Flashback Friday: “Fluffy Bun”

Bet that title got your attention, eh? Now, let me whisper three little words that I’ve been meaning to say to you all for quite a while now…

“Where’s the beef?”

Yeah, okay. Those words have never been whispered. They’ve always been yelled. By this tiny, incredibly hard-of-hearing octogenarian:


Or a presidential candidate.

(And we wonder why we were stuck with Reagan for two terms.)

So, what’s this all about then? On January 10, 1984, American fast food chain Wendy’s launched a new marketing campaign, aimed at making viewers believe that their competitors skimped on how much beef they used for their burgers. The campaign, originally named “Fluffy Bun,” featured three elderly women examining a big, fluffy bun before discovering that the bun hid a tiny little hockey puck of a burger. One of the women, disgruntled by this discovery, proceeds to utter this now quite famous line. Multiple times. Loudly.

For full disclosure, Clare Peller yelled the line because she was quite hard-of-hearing. She was totally allowed to be hard-of-hearing. She was 81 years old at the time Wendy’s ad firm cast her in this and subsequent commercials. Because, of course, America fell in love with her and her memorable delivery of this catchy line. She starred in several different “Where’s the Beef” commercials until Wendy’s fired her a year later for spoofing her famous line in a Prego commercial. In 1987, Peller passed away at the age of 85.

I can’t believe today marks the 30th anniversary of the debut of this moment of marketing genius. Is it fair to ascribe so much to this series of commercials? I think so. A quick, pithy catchphrase is priceless. Just ask Nike. Combine it with a memorable spokesperson and you’ve struck gold. Just ask Hertz.

Er. Maybe not.

Of course, Wendy’s regrouped after “Beef Gate” and came back with a new campaign starring founder Dave Thomas that proved equally memorable. Just without the cool catchphrase designed to drive everyone crazy after a week. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Still, it was fun while it lasted.

This was my favorite of the “Where’s the Beef” ads:


And then there’s this…er, gem. Enjoy!


Photo Fun Friday: Why So Serious?

So, New Year, new opportunities to rejuvenate the lair…dust off the cobwebs that settled last year, get back on track with writing, musing, rambling, and just having fun. I hope.

Sooner or later, I’ll even get back to Flashback Fridays. Today, however, I needed to scratch an itch that’s been tickling my brain for a while now. Ever hear the P!nk song “Raise Your Glass”? No? Well, here, in all its NSFW glory…


I love that song. I love the video, too, for all its strangeness. Okay, some of the strangeness is just downright weird. But it’s still fun. The one line that always jumps out at me, though, is when she sings, “Why so serious?”

Obviously, as a comics fan, all I can think of when I hear that line is Heath Ledger’s Joker. Successful ad campaign is, obviously, successful. Of course, you know my wacky brain, denizens. Each time I hear this song, I immediately start combining P!nk and the Joker. It just kept getting worse and worse, until finally? Well, finally, this happened…


You’re welcome.

Holiday Flashback: Twas the Night Before Christmas

As much as I love Rankin/Bass holiday specials, I’m shocked that I completely forgot about their cartoon version of Twas the Night Before Christmas. This used to be one of my favorite Christmas specials when I was a little kid. I suspect it was the singing mice. Or Joel Grey. Either one always gets me. Thankfully, and who knows for how long, someone has posted this cartoon on YouTube. I can only describe my response upon discovering it as “great joy and gratitude.”

Merry Christmas Eve, denizens, if that’s your holiday swing. If not, I wish you the most wonderful Tuesday ever in the history of the universe.


Flashback Friday: The Year Without a Santa Claus

It’s that time of year once more, denizens, in which I journey back to those nostalgic memories of Christmases past and bring a little holiday joy into the lair while doing so. For me, holiday television viewing is almost predominantly owned by Rankin/Bass Productions. I’ve referenced these purveyors of stop-motion and traditional animation before, but this time I’d like to reference one of their stop-motion cartoons that wasn’t quite as popular as their more famous fare, like Frosty and Rudolph: The Year Without a Santa Claus. Featuring Mickey Rooney as the voice of Santa and Shirley Booth as the voice of Mrs. Claus, this show didn’t air in regular rotation for very long in comparison with other Rankin/Bass offerings (I believe it stopped appearing on regular television in the early 80s, which means it was only out there for five or six years; ABC Family now plays it every year, which I guess is one tick in favor of cable television).

I actually don’t remember a whole lot from the show itself. My favorite parts, however, were the Miser Brothers: Heat and Snow. Together, they sing two parts of a song that I still love. It’s silly and bouncy and actually converted quite well to a cover by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Don’t believe me? First, here’s the original:


And here’s the cover:


See? Not bad. If you want “bad,” all you need do is listen to this cover, performed by Harvey Fierstein as Heat Miser and Michael McKean as Snow Miser for the 2006 live-action version of this special. Oh, denizens, I really, truly wish I was kidding on this one. I apologize now, but I’m going to have to post a link to this since I have mentioned it. It’s terrible. You have been warned:


Eek. And did they really try to sexy up this special with scantily clad girlie dancers? Seriously, who thought this would ever be a good idea? Tick another one off in the support of my disdain for remakes…

Oh, and by the way? Team Heat Miser, all the way.

Flashback Friday: Chain Lightning 600 Dominoes

What’s this, you say? A new Flashback Friday? An honest-to-prophets, brand-spank-me-new blog post from the delightfully in absentia LobaBlanca herself? To what do we owe the honor tonight? I don’t know, really…but enjoy it while it lasts, denizens. You never know when the muses will withdraw their benevolence.

So I love dominoes. Not the actual game of dominoes. I do know how to play the game, but not being a fan of games in general, I don’t really like it. No, I like setting up elaborate domino schemes and watching them tumble in properly syncopated style. I haven’t actually done such a thing in years, but when I was little, I used to do it all the time. See, one of my aunts gave me one of the greatest gifts ever for my birthday one year: The Chain Lightning 600 domino set.

Some of you might be familiar with the similar Domino Rally set, which is apparently back on the market as of 2012. This was the more popular of the two sets. Domino Rally had larger dominoes, plus it had easy-to-build bridges that actually had flip-up dominoes attached to them. So you didn’t really have to have any patience or skill to build those. All you had to do was flip your wrist to make the attached dominoes stand up.

Chain Lightning had bridges, too. However, you had to add your own dominoes. And they were little tiny things. Took a steady hand and nice supply of patience to build up one of those. Took even more of both to use the design templates that came with this frame that you could use to lower the template so you could add the dominoes, and then raise the template back up so you could remove it without knocking over the dominoes. You don’t even want to know how many times I knocked over a template that I’d just spent several minutes adding.

Photo courtesy of Daysgonebytreasures
Photo courtesy of Daysgonebytreasures

This set might have been what started me on my illustriously long-lived career as more potty-mouthed than a sailor.

Still, I kept at it and got pretty damned good at using the templates and also coming up with my own designs. I would go into our dining room, which was empty at the time, and spend hours, just me and a giant bag of dominoes and my imagination. Bonus if I could make it through a building session without the dog coming through and knocking over at least part of whatever I was building.


What makes me laugh the most about this video is the same template design that gave them problems used to give me the same problems. I always assumed that it was somehow user error. Now I see that there must have been something wrong with the design.

Sometimes I wish I still had a space where I could build things with dominoes. Then again, I know my personality. If I still played with dominoes, I’d be one of those crazy people who spent days and days building elaborate things like…well, like this:


Of course, we all know that, instead of an “Around the World” tribute, I would build some kind of tribute to something worthwhile…Star Trek or Scooby Doo. Maybe domino diaramas dedicated to all the Peanuts characters.

Oooh. I’m liking these ideas…

Flashback Friday: Adolescent Ephemera

I swear this isn’t a cop-out, denizens.

Okay, it sort of is a co-pout. I’m still working on that solution for how to either cram more hours into one day or more work into the time that I have. I’m not quite there yet. I’ve got a few other posts that I’m working on (including one that I’ve been working on since…around Mayish of this year o_O). But in the interim, I thought you might enjoy this random photo that I discovered earlier this week while going through some digital photo archives:


This is just a sampling of the weirdness from my adolescence that I deemed important enough for my parents to have to transport to another state and into another attic in another house from the one in which I lived. Totally understandable, though, right? I mean who wouldn’t want a bajillion different stuffed Scooby Doos (and a mini pillow!!) and mini posters of Data and Dr. Crusher.

[Loba Tangent: As much as I love both of these characters, these poses have always bothered me, especially for Dr. Crusher. Why is the doctor seen getting ready to shoot someone? Couldn’t they have taken a picture of her with a medical tricorder? A hypospray? Either one of those would have been more appropriate than this Hippocratic anathema…]

Also, check the basketball on the bottom shelf. I bought that at a Hardee’s somewhere along the I-95 corridor, during the first part of our senior class trip. Ah, our class trips. Now those are stories I should tell sometime. When the therapy is finished. And the PTSD and nightmares have finally stopped.

See you soon, denizens. I hope…

Flashback Friday: Mr. Gameshow


Welcome to a slice of my adolescent nightmare, denizens. This is Mr. Gameshow. Granted, it’s a really twisted PhotoShop take on Mr. Gameshow. Here, have a look at an untouched photo of him:


Not much better, right? I didn’t really think so either. I don’t have any stories about Mr. Gameshow (aka “Gus Glitz”). I’m sure most people don’t even remember him. Galoob probably lost a huge amount of money on this dud of an electronic doozy. He might have been sold for a year at most before being pulled from the market. I’ve never met anyone who even remembered this toy, let alone knew someone who owned one. I never played any of the games and I’m not even sure why I wanted him in the first place. Probably a symptom of all the horror movies that I watched as a kid. Who knows.

Amazingly, my Mr. Gameshow still works, even after sitting in hot attics for years. I recently found all his components and set him up (the damn thing takes four AA batteries and four C batteries!), just to see if there was any damage. Took a little while to get him fired up and working properly (all the little belts inside him had stuck in place, so it took a bit of gentle jiggling to get him back into fighting shape), but after a while, he was swinging his arms and clacking his massive jaw, just like old times. I didn’t take any video of my toy, but you can get the general idea from this clip:


I know. You’re all shocked that Mr. Gameshow wasn’t more popular. I’m sure Energizer and Duracell were rooting for him (eight batteries!!). I’m not really sure what I’m going to do with good ole Gus Glitz. Of course, if I ever decide to put on that Halloween extravaganza, I’m thinking he would make a great centerpiece, don’t you?

Fabulous Photo Friday: Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania

Hey, denizens, do you know what Loba’s favorite mammal is?

Yes, that’s right. My favorite mammal is the naked mole rat!

Of course, it really is the wolf. I have always loved wolves. I find them to be magnificent, loyal, beautiful creatures. I own numerous books on them, read about them all the time, donate money several times a year to defend them, and just generally think they’re more awesome than even Star Trek.

That’s how much I love wolves.

So when we recently found ourselves heading up into parts of Pennsylvania other than Philadelphia, I took it upon myself to map out how far of a drive it would be from our actual destination to a place that I have wanted to go for many, many moons: The Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania in Lititz.

[Loba Tangent: The name of the city is pronounced with the emphasis on the first syllable. I learned this the hard way. I’m trying to help you avoid the same embarrassing lesson.]

Believe it or not, there are states in this country with such lax exotic animal laws that people can actually adopt wolves. As utterly ridiculous and downright stupid as that sounds, it’s even worse that there are people out there who go through with adopting these wild animals, either for the status symbol or just because they’re morons.

[Loba Tangent 2: Actually, I think anyone who tries to bring a wolf into their home for whatever reason falls into the “moron” category. These are wild animals. If you want something domesticated to guard your house and poop in your yard, do what everyone else does and buy a dog. There are lots of them in kill shelters and rescues that would love to be your pet.]

The Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania, and other sanctuaries throughout the United States, come to the rescue of these wolves when the people who bought them finally realize that, “Hey, trying to keep a wild pack animal alone in my apartment for 8+ hours a day is a really stupid idea.” The sanctuary takes in these wolves, from places as far away as Montana and Wyoming, who live in that terrible limbo realm of not domesticated enough to be be pets, but too domesticated to survive in the wild.

The staff of the Wolf Sanctuary love their pack, respect that they are not dogs, let them have their space, do not intrude into the natural ways in which wolves interact, dominate, submit, and howl away their days. They do their best to tend to the wolves’ needs in ways that do not require that they enter into the wolves’ zones or impede upon the wolves’…sanctuaries.

I was admittedly worried about how I would feel about these wild animals being placed on display (I even have a bit of a problem with zoos, but I understand that a lot of zoos do worthwhile research that benefits both the captive animals and their free counterparts…so I deal). The sanctuary, however, is doing a wonderful job of protecting these wolves while giving them as much space and freedom as they can.

Of course, I took my DSLR, because…wolves. There really isn’t any need for further explanation, right? I took lots of photos, but only some of them turned out the way I wanted them to. It’s quite difficult to capture constantly moving animals while trying to focus out the chain-link fence that separates you from them. But I succeeded a few times. And sometimes, the fence is there, but the photo came out well enough that I don’t mind.

Here, then, are some of my favorite shots from our visit to the Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania. Enjoy!










Flashback Friday (Holiday Edition): The Haunting

An evil old house, the kind some people call haunted, is like an undiscovered country waiting to be explored. Hill House had stood for 90 years and might stand for 90 more. Silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there… walked alone.


The past few weeks have been rather hectic in terms of time, so I haven’t had a chance to do a Flashback Friday in a while. And, really, this is just a brief entry in honor of the passing of Julie Harris on August 24. While Ms. Harris was a multi-award-winning actress who found fame in movies, television, and theater, she shall forever be to me Eleanor “Nell” Lance from The Haunting, Robert Wise’s 1963 adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s brilliantly unsettling book The Haunting of Hill House.

I once made a list here at the lair of 10 of my all-time favorite horror movies, and The Haunting was securely in this mix. If I had to narrow this list down to only five? The Haunting would remain. It is a wonderfully atmospheric film based upon one of my favorite novels from one of my favorite authors. Also, with unflinchingly eerie cinematography, Wise proved he was definitely a director who knew his trade well; what he did with cameras and angles and deep focus in this film are all part of what still make it an amazing addition to the horror genre.

Plus, the cast was positively stellar. In addition to Harris, equally renowned stage actress Claire Bloom portrayed the “unnatural” clairvoyant Theodora, one of my favorite genre characters (although Theodora is far more nuanced and practical [and far less hysterical] in Jackson’s novel); Richard Johnson played Dr. John Markway; when he wasn’t being a Jet all the way, Russ Tamblyn played Luke Sanderson; and while on leave as the internationally known Moneypenny from early James Bond fame, Lois Maxwell made an appearance as Dr. Markway’s wife, Grace. Plus, there are a couple of supporting actors who deliver some awesome moments, including Rosalie Crutchley as the intensely morbid Mrs. Dudley (No one will hear you in the night. In the dark. Isn’t that right, Mrs. Dudley?).


I talk about this movie all the time because it truly is one of my favorites. There’s no way to simply explain how wonderful it is. Every moment is a new discovery. Every scene is art. Every knock, creak, moan, roar, smash, clang, crash, and scream are a horror fan’s delight. I have watched this film myriad times. I will watch it myriad more. It is fantastic and frightening and deserves the respect that it continues to receive. Also? That house. That house that they found for this movie blows my mind.


It is now the Ettington Park Hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon. I’m not going to lie…it’s my goal one day to stay here, or at the very least to visit it. I feel this is a sabbatical I need to take.

Until then, I shall happily pull my DVD out and take a trip to Hill House again and again and again…


Flashback Friday: The Craft

“Now is the time. This is the hour. Ours is the magic. Ours is the power.”

Running with a bit of a theme for a theme today, denizens. I realized last week that I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to remember all the strange and wonderful things from my childhood…but I’m forgetting all the strange and wonderful things from my older years. You know, that magnificent wasteland of adolescence. That wonderfully traumatizing time of your life in which you are discovering who you are and what that means, not just to you but to how you fit into the world around you and how you click with the people in your life.

Sometimes, it means realizing that you’re not really going to fit in and the people around you are more than likely going to find that you’re a bit…un-click-able. (Or is that un-clique-able?) Years after the fact, you’re going to look back and realize that all that was okay. Not being like everyone else around you can serve to strengthen you in many ways. Also? Not being like everyone else around you means that you’ll never have to conform to something you’re not, just to be accepted. What? Did you really think that all those high school cliques comprised people who all happened to be exactly the same? Nah…it takes a lot of work and lying to fit in, denizens. Much easier to just be yourself.

Of course, I can say that now, nearly 20 years after graduating high school. Back then, though, I struggled with a lot of stuff, including what was necessary for me to fit in. And then I chose black nail polish, black leather trench coats and knee-high boots, and massive metal hair. I guess I lived by that Alice in Wonderland line: “I often give myself very good advice, but very seldom follow it.”

So what does all this have to do with today’s Flashback Friday entry? Quite a bit, actually.


Remember The Craft? No? Allow me to refresh your memory. Young Sarah (Robin Tunney) finds herself in a new home and a new town and a new school, all things done by her father to try to make things better for his daughter, who has been having a bit of a rough time ever since her mother passed away. All the internal turmoil tends to set Sarah apart from others, so of course, she’s not really fitting in all that well at the Catholic school she’s now stuck attending. That is until she’s accepted by three other misfits—Bonnie (Neve Campbell), Nancy (Fairuza Balk), and Rochelle (Rachel True)—who also happen to practice witchcraft in their spare time.

Get it? The Craft?

What Nancy, Bonnie, and Rochelle don’t realize at first is that Sarah actually has the powers that they all pretend they have. Sarah is a natural witch, something she inherited from her mother. Of course, Nancy does not approve of this obvious impingement upon her assumed role as leader of these witchy malcontents. Hilarity, of course, ensues.

I think one of the things that I love most about this movie is that we see in Sarah someone who truly is different and, in the end, accepts her differences and sees them as her power rather than her weakness. The other three? All Bonnie wants more than anything is to be pretty enough for the boys to finally pay attention to her. And Rochelle just wants the high school bitch queen (played with hilarious bravado by Christine “I played Marcia Brady” Taylor) to leave her alone…oh, and also suffer a little bit. Nancy wants control, first in the form of money and then in the form of true dark magic. None of these three wants to accept who they are or what they have.

Sarah, however, comes to realize in the end that she doesn’t need anything. She doesn’t need to fit in. She doesn’t need these friends (she definitely doesn’t need a friend like Nancy). She doesn’t need to hurt herself or hurt others. She just needs to be herself.

Yes, the movie is a silly teen cult flick with an amazing soundtrack if you were a teen in the late 90s and dug alternative sounds from the likes of Heather Nova, Matthew Sweet, Elastica, Love Spit Love, Juliana Hatfield, Spacehog, Our Lady Peace, Jewel…seriously, this is another soundtrack that I know is guaranteed to lift my spirits a bit whenever I listen to it. Yes, it jump-started Neve Campbell’s movie career by bringing her to the attention of a certain well-known horror movie director who was gearing up to break the scary movie business wide open with a Scream.

Beyond all these things, though, is a movie to which I could greatly relate. I was different. I didn’t necessarily fit in with the people around me. But that was okay. At least I wasn’t going to end up like Nancy. Poor, delusional, do-not-piss-her-off Nancy. (Balk and Tunney ended up winning an MTV Movie Award for “Best Fight” because of their showdown in this movie…and you know what? Totally deserved. Totally.) I took from this movie the message that you will be okay, even if you spend your adolescence as the outcast. There’s freedom in not fitting in, and you will grow to understand and appreciate that. Also? You will find others who will appreciate your differences just as much as you appreciate theirs. And their acceptance without expectation will only make you that much stronger.

I guess this was a predecessor of the “It Gets Better” campaign in a lot of ways. Only with a witchy Goth twist. And Sidney Prescott.

While looking up some information for this post, I stumbled across this little bit of trivia: There’s a musical based on this movie. I don’t really know how I feel about this. I like that the message is still strong enough that people are helping it find new audiences. The songs aren’t really all that great though. Or maybe the YouTube clips just aren’t that great. I don’t know. But if it brings more fans to this movie? So blessed be it.