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Test Pattern: Commercial from another planet

<strong>Plus: Campy world cultural attractions; Aqua Teen Hunger Force costumes</strong></p>

Commercials, campy culture, costumes

I'm currently iced in (in Seattle, of all places) and getting a little bit of cabin fever. And I've heard more than I want to about Michael Richards, O.J., and Britney and her newfound buddy, Paris. So this update is blessedly free of any mention of the four of them, just so you know.

Checking in with the commercialsNo, it's not time yet for our , but I have to mention one that won't still be airing by next June. Have you seen the one for Hallmark where people are stuck in an airport while planes are being delayed left and right? Everyone's crabby as anything until a mom gets the bright idea to pull out the , an ornament-toy thing that lights up while penguins and a snowman flap around and dance and the whole thing plays "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree"? It immediately works its soothing magic, and suddenly the entire D concourse is like family! Now I have as much holiday spirit as the next person, but seriously, can you think of any planet upon which someone's annoying and noisy toy would actually not tip an already-edgy and tense airport crowd over the line to completely insane? Maybe it's just me. (I started a , by the way.)

Putting the ‘culture’ in ‘pop culture’ — maybeWorld travel just got a bit loopier. Sweden is opening an in 2008, and China is planning a to open in three years. Bruce Lee is , though for some reason that giant red grave marker shown in the photo was completely invisible to us and we searched all around and never found it. I'd have to say the freakiest pop-culture landmark I've visited was , a kind of Hello Kitty indoor theme park in Tokyo. Highlights included a Hello Kitty-shaped popcorn machine, a restaurant called Yum-Yum Corner, and a gift shop selling everything from Kitty kimonos to Kitty ramen. Meow!

Number-one in the 'hood, GHalloween's over for this year, but start working now on your Aqua Teen Hunger Force costumes if you hope to beat out , who dressed up as an eerily accurate replica of the Aqua Teen's mouthy neighbor, Carl. (Link via .) Oh, there's more: Someone else was (the Mooninites sometimes know him as "Cup"). (Here's , complete with straw.) In 2004, this guy made an awesome . And here's someone who got a big group of pals and went as the .

LINKS FROM ALL OVER:• Seattle's is retiring. Watch the -- it scares the heck out of me still.• : Darth Vader builds the Death Star out of snow. Awww.• "Twin Peaks" fan visits a number of the real-life, Washington-state locations from that classic cult show and of how they look now.

Multi-link Monday

Hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving. I did, and I learned one thing: When they tell you your flight is delayed and the mechanic isn't sure what's wrong with the plane, you'll indeed be giving thanks early when the airline gives up and moves you to another plane. No one likes being late for a family holiday, but it's a better feeling than sitting on a plane wondering if there really was enough time to fix the mysterious issue. And now, on to Monday's linkage.

• Reader-submitted link: Valerie says: " to put everyone in the true Christmas spirit.  You can create your own snowflakes and help the Salvation Army.  The more snowflakes that are made, the greater the donation."

• Valerie's link reminded me of another fun winter link, , a neat online snowball-fight game. This is adorable, but I am so bad at it. If it were real, I'd be a snow-covered popsicle by now.

• In Test Pattern's summer , we talk a lot about music in commercials, and sometimes I receive email from readers wondering if I can help them identify a song in a movie or TV show as well. Looks like will be a good resource for me to use in the future. I recently discovered the band because their song "I Hate Everyone" was played on an episode of so I can relate.

• sells almost everything now it seems, including some groceries. Some wisecracking readers have been taking advantage of Amazon's reader-review option and leaving hilariously over-the-top reviews of these staples, including . There are more than 800 now, and the ones I've read are all delightfully insane. I like the one that connects Tuscan brand milk to the Tusken Raiders of "Star Wars." (Link via an old edition of .)

• Random, but also semi-related to the milk post above: , including Yosemite Sam as a gladiator hawking Cheerios. This page is short, but it's just part of a much larger site, , which is also fun to surf.

Multi-link Monday: Elvis treats, more

Thanksgiving, already? I'm not ready, are you? Here are five Monday links to surf while you procrastinate planning the menu.

• Love this tender: In honor of Elvis Presley's famed love for peanut butter and banana sammiches, Reese's is incorporating banana cream into . The King, with his well-known love for junk food, would have approved. I haven't seen these in my local stores yet, but I'm looking.

• Entertainment Weekly found someone who hadn't seen any of the "Star Wars" movies (not that tough, I guess -- I don't think either of my parents have seen them) and had him watch all six, in order, during the Cinemax marathon, and . Short version: The films sucked him in, but he also noted their excruciatingly awful dialogue in some spots.

• This is only for those who surf Web companies a lot: See if you can ID the correct logo for places such as Google and Amazon when presented with the correct one hidden in a batch of very, very similar options. I can't. (Via

• Starting holiday shopping early? I love the items in this , but I'd never buy the that look like cookies with bites out of them. I can take the bites myself for free. The is pretty funny, though.

• When you were a kid, did you ever think you could dig a hole to China? Not sure why we always said "China," but lets you pick a location and then discover where your backyard hole actually would end up. I started at my childhood home in Minnesota and ended up somewhere in the Indian Ocean. Glug! Good thing I never had the discipline to dig for long. (Via .)

For Better or For Worse’ to end? Or morph? Or something?

Till death do us part?
My favorite comic strip, bar none, is Lynn Johnston's family saga, Not as funny as "Fox Trot," not as political as "Doonesbury," not as lasagna-filled as "Garfield," but still a daily satisfying story about a Canadian family growing up. Johnston, unlike the wonderful late Charles Schulz, a friend of hers, allows her characters to age and change. Sometimes that frustrates we comic fans: Mike's portrayal as the Perfect Father and Journalist is a little trying, and Liz's recycled boyfriends (Anthony! Don't get me started...) can be annoying. But the strip manages to be both family-friendly, interesting, and sometimes even funny.

Johnston's been dropping hints for years that she'll end the strip soon, and now there's a report that the clock has started ticking: As of the fall of 2007, the Patterson family will stop aging.

This is not quite clear as to whether the strip will end, go on hiatus, or what. Sounds to me like the strip will end at least for a while, possibly to  return in some format -- I'm just guessing here, but maybe via occasional Web updates, or a TV show or a Sunday-only strip? (nooo! Learn from "Outland" and "Opus"!)? In any case, the characters will freeze in time as of next fall.

There've been rumors aplenty that the final strip will be a wedding, and its last words will be the title of the strip (probably spoken by Patterson daughter Liz, since Michael is already married and April is too young).

This rumor might be too cliched and predictable to actually happen, but realistically, it would be fine by me, as long as the groom is someone worthy of her. Paul, the cop from northern Ontario, a.k.a. "Mr Wright"? OK! Warren, the helicopter pilot who hasn't been heard from in a while? OK! Some new guy? Possibly OK! But Johnston had Michael Patterson marry the girl next door, childhood crush Deanna, and I from the way recent plotlines have gone, it would seem she likes Liz with her own childhood beau, squirmy Anthony, a recently divorced dad who convinced his wife to get pregnant even though she'd told him she didn't want kids.

Run, Liz, run! He's definitely on the For Worse end of the spectrum.

GREAT COMIC-STRIP LINKS:• The “FBOFW” official site offers with extra info that's not in the strips• , hilarious and irreverent site dissecting "FBOFW" every day• The Josh dissects the good, the bad, and the ugly of daily comics• Ever read a comic and wonder if everyone but you is in on the joke? The can relate.

Multi-link Monday

Now that I've been turning Test Pattern back into more of a traditional Weblog, with multiple short topics each update, Multi-link Monday may seem superfluous. It's not. I still think of it as the place for those fun links, often including online games or quizzes, that are less about news of the moment and more about a quick distraction when you need it. Not that any of us ever surf the Web from work, of course. With that said, here are the lastest five. Remember, you too can

• The had an impressive resume, but I'll always remember him most fondly for hosting "Ripley's Believe It Or Not" in the 1980s. That wonderfully serious, yet somehow creepy voice delivered just the perfect narration for that show. chock full of unbelievable goodness, too.

• It can be hard to find online games for kids that are both classy and fun. , with everything from MadLibs to photo quizzes to virtual pets.

. So awesome. The author's great comments add so much. For a game called "Twin Eagle: Revenge Joe's Brother," he notes "It's bad enough to name a helicopter Revenge Joe, but it's even worse when you claim it has a brother. And it's doubly worse when you consider that this is actually the first Twin Eagle game. Revenge for what?" (Via .)

• Everyone looks for recipes online, but if you're ever hunting for a recipe that's decades older than you, check out , sorted helpfully by decade. ? ? ? I'll stick to modern food, thanks.

• Reader-submitted link: Haley in Indiana writes "Ever wonder ? There they are, right up to Nixon. I live in territory capital W.H. Harrison governed. We get a kick out of his short-lived term. (We're morbidly punny, too.)" McKinley's death is the most interesting, in that it appears he easily could have been saved, had his doctors been at all on the ball.

• Nov. 9, 2006 | 2 p.m. PT

Meet the Seven Dwarves, including Burpy and Chesty

Here's my quick take on a few topics that have been in the news lately.

Burpy? Chesty? Biggo Ego?
Author Neal Gabler has written a new biography of Walt Disney out, and the page about the book shares . My favorite lists rejected names for the Seven Dwarves, including Deafy, Dirty, Awful, Blabby, Burpy, Gabby, Puffy and Stuffy. Give a little thanks that he came up with Doc, Sneezy, Happy and the rest instead.

I'm a PC! But I'm not a Mac!
We love to in this Weblog, and one of the most ad campaigns this summer was Apple Computers "I'm a Mac! And I'm a PC" ad series. The ads are funny and smart, but many readers wrote in to say they found the Mac actor, Justin Long, to be the embodiment of all the worst stereotypes of Mac devotees — slackery and braggy, or, in the words of , "a smug little twit." The PC actor, uber-talented author John Hodgman, may look like a chubby, chumpy Bill Gates, but he's just hilarious, most of you felt. Anyway, according to Radar Online, Mac portrayer Long in upcoming ads. Mac ads without the Mac guy? What is our world coming to? (.)

@$#%!It's going to be interesting to see how newspapers and TV programs around the country print the title of . Some are using "The F-Word," some the letter "F" followed by asterisks, some are just taking out the "u." This reminds me of when the band the Butthole Surfers were touring and certain newspapers refused to print their name, either. If I'm remembering it correctly, one paper just decided to make up a new name for them, calling them the "Buttonhole Surfers." My favorite way to reproduce a swear word is use the symbols above the number keys, like comic strips do. Drop an anvil on your foot? @#$%! Get lousy advice from ? @#$%! And I also like the swear used by innocent little in "South Park"" "Aw, hamburgers!"

‘In Cold Blood’ house
This is really quite chilling to me: The Clutter family home in Holcomb, Kansas, where an entire innocent family was murdered in 1959, inspiring Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood," is . I don't see mention of the crime in the real-estate listing, but I don't know how anyone could not think of it if they even considered buying the home. It looks just like the normal, comfortable home it was up until Perry Smith and Dick Hickock turned it into hell on earth. I don't believe in ghosts, but that doesn't mean I don't shiver just a little looking at the photos of the rooms where the murders happened. (Zelda gets credit for the link.)

Doogie, Britney, ‘Borat,’ Tim Gunn

What a crazy week or so it's been in entertainment: Britney files for divorce, "Borat" makes glorious moviefilm for box-office craziness, Doogie Howser comes out as gay.

Here's a batch of related links from around the Web, on those and other topics:

Doogie Howser goes to White CastlePersonally I'm hardly shocked that Neil Patrick Harris, a.k.a. "Doogie Howser," is gay. But the news did make me go hunt up his in which Harris, playing himself, unleashes a fairly filthy rant about how Kumar and Roldy need to ditch their burger quest and find him a woman, and soon. (Warning: Language is not for the sensitive.) Harris also inspires Harold to almost, but not quite, quote a similar film's title when he asks "Doog, where's my car?"

Oops, Britney did it againHere's Britney Spears' Day-Timer for the last few years. January 2004: Get married. January 2004: Get marriage annulled. September 2004: Get married again, to man whose girlfriend is quite pregnant with their second child. September 2005: Give birth to first son with that man. September 2006: Give birth to second son with that man. November 2006: File for divorce. There's been plenty written about Britney and Kevin Federline's split, including , but anyone wanting some 20/20 hindsight should read . Best line, from Spears on Federline: 'He’s very simple.  ... He’s so simple.  His simplicity and just he’s like a boy.  He just, you know, and he cares.  He cares so much and his—his heart is awesome."

And while Federline's new CD, "Playing With Fire," received a decent review from the AP, he's getting trashed almost everywhere else. My favorite reviews of Federline's music come from . I feel completely comfortable in saying that people put more work into their creative reviews of the album than K-Fed quite possibly put into making it.

One rhyming review begins: "This former back-up dancer / Now known as Mr. Spears / Has brought us the worst album / To be released in years."

Another review begins "Relative to a pool of vomit, this album is pretty solid. I'd rather have this album thrown at me at high speeds than a chainsaw." (Thanks to Anne for the link!)

Glorious moviefilm for benefit of AmericaThe surprise for me out of this weekend's box-office results wasn't that "Borat" won. It was that all the wire stories reporting on that victory . Apparently, box office analysts had expected Tim Allen's "Santa Clause 3" to win the weekend. Did you know there was a "Santa Clause 3" coming out? Did you even know there was a "Santa Clause 2"? If there is a lesson to come out of this, it should be that Americans are not ready for Christmas decorations or movies when there's not even snow on the ground in most places. And also that Tim Allen is really, really not funny.

Ever wonder how the real people who end up looking like jerks in Borat's bits feel about themselves after their appearance is made public? One friend of a Borat subject saying that his pal feels like his life is ruined after he appeared as a drunken, nasty frat boy in "Borat." Note that when the question was first posted back in early October, at least one person responded with "I suspect that this isn't exactly a "#1 at the box office" type of movie." That guy probably saw "Santa Clause 3" this weekend. (Newsweek has more on )

Tim Gunn mania
Don't get me wrong, I love the "Project Runway" mentor as much as the next person -- he's the kind of teacher you rarely find and always remember. But is he getting a bit too much media attention? The New York Times has an article highlighting his hobby of creating miniature buildings. Check it out! He ! Also: The on why Tim thinks Michael lost "Project Runway," and am I the last person to know that judge Nina Garcia is pregnant at 41? (Thanks to Andy for the NYT link.)

How old are you on Mars?

Some of us are still recovering from the last week. Maybe today's random linkage will soothe the pain. Remember, you too can

• Those fancy Madame Alexander dolls now have Yes, they depict Janet Leigh in the shower in "Psycho" and Tippi Hedren in "The Birds." I think these would frighten the other dolls on the shelf.

• We've all seen those giant RVs with colorful maps on the back, where the owners mark off states they've been to. Here's a , either with countries or with states. Hmm, when I do countries, it looks like I've barely been anywhere. I've been to Japan, but it's so small it doesn't really show up.

• Can you , acted out with office products?

• Sure, you know how old you are on Earth, but how old are you on Saturn or Mercury? Enter your Earth birthdate and you can get that information, plus look ahead and mark your calendar for the exact date you'll turn 20,000 hours old, or figure out how many days left until you'd be 30 on Mars.

• Reader Elizabeth sends in this . Just like all those old sitcom sketches where a psychiatrist is asking you to name the first word that comes to your mind, only it's online.

Readers' scariest moments

Sure, Halloween's over now, but I still wanted to publish a selection of your nominations for scariest things in the world, . Spooky!

MOVIE VISUAL“Scariest movie visual: Definitely when the girl crawls out of the TV set in “The Ring.”  --Laura

“The scene that creeps me out after 30 plus years is in “The Haunting”. The young girl is laying in bed when she hears terrible noises. You “hear” her thoughts. She is saying, “oh I am so scared, thank God I can hold your hand” the noises stop and she turns to thank her roommate for the support and there is no one there! ok...I gotta go turn on all the lights now.”    --Robyn

“I think you need to add “Wait Until Dark” as Scariest Movie Moment - when Audrey Hepburn had knocked out all the lights, but didn’t consider the light from the fridge & the killer jumped out of nowhere at her - I (and many others) jumped right up out of my seat.”    --Sheila

MOVIE DILEMMA“Scariest movie dilemma: I would say “The Blair Witch Project”, knowing your being followed by something you cant see, AND being totally lost.”    --Laura

FUNNIEST TWISTSFunniest twist on a horror-movie staple: “Scary Movie 2”, the beginning the spoof on “The Exorcist”, she starts throwing up, then the priest starts throwing up back on her.”    --Laura

“For funniest twist on a horror movie, I have to go with The Simpsons “The Shinning” which was the spoof on The Shining. Best part: “No tv and no beer make Homer go crazy”…”    --Andrea

SHORT STORY“I heard a twist on the scariest short story: The last man on earth sat in a room. There was a lock on the door. I have not seen the entire movie but scenes from the Grudge are definitely creepy.”    --Bill

“Scariest short story: Again, by Stephen King, his short story “The Mist”. The military tear a hole into another dimension (hell?) and all kinds of awful creatures come through and trap a man and his son in a grocery store. They escape with another person, but is unable to get back home to his wife, so they drive trying to find an end to the mist. They never do.”    --Laura

“Scariest short story, I’m thinking “The Raven”.....although probably technically considered a poem.”    --Andrea

MOVIES“Movie: Nosferatu, the original silent version starring Max Schreck. With no sound, that was creepy as hell! Runner Up: The Birds. I still look at a flock of pigeons with a leery gaze.   –G.M.

“Scariest movie: When A Stranger Calls Back. This not very well known sequel gives me chills whenever I think about. The plot is similar to the first one, a babysitter is alone watching kids and they get stolen. But this guy really screws with her mind, the kids-stealing is only the first fifteen minutes. The rest of the film is my nightmare. He breaks into her apartment and moves things around. He sets her alarm for 3 in the morning. I don’t want to give the end away, but it’s so horrifyingly amazing. Not gory - but a thriller - I highly recommend it! But don’t blame me for the nightmares!”    --Emily

“How about the old black and white classic “The Uninvited.” No one actually dies during the whole movie and no blood at all but it can still make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.”    --Terry

“The scariest movie ever is The Exorcist! I am 34 yrs old and I still have nightmares of that levitating bed and head rotating. I was so traumatized that I slept in my parent’s room for a month after. I was convinced that my little brother would become possessed that I would stand over him while he was sleeping with a cross. No movie has come close to scaring me like that since.”    --Anonymous

TVNight Gallery. That was a scary TV show. The early episodes. Got weak later on.”   –G.M.

BOOKS:“For creepy and scary, there’s nothing better than Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The entire novel is written as entries to various character’s diaries. Very unusual because the reader may know what’s going on, but the characters usually do not. Stoker must have had a terrific imagination to come up with it.”    --Phil

“Scariest book: for me it was “It” by Stephen King. Forget the silly TV movie, the book totally creeped me out, but I couldn’t put it down. I still look at sink drains and storm drains funny. THe creepiest part, for me, was at the beginning where the brother of the main character is sailing a parrifin coated paper boat in the rain swollen gutters. You know something bad is going to happen, and then a balloon appears. My best friend dressed as Pennywise (she made the costume based on the description in the book and made a button that says “we all float back here”) for Halloween when we worked at McDonald’s and one of the drive thru customers saw her and looked a little freaked out. The book “It” was on her passenger seat.”    --Toni

MISC“The scariest thing about Halloween this year are the . My daughter is very conservative and was dismayed at the over abundance of “scanky” female costumes this year.”    --Tina