Sunday, July 29, 2012

cast member confidential

I'm a Disney fan... its not any secret, to be honest with you...

(this post sponsored by Disney on a Dollar, in partnership with Distinctive-Journeys... for a magical vacation that you'll never forget, email for all of your Disney travel needs!)

...but more than that, I'm also a Disney history buff.  Like, I love Disney books, and I don't mean "how-to" books and "visiting Disney" books... I will tell you that my favorite is Birnbaum's Disney books, and the 2013 guide will be released on September 25th--and this year's should be amazing, with Toontown gone, Snow White's Scary Adventures gone, new Fantasyland over half finished, and so on...

where was I?

Oh yeah... Disney books.  I have a shelf full of books read and to be read at this point, books on Walt Disney World history and the movie animation secrets and behind the scenes and Disney Underground and did-you-know and the like... and any book where Cast Members open up about their experiences also suck me in.

So, I picked up Chris Mitchell's "Cast Member Confidential: A Disneyfied Memoir", about a guy who drove to Orlando to escape his mundane life and family, gets a job at Disney World and becomes engulfed in the life and lifestyle of Cast Members.  According to Mitchell, and I agree, its like it's own culture, almost its own species.

Mitchell gives stories and anecdotes over his year there, everything from the drugs to the make out sessions he witnessed, with both boy-girl, boy-boy and girl-girl, to the ones he participated in, especially with a fellow Cast Member named Calico.  Yes, Calico.

He works as a PhotoPass photographer, and even tries out as a character, to disastrous results.  Other stories share the details of his trip to Cuba, the parties that his gay roommate threw and of course, lots of park shenanigans... including some good loving in the upstairs of the American Pavilion during Epcot's Illuminations.

Could I believe all of it?  Maybe.  Do I believe it?  No, not really.  However, Chris Mitchell spins a humorous tale of all the magical, and unmagical, things that go on when the lights go down, and behind those doors that say "Cast Member Only" we see as we walk through the parks.  It does read more like a work of fiction, though, which is why I have a hard time swallowing the majority of what he tells us.  And at no point does he give you any actual park or resort information or behind the scenes stories, its all based on personalities and anecdotes.

It is full of salty language, many homosexual overtones and characters, descriptions of drug use, alcohol, and loose, loose women.

Do I recommend it?  Not really.  Again, its fun yarn at points, but the opening story with Tarzan sets it up as a little far-fetched.  Just my two cents.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

mr. wizard being grumpy

When I was a young tyke, in the midst of the kid stage, there were several shows I watched on television... we didn't have Barney or Dora the Explorer or Blue's Clues (the first two I am going to avoid at all costs when introducing educational programming to the young Campbell Isaiah)... no, we have PBS and Nickelodeon. 

We had Sesame Street, of course, and The Electric Company, which I didn't watch much of, but there was another show I watched every day that I can't remember the name of... but it had a segment called "MathNet", a "Dragnet" type Math sketch with two Math Detectives. 

But the bulk of my programming came on Nickelodeon... this was before "Nick Jr" and "Nick Kids" and the Noggin Network and so on, and this is before TV Land... this is when they had kids shows in the morning and midday, they had older kids shows until about 7p, then they went to Nick At Night, showing reruns of My Three Sons, Gilligans Island, Newhart and Donna Reed... then around midnight, we had infomercials.

During the day, I took in healthy amount of "You Can't Do That On Television" and Leonard Nimoy's "Lights Camera Action"...

SIDEBAR... I remember in 2nd grade, at Ridgetop Elementary in Austin, Texas, we were all in the class and Ms. Martinez asked us to name our favorite TV show, and I wanted to say "You Can't Do That On Television", but due to my seat in the class, I was one of the last people to have a turn, and Brian Bruner at about four chairs down, and as it zipped around the class, I didn't hear YCDTOT, and I was excited because me, at 7, would get to say this cool program that many parents hated, and I would look cool and then, four chairs down, Brian Bruner went and he said "You Can't Do That on Television!" and a bunch of kids in the class said, "I love that!" and "Oh, I forgot that, I want to change my answer!" and I was so mad because I wanted to say it and get that reaction so when it went to Gloria Gil, then Jesse Gomez then Pete the Stereotypical Big Kid in the Class, it got to me, and panicking, I said, "Lights Camera Action!", which wasn't a lie, I did love that behind-the-scenes-movie show, but I knew it wasn't as exciting as "You Can't Do That On Television", and I was so disheartened when from across the class, Becky Rocha said, "Oh, that show is boring"... and I just sank in my chair...

Where was I?

Oh yeah, Nick at Nite...

Anyway, my parents and I watched "My Three Sons", and once they had a contest for a week, saying if you could write down the names of each of Steve's dates in each episode and be one of the first people to send it it, you'd win a Nick at Nite address book.  So, each night at 7, I labored through episode after episode (it was usually on from 7p to 830p, but only one episode had Steven going out on a date), for five straight nights, and wrote down those 50's type names like "Mildred" and "Esther" and "Dorothy".  I wrote it on a piece of loose leaf paper and stuffed it in an envelope and addressed it--I don't remember the address, but I'm sure it has something to do with "Avenue of the Americas" in New York City--and sent it out... and a week later, I got my Nick at Nite address book!  Word.

The daytime shows that taught me my education included "Today's Special" and "Mr Wizard's World", and the latter is why I'm even posting anyway. 

Seriously... I actually wanted to post a video, but I ended up getting distracted in thinking about my childhood shows... don't even get me started on "Double Dare" and "Hey Dude"...

So, I found this video online, and thought it was awesome.  Mr Wizard was a dude named Don Herbert who had a show on NBC in the 50s, but then revived it for Nickelodeon in the early 80s.  Only producing 78 episodes, it aired three times a week, and in reruns until 1990.  At its peak, it was the #3 show on the channel, and why not?  It was cool.  It made science cool.  Even if Mr. Wizard was a curmudgeon.

And thinking back, I didn't realize it at the time, but now, Mr. Wizard comes across as a grumpy old man... back when you could be a smarty pants to kids on television and no one would say anything about it. 

Warning... as you can see, the title of the video contains a crass word... I didn't do it, and I would have used the word "jerk" but there it is.  And I can't change it, so please just avert your eyes...

By the way, I totally remember some of these episodes, like the spoon on the dry ice, and I remember many of these kids, like the Indian kid and the "...what?..." kid too.

Hope you enjoyed our little venture to Nickleodeon's heyday...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

val's obituary

I would say this is from the category of "I didn't write it, but I wish I hadda..." but I can't really say that, because this is an obituary.  A very good one.  Found this online, and I thought Val Patterson's final words in death, discussing his life, was worth a post here on Clouds... oh, that we could all be so festive and fun after we die...

As published in the Salt Lake City Tribune from July 15 to July 22, 2012

I was born in Salt Lake City, March 27th, 1953.  I died of Throat Cancer on July 10th, 2012.  I went to six different grade schools, then to Churchill, Skyline and the U of U.  I loved school, Salt Lake City, the mountains, Utah.  I was a true Scientist.  Electronics, chemistry, physics, auto mechanic, wood worker, artist, inventor, business man, ribald comedian, husband, brother, son, cat lover, cynic.  I had a lot of fun.  It was an honor for me to be friends with some truly great people.  I thank you.  I've had a great joy living and playing with my dog, my cats and my parrot. 

But, the one special thing that made my spirit whole is my long love and friendship with my remarkable wife, my beloved Mary Jane.  I loved her more than I have words to express.  Every moment spent with my Mary Jane was time spent wisely.  Over time, I became one with her, inseparable, happy, fulfilled.  I enjoyed one good life.  Traveled to every place on earth that I ever wanted to go to.  Had every job I wanted to have.  Learned all that I wanted to learn.  Fixed everything I wanted to fix.  Eaten everything I wanted to eat.  My life motto was: "Anything for a Laugh".  Other motto's were "If you can break it, I can fix it", "Don't apply for a job, create one."  I had three requirements for seeking a great job:  1 - All Glory, 2 - Top pay, 3 - No Work.

Now that I have gone to my reward, I have confessions and things I should now say.  As it turns out, I AM the guy who stole the safe from the Motor View Drive Inn back in June, 1971.  I could have left that unsaid, but had to get it off my chest.  Also, I really am NOT a PhD.  What happened was that the day I went to pay off my college student loan at the U of U, the girl working there put my receipt into the wrong stack, and two weeks later, a PhD diploma came in the mail.  I didn't even graduate, I only had about 3 years of college credit.  In fact, I never did even learn what the letters "PhD" even stood for. 

For all the Electronic Engineers I have worked with, I'm sorry, but you have to admit my designs always worked very well, and were well engineered and I always made you laugh at work.  Now to that really mean Park Ranger:  after all, it was me that rolled those rocks into your geyser and ruined it. I did notice a few years later that you did get Old Faithful working again.  To Disneyland - you can now throw away that "Banned for Life" file you have on me, I'm not a problem anymore - and SeaWorld San Diego, too, if you read this.

To the gang:  We grew up in the very best time to grow up in the history of America.  The best music, muscle cars, cheap gas, fun kegs, buying a car for "a buck a year" - before Salt Lake got ruined by over population and Lake Powell was brand new.  TV was boring back then, so we went outside and actually had lives.  We always tried to have as much fun as possible without doing harm to anybody - we did a good job at that.

If you are trying to decide if you knew me, this might help... My father was RD "Dale" Patterson, older brother "Stan" Patterson, and sister "Bunny" who died in a terrible car wreck when she was a Junior at Skyline.  My mom "Ona" and brother "Don" are still alive and well.  In college I worked at Vaughn's Conoco on 45th South and 29th East.  Mary and I are the ones who worked in Saudi Arabia for 8 years when we were young.  Mary Jane is now a Fitness Instructor at Gold's on Van Winkle - you might be one of her students - see what a lucky guy I am?  Yeah, no kidding.

My regret is that I felt invincible when young and smoked cigarettes when I knew they were bad for me.  Now, to make it worse, I have robbed my beloved Mary Jane of a decade or more of the two of us growing old together and laughing at all the thousands of simple things that we have come to enjoy and fill out lives with such happy words and moments.  My pain is enormous, but it pales in comparison to watching my wife feel my pain as she lovingly cares for and comforts me.  I feel such the "thief" now - for stealing so much from her - there is no pill I can take to erase that pain.

If you knew me or not, dear reader, I am happy you got this far into my letter.  I speak as a person who had a great life to look back on.  My family is following my wishes that I not have a funeral or burial.  If you knew me, remember me in your own way.  If you want to live forever, then don't stop breathing, like I did.

A celebration of life will be held on Sunday, July 22nd from 4:00 to 6:00 pm at Starks Funeral Parlor, 3651 South 900 East, Salt Lake City, casual dress is encouraged. 

Online condolences may be offered and memorial video may be viewed at

(if you head over to Starks website, it tells you that they have been overwhelmed by this particular obit, and it directs you to their Facebook page...)

The July 31 Day Twelve    

Monday, July 16, 2012

one hundred g's

Thank you, dear Clouds in My Coffee readers... thank you so, so much.  I don't know at what time, but I'm guessing that at some point when I check this site tomorrow, the "visitors" number on the right side will read six digits... as in, 100,000.

That means that this here little website, and its randomness, its questionable talent, is boring design, its promises of consecutive blogs and movie listings and other things and its failures to deliver most of it, its pretty decent posts every now and again tossed in between a dozen random thoughts of whatever... has been visited 100,000 times.

I'm not even sure who reads it--some of my closer friends never do.  But someone does, and to you, I say a big thank you. 

Next stop?  Post #900... then Post #1000... then Clouds In My Coffee's 10th Birthday... then who knows, maybe 1,000,000 visits? 


Thursday, July 12, 2012

lack of institutional control

So the big report came out today.  I speak of the Louis Freeh, the former FBI director's, report with its findings in a 7 month investigation concerning Penn State University, namely the Jerry Sandusky scandel... its your basic search...

Who knew what, and when did they know it? 

Who knew that Jerry Sandusky was abusing young boys, as far back as 1998, and when did these people know it?

And the report is brutal, essentially telling everyone that most people in the higher up positions in Penn State's athletic football program knew a lot, and knew it early.  You can go to any site right now, Sports Illustrated or ESPN or even Deadspin, and you'll find a bunch of Penn State materials.

Bottom line is, Paterno's legacy is over.  His son, Jay, has said that, and I'm paraphrasing, "my dad's legacy stretches over 61 years at Penn State.  To say that this incident ruins that is not fair.  He made some mistakes, but it shouldn't define his legacy or career."

Oh yeah, Jay?  Nixon had decades of a successful political career, but guess what defines his legacy?  A few months of Watergate.  OJ Simpson had 30 years of a successful college and pro career, plus an incredible acting turn (have you seen "The Naked Gun"?), but guess what defines his legacy?  Those are all the things you think of when you think of Nixon and OJ. 

Jerry Sandusky, like it or not, is Joe Paterno's legacy.  Those boys in the shower is Joe Paterno's legacy.  The fact that JoePa knew a heck of a lot more than he let on, and that he did nothing about it?  This is JoePa's legacy.

Its already started.  Nike has already removed Paterno's name from their Child Care Center.  There are rumors that his name will come off of Penn State's buildings on campus, and his statue is in danger as well. 

And what about the NCAA?  Here's what Jeremy Schaap, from, had to say:

If Ohio State can't play in a bowl game this season because former Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel lied to NCAA investigators about his players receiving free tattoos, how can Penn State play in the postseason after former coach Joe Paterno helped cover up the horrific actions of a serial child rapist?

If North Carolina can't play in the postseason this season because some of its players received improper benefits from agents and committed academic fraud, how can Penn State be eligible for the postseason after its former president and vice president, athletic director and legendary coach fostered a culture in which a pedophile used the school's facilities, sideline passes to games and bowl trips like candy to lure the young boys he molested?

And if USC was banned from the postseason for two years and lost more than 20 scholarships because the school failed to oversee the compliance of its most high-profile players, how can Penn State go unpunished by the NCAA when the university's most-high ranking officials failed to even do what was morally right when they learned young boys were violated and the victims and others were probably still at risk?

Officials are looking to rotate this statue, so it
will spend years and years looking the other way
I was undecided as to whether I thought the NCAA should be involved... but after hearing the facts of the report--and full disclosure, I haven't read it, I'm only going on the numerous news stories that say the same thing--I think the NCAA should come down on Penn State like a sack of hammers.   At first, I thought that the NCAA shouldn't mess with a criminal investigation, one that may or may not have involved the football program, save for some of its coaches.  Players weren't paid or received benefits, or illegal players used, or illegal recruiting methods weren't enacted... however, what we know today is that JoePa and his subordinates covered up all they could in order to protect their beloved football program.

And this directly involves the NCAA's jurisdiction. 

SMU got the dreaded "Death Penalty" in the late 80s for outlandish and flagrant player activities, including gambling, shutting the football program down for over a year, and it took 20 years for that program--many times a title contender in the early 80s--to rebound... and its still nowhere near the national title picture, mired in the depths of Conference USA.

But nowhere in the SMU Death Penalty charge are the words "sexual abuse" or "boys" or "cover up of sexual abuse of boys".  To me, under the table payments to players is pretty bad... but the lasting effects?  Some people with mismanaged money, some former players who live with the stink of being a part of such a stupid plan.  This?  This is a million times worse--the lasting effects on these kids involved include memory of sexual abuse and all that goes with it.

Penn State football should be, in the least, reprimanded beyond belief, and everyone on the football staff, unless its possible to prove they didn't know anything, in the last 12 - 14 years should be let go.  At worst, "the death penalty".  Yes, its unfair to those on the team who had nothing to do with any of this, its unfair to the students and fans that never knew anything about this until it all exploded over the fall of 2011, and its unfair to the entire Penn State family and community...

...but... Jerry Sandusky brought down the program.  And those in charge with him, including the winningest coach in Division I football, Joe Paterno.

And if that isn't "lack of institutional control", I don't know what is.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

casey's top 40

Alright, we continue our quest to blog every day in July with Day Nine of what I call The July 31... 31 blogs in July.  So, even though its tough, I'm dedicated to making sure that...

...I'm sorry, what...?

...what did you say today was?  The 10th of July...?

...awkward pause...

Well, crap.

Okay, we continue our quest to blog every other day in July, with Day Nine of what I call The July 31... 31 blogs in July, though with a day in between to give you some time to actually read my brilliant thoughts. 

On with the show.

With two cars in our garage, we take our cars at various times... sometimes we take Red Robin, other times we take hers.  We take mine, and we can listen to SiriusXM radio.  We take hers, and it gives us a little more room, as we have a car seat in the back, though she just has regular, terrestrial radio. 

However, on Sunday mornings, it doesn't matter which car we take... because when driving to Valleydale Church (an sbc fellowship) on Sunday morning, I always end up turning the station to Magic 96.5.  The reason?  At 9am, the start a reply of American Top 40 with Casey Kasem, from at least 20, many times 30 years ago.

Don't know how long Magic 96.5 has been doing it, but its a total delight to hear it, even if only for the 15 minutes it takes to get to the church from The Cabana.  Its a 4 hour broadcast, so usually we can catch some of the Top Ten as we are headed from church to wherever lunch will be that day. 

And if there is one thing I've truly figured out, its that music from the early 80s... well, it absolutely blew.  It was terrible.  For every great band with great hits like Hall & Oates or Fleetwood Mac, you had a dozen one hit wonders like Marty Balin, Champaign, Tierra or Franke & the Knockouts.  All singing songs that I'd never heard of.

One episode had Rupert Holmes follow up hit to "Escape (the pina colada song)", a little ditty called "Him".  It was terrible.  And the first hit from Tommy Tutone... no, not "867-5309 (Jenny)"... instead it was a snappy little song called "Angel Say No".  And it was terrible. 

Heard this 1982 song from this chick named Patrice Rushen.  Her song was called "Forget Me Nots", but when it came on, I was completely confused, as the beginning sounded just like a Will Smith hit, that being the title track from "Men in Black".  Seems that Will Smith sampled "Forget Me Nots" for "Men in Black.'



Anyway, something I couldn't help but notice was that music in 1982 is a lot like today... a few gems surrounded by a whole lot of crap.  Like I said, back then, Hall & Oates, The Eagles, Eddie Money, even Olivia Newton John, was still making great music.  And a whole lot of stuff around it not only sucked, but was completely forgettable.  I mean, I pride myself on knowing a lot about music and musical randomness from the 70s, 80s and 90s, but I have never heard of Charlie Dore and "Pilot of the Airwaves", or "Tired of Toeing the Line" by Rocky Burnett, and though I've heard of Boz Scaggs, what is "Jojo"?  And The Alan Parsons Projects had more hits that "Eye in the Sky", and they both managed to stink?

And today?  You've got great artists like Adele, Usher and maybe even Bruno Mars and Katy Perry, artists that we'll probably remember in 2041 while listening to Ryan Seacrest's Top 40 flashbacks on Sunday mornings.  But surrounding them, you've got forgettable sound-alike artists like Lupe Fiasco?  Rick Ross?  What the crap is a Wiz Kalifia?   And the fact that Ke$ha had not 1, but TWO songs in 2011's Top 100 of the year... oy vay. 

Sorry.  Didn't mean to diatribe... but I still believe that 1990 to 1995 was the Greatest. Era. of Music.  Ever.  One of these days I'll defend that position, until them just assume I'm right.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

you don't wanna miss a thing

The hard part of blogging 31 straight days is that when you right something that feel is pretty good, you are afraid people will miss it because they many not check it everyday...

The first lesson is... check it every day!

However, since I know that's asking alot... here's what you might have missed in the first 7 days of The July 31, my attempt at 31 straight days of blogging.

Day One... Kicking off The July 31 with a few Monday funnies in "funny picture monday"

Day Two... The Clouds review of the new Disney Pixar movie "Brave"

Day Three... Celebrating the 4th of July with a scene from my 77th favorite movie of all time, i

Day Four... In "cap says", just another quick USA! moment

Day Five... Who puts bacon on an ice cream sundae?  That would be Burger King.

Day Six... In a random blog, a list of my goal failures, a review of "Fright Night" and the best popsicles ever.

Day Seven... A nostalgic look at the great deals offered by Columbia House back in the day, in "8 tapes for just one penny!"

The July 31 Day Eight

Saturday, July 07, 2012

8 tapes for just one penny!

From the category of "I didn't write it, but I wish I hadda..."--from the geniuses of Mental Floss, its the story of the method to which I owned not only Huey Lewis & the News' "Fore!", but also Janet Jackson's "Control".  On cassette, mind you. 

If you grew up in the pre-MP3 era, chances are you had at least one go-round as a member of Columbia House’s mail-order music club. Who could turn down the allure of eight compact discs (or 11 record albums or cassette tapes) for just a penny? It would be stupid not to join up!

A few months of automatic shipments later, you probably ended up like a lot of members did:  as a no-income 14 year old who owed Columbia House $47 for unwanted Sir Mix-a-Lot CDs.

Let’s take a look at a few lingering questions about the music club.

How did the Columbia House business model work?

The underlying model for Columbia House was a pretty simple setup known as negative option billing. Basically, once you sign up for a membership in a club or service, you start getting monthly shipments unless you expressly tell the club you don’t want them. Of course, you also get the bill.

Negative option billing has actually been illegal in Ontario since 2005, but it’s still legal in the United States. There are a few caveats, though. The Federal Trade Commission requires that any club or service offering a negative option plan must clearly and conspicuously indicate minimum purchase obligations, cancellation procedures, the frequency with which members must reject shipments, and how to eventually cancel a membership when they enroll new members.

The FTC really drops the hammer on any company that doesn’t comply with these regulations. In 2009 it reached a $1 million settlement with the online company Commerce Planet, which had been offering a “free” online auction kit while also signing customers up for a recurring $59.95 “online supplier” program.

How did Columbia House make any money while giving away so much music?

Columbia House and competitor BMG brought in a tons of gross revenue — as late as 2000, the two companies were grossing $1.5 billion a year. But even with negative option billing bringing in cash from club members who forgot to return their rejection forms, Columbia House operated on a seemingly tight margin.

Columbia House and BMG had some fairly clever ways to save cash, though. Until 2006, the record companies had never actually secured written licenses to distribute the records it sent to club members.

Instead, the clubs saved the hassle (and the expense) by paying most publishers 75% of the standard royalties set by copyright law. The clubs argued that since the publishers were cashing their discounted checks, they were submitting to “implied” licenses.

Music publishers didn’t love this arrangement, but for decades it was pretty tough to fight back against the mail-order clubs. As some of the biggest pre-Internet retailers, the clubs held enormous power over the music market. According to a 2006 Billboard article, if a publisher complained, the clubs would simply stop carrying their records.

On top of that, the clubs generally weren’t buying their records from labels and then selling them. Instead, the clubs would acquire the master tapes of records and press their own copies on the cheap.

Moreover, remember those “bonus” or “free” records you got for signing up for the clubs? The clubs generally didn’t pay any royalties at all on those, which further slashed their costs.

In the end, all these little factors saved a ton of money. In his 2004 book The Recording Industry, Geoffrey P. Hull took a look at the economics of the clubs. He estimated that the cost to the clubs of a “free” disc was only around $1.50, while a disc sold at full price cost the club anywhere from $3.20 to $5.50. Hull did the math and realized that even if only one of every three discs a club distributed sold at the $16 list price, the club would still end up making a margin of around $7.20 on each sold disc. Hull explains that retail stores were hard pressed to make a margin of even $6.50 per sold disc, so it’s easy to see how the clubs stayed afloat even with their massive marketing and advertising costs.

Did anyone really, really take advantage of those introductory offers?

Joseph Parvin of Lawrenceville, NJ, was undoubtedly the patron saint of anyone who ever wanted to stick it to a music club for receiving an unwanted record.

In March 2000, the 60-year-old Parvin admitted that he had used 16 post office boxes and his own home address to fleece Columbia House and BMG out of 26,554 discs during a five-year span in the 90s.  He pleaded guilty to a single count of mail fraud.
Oddly, the New York Times story on Parvin's plea included a story of another scammer who was nearly as prolific.  Just five months earlier, David Russo pleaded guilty to stockpiling 22,000 CDs using a similar scheme.  He then sold the booty at flea markets.

What about Columbia House's old rival, BMG?

This may come as a shock to your circa-1994 self, but Columbia House and BMG are part of the same company now.  In 2002, Columbia House's then owners, Sony and AOL Tim Warner, sold a majority stake of the company to the Blackstone Group... Sony and AOL maintained a 15% share between them.

In 2005, Blackstone again flipped Columbia House to the German media giant Bertelsmann, the owner of BMG, for a reported $400 million. After a series of further transactions, Columbia House is now situated in the portfolio of Direct Brands, Inc., a direct marketer whose other holdings include the Book-of-the-Month Club.

Can I still order music from Columbia House?

You’re about two years too late. The merged version of Columbia House and BMG, the BMG Music Group, quit selling music on June 30, 2009. (Apparently digital music wasn’t just some silly fad.) Direct Brands still operates a business under the Columbia House name, but don’t expect the latest music to show up at your door. The revamped company sells DVDs and Blu-Ray discs.

* * *

Did any of you end up owing way too much money to a music club? Do you remember your first eight CDs?

Read the full text here:
--brought to you by mental_floss!

The July 31 Day Eight

Friday, July 06, 2012

missed goals, popsicles and vampires named jerry

I tend to make goals and not see them to completion. Many times, I get part of the way there, and then have a misstep, finding myself struggling to get back to what it was I was doing and then just forgetting the whole thing.

A short list of a few things I've set myself up to do, and have failed miserably include:

  • Watching all the movies on the AFI Top 100 Movies of All Time... I've still only seen maybe half of them. Three are on my DVR, and have been for a year.
  • Listing my Top 100 Favorite films, one by one, on this here website... I got 19 movies into it, then left the project, returned, re-did it, got four movies in, then stepped back again
  • Doing a virtual "bike tour", meaning riding enough miles on a stationary bike to get me from my home (then located across town) to New York City--I biked enough miles to literally get me on the campus of Atlanta's Georgia Tech University
  • Watching all the movies in Disney's Animated Canon... I got about six movies in, and forgot to blog about any of them.
  • Cleaning The Cabana up
  • Cleaning our back room
  • Scanning about 300 pictures that I need to put away
  • Listing my Top 100 Coolest Things from the previous year... in my defense, this usually gets accomplished, but over the last few years, its not been completed in January or even March, but sometimes mid-summer, and last year, for 2010, in December. And I'm only 20 things into 2011's list.

Now, this isn't a "self-help" post, nor do I plan on making any commitments to you about how I'm going to change my life and get better at such things... when I can get a project done quickly, I'm like a madman sometimes, letting myself be consumed by the project itself until I've found a satisfactory conclusion.

So, I'll continue to blog, I'll continue to do what I do, and yes, one day I will see all the films on the AFI list, one day I plan on not only listing my 100 favorite films of all time, but my actual list of 500 films of all time (and that list does exist), I will see all of the animated films in Disney's canon, I'll get that back room cleaned up, I'll get The Cabana spic and span, those pics will get scanned, and my 100 Coolest List will be revealed, little by little. The biking may or may not happen.
And since I've got your attention...

I had Steel City Pops a few days ago. This is another reason by the terrorists hate us... someone felt the need to combine two words that apart were probably just fine: "gourmet" and "popsicle". Did we really need this? Probably not. Am I glad we have it? Abso-stinkin'-lutely. I had a couple of coconuts, complete with flakes in it. The peanut butter popsicle, while not life changing, was still very good. There is a pineapple jalapeno flavor, but I had none of it. Not a jalapeno fan, but others that had them told me they thought it was great--very pineappley, with just a bit of heat.

Got Campbell on my own tonight... first Friday of every month, The Lovely Steph Leann goes off to Estrogenapalooza, or "Hobby Night" at Valleydale Church (an sbc fellowship).  That means Campbell and me hang out until about midnight before Mommy comes home, I can hand him off to her and go to bed.  I try to find that fine line between handing him off as soon as she comes in the door versus giving her a few minutes to breathe before I give him over.  Now, when she comes home at 430p, I try to give her at least 30 minutes, maybe 45.  At midnight, when I have to be at work the next morning at 430a, all bets are off... the door opens, she says, "Hey, I..." and she has a baby in her hand, and my head is on my pillow in the next 50 seconds.  I'm such a good Dad.

Getting Campbell means he goes to four different places... from the bouncy seat to the swing seat to the floor playmat to my arms and back again.  This also means that I try to take in some movies, with sometimes a 2 hour movie taking me 4+ hours to watch.  When I watched the TV mini-series version of Stephen King's "The Stand", which was 4 parts at 2 hours each, it took me about 3 weeks.

I would not say such things if I were yoooooooouuuuu....
I also watched the remake of "Fright Night" both last Thursday and this Tuesday (no, not as in I saw it twice, but as in, it took me those two days to watch the whole thing.)  And frankly, the movie is pretty terrible.  I vaguely remember the original, with Prince Humperdinck as the vampire who lives next door to Charley, played by B-List C-List D-List M-List actor William Ragsdale and future "Married: With Children" neighbor Amanda Bearse.  I do remember that movie being really scary, funny and engrossing... Charley knows Jerry, the neighbor, is a vampire, but can't get anyone to understand or believe him.  I enjoyed it, albeit I was 12. 

The new one?  It was stupid.  Its got Colin Farrell as the vampire neighbor, with Anton Yelchin (that kid from Star Trek) as Charley.  It starts out well enough, but quickly evolves into a predictable mess where no one is interesting, the story isn't engaging and frankly, you could care less if anyone lives or dies. 

Okay, so today's post check-list... missed goals, check... Popsicles, check... keeping the kid, check... bad vampire movies, check... You ever tell stories that start out one way and end up in a completely different direction than what you thought?  Yeah.  Me too.

Now, excuse me while I continue watching "Eat, Pray, Love".  I wish I were kidding.  Not sure I'll make it through half of it, because Julia Roberts has spent the first 30 minutes of this movie whining incessantly.  Its like I'm watching "Hope Floats 2: Destination Europe", with James Franco replacing Harry Connick Jr.

The July 31 Day Six

Thursday, July 05, 2012

a bacon sundae thursday

When I heard Burger King was doing a Bacon Sundae as part of their summer menu, part of me was completely grossed out, and the other part of me was kind of excited--yet none of me was surprised.  Our nation has become obsessed with nachos, bacon and fro-yo, though popsicles and cupcakes are trending hard by now.

Of course, this is the same company that had this in their window for a
day or so
Naturally, I had to have one.  I stopped at The BK a week or so ago just for this purpose, but there was a sign on the door that said "closed for store meeting", or something to that effect.  Naturally, my hopes were dashed...

So today,  I stopped by during lunch, and lo and behold, they are open.  They have these great video menu boards, kinda like The Rave Motion Picture Theater... the BK videos change and show new stuff, but no mention of the bacon sundae. 

I ordered my #1 meal, a Whopper with cheese, mayo, mustard and ketchup only, and patiently waited.  She asked me if I wanted a small, medium or large, and I've learned at BK, and also at Arbys and a few other places, you say "SMALL", or you will be given a 32+ ounce drink that poses for a medium, maybe even a 40+ ounce drink as a large--and these don't fit in your typical cup holder.

Before I paid up, I asked, "I reckon you don't have the bacon sundae, do you?"  She said, "Yes, we have it."  And without haste, I immediately said, "Yeah, gimme one of those!"

I got my food a few minutes later, and then stood in the drink line... they have one of those new fangled big Coke machines that only has one single dispensing spout... but 110 or more different flavors, with a touch screen so you can select the kind of Coke or Sprite or Fanta or Mello Yello or Dr. Pepper or Grapico or whatever you want.  I preferred Vanilla Coke myself, one of my all time favorite beverages. 

It took a while to get to it, though, as what usually happens at these machines was happening here... an older couple was standing in front of it, trying to figure out how to get a glass of Coke.  And they stood, fidgeting, pushing buttons for several minutes until they finally got what they needed--by that time, the line was seven or eight people deep, like we were at the dining hall of Shocco Springs BCM retreat or something.

I waited patiently for my Bacon Sundae, and finally she brought it over.  Looked delicious scrumptious tasty interesting.  Sat down at the little bar counter by the window, bit into my Whopper with Cheese, mayo, mustard and ketchup only, and found that it was just a Whopper with mayo, mustard and ketchup only.   Not deterred, and really not bothered by it, I just went to the counter and simply said, "Ma'am... can I have a slice of cheese?"  She said, "They forgot to put it on your sandwich?" and I nodded, with a smile, "Yes ma'am.  You can just hand it to me on a napkin or with your own hands, I don't really care either way."  As she went to get my cheese, the lady behind me grunted, "You paid fo' it, you should be gettin' it..."  And I did.

I had already eaten most of my fries while standing at the counter awaiting my Bacon Sundae, so I got through my burger quickly... and then, the dessert.  I opened up the lid of the sundae container, and stared at it.  It was simply soft serve ice cream with mocha sauce and caramel sauce drizzled all over it... and with some chips of bacon sprinkled on top and just under the ice cream surface, and to top it off, one strip of bacon standing straight up, like a pole waiting for a flag of obesity to be raised.

My first bite didn't have any bacon in it at all--it was a "Control" bite.  Having seen Mythbusters enough, I knew this was important to have a starting point for comparison.  My next bite, however, had the bacon bits in it.  And it was this strange mix of a hot summer day's dessert relief and an early morning visit to Waffle House.  I don't know how else to describe it.

Another bite, than another, as the bacon, the chocolate, the caramel and the ice cream all blended together and it suddenly became a harmony, albeit unexpected, of flavor.  Finally, about 1/3 of the way into the sundae, I pulled out the bacon strip and used it as a scoop for some ice cream, much like it was a fry diving into a Wendy's Frosty. 

Its interesting to note that I think it would have been better if the bacon itself had been better. I rather enjoyed the mixture of odd flavors, but had this been a Cracker Barrel, or even a Waffle House, where bacon is something they do like no one can, it would have been magnificent... as it was, it was pretty good.

It runs about $2.50 or so, only one size, and tops out at around 510 calories, 18 grams of fat and 60 grams of sugar... lucky for me, though, I wasn't going to gorge myself, so I only ate a little less than half... giving me around 190 calories, 7 grams of fat and 27 grams of sugar. 

I win! 

Excuse me... I have to visit the bathroom.

The July 31 Day Five

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Monday, July 02, 2012

the brave review

Way back in the day, like, a few years ago, Pixar was giving an update on it's upcoming films.  Toy Story 3 was in the wings, Cars 2 was on the horizon, there were rumors of a Monster's Inc sequel (prequel?), and two films that no one knew anything about--"Newt" and "The Bear and the Bow".

Well, I think "Toy Story 3" ended up doing okay, putting tears in eyes the likes of which we had not seen since... well, "Up".  "Cars 2" was a slight disappointment to say the least, and I'm among many that are pumped for "Monsters University" coming in 2013.

"Newt"?  It was the story of 2 newts, the last 2 of a certain kind of newt on Earth... its up to them to ensure the continuation of the species.  Well, before "Newt" could really get off  the drawing board, a similar movie called "Rio" was released, spinning the tale of the last 2 of a certain kind of blue macaw on Earth.  So "Newt" was scrapped.

And that leaves "The Bear and the Bow", billed as "Pixar's first fairy tale", with "Pixar's first princess".  The trailers began to come out, and we saw this girl with flaming red hair racing through the woods, shooting arrows, and battling big bears (a bow?  a bear?  yeah!!). 

The film went through a slight change, removing the title "The Bear and the Bow" and replacing it with a simple "Brave".  As more trailers were released, we started seeing more characters, and even some comedy along the way... but it still looked like a huge adventure, this princess who doesn't want to be a princess, atop her horse, on some huge adventure, on a quest to... save the world?  save the kingdom?  win back a prince, because that would be twist, right? 

First, every Pixar movie begins with a short film... this was called "La Luna", and its a bit unusual, maybe different from any other Pixar short I've seen.  That notwithstanding, its a great little film.  Its visually beautiful, and the story is charming and sweet. 

By the way, the whole archery thing?  Its part of the story... but not a big
part, not like you'd think, after all the pictures of Merida holding a bow
Then when Brave opens, its kind of exciting.  Pixar movies are like that... there is this sense of anticipation, and they do a good job of not releasing plots to their movies until they come out (remember "The Incredibles"?  No one knew what that movie was about until it premiered, and it was well worth the wait), and Brave is no different.

The animation is, for lack of a better word, stunning.  Sometimes when the landscape rushes forward and crests a mountain, its not hard to think you are looking a real life shot, not a computer animated drawing. 

The first part of the movie is exactly what you are hoping for... set in the Scottish countryside, within a peaceful kingdom and a huge castle, there's a princess, the flaming red haired Merida, who is a part of a royal family which includes her big, obnoxious father and her loving, but overbearing mother... and her silly triplet younger brothers who don't speak, but instead do nothing but cause trouble via pranks and mischief.

As you can tell from the trailers, a contest is held to "win her hand in marriage", with the nearby kingdoms bringing forth three complete dunderheads to compete.  And Merida decides to... well, win her own hand to keep from having to marry anyone until she's ready.

The triplets... also become part of "the twist"
The movie goes from there, as you can probably guess how she does in the contest, her being an expert archer and all.  The relationship between Merida and her mom breaks down completely, Merida flees... and then...


...well, then, this leads to a scene that I can only describe as a "crossroads", in which the film could have gone like, five different directions.  If you have seen the film, the scene I am describing involves the old woman and the wood carvings--that should be vague enough for those who haven't seen it to not be spoiled.

And the direction it takes... well, I wasn't expecting it.  Not at all.  I pride myself at kind of picking up on where movies are going, perhaps how they might end, and usually I'm pretty good at seeing a twist coming... this twist?  Did not see it coming... Not. At. All.

This twist defines this movie.  And how you react to this twist, how you take what happens after that old woman and the wood carvings will determine how you feel about this movie.  It caught me completely off guard, and it took me the second half of the movie to digest the twist.  Upon reflection, I'm okay with it. 

But I can totally see how someone would love it... or hate it.  I dunno.  I don't know what else to tell you without spoiling the film! 

The imagery of this movie is spectacular, Merida is very likable, and the cast, somewhat smaller than many Pixar films, is splendid.  There are lots and lots of laughs, especially from the triplets, and the voice cast is also excellent--Billy Connelly is King Fergis, Emma Thompson is Queen Elinor and somewhat unknown actress Kelly MacDonald does a fine job as Merida... the pacing of the movie is good, as it never drags, and the laughs are suprisingly aplenty... and, Pixar's first butt shot.  Or butts shot.

This is safe for kids, as you'd expect from Pixar, but there are a few scenes that might be a bit frightening for younger children.  Language is never a problem, and remember, expect the twist to knock you for a loop.

the july 31 day two

Sunday, July 01, 2012

funny picture monday

Last summer, I started an ambitious project called "The Summer of Blogging", with the intent of blogging just about every day from Memorial Day to Labor Day.  I failed, needing about 90 posts to hit the goal, and ending up with something like 78 or so. 

So I chose not to do that this time around... with a kid pooping three times a day and drooling four gallons every few hours, plus work being extremely busy, plus a new DFC Season to prepare for, plus a podcast, plus a darling wife to please, things are hectic... but as I approach 900 posts, and having just past 7 years on the blog (900?  7 years?  surely I don't have that much to say?), I notice that I go longer stretches here and there between posts.

That's not to say that having over a week to absorb my tribute to my best mate Wookiee is a bad thing... but let's take July and catch up, shall we?

Its not The Summer of Blogging, but it is The July 31... that's original, ain't it?  I had just typed "The 31 Posts of July", but deleted it immediately... in addition to being cliche and crappy, it was cumbersome.

So, Day One of The July 31... what to talk about?  Tomorrow is Monday, so let's go the funny route. 

Lest you think I made this up, or this is a fake, a la Saturday Night Live's "Colon Blow" sketch, then just know I found the actual Colon Flow website.  This is a real product. 

So I'm running into The Dollar Tree a week or so ago, and I come across this sign.  I reckon I know what I'm cooking for dinner tonight!!!

Was eating breakfast at the McDonald's in Wal-Mart, and saw this sign.  This looks fairly disgusting.  Not as disgusting as the Burger King Bacon Sundae looks, though I actually want to try the Bacon Sundae. 

The Bacon Sundae is a real thing, by the way.


I thought this was a cute little onesie... but that is one long, long birthday celebration.

And finally... while visiting JustFish and Kelly for a Bible Study, I had to run to... where else, Wal-Mart.  In Moody.  And I caught a bit of this guy.  Washing his car.  In the Wal-Mat parking lot.  At 6pm on a Sunday evening. 

That's Moody, Alabama.

Day One of The July 31