thinglets: I am not a number. I am a free man!

The Prisoner was hands-down one of the best television shows of all time... and it only lasted 17 episodes. Don't ever think that quantity equals quality. Sure, the look is a bit stylized and kitsch by today's standards, but the thematic interplay and character development set this show apart. If you have a chance to purchase the box set of the series (which can be found for relatively cheap prices these days) or borrow them off a friend... or go torrent diving... check it out. And, above all, give it a chance past the first 10 minutes when it sometimes freaks people out due to sheer weirdness. "Who is Number One?"

thinglets: Paul Lynde, Center Square

Paul Lynde

Okay, I'm showing my age a bit here, but I remember Paul Lynde from the center Hollywood Square for many years. I also remember him as getting way too many laughs for jokes I didn't understand as a very young child. That said, in reading some of his best lines in retrospect, either this guy, the writers, or a combination of both were comical wizards when it came to one-liners and double entendres. Often set up by Peter Marshall 's questions, I now get why Lynde was so loved for so many year.

As a side note, I always thought the voice for Roger the Alien on American Dad was a dead ringer for Lynde... kudos Seth. Here are some of my Paul Lynde favorites:

Peter Marshall: In "Alice in Wonderland", who kept crying "I'm late, I'm late?"
Paul Lynde: Alice, and her mother is sick about it.  

Peter Marshall: According to Tony Randall, "Every woman I've been intimate with in my life has been..." What?
Paul Lynde: Bitterly disappointed.   

Peter Marshall: What is a pullet?
Paul Lynde: A little show of affection...  

Peter Marshall: Prometheus was tied to the top of a mountain by the gods because he had given something to man.  What did he give us?
Paul Lynde: I don't know what you got, but I got a sports shirt.  

Peter Marshall: It is considered in bad taste to discuss two subjects at nudist camps.  One is politics.  What is the other?
Paul Lynde: Tape measures.   

Peter Marshall: True or false, the navy has trained whales to recover objects a mile deep.
Paul Lynde: At first they tried unsuccessfully with cocker spaniels...   

Peter Marshall: When you pat a dog on its head he will usually wag his tail.  What will a goose do?
Paul Lynde: Make him bark.  

Peter Marshall: Burt Reynolds is quoted as saying, "Dinah (Shore)'s in top form.  I've never known anyone to be so completely able to throw herself into a..." A what?
Paul Lynde: A headboard.   

Peter Marshall: In one state, you can deduct $5 from a traffic ticket if you show the officer...what?
Paul Lynde: A ten dollar bill.  

Peter Marshall:  If you were pregnant for two years, what would you give birth to?
Paul Lynde:  Whatever it is, it would never be afraid of the dark.  

Peter Marshall:  What did James Watt invent after fooling around with his wife's tea kettle?
Paul Lynde:  James Watt Jr.  

Peter Marshall: It is the most abused and neglected part of your body-- what is it?
Paul Lynde:  Mine may be abused but it certainly isn't neglected!

Peter Marshall: In the Bible, who was found in a basket among the bulrushes?
Paul Lynde: Colonel Sanders.

Peter Marshall:  Now listen carefully, Paul...during the time of the hula hoop, the yo-yo, and Davy Crockett hats, who was in the White House?
Paul Lynde:  I'll say the yo-yo!

Peter Marshall:  Eddie Fisher recently stated, “I’m sorry.  I’m sorry for them both.”  Who or what was he referring to?
Paul Lynde:  His fans.

Peter Marshall:  According to the old song, "At night, when you're asleep, into your tent I'll creep."  Who am I?
Paul Lynde:  The scoutmaster!

Peter Marshall: Is it possible to drink too much water?
Paul Lynde: Yes, it's called drowning!

Peter Marshall: True or false, Guatemala once declared war on Germany.  
Paul Lynde: Yes, and it's a good thing Germany never found out!

Peter Marshall: Paul, why are forest rangers in remote locations ordering goats as standard equipment?
Paul Lynde: Because the sheep are wising up?

Peter Marshall: You have a bunch of unwanted hair. According to Dr. Thotusen, what is most often the cause of unwanted hair? A bunch of it?
Paul Lynde: Running over a llama.

thinglets: not good pumpkins... a great pumpkin!

As much as I slagged Hallowe'en in my last post, here's one of the few great aspects of the holiday. The tragic self-esteem of Charlie Brown. The dependency issues of Linus. The fawning infatuation of Sally. The repressed sexuality of Lucy. The denial of Peppermint Patty. The pressured prodigy of Schroeder. The tacit understand that every adult only speaks gibberish and that the only cool character is a dog - enjoy! ... btw... I got a rock.

thinglets: Hallowe'en and the Ten Things Wrong With It


Is it just me or does Hallowe'en seem more culturally devoid every year? I know. I get it. I'm kidless. And while baby goats shouldn't be a consideration for one's love or hate of Hallowe'en, I'm thinking back on my own childhood at memories of All Hallow's Eves gone by and realizing that there really aren't that many fond memories. I'm not saying I hated the event, in fact I remember, at the time, having a certain anticipatory delight in thinking up costumes and gathering free candy. Quite simply, the costume/candy ritual was fun, but did not inspire near as many found remembrances as other holidays.

Let's take a sobering look at Hallowe'en: pre-pubescent, confused children try to hide behind dollar store Transformer masks as they threaten homeowners with vigilante violence unless they fork over individually-wrapped sugar confections. Clearly then, Hallowe'en has come to serve several purposes:

1) attempt to feed disenfranchised children once a year and allow for governments to forgo actual food subsidies.
2) satisfy the powerful dentist lobby, where 4 out of 5 dentists agree more candy is a good thing... no, bad thing... well, privately, a good thing.
3) seeks to encourage indentured servitude of cane workers in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
4) bows to the snack food lobbyists who don't have tons of money, but keep the assistants of government officials knee deep in Junior Mints.
5) endorses gang swarming for the purposes of intimidating the middle class.
6) allows our vampire overlords to come out one night a year and feed on Blood Red Twizzlers.
7) makes lower class kids feel inadequate when they have to wear their Superman Underoos as a costume.
8) enables the rarely-seen-at-other holidays "razor-blade-in-the-apple" lunatics.
9) forces adults, who would never otherwise think of dressing up, to participate in a drunken costume party ritual.
10) remind me, that despite all else, for two years I had the coolest stormtrooper costume in town.

lovehate: lists

As I was cruising my way through elementary education, my school, as most, had a monthly "book club" whereby a flyer was given to each student to take home and parents would then be pressured to buy a book or two for their child. Let's preclude an incoming argument by immediately saying that it's never a bad thing for a parent to buy books for their kids, but what I didn't realize, until long after, was the manipulation going on. The school was taking a cut on the backs of every book ordered and, to make it worse, the sales force behind pushing students to buy at least a book a month. It begs a larger question about fundraising for public education which I don't want to get into now, but, simply, for a school board to advertise and sell books to students to better their bottom line is disgraceful. Moral issues aside, perhaps the most anticipated publication that my friends and I scoured the order forms for, year after year, was the Book of Lists.

For some reason, there was a small group of us at least that loved to digest compartmentalized information under a simple heading and then debate, argue, and add our two cents worth. The Book of Lists contained relatively generic pop culture minutae like "Top Ten Bands with Two or More Guitarists" or "Top Science Fiction Films". All innocuous, but engrossing enough for a budding media cynic like myself to sink my teeth into. Many years later I find that not much has changed in terms of the attraction of lists. I do, however, with a much more critical (and cynical) eye examine not only the context of many lists, but often the motivation for the list itself.

Let's face it, lists are value statements, and the more generic the title at the top of the list, the more contentious and swirling the banter around the "accuracy" or "efficacy" of the contents. But I've, of course, left out the best part. The contention does not arise, for the most part, from unranked lists. [On the flipside the more specific the title, the less widespread contention, but likely the more intense debate among topic afficionados. If I put out a list called "Top Ten Debian Distros", 99.99% of the world won't give a damn, but the people who do will fight bitterly.]  If, back in January 2008, I published an unranked list titled "Candidates for President of the United States", and listed John McCain, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Mitt Romney, not many people would have said much other than, "Congratulations! you watched CNN for five minutes." I could really stir up several people, however, if I reworked the list to say:

"Best Candidates for President of the United States"

1) John McCain
2) Mitt Romney
3) Hillary Clinton
4) Barack Obama

But where does the antagonism come from? A great deal of it certainly comes from disagreement, but that feeling gets intensified when a level of trust or respect is given to author of the list. If TIME magazine puts out a list that you disagree with, and you're a devoted reader of the publication, odds are you'

ll be far more upset that their values aren't reflected in yours. Much of the impact, however, comes from the surprise. No one bats an eye if someone on Fox News claims a Republican candidate would make the best president, but if they ever advanced the reverse position, sparks would fly.

The web is rife with lists of all kinds and it's often semantics that will turn a passing read of interest into a halting thought of "are you kidding?" If I put the word "my" before any list I publish, some people will read with interest, all will disagree with some aspect, and all will move on their marry way to the next thing. If I remove that subjective qualifier, things take a turn.

Consider the following titles for lists and think about which ones you'll be most ready to argue over with a friend or anonymous author:

My Favorite Bands
The Best Bands in the World
The Best Musicians in the World
Most Over-Rated Bands
Bands that Suck

If I'm pumping out any of these lists, no one's really going to care too much except maybe start to think of me as a more pompous than they do already. If a journalist for Rolling Stone, Spin, or Vibe puts out this list, more people start to react and take offense (let's face it, we're generally very defensive about our music preferences). If one of your favorite artists puts out a list that slams other artists you like, you notice. If an artist you've never liked before all of the sudden has a list that's almost identical to yours, you sit up and notice as well.

It almost always comes down to authority, and how much of it you grant the author. There are some times when I can genuinely say that I'm proud to have disagreed with a list completely. If Paris Hilton put out a list of "Bands That Suck", I think I would find some solace in my favorite bands occupying every spot.

And the value judgement that is implicit in a favorite band is no different than for a writer, a politician or a religion. Our lives are made up of choices based on subjective opinion that can often be maddeningly justified, or, even more infuriating, not justified at all. How many of us have had this discussion with a friend or family member?

"What could you like about this song?"

"I don't know. I just like it."

"I mean, don't you find the lyrics disturbing?"

"Oh, I don't listen to the lyrics. I just like the beat."

Our lives are based on lists. We itemize, rationalize, prioritize not only based on what we like, but sometimes even on what we think we should like. Lists can be halting and infuriating but they have an intrinsic value that is palpable. They are the quickest way to allow us to re-examine our values and beliefs. Such is the vanguard of learning. How many of us have gained through a friend's recommendation or even suggestions from online streaming music providers: "You said you liked this - you might like this too!" As much as differing forms of the list are often the greatest cause of conflict in society (try shouting out that my religion or politics are "better" than yours) we could not live without them. So while I often hate the results that come from lists, I love the lists themselves.