Monday, December 15, 2008

Why Norwood Is So Hard To Explain (And Why It's Still A Good Book)

Norwood, by Charles Portis, is about a guy. His name his Norwood, and he hails from Ralph, Texas. That is the only explanation I can really give when anyone asks me what it’s about, but since I have time and paper, i’ll go into more depth. The book basically follows Norwood’s life over the course of a month or so. Sure, things happen, like meeting a wife on the bus and the World’s Second Shortest Perfect Man, but the way the Portis writes makes all the incidents feel mundane. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad book. Quite the contrary. You see, one does not read Norwood for plot twists and adventure; no, one reads Norwood for Charles Portis’ hilarious characters and situations, and his deadpan sense of humor.
The chain of events is as follows: Norwood’s sister gets married to a guy who he dislikes; Norwood meets a con man who gives him a car and tells him to drive his annoying lady to New York, where he will receive money; Norwood figures he’s been duped and leaves the stolen cars and Yvonne in the middle of the desert (actually, Yvonne drives away); He hops a train, on which a hobo steals his boots while Norwood is sleeping; Norwood jumps off train, buys shoes from two wanderers; Gets on a bus where he sorta--and that is a key word-- falls in love with this girl; they stop in a town so the girl (Rita Lee) can go break up with her boyfriend; Meanwhile, Norwood meets the world’s second smallest perfect man; He tags along with them; Norwood also takes along a “college educated” chicken from an amusement park booth; On the way back, they stop at an old Marine Corps buddy of Norwood’s and get back the 70 dollars he owes him; He returns home, runs into guy that gave him the stolen cars, beats him up; He goes home. See, that is the most abridged way of summarizing it as I could muster. No doubt Norwood will have other similar adventures, but Charles Portis purposefully doesn’t delve into them. I think he did this because he only wanted to illustrate one period of this man’s life, and he does so with such great characters and wry humor that he, somehow, pulls it off.
My only qualm with Norwood is that once I finished it it left me with a sort of empty feeling. It’s difficult to explain, but it made my life, and everyone’s life, extremely, painfully mundane. And truthfully. Rather than making you think your life is mundane, he makes you realize your life is mundane. And that is a feat on it’s own.
And Charles Portis does all this while remaining extremely humble and unassuming, I think. Whatever you think, I highly recommend this book, even if it was written in ‘66. You will not be sorry.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Hayden's Country Wisdom

The Organic Grower's Guide to Vegetable Production
Vol. 1: Getting Started

By Hayden Holbert, senior country correspondent.

Vegetable growers do much more than produce vegetables. They also manage money, people, and natural resources. In fact, the growing is often the easy part. It's the part of adding the existing wealth of the soil in an attempt to adress the systems that comprise a vegetable farm. Marketing, soil, cover crops, compost, and pest management are all things incorporated into a succesful farm.
With sufficient experience under your belt, the next thing to do is locate a piece of land suitable for vegetable production and marketing. A piece of land at least three acres is plenty, and a good water source is recommended. It is also important not to go into debt. The organics business is a business unknown to many wealthy undertakers and can be unpredictable.
Soil fertility is of primary importance to vegetable production. Deep, well drained loamy soild are the most productive and responsive in terms of weather management. Nonetheless, soils of lesser quality can be improved, but this will be a long term task. Soils with sandy texture that excessively drain water can be useful for early season production. It will thrive on regular inputs of organic matter and frequent irrigation. Heavy textured soils that contain a lot of clay and drain poorly can also be improved with frequent organic matter additions and subsoil tillage. It is best to have a soil in the middle of these, but in my opinion it is better to have a soil on the heavier side. Availability is critical to vegetable growing. High quality soil might be able to produce good vegetable yields for some years without irrigation, but in a dry spell they will suffer considerable yield reduction.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Dictatorship 101

So, you want to become a dictator. Before you can do so, there are some very important steps that he must consider before taking on this very long journey. They will all be covered in this lesson in the span of 5 chapters. Chapter 1: Pre-Power. Chapter 2: Eliminating all enemies. Chapter 3: Building your dictatorship. Chapter 4: Maintaining your dictatorship. Chapter 5: Making an exit.

Everyone knows that to get to the top, you have to start at the bottom. So your first step is, of course, becoming a peasant. All you have to do is pick a country to inhabit (particularly one with a broken economy) and invest most of your money into the broken economy. Or you can give it away. Once you have done that, you will have no choice but to start working for a living (this will come in handy later on). Eventually you will get mad at the terrible government and you will become a revolutionary. This is an important step. You must hold many rallies and protests (getting arrested if necessary) and capture the attention of the party leader. If he likes what you have done, he will appoint you a position in the party. After this, you must do all you can to help the party achieve a coup and take control of the government. Continue working your way up the power chain and making a name for yourself. A few ways to do this are making lots of public appearances, making a lot of friends within the party, and or begin writing for a hip magazine. Once you have made a name for yourself and gathered a considerable amount of followers, you can start accusing those under you of being dissidents from the party and having them exiled. This will greatly aid your climb upwards, which leads us to our next chapter,

Eliminating All Enemies
Continue exiling your underlings until you are just about at the top. Then, have a large group of people attack the leader and burn his house down. This will force him to leave the country, as he will believe it is no longer safe. Once you have done that, you are now the de-facto dictator. Eliminate every single other person in the government except for people who you absolutely trust. Even if they have been loyal all the way, it will still lower the probability of a revolution. Now that you are the official dictator, it’s time to start

Building Your Dictatorship
This is perhaps the most involved step of this whole bonanza. First things first: You must create an identifiable logo/color that is easily recognizable as the insignia of your empire (i.e. Hitler’s swastika or Mao’s red). Next put the insignia on the uniforms of all armed forces. After this, take the elite out of the armed forces and make a police force that will root out any dissidents and scare others from becoming dissidents. A secret police force is very important. They will enforce the censorship of the media and literature, they will get rid of all the intellectuals and put them to work, they will make sure everyone is saying your Oath of Loyalty (be creative-- they’ll have to say it no matter what!) This is the time when your dictatorship is booming-- almost everyone still believes that you are amazing, and industrial and agricultural production should be good, too, since everyone is working on farms and in factories. Meanwhile, you can bask in your own personal wealth and power. In your downtime, fashion a name for your dictatorship. Now that you have built your dictatorship, you are going to have to start working on

Maintaining Your Dictatorship
Around this time, people are going to start questioning you. At this point, production has gone down because people are tired of working so much, and since you gave the police force so much power, they are starting to get out of control. What’s more, your close friends are going to start realizing how old and unhealthy you look, and they will begin jockeying for power. But don’t lose faith! You can still make best with what years you still have left. It is now time to launch vigorous propaganda campaigns. You will have to work double time on convincing everyone that everything is a-okay. Make posters of healthy men and women working hard and being loyal to you. Also, keep exporting resources to keep other countries disillusioned on your success. Just because there’s a nationwide famine doesn’t mean you have to ruin foreign relations. This is also a good time to launch a Youth Education Program. The adults have already started heavily questioning you, so it’s time to start tapping in on those young, fresh, stupid minds. Take the manipulation as far as you can go. Make them say the oath of loyalty 4, maybe even 5 times a day. Make sure that your ideals are drilled in to their heads until they are practically vomiting it. Make yourself an icon of fear if you have to, anything to keep the passion alive after you are dead and gone. Which brings us to are last, but certainly not least, chapter:

Making An Exit
You’re old. You’re sickly. It’s time to go, and you know it. Now you have two choices: 1) Select a successor and leave with a decent amount of peace and tranquility, or 2) Launch a major, violent purge against a single group of people (religion or race, it doesn’t matter) and exile/execute them. This will leave the country in shambles, and while you are resting quietly in your grave, they will be left with no choice but to piece the country back together, bit by bit. W
The first choice is obviously the more reasonable one, but the second is much more fun. It doesn’t matter, you’re the dictator, you can do whatever the heck you want! Which is one great thing about being a dictator.

Well, I hope you enjoyed your lesson. Join us next time, when you will learn more about how to have a revolution and a military coup! Thanks, and have a lovely empire!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Worst Music Videos Ever Created

I was surfing YouTube and one thing led to another. these mind-numbing, headache-inducing music videos from the 80's and 90's (oh, the 20th century). In my opinion, these are a few of the worst music videos ever made in the history of mankind.

First, a strange Finnish song and dance. I don't know the name or the group, and frankly, I don't ever want to. (Why are they all eating snacks at the end?)

Second, the song "Breakin' the Chains" by Dokken. I cannot even begin to comprehend why this video exists, or why they were filming in a haunted mansion. Some things will never be known...

Thirdly, the song "Losing You" by Jan Terri. Just look at her in her fancy limo (it may be noted that she herself was a limo driver... hm...). And the first shot of her boyfriend is priceless (parked in a no-parking zone! You sexy rebel!)

Last and least, the song "Baby Blues" by (yet again) Jan Terri. His eyes are blue enough to fill a swimming pool... with ducks. Plus, look at all those hot chicks! I want to go to that bar...

I apologize for any hurt feelings of fans ofJan Terri, Dokken, or the strange Finnish band. This is purely my opinion.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Amherst Geeks

By Spencer Tweedy, curator of and

Amherst College Survey: Students are wired Mac addicts

"This is not your father's college class. Hell, it isn't even mine, and I've only been out of the system for five years. What I'm talking about is this new survey from Amherst College. Long story short is they're armed to the teeth with tech, Apple products and web apps, and their classrooms are too." - Gizmodo

So, according to an Amherst College survey, most of their students are "wired, Facebook-loving Mac addicts." Here are some statistics.

  • 432 members of the incoming class of 438 had Facebook accounts, and accounted for 3,225 posts.
  • By the end of the first day of class, 370 students had registered 443 devices.
  • Those devices? Probably laptops, as only 14 freshmen lugged desktop computers to school this year.
  • As for the Apple effect, the probability of a student having an iPhone/iTouch in the class of 2012 is approximately 1 in 2.
  • Total landline phones in service? Five.

Pretty crazy, huh?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Thursday, November 6, 2008

This Boy's Life


He's a very sensitive boy
standing next to Jesus
"Have a cigarette" Jesus says
A poisonwood bible in his right hand
Delivering lunches
to the Navy man
"Have a cigarette" the Navy man says
He's a very sensitive boy
who watched a monster on the Phillies
It's crunch time
his father said
But he was a long way gone
And the monster says,
"Have a cigarette"
But he's a very sensitive boy
and he doesn't smoke

That was a found poem that I made in class an hour ago. We were supposed to find things (e.g book titles, phrases you overhear, phrases from a book) and compile them into a poem. We did a similar thing last year. That poem was about a casino and a guy with a gambling problem. I wish I could find it...

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Birth of a Superhero

Hey everyone,

I was bored today, so I decided to make a stop motion movie on the chalk board. I never really have the patience to make a full length one, so by the time I was done with the opening sequence I threw in the towel and called it a day. This was an impromptu decision, hence the shaky tripod and white towel jumping around on the bottom of the frame. That said, enjoy!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Alternate Universe (WARNING: Contains Harsh Language and Thematic Elements XD)

After saying goodbye to my friend Kate and boarding the bus at about 9:00, I realized something. I hadn't checked whether the bus in which I was riding was the 22 Clark-- the one I was supposed to be riding-- or the 36 Broadway. I asked the woman next to me.
With a slightly patronizing tone, she said, "Honey, this bus is the 36."
"Okay," I responded. "That's what I thought." 'Damn,' I thought to myself.
I kept my composure, however. I remembered that Broadway goes Northeast, so I would reach Irving Park eventually. I passed the time listening to two girls behind me talk about tequila.
I did, in fact, reach Irving Park. I got off and looked at my surroundings. A gas station here, a restaurant there. I walked with a confident demeanor, but let's face it, I had no idea where the hell I was. I wasn't completely hopeless, though.
I knew that if I were to get on the Irving Park bus, I would be going west. So I decided to go west. The first bus stop I came across was not in fact an Irving Park stop but an Ashland Express stop. Disheartened, I turned around and started walking the opposite direction, east. The next stop I came to was even more confusing; the sign said Clarendon Express... three times. While I was inspecting the sign, I heard a voice from behind me.
"Hey buddy." I turned around. The voice was that of a 30-some year old man sitting on the bench.
"Hi..." I said.
"Why don'tcha sit down" He gestured to the empty spot next to him.
"Um, no thanks." There was an awkward silence.
He broke it, but to a negative effect, "I don't smoke weed. Do you smoke weed?"
"Hm, can't say I do." There was another silence.
"Alright, don't worry about it." He said as I walked away. As I was walking, I pondered upon this man's motives. I boiled it down to three. 1)He wanted me to give him some weed, 2) He wanted to rape me, or 3) He wanted to rape me while we were both high on weed that I gave him. Whatever it was, it didn't help me out of my bad mood.
I walked west again. This time I walked past the Ashland stop, and whaddya know, not even a block away there was the Irving Park stop. However, once I DID get onto the bus, I had to wait another half hour or so, because the bus driver didn't really feel like driving the bus just yet. Once the guy behind me started saying things like "fucking bitch ain't got no cock," I decided it was about time to call someone.
When I finally got home, I was greeted by my father, who was wearing a hawaiian shirt under a blue pinstripe suit jacket, with tennis shoes, ripped jeans, and a straw hat.

Nada Surf: Lucky Review

Play this album loud. Really loud. And sing along. The album, released this year, is undoubtedly one of the most catchy, uplifting albums I have heard in a while. The album, Nada Surf's fifth full-length installment, features irresistibly catchy verses and choruses, beautiful yet subtle harmonies, and often whimsical and funny lyrics. Matthew Caws, lead singer and guitarist, brings the house down with a great voice. Daniel Lorca and Ira Elliot are great with pounding bass lines and drums. Each song is unique, bringing its own harmonies and/or counter melodies to the table (.e. "Beautiful Beat" and "See These Bones").
This is one of those few albums that can be listened to over and over and over. My only problem with the album is the song "The Fox", which seems slightly out of place with the rest of the album. It actually kind of scared me the first time I heard it--it's just that weird. But I'm starting to warm up to it.
"Lucky" by Nada Surf will go down as one of my favorite albums ever. I look forward to their next album!




"Whose Authority"

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Jeans Boond: From Europe With Hate

Yet another HILARIOUS video I made with a different friend and my brother a looong time ago. This one is spoofing James Bond: From Russia With Love (HAWHAWHAW). We were exploring the concept of cutting to a different camera angle mid-action. Again, we thought we were so cool.

The Ultimate Montage!!!

I was surfing YouTube and recalled a video I had made with a friend and my brother two years ago. I looked it up, and to my surprise, it was still there. While watching, I was overcome with mixed feelings of nostalgia and disgust. Nostalgia because it was a long time ago. Disgust because when we made it, we thought it was incredibly deep and witty. How sad is that.
I then found a few other videos that we had made. They shall follow.
Meanwhile, enjoy this video.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Hayden's Country Wisdom

By Smorgasborg Country Correspondent Hayden Holbert

1. Pick your corn before tassel turns dark brown.

2. Make sure you properly dry your hay before you put it up.

3. If you find that you can't get your diesel tractor started in the winter, try a glow plug.

4. When planting any kind of squash by a start, make sure that you don't plant too early. Definitely a week after first frost.

5. Remember to put good heart in your soil by spreading manure or organic matter on, either after you harvest, or in the early spring.

6. If you just can't get your goat to go where you want it to, try making a sound by putting your lips together and blowing out, as if you were playing a trumpet. The goat will surely go where you want.

Come visit my farm in Wisconsin, AVROM FARMS. Fresh, local, and naturally grown produce is what we're all about.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Haunted Janitor

Of all the hauntings that occupied the school when I was in 2nd grade, the Haunted Janitor is the one I remember best. The Haunted Janitor was a ghost janitor that occupied the janitor's closet across from Ta's class. Many children were afraid to go inside, solely because they were afraid that the Haunted Janitor would do something to them.
However, my two friends Lucas Binion and Alex Auyeung, and I, were above that. We weren't afraid of that ghost. In fact, we had relations with him. We had been granted with the special power to see the haunted janitor, to talk to him, and in one case, to be possessed by him.
We saw the Haunted Janitor many times. Once was at recess, when I thought I saw him on the roof, looking down at us. I promptly pretended to get hit on the head with something and fall down.
“What happened?” asked Lucas.
“'I've been hit!” I replied theatrically.
“What hit you?”
For effect, I paused a second before saying, “The Haunted Janitor” and pointed up ominously. Lucas and Alex freaked out and started looking up to the roof... but there was nothing there. It was all an act, of course, but it made us feel important, and consoled us to the fact that we weren't, and never would be, Harry Potter. We all desperately wanted to be Harry Potter, of course, but we needed something different, lest someone accuse us of wanting to be Harry Potter. Sometimes at night before I went to bed I would practice spells in a bad British accent, but it always eventually made me more embarrassed and depressed. It seems that anything I did to make up for my own mystical inadequacy only made me feel more inadequate and unmagical.
Another time I saw him I was in the Janitor's Closet after lunch. From what I remember of it, it was dimly lit and usually smelled like aged ramen noodles. There was also a toilet, and on many occasions I found someone actually sitting down and taking a poo, which is really unacceptable, even if you're in first grade. Anyway, at the end of this hallway-like closet was a door that was always closed. It was of course the actual janitor's closet, but none of us wanted to admit it. I secretly believed that behind the door was an abandoned elevator shaft, which, if you went straight down, would eventually lead to the Haunted Janitor's secret lair. This was one of the few things I actually believed about the Haunted Janitor, in line with the Haunted Janitor himself, The Polar Express, and a Teddy Bear that came down to my house during the night in a parachute and left me a note in my favorite book, which was about the same teddy bear.
I was cleaning out my bowl of ramen noodles in the janitor's closet when a thought struck me. I was alone in the Haunted Janitor's closet. This was the perfect opportunity to see the Haunted Janitor. I abandoned what I was doing and hesitantly walked towards the door at the end of the closet. I was still 7 feet away when I got too scared, but hey, it was still pretty close. At that point I blanked on what to do. In previous encounters I had just pretended to see him, and the thought saddened me greatly. Now that it was the real deal, I had no idea what I what to do. So I just kinda stood there staring stupidly at the door, waiting for something to happen. I feel like I must have waited for ten minutes, but still nothing happened. Minute after minute, each uneventful second ticked uneventfully away. Finally I heard a door open behind me and I turned around to see Alex standing in the doorway.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“I saw the janitor,” I gasped.
“What? Where is he?”
“He's gone now.”
“Did he say anything? What did he do?” It was then that I had an idea, although at the time I disguised it as a terrible epiphany: I was possessed by the Haunted Janitor.
Alex asked again, but I was already in possessed mode. I assumed a glassy-eyed stare and a slow, stumbling shuffle. He continued trying to get my attention, but I kept ignoring him. It went on like this until recess, until the full effects of my "possession" started kicking in. I started yelling incoherently and having short battles with Lucas and Alex. By this I mean they would get near me and, both yelling, we would kick each other until one of us backed away to regain our strength. Between these skirmishes Alex and Lucas would say cheesy action movie clichés, along the lines of "Henry, snap out of it, come on, don't give up!" and "Noooooooooooooo!" This went on for the entire half hour recess period. When the whistle blew I entered the next and final stage of my possession- the part where it kills me slowly. As we were walking in, I leaned against Lucas and started wheezing as best I could. They both kept up the clichés, but this time they were more dramatic and heavy with remorse.
During read aloud, I lay on the floor and wheezed, but quietly so Ta would not notice. I chimed in with dramatic clichés: "It hurts...", "Help me...," and the classic, "I feel... so cold..." I kept repeating these lines over and over again, mainly because I couldn't think of anything else. Eventually Alex got bored and listened to Ta's story, and Lucas wizened up. "Henry, cut it out. This is stupid."
"No..." I wheezed, "I don't have much time..."
"It's getting old." he replied moodily.
"Please... help me..."
"So... cold..." Eventually I had to get up, of course, and we all went on with our lives. After that point, I don't remember any significant encounters with the Haunted Janitor, and after some time I stopped believing in him all together. It was probably because of my friends' negative attitude towards it: they weren't working with my fantasies anymore, no longer feeding the flame of my passion. I would try to bring it up and they would either play with it for two seconds just to humor me or flat out ignore me. If The Haunted Janitor changed me in any way, he probably helped me realize the delicacy of a good friendship. A friendship can only really survive if there is excitement, something to spice it up. After the Haunted Janitor, we really didn't have much to talk about; it got boring. I was never good friends with Lucas again until mid-7th grade, and never really talked to Alex again. Maybe age made us go our separate ways, but I am pretty darn sure that our 2nd grader attention spans couldn't hold up to the test of time.
Funny how the same rules apply later in life the same way they did in 2nd grade. If you think about it, older people are not so different from 3-6ers. We still want just about everything and get upset at the drop of the hat. We are willing to love anyone who comes are way, but just as willing to purposely trip someone we don't like. We are never really self-sufficient. We still need some spice in our lives, and in some cases, we still believe in ghosts.


Monday, October 27, 2008

A Brief Brief Brief Biography of Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatra was born and raised in Hoboken, New Jersey. He was born on December 12, 1915. He got his start singing at dive bars and saloons. He eventually got work as a band singer with groups like the Hoboken Four, and with artists like Harry James and Tommy Dorsey. In 1942 he started his solo career and was a huge hit among teenage girls-- perhaps because of his image of a street thug and a punk*.
Around that time, his career started taking off. He scored a lead role in "Anchors Away" in 1945, and the film was nominated for best picture in the 1946 Academy Awards. The same year, he was awarded a special award for the short film "The House I Live In", which was about racial intolerance. In his life, he won 3 Oscars, three Golden Globes, ten solo Grammys, 20 grammys for albums, an Emmy, a Peabody, and the Kennedy Center Honors Award.
His career on screen and on record was booming until 1951, when a vocal cord hemmorhage all but finished him. He kept fighting, however, and he kept performing and recording until his death. From 1953 to 1961, Sinatra recorded over 17 albums. In 1960, Sinatra formed his own record label, Reprise and became a producer. He also had a side-role in Ocean's 11. He continued producing and acting for a decade. In 1970, he refrained from making any more movies. In 1977, he produced the made-for-tv movie "Contract on Cherry Street". His last acting performance was in 1987, in an episode of "Magnum P.I.". In 1993, he returned to Capitol Studios to record his last two albums, Duets I and II. They both were very successful.
Frank Sinatra passed away on May 14, 1998 of heart and kidney disease and bladder cancer. By the end of his life, Sinatra had starred in over 50 movies.

* For 5 decades starting in the 40s the FBI kept Sinatra under surveillance for alleged relations with the Mafia. By the end of his life they had compiled 2,403 pages on Sinatra.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cake Wrecks

Hello everyone! My dearest mother recently showed me this blog (3 days ago I believe it was). Cake Wrecks is exactly what you would expect it to be: professional cakes gone wrong. While the pictures are funny enough, the captions below them are often witty, poignant, and laugh out loud funny. The variety is stunning, too-- but don't just take my word for it. Visit the blog here.

My personal favorite is the cookie monster cake (there are many, but this is the one that is most screwed up.)

Hope you enjoy it, and have a pleasant evening.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Kristen Wiig is Funny

Lately I have been noticing that Saturday Night Live has... well, been severely unfunny (and i'm sure i'm not the only one). However, there is still hope for the show, as a couple performers have been standing out from the rest. I am talking, of course, about Kristen Wiig and Andy Samberg. They either get into the good sketches or make the sketches good, I don't know.
First, Kristen Wiig. Her characters are just hilarious. My only criticism would be that they are all very similar. I can't quite put a name on it, it's just something in the way she takes her characters way over the top. It's risky territory, but she pulls it off. A favorite of mine is the sketch that takes place at a dinner party. The hosts keep calling in their hideous children, and in the end the guests just leave. They have done two reproductions of the sketch, both starring Kristen Wiig. I can't quite remember who accompanied her in the first sketch, but I know it was better. Mainly because, let's face it, Michael Phelps CAN'T ACT. He's a swimmer. Not a performer.
Second, Andy Samberg. He is perhaps not quite as funny is Wiig, but sometimes he can really save a sketch. His demeanors are quite good. Without him, "Deep House Dish" would be totally lost. He manages to save the terrible writing, but only barely. It's just that bad (although the spoof of Katy Perry's "I Kissed A Girl" was pretty damn hilarious, if you like that sort of thing). My favorite of his is the Space Olympics digital short. He really sells his character... whatever his character is.
In my opinion, SNL should stop putting a ton of work into making the sketches just plain weird and start focusing on making their sketches have an actual punchline. Otherwise the sketches fall flate on their face, which has been happening frequently.
At least we still have Wiig and Samberg.

I apologize for the slightly under-par grammar and sentence structure of this post. It was a long day.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Silly Putty Party: The Wonderful History of America's Favorite Stretchy Compound

With the U.S.' involvement in World War II escalating, the demand for rubber was overwhelming (most of it was being used for boots, truck tires, etc.), and the government was searching for an alternative. In 1943, William Wright, a Scottish engineer for General Electric, mixed silicone oil and boric acid in a test tube. What resulted was a strange material that stretched to enormous lengths and bounced about 25% higher than a rubber ball. In 1945, GE sent the substance to engineers worldwide hoping to find a use for it, but no practical use was found.
Silly Putty floated around various scientific circles until Ruth Falgatter became interested. She paired up with marketing executive and entrepreneur Peter Hodgson. They decided to put a description of the substance in the mail-order catalog of the Block Shop toy store in New Haven, MA, which was owned by Falgatter. It was offered in small, transparent plastic eggs for $2.00 a piece. They first started selling the product under the name "Silly Putty" in 1949. It outsold all other items in the catalog but one: a box of hexagon-shaped Crayola markers which cost 50 cents. However, Ruth Falgatter decided to stop marketing the product, despite its success. Not one to quit, Hodgson gained control of the product.
At the International Toy Fair in New York in 1950, marketing execs from all around the globe advised Hodgson not to market the product; he was already 12,000 dollars in debt. Hodgson was persistent, however, and managed to get Silly Putty into Neiman Marcus and Doubleday bookstores. After moderate success there, he created the Arnold-Clark company and relocated to a barn in Connecticut.
That August, the New Yorker ran an article about Silly Putty. Over the next three days, Hodgson was flooded with over 25,000 orders. In 1957, Hodgson made the first television ad for Silly Putty. The ad featured a sailor demonstrating all the fantastic things you can do with Silly Putty. He advertised that if you pull it, it will "go on forever, like taffy, but when you give it a sharp tug it breaks in half, like a biscuit", finishing the ad by saying "nothing else is Silly Putty".
Peter Hodgson died on August 6, 1976. The next year, Binney and Smith, inc. acquired rights to Silly Putty.
After it was first put on the racks, Silly Putty sold faster than any other toy in history, with $16 million in sales for the year. Since 1950, over 300 million eggs (about 4,500 tons) of Silly Putty have been sold. But you don't need statistics to tell you that Silly Putty remains a true American classic. And remember, "nothing else is Silly Putty".