Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Reader Challenge: What does Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales really want?

If you've spent any time on Wikipedia lately, you're probably quite familiar with these perfectly-lit photographs of the site's founder Jimmy Wales. Jimmy is making a personal appeal to us, but from the look of these images it's hard to know what exactly he wants. Thankfully, that's what Erasable Pen Reader Challenges are for! What do YOU think Jimmy wants? Please provide your answers in the comments section, preferably in the voice of Jimmy Wales. The winner will receive a free copy of the 2010 Hickory Farms catalog.

To get things started, here's what I think might be on Jimmy's mind:

Do you think I'd make a good high school health teacher?
Please say yes.

I'm thinking of starting a Radiohead cover band.
Is it OK if we practice in your basement?

Monday, November 15, 2010

The mathematical impossibilities of How I Met Your Mother

When you own an outdated television set that only picks up three channels, every show gets placed under the microscope. This week I've decided to direct my gaze at How I Met Your Mother. And by "direct my gaze" I mean recognize that the show exists and pass judgment without having ever seen it.

So let's get started! OK, well, from what I can gather this show is all about a father sitting down and telling his children the story of how he met their mother. As he's recounting this story at their bedside, actors recreate momentous scenes from the courtship on screen. Unfortunately this seemingly innocent premise has a tremendous flaw: It's not sustainable. Think about it, this show is mathematically impossible.

Let me explain. So How I Met My Mother is in, what, its 7th season now? Say there are, oh I don't know, 20 episodes per season, and each episode is 30 minutes long. So that means each season technically covers 10 hours. Multiply that by 7 seasons and now we're talking about 70 hours of show all together. 70 hours! That's a seriously epic bedtime story this father is telling his kids. Are you picking up what I'm putting down?! At this point, the father in How I Met Your Mother has literally kept his kids up for 70 straight hours telling this story! Who can sustain a story for that long? Bill Cosby? Maybe? I'm pretty sure Bill Cosby is not the narrator in How I Met Your Mother, and even if he was I still doubt the kids would stay awake for the entire story. Yeah, no, this show just doesn't add up. Sorry folks. I ain't buyin' it.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The sleeping arrangement in Medium

Anybody seen this show Medium? I don't get it. I mean, I understand the lady with the bangs has special powers that allow her to talk to dead people and solve mysteries in her sleep. Seems reasonable enough. What I don't get is why her husband puts up with her waking him up every night to tell him about her dreams. If I'm him I'm thinking "Seriously? It's 3 am and you're going to wake me up so I can listen to you yammer on about some freaky dream? Every single night of our now 12-year marriage?"

Things are so bad, dude doesn't even bother putting on his PJs anymore.

Sure, he'll complain a little bit. But then the next night it just happens again and nothing ever changes. Here's an idea. Buy your wife a moleskin notebook and tell her to write down her dreams rather than rudely shaking you awake every night. That way she can get everything down on paper and wait 'til breakfast to tell you about it. I guarantee her stories will be more enjoyable when you have a bowl of cereal and a sports page in front of you.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

New Series! - Judging Judge Parker

Today we're kicking off an exciting new series called "Judging Judge Parker." You know Judge Parker. It's one of those comic strips that's been running since the dawn of time, with an ongoing plot that's impossible to follow unless you're one of the select few who actually makes a point to read it every day. Who has that kind of time?!

Well, here at Erasable Pen we're going to do our best to make things easy on you. Every three months or so we'll present you with the most recent edition of Judge Parker, and then we'll attempt to fill in the gaps between the current strip and what happened the last time we checked in on the ol' Judge (is Judge Parker even one of the characters? Has anyone ever actually seen him in one of these things?). This is a much more realistic way of reading the comic strip, and hopefully together we'll be able to make some sense of it all.

To get things started, here's today's Judge Parker:

What the f***??????!!!!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Loose Meats Sink Ships

Oh 4th o' July. You sweet summertime songbird. Never failing to lure us in with your promise of grilled food products, hazardous explosives and really really slow-moving parades. This year is very exciting because the ol' 4th o' Jeezy falls on a Sunday, which means most of us get Monday off, which in turn means we can eat and drink as much as we want before, during and after those fireworks blow up in the faces of our respective showboating neighbors, and then still have a full day to recover. So what's on your July 4 menu? Rather than the usual dogs and burgers, might I suggest Loose Meat Sandwiches?

Hot d*mn that looks TASTY! I'm sure you're all familiar with Sloppy Joes, but did you know there's a whole family of Loose Meat Sandos? The difference with the Sloppy J is the ketchup is mixed in with the meat. A traditional Loose Meat Sandwich just features a heaping pile of unseasoned ground beef on a bun. Dress it up as you wish!

In the Middle West, they call this a Tavern Sandwich. The pile of pebbly beef is usually mixed with seasoned onions, then topped with veggies (i.e. pickles, mustard and ketchup).

History buffs should also note that prior to the birth of the Tavern Sandwich and its cousin Sloppy Joe, there was the Maid-Rite. The Maid-Rite is the first Loose Meat Sandwich in recorded history. It was the brainchild of an Iowa butcher named Fred Angell who, in 1926, opened the doors to a new quick-service restaurant in Muscatine called, you guessed it, Maid-Rite.

How do I know all of this? Wikipedia.

Happy 4th errrybody!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sully Sullenberger - the hero with the suspiciously catchy name

I've been thinking a lot about Sully Sullenberger lately. Cause for concern? Not hardly. The guy has such a punchy name I just can't get him out my head. But you have to wonder, would this man still be making headlines (or randomly showing up in my dreams) if he didn't have such a memorable moniker?

Brief history lesson (not that you need one): Sully Sullenberger is the dude who safely landed US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson river after a flock of birds disabled both engines. His crazy mad flying skills saved the lives of 155 passengers.

Yeah, it would have been an impressive feat even if his name wasn't Sully Sullenberger. But let's be real. There's no way we'd still be talking about this guy if his name was, say, Ted Reynolds. In fact, we would've forgotten all about him within 30 minutes of his heroic touchdown. Seriously, that's a fact.

All I'm saying is, if you're considering having kids, please give the child a super catchy name. You'll increase your chances of someday meeting Oprah tenfold.

And now I'd like to leave you with some of my favorite images of Sully Sullenberger enjoying his much-deserved hero status.

Hangin' with Oprah!

Gracing the cover of People!

Dubbed "The Last Aviator"!

Tossing out the first pitch at a Yankees game!

Peddling his own book!

Always keeping a fresh-faced philly on each arm!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Dark Side of Hall and Oates Tribute Album

About 17 years ago, my brother and I decided to head out on a spontaneous road trip to the Oregon Coast. We were living on an island just outside Seattle at the time. Before we hit the road we filled up the tank and decided to purchase one of those cheap gas station cassettes to serve as the soundtrack to our journey. Somehow we ended up choosing "Hall & Oates - The Early Years." This seemingly random decision would forever alter the course of our lives.

I remember being alarmed by the beauty and simplicity of the tracks on that cassette. At the time I, like most people, only knew Hall & Oates for their synthesizer-laden 80s pop hits. But these songs were from the early 70s. They showed an entirely different side of the dynamic duo. We kept that cassette in the player for our entire trip. It was impossible to resist the effortless harmonies, delicate acoustic balladry, and nimble piano work. The songs worked their way into our souls.

After that trip we made it our life's mission to track down every possible Hall & Oates release on vinyl, and believe me, their are a lot of them. I started collecting before I even had a functioning record player. When I did finally get one up and running, the fact that 75% of my record collection was Hall & Oates became a point of pride. I of course was most fond of those 70s albums, but I grew to appreciate the polished pop hits as well.

Then, maybe five or six years ago my brother came up with a great idea. His master plan was to spearhead a sprawling Hall & Oates tribute album that would showcase not just the hits, but also the deeper cuts and hidden gems we so enjoyed. The album would be called The Dark Side of Hall and Oates, and we'd record it analog to capture the warmth of those early records. He enlisted me and several of our talented musical friends to help out with the project, forming a retroactive supergroup known as Koot Hoomi .

Well, here we are. It's 2010 and I'm proud to announce that after five years of recording, Koot Hoomi presents The Dark Side of Hall and Oates is complete and set for release on March 9. The album consists of 15 tracks, offering up a full hour's worth of re-imagined Hall & Oates goodness. It's quite a ride, and I encourage all of you to hop on board.

You can learn more about the album and hear audio samples at the official website www.darksideofhallandoates.com. We've also launched an online presale for those who want to be the first to receive the CD. All presale orders will be shipped on or before March 1.

Thanks for listening and for supporting our creative endeavors. To some, such a project might seem silly, but I can assure you this effort is straight from the heart, and we couldn't be happier with the results.

Om Guru Oates.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Fill up the tub, we have a winner!

Congratulations to Concrete Tomato for winning yet another Erasable Pen Reader Challenge. This is CT's second victory in our ongoing series. The subject of the challenge, you may recall, was to come up with an alternate title for the new movie Hot Tub Time Machine.

Here's Concrete Tomato's winning entry:

H.G. Wells' The Hot Tub Time Machine

Hey, it was a difficult challenge people. Personally I find it mildly amusing, which is reason enough to award Concrete Tomato the big prize: a 6-pack of Diet Rite.

Now let's take a look at our runners up:
  • In second place we have Natalie Bohm with the bland, yet oddly compelling Turn on the Jets.
  • Coming in third is Antelope Baby Industries with the equally dry The Hot Tub Effect.
  • Honorable mention goes to Woz for The Brotherhood of the Time Traveling Germ Incubator.
Thanks for playing folks! Keep your chin up. You're all winners in my book, and surely it can only get better from here.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

In Conan we trust

I don’t normally use this blog as a forum to talk about deeply personal matters (aside from my love of snacks), but I want to take a moment here to address the programming debacle at NBC. As I’m sure you’ve already heard NBC is trying to give Conan O’Brien the shaft, yet again, by moving Jay Leno’s “variety show” to 11:35 and bumping Conan and The Tonight Show to 12:05. Conan has decided to take the high road, and crafted a beautiful statement expressing his unwillingness to be part of a plan that would move The Tonight Show out of the timeslot it has held for almost 60 years. Conan cares about tradition, and he would rather go elsewhere than participate in this harebrained scheme that’s destined to destroy the legendary show he has dreamed of hosting his entire life. I, and everyone I know, support Conan to the fullest and will follow him wherever he ends up. Why? Because in a not-so-roundabout way he has helped shape our collective sense of humor for much of the past 20 years.

During Conan’s first few seasons (aka The Awkward Years) hosting Late Night, my high school buddies and I would tape every episode on VHS cassette. Then on the weekends we’d get together and watch the standout moments while drinking ungodly amounts of soda pop. A couple of us even used our favorite “In the Year 2000” bits as senior quotes in the yearbook. Mine of course was delivered by Andy: “In the year 2000, the artist formerly known as Prince will no longer be referred to by a symbol, but rather… an odor.” I still find it funny to this day.

When I went off to college at Ohio University, Conan’s ratings in our dorm must have been through the roof. If only NBC had a way to measure such things. I can’t count the number of times I heard my buddy Brian Woznicki cackling in the room next door around 12:45 am. I’m almost certain most of those outbursts had something to do with Conan’s opening sketch.

This brings me back to the idea that our own senses of humor have been molded in some way by Conan. For me and my closest friends, we grew up with Conan. His unique brand of humor was right there in front of us during a very important period in our lives. We were in college, on our own, honing the wildly creative side of our brains, and loving every minute of it.

From the beginning, Conan, Andy, and their brilliant staff of writers always pushed the envelope, night after night finding new ways to make us laugh. Did they ever let up? Did they ever settle for the same old same old? No. Just look at Conan’s first week hosting The Tonight Show. Sure there were a few wrinkles to iron out, but the laughs were there right off the bat, and no one can accuse these guys of being anything other than original. Compare Conan’s show to any other talk show and you’ll see what I mean. These guys try harder, and they care more.

You know, not everyone in the world attempts to be funny all the time (and that’s a good thing), but Conan does. And for clowns like Brian and I, and many of our friends, it’s kind of what we do too. We probably fail more than we succeed, and I’m sure we can be annoying, but at this point it’s just the way we are. Did Conan have something to do with this? Of course. He’s the funniest guy we know, even if we only know him through a television set. Hold strong Conan. We’ll be watching.