Monday, October 31, 2005

candy corn, chocolate, and gummi bears! oh, my!

Planning the attack

Trick or treating has definately changed since the days I cruised around several neighborhoods in my homemade ghost costume. (Yeah, Charlie Brown- I'm looking at you!) Back then, you didn't really buy a trick or treat bag- it was either a paper bag, a pillowcase, or some other plastic bag that you could find. In fact, if you were a professional, you had two bags- one stayed in your mom's car or at a secure location, that served as a deposit area. You didn't want your I admit - I was the Spidey kidbag to look too full. Then the people hold back on the goods. Costumes were also integral to a successful operation. If it looked very expensive (like rental store expensive) you could forget a candy score. People go in for the homemade, "Aww, isn't that cute" quotient. Sure, you could buy a Scooby Doo plastic mask and plastic full body suit, or any infinante variety of cheap characters. Those worked too. But the homemade costumes brought in the Halloween bling. Besides, the elastic string on your mask popped as soon as you brought it home from the drug store anyway. You had to staple that sucker back on yourself. And the plastic tethers on the back of the costume weren't so sturdy either. When you tried to untie them, one inevitably tore off and you had to kind tape it or make a new one. By the time Halloween rolled around you may We salute you, oh brave Hulk underoos warriorhave looked like Spiderman, but only if Spiderman had a wad of staples coming out of his left ear, duct tape and string on the back of his neck, and sneakers where his "Spidey" boots should be. But you didn't care- you were Spiderman for that one night. Heck, I knew kids whose costumes had torn or were lost, and mom and dad said "Too bad!" One kid ended up wearing his Hulk mask, a pair of jeans, and his Hulk underoos shirt. He was cold, but he was a fierce kid warrior out on the front lines waging the candy war. And he made it back with the goodness. Oh, yes- he was a victor.
You see, even kids know there is a method to the madness. They know what the good stuff is. They know which houses have the good stuff. However, I fear that those days are mostly gone. Back then, you hit neighborhood after neighborhood, like waves of 4 foot tall goblins, ghosts, and witches descending upon the masses of quiet homes. One parent went with the crew, like a hobgoblin commander- watching children go from house to house from the confines of the vehicle. Parents could drive or watch, but never come to the door. Kids knew if that happen the chances that conversations and chit-chat that would slow you down increased exponentially with every house. Of course the other parent held down the fort at home, passing out candy to the trick or treaters. You hoped beyond hope that somehow those Snickers you saw in the bowl would survive the onslaught and you could return home and claim it as a victory prize, held aloft in your hands like a golden trophy. But alas, it never survived- most likely pillaged by the parent themselves.
Halloween was all about the kids- and fun in being a kid. Sadly, things are different. A lot of kids This guy isn't getting any candy. They only thing he's going to get is a beat down.don't do the door to door thing anymore. Its just not safe anymore, and sometimes people don't even buy candy anyway. Trick or Treating now takes place in a mall or shopping center, a church or neighborhood block party. These "safe" alternatives have created a haven for families to feel safe and to celebrate- but the results aren't the same to those of us who remember. We look at our own kids in the costumes we bought at the department store or Wal-mart with all the accessories and shake our heads. Sure, they look cute and they are having fun, you think to yourself, but you remember a different time. You remember going out with your buddies like an assult team demanding sugary treats, and then commiserating on what you got from house to house. You had fun spending time making a costume, and although mom may have seemed a little exasperated at having to sew this or fix that, you suspect she had fun too. You remember the trades; comparing your mound of candy with that of your friends or siblings and attempting to outswindle the other of that prized full size candy bar. While you are remembering all that, do yourself a favor: while your kid is sifting through all the fun-size this (rip off), goopy gummi that, and the occasional gift certificate or pencil- sneak a big ol' candy bar in their bag. Then sit down with them at home, go through their bag with them, and watch their eyes light up. That's what it's all about. Let them have a little fun.

Today, in honor of brave Trick or Treaters, past and present, we present the "score". This was the candy that made all the hard work pay off. This was the stuff, that if it wasn't in your bag, it wasn't Halloween. Most of it is still around- but some of it is in different forms. We present, in no particular order, the Top Shelf Halloween Trick or Treat Picks!

Candy Corn/Melocreme Pumpkins
Bottle Caps
Reese's Pumpkins
Pop Rocks
Orange Kit Kat
Dem Bones
Full Size Candy Bar

Candy Corn/Melocreme Pumpkins
Man, this was the "stuff." In fact, you knew Halloween was close at hand when the Candy Corn started popping up in the drug stores. Candy Corn is probably the most universal Halloween candy there is- you can find it in little bowls on office desks, at the doctors office, and even on your teacher's desk. It was kind like, "Well, Johnny you made a D- on the spelling test, but here have some candy corn!" Or "Mrs. Smith -your tests came back, and it does appear that it is definately not a rash, but something worse. But here, have some candy corn." It's everywhere! The pumpkins were the best of the batch. You know you used to pick them out first and leave the corn for the rest of the suckers! Brachs makes the best around, and now the pumpkins come in their own bag. The Autumn Mix, with the different shapes is still around as well.

It was many years after I stopped trick or treating that I discovered that Smarties came in different varieties - like the giant Smarties. I felt a little robbed- but oh, well. Smarties were great in that you probably got a big handful of them every year. Nobody gave just one. And if you were an OCD kid like myself you probably unrolled all of them, grouped them according to color, and then ate them. On second thought, I'd rather not get into that.

Bottle Caps
They now come in fun size packs, which is misleading because I think a kid has more fun with a full size pack of candy. They should really be called "cheap skimpy portions size", but I digress. Bottle Caps came with several "soda-like" flavors- root beer being a personal favorite. And Bottle Caps are just one of many Willie Wonka candys that are welcome in any trick or treater's bag- so consider this a catch-all shout out to Wonka (not you, Johnny Depp- just sit down) with the Nerds, Gobstoppers, Tart n'Tinys, and more. Good times... good times.

Reese's Pumpkins
These weren't really around when I was a kid- so they became an adult delight for me. Kind of a special Halloween treat for dear ol' Dad! I know the kids love to find these in their bags. I also know they wonder what happened to them, after they have gone to look out the window and see what the ghost that Dad saw. I know its criminal, but I can't help it.

Pop Rocks

You really saved these puppies for later. When you can drink some soda and pop them in - and keep your mouth shut for as long as you could.

Orange Kit Kats

Kit Kats were a great score any Halloween. Not to long ago they came out with the Orange variety. Some swear there is a different taste- but I don't think there is much of one. Just kit katy goodness.


Check out the Peeps website if you don't know what all the fuss is about. These didn't really come in a small trick or treat pack until later - so sometimes you got a big pack (if it was the end of the Trick or Treat run) or a couple in a ziplock bag. Of course, mom and dad swiped the ziplock bag- something about "safety."

Dem Bones

Probably one the coolest candies you could get was Brach's Dem Bones. They were a hard powder candy (kind of like Sweetarts) shaped like bones. They came in a small plastic coffin. They are somewhat difficult to find now, although when you do find them they are in a small indivdual plastic bag. The coffin is history. Perhaps a victim of political correctness or cheap cost-cutting. Or both. Either way, nothing beats the plastic coffin classic.


I love sweetarts. Always have, always will. Don't eat much in the way of candy these days, but I've eaten enough of these, that residual traces probably still show up in blood tests. If you were lucky you got anything from the small 3 count packs to the giant sweetarts to the chewables. Today, they come in even more varieties like the bubblegum and sour versions. The scientists were right, the future would bring wonderful things. Now if they could just get to work on that flying car.

Full Size Candy Bar

Before the marketing jerk who came up with the fun size concept, every Halloween someone hit the motherlode and got a candy bar. And you knew it was full size- because there just wasn't another option. And if you got it, boy you kept that secret from the rest of your crew - at least until you saw what they got in their stash. And if you didn't like that particular bar- it was your ace in the hole when it came trading time. You strolled into trading like Donald Trump with a new 'do. You had the power. And if you didn't trade (my favorite was 3 Musketeers) it was satisfaction in and of itself to eat it while others offered 10, nay 20 pieces of candy just to have it. One year, a kid in my elementary school named Danny, claimed to have received 3 snickers in one Halloween night. He was a legend until his big sister revealed that he had bought them himself with his allowence. Danny hung his head in shame, never to revel in Halloween triumphs on the school yard ever again. In fact, he's probably a janitor at some other school somewhere, secretly plotting his revenge on all kids. His victims are found with horribly contorted faces; their mouths stuff with full size Snickers bars. Wait... that sounds familiar. Nevermind.

Well Shelfers, that's it. Enjoy your Trick or Treating. If we missed your Halloween favorite - post it in the comments section. Until then, make a kid happy, toss in a full size candy bar.

Happy Halloween from everyone at The Shelf.

Why should I care about posterity? What's posterity ever done for me?

Halloween is my kind of holiday. It's not like those other stupid holidays. I don't get pine needles in my paws. There's no dumb bunny, no fireworks, no relatives. Just candy. Boom. You go out and you get candy. It's as simple as that..

Saturday, October 29, 2005

shelf readers, man your stations!

Nuggets? Who needs nuggets?

Yeah!!! The weekend is here once again and this means it is time again for the weekend dish on what we are playing here at The Shelf. This week it is EA's Battlefield 2: Modern Combat. First, I must say that I am partial to military based games. I have one or two of them. I have the Marine based game Close Combat First to Fight and the Army's Full Spectrum Warrior. I have also played the Tom Clancy series Ghost Recon as well as the Navy's Seals Socom series. All of these games are very good with the way that the programmers have paid attention to detail. Each game let you play with new and advanced weapons and each one let you fight in some form of a real time hotspot. However, not all of these games let you take control of all your military might.
Part of the Fall Collection
Battlefield 2 lets you be whatever you want to be. If you want to be a sniper, you can. If you want to blow things up, you can drive a tank. You can take control of Special Ops soldiers instantly. There are over 50 weapons and 30 vehicles. Yes, you can fly an Apache if you want to. It is very intense. You are running into battle with your team mates and if you are not careful you will Just your normal morning commute.have a "friendly fire" in a matter of seconds. You are given medals for your performance as well as stars. These stars help you advance in rank. I am not an online gamer, but you can tell that this game would be better played online. The way the game is so fast and played 360 degrees around you. It is rated T due to the language and violence. (Violence-it is a game about war!!!) Here at The Shelf, the rating scale according to my boss is Pass, Barrow, Rent or Buy. Well, why are you still here reading this cheesy ending, you should be out buying it right now. Also plan on saving some money for America's Army coming out soon.Good Luck!

Please add comments if the need strikes you.

Posted by: A. Baravelli
Shh! Don't wake him up. He's got insomnia, he's trying to sleep it off.

Don't stay in bed, unless you can make money in bed.

Friday, October 28, 2005

nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see...

This is very sad. Look away-please! In the last thirty years Halloween has become a major Holiday. Before the 70s, or so I'm told, Halloween was pretty much a one night celebration for kids. The major event consisted of kids going out trick or treating and maybe a school or some other organization would have a Halloween party or carnival. That was it. Then came along the animated Halloween special. And Halloween exploded until it gradually became the money drain and month-long obsession for overgrown kids that it is today. I jack o'latern you not. After the holiday specials became popular, advertisers started soaking the kids' parents for candy, costumes, holiday themed Happy Meals, food, juice drinks, and accessories. A related trend of the increased popularity of horror movies combined with the more kid oriented television and retail experience and combined to form the perfect storm. Today adult costumes near in retail sales to children costumes. Halloween is the 2nd largest holiday for candy and food retailers. In fact, dollar for dollar, Halloween is the biggest money maker, second only to Christmas. "How is that possible Mr. Loophole?" the kid in the back asks. Well, I'll tell you. See how that works? Ask and you will receive. Sit back my children, and you will hear the tale of the animated holiday special.

In the mid-60s, following the success of "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown"and "Rudolph", network execs wanted to capitalize on this new trend. The animated specials were a ratings AWWWWW- YEAH!boon and were starting to bring in some advertising bucks. The next kid-friendly holiday that seemed viable was Halloween. So in the grand tradition of striking while the iron is hot- the CBS network commissioned a Halloween special. Charles Schulz, Lee Mendelson, and Bill Melendez brought the hammer down with "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" in 1966. It was a hit, and the animated holiday special became a mainstay of network programming til the 90s. Others followed, and other holidays got the same treatment. If you were a kid in the 70s and 80s- ya know what I'm talking about. Every holiday, animated goodness descended from the great living room oracle that was the family television. You eagerly waited for the time when you could maybe stay up a little later to watch Rankin-Bass specials, Charlie Brown and the gang, Fat Albert and the Cosby kids, or any other of the numerous holiday jaunts that were available. And it wasn't just the heavy-hitters, everyone from Saturday morning series like the Smurfs and obscure one-shot specials were joining the prime-time party.

Unfortunately the same thing that influenced the networks into treating kids to this kool-aid of the airwaves, was the same thing that spelled their diminished presence in the 90s: capitalizing on trends. In the late 80s, Saturday morning just wasn't what it used to be. Networks noticed Under the influence...parents - don't let your kid eat and buy!that revenues were down. Saturday morning was always a bit of gamble for them anyway. Something they continued to do, hoping that parents would go out and buy whatever toy,cereal, or other product their sugar-addled kid begged them for. However, the dollars weren't being heavily invested. The hot marketing trend was that teens and young adult were the next dollar demographic. Traditionally, this demographic was treated as having no disposable income. The 80s changed that. Older kids and 20-something adults had some money. I didn't. My friends didn't. But the marketing gurus smelled it somewhere. Today, that mind set still affects television and advertising. Hence, the saturated presence of Taco Bell commercials, The O.C., extreme sports, and the WB prime time lineup.

This new "trend" caused the networks to scale back Saturday morning and introduce "teen" oriented programming like Saved By the Bell. Yeah. Saturday morning's death knell was started by Screech. Riiight. Oh it started innocently enough, but the networks so little adverse effects, money-wise, and continued the trend. That spilled over into prime-time. Holiday specials began to go MIA. Kids had to go to Blockbuster to try and find at least a tape, if it existed. By the mid to late 90s, the animated special was pretty much a relic except for the few perfunctory airings of Charlie Brown and Frosty. Then, the kids began to fight back.

Kid-oriented networks like Nickolodeon and Cartoon Network became increasingly popular in the late 90s. All of the sudden there were Rugrats stuff everywhere. Blues Clues became a phenomenon. Scooby Doo revived on Cartoon Network and even a feature film was made. Old and new holiday specials were finding their way to cable television. Soon the cable networks began to discover that those kids in the 70s and 80s were having kids or headed in that direction, and the kids AND the parents eat this stuff up. What's my evidence, you boldly ask?
Look at the surge in animation since the late 90s for one thing. But perhaps the biggest piece of evidence is the DVD market and the internet. The fact that I, a 30-something adult, is sitting here extolling the virtues of Charlie's Brown is prima facie evidence. But you just take a moment and try to google, "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" or look on Amazon or the Barnes and Noble website and see how many animated special DVD's are out there. Check out Ebay to see how much people are paying for old VHS copies of long forgotten specials. Go ahead, check it out. I'll wait right here until you get back.

Back already? I hope you get my point now. You have seen for yourself. Now, the major networks are still somewhat reluctant in putting more effort into showing the specials, but the effort is beginning. Just this year I have seen more advertisements for the airing of the "Great Pumpkin" than I can remember. And last Christmas, the number of animated specials increased Oh, the price we paid!than in years previous. And these are specials that have already been made. Did you catch that. It's a rerun! Put the show on, slap some new commercials in, and Whammo! More revenue. One catch for the networks, though. Since they scaled them back, the big nets have lost or sold the airing rights to most, except for the biggies like Charlie Brown, Garfield and a handful of Rankin -Bass specials. Now, the cable networks and DVD have the licenses. Oppsie! Lemmie ask you- was Screech really worth it? And that, kids, is the tale of the animated holiday special. Hopefully, they will continue their comeback. In the meantime, in honor of the season, we decided to mention a few of our favorites.

Now, we couldn't possibly include all Halloween specials in our review list, but today, we at the Shelf, present to you our top animated Halloween special picks, in no particular order. I have asked Wolfie to join me in today's "Top Shelf picks" list. So without further ado - here we go:
Top Shelf picks- Animated Halloween Special Edition.

Looney Tunes Howl-Oween Special
Disney's Halloween Treat
Fat Albert's Halloween Special
Garfield's Halloween Adventure
It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

Looney Tunes Howl-Oween Special (1978)
Hocus PooocusThere are quite a few critics of this special, if indeed this sort of thing generates critics. A splicing of old animated shorts that have something to do with Halloween, monsters, indeed, even fright- are blended with a sort of meta-narrative conducted by Bugs Bunny himself. What is particularly galling about this mis-mash is the newer animation as blatantly worse than the old stuff. Well- it doesn't particularly bother me, like the way a hangnail doesn't bother me unless I pick at it. I love Looney Tunes- so I overlooked it. It was great to see Bugs and the gang getting in the Halloween spirit. And it was a special that returned year after year ... for a while. It only exists on VHS now. A sad little relic of a forgotten time. Now that Looney Tunes are available on a glorious DVD collection it's nice to see the originals in their full glory. This one gets a sentimental vote.

Disney's Halloween Treat (1984)
The original MOTLEY crew.This special is a cartoon medley that covers a lot of years of Disney animation to bring you some of their more "Halloween-ish" moments. I say "Halloween-ish" because there are several cartoon clips in the collection that offer only suspense or "cartoon fear" as their Halloween qualification. Example: Cruella DeVille chasing the 101 Dalmations - Though Cruella's face should be scary enough to allow it in the group, the scene itself never made me think of Halloween. There's a scene from "Peter Pan" and one from "Lady and the Tramp" as well ,but over all the film stays with the theme. My son and I have found a favorite in the clip where a gorilla (Ajax as he is called) is on the loose and pays a visit to Donald Duck and the nephews while Don is reading some scary stories. Another great moment comes later when Pluto dreams that he is sent to a "hell-like" location where he faces a jury of cats for his crimes against felines. The crowning scene of the whole film that really gets me in the Halloween mood is the section taken from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow where we follow Ichabod Crane from a dinner party ( where we enjoy the singing talents of Bing CrosbyBuh-buh-buh-boo! putting a warning to music) to the fateful ride across the covered bridge. That clip is also narrated by Bing Crosby who is a well loved favorite here at The Shelf. As a child, I watched a copy of this that my father taped off of T.V. right after "Private Eyes" which was in our movie count down. Every year it helped to put me in the mood and it will do the same for you. Overall this is a must watch.

Trivia Tid-Bit: There are two versions of this. One has a talking pumpkin hosting the film and the other has the magic mirror from "Snow White" as M.C. They both have the same cartoon clips but in different order. (I'm partial to the pumpkin myself.)

Fat Albert's Halloween Special (1977)
Homemade costumes were the bestFat Albert's Halloween Special didn't run for too many years, but if you watched the Cosby kids you loved the specials. Fat Albert and the gang dress up for Halloween and go trick or treat around the hood. They end up going to the movies but get kicked out for their nutty hijinks. The decide to hit up some houses for candy goodness, but end up getting stiffed and robbed by an old geezer who eats all their candy. They try to hit a spooky house, owned by an equally spooky lady. The gang freaks out and takes off, but one little sister How does Mush Mouth eat through that mask?stays behind, and it's up to the gang to save her. Do they learn about judging others? Is the lady really the meanest lady in town? Check it out and find out. I loved this special when I was a kid and it's great to see it out again on DVD! Bill Cosby does some great voice work as always and his close association with the show is apparent. I believe that you should watch this show. But you don't have to take my word for it. (Cue Levar Burton)

Garfield's Halloween Adventure ( 1985)
Orange-beardGarfield's Halloween Adventure is one of those essential cartoon specials to watch every year, much like "The Great Pumpkin". It is not a spectacular feet of cartoon writing but bears the must-haves of any Halloween special: Costumes, Ghosts, and Trick-or-Treating. Halloween is the perfect set up for Garfield because candy is being passed out like......well......candy. Once Garfield is informed of this sugar orgy he starts off by finding the perfect costume. After donning the Halloween duds, he and Odie go trick-or-treating only to get the bright idea of rowing a boat across a river to a bigger neighborhood. Of course this plan is stymied and dog/cat cartoon hilarity ensues. The pair wind up on an island with a spooky looking house and an even spookier looking old man inside who tells them tales of ghosts and buried pirate treasure before The one thing I'm not is a scaredy cat!leaving the island in the animals domesticus' boat. Needless to say, our heroes witness the ghosts and dive into the river to get away from them. We discover that the orange fat-cat can't swim so Odie pulls him to shore ( Odie should've left him for all the abuse that Garfield swings towards him). Like all of these specials, there is a happy ending and it accomplishes it's goal: putting you in the Halloween mood. (That's Helloween to you Baravelli.) It's a classic that my kid enjoys, allowing me to engage in some cartoon nostalgia every year. Last but not least, as always Lou Rawls sings a couple of songs and if you are a fan, that's always a plus. Definitely a must-watch.

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
Tom Cruise, eat your heart out.This is the mac daddy of all Halloween specials. It’s almost like it wouldn’t be Halloween without the candy, the costumes, or Charlie Brown telling everyone that he got a rock. It starts off pretty sweet for old Chuck, because everyone’s focus is on Linus and his ravings about the Great Pumpkin like Tom Cruise making the rounds about Scientology. For once, Chuck feels like he’s part of the crowd. Of course, that doesn’t last long. Once he hits the Trick or Treat circuit it's all downhill. In fact the whole Halloween Party scene where Lucy, Violet, Sweet revengeand Patty submit Charlie Brown to even more humiliation. Is it his fault they didn't have Rogain in the 60s? They way these girls treat him is like watching an animated version of Heathers. Luckily, Christian Slater, uh...ahem, I mean Snoopy, does invade the party for some justice on Lucy, who subsequently tells us that she is not into "dog lips." Whatever gets you through the night, Lucy.
Later that night, the gang returns to find that Linus has gotten bubkus. In fact, Linus fainted when he thought the Great Pumpkin was rising out of the patch. Of course it was Snoop. Linus discovers an important life lesson- don't tick off the little lady. She got cheated out of treats, Linus; she ain't gonna let you forget that anytime soon, sweet baboo or not. He sticks to his guns, and it's up to Lucy to go out in bring him in from the cold. The next morning, Linus is pretty down, but definately not going to a psychiatrist- cause thats against the L.Ron Great Pumpkin A women scorned, Linus. Pay attention.way of life. Charlie Brown tells him not to worry about it, because he has "done some stupid things in his life." Not a way to convince the kiddies, Chuck. Linus then goes off the deep end, as if he was sitting on Oprah's couch. Despite everything, Linus stays the course. He's a true believer. Now, come on. You know this is the classic of classics. It is a must-see ever year. My kids and I take in at least three or four viewings. Sometimes Mom even joins us. Family classic all around. Do yourself a favor and pass it on to your kids.

Well that's it, shelfers. Let us know what you think in the comments section. Did we miss one of your favorites? If so, let us know. Look out for another weekend review from Baravelli.

Posted by J.C. Loophole & Wolf Flywheel

Why should I care about posterity? What's posterity ever done for me?I never forget a face, but in your case I'll make an exception

i've learned there are three things you don't discuss with people: religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Just some tasty linkage for you to chew on today:
X-Entertainment reviews new "Marshmellow Peeps: Decorating Kit"- yum
In Scottsdale, AZ Jerry and Kramer are attempting to turn a McDonalds into a fancy "Starbucks"-style McDonalds. I kid you not; check it out. George and Elaine: MIA.
Sesame Street brings this ridiculous court case to you by the letters W and Q.
Lasty, see how "8-year old girl vs 211 lb Bear" turns out.
Media morsels:
New episodes of this season of South Park began this past week. The first episode was "Two Days Before the Day After Tomorrow." If you have been following our diatribes here about the hurricane coverage and have seen it - you will love this episode. Check out listings for repeat. Don't miss it.
Tonight on ABC- the annual airing of "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" at 8/7central.
Required viewing.

UPDATE: It appears that inferring Sesame Street legal troubles was semi-prophetic: Seems as if Elmo earned himself a night in the sweatbox. Seems as if there was a failure to communicate. Elmo might also be in a gang with Spongebob. Tragic. Even the superheroes have failed us.

Also for you anonymous commentors out there (you know who you are, we don't): a little "Six Degrees" contest for you: Degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon to Groucho Marx (don't forget to name the films, no more than six) : name your answers in the comments section. Winner receives: satisfaction. Good Luck. Hint: Look in this paragraph for a hint.

Why should I care about posterity? What's posterity ever done for me?

I got a rock.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

do or do not. there is no 'try'.

You don't need a golden nugget to afford this.
Here at the Shelf, we strive in presenting useful information that hopefully can make a difference in your life. Here is just one more way we are opening minds one article at a time. Every now and then we like to gather around the greatest thing that man has ever invented: THE XBOX. We indulge ourselves in good old fashion shoot outs, racing, and adventure games. We also play the greatest game: football. Recently I picked up my copy of NCAA 2006 by EA Sports.

Hurry, I can't hold this pose much longer.With a title such as '06, one would think that all that EA changed from the previous versions is the background. That is not the case here. EA has taken the game to a whole new level. EA has upped the ante with the new Heisman mode. In '06, you can now create a sorry little freshman and with a some effort, you can make him a Heisman winner. There are new impact moves that will make or break your game. And the game is somewhat more balanced then previous versions. You can study your team’s playbook while in your dorm room and if you need it, you can practice them also. EA has also brought new mini games to the options menu. The Passing Skeleton, Oklahoma Drill, Option Attack and Rushing Attack are great games to play to just have fun and improve your game at the same time.

I love the way I can take my mighty Clemson Tigers all the way to the National Championship. Yes, you Gamecock fans can do it too. Even with these additions, not one thing that has made the series great has changed. Dynasty and season modes still excite, and you can always just You can't touch me, boypick it up and play a rivalry game. Sound and graphic qualities are excellent, and EA still has the dynamic trio of Nessler, Herbstreit, and Corso commanding the helm. The game is available for all consoles, and there is very little difference among them. The Xbox version has the edge with graphics and loading times. If you are riding the fence about deciding whether or not to get this game, man, get off before you hurt something and get it fast. It has online features and is rated E for you and your kids. With the Shelf ratings of Pass, Borrow, Rent, or Buy - NCAA 2006 by EA Sports is rated by the Shelf as a Buy. Remember, when the game is tied, 2 sec left, it's 4th and Goal, and you're on the goalline, run the QB up the gut! ( courtesy of Matt Leinhart)

Please add comments if the need strikes you.

Posted by: A. Baravelli
Shh! Don't wake him up. He's got insomnia, he's trying to sleep it off.

If a man does his best, what else is there?

Friday, October 21, 2005


We would like to welcome to the Shelf our weekend correspondent, Mr. A. Baravelli. Baravelli is widely experienced in media arts and the art of games and the gaming thereof. And as with the rest of the crew here at the Shelf, he seems to be posessed of opinions. We commend you to his rhetoric with all due dilegence. Enjoy.
Coming up: Saturday: Weekend post by Baravelli
Monday: "Top Shelf" Halloween Cartoon Countdown

Why should I care about posterity? What's posterity ever done for me?

I still think it's a terrible play, but it makes a wonderful rehearsal.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

halloween: old school style

I have to admit that I am not one for gore or horror movies. Never have liked the nasty stuff. Call me whatever you want, but I don't really see why all that stuff is necessary. When you strip away all the special effects and naughty bits - there is not much left. No story, no real plot- nothing. Take a gander at the typical plot summary and you can enter your own details Mad Libs style. It really doesn't matter how you do- it'll still end up the same.

RUN AWAY!A _____ [A. summer camp B. movie theater C. old house D.Beverly Hills Mansion] is rumored to be_____ [ A. haunted B. the site of some grisly murders C. the former spot of a political convention D. the site of a WB sitcom] that took place_____ [A. many years ago B. last week C. November 2004 D. during the slow summer news season]. Several teenagers dare each other to ____[A. spend the night B. take a vacation there C. perform an exorcism D. dress up like White House Interns] at the old place. They have all heard the stories, but inevitably one of them will feel the need to repeat said story about who is said to haunt the area. Little do they know it, but the ____[A. former janitor B. summer camper C. U.S. Senator D. Mickey Rourke] is still alive and watching their every move. The teenagers are warned to leave by______ [A. an old codger guard B. former camp counselor C. U.S. Special Prosecutor D. Mickey Rooney], who tells them that they_____ [A. are doomed B. will never leave alive C. should not go to sleep D. are invited to Neverland for a "sleepover"]. You Kids Better Clear Out!
The kids laugh off the story and the warning and go to sleep. During the night they hear_____ [ A. strange noises B. a sinister laugh C. spooky moans D. Larry King] and decide to investigate. They of course, split up and one by one they ______ [A. are brutally murdered B. mysteriously disappear C. given a ride by Ted Kennedy D. saved by a Sean Penn in a canoe]. Eventually there is only one teenager left who comes face to face with the evil killer. The teen finds out who the bad guy really is and comes up with a plan to _____ [A. destroy him B. send him back to his evil dimension C. expose him on "60 Minutes" D. elect him to public office]. The teen and bad guy grapple, but eventually the teen defeats him. Morning comes and the authorities come and _____ [A. send the teen to the hospital B. collect the bodies C. notify Oprah who immediately comes in to save the day D. ask the teen who their dealer is and who else is on "the stuff"]. While everyone leaves, the camera pulls back and we notice that the body of the evil killer is gone- which makes the audience think______ [A. "Oh- there will be a sequel." B. "Hey, did this really happen or did the teenager dream it?" C. "Boy, those wacky Clintons will get away with anything!" D. "I just paid ten bucks to see this crap?"]. The End.
You see- pretty predictable. I prefer the old school halloween stuff instead. You know - the kind of stuff they used to show on late night television hosted by Elvira: "The Creature from the Black Lagoon." etc. Yeah, the effects are pretty silly, and the acting can be a bit campy or stale, but there are some true gems out there that you won't be able to watch with the lights on.

In kicking off Halloween here at the shelf - we present for the next few days our own "Top Shelf" lists of different Halloween enjoyables. Some of these are family friendly - (some may not be appropriate for younger kids, but no "R" rated stuff here) and should remind us that Halloween can have a spirit of spooky fun, fright and mischief - not all gore (or algore). Today we present the "Top Shelf" Old school Halloween picks! Enjoy!

10. Mercury Theater Radio Dramas
9. In Search of...
8. Abbott and Costello meet...
7. Hitchcock
6. Young Frankenstein
5. Freaks
4. Nosferatu
3. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
2. Frakenstein
1. Dracula

Good thing this was before the age of lawsuits, huh, Orson?10. Mercury Theater Radio Dramas. Ok - this one might have thrown you off a bit, but what you may not realize is that your mind can conjure up images far scary than what Hollywood can come up with. Most of what you fear is in your mind, and these excellent radio dramas do an excellent job of painting mental pictures. Orson Welles is the genius behind the radio series "The Mercury Theater on the Air". The ensemble drama company put together many adaptations of literature and boasted the talents of John Houseman, Agnes Moorehead, and musical genius Bernard Herrman. You can find some MP3 downloadable versions of the show on the great site Two particular shows are great for Halloween: The War of the Worlds and Dracula. War of the Worlds is the classic that caused the mass panic on Sunday October 30, 1938, in which some people listening to the show actually believed that the world was being invaded by martians. Don't laugh- war scares in the news, and the presentation by Mercury Theater combined to make a climate of fear. Check it out. Also, Orson Welles as Dracula. Nuff said.
9. In Search of... If you were a kid in the 70s and early 80s, you know about Leonard Nimoy and In Search of.... It was the History Channel, Discovery Channel, Travel Channel, and TLC all rolled into one creepy package. The show covered a range of topics from the Amnityville Horror and the Loch Ness Monster to Nostradamus and the Charles Lindbergh baby kidnapping. Combine Leonard Nimoy's crisp, measured narration and creepy footage and reenactments and you've got a real life spooky series. The series still pops up occasionaly on the History Channel and a new version of the series hosted by X-Files' Agent Skinner, Mitch Pileggi, is on the
Sci-Fi Channel. Remember the theme song? If not, here it is: click to listen. (RIght click and click "save target as")
8.Abbott and Costello Meet... - If you haven't watched any of these flicks- do yourself a favor and check them out. Bud Abbott and Lou Costello made some funny films with the Universal Studio's movie monsters (Both A and C and the monsters were Universal stars). The best is perhaps
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein which featured Franky, Dracula, & the Wolf Man. For a spooky comedy also check out their 1942 movie Who Done it? Also, for a more modern day Abbott and Costello spooky schtick check out Don Knotts and Tim Conway in Private Eyes.
7. Hitchcock. For suspense there is no substitute for Hitch (not Will Smith). Try
Psycho or The Birds for some creepy Halloween frights. That's I-gor
6. Young Frankenstein. Mel Brooks'
classic comedy spoof is a must-see for me every Halloween. Peter Boyle, Gene Wilder, Teri Garr, and Madeline Khan are hilarious. My favorite scene- the Putting on the Ritz Number. Marty Feldman steals the show as Igor. Honorable mention to Haunted Honeymoon.
5. Freaks. OK, here's where the rubber meets the road. Some of you may have never heard of Director Tod Browning's 1932 classic film
Freaks- but you should. Those of you who are students of classic cinema (like we are at The Shelf) should know that Browning was fresh off of directing Bela Lugosi in 1931's Dracula when he left Universal for MGM. Browning took the script about the world of sideshow circus freaks and a "normal" woman who entered that world and turned cinema on it's ear. The story involves a trapeze performer, Cleopatra, who marries the circus midget, Hans, when she discovers he is heir to a fortune. The "Freaks" accept Cleopatra into their society, but later discover that she is really attempting to kill Hans and run off with her lover, the Strong man Hercules. The "Freaks" turn on Cleopatra and Hercules who meet a terrible end. Browning had turned the stereotypical sideshow performers into the real heros of the film, making you wonder exactly what makes one an abborent of nature- their appearance or their heart? By employing real circus sideshow performers, Browning shocked audiences and MGM alike with this film. In fact for many years MGM distanced themselves from the film, and no copy or reissue was released into theaters. Recently a great DVD issued by MGM has hit the stores full of extras. Check out- but be warned- this is not for the kiddies. It is a bit disturbing, but a great film that was ahead of its time.
4. Nosferatu- You may have seen Dracula- but may not have seen its papa:
Nosferatu. This German silent film is one of two on this list. Lugosi has a creepy, evil aristocratic charm- Nosferatu is just all monster. Don't watch it alone. Or at night. The film pretty much steals Bram Stoker's book - and just changes some of the names. Stoker's widow actually went to court over the film which caused the name changes.
I'll bet he's not a real Doctor.3. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari- This is the second of the great German silents on the list. This is a pure psychological jaunt into fear. A young man tells a story of an old hypnotist,
Dr Caligari, who comes to a local fair to put on display his "cabinet" which contains a somnambulist named Cesare. Dr. Caligari awakens Cesare, who is able to predict the future for members of the audience. During the fair, murders begin to occur in the village. You may think you know whats going on but you don't. The atmosphere, sets, and mood is in the mode of German Expressionism which is somewhat jarring, but adds to the theme of the film. Shelf trivia: The actor who plays Cesare is Conrad Veidt, who you might know better as Major Stasser in Casablanca.
2. Frankenstein. What else can we say? Would it be Halloween without Franky? Check out Universal's recent
Frankenstein: The Legacy Collection, which contains not only Frankenstein and great extras, but also the sequels Bride of, House of , Son of, and Ghost of Frankenstein; and all for less than $30 bucks. So worth it. Of the sequels - Bride is the best. For a real treat watch the original and then Young Frankenstein as a double feature! Boris Karloff rules! (by the way - who else but Franky can narrate the Grinch?)
1. Dracula. Well, what did you expect? 1931 was a turning point for fright cinema and for One...One Classic movie! Bwah, ha, ha, ha!Universal studios. Dracula and Frankenstein were made that year and were hits for the studio. These films redefined the genre. Bela Lugosi was so identified with the Count that he could find little other work than to recreate the character or someone like it. Many have dismissed it as schlock, but it is truly a cinematic masterpiece. Director Tod Browning combined elements of German Expressionism and English Gothic Horror and made it into a artful interpretation of Stoker's tale. Check out Universal's,
Dracula: The Legacy Collection for the definitive DVD edition.

Well Shelfers, this is the list. See- you don't have to go for the stupid blood and guts for a frightfully fun Halloween. No- you can stay true to your sensibilities of classic cinema and classic camp! And that isn't all - there are other great works that deserve honorable mention- Vincent Price's The Pit and The Pendulum, The Invisible Man, The Mummy, and others. Make it an Old School Halloween!
If you feel so inclined- post your votes or comments on our list in the comments section.

Next: Halloween Cartoon Special Countdown. The Shelf gets animated- be there.

Marriage is a wonderful institution ... but who wants to live in an institution?

listen to them. children of the night. what music they make.

Monday, October 17, 2005

"those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber."--Plato

I wonder what crawled up her skirt.....most likely nothing.
Everybody seems to be so worried about who's running for President next term. News organizations are sounding like gossip columns more and more as they report every little off-handed, accidental remark by every off-handed, accidental politician who implies a run for office. Of course most people are anticipating Hillary in '08. John McCain and Gov. Romney have all but cranked up the campaign bus, and Giuliani is toying with the idea.Truth is, I kinda get the feeling there will be a myriad of phonies lining up to be the next puppet for Congress to put their hand into. Yup. I said it. Our President (the office of, that is) has become a puppet of congress.
These guys and gals in the House and Senate have a sweet gig. All they do is congratulate each other and plan vacations all day squeezing in a little time for making laws. They make proposals that benefit them financially and politically then send them to the President to sign accompanied by some advice: "If you don't sign ours, we won't support yours."
Oh yes. Congress typically gets their way and we as a people just don't seem to care. We are all too busy blaming the President for our woes from gas prices to an I don't know much!unsightly mole. Yet the President doesn't control as much as we think he does. Certainly he has some power, but only what Congress gives him. Yeah, I know. He tells us in the state of the union about all this legislation he'll put forward and the changes he'll make, but those are things Congress has to approve.Essentially, they decide what gets enacted and what doesn't. This legislature in turn causes the things we blame the President for. You see what I mean? Congress has it good. The President takes all the blame. Then if people dislike what is passed and begin to lambast the President, the same Congressmen who helped cause the problem blame him as well. Of course, if everyone praises the legislation, Senator Boxer and Senator Kennedy take credit.
I think it's high-time that we as a nation pay as much attention to which Senators and Representatives we send to D.C. as we do to the Presidential race. In reality, we pay an excessive amount of attention to the "Big" race and barely enough to stay awake for the Congressional elections. Most people just vote their party then get back to work. If we had President Bush's and Senator Kerry's 3rd grade report cards, we would have them analyzed by 100 experts for signs of leadership. Yet Ted Kennedy (Hi Ted! I know you're a shelfer.) can get drunk and drive off a bridge leaving a woman to drown instead of helping her to the surface and he'll be a shoo-in for the Senate 'til he dies (or until he finally gets so drunk, he forgets to run).
Think about it: At best, a President has 8 years to screw up the country. Senators and Representatives have no term limits. Theoretically, if they drink the same flavor milkshake Strom Thurmond was sippin' on, they could screw us up for 100 years.
People seem to be more likely to vote for the incumbent than for a newcomer. Now if the incumbent is doing a fine job then, by all means, vote for him. What I can't understand is when voters continuously put someone in office who is either dead weight or just a walking controversy. Just because a candidate isn't well known or didn't raise much campaign money doesn't mean he is ineffective. People tend to go with who " looks official" or who has a more familiar name. Essentially, it has become a popularity contest. Our legislature has become much likeWait a minute..I think the chick with the glasses is over 40 too. 'Beverly Hills:90210" except it's in D.C., most are over 40, and no-one has Jason Priestly's hair. Is that what we really want running our country? Besides, our Congress does not represent us, their constituents. They represent themselves and special interest groups. That's not the way it should be. They don't answer to the people anymore. That's because we don't hold them accountable by voting for someone else when they fail us.
My old buddy T.J. (that's Thomas Jefferson to you) used to say," When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty. " We need to make our government fear us. The most effective way to do that is by being responsible at the voting booth. It's not as easy as it sounds, though. You can't just show up and "tow the party line". You must research the issues and candidates, voting for what you think is best. Too many people are afraid to vote outside of their party. There's nothing wrong with being a part of a political affiliation. The problem is when people allow their political affiliation to control how they vote. You can still be a good Democrat and vote for a Republican. You can still be a good Republican and vote for a Democrat.
Are we too simple minded as a country to simply vote for the best candidate? Sadly enough, I think so. I mean, there are lights of hope among voters in every state, but they get covered up by a big blanket of dummies. Keep in mind that this blanket has both elephants and donkeys embroidered all over it. I hate to sound so negative, but I call it like I see it. This being the case, I'm not as worried about who's running for President as I am about those going to vote for them. We must reform ourselves as a nation of voters, then reform our legislature by holding them accountable. If we can ever accomplish that, I think our Presidential woes will be over.

Feel free to comment and discuss if the need strikes you.

"Boy, I think you've got something there.......I'll wait outside while you clean it up." I never forget a face, but in your case I'll make an exception


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