from the "Tales of Wendell Past" Dept.

2009
Aug
11

My Card

The last time I was given business cards at my job was 3 jobs and 20+ years ago, but that was the last job I had where I dealt with anybody who wasn’t an employee of the same company, and THAT was in Accounts Payable where most my contacts involved telling Accounts Receivable people why they wouldn’t be getting paid this week. I suggested adding “writer of quality fantasy fiction” to the card but my boss didn’t go for it.

I had ideas for my cow-orkers…

“Financial Gravedigger: Knows where the bodies are buried”

“No Accounting for Taste”

“Practicing Human Relations from the Outside”

“Accounts Decievable”

“Survived the 60s: Please Speak Slowly”

“Computer Science Is NOT Rocket Science, We Crash Much More Often” and “Mr. Leach (his real name), not related to Robin, not Rich, not Famous, not Blood-Sucking”

I have good memories of those people, especially the Receptionist with whom I had a semi-improper relationship (a long story I will NEVER tell publicly without truth serum)

AND NOW A WORD FROM SOMEBODY WHO MAY HAVE NEVER HEARD OF ME...
2008
Dec
3

Past Sex Lives Come Back to Haunt Wendell

Intimate Sex Lives of Famous People

Okay, it’s not really like that, but it was the same kind of near-shock when the only time my by-line ever appeared in a real book (as one of dozens of contributing authors, and under a different first name than Wendell) came back from the literary dead and earned a mention in the Trendy 2.0 blog Boing Boing. For long-time readers of the Wendellblog (both of you), yes this is the same book I referred to in “The Sex Life of Schopenhauer”. I am immediately buying The Intimate Sex Lives of Famous People, since my copy of the Original Edition has been lost due to past lifestyle disasters (some related to my own intimate sex life, kind of) and will make sure my credit is still there (to protect my rep as a mostly-truthful blogger) and see if it brings back any more memories of my Early Writing Career, since the Schopenhauer debacle overwhelmed everything else.

And to get up to Amazon.com’s $25 free-shipping level, I’m also going to buy this DVD collection of truly ancient TV history (from before even I was born!), which comes strongly recommended by Mark Evanier (who I want to grow up to be like someday), and has been fluctuating in price from $10 to $20 and I can grab right now at $12.99 (who knows what its price will be when you read this).

And as long as I’m whoring myself out with Amazon Affiliate Links (for which I get a commission if you lovely readers use them to buy ANYTHING there), I see that in the days leading up to its well-hyped release, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog is dropping in price (from $14.99 to $13.49 to now $9.99), and don’t forget the bargains at Amazon’s MP3 store, where I currently acquire most of my new noise to bother the neighbors withmusic.

2008
Nov
25

Putting the OXY in MORON

It’s an oddly nostalgic night on Twitter, with wilw (TAFKAWesleyCrusher) seeking and finding old “Night Flight” broadcasts, a self-professed “Linux Geek” out-geeking me on Classic Comedy and helping me find the Goon Show movie spin-off “The Case of the Mukkinese Battle Horn”, and a fast-spreading meme in which Twitterers fessed up to what they were doing “on the internet 10 years ago”.

oxy2k Which was my cue to link back to the only web project I was doing then that has survived (although I’m almost relieved that the others have not): The OXY2K, the Unauthorized Official Millennial Oxymoron List, 2000+ Oxymorons for the Year 2000 and, for a few months, the largest oxymoron list on the Web.

Welcome to a world where disobedience is always civil
the fire is always friendly,
the odds are even
and even the grief is good.

Here you can always act naturally,
be alone together
and enjoy your death benefits.

Here, all the shrimp are jumbo
(and always fresh frozen),
every donut is a Krispy Kreme,
every hamburger a Whopper Junior,
and it’s all so wholesome.

If your truck is a Dodge Ram,
your CD a mini-jumbo
and your software is Microsoft Works, then this is your home.

Of course, all generalizations are false (including this one).

2008
Nov
13

Back When I Was 007 Years Old…

Following up on my previous post on non-flying juveniles, I never attempted that particular stunt, although I had more opportunity than most.

I grew up in the Hot Summered L.A. suburb known as The Valley in a house that had neither a pool nor Air Conditioning. What we had was an Evaporative Cooler on the roof, pumping air through continuously flowing streams of water to drop the temperature of the air to a central location of the house. It worked OK, mostly because The Valley usually had a very dry heat and the cooler’s side effect is (logically) increasing the humidity. In places that had humid heat, this device would probably make living conditions inside the house even worse.

Well, that roof-top box had to have filters on all areas of air input, and those filters had to be replaced periodically, and my father was always enthusiastic about letting The Kid (me, only child) help him with his home-based chores (okay, forcing). So I got to get up on the roof, holding large sheets of meshy filter stuff while he unscrewed parts off the cooler to fit them on. I got a great view of the neighborhood, including the houses that did have pools, and over the large embankment at the end of the block behind which was Highway 101, known in that part of town as the Ventura Freeway. Oddly, right now, 180 miles away from that location, I’m a little closer to Highway 101 and can see it from my front porch. But I digress. Again.

Every time I got up on the roof, I had fun (more fun than my dad, I’m sure), although I was always afraid of falling, and never considered the possibility of flying. That’s because I never owned a Superman cape. What my parents were OK in me having was the James Bond 007 Attaché Case (Thanks to the non-blog website of Wes Clark, not the former general but a dude about my age who grew up a few miles away from me in Burbank).

Of course this Attaché was fully weaponized, not only holding a toy handgun with extra parts to convert it into a “sniper’s rifle”, but the Case itself fired plastic bullets and concealed an easily accessible plastic knife. But, as if to foreshadow my future as a briefcase-carrying office dork, I was just as interested in the other accessories, including a decoder gadget, a passport printed with all the places Bond had been as of the last movie, and James Bond’s business cards, showing both his “cover job” with, of course, an Import/Export company and the 007-gun logo. Yeah, real great cover job, Q.

Everything a double-ought secret agent on the go could ever need in one package. Although I thought it needed a place to put a Thermos.

For more Penicillin-Resistant Nostalgia, check out these scans of a 1966 J.C. Penney Christmas Catalog. If you were a kid then, the toy section (starting here) will delight you, and if you weren’t, you’ll get some serious insight as to why people my age are so damn weird.

2008
Nov
10

Your Daily Fred Ration

When this site posted A Brief History of Defunct Electronics Chains in the Form of Old TV Ads, I was intrigued, and after reading it, somewhat entertained, but more than a little unsatisfied because of what it missed.

Here in Southern California, there was an outbreak of Stereo stores in the ’70s vying for the young, hip and hopefully-stoned-enough-to-buy-anything consumer. And they were primarily using radio to reach their potential victimscustomers. University Stereo kept the psychedelic ’60s alive well past their expiration date, with spaced-out effects thrown together by a DJ who called himself Shadoe Stevens. Cal Stereo had the motormouth Tom Campbell putting 90 seconds of ad copy in a 60 second spot. And Pacific Stereo took the high road with commercials that could’ve been for any retail operation.

In 1977, I was straight out of college radio and working at KGIL In The Valley (Suburban L.A.) as Assistant/PhoneMonkey/ThirdSidekick to the forgotten radio legend Sweet Dick Whittington (and yes, for the thousandth time, we DID call him Sweet Dick in the ’60s and ’70s, except me, emphasizing my role as Underling by calling him “Mister Sweetdick”). I’d had fun writing a parody of Tom Campbell’s manic commercials as “Tom Krell for Krell Stereo” but never got it to sound right (or come under a minute) at the college radio studio. At KGIL, I was answering the phones in Production Booth #2, which was equipped with a big reel-to-reel tape recorder with a homebrew variable speed gizmo. I tried doing Tom Krell at a higher speed and it was funny. In future listenings, I realized I had the voice all wrong, but KGIL was demographically aiming for the Over 30s and would never have gotten any business from Cal Stereo, so Sweet Dick said “let’s run this bit anyway… can you do a few more?” He used them to solve a problem semi-unique to him. He was very popular among advertisers who wanted him to do live ad-lib spots (probably because he always went well over the time paid for, but the commercials were often as funny as anything else he did.

But sometimes he was given so many live commercials to do, he had to do two back-to-back, and he found doing the segues painful. So he’d occasionally slip a fake commercial from Tom Krell for Krell Stereo between the real commercials. I felt honored. Another DJ at the station who did serious voiceover work on the side (including, if I remember correctly, as one of several voices for Pacific Stereo) played my Krell commercials for some influencial people, but I didn’t get my big break. Probably because I got the voice all wrong. I was never comfortable with my ‘radio voice’ until years after I left the radio biz. But I digress. Big time.

Shadoe Stevens broke up with University Stereo (which went under a frighteningly short time later) and started doing radio ads for Federated Electronics, aka the Federated Group. Rather than going psychedelic, he sold them on a Tom Campbell/Cal Stereo parody himself (and HE had the voice for it… you do know he replaced Casey Kasem on American Top 40 and is now the announcer for Craig Ferguson’s Late Late Show, don’t you?). He called himself Fred Rated. From there he evolved into higher levels of general wackiness. Meanwhile, Pacific Stereo had begun advertising on television, just as uninterestingly as it did on radio. After a failed campaign with a production company with TV experience, Federated let Shadoe bring Fred Rated to the boob tube. The rest is L.A. television history (although some still insist it was all an acid flashback).

But wait… there’s more…

And more, and more, and more, and more, and more, and more, and more, and more? This orion10590291995 dude is semi-obsessed. There are worse things to be obsessed with…

And then there was the radio pitch man for Waterbed Warehouse who invented the word “humongous” to describe the big building the store was in. But I digress. All night long.

Nov
10

Let’s Say “Go Team” and Leave It at That

Saw a license frame on a vehicle in the supermarket parking lot promoting a high school and its sports teams… the Cougars. I checked, and yep, it was the high-schoolers’ mother driving. I wonder how many MWDWKYLFT*s are cringing over that title and how many are smiling.

Making fun of Team Mascots is kind of low-hanging fruit among writers of semi-humor, so I’ll keep to the most current of observations.

The Bulls are no longer the Honorary Team of Wall Street, replaced by the Bears, oddly both in Chicago.

After the recent election’s political realignment in Ohio, do the Cincinnati Reds have to go Blue? And considering how close the election was in Missouri, the St. Louis NHL team the Blues really should be renamed the Purples. As for the Blue Jays, they totally missed out, being in Canada and all.

There are, no doubt, dozens of small schools in America reconsidering naming their sports teams the Mavericks…

And I for one am especially relieved that the Tampa Bay Rays lost the World Series. It did quiet down many of the Fundamentalist Fans claiming that they went from “worst to first” when they dropped “Devil” from the team name. I would’ve enjoyed a Devil Rays vs. Angels league championship.

I did graduate from a college whose teams were designated the Lions,
loyola marymount lions
which back when I attended, used a logo designed by an alumnus who was also a Disney animator. THAT logo was cute; way too cute for competitive athletics. And it took some deep digging into the Wayback Machine to find any images of it, having been well wiped from the memory of the Internet.
lmu lion
There remain traces of his essence in the school’s physical mascot, named Ignatius (after Ignatius Loyola) or Iggy for short…
ignatius lion

But I think you can guess what my all time favorite mascot is:
UCSC Banana Slugs

*Moms Who Don’t Wanna Know You’d Like to FScarborough Them

2008
Oct
23

Maylayed

I usually delete comments containing single links to blogs I don’t know as semi-spammy. But one that showed up was from a supporter of CAPS LOCK DAY. And it was in Malaysian. Which is a language I can’t even begin to understand but when laid out in ALL CAPS looks to unproud unilinguals like myself like an elegant form of gibberish.

At one place I worked years ago, there was a demographically outlying number Filipino-Americans, most first-generation and still fluent in Tagalog (the most whimsically named language I know of). There were a couple of supervisors in whose work units English was absolutely NOT the preferred language, but I did not mind even though I was never able to understand more than a few random words that were similar to the remnants of high-school Spanish (which were not even very helpful to understanding the many Spanish speakers in Los Angeles… I am hopelessly unilingual and very NOT proud of it). But it was a more-beautiful sounding language than most (especially Portuguese, which I encountered working at a radio station which had sold a block of its weekend airtime to some Portuguese-speaking sponsors who did Portuguese-language programming for the area’s Potuguese-language population… which was mostly relatives of the guys who bought the block of airtime… anyway, the Portuguese language, at least the way these guys spoke it, sounded very un-elegant, gutteral and coarse; making me appreciate the style of Latin-American-Spanish more… and lose my desire to go to Brazil, even bikini-waxed girls would turn me off with that language. Anyway, it was in that office that I, the unproud unilingual, learned a useful ‘faking it’ skill. The ability to look like I did understand what was being said in a different language and was subtly listening to it. It’s especially useful in cashier lines at “ethnic” grocery stores and has frequently quieted people talking about the “gordo gringo” (me). But I digress.

But just seeing “HARI CAPSLOCK ANTARABANGSA” on a webpage in front of me gave me a smile on a day when the frowns were catching up with the smiles. If anyone can provide a translation to that blog post, please do. I just want to make sure nothing in it is the Malayan equivalent of “gordo gringo”.

2008
Sep
28

Wendell Twitters and Burps

The main reason I haven’t been keeping up the blog this last week is that I went in for an overnight “Sleep Study”, returned with a bunch of “electrode glop*” in my hair and, having ended the 8-hour test sleepier than I started, tried to wash out the glop NOT with a normal shower but with a big bowl of warm water and a washcloth on the table next to my bed… right next to the laptop computer I use to blog in bed (yes, I am that disabled/lazy). And of course, most of the water spilled right onto the keyboard of the laptop and the display flashed and went off, never to go on again. I had already altered WordPress’s “update your blog anywhere” features to work best (i.e. only) with that laptop, and Twitter was so much easier to communicate with, even if I was limited to 140 characters at a time, AND YOU CAN SEE RIGHT HERE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I AM NOT LIMITED MY GOD I AM SO WORDY.

One I got the backup laptop able to blog, I wasted a lot of time “fixing” my design to render properly on Internet Explorer 6.0 (the only major browser where the rounded corners do a weird little levitation thing that looks crappy). Actually, it was never successfully “fixed”, and my only message to IE 6.0 users is: UPGRADE YOUR FRAKKING BROWSERS!!! GET INTO THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU EEDIOTS!!! EVEN MICROSOFT HAS A NEWER VERSION!!! ARE YOU AFRAID OF 7??? IS IT BECAUSE 7 ATE NINE???

Anyway, since I have said a few brilliantly funny things on Twitter lately, I will be recycling them in the next few posts (often expanding from the 140 character limit to my usual blather-til-you-drop style). And, of course, document the rest of the “So Disbarred” Twitter Meme, which I am right now regretting I got started with.

So stay tuned, fasten your seat belts, tip your waitress and GET A FRAKKING DECENT BROWSER, MORANS!!!

*that’s a Medical Term

2008
Sep
13

Good Night, George

GEORGE PUTNAM (all caps, because that’s the way he said everything), Los Angeles Television/Radio Legend, has died at the age of 94. A protege of Walter Winchell who came to L.A. in 1951 to restart a stalled career as a news anchor, he was famous for his dramatic style and extremely UNobjective reporting. Retrospective of his colorful career: Part One, Part Two. Best known on the Web as the "outstanding news reporter" who narrated the ’50s alarmist documentary "Perversion for Profit", he was also acknowledged as the model for the Mary Tyler Moore show’s bombastic newsman character Ted Baxter (seen here sitting in on a real newscast). Not restricting his editorializing to his daily "One Reporter’s Opinion" segment, he is credited/blamed for the election of Sam Yorty as mayor of Los Angeles. And when TV News outgrew him, he found a home for the next 30 years doing Talk Radio (where some of us believe Rush Limbaugh also modeled his style after him). And that’s the up-to-the-minute obitfilter; up to the minute, that’s all the obitfilter.
Is that all? Of course that’s not all! Click Here.

2004
Mar
11

The Sex Life of Schopenhauer

Before 1980, my pursuit of a professional writing career included checking the Los Angeles Times classified ads under “W”. There I discovered an ad from “The People’s Almanac” (the series of pop reference books edited by Irving Wallace and his family) soliciting ideas for “The Book of Lists”. I ended up getting paid for two lists (one of “crown princes” and the other of “musicians famous for something else”) that never got published, and was definately on their “B” list of contributors when they sent me a letter asking if I’d be interested in writing for a new project of theirs: “The People’s Almanac Presents the Intimate Sex Lives of Famous People”.

The “Famous People” of the title were all deceased (avoiding various legal issues), and most were historically so. My first assignment was the pessimist philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, and the editors provided me with research material – two biographies, 50 to 75 years old at the time. Being written long before anyone thought of publishing “Intimate Sex Lives” books, both volumes required a lot of ‘reading between the lines’ to extract much of a sexual biography. And a couple weeks after I sent in my thousand words, I got back a tactfully worded request to rewrite it, in which the Assistant Editor (no relative of Irving Wallace) pointed out that I had failed to note that Schopenhauer had died of complications from syphillis.

Obviously, I hadn’t read nearly enough between the lines. I felt like I had just flunked History, Philosophy, Creative Writing and Sex Education on the same day.