show up. Let's hope Cthulhu sleeps in.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

You Have to Have Goals

The wifely friend is driven. She has near-term and long-term goals. She has a planner. She knows what Franklin-Covey is. I thought it was a Peanuts character. She has goals like "become an executive by 35" or "save money". And--this is the amazing thing--she actually does them.

For me, goals are a little less impressive. For a long time they were along the lines of "eat the biggest sandwich possible", "try not to sleep past noon more than three days a week" or "juggle".

One goal I've always had, though, was very simple: "own a pinball machine".

It's not the most ambitious goal, and it sure isn't the most sensible one. No job interview is going to swing your way because, "Sure, boss. The other guy was valedictorian at MIT, but this guy has his own pinball machine. I bet if we hire him we get to play!" No supermodel ever dated a guy solely because he had a Twilight Zone machine in his basement.

There are only about four pinball machines I've really wanted to own, and they're all Williams machines. Williams made the best machines, and abruptly stopped making them in the 90s, when pinball just couldn't compete with video games any more. They turned to making lucrative slot machines instead. The four machines I wanted were: High Speed, Earthshaker!, Black Knight 2000, and Indiana Jones.

For years I'd talked about getting a machine, but I felt like it was a little selfish. I mean here is this giant machine that's going to take up space in the garage, cost a fair bit of money, and monopolize a lot of my time. Every year, I'd go to California Extreme, which is a pinball and video game show in San Jose, play eight to ten hours of pinball, and come back all revved up to get a machine. Months would pass, and I'd let my goal drift away. But after this year's show, the wifely friend said "Jeez, will you just buy one already?!"

And so I did. I won an auction on eBay for a Black Knight 2000 machine. It needs a little bit of work, like replacement of the lower display for player 3 and 4 scores, but it plays great. My good friend Chimmychanga helped me pick the thing up and drive it back home. Even brought along his reciprocating saw and helped me carve my workbench in half to make room for it in the garage. Actually, he did most of the work.

But now I've finally got a pinball machine. Reaching a goal, you cant beat it.

Friday, August 03, 2007

One Squirrel's Quest for Collectible Toys

In Helsinki, Finland, there is a squirrel who runs into a grocery store a couple of times a day and steals Kinder Eggs. It then unwraps them and makes off with the toy inside.

"It removes the foil carefully, eats the chocolate and leaves the store with the toy," Lindroos said. However the tiny delinquent -- who clearly has no social conscience -- leaves the wrappers behind.

I can't blame the squirrel really. People are nuts for the toys contained within the chocolatey goodness of Kinder Eggs. Like this person, who has a nice site about his collection.

Incidentally, Kinder Eggs are contraband in the US, because they represent a choking hazard. Strangely, you don't hear reports of Euro kids choking every day on a some-assembly required plastic frog dressed like an army man, but there you are. American kids are dumb little monkeys just waiting for the chance to lodge something in their windpipes. No two ways about it. Like turkeys in the rain. And yes, I know turkeys don't drown in the rain.

More information about why Kinder Eggs are not available in the US.

Star Wars Kinder Egg toys, which for some reason are hippopotamuses dressed as various Star Wars characters.

The Kinder Surprise Experiment, which studies "Geographical variance of toy quality in Kinder Surprise".

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Returnering, Part Two

I've been gone for a while, I know. But things in the world in general have been going, let's face it, pretty poorly since I stopped writing here. Also, the stock market fell three hundred points yesterday, and that can't be a coincidence.

So what have I been doing these many months?

What happened was, I got really into that Deadliest Catch show on the tv, so I joined up. For half a year, I stood on the deck of The Time Bandit with other known felons and reprobates, while 40-foot waves slammed me around like a rag doll. I learned from these gentle, aromatic individuals how to hold mighty crustaceans aloft and say, over and over again, things like "Red gold!", "Now that's crab!" and even, when I couldn't help myself--when the sheer unadulterated joy of freezing to death and hurting tasty sea life got the better of me--"Hoo!"

Good times, I tell you. They don't show you all the hijinks we get up to out there on the high seas, either. Somehow, no matter how many times you see a naked man running out of his bunk with a five pound crab dangling from his nose, it just never gets old.

But all that's over now.

It's time for a return to My Life as an American Gladiator, America. It's time for rambling diatribes about inconsequential things, more untrustworthy reviews of 1970s horror movies, more clams, more Cthulhu and, god damn it, more Jurgen Prochnow.

Not every day or anything. Let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Not a Dry Eye Patch in the House

Did anyone watch the premiere of Pirate Master last night? I'd like to pretend I'm above that sort of thing, but I admit to you freely, I watched almost half of it. It was so terrifyingly poor that I don't know if I could stomach another episode. It's even less interesting than Survivor...on Pirate Master, a bunch of tools in eyeliner sit around with nothing to do in between curiously uninvolving challenges wherein they have to do things like row boats around papier-mache skeletons. At the end of the season, one person will be left and will get his or her hand chopped off and replaced by a hook or something. I don't know. The show's producers are obviously aware it's a little tedious, and so put in some stringent rules about the women on the show needing to wear very revealing tops at all times. Good thinking, there.

One of the eyeliner-wearing would-be pirates gets voted as captain of the ship, and immediately sets about being super-annoying by talking in a pirate voice, and taking things seriously despite the fact that everyone is clearly just this side of giggling. In the voting at the end, the pirate crew can vote off one of the captain's nominees, or declare a mutiny, in which case the captain is kicked off. It all seems needlessly complicated.

Not to spoil it for you, but the most enjoyable contestant was kicked off in the first episode. I only caught the second half, but every time they showed him, his tagline was Scientist/Exotic Dancer, which I guess is kind of like Fighter/Magic-User without the magic missiles.

I picture him straining over a microscope, struggling to isolate that elusive strain of euglena that explains everything. Enraged, he sweeps the microscope aside and shakes his fist at the uncaring nature of the universe: "If only I could prove to these fools that their methods are unsound! I ... I.... I gotta dance!"

"Strokin'" starts up on the tinny speakers of the lab as scientist/exotic dancer gyrates in a revolving petri dish, pulling off his chemical-spattered smock. Middle aged women rush at him, but he holds them at bay, in awe of his equations.

If only I could have Scientist/Exotic Dancer on my business card!

PS if you must, check out his ridiculous website, where you can learn annoying things like the fact that his dog is named Machiavelli.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Turkey Time

Internet reprobates subject themselves to torment for your potential pleasure, screening the IMDB worst-100 reviewed movies and reviewing them for you. Thrill to the majesty of "3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain", starring Hulk Hogan, amongst others.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Passive-Aggressive Notes from roommates, neighbors, coworkers and strangers.

Particularly enjoyable are the desperate pleas for bathroom decency and the plaintive "You Must Wear the Unitard Provided".

Note: Some swears may lurk within. If you are of the type who flee from the swears, flee now. Away, into the night, swear-free. The little swears may be caught in your hair, or clinging to your linty sweater like cat hair.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Goodbye Blue Monday

Kurt Vonnegut is dead.

He gave up writing novels a few years back, when it seemed he had said what he wanted to say. But he left us beautiful books like Cat's Cradle and Breakfast of Champions. When I was a completist teenager (as opposed to the obsessive completist thirties person I am now), I would obsessively eye my Vonnegut collection and think to myself "I only need Happy Birthday, Wanda June. Why don't I own that?" Thinking that I had to own every little word, even if it meant there would be no more books to discover, no new words.

I read his work slavishly, and I hope some of the wisdom within those pages sunk in somehow.

Vonnegut's writing was morose and melancholy but, like Twain, he seemed to believe in the secret goodness of people. There were always transcendent moments of beauty in his short, blurby style, like the moment that Circe Berman sees Rabo Karabekian's secret for the first time in Bluebeard. I won't ruin it for you.

And there was a large sense of our own ridiculousness. His often glib, "Go take a flying f*ck at the moon" philosophy betrayed a conscience that was deeply concerned with man, and especially with America. His outrage at the path of America these last years was a much-needed voice. While he seemed to say that all men are just animals, just living out lives alone, he was warning us against the greedy and dangerous men who are harming America so greatly, and the apathy with which the country is letting it happen.

Hopefully, old Kurt hasn't come unstuck in time, and isn't being bothered reliving the past.

Let's remember him with the Tralfamadorian greeting from Slaughterhouse Five:

"Hello. Farewell.

Hello. Farewell."

So it goes.


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