Archive for the ‘Childrens Books’ Category

The Noah and Logan Summer Tour, Part 7: Mexico Public Library and Annie Porter Ainsworth Memorial Library

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015
Giving my presentation at the Mexico Public Library.

Giving my presentation at the Mexico Public Library.

The Ainsworth Library displayed my name on their sign!

The Ainsworth Library displayed my name on their sign!

Sharing "Noah and Logan Learn to Share" at the Annie Porter Ainsworth Memorial Library.

Sharing “Noah and Logan Learn to Share” at the Annie Porter Ainsworth Memorial Library.

It is almost back-to-school time, and the Noah and Logan tour continues to draw interest.  I am working on the third book with my mother, once again, in charge of the illustrations, and we both continue to promote the series.  We added two more libraries to our ever-growing itinerary recently.  The first was the Mexico Public Library in my hometown of Mexico, NY, and the second was the Annie Porter Ainsworth Memorial Library in Sandy Creek, NY.

The Mexico Public Library, located on Main Street in the heart of my hometown of Mexico, NY, was one of my favorite places to visit when I was younger, and I still love to stop in from time to time.  I had been looking forward to reading my Noah and Logan stories in the library that I grew up with, and now I was able to do so as part of the Library’s story hour.   As I read my stories to the kids,  I could tell from their smiles that they liked Noah and Logan’s antics.

The Annie Porter Ainsworth Memorial Library, proudly serving the people of Sandy Creek, NY, was my next port of call.  I was in this area earlier this summer for the Oswego County Fair and the library’s book sale, so I was delighted to return.  I was surprised to learn how large the Ainsworth Library is: many additional sections have been built onto it over the years, making it seem to me like a labyrinth.  Luckily, it was not too difficult to find the children’s reading room.  I read both of my Noah and Logan stories to the kids as well as the two poems I had published in UNIQUE, a yearly magazine published by ARISE.  It was a very fun event for all!

The children at both events were wonderful audiences, and both libraries’ staffs were great hosts.

I have more places to visit on the tour and more people to share the Noah and Logan series with.  My next stops include the Phoenix Public Library on September 14th at 7 p.m., the Pulaski Public Library on September 18th at 10 a.m., and the Fulton Public Library on October 27th at 10 a.m.  I would love to see you at any of these events.  Thank you for all your support!

The Noah and Logan Summer Tour Part 6: Oswego City Public Library and Central Square Library

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015
My "Thank You" card from the children at the Oswego City Public Library!

My “Thank You” card from the children at the Oswego City Public Library!

Signing the children's autograph books at the Oswego City Public Library.

Signing the children’s autograph books at the Oswego City Public Library.

 

Having a great time at the Central Square Library!

Having a great time at the Central Square Library!

 

Sharing "Noah and Logan Learn to Clean" at the Central Square Library!

Sharing “Noah and Logan Learn to Clean” at the Central Square Library!

I just recently completed two more fantastic stops on the summer promotional tour for my Noah and Logan children’s series of e-books.  I read my stories to sizable groups of children at the Oswego City Public Library in Oswego, NY, and at the Central Square Library in Central Square, NY.  I have visited both of these libraries before, and I took great pleasure in reading to the kids at both locations.

I came to know the Oswego City Public Library very well during my college days; I used its many resources for numerous college assignments.  Some of my research excursions took me to the library’s children’s section, containing a healthy combination of all-time classics and modern selections.  I am happy to report this was still the case when I returned to share the Noah and Logan series with a group 0f excited children.  There was a bit of chatter among the children before I started reading, particularly about dinosaurs.  In one of my stories, Noah and Logan share toy dinosaurs with each other; I was glad to see that this detail made a connection to a subject the kids were enthusiastic about.  Afterward, I signed autograph books the children had been given as part of the library’s summer reading program.  It was a rare treat and great fun for me to sign their books.  The children also gave to me a “Thank You” card for giving my presentation.  A very thoughtful gesture!

The Central Square Library has a wonderful children’s section as well.  The children who came to the library’s story hour were practically beaming as they colored for a few moments and then settled down for my stories.  I could tell they liked having such creative stimulation, which put them in a good mood for my Noah and Logan tales.  They were very attentive, and I think we all enjoyed story time at the library!  I was also pleased that my aunt and uncle stopped by to hear my presentation along with Ms. Vicki Affinati from ARISE.  It was very nice of them to come and stand by me!

I felt that both of these events were tremendously successful.  I had such a great time with the kids at the libraries; they have lively imaginations and made for wonderful audiences.  I thank them as well as the librarians who allowed me to share a little about myself and my work.

I cannot wait to see what the other events on this summer tour will be like.  I have two big stops coming up. First, on August 14 at 11:00 a.m., I will be sharing my Noah and Logan stories for “Story Time” at the Mexico Public Library at 3269 Main St., Mexico, NY.  Then, I will be participating in “Story Time” at the Annie Porter Ainsworth Memorial Library at 6064 South Main Street, Sandy Creek, NY, on August 18 at 4:30 p.m.

See you soon!

The Noah and Logan Summer Tour, Part 5: Williamstown Library and Salmon Run Mall

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015
Showing "Noah and Logan Learn to Clean" to the children at the Williamstown Library!

Showing “Noah and Logan Learn to Clean” to the children at the Williamstown Library!

Williamstown and Watertown 007

The Noah and Logan summer tour has truly been an exciting time for me.  The events I am attending are now occurring more and more frequently, making for quite a few busy days!  I appeared at two more events recently, both within days of each other.  The first was for story hour at the Williamstown Library in Williamstown, NY, and two days later, I participated alongside other authors at a local author event at the Salmon Run Mall in Watertown, NY.

The Williamstown Library story hour was held in a very nice reading room where the kids and I had plenty of space to find a good seat and enjoy the Noah and Logan stories together.  I especially enjoyed the play carpet on the floor with Eric Carle’s Very Hungry Caterpillar on it.  It reminded me of how much I loved Eric Carle’s books when I was younger.  It was a very cozy room, one I would have likely stayed in to read for hours if I had the chance.  What a fun place to explore a good book in!  I would like to thank the Library’s director, Beverly W. Ripka, for providing the opportunity to visit and read my stories at their library.  It was a great morning, and I would love to share more of my stories at the Williamstown Library in the future.

Two days later, I traveled to the Salmon Run Mall in Watertown, NY, for a local author event being put on by The Reading Room, a book store located at the mall.  I was part of a group of about twenty local authors, with each of us showing our books.  The event was set up with tables in front of the bookstore; it was also close to the mall’s entrance, so the tables full of books greeted each mall visitor.  When I first entered the mall, this was the first sight I saw as well, and it made me excited to see two of my favorite things in life in great abundance: books and other authors!  I really had fun conversing with both the other authors and the mall shoppers about my stories.  They liked my mother’s illustrations very much; knowing how hard she worked on those, I am glad they continue to delight everyone who sees them.

Both of these events were very enjoyable to me.  In addition, I received some leads for other events and opportunities from my interactions with other authors and readers at these appearances, so my schedule is becoming even more full!  For instance, this coming Friday, July 31st at 10:30 A.M., I will present my Noah and Logan stories at the Oswego City Library at 140 E. Second St., Oswego, NY, for their children’s hour.  I’ll let you know what else is coming up on my website, www.benjaminkmkellogg.com, as well as my Facebook pages, then give you my thoughts on my appearances here.  Stay tuned, and keep reading!

The Noah and Logan Summer Tour, Part 4: Camden Public Library

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015
Reading my opening presentation at Camden Public Library.

Reading my opening presentation at Camden Public Library.

 

Showing off Mom's illustrations for "Noah and Logan Learn to Share" at Camden Public Library.

Showing off Mom’s illustrations for “Noah and Logan Learn to Share” at Camden Public Library.

Half the summer is gone already, but the promotional tour for the Noah and Logan series is still going strong.  I hardly notice time passing, though, because I am having a grand time sharing my stories with all of you.  My latest venture was to the Camden Public Library in Camden, NY, a beautiful town which is also home to Mrs. Bates, my former speech teacher and still close friend, who did much to help me learn how to communicate well.  I was pleasantly surprised to see her in the audience for my presentation!

My visit came as part of the Library’s summer reading program; colorful posters with characters having fun reading books were everywhere in the room (My favorite was the poster with a trio of platypuses in exciting action poses; who would have thought marsupials could be so macho?).  The kids in attendance were filling out activity sheets, coloring, speaking with each other about their interests, and even reading books.  I could tell they were all very happy indeed.

When I read my Noah and Logan stories to the group, I walked back and forth in front of my audience, giving all a chance to see the illustrations my mom did for the books; I have come to view her drawings as an essential part of the e-books’ success.  Even though I took many steps as I read my books, I did not feel exhausted at all.  I was having just as much fun with the stories as my audience was!  I also shared my poem, “Autism Awareness” with the group.  This poem always seems to get a very positive reaction from everyone I share it with, and I like seeing the big smiles my poem generates on people’s faces after they hear it.

I also greatly enjoyed the brief question-and-answer session at the end of my presentation.  The audience asked some great questions about my writing and life, and I was glad to supply my perspectives for them.

I would like to thank the Camden Public Library’s librarian, Ms. Linda Frenzel, for giving me this opportunity and for helping to make the event a tremendous success.  It was a great turnout, and I was very happy to share the Noah and Logan series with everyone there.

My next stops on the Noah and Logan summer tour will be the Williamstown Public Library at 2877 County Rte. 17 in Williamstown, NY, on Wednesday, July 22, 2015, at 10:30 A.M. and the Oswego Farmer’s Market at West 1st Street in Oswego, NY, on Thursday, July 23, 2015, from 5:00 – 6:00 PM.  I hope to see you there!  Please stay tuned to this blog, my web site:  www.benjaminkmkellogg.com, and my Facebook pages to learn about other upcoming events on the tour.  Who knows, I might be coming near to you soon!

The Noah and Logan Summer Tour, Part 3: Ainsworth Memorial Library Book Sale, Oswego County Fair, and Hannibal Free Library (and My New Website!)

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015
Sharing "Noah and Logan Learn to Clean" at the Ainsworth book sale.

Sharing “Noah and Logan Learn to Clean” at the Ainsworth book sale.

 

Reading to the children at the Oswego County Fair.

Reading to the children at the Oswego County Fair.

 

Getting on the floor with the  preschool group at the Hannibal Free Library.

Getting on the floor with the preschool group at the Hannibal Free Library.

The summer promotion tour for my Noah and Logan stories has been gathering quite a lot of steam in the past few weeks.  I cannot express in words how much I am truly enjoying sharing my stories, and now, I have a chance to share them with millions more people online.  With the help of Jim Purdy of ARISE, my mother and I have set up a new website!  If you visit www.benjaminkmkellogg.com, you can find information about me, the Noah and Logan series, how to purchase the e-books, and see a schedule of my upcoming events and appearances.  I will be adding information about newly published books to the website as I finish them, so please keep that page bookmarked.  Right now, though, I’d like to share with you some brief accounts of my three latest events.

The first event I participated in was the Ainsworth Memorial Library’s annual Book Sale put together by the Friends of the Ainsworth Library.  This year, it was held in the spacious Grange in Sandy Creek, NY.  The whole room was filled with tables adorned with books from the library’s collection as well as generous donations from people in the area.  It was really an impressive sight, especially when people started streaming in by the score to look at the books.  I shared my e-books with plenty of interested parties over the course of the two days I was there with a few in-depth conversations as well.  I also did a presentation about myself and my writing process for the Friends of the Ainsworth Library group and then read my stories to them.  I think we all enjoyed that very much.  The event had a very relaxed atmosphere, which I really liked because what could be more relaxing than partaking in a good book or two?

I was also invited to present my books at the Oswego County Fair, also held in Sandy Creek, NY.  I have fond memories of attending the Fair as a youngster, so I gladly accepted the offer.  I presented my books on two separate days along with other local authors.  To my surprise, this group also included Daniel Middleton, the Naomi “Redflower” author I recently met at another event in the area. It was fun to catch up with Daniel and share story hour with him where we both read our books.

The last and most recent event was held at the Hannibal Free Library in Hannibal, NY.  I read my stories to a group of preschool-age children.  It was a fun group, and I think it went very well.  It also gave me some hands-on experience interacting with preschoolers!

I’ve enjoyed the events that I’ve done so far and the Noah and Logan summer tour will continue with more stops.  My next stop will be at the Camden Public Library located at 57 Second St., Camden, NY, tomorrow, July 15, at 4:30 p.m.

Please visit my new website at www.benjaminkmkellogg.com for more on my upcoming dates and appearances, as well as everything you need to know about the Noah and Logan series along with all of my future books.  Until next time, have a happy, safe summer!

The Noah and Logan Summer Tour, Part 2: Pulaski Farmer’s Market and Arts in the Park

Saturday, June 13th, 2015
Pulaski Farmer's Market - At the ARISE table.

Pulaski Farmer’s Market – At the ARISE table.

 

Arts in the Park, Mexico Point Park- Me next to my poster.

Arts in the Park, Mexico Point Park- Me next to my poster.

The Noah and Logan Summer Tour has been going well.  I have only been to a few places to promote the series thus far, but I’ve had favorable reactions at every stop.  I am grateful to see there is genuine interest in the series from kids, parents, teachers, librarians, and everyone in between.  My two most recent stops at the Pulaski Farmer’s Market and Mexico Point Park for the Arts in the Park event over the course of a very busy and exciting weekend continue this positive trend.  They also gave me the chance to connect and, in some cases, reconnect with some truly outstanding folks.

My first sojourn of the weekend was a return trip to Pulaski, this time to participate in the local Farmer’s Market.  Here, vendors from across the region sold foodstuffs, had some spectacular arts and crafts, and there was even a band for live music.  I shared a table with some friends and representatives from the local special needs awareness and assistance organization, ARISE; good company to keep, especially on a somewhat sunny and breezy spring afternoon.

I wasn’t sure if anyone would be interested in my books at the market.  After all, I was offering a children’s e-book series, not food or the more tangible arts and crafts that everyone else offered.  To my surprise, however, it turned out quite a few visitors stayed a while and spoke at length with me about the series.  In fact, one of the first to come to the table was a fellow author I had met at a prior engagement.  We caught up with each other and we discussed writing and publishing.  It was great to see her again and the rest of my time at the market was just as fulfilling.  I made a few connections with other groups and institutions in the area which have led to further opportunities to introduce Noah and Logan to others.

The next event I attended was Arts in the Park, a gathering of local artists held at Mexico Point Park, a truly stunning example of the area’s natural beauty.  I enjoyed introducing the series to everyone who stopped by my table and the kids seemed to enjoy reading the stories off my iPad!

I was also delighted to meet another author at the Arts event as well, a very nice man named Daniel Middleton.  He, too, has written a children’s book.  His book, Naomi ‘Redflower’: Imagine with Me, is based on a highly imaginative girl and her love of insects and other animals.  In the story, she and her family go on a tour of Central New York and she imagines encounters with a variety of local wildlife during every season of the year.  My mother and I were very impressed with Daniel’s book, so much so that we bought a copy from him that day.  His writing style is very fun to read and his illustrations are gorgeous to look at, really capturing the beauty of the CNY countryside and animal population.  I highly recommend it for anyone’s reading collection.

The events of this very busy weekend turned out to be a lot of fun.  Both engagements happened outside in pleasant weather, I met a lot of very nice people, and I was able to get the word out about my Noah and Logan series!  I even met a fellow author who has written a very cool book himself.  All in all, I think this was a great beginning leg to the Noah and Logan Summer Tour.  Keep your eyes on this blog and Facebook for further updates regarding future stops!

My New Book: “Noah and Logan Learn to Clean”

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014
I actually like blank covers on books a little bit, too. It adds to the mystery of what's inside.

Read all about it! My new book is here.

Hi, everyone.  I know it’s been a while since my last blog post, but I’ve had a busy schedule lately.  I hope to get back to doing regular posts soon.  Before I do that, however, there is something important that has happened in my life that I would like to share with all of you.  My first children’s book, “Noah and Logan Learn to Clean,” is now available as an ebook on Amazon Kindle!

In my book, Noah and Logan, two characters based on my young cousins, work together to clean their playroom and put their favorite toys away.  My mother handled the illustrations (I think she did a great job; let me know how you feel about them in the comments).

Even though I’ve been working on my children’s book series for a few years now, seeing the first book out in the world is still quite a surreal experience for me.  I am very happy to see that it has taken flight, and I am working on other stories to follow in its footsteps.  I hope the Noah and Logan series will be of help to other children with autism.  Each book will feature one of the social and life skills I struggled with as a child, and I hope my books will help readers have an easier time with these skills than I did.

There are more Noah and Logan books coming, and I will introduce you to them here on Kellogg Thoughts as each one is published.  Let me know what you think of the series, and Learn to Clean, in the comments.

Great Fictional Presidents

Friday, March 22nd, 2013
And forever in peace may you wave.

The U.S. Stars and Stripes: a grand old flag.

I believe I might be going a bit crazy from all of the snow that has been falling in my area over the past few days.  It looked for a while like the snow was going to melt and spring would be here, but apparently that’s not the case right now.  Somehow, this has driven me to write a post about some great fictional United States presidents, even though Presidents’ Day has passed.  Regardless, I think a little appreciation of these leaders and their accomplishments will make me get over my winter blues, and, hopefully, make you feel good, too.

President Scooby-Doo, Cartoon Network

That’s right, a mystery-solving cartoon canine played the role of a U.S. president, or at least the president of a television network.  Cartoon Network held a mock election in 2000 with all of the network’s characters eligible for candidacy.  There were plenty of candidates on the air at the time who I thought would make for a more suitable leader of the free world (President Bugs Bunny, anyone?), but somehow, Scooby appealed the most to voters.  I can’t seem to recall if the administration of Scoobert Doo made any far-reaching efforts to address the economy, healthcare, or any other big issues, but he definitely moved the crowd during his State of the Union address and his push for a bill giving America new airings of old Scooby movies and specials showed that he believed in a healthy appreciation of the arts.  Unfortunately, when Cartoon Network ran another election in 2004, Scooby wasn’t involved, what I feel is a shame considering he was probably one of the most popular leaders in this country’s recent history.  At least he will always be remembered for being the first cartoon dog to be president, as well as being one of the greatest Great Danes ever.

Unnamed president, Fairly Oddparents, “That Ol’ Black Magic”

This fictional president appears only a few times in one episode of this Nickelodeon show featuring magic, wishes, and the hilarity that ensues, but his appearances left quite an impression on me.  In the episode he appears in, it is Friday the 13th, so even though he is being briefed by a general regarding how he shouldn’t touch the huge red button on his desk, the president accidentally tips over a salt shaker and presses the button anyway, launching a nuclear warhead in the process.  Luckily, the warhead lands in a desert without harm.  When the general asks the president what he is going to do now that he’s almost caused World War III, he replies while dressed in full vacation gear, “I’m going to Escalator Land!”  (Sorry about the low volume in the video; turn up your volume as high as possible if you want to hear what everyone’s saying.)  A short time later, the president is seen vacationing at the escalator-themed amusement park and asking, “When do we get to the ride?”  Timmy Turner’s father replies, “This is the ride!”  The camera pulls back to reveal that the escalator everyone is riding on is indeed the main attraction at the park.  I know that presidents are sometimes criticized with being “out of touch” with the American public, but this fictional president takes that sentiment to a whole new low.  I think he is also largely a product of his time because he slightly resembles George W. Bush who was in power at the time this episode originally aired, thus becoming a reflection of the disgruntled feelings the people had with Bush.  I think this character is an interesting footnote in cartoon history, forever tied to a particular time and set of feelings.  We may never see a fictional president like him again.

President Lancelot R. Gilligrass, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator

President Kennedy promised to put a man on the moon, a task which was accomplished six years after his untimely death.  Two years after man landed on the moon in the real world, President Gilligrass promised to launch a hotel in space in the fictional world.  This goal was accomplished during his lifetime, but not before it was invaded by an army of Vermicious Knids.  In one of the darkest hours in the short history of space exploration and tourism, the hotel staff and three brave astronauts as well as a strange party of individuals led by eccentric candymaker Willy Wonka fended off the fiends.  The astronauts and hotel staff stayed on the orbiting hotel to clean up the place and prepare it for the exciting new world of space tourism, while Wonka and his party returned to Earth for a special dinner with President Gilligrass.  This exciting adventure was one of the few high points in Gilligrass’s time in the White House, a period marked with numerous accusations that he was letting Vice President Elvira Tibbs, his former nanny, handle all of the day-to-day operations to cover up his general incompetency.  Given Gilligrass’s tendency to work knock-knock jokes into every conversation and the fact that his secretary of the treasury’s idea of “balancing the budget” was to literally balance stacks of money on a scale, I have reason to believe those accusations might be true.  However, I still believe such faults shouldn’t take away from Gilligrass’s main accomplishment of establishing a space tourism business long before such a thing would even be considered practical in the real world.

I hope you enjoyed this examination of some fictional presidencies.  What did you think of it?  Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Pop Culture Captains: Leaders and Inspirations

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013
If you can find the captain's quarters, congratulations! You have X-ray vision!

A mighty ship, perfect for a captain.

I have noticed that pop culture has a lot of captains in it.  Most of them are capable leaders who inspire greatness in the people serving under them as well as in the people observing them on the other side of the screen or page.  Others seem to just enjoy the power that comes with their position, willing to abuse that power for their own benefit or amusement.  I have had the pleasure of encountering some unique and colorful captains in my time, some more competent than others, but all having something important to add to the fabric of pop culture.  Here’s a brief look at some of my favorite captains.

Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Star Trek: The Next Generation

My mom once told me that most nights when I was a baby I would cry for hours on end, but when the Star Trek: The Next Generation theme started playing on TV, I would immediately stop crying and then start crying again when the theme was over.  Later on in life I started watching the Star Trek: TNG complete series DVD collection my dad and I had given my mom for Christmas, and while I still loved the theme, there was something else about the show that stood out to me now.  It was the bald guy in the captain’s chair with the baritone voice, always telling his crew members to “Engage,” “Make it so,” and boldly go where no one (besides Kirk and his crew) had gone before.  He looked like a nice guy, someone who you could tell was a capable leader just by looking at him.   After seeing him in action for seven seasons and a few movies, I can safely say he definitely lived up to my first impressions.  I’d like to have a long chat with him about in living in outer space; of course, my beverage of choice for this conversation would be, “Tea, Earl Grey, hot.” 

Cap’n Crunch, cereal mascot

This captain is, I feel, a bit less inspirational than Picard or Kirk, but he does serve an important purpose: making sure tasty cereal is part of your daily breakfast.  I always smile a little when I see the Cap’n’s big, wide grin on a cereal box; there’s just something about his face that makes the whole world seem brighter.  I’ve also noticed that he looks a little bit like the Quaker guy in the corner of the box: they both have white hair, wear blue hats, and sport smiles more innocent and sincere than the Cheshire Cat’s.  I don’t care if there’s more nutritional or better-tasting cereals on the supermarket shelf, because his smile always draws me in and makes me feel at home.

Captain Tenille, MXC: Most Extreme Elimination Challenge

This captain does not belong to any particular navy, although he apparently does own a few ships.  In fact, his official role on this Japanese game show parody is “field marshal.”  Captain Tenille (known in Japan as General Tani; I’m still not sure why he went down in rank when the show was exported) is the guy the show’s producers turned to when they needed someone to shepherd contestants through the toughest obstacle course on television.  I think he does a decent job in this regard; he certainly does lead dozens of contestants to near-constant pain and  injury over the course of a half-hour.  However, Tenille does this with a certain degree of aloofness.  His signature taglines are “Let’s go!” at the start of the show and “Get it on!” at the beginning of each new set of obstacles, and he delivers these lines in a way that, to me, indicates he doesn’t really care what happens to the contestants just as long as he gets to continue enjoying the game.  He has been known to push contestants out onto the course in order to keep the show moving.  He has even manipulated the teams’ scores a few times to serve his own interests.  For instance, in an episode pitting Democrats against Republicans against Independents in which no one scored any points during the entire show, Tenille gave the GOP team a point at the end because that was the party he voted for during the election.  Yes, he’s a deplorable figure, but, in my opinion, he’s one of the most entertaining characters on the show, and a hard person not to like.

Captain Underpants, children’s book series star and superhero

As with Captain Tenille, this gentleman is a captain in name only, but I think he lives up to his moniker.  I have read his adventures for many years now, and I think he does look the part of an inspirational and heroic figure, despite the fact that most of the time he is wearing just some tighty-whitie briefs and a red cape (tastefully rendered by author and illustrator Dav Pilkey, no less).  He is also a very well-meaning hero, fighting for truth, justice, and improving readers’ literacy in the face of overwhelming odds.  When you’re going up against armies of talking toilets, aliens disguised as cafeteria ladies, and evil professors trying to give everyone in the world embarrassing names, you need all the courage and self-esteem you can get, so thank goodness Captain Underpants has that in spades.  Of course, his young sidekicks George Beard and Harold Hutchins take care of most of the day-saving while the Captain stands around giving speeches about never forgetting the power of underwear, but what’s wrong with that?  Don’t most great superheroes have young sidekicks for juvenile readers to look up to?  Think of Batman and Robin, Captain America and Bucky, Flash and Kid Flash, Superman and… wait a minute, Superboy was just Superman as a kid, wasn’t he?  Anyway, Captain Underpants provides hope for people everywhere that their kids will have fun while learning to read, and I think his stories are still just as fun to read  now as they were when I first discovered them.

These are the captains who have meant the most to me over the years.  Other captains came and went like Captain Kirk, Captain America, and Captain Nemo, but none of them had the staying power in my heart that the above captains possessed.  They helped me to sail to greater horizons (and in the cases of Captains Tenille and Underpants, great laughter), and they all left memorable imprints on me.  Do you have a favorite pop culture captain, and if you do, why do you like them?  Are there any other pop culture figures with military ranks you like?  Sail into the comments section and leave your answer at the docks.

Pop Culture Questions (And My Answers!) 2: Walking the Plink

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

A new batch of pop culture questions have popped into my head since the last time we met.  These are becoming very fun for me to think about and come up with answers to, and I hope you are enjoying them.  This time, let’s start off in that magical realm sandwiched between the talk shows and the soaps, the home of spinning wheels, big bucks, and the proverbial “No Whammies,” daytime game shows.

How come Plinko is called Plinko? 

I’m a big fan of the game of Plinko from The Price is Right (the one where contestants drop a bunch of oversized poker chips down a peg-filled vertical board to win up to fifty thousand dollars), but I think it could have easily been called something else.  From what I have read, the name of the game comes from the distinct “plink” sound the chips make as they hit the pegs on the board.  Depending on how one thinks of the sound, I can imagine that the game could have had a different name.  Who wouldn’t want to play “Plonk-o,” “Plunk-o,” “Plank-O,” “Bump-o,” or even “Metallic-impact-off-of-a-peg-on-a-vertical-board-o?”  I’ve also heard “plink” being used to describe the sound made when you pluck guitar strings with a pick.  Maybe it’s time for a version of Plinko where you toss acoustic guitars down the board instead of chips.  I would really like to hear the sounds that game might make!     

How come Charlie Bucket is the successor to Willy Wonka, but the other kids don’t get jack squat?

At the end of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (spoiler alert for anyone who hasn’t read the book or seen either of its movie adaptations), Charlie Bucket, the last boy remaining from one of the world’s strangest tour groups, is selected by eccentric candy maker Willy Wonka to be his successor, promising to put him in charge of the factory and the Oompa-Loompas when he comes of age.  There’s a part of me that feels the other kids got the short end of the stick, though.  After all, Charlie may have come from nothingness to achieve great things, but as far as I’m concerned, beyond a good heart and what seems to be a good head on his shoulders, I don’t know if he’s got what it takes to keep a chocolate factory up and running. 

If he really wants to be a success, I think Charlie should bring the other kids into the fold and put them in charge of certain factory departments that could use some new life.  Augustus Gloop could lead personal tours of the chocolate room and lead swimming classes in the chocolate river on alternate Thursdays (Of course, they’d need to seal up the pipes whenever he was around, but what’s a few lost hours of business when the whole community can get some exercise?).  Veruca Salt could head up the new roast goose (or roast squirrel if you read the book or saw the second movie) division which could diversify the factory’s food offerings.  Violet Beaureguarde might have some good ideas for new types of gum or ways to work blueberries into existing candy recipes, and if we’re going with the first movie’s Violet, then I think her dad, the used car salesman, could put together an aggressive advertising campaign.  Mike Teavee, having experienced the wonders of television chocolate firsthand, could work with the Oompa-Loompas to send small samples of candy products over the airwaves and thus creating the phrase “must-eat TV”; at least you could put him to work with a focus group watching the commercials Violet’s dad makes and testing the general public to see if is ready for distribution.  If Charlie puts the kids to work in the right ways, at least the little brats won’t be terrorizing the rest of the world!        

How come “I am the Eggman, they are the Eggmen, I am the Walrus (goo goo gachoo)?”

To be quite honest, I always thought this lyric from the Beatles’ “I Am the Walrus” was a little weird, although it is very catchy.  The whole song itself is a bit out to lunch, but for me, this part really takes the first prize in terms of absolute lunacy.  If I were to take this lyric literally (and why wouldn’t I?), I would be both the Eggman and the Walrus, but there would still be two or more Eggmen off in a corner somewhere, “sitting on a pillow, waiting for the van to come” (and take them away from this crazy song?).  Who are these other Eggmen, and what are they doing elbowing in on my Eggman-based territory?  How can I be both an Eggman and a Walrus?  Am I an Eggman dressed as a walrus or at least wearing a walrus pelt?  Am I a walrus wearing the husk of an Eggman (and would I be arrested if I did that in real life)?  What’s the “goo goo gachoo” part for; is it the cry of a baby confused by why Uncle Paul McCartney and his three weird friends are singing a weird lullaby?  I think there’s a lot more questions this song raises than it actually answers!

I hope you all enjoyed this question-and-answer session as much I enjoyed writing it.  If you have any other questions you’d like to see answered, let me know in the comments.  Thanks for reading, and be careful about what cornflakes you sit on!