lovehate: The Nerf Military-Industrial Complex

Two of the greatest toys I ever had growing up was the Nerf Football and Nerf Soccerball. Both spongy projectiles were safe enough to use inside against a wall. Of course they were dangerous to lamps and statues alike, but they allowed for a certain freedom that was important to young Canadian children who were often denied flat outdoor surfaces in the winter to hoof such spherical objects.

There was, at that time, a simplicity with Nerf. Not only in the name, but in the product selection. It was about sports and the ability to get hit in the face with a ball without splitting your lip or losing teeth. Part of this level of innocence came with the fact that every kid knew what Nerf was. They made sponge sport balls, and that was good enough for everyone... everyone that is, except for Hasbro.

In 1970, Parker Brothers released the simply named "Nerf Ball". That's it. Simple, elegant, 4 inches of sponge that sold 4 million units. When they expanded to the Nerf footballs and soccerballs and Nerfoops, all seemed a logical extensions. Through various acquisitions by Kenner, Tonka, and now Hasbro, Nerf has become part of the global military-industrial complex destined to drive our children in lives being destructive war machines.

I offer up the following evidence:


Where To Buy Print Take your blasting skills to the extreme with this two-in-one blaster! This blaster is more than three feet long and can launch arrows up to 35 feet away! Aim with accuracy and precision using the targeting scope. Two quick-reload clips hold a total of 12 STREAMLINE DARTS. There's even a fold-down bi-pod to help you steady your aim for important shots. Looking for a quick shot at close range? The blaster has removable parts to give you one-handed freedom with a single-shot blaster! In either mode, load up, aim, press the trigger and watch the darts go the distance!


Assess the situation and be ready to strike against your opponents! The RAIDER RAPID FIRE CS-35 blaster is the ultimate for any battle! The pump-action handle give you total control of our rate of fire, and the drum magazine holds 35 Clip-System darts, giving you massive ammo capacity. A clear window lets you see how much ammo you have left! Two blasting modes give you defensive flexibility – use the slam fire mode for multishots or the slide mode for single shots! This is the pinnacle of blaster performance! Blaster comes with drum magazine, 35 Clip-System darts, and stock.


Build your own blaster with five interchangeable parts that you can take apart and reassemble any way you want. Snap the parts in any configuration onto the TACTICAL RAIL, and gain the upper hand in any situation that calls for awesome  action. Other features include a flip-up sight for aiming precision, a barrel extension and a dual-mode light beam with red-dot accuracy that's perfect for night missions! Use the shoulder stock to steady your shot and store an extra clip of ammo.


Complete your N-STRIKE arsenal and prepare for the ultimate in battery-powered blasting! Be ready for any battle with the N-STRIKE VULCAN EBF-25 blaster - an awesome, fully automatic cannon! Load the blaster and fire at a rate of up to three shots per second! Watch as the belt feeds automatically through the blaster, letting the barrage of firepower continue as you battle your opponent. The piston-powered internal launching system makes it an unstoppable force! Switch to single-shot mode for precision blasting. The removable tripod folds for easy transport -- or a quick escape from enemy fire! Even your toughest opponent won't know what hit him when you unleash the power of the N-STRIKE VULCAN EBF-25 blaster!

What the fuck!?!

Even my beloved Nerf football now looks like a missle or bomb to launch at enemy territory, and apparently sound like one too.


The VORTEX MEGA HOWLER football gives you the ultimate football experience with awesome performance and a cool whistling sound like no other football! Go long and see how far you can throw it! Football howls with whistling action as it spirals through the air!

Why do I envision turf wars starting up between five year olds and their Nerf accessories. We'll have a six year old General planning the Tet Offensive while four year olds cower in their foxholes on the front line. Isn't a simple four inch sponge sphere enough.

I remember a time when all Lego had four corners, Monopoly only took place in Atlantic City, and the only game I could play on my TV was Pong. Now, I'm not saying that advancement is bad, but was this the only logical evolution of Nerf? I don't remember Slime becoming Bio-Chem Slime Toxic Warfare. I don't remember Jacks developing sharpened spikes that could be thrown at intruders. I don't remember Simon being electric-charged to shock and torture player who couldn't recall the correct light sequence. Nerf went the way of weaponry, and I just don't get it.

Maybe I'm just old... I need to go find a Space Invaders game and shoot me some aliens.

thinglets: Why Remembrance Day Makes Me Think of Pink Floyd

A couple of days late for Remembrance Day, but I was busy celebrating a birthday after a moment of silence at 11am. Every November 11th, I think of Pink Floyd for this three minute song: a stirring indictment of a young boy who blames the powerbrokers for taking his dad into the service during WWII.

"The song sets up the story premise for The Wall movie, set over footage recreating the British contribution to the Anzio campaign's Operation Shingle, where Allied forces landed on the beaches near Anzio, Italy with the goal of eventually liberating Rome from German control. These forces included C Company of the Royal Fusiliers, in which Waters' father Eric served. As Waters tells it, the forward commander had asked to withdraw his forces from a German Tiger I tank assault, but the generals refused, and "the Anzio bridgehead was held for the price / Of a few hundred ordinary lives" as the Tigers eventually broke through the British defence, killing all of C Company, including Eric Waters.

In the second verse of the song (which makes up the reprise later in The Wall film), Waters describes how he found a letter of condolence from the British government, described as a note from King George in the form of a gold leaf scroll which "His Majesty signed / In his own rubber stamp." Waters' resentment then explodes in the final line "And that's how the High Command took my Daddy from me". - Wikipedia

When the Tigers Broke Free
(Roger Waters)

It was just before dawn
One miserable morning in black 'forty four.
When the forward commander
Was told to sit tight
When he asked that his men be withdrawn.
And the Generals gave thanks
As the other ranks held back
The enemy tanks for a while.
And the Anzio bridgehead
Was held for the price
Of a few hundred ordinary lives.

And kind old King George
Sent Mother a note
When he heard that father was gone.
It was, I recall,
In the form of a scroll,
With gold leaf and all.
And I found it one day
In a drawer of old photographs, hidden away.
And my eyes still grow damp to remember
His Majesty signed
With his own rubber stamp.

It was dark all around.
There was frost in the ground
When the tigers broke free.
And no one survived
From the Royal Fusiliers Company C.
They were all left behind,
Most of them dead,
The rest of them dying.
And that's how the High Command
Took my daddy from me.

thinglets: Kenneth Branagh - Epic Scene, Single Shot

For those of you who have have seen Kenneth Branagh in other films like this year's Valkyrie, his first major film triumph was 20 years ago when, at age 29, he directed and starred in Henry V. Perhaps the most memorable scene from that film was done in a four minute long shot of the bloodied battlefield after the vastly outnumbered English defeated the French (it was Shakespeare after all).

With the strains of the hymn "Non nobis domine" echoing from beginning to end, the planning and execution of such a long tracking shot was incredible. Watch it once to see the main action, and then watch it again to look at everything going on in the background that you didn't see the first time.

This shot, in my mind, rivals the Goodfellas shot of Henry Hill's first date in terms of uncut brilliance in direction and execution.