Showing posts with label General Ridiculousness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label General Ridiculousness. Show all posts

Monday, August 23, 2010

80s and 90s Sugar High

Sometimes we all look back and cringe just a bit at the sugary garbage we ate as children. Though it may still hold some nostalgic appeal, it’s tough to defend some of the candy we so adored as kids. You would think we were all spent a significant portion of our youth drifting into diabetic shock--how else to explain the pure sugar our parents pushed down our throats? I can only assume they had no orange juice on hand and had to save our lives with the cunning use of Pixie Sticks. There’s just no other explanation for willingly serving your child the equivalent of the contents of your sugar bowl.

For those of us who now work with or have children of our own, we know the lure of bribery is one we cannot always ignore. Do your homework? Have some Nerds! Clean your room? Help yourself to the Fun Dip. Sure, it’s morally ambiguous, but it works. Sometimes, you’ve just got to give in and let the kids be kids. In this case, that means our parents allowed us to hype ourselves up on a diet of pure sugar only to crash later with unforeseen consequences of immeasurable crankiness. We loved them for that moment in which they relinquished the candy, though, and that’s what really counts.

We ate all sorts of processed sugar masquerading as innocent snacks, but here are a few of the sweetest culprits:

Pixy Stix
Possibly the worst offender, Pixy Stix were composed of little more than colored sugar. Apparently an acceptable snack consists of taking pure sugar and a dab of food coloring and calling it a kid-friendly nosh. The worst of the worst prize went to the giant-size straw version, which we can only imagine contained a full two-pound bag of refined sugar.

Fun Dip

What better to dip candy in than candy? It’s a perfect solution to all your dipping needs. Simply take sugar molded into a solid mass and dip it into its granulated counterpart. Delicious.


Nerds may have been glorified color-coated rock candy, but we can award some credit where due for delicious flavor combinations. Nerds conveniently packaged two complementary flavors in a single box, allowing us to ingest our flavor sugar with a well-balanced palette.

If you thought it was kind of gross simply to consume sugar-laden hard candy, imagine adding an element of extreme germ exposure to the mix. The problem with Jawbreakers lay in the fact that they were simply too large to be consumed in a single sitting. The result? Days of your giant candy hanging out in a bowl or similar open-air receptacle, collecting delicious dust mite seasoning mix.

Pop Rocks

Pop Rocks have been available since the 70s, but their popularity saw a resurgence in the 80s following their restock on candy store shelves. The candy suffered briefly from the implications of an urban legend that claimed the candy could make your stomach explode when mixed with soda. It can’t, for the record, but it still does work to scare children as effectively as it did back then.

Warheads/Cry Babies

Children have a naturally competitive nature, so it’s little surprise that they became the target market for discomfort-themed food. It may not sound especially pleasant to endure a painfully sour candy throughout the dissolution of its coating, which is because it’s not. At all. Not even a little bit. With children, though, the natural playground spirit of competition made candies like Warheads a huge hit--not to mention a major indicator of elementary school street credibility.

Sour Patch Kids

Sour Patch Kids represent sour flavor in its slightly less repugnant form--as a sugar coating over a chewy fruit snack-type candy. It admittedly burns off a taste bud or two, but it’s a small price to pay for coolness in front of your pro-sour friends.

Push Pops/Ring Pops

Of course, no discussion of sugary 90s candies would be complete without mention of two of the most traded and widely respected hard candies on the playground market: push pops and ring pops. Both caused unnecessarily sticky messes and had limited functionality outside of their general novelty appeal, but who cares? They were delicious in their own sugary way. Though, to be fair, they did give a generation of young girls very unrealistic expectations about the size of a rock they could be expecting on their engagement ring.

It should go without saying that I just can’t discuss 90s-themed sugar highs without playing the eponymous song from Empire Records. All of the sugary sweetness, none of the calories. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Lurlene McDaniel Books

If you’ve ever watched a Kleenex-depleting Lifetime movie of the week and wondered what sparked within you this desire to be entertained by tragic life circumstances, it’s pretty likely Lurlene McDaniel and her deliberately tear-inducing young adult books can shoulder some of the blame. A satisfying cry can do all of us some good at times, but even the most fervently feeling among us have our limits. It may seem sort of fun at first to wallow in tragedy and despair, but after forty books featuring taglines about teens who “died too young” or “never had a chance,” it becomes a tad tiresome.
McDaniel’s loosely related teen book series operated on the principle that if one is good, several dozen must be better. Quantifying death and heart-wrenchingly tragic disease is a major undertaking--no in-bad-taste death pun intended--and apparently a challenge to which Lurlene McDaniel saw fit to rise. Even her biography on her personal website acquiesces that parents often find the themes of her books incredibly depressing and tiresome, which doesn’t sound like much of a positive sales pitch. In defense of her sob-story novels, the Random House website offers the following quote from McDaniel:

“I write the kind of books I write because I want to help kids understand that nobody gets to pick what life dishes out to them. What you do get to choose is how you respond to what life gives you. No matter what happens, life is a gift. And always worth living."

When she puts it that way sounds like an admirable endeavor--who doesn’t want to read an uplifting story full of promise and hope? Unfortunately, the books don’t always frame their inevitable tragedies in that light. McDaniel’s claim that people don’t get to choose their lot in life is certainly true and makes for a good writing philosophy in theory, though in practice her books are the stuff excessive juvenile hypochondria is made of.

I was, admittedly, a fairly devoted fan in my teen and preteen years. I can understand the mysterious allure of McDaniel’s themes. In some ways, her books romanticized the tragedy of young people suffering from life-threatening illnesses, casting them on the cover in soft-focus lighting with pensively forlorn facial expressions. While these books at times admirably offered a realistic view of teenagers with major medical issues, in other instances they veered into adolescent soap opera stock material. McDaniel clearly did put in the time and effort to research the medical terminology and circumstances, but all the underlying validity and realism in the world can’t save a premise about two friends vying for the same heart transplant.

In the case you never had the pleasure of crying your eyes out over one of these disease-stricken young adult novels, here’s a handy illustrative guide to their dripping sentimentality:

1. The books generally have a title a la Movie of the Week; something like She Died Too Young, Mother, Help Me Live, or Sometimes Love Isn’t Enough. Those are actual titles from McDaniel’s official book list--I couldn’t make this stuff up.

2. Many of Lurlene McDaniel’s novels begin with an average, healthy teenager who spontaneously develops a life-threatening condition. Though McDaniel does devote a fair amount of attention to teenagers born with some sort of medical issue, these cases are never as terrifying to healthy readers as those who go from playing soccer and shopping with friends to spending weeks at a time hooked up to monitors in the hospital. The element of “Oh-my-gosh-this-could-happen-to-me” is alluring in a terrifying way, and is justifiably one of the main criticisms issued by parents of young readers.

3. Cheesy dialogue and drama-ridden brooding is a key element of any good McDaniel work. To illustrate, observe the following passage from Reach for Tomorrow:

They returned to the canoe, got in, and paddled in silence back to the place they'd shoved off from. Once on land, Meg caught his hand. "Thank you, Eric. I really mean that."

"Um--yeah, sure," he said, but he looked totally confused in the pale light of the half moon.

Meg stood on tiptoe and kissed him lightly on the mouth. Then she turned and hurried back toward her cabin, leaving Eric standing on the shore, shaking his head.

In nearby shadows, Morgan stood watching. So Eric had made a move and Meg had gone for it. Morgan felt an edgy spark of jealousy, an emotion he hadn't felt since before Anne died. It's a free world, he told himself. She can do anything she wants, be with anybody she wants. Still, his insides simmered.

Whether you loved or hated these emotional novels, McDaniel’s various series and stand-alone books were a young adult literary phenomenon. The popularity of her books is undeniable, offering compelling evidence that young girls love to curl up with a good sob story or forty. And in case any of you aspiring writers out there are seeking some hope and encouragement, you may want to consider taking on the genre; McDaniel’s books have been deemed so influential that Six Months to Live made it into the Library of Congress time capsule to be opened in 2089. That’s either very reassuring or very depressing--I haven’t decided yet. Either way, you may want to try your hand at cry-fest fiction--if you fail, there’s always a market for Hallmark and Lifetime Movie Network scriptwriters.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Kid Cuisine

Note: Sadly, I could not find a good picture of the old school packaging featuring 90s mascots BJ and The Chef. You will have to settle for this more recent--and of course, vastly inferior--rendition. I apologize for the visual inconvenience.

As they say, there's just no accounting for taste. Particularly in children, as they usually either a) have none or b) are not voting party members in the menu-planning decision process. In either case, kids are wont to eat a variety of overprocessed food that most adults find revoltingly unappetizing at best. I don't see many people around my office brown bagging Lunchable stackables or fruit Gushers, but you can bet their children would be psyched to gain some cafeteria cred from packing them.

For kids, novelty is a major factor in the appeal of any type of food. Taste and presentation are relegated to afterthoughts when effective marketing and cutesy cartoon mascotry are in play. To a child, a flavor vaguely reminiscent of sawdust and onionskins is a small price to pay; if the cartoon penguin tells you to do it, you do it. It's that simple.

Kid Cuisine debuted in 1990 as a niche product claiming to offer quick and easy kid-friendly meals. These prepackaged frozen dinners a la Lean Cuisine featured standard children's meal fare such as macaroni and cheese or chicken nuggets. In typical frozen meal fashion, Kid Cuisine consumers usually sacrificed flavor and taste for convenience. KC dinners were far from culinary masterpieces, but they were the lazy parent's and unskilled babysitter's saving grace at mealtime.

In their early days, however, ease was the primary redeeming quality of these questionable dinners. The compartmentalization of the microwave-safe trays was always sketchy if best, leading to less than savory results after heating. It was not uncommon to open the microwave door to a mysterious mishmash of food items overflowing from one pocket to the next. Even kids knew you weren't supposed to eat creamed corn on your brownie or mash green beans into your pizza. It simply isn't done.

Truthfully, the compartment crossover was not always such an issue; it's all part of the magic of each meal component tasting exactly the same. No matter what the dinner claimed to be on the outside packaging, the food always retained a taste markedly similar to the packaging it was nuked in. At the end of the day, pudding in your mac and cheese isn't so bad if it all has the same general flavor: mass-produced institutional. Yum.

To their credit, Kid Cuisines did come with a "Fun Pack," a small Cracker Jack prize-esque activity book filled with mini games or stickers. While the title "Fun Pack" may be slightly presumptuous, it did prove a popular addition to the frozen prepackaged food market. The only problem? These things come frozen. Those activity booklets were pretty chilly.

The meal's frozen nature also provided another dilemma: not all types of foods can and should be microwaved at the same level for the same amount of time. Kid Cuisine's one-size-fits-all approach meant that every item in the tray had to undergo the same degree of nukage. That meant a frozen corndog and a frozen Oreo got the same general heating treatment. Results? Major sogginess.

From a nutritional standpoint, these meals were far from well-balanced. To be fair, in the 90s the TV commercial version of a well-balanced breakfast included 2 eggs, toast, orange juice, bacon, potatoes, cereal, and milk, so maybe our portion perceptions were partially skewed. What passed Kid Cuisine quality inspector muster as side dishes would have made staunch starch enthusiasts blanch at the pure volume of complex carbohydrates per package. Even the most lenient and nutritionally ignorant of parents probably knew deep down that pasta, pudding, an Oreo, and some corn niblets does not a sound meal make.

Luckily, with the help of some lovable commercial mascots, kids will eat pretty much anything. Anthropomorphic penguin BJ and bear "The Chef" were more than eager to shove these calorie-laden celebrations of starch down our juvenile throats. I'd never considered myself endeared to BJ and The Chef until I learned they were more recently replaced with some ripoff penguin character, KC. Is nothing sacred? Who makes the food if there's no chef? Who, I ask you? It just doesn't add up.

Logic withstanding, someone (possibly replacement second-string penguin mascot KC) keeps churning out these meals. In case you were wondering, they are disgusting as ever. To save you from having to find out for yourself, here's an ad featuring KC and one of the most nutritionally questionable Kid Cuisine options yet: macaroni with squeezable cheese sauce topped off with a Fruit by the Foot knockoff. This is by no means current, but the product's downward spiral into deeper caloric jeopardy is amusing nonetheless. Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Indoor Play Places

For those of us who did not grow up in consistently temperate climates, our parents faced a serious conundrum: how to drain us of our boundless energy when the outdoor playgrounds were buried under six feet of snow or consumed by a mighty hurricane? Without the benefit of outside space with major running-around space capacity, it was difficult to sufficiently tire a kid out in time for naptime. What's an exhausted and weather-beaten parent to do?

Luckily, enterprising child-minded 90s entrepreneurs had the answer: indoor play places. In these colorful, kid-friendly enclosed playgrounds, masses of children had the opportunity to run wild to their hearts' collective content. Parents, by lucky virtue of their inability to fit in those constrictive plastic crawl tubes, were mercilessly spared and allowed to sit back and relax from the observation area. Overall, a win-win situation.

All it took was a quick removal of shoes to be stored in the play place cubbies and we were generally good to go. Crawling spaces, climbing ropes, ball pits, and slides awaited us at every visit, turning these indoor play spaces into popular venues for birthday parties and playdates. While their appeal waned in the late 90s and many chains merged and eventually filed for bankruptcy, I'd like to remember them as they were: chaotic, germ-ridden, and filled with screaming children. At least we have our memories.

Discovery Zone

For a brief period in the early-to-mid 90s, DZ play places were a major force, opening centers in cities across the US. These self-proclaimed "indoor fitness centers" for children boasted an array of climbing, swinging, and sliding apparatuses. Perhaps DZ got a bit greedy, as their haste in opening venue after venue left them in a relatively dire financial situation. In 1996, the company filed for bankruptcy, inspiring the more dominant Chuck E. Cheese to quickly gobble up DZ franchises. By the end of the decade, Discovery Zones were but a brief memory to most 90s children.

Despite their short-lived popularity, many of us still remember the colorful commercials and catchy jingles that impelled us to beg our parents for what we considered to be our right to Discovery Zone time. Though the company failed to live up to their self-generated hype over time, for a time their slogan was right on: "Where kids want to be." Or, perhaps more appropriately, "Where fed-up and exhausted parents want to bring them."

Chuck E. Cheese

Among the few free-standing play place chains to cross over to the new millennium, Chuck E. Cheese's aptly cheesy concept has served them well over the years. Despite the undeniably frightening full-size animatronic mouse music show accompanying their signature sit-down pizza meal, Chuck E. Cheese has enjoyed relative success in the children's entertainment industry for over 30 years. Aside from the standard climbing equipment and ball pits, the chain also featured a sizable arcade stocked with standard fare. You've got to commend their multi-faceted approach at entertaining young consumers, but those giant singing mice are essentially unforgivable. They will haunt your dreams.

McDonalds PlayPlace

Some of today's savvier and consumer-minded children may be appalled to know some of us actually held birthday parties at (gasp!) McDonalds, but back in the late 80s and early 90s the novelty of these indoor PlayPlaces made them an attractive venue for children's celebrations. The relative cheapness of McDonalds' PlayPlaces in comparison to stand-alone chains like Chuck E. Cheese lured in budget-conscious parents. We may not have known what was in the Chicken McNuggets (suspiciously not containing all-white meat chicken breasts until a few years ago, leading me to suspect they once potentially contained shoes and tire remnants) but we knew one thing: PlayPlaces are free, Chuck E. Cheese costs money. Done deal.

Leaps and Bounds

McDonalds Corp knew they couldn't give it all away for free though--especially not when they saw their PlayPlace competitors raking in the big bucks from their pay-for-play centers. In 1991, McDonalds opened the pilot "Leaps & Bounds" center in an 11,000 square foot strip mall space Naperville, IL. The experiment was short-lived--the chain merged with the now-defunct Discovery Zone a few years later--but it was fun while it lasted.

Circus Pizza/Showbiz Pizza

These chains were somehow linked to the Chuck E. Cheese empire, though my research skills are a bit too hazy (read:lazy) to tell you exactly how. They featured the same basic Chuck E. Cheese prototype: arcade, ball bit, climbing zone, pizza, freaky animatronic performers. In case your memory needs some dusting off, here's a brief refresher course in the terrifying singing puppets: they were called the Rock-afire Explosion and you can see them in all of their horrific glory in the video above. Watch at your own risk: those things are creepy.

These play places varied significantly by region, so I imagine many of you grew up with different chains. Feel free to wax poetic in the comments section about your favorite mangy ball pit or sandbox station. These centers were popping up everywhere in the 90s, sometimes in the least expected places. Here, I'll get things started: my personal favorite was my family's annual stop at Grand Casino Hinckley in Minnesota--it may not sound like much of a place for children, but they had the play place to trump all other small-town isolated casino play places. To this day when I enter a casino, my instinct is not to sit down at the blackjack table but rather to ask the concierge for directions to the on-site enclosed play place. Screw slot machines: I want crawling tubes.

Okay, now it's your turn. Knock yourself out. Not literally, though. We don't have a brain-cushioning ballpit or recycled-tire floor here to break your fall.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Mr Sketch Scented Markers

There was nothing quite like fruit-scented marker sniffing to get the creative coloring time juices flowing. Sure, many of us ended up with an array of multicolored dots on the underside of our noses, but it was a minor price to pay for the sweet, sweet smell of cherries, lemons, and grapes. Our once neutral-smelling drawings were impressively transformed by Mr. Sketch, allowing us to create great aromatic works of art that bore olfactory resemblance to our supermarket produce sections. If you wanted to outline something in black, though, you had to be prepared to sniff at your own risk. Black licorice. Yech.

For a generation facing increasing concerns of huffing and household chemical abuse, it seems strange in retrospect that our parents and teachers once actively encouraged good old fashioned marker sniffing. Rubber cement and Sharpies were still no-nos, yet somehow these odoriferous drawing implements managed to fly quietly under the anxious anti-drug authority radar. Perhaps their non-toxicity played a role in their ubiquitous position on the parent-approved school supply list, but their addictive nature certainly likened them to the verboten.

There remains something sweetly (yes, sweetly--also pungently) naughty about inhaling these fruity marker smells. The markers held major kid appeal of color vibrancy alone, so the addition of a novel sensory stimulus was almost too much to handle. Imagine, you could now draw a lemon that smelled like a lemon. Was there no end to these incredible and undoubtedly necessary technological advances in school supplies? Forget pertinent socially conscious research on health and diseases--one sniff of these markers and I vowed to become a marker lab scientist.

The process of smellifying these markers remains a mystery to many of us former (excuse me, recovering) Mr. Sketch users. How exactly did this innovative marker producer squeeze that tantalizing aroma into this convenient tubular marker form? Is there some sort of fruit condensing machine? A scent extractor? While I still like to imagine a whimsical marker factory a la Dr. Seuss where colorfully-dressed workers load grapes and mangoes into shiny chrome machinery, from whose other end pops out perfectly apportioned scented markers.

In reality, the scentsational (scentsational! I'm on a roll!) smells of Mr. Sketch markers were purely chemical in nature. The giveaway? These art supplies smelled more strongly of fruit than actual fruit itself. It may not seem possible to get a more watermelony smell than that emanating from the fruit in the flesh (Flesh! Fruit! Puns!) but Mr. Sketch achieved the olfactorily impossible. Kudos, Mr. Sketch. You've out-fruited fruit.

Though not directly related to the quality of the fruity scents or ink quality, the name "Mr. Sketch" seems worth flagging as mildly suspicious. While it's clear the "Sketch" in "Mr. Sketch" refers to the art of drawing, the addition of the formal "Mr." title adds dubious implications about Mr. Sketch's credentials for spending long stretches of time with unsupervised children. Perhaps I'm just a cynic, but the name brings to mind images of disheveled trench-coat wearing men in windowless vans luring children from their playground activities with lollipops and Three Musketeers. While the unsavory (unsavory! These scent puns are out of control!) connotation is obviously not the intention of the Sanford company, it remains a bit troubling nonetheless. I don't have any children so perhaps I am not a reliable judge of caretaker quality, but I doubt I would let someone named "Mr. Sketch" interact with my children in their spare time. Just saying.

Fun-poking at the undeniably sketchy name aside, Mr. Sketch markers deserve recognition as a legitimate childhood phenomenon. These sets' ubiquitous presence in cubbies, art classrooms, backpacks, and playrooms made them a staple for the coloring-minded 90s child. Our parents and teachers knew these markers as veritable weapons in the war on our wavering attention spans; Mr. Sketch's deliciously fruity aroma could always occupy an otherwise cranky child in a pinch. Watermelon, lemon, cherries, and yes, even the ominously scented black licorice markers sufficiently won our limited juvenile focus.

Mr. Sketch allowed us to fixate on an unusual multitude of sensory stimuli: Sight, touch, smell, and for the not conventionally bright among us, taste. Thank goodness for non-toxicity. If our teachers, parents, and babysitters each had a nickel for every child who attempted to taste the fruity flavors of the rainbow by imprinting their tongues with the multi-hued slant tips of these markers, they would all be exceptionally rich individuals in their middle age. Instead, they will have to settle for the comforting knowledge that we at least did not poison ourselves with our curiosity. Not nickel per taste comforting, but it will have to do.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Children of the 90s is at a Work Conference...In the Meantime, Please Enjoy this Classic Post: I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up!

Children of the 90s is at a work conference this week with tragically limited internet and computer access. Take my word for it, it's totally tragic. I didn't want to leave my loyal readers in a bind, so I am pleased to present you from a classic Children of the 90s' post from way back when I was getting a whopping 14 hits a day.

I trust few enough of you have trudged through the extensive backlogs that this is almost like new. Almost. I should be back in full force by next week. Until then, enjoy the reruns! Hey, it's summertime. I've got to save the good stuff for sweeps. Thanks for your understanding--see you next week!

Looking for a surefire way to guarantee that no one will respect the precarious health of the elderly and to diminish the legitimacy of their tenuous medical state? Well, you're in luck! The Life Call corporation has already done it for you and has made it available in convenient late 80s/early 90s daytime television commercial slots. As the Life Call people sat around musing what was the possibly the way to least seriously depict the grave dangers associated with solo-dwelling senior citizens, they stumbled upon a foolproof formula for endless mockery and derision. How could we make light of such a tragic and serious risk? Well, I'll tell you how.

Yes, the Life Call people decided against working the "this is a serious life-saving product and should be presented as such" angle and instead opted to hire the campiest, chintziest elderly actors to produce embarrassingly low-budget dramatizations for their television advertisement. At least at the beginning, the fine print in the lower right-hand corner reads "dramatization". Whew, that was a close one. I was concerned that that woman had actually fallen and couldn't get up, and we were all just sitting around casually observing her in her dire state. At best, it was as if Life Call had raided a retirement home community theater troupe. Obviously, they had already blown their whole legitimate actor budget to hire concerned-looking family members and friends of the injured party. Thankfully, those characters had no lines or maybe we would have taken this thing less lightly.

Here is the ad, in all its glory:

Less widely mocked was the first guy, Mr. Miller, who acts his heart out (possibly, literally, considering his supposed ailment) describing his chest pains. However, our real heroine was Mrs. Fletcher, oh great utterer of redundant and unintentionally humorous phrases. The fictional Mrs. Fletcher croaked out a line that exceeds nearly any quote out of Bartlett's in immediate recognizability.

"I've fallen...and I can't get up!"

It was probably that second part that did in poor Mrs. Fletcher. Laying on the floor of her questionably empty room, walker askew, we could all clearly deduce that she had indeed fallen. Her apparent need for the Life Call system suggested to us that she was also likely unable to get up. Otherwise, she probably would have called up and said, "I've fallen! ...Oh, no, I'm fine, I'll get myself up in a jiffy. I just wanted someone to talk to because I'm lonely and live alone and can only communicate with my children, neighbors, and doctors through third party Life Call employees." But no, Mrs. Fletcher knew better than that. She had to do more than just explain that she had fallen, that part was clearly evident to any impartial observer. She needed to fully elucidate her situation by pointing out that not only had she fallen, but that she was at the same time unable to get up. Well, bless her heart, she certainly sold that line. Unfortunately, to children growing up in the 90s, it was probably the funniest thing that they had ever seen and/or heard.

We had all been told dozens of time to respect our elders. Parents and teaches explained to us that most senior citizens are viable and capable and deserve to be treated as human beings. We all bought that for about ten minutes, or at least the time elapsed between receiving that explanation and our initial viewing of the Life Call commercial. Though the commercial was marketed toward seniors as a tool to encourage their independence, to us it only cemented their status in our eyes as highly dramatic, accident-prone victims.

As if Life Call hadn't hammered the point home enough already with their melodramatic dramatizations, they also relied on the cheery host of the commercial to explain to us what we had just seen. "See?" She prompted condescendingly. "Protect yourself with Life Call and you're never alone!" For those of us unable to understand the complex plot twists and the nuanced acting of her preceding ad castmates, we could always rely on our Life Call pendant-sporting pal to restate the thesis of the commercial. And wasn't she recently "deathly ill"? Why, she looks great! We can only imagine that if it hadn't been for been those dashing pseudo-cop outfitted Life Call operators, her deathly illness would have led to, well, death.

Obviously at some point, Life Call realized their gaffe and sought a new direction with their advertising campaigns. No longer were they going to be victims of endless mockery. They were going to take a hard line with customers and depict true stories of Life Alert's life-saving capabilities:

Wait a minute. Didn't she just say she wasn't an actress? Well, then why is she being played by one in the dramatization? We thought you had seen the error of your ways, Life Call, but this dramatization of supposedly real-life events featured the same catchphrase as the original. Are we really to believe that this real live woman had seen the Life Call commercial so many times that she instinctively uttered their trademarked line to operators? Also, are to we to buy that someone with the foresight to purchase a Life Call Emergency Alert System was engaging in such irresponsible fall-prone behavior as reading a book and walking? At the same time? And another thing! Aren't those the doctor and telephone operator from the first commercial? Are you telling me we're using stock footage because we couldn't even afford to hire some new actors? You can even hear the choppy way they cut off the "Mrs. Fletcher" part of the operator's line to accomodate this allegedly new true story. Way to go, Life Call. You really caught yourself with that one.

Then again, their intention was not to catch themselves; it was to catch poor clumsy Mrs. Fletcher, or this new supposedly real-life non-actress knockoff of Mrs. Fletcher.

After all, they were the ones who had fallen.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Movie Montages

It's a prickly situation: you've brought your characters to a certain point, having effectively developed their hopes and dreams, but you aren't quite sure how to proceed in a time-efficient manner. Maybe you have to condense a year's worth of training into a three minute span. Perhaps you're looking to establish a motive for an otherwise inexplicably hardened criminal character. Or maybe, just maybe, a ragtag group of local kids just want to clean up the old rec center with a coat of fresh paint and a gloss of idealistic optimism. We can only hope.

Whatever the major plot hole, you can always enlist a dependable movie montage to plug these troublesome leaks. It's a sort of screenplay all-purpose grout to eliminate the cracks in between well-thought out plot points. We all know actual story development is tough--too tough, sometimes. Yes, we could probably have spent some time delving into the deeper issues and motivations at play, but montages do the trick in a pinch.

If you're looking to amp up your film's soundtrack, the montage is also a source of great musical inspiration. If you ever want anyone to listen to your movie's soundtrack while training for a marathon or somehow otherwise dreaming the impossible dream, it's imperative you back up your inspiring montage with an equally inspirational song. Imagine the Karate Kid montage without Joe Esposito's "You're the Best Around" blaring in the background. Nothing, right? Now add the song. Ahhh. Perfection.

Still lost on when to insert a montage into your roughly edited film project? Here are some handy hints from our friends from Team America: World Police:

If you're still looking for clarification on how to insert a cop-out montage to illustrate a major point in your film, try your best to adapt your montage vision to one of the following categories:


This is the most common montage, and with good reason: how else are you supposed to illustrate the ups and downs of a trying training period in a short period of time? Real time training footage would be brutal--watching people lift weights is, honestly, incredibly boring. Plus, I can do it at the gym for free. Even then, I'd prefer to have a pump-it-up song playing on my iPod. It just works.

The training montage has many recognizable hallmarks, such as general physical exercise, excessive sweating, and repeated near-miss attempts to achieve some seemingly unattainable martial arts move/dance step/boxing feat. This last device is supposed to leave us in suspense about whether or not our hero will reach this particularly challenging goal, but its presence in the montage is a sure sign they absolutely will.

As Seen In: The Karate Kid, Dirty Dancing, Girls Just Want to Have Fun, and of course, all of the Rocky Movies--they practically invented the inspirational training montage

Falling in Love

In real life, meeting your mate is rarely a linear process. In movies, however, we've got to keep things moving for the sake of our viewers' sanity. Instead of experiencing a series of ups and downs over a long period of time, some films conveniently repackage the lengthy process into a mere two or three minutes. It may not be entirely accurate, but it's can be significantly more palatable than watching the full drawn-out process post meet-cute.

As Seen In: The Lion King. Can you feel the love tonight? They could. Montage style.

It's All Good

Everything going well, but you don't know how to convey it to the audience? Don't worry, there's a montage out there for you. The "It's All Good" model was designed specifically to portray a general Era of Good Feelings in your story. It's pretty boring to just watch a successful business run its day-to-day operations, so why not invest in some cheesy cut-together footage of the whole gang high fiving at their victories? It sure beats watching them change the office thermostat and answer the phone.

As Seen In: Ghostbusters, subverted and played for laughs in The Naked Gun

Let's Build Something Together

This is a pure 80s montage trope, exuding cheesiness from its every frame. According to the background music, all it takes is "One Foot in Front of the Other" to call to arms your mismatched group of social outcasts. Apparently with enough editing, even the nerdiest among us can look like construction experts and painting pros.

The Revenge of the Nerds scene was mocked mercilessly in an episode of Family Guy where the guys try to fix a dilapidated bar. To be fair, Family guy mocks everything mercilessly and this montage totally deserved it. You can't put out something this cheesy without an openness to endless parody.

As Seen In: Revenge of the Nerds

Overcoming Obstacles/Achieving Once-Impossible Goals

I know, I know, it sounds suspiciously similar to the training montage, but bear with me here for a few moments as I take you on a journey through the magical world of meeting our potential by being our honest selves. Sounds boring, right? It is. that's exactly why we need a montage--to move things along at a watchable speed.

In some cases (see: Back to School, Legally Blonde, other school-heavy movies) a montage is really your only out. Studying in itself is not a suspenseful or exciting activity, so if can show a clock spinning past the hours that would really help move things along. There's only so long the audience will tolerate watching a main character read quietly to himself. Don't push it.

Not all examples are quite so low-key. In Teen Wolf, Scott believes in himself--basketball montage style--just enough to resist "wolfing out" during the big game. What's that? That made no sense? Don't worry, it doesn't help if you've seen the movie. That actually might just make it more confusing. Either way, Scott defies the standard werewolf-to-human degeneration of basketball prowess and wins the big game. Hooray!

As Seen In: Legally Blonde, Teen Wolf, Back to School

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Some of our Favorite Stars' Unlikely 80s and 90s Horror Roles

Sometimes we forget that it takes years of careful publicist-managed grooming to create a respectable public persona for an actor. Strange as it may seem now, many celebrities who we respect and admire for their legitimate talent were once groveling for B-movie parts. Hey, everyone's got to start somewhere. The bottom seems like as good a first step as any.

Admittedly, not all of the actors on this list are Oscar contenders, but no matter their current position on the fame totem pole, they've certainly come a long way since these early parts. The sheer number of actors who got their start slumming in campy horror flicks are too many to list in a single post, so I present to you a small entertaining slice of now-famous actors' early horror roles. Extra credit has been awarded for worst titles, least necessary sequels, best punny tagline, and cheesiest poster art*.

Jennifer Aniston: Leprechaun

It's a tale as old as time: someone steals an ornery leprechaun's gold coins, they lock him up, the new homeowners release him, and he wreaks havoc by going on a homicidal spree. Same old story. Well, it should be, at least, considering they made 5 follow-up sequels. The most recent (2003) is Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood. I can't believe I missed it.

Jennifer Aniston plays the new homeowner terrorized by the deviant little green guy. Lucky for her, she got her big break with Friends later that year. Without the Rachel role, who knows? She could have been starring in Leprechaun: Back 3 tha Hood.

Leonardo DiCaprio: Critters 3
In case you missed the first two installments, let me fill you in. There are these critters, see. And...that's it. The whole thing. A franchise is born.

Critters 3 is the first clip in this montage. DiCaprio's adorable. Almost as cute as the critters.

This is DiCaprio's first film, a breakthrough role in which he deftly maneuvers the role of the evil landlord's stepson. Spooky, right? This stepdad landlord is so evil that he gets comeuppance in the manner of being locked by DiCaprio in the basement with the critters. And you thought your family was dysfunctional.

Eva Mendes: Children of the Corn V: Field of Terror

I'll bet you never realized this film warranted so many sequels, but apparently these Children of the Corn have a lot of stories to tell. Eva Mendes had a major-ish role in this installment, playing a teenager who surrenders to the cult. She can't quite measure up to Alexis Arquette in the lead male role, but she has her moments.

Mariska Hargitay: Ghoulies

Really? Ghoulies? That' a movie? You know it's a top shelf kind of film when the cover has a low-budget monster popping out of a toilet. And the tagline "They'll get you in the end." Get it? Unfortunately. Really, that was the best they could do.

This. Is. Hilarious. If you're a Hargitay fan, I implore you to watch this. You won't be sorry.

Mariska Hargitay may have won us over as tough-on-sex-crimes officer Olivia Benson on Law and Order SVU, but back in 1985 she was accepting roles like "Donna in Ghoulies." You'd think having Jayne Mansfield for a mom would give you an in. You would be wrong.

Jim Carrey: Once Bitten

Aren't vampires hilarious? That was the central thesis of this 1985 vampire horror comedy starring Jim Carrey in his first major role. The plot is almost too ridiculous to warrant an in-depth study, but suffice it to say it was pretty terrible. At least it was a comedy: that's it's primary redeeming feature.

George Clooney: Return of the Killer Tomatoes and Return to Horror High

Clooney's lucky that he's got his good looks to fall back on: not all actors can achieve such monumental fame after starring in such humiliating horror sequels. I don't want to confuse you with too many clever plot details, so suffice it to say both movies involved an unnecessary revisiting of the first films' respectively ridiculous storylines. Things return.

Brad Pitt: Cutting Class

Get it? Cutting? These movie people are just too punny for words. This was Pitt's first major screen role, with his role as hunky high school basketball Dwight Ingalls establishing him as an up-and-comin hearthrob. Dwight Ingalls in possibly the most prototypical late 80s/early 90s movie character name: cheesy yet unlikely. I wonder if they have a mechanism where you can insert a normal-sounding name and then a corny 80s name like "Dash Harrington" or "Kassandra Kellogg" pops out.

Hilary Swank: Sometimes They Come Back Again

How's that for a sequel title? Sometimes They Come Back... Again. Someone on the writing team could use a refresher course on redundancy. Didn't they already come back? Is it really necessary to add that "again?" Especially when you've already got the "sometimes" in there to imply it happens periodically. It just highlights the fact that this movie is totally unnecessary. Well done.

Whatever my qualms with the title, it does have one redeeming quality: a future Oscar winner. Hilary Swank plays the main character's teenage daughter. I'd offer some more useful details, but to be honest I couldn't even make it through the synopsis. It's just that bad.

Katherine Heigl: Bug Buster and Bride of Chucky

I was going to put the Bug Buster trailer but it was so disgusting I thought it better to spare you. YouTube it at your own risk. If you are terrified of bugs like me, it may be traumatizing. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Another two-for-one deal here for former B-movie stardom. Heigl may have caught our attention with her young role in 1994's My Fatehr the Hero opposite Gerard Depardieu, but it was a good 10 years before she caught her big break with Grey's Anatomy**. During this time she did a few stints on the horror circuit, most memorably as sassy teenager Jade Bride of Chucky, the fourth film in the Child's Play series. By this time they weren't even trying anymore; the series was teetering on the edge of self-referential parody.

That same year (1998) Heigl also appeared in Bug Buster, a film about massive mutant underwater cockroaches. Take a second, it's exactly as stupid as it sounds. To the film's credit, Scotty and Sulu from Star Trek are in it. Other than that, it's pretty much a Bug Buster. Right.

Somewhere along the way these stars caught their lucky break, but not before paying their dues with some pretty embarrassing horror flick gigs. It may not be their best work, but it'll be a part of their acting canon for life. Or at least they will stick around to forever haunt them in their readily fan-accessible IMDB pages. Spooky.

*The term "art" here has been used loosely
**To be fair, I also liked her on Roswell

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sweet Valley High

It's no wonder those of us who grew up in the 80s and 90s possess the capacity to believe anything can happen: reading Sweet Valley High novels inevitably left us with a severe case of overactive imagination. Extensive exposure to a gang of supposedly normal teenagers who battle werewolves, date princes, and are hunted relentlessly by sociopathic identical strangers have worn down our collective sense of normalcy and common sense. Throw in some far-fetched ancestral sagas that incestuously implicate the same families for generations and we've got a full-fledged defense for our willingness to believe the ridiculous.

For teen girls coming of age in the 80s and 90s, Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield seemed the adolescent prototype to which we could aspire. At the time, I was sure two more perfect people had ever existed. I fancied myself something as a Jessica, favoring clothes and makeup to being a boring stick-in-the-mud, but I was certain both girls were paragons of our generation. Only in retrospect (and with the incredibly detailed and hilarious recounts found in Shannon's Sweet Valley High blog) have I realized that my initial perceptions were a bit skewed.

It all seemed okay back when our good friends in Sweet Valley were our peers in age, but as they remain frozen in time, our more adult retrospective look at them can fairly be more than a bit critical. The more I reflect on my former fictional teen idols, the more I realize how insufferably irritating the two-dimensional twins are. What I once thought of as a characterization polarized between social butterfly and quiet serious one turned out to be a divide of selfish brat and sanctimonious prude. Kind of a bummer, right?

In spite of this late-in-the-game revelation about the twins' less than savory personality traits, Sweet Valley High still holds a special place in my heart. It can't be all bad, of course--these books encouraged young girls to read, didn't they? Sure, they may not have been as entrepreneurial and wholesome as The Babysitters' Club series, but they had an indescribable charm. When you consider the bulk of the series was penned by ghostwriters too ashamed to publicly attach their names to these projects, it could have been a lot worse. I'm not totally sure how, but use your imagination. Like I said, it's a gift from growing up Sweet Valley-obsessed, so use it wisely.

The books were supremely cheesy in a way typical of adolescent-directed fiction, but they also represent a sort of innocence of the era that becomes less believable of teenagers with each passing year. That's not to say teenagers were uniformly squeaky-clean, but the characters seem far more at home forever frozen in their 80s and 90s setting. After all, these days, many of their book-long conflicts could probably be solved with a text message or a quick Google search.

Let's meet our cardboard cast of characters, shall we?

Elizabeth Wakefield

The aforementioned sanctimonious prude, Elizabeth is continually characterized as the "good" one. So good, in fact, that she exudes self-satisfied moral superiority at every turn. Elizabeth is unrelentingly kind and caring, which makes her tireless devotion to her ethically inferior identical twin sister all the more baffling. She wears her hair in a ponytail, which in 80s and 90s teen literature is the only known symbol for being The Serious One. Like her sister, Elizabeth possesses an combination of blonde hair, blue-green eyes, and an enviable size-six figure, a fact upon which every single book in the series insists on dwelling frequently and creepily.

Jessica Wakefield

Like the books say, the twins may be physically identical, but all resemblances end there. Jessica is the opposite of Elizabeth in every way, namely on the caring and kindness front. Jessica is conceited, conniving, and ruthless in her pursuits of all things Jessica. She's well-liked and popular, which makes sense in a high school kind of way. Jessica's major interest seems to be coming up with schemes and dragging Elizabeth into the fiery bottomless pit of her moral vacuum.

Ned, Alice, and Steven Wakefield

See, even Wakefields make mistakes! Jessica totally thinks Steven and Cara should get married and...well, maybe you should just read it for yourself, but I promise, it's ridiculous

Would you expect anything less than a picture-perfect family for our identical young ingenues? Their family was painstakingly perfect from their lawyer father to their interior designer mother, with a handsome California-boy brother thrown in for good measure. Their glossy veneer of flawlessness cracked occasionally, but the books had a pretty good sense of the reset button, always leaving the family intact and cheek-achingly happy.

Todd Wilkins

On-again-off-again romantic interest of Elizabeth, so you know he's got to be just a little bit boring. He's athletic and smart, but he's also a total drama queen. Todd and Elizabeth get into the most ridiculous incessant fights. I thought she was supposed to be the level-headed one, but turns out she's a bit more of a teenage girlcliche than she initially looked to be.

Lila Fowler

Jessica's best friend, Lila is a stuck-up heiress who for some reason was always my favorite. She just tells it like it is, and usually it's kind of mean and revolving around herself. Lila and Jessica are allegedly good friends, but they spend pretty much all of their time trying to undermine the other's social status.

Enid Rollins

Liz's best friend and resident stick-in-the-mud. She's such a sad sack sometimes you've got to wonder how even someone as nice as Elizabeth can deal with her in large doses. Enid just exudes nebishness from every freckled pore, so God help us for those rare instances of having to plow through an Enid-centric storyline.

These books often read like mini soap operas, with equally unbelievable story arcs. When the series was optioned for television, the producers did not disappoint us on the absurd storyline front. We had girls lapsing into comas and getting kidnapped at every turn.

The lyrically challenged theme song implores us to consider, "Could there be two different girls who look the same?" It's a tough question, but all signs appear to point to yes in the case of the Wakefield twins. The TV series ran mainly on FOX syndicates for its first few seasons, after which it was booted to UPN and was subsequently canceled due to plummeting ratings. Like the books, the show was something of a guilty pleasure and could only sustain our interest for so long. As the books' major audience began to age out of the teen fiction market, the days of both the show and the book series were numbered.

Don't worry, today's young girls won't be deprived of their once-requisite Wakefield exposure. The books were recently issued a re-release, featuring updated cultural references and wardrobe choices. Incidentally, the writers also demoted J and E from their once-perfect size 6 to the now-perfect size 4. How positively enlightened. If that's not enough to tide you over, there are reputable rumors of a Diablo Cody-headed SVH film project.Hopefully we can carry on with our normal lives in the midst of the brewing suspense over casting decisions.

Don't forget to check out Shannon's Sweet Valley Blog for your daily dose of SVH! This is a totally unpaid, unsolicited endorsement offered only out of my extreme reverence for Shannon's awesome and diligent recapping. She deserves major kudos for getting through all of these books again--I'm not sure I could do it, though I have lost countless afternoons at the office to reading these recaps. Amazing.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Some of the 90s' Most Ridiculous Song Lyrics

It's never a good sign when you can listen to your 2Ge+her boy band parody CD and find its lyrics only marginally distinguishable from its real-life counterparts. Popular music is generally more about entertainment than quality control, but sometimes a song slips onto the charts without passing even the most basic standards of industry. Even the most lenient of genres has got to have its limits.

Apparently these limits aren't particularly stringent, or else none of these songs would ever have been written, produced, recorded, and issued a heavily promoted wide release. It's somewhat troubling to think that dozens of people worked tirelessly for the release of these songs, directing questionable music videos and lobbying for increased radio play. For some reason or other, the natural music selection never phased out these ridiculous songs and they went on to become not only very famous but also highly lucrative. If only I could come up with a good song about a certain style of undergarment or a particular spoke on the color wheel, I'd be set for life. If only I'd thought of it first.

LFO Summer Girls

Luckily, this song was released a time when many guys did indeed seek out girls who favored Abercrombie and Fitch, so it was all in all pretty good timing. This song deserves some type of award for most non-sequitors dropped in the shortest period of time, if only such an award existed. "Summer Girls" utilized every cheap rhyming trick in the book, even writing some new ones on its own with some completely irrelevant but meter-consistent lines.

LFO gave us gems like, "There was a good man named Paul Revere/I feel much better baby when you're near" and "Fell deep in love, but now we ain't speakin'/Michael J. Fox was Alex P. Keaton." It didn't make sense, but if you're good-looking in a classically generic boy band sort of way, you've pretty much got it made. If Rich had ever come up to me in real life and ventured, "Hey, my name is Rich. You look like a girl from Abercrombie and Fitch" I probably would've just gone along with it.

Sir Mix-a-Lot: Baby Got Back

The fact that this song was standard fare at junior high dances and bar mitzvah parties is pretty troubling in itself. We all thought it pretty cool to sing along, shouting out, "My anaconda DON'T WANT NONE unless you GOT BUNS HON! You can do side bends or sit-ups! But please don't lose that butt." I can only imagine what the adults chaperoning along the periphery must've thought. I never really considered the lyrics all that ponderously. I actually sort of preferred the Bill Nye parody version ("Bill's Got Boat" but Sure-Floats-A-Lot), so I think that brands me too nerdy to have been negatively influenced from exposure to this song.

5ive: Baby When The Lights Go Out

Let's lay it all out here: if your group spells its name with a numeric 5, our expectations for the quality of your music will be at best underwhelming. It's just not a great first impression, and certainly not an indicator of substantial musical credentials. My favorite part about this video has got to be that it takes place in a bowling alley. If that's not a seductive setting, I don't know what is. I was sold from their first spoken line, "Yeah, I like that/You know what I mean/You're lookin' kinda fly tonight/What's up, check it!" Pure poetry.

Aqua: Barbie Girl

We always thought it sort of scandalous that in the song, Barbie sang coyly, "Kiss me here, touch me there, hanky-panky." That was only after we looked up "hanky panky" in the dictionary. True story.

This song almost defies commentary, it's just that ridiculous. It's catchy in a generic bubble gum pop way, but the lyrics are completely and utterly ridiculous. Let's just blame it on the fact that English probably wasn't Aqua's first language and move on.

Sisqo: The Thong Song

Did anyone else find the phrase "dumps like a truck" to be just slightly problematic? We're already singing about that general bodily geographic region, so it seems dangerous territory to venture phrases that could possibly be referring to defecation. I'm just saying, it's possibly a poor word choice. "Dumps like a truck"? Really, Sisqo?

This song was huge, and for a brief moment in time Sisqo was the hottest rapper on the charts. The entire song revolves around the examination and study of thong panties. In case you forgot what he was talking about halfway through, he conveniently repeats the words ad infinitum: "That thong thong thong thong thong." Oh, right. That.

No Authority: Can I Get Your Number (A Girl Like You)

I was almost positive this song was a figment of my youthful imagination until recently I heard it playing Muzak style in a restaurant. I'm not totally sure how this was chosen as one of the carefully preselected and focus group-tested songs in circulation for background music. My best guess is that all the focus group participants had a pretty strong sense of humor.

This one is beyond ridiculous. "Can I get your number baby? Hit me with the seven digits!" Or, my personal favorite, "I've seen blondes, and brunettes, and some really hot redheads, but I've never seen a girl like you (seen a girl like you)". It always leaves me wondering just what color hair this chick had if she didn't fall into the above categories. I'd say purple, but you just cant be sure about these kinds of things.

Vanilla Ice: Ice Ice Baby

You've got to give the guy some credit where credit is due. He does, as he claims, flow like a harpoon daily and nightly. Be careful, though, you might end up killing your brain like a poisonous mushroom. It's all good: if there's a problem, YO! he'll solve it. I'm feeling better already. Even about that potentially hazardous poisonous mushroom situation. Thanks, Vanilla!

Backstreet Boys: Everybody

Some songs go just a smidgen over the top with the audience participation segments, and "Everybody" is no exception. Large stretches of it exist solely for the purpose of our offering our assent via a hearty "Yeaaahh--eahhhh". What we're agreeing to is more or less unimportant. Is he original? Sure! Is he the only one? Why not? Is he sexxxxxuuuual? You get the idea.

Baha Men: Who Let The Dogs Out

You know it's a tough question when we have to punctuate it with a staccato repetition of our leading question room. It's not good enough to simply ask "Who let the dogs out?" No, instead, we've got to back it up with a heartfelt "Who? Who? Who?" It also helps if you divide all of the words into indistinguishable syllables. Case in point "Get-back-you-flea-in-fest-ed-mon-grel." Genius.

Eiffel65: Blue (Da Ba Dee)

I like a song with a narrative as much as the next person, but there is such a thing as taking it too far. The "Listen up" lead-in is a solid attention getter, but they lose us somewhere between describing his little blue house and his blue Corvette. This song lacked meaning to such a point that we had to ascribe meaning to its erroneous "da-ba-di-da-ba-dis", insisting our pals in Eifel65 were really saying something like, "If I was green, I would die" or "I believe I am pie."

Right Said Fred: I'm Too Sexy

I'm all for trashy Europop, but even I have my limits of tolerance. I'm too sexy for my cat? That's just stepping over the line. I just can't take him seriously anymore when he's doing his little turn on the catwalk.

Britney Spears:Email My Heart

Sure, she was young and it wasn't released as a single, but some offenses are just inexcusable. There are some rules here, people. For future reference, here's a major one: if you're gonna record a soulful slow ballad, don't entitle it "Email My Heart." Really, that's all I ask.

Even with all of their glaring flaws, these artists must have done something right. We're still talking about them fifteen years down the road, so you can't deny their cultural impact. Even if their mark on society was writing a song exulting the derriere. We can't all be great lyricists. If this has taught us nothing else but sometimes, sometimes, we just want a song about butts.

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