Category Archives: Roundup

One Celebrity for Dinner

If you could have one celebrity for dinner, who would it be?

Shoot, I’m hungry – let’s just pick as many as we can think of who sound delicious. In fact, let’s go ahead and write up the menu now.

We’ll start with drinks. You can have a glass of Harvey Milk, or you can try the Ice-T. Of course, if you’re prepared to cough up the cash, you can also have a shot of Barry Goldwater.

Okay then, tea it is – will that be with or without Jack Lemmon?

Now it’s time for some grub. Your options for a main course are two kinds of Hamm (Jon or Mia), or you can opt for a plate of Kevin Bacon (also available in ice cream, served at a maximum of 6 degrees). All meats are served with a Sean Bean (yes, just one; it’s a much larger Bean than what you’re used to) and a helping of Jerry Rice, and are seasoned with a terrifying amount of Tim Curry.

Moving on to dessert, you have the option of going the healthy route, which includes slices of Fiona Apple served with mixed Berrys (Halle and Chuck, as well as Darryl Strawberry when in season). And, of course, the Kevin Bacon ice cream mentioned above is always a hit with the foodie crowd.

Or you can go with a bit of never-disappointing John Candy.

No promises that any of these options are local, farm-raised, or even organic. Especially organic. In fact, they are probably mostly made of artificial ingredients.

But think about it: we could have eaten a big, old, dried up Meat Loaf.

Special honorable mention to Joyce Carol Oates, whom I just couldn’t seem to work into the menu. You’re a pantry staple.

* * * * *

If you want to know more about these delectable celebs, here’s a morsel about each one (or just click their names to link to more information; my apologies for resorting to Wikipedia on several of these):

Harvey Milk was the first openly gay person to gain elected public office in California. He championed causes that benefited the gay community and emphasized the importance of neighborhoods for promoting unity and providing services to citizens. He was on the SF Board of Supervisors when he and the mayor were assassinated by another city supervisor. Obama awarded Milk a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.

Ice-T, or Tracy Marrow (which I hear is also scrumptious), began his formal career as a musician, starting out as a rapper and then forming a heavy metal band called Body Count. He’s acted in various television shows and movies and for over ten years has had a regular role on Law & Order: SVU.

Barry Goldwater, nicknamed Mr. Conservative, served five terms as a United States senator for Arizona. In 1964, he ran for the office of president against Lyndon B. Johnson. He was instrumental in the resurgence of the conservative movement in the 1960s and continued to be a stalwart in the GOP until the increasing influence of the religious right in the 80s. He died in 1998.

Jack Lemmon was an Oscar-winning American actor. He also started a production company and recorded music. He is widely known for his multiple comedy collaborations with Walter Matthau. Lemmon died in 2001.

Jon Hamm is an actor whose career was crystallized by his starring role on HBO’s Mad Men.

Mia Hamm is an American soccer player who was a star on the U.S. National and Olympic teams. At age 15, she was the youngest person ever to play for the National Team.

Kevin Bacon is an American movie actor and the inexplicable choice for recognizing our universal connectedness in the game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. His wife Kyra Sedgwick recently removed a portion of her fingertip while slicing kale. Why is this in the news?

Sean Bean is a British actor who claimed his spot in the limelight as Boromir in the Lord of the Rings movies and maintains it with a starring role on the HBO series Game of Thrones.

Jerry Rice played 20 seasons in the NFL and is widely regarded as one of the best wide receivers of all time in American football. He began his career with the San Francisco 49ers and also played for the Oakland Raiders and the Seattle Seahawks.

Tim Curry, a British actor, rose to fame with his role in The Rocky Horror Picture Show in 1975. Apparently seeing him on the silver screen didn’t frighten enough children; he has broken out of film to expand his career into theatre, television, voice acting, and music.

Fiona Apple is an American singer/songwriter, the title of whose debut album contained 90 words.

Halle Berry is an American actress. She was the first black woman to receive an Oscar for Best Actress.

Chuck Berry is an American musician whose string of hits in the 1950s and 60s – as well as his devotion to showmanship – led him to become known as one of the fathers of rock and roll. He was in the first group of inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. And he’s frickin’ inspiring. Let’s do whole post on Chuck Berry sometime soon, how about that?

Darryl Strawberry played baseball in the American League, leading two teams (the Mets and the Yankees) to a total of four World Series titles. His most recent career, however, is as a pastor.

John Candy was an American actor and comedian. He began his comedy career with Second City as a writer and performer and starred in several hit comedy movies before his premature death in 2004. He was an ace at impersonations.

Meat Loaf is a Grammy-award winning singer, most known for his Bat Out of Hell trilogy of albums, the second of which included his greatest hit, “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That).” (I love this, from the top of the Wikipedia page: “This article is about the singer. For the prepared food, see meatloaf.”)

Joyce Carol Oates is an American writer with over forty novels to her name, as well as short story collections, plays, poetry, novellas, and nonfiction.

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Dr. Who?

Here are a few famous doctors to know about. MD not required.

Dr. Seuss

For a guy who didn’t even like kids, Theodor Seuss Geisel certainly made his mark among children. Luke Luck licks lakes.

Dr. Seuss postage stamp

Be hip about Dr. Seuss:

Importance: prolific author and illustrator of books for young children

Most well-known volumes: The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Drop this at a party:

    • He wasn’t actually a doctor, and he purportedly wasn’t crazy about children.
    • A successful Broadway musical, Seussical!, is based on characters from his books.
    • He had a knack for astute social commentary disguised as children’s stories (check out The Lorax and The Star-Bellied Sneetches).

More on Dr. Seuss:

He was pursuing a Ph.D. in literature from Oxford, but dropped the course of study when he married his first wife, Helen, thus making him Nearly-Dr. Seuss.


Dr. Who

I am probably permanently banished from Comic-Cons worldwide for listing this one as Dr. Who. After all, as every self-respecting science fiction fan knows, the character is simply The Doctor.  The television series title, however, is Doctor Who, a reference to the cryptic ineffability of the main character. He travels across space and time in his TARDIS to do whatever needs doing in order to save the universe and its unaware residents.

the eleven faces of The Doctor

To date, eleven actors have portrayed The Doctor.

Be hip about The Doctor:

Importance: hero of the cult favorite BBC sci-fi series and its 2005 redux (ahem, reBOOT)

Drop this at a party: His time/space travel craft, which looks on the outside like an old British police call box, is called the Time and Relative Dimension in Space, or the TARDIS.

More on Dr. Who/The Doctor:

  • The original series, which aired on BBC television from 1963 to 1989, holds the Guinness World Record for longest-running science fiction television show in the world. It was rebooted in 2005 and is currently still in production.
  • The Doctor is a Time Lord, a species that can regenerate their bodies when they are about to die, thus lending credibility to the fact that The Doctor has been portrayed by eleven different actors over the course of the show’s run.
  • The Doctor’s most well-known recurring nemeses are the Daleks, a race created by a scientist to destroy all inferior beings (i.e., everyone else). In a UK series of postage stamps celebrating pop culture icons, one stamp featured a Dalek.
  • Spinoff series include Torchwood, The Sarah Jane Adventures, and K-9, as well as innumerable single episodes, mini-series, books, stage plays, and two feature-length films.

Doc Watson

A legendary name in bluegrass, old time, and folk music, Arthel “Doc” Watson racked up seven Grammy Awards (including one for Lifetime Achievement) and continued to play music all the way up until his death at age 89.

Be hip about Doc Watson:

Importance: blind guitarist credited by many with establishing the acoustic guitar as a lead instrument in folk and bluegrass music

Drop this at a party: “Applause is like an amplified friendly handshake.” –Doc Watson

More on Doc Watson:

  • Doc started Merlefest, an annual acoustic music festival named after his son (Merle), who often performed with his dad before he died in a tractor accident in 1985.
  • Watson’s career breakthrough came at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival.
  • The story of the nickname “Doc,” according to Watson himself: An announcer remarked during a live radio broadcast that Arthel was an odd name, and a nickname would be easier. An audience member volunteered the advice, “Call him Doc!” (a suggestion which may be an allusion to Sherlock Holmes’ assistant, Dr. Watson). It stuck.
  • Watson went blind before his first birthday due to an infection.
  • He was also proficient on the banjo.


Spin Doctors

Lowercase spin doctors are those clever, well-paid folks who take a terrible situation and convince the public to see it as a godsend. But capitally, the Spin Doctors were a rock n’ roll jam band significant enough to make the cover of the January 7, 1993, issue of Rolling Stone.

Be hip about the Spin Doctors:

Importance: American rock band with a couple of Billboard hits in the early ‘90’s

Drop this at a party:

    • The band’s biggest hit, peaking at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, was “Two Princes,” off their first studio album, 1991’s Pocket Full of Kryptonite.
    • Original member John Popper left the Spin Doctors to focus on his other band, Blues Traveler.

More on the Spin Doctors:

  • The band’s first studio album was preceded by a live EP called Up for Grabs…Live.
  • Between 1991 and 2005, the Spin Doctors released five studio albums. Pocket Full of Kryptonite was the most successful commercially, going Triple Platinum and hitting #3 on Billboard’s Top 200 album chart.
  • The band is still playing shows.


Dr. Kevorkian

You may know him as Dr. Death.  The controversial Dr. Jack Kevorkian served prison time for euthanizing over 130 terminal patients.

Be hip about Dr. Kevorkian (that sounds kinda weird):

Importance: championed the cause of, depending on which side you’re on, physician-assisted suicide or a patient’s right to die, bringing the issue of euthanasia to public attention

Drop this at a party: He was also a painter and a jazz instrumentalist who sold limited copies of his work, including a 1997 composition called The Kevorkian Suite: A Very Still Life.

More on Dr. Kevorkian:

  • If you’re keeping a list called Kevorkian’s Controversial Death-Related Positions, add to it his belief that inmates on death row should be able to opt for what amounted to death by scientific experimentation (as fully anesthetized patients in medical research).
  • Kevorkian died (unassisted) in 2011 at age 83.
  • The band Acid Bath used one of his paintings for their album Paegan Terrorism Tactics.

Note: I had a really hard time narrowing down doctors. So many good ones were left out – Dr. No (first James Bond movie villain, works for SPECTRE, metallic hand); Dr. Claw (Inspector Gadget’s nemesis, works for MAD, only ever see his hand and his cat, spoof of Dr. No); Dr. Phil (spawned – er, launched – by Oprah’s daily talk show; professional good-advice-giver); Dr. Pepper (duh)… I wouldn’t rule out a Part 2 of this post at some point in the future.

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Peculiar Play & Peripheral Pastimes

People are perpetually at play. Here are a few pretty pleasing pastimes, from the plain and prosaic to the positively peregrine.

Planking

The point of planking is to lie horizontally, face-down, with both hands by your sides and legs out straight, on random surfaces. Actually, technically that’s the method of planking. The point is…well, no one really knows what the point is. But apparently a lot of people find it a worthwhile way to pass the time. See?

Paragliding

Paragliding is very similar to hang gliding, except that the glider has a parachute-type wing called a canopy instead of the stiff, structured wing of a hang glider. Both types of gliders are motorless. Paragliders move more slowly than hang gliders.

To go paragliding, a pilot sits in a harness that is connected to the nylon canopy by a series of cables (lines) and carabiners. Takeoff occurs when an updraft inflates the canopy (very dramatically named the ram effect) and allows the glider to ride on the wind. The pilot tugs on control lines to brake and shifts his/her weight in the harness to steer.

Puddle-jumpers

Remember those T-shaped wooden propellers you twist between your palms and let fly? Those are puddle jumpers. You can still get them here.

Also? There’s actual jumping in actual puddles.

Punch Buggy

A popular game for the road, Punch Buggy is simple and delightfully obnoxious. When you spot a Volkswagen Beetle, shout “Punch buggy!” and punch your seat mate in the arm. Add “No punchbacks!” to avoid a retaliatory punch, at least until the victim spots another Beetle. Some people also shout the color of the car, for example, “Punchbuggy yellow, no punchbacks!” or “Punchbuggy pale-spring-green, no punchbacks!” (What are those new Beetle colors, anyway? They all look like they were birthed by the Easter Bunny. Er, Easter Buggy…)

Paper Football

This game was designed to make middle school bearable. Creating the paper football is just as much a part of this game as the actual playing, and most school cafeteria tables are the perfect width for use as a paper football field.

One sheet of notebook paper folded into a tight triangular packet serves as the ball. Two players sit across the table from each other with the ball in the middle. Players take turns giving the ball one scoot toward the other player.

A touchdown occurs when a player’s scoot lands the ball so that part of it extends over the opposite edge of the table. (If the ball falls off the table, it returns to the middle for the other player to scoot.)

After a touchdown, the defending player creates uprights with his/her fingers at the edge of the table, and the other player attempts the extra point by propping the ball up on its corner with one finger and flicking it toward the goal.

Play ends when the lunch bell rings.

Postman’s Knock

This party game seems like an early version of Spin the Bottle. A group of people (teenagers, presumably) sends one person out of the room. That person then knocks on the door. The group chooses someone to answer the door and pay for the delivery of a “letter” (i.e., nothing) with a kiss.

Postman’s Knock is also a stick dance in the Morris style, a form of English folk dance that may date back as early as the late 15th century. Nothing can put on smile on my face quite like a bunch of grown men in costume dancing with unbridled exuberance.  Wanna see?

Pankration

Boxing meets wrestling in pankration, a sport that sprung from the combat styles of original nearly-Olympians Heracles and Theseus. In what might be compared to modern-day mixed martial arts, opponents used a combination of striking, holds, joint locks, and takedowns to achieve a win. (Also, you were considered the winner if your opponent died.)

Incidentally, pankration is still around. From what I can tell, the only requirement for participation is that you have more abdominal muscles than danger receptors.

(P.S. My favorite thing about researching pankration was coming across a website for “Pankration, Grappling, and Mixed Martial Arts.” Didn’t know grappling was actually an organized…you know…thing. Apparently you can get really hooked.)

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