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When I was a kid my mom used to send me to school with a thermos full of SpaghettiOs. Even though I lost the thermos a few times, mom kept replacing it and making sure I had a hot meal at school. So I have a soft spot for the little pasta and meatballs. Naturally I was a little upset to read that Donald Goerke, the man at Campbells who came up with the pseudo-Italian pasta-in-a-can, died last Sunday. He was 83.

Campbells tapped Goerke to come up with a kid-friendly pasta, and after trying shapes like cowboys, spacemen, stars, and sports shapes, he chose the simple O. He obviously chose wisely; SpaghettiOs sell over 150 million cans per year and are a staple with kids everywhere. In addition to creating SpaghettiOs, Goerke was also behind the ever-popular Chunky soup, a product that has provided extra income to NFL players for years.

Well this is a sad day indeed. Curtis Allina, the man responsible for creating the mighty Pez Dispenser and sharing its joy with the world, died at age 87. His invention brought joy to children and a creepy, obsessive hobby to many adults desperate to cling to the last vestiges of the pure bliss of childhood.

To celebrate Allina’s legacy, here are a few fun Pez facts:

  • The name “Pez” is derived from the German word for “peppermint”, “Pfefferminze”
  • It was originally marketed to adults
  • Allina added the cool dispenser in 1955 and they started marketing them to kids
  • A Tweety Bird Pez dispenser was at the center of one of the best episodes of Seinfeld EVER
  • The most expensive Pez dispenser is from the 1982 World’s Fair, and it sold on eBay in 2006 for over $32,000. Seriously.

Farewell Curtis, and either thank you for bringing joy to children across the world, or screw you for unleashing an incredibly irritating hobby on the world.

a collage of Dr. Seuss drawings
In a perfect world today would have been Theodor Geisel’s 105 birthday. Unfortunately this imperfect world has to find a way to muddle through without his shining presence, since he died in 1991. Fortunately he left behind enough works to keep us stocked up on magic and wonder for years to come. Let’s take this opportunity to take a look back at some of my favorite Seuss works.
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Nancy Reagan on Santa's lap, only Santa is Mr. T
If you had a dream where you saw Nancy Reagan sitting on Mr. T’s lap, and Mr. T was dressed as Santa Claus, and Nancy was kissing him on the forehead while holding a Mr. T, Gentle Giant doll, you’d either check yourself into the nearest mental institution or assume you’d eaten something very strange the night before.  But here’s a picture of just that.  How fucking bizzare can things get?

If anyone has any idea of the context of this photo I’d love to hear it…

Bjork - Debut
Welcome to a new feature here on Pop Culture Will Eat Itself, Rewind Reviews. Periodically we’ll take a look back at an album from the past, and take a look at what made it a classic, a dud, or something in between.

I was 17 years old in 1993. Musically I was just coming of age. I had just left behind the atrocities of Hammer’s 2 Legit 2 Quit and Another Bad Creation’s Coolin’ at the Playground Ya Know!, and had just gone through a Beatles and Zeppelin intervention. I was listening to a lot of grunge, diving heavily into Nirvana, Soundgarden, and especially Pearl Jam. Through high school band I was listening to and playing a lot of classical and jazz. With that mix of music stewing around in my head it’s amazing that I was able to understand and appreciate something that didn’t fit into any category I’d heard before: Björk’s Debut.
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He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
It appears the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe movie is actually moving forward. Latino Review broke a story today that Kung Fu Panda director John Stevenson has been hired to direct the updated He-Man movie.

I’ve been very skeptical of this project from the first report. It seems like simply another attempt to cash in on 30-something nostalgia. Plus the first attempt at a movie was an absolute abomination (Dolph Lundgren anyone?). And in retrospect He-Man was a pretty stupid cartoon and toy line (why is he fighting guys who shoot lasers with a sword? And how did we miss the fact that the guy with the Mary Tyler Moore haircut goes from pink shirt and tights to bondage gear?). But…

I like Kung Fu Panda. Quite a bit actually. So can the man behind that movie actually make Masters of the Universe interesting? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Not sure how long we’ll have to wait though; no release date has been set.

via Latino Review

I’m 99% sure this isn’t a joke…

Check out this amazing commercial from 1994, which couldn’t possibly be 15 years ago now, because that would mean I graduated from high school 15 years ago…Oh god…it’s been 15 years since I graduated from high school…if you need me I’ll be crying in the corner…

Wait, what just happened? I blacked out for a second there. Where were we? Right, the commercial. It’s for a classic infomercial gadget that helps you clean fish. And naturally it’s called the Wunder Boner. Don’t drink anything during this, as it will likely come right out your nose:

If I’m not mistaken that’s Baltimore’s own Mike Rowe doing the voice-over (from Dirty Jobs, Deadliest Catch, American Chopper, and probably 15 other shows on the Discovery Channel). And “My wife would like that” is just about the funniest line ever uttered in a commercial. Ah, I love the internet.

via BoingBoing

Star Wars hype was in full effect in the late 70’s and early 80’s. The original movie (which you won’t catch me calling anything other than Star Wars) had generated huge box office numbers and legions of dedicated fans. George Lucas was busy coming up with new and creative ways to separate them from their money, so the market was flooded with merchandise featuring all of the movie’s major (and minor) characters. Action figures, costumes, shampoo, you name it. Pretty much anything that could be molded into a character or have a character printed on it was fair game for the marketing machine. But that just wasn’t enough.

the Star Wars Christmas album - Christmas in the StarsIn addition to the thousands of kitschy products available, Lucas saw fit to create new material to add to the Star Wars canon. The results were fairly horrendous, as evidenced by the Star Wars Holiday Special. Another of these ill-fated efforts was Christmas in the Stars, a 1980 album featuring R2D2 and C3PO working in a droid-operated Christmas toy factory. While they’re not making toys they introduce Star Wars-themed Christmas songs. Song with titles like “What Can You Get a Wookiee for Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb?)” and “The Odds Against Christmas”. Sounds like something that probably should have slipped into the mists of time and never resurfaced, right? Maybe, if not for a certain singer on one of the songs.
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The Billy Ripken 1989 Fleer "Fuck Face" baseball cardIt’s an iconic image in the baseball card world, and one of the most well-known cards outside it. It’s quite possibly the only area where Bill Ripken’s fame actually outshines his brother Cal’s. And until recently the story behind it was something of a mystery. Well, almost 20 years after he made “Fuck Face” a household term among teenage boys, Billy Ripken reveals how that phrase got on his 1989 Fleer baseball card.

Turns out it was a simple mistake. Ripken got a shipment of bats from Louisville Slugger that he wasn’t happy with. Rather than waste the whole batch he decided to use one of them for batting practice. To tell it apart from his game bats he wrote “Fuck Face” on it. Then one fateful day in Fenway Park, during batting practice, Fleer’s photographer asked to take his picture. Not thinking twice about it he grabbed his bat and posed. Amazingly the photographer didn’t see the writing. Neither did whoever developed the photo. Nor did anyone at Fleer, or the printing plant. So the card made its way into normal packs of 89 Fleer cards.

Once they hit store the shit hit the fan. What should have been an eminently forgettable card instead became hot commodity and a lighting rod of criticism. Instead of just admitting it was a mistake Ripken blamed his teammates. He told the Baltimore Sun’s Tim Kurkjian (now one of ESPN’s top baseball reporters) “It appears I was targeted (by teammates). I know I’m kind of a jerk at times. I know I’m a little off. But this is going too far.” That’s pretty low if you ask me.

But Ripken’s admitting to the mistake know, which is commendable. And he’s apparently got a sense of humor about the whole thing. He got copies of the cards from Fleer, signed them, and gave them out to his groomsmen.

Clash of the Titans is being Remade!

Hollywood has been churning out remakes lately. Most of them suck. This week we even found out that Red Sonja is being remade. 100% chance of suckage. But there’s hope. Once in a while a remake comes along that actually makes sense. Where modern technology can actually help tell the story in a more convincing way. I know humbly present one of these rare opportunities: Clash of the Titans.

Incredible Hulk director Louis Leterrier is set to direct an updated version of the 1981 classic. If his last film is any indication, Leterrier knows how to use special effects, which should greatly help improve the story’s presentation.

Admittedly there was something charming about the special effects in the original Clash of the Titans. Ray Harryhausen’s stop motion effects are great, but they look dated. Really dated. If the remake can keep the same spirit as the original, but update the effects to modern standards, the result could be fantastic. If they try to go overboard and rely on effects at the expense of the story, it will suck hard. I guess we’ll just have to wait until 2010 to find out.

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