Saturday, September 8, 2007

I Only Need a Pine Cone and a Shoe String!

Question: What TV survival expert once used candy bars to plug a sulfuric acid leak?

Patti and Selma Bouvier on the Simpsons can't get enough of this guy, and his legendary inventions will live on forever in pop culture. I am, of course, talking about MacGyver. I will be honest and admit that I never really watched MacGyver growing up in the 80s. I think it was just too adult to keep my interest for too long, but I was fascinated with his crazy inventions to save the day.

The word "MacGyver" has become a verb used often in my everyday life. I often MacGyver things together so they will work again. Back when I was working in a lab, I fixed a centrifuge door with a paper clip and a safety pin. Someone there started calling me "MacGyver" and ever since I have used the word to describe how I'm throwing things together.

I now teach high school science classes and we often don't have the expensive equipment needed for some of the labs, so I'll MacGyver the lab protocol until it works with what we do have. MacGyvering things also comes in handy at home. The extent of my cooking ability is usually browning some hamburger or popping in a frozen pizza. Every now and then, when I haven't been grocery shopping in awhile, my MacGyvering know-how is put to the test. Can you create a meal out of some egg noodles, spices, cheese, and hot dogs? MacGyver surely could.

So, thank you, MacGyver, for giving me the courage and the tools to survive my own life. I've yet to successfully create a bomb out of a pine cone, a shoe string, and a piece of gum, but I am also not Richard Dean Anderson. He has much better hair than I do.

Answer: MacGyver

Monday, July 16, 2007

"Dance Your Cares Away..."

Question: What kids' show centered on humanoids named Gobo, Mokey, Red, Wembley, and Boober?

Do you remember the days when kids' shows weren't all about the cinematography advanced technology? There was a time when it was all about the story and fun characters. Fraggle Rock was one of my most favorite shows as I was growing up. They were a branch off the muppets and they had fun living underground.

The Doozers made their sugar buildings that were tasty. Gobo seemed to be the leader of the lovable Fraggles, but all the girls knew that Red really called the shots. And who couldn't love a wise trash heap? The advice dispensed by the compost was always right on and helped the Faggles understand the lesson of their predicaments.

It was a weekly ritual for me to watch Fraggle Rock. My mom taught guitar lessons when I was little. My friend Tara's brother Jerry took lessons from her and Tara would also come over. We watched Fraggle Rock and pretended we were the Fraggles. I, of course, was Red and Tara would be Mokey. We'd laugh and my mom would make us Rock Candy so we could eat a "Doozer building" as we watched the show. Things were so much simpler back then.

Imagine my surprise as I noticed a DVD of Fraggle Rock in the bargain bin at Walmart. I immediately snapped it up for my son. it was really for me, but it was under the guise of buying it for my son. I brought it home and we watched it. My son was not impressed. I blame Pixar movies for his lack of interest. Oh, well. I think I'll go watch it right now since he's not home.

Answer: Fraggle Rock

Friday, June 15, 2007

A Sad Day for Science Nerds

Question: Whose talk show debuted in 1982 with Bill Murray and Don "Mr. Wizard" Herbert as guests?

June 13, 2007 became a very sad day for me. Don Herbert, better known as Mr. Wizard, died at the age of 89. Without fail, I would watch "Mr. Wizard's World" on Nickelodeon three times a week in the 80s. That show might have been the catalyst for my love of science and the beginnings of why I decided to become a science teacher.

The experiments always amazed me. That man could do anything with just some salt, vinegar, and an old mayo jar. There were explosions, and smoke, and all kinds of different colors. It was fascinating and I always learned something. Mr. Wizard always stressed to his sidekicks the importance of doing experiments the right way. Don Herbert's obituary at agreed:

"He modeled how to predict and measure and analyze. ... The show today might seem slow but it was in-depth and forced you to think along," Jacobs said. "You were learning about the forces of nature."

I often emulate Mr. Wizard in my science classroom. I use simple household items when I can and I always make sure the students understand that science is everywhere and can be done at any time by anyone. Thanks, Mr. Wizard, for making science fun all those years.

Answer: David Letterman

Saturday, April 28, 2007

I know you are but what am I?

Question: What kids' show promised in its opening theme, "A nuttier establishment you've never seen"?

The secret word is: laugh

Talking furniture, marrying fruit salad, a creepy floating magic head...yeah, I'd say the theme song was probably right. Pee Wee's Playhouse was a definite Saturday morning ritual at my house when I was younger. My friends and I would make up a secret word of the day and we'd scream whenever anyone said it. And that was in high school and college, long after the show had been taken off the air. I guess some things just stay with you as you age.

I still say "I know you are but what am I?" in my best Pee Wee voice. I even sometimes bust out a "Meka leka hi, meka hiney ho" when necessary (is it ever really necessary?). I'm not sure I understand the appeal of a nerdy guy in an ill-fitting suit talking in a grating voice and screaming a lot, but it sure did work for me for some reason. And what a launching pad it became for some careers! Laurence Fishburne as Cowboy Curtis, S. Epatha Merkerson as Reba the mail lady, and Phil Hartman was a writer and played Captain Carl. What a cast!

No wonder the show was good for a laugh! AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!

Answer: Pee Wee's Playhouse

Sunday, April 15, 2007

"I Feel the Need for Speed"

Question: What company made the sunglasses that Maverick sported in Top Gun?

Back before Tom Cruise seemingly lost his mind and started jumping on Oprah's couch, he was a hot young actor with the "need for speed". I can't count how many times my college roommate and I watched the movie Top Gun just for the volleyball scene alone. Back before Tom went crazy, he was one hot guy that picked the right movies and made the women swoon.

Top Gun was just an overall great movie. Sure it was cheesy and far-fetched, but it was adventure, action, and a sappy love story all rolled into one. It was a movie that both men and women could agree to watch, and that's a hard thing to do. Men wanted to fly the jets and be Maverick or Goose so they could take down Iceman. Women couldn't get enough of the hot guy eye candy between Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer, or for those girls who fall for the sweet and "nerdy" type there was Anthony Edwards. The guys cheered with the loop-de-loops and airplane action and the girls melted and imagined their guy would sing "You've Lost that Lovin' Feeling" to them. Everyone cried, or at least got a lump in the throat, when Goose died. It was a very compelling story with something for everyone.

That begs the question why there was never a Top Gun 2. It seems like all successful movies spawn at least one sequel. Obviously they tied up pretty much all the loose ends in the original, but that's never stopped a movie from having a sequel before. So I did a little bit of research and found out this little tidbit I thought I'd share with you from the IMDB page on Top Gun:

A script for "Top Gun 2" was completed shortly after the release of the film, but it broke down in pre-production because 1) the military's technology had become updated and they didn't want camera crew anywhere near their new aircraft and 2) Cruise did not want a sequel and finally agreed to star in one for a very high amount that was deemed "unaffordable." The script followed the further adventures of Maverick as an instructer at the Top Gun academy, the twist being a cocky female reminiscent of himself joining the team

That description sounds to me like the typical plot device for a sequel, so maybe it's a good idea they didn't end up filming and releasing the sequel. What do you think? What would make a good Top Gun 2 script and who would you want to star in it now? Leave me some comments!

Answer: Ray-Ban