Archive for the ‘Children’s Lit’ 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!

A Quick Update

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Hello again, everyone!  I just wanted to give you a quick update on what’s been going on in my life.  My second e-book, Noah and Logan Learn to Share, is now available for purchase for your Kindle or other device.  This one has been in the works for a long time, and I am proud to see it out in the world along with the first book in the series, Noah and Logan Learn to Clean.  At only a dollar each, they make for great digital stocking stuffers for the readers in your life.  There are more Noah and Logan stories on the way!  Please give them a look and tell me what you think of them in the comments.

In addition to Noah and Logan, I am also working on a pro wrestling novel, the origins of which can be found on this very blog.  Paragon Fantasy Wrestling: The Novel is based on the serialized saga I began in the early days of Kellog Thoughts about a fictional pro wrestling league and the men and women who compete in it.  I’ve taken some of the characters from those early posts and expanded on them quite a bit for the novel, as well as introducing some new guys and gals to the mix to keep things interesting.  I am planning on making PFW: TN into a twenty-chapter story, maybe more if I feel some parts need expanding on.  Right now, though, I am in the middle of chapter ten and I am satisfied with what has come so far.  I will keep you all in the know with where I am in the novel-writing process and, if everything goes well, I’ll be able to share it with you soon.

Of course, I’ll keep Kellog Thoughts going as well with new content.  During my brief time away, I have had a plethora of new ideas I wanted to bring to the blog.  Prepare for new Random Top Fives as well as my perspectives on books, TV, movies, cartoons, comics, games, and other things I feel need to be talked about.  I look forward to seeing what you have to say as well.

Thanks for coming to Kellog Thoughts.  I sincerely hope you enjoy your time here!

Pop Culture Haikus: Disney Renaiisance Edition

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

When I was growing up during the 1990s, there were a lot of great entertainment options available to me.  Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Fox Kids, and Kids WB all had great lineups of live-action and cartoon shows that could keep me entertained for hours before and after school.  I subscribed to a host of interesting magazines (Nick Mag and Disney Adventures, you will be missed!) and read through an endlessly-growing collection of books.  One of the most memorable entertainment sources for me during this time, though, was the long string of fantastic animated films released by Disney during this time.  This period has become known as the Disney Renaiisance because the quality of the animation, artistry, music, and other elements of these films were amazingly high; I was a bit too young to appreciate such finer details, but I did really like these movies.  As a small tribute to this period from 1989 to 1999, I present the following Pop Culture Haikus, one seventeen-syllable poem for each film released during this time.

The Little Mermaid

Sea girl meets nice boy./Mean witch steals ocean girl’s voice./Witch becomes fish food.  Nice boy is confused./”Why does the nice girl have fins?”/Just kiss the girl, boy!

The Rescuers Down Under

Aussie boy is kidnapped./Cute U.N. mice rescue him./Boy saved by vermin!  This had an eagle/that the Aussie boy flew on./That’s all I recall.  (Still, that eagle ruled!/Come on, a freaking eagle!/I ride eagle next?)

Beauty and the Beast

Girl meets furry boy./Beast defends her, loves her true./Aw, they got married!  Gaston was a jerk./He didn’t treat Belle nice much./Furry boy much nicer!  Feel bad for Gaston, though./Being thrown off cliff must hurt./Hope landing was soft!

Aladdin

Boy meets nice princess./Boy uses magic to impress./Girl likes real men more.  Jafar wants power./Magic makes him more snake-like./Audience: “Boo!  Hiss!”  Genie is funny./True, he turns into weird things./Still, he’s pretty nice.

The Lion King

Mufasa has son,/Dies at hands of jerk brother./Can son become king?  Son gets two new friends./They tell him, “Not to worry.”/I think he should care.  Simba faces Scar,/Surrounded by hot lava./Better than Ali fight!  Peace reigns in Pride Lands/Because Simba won the battle./Life’s circle rolls on!

Pocahantas

Princess meets nice boy./It’s reverse of Aladdin!/Disney recycles plots!  John Smith is nice man./He loves native princess much./Doesn’t quite get girl.  Radcliffe big, greedy./Cares nothing for natives, only gold./He’s a blowhard jerk!  Pokey and John meet,/Get along though differences/Keep them both apart.

Hercules

A kid from the gods:/”Greece is chock-full of monsters./Let me save it, please?”  Hades, big bad guy:/”Jerkules wins, I burn up./Get me an aspirin!”  I like the muses much./Best Greek chorus ever filmed!/”That’s the gospel truth!”  Pegasus was neat./Large white winged horse impressed all./Rainbow Dash still coolest!

Mulan

Legendary girl/Saved China from the Hun hordes,/Also found husband.  Mushu is cute help./He’s rivals with small cricket./They’ll soon get along fine.  Shang is big captain/In fledgling Chinese army./First big test is Huns.  Mulan can help out./She’ll go as a boy soldier./She’s tougher than most!

Tarzan

Legendary man/Raised by apes, king of jungle/Heard this all before?  Terk’s Tarzan’s best friend./Brooklyn accent in Africa?/Normal for Rosie!  “Trashin’ the Camp” song/Backstreet Boys sing great doo-wop!/Too bad the camp’s trashed…  Clayton hunts big apes/Tarzan says, “That’s not okay!/This hunt is postponed!”  Ape man meets Jane girl/Ape man likes Jane girl heap lots/Maybe they’ll elope?

Do you like Disney?/How about these haikus?  Hmm?/Leave comments below.

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 An Autistic Mind’s Answers)

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013
Questions

So many questions, so little time…

I love pop culture.  It is a language that I understand as fluently as English.  Sometimes, however, some parts of pop culture seem nonsensical or irrational to me.  They cause me to question the material and the internal logic driving it.  In my attempts to make sense out of them and have a little fun with it all, I have come up with some very unique questions and answers.  Here are a few examples of my pop culture “how comes.”

How come the lyric goes, “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore?”  I’m pretty sure that the moon (or any other celestial object of considerable size) making an impact with one’s head would more likely generate sensations of pain rather than pleasure.  I assume it wouldn’t feel like a large pizza, either, which is a shame because I’d rather be hit by something soft and gooey than something hard and imposing.

How come the kids in the Boxcar Children book series are still referred to by that name by other people even though they have clearly not lived in a boxcar in quite some time?  They did manage to make a nice home for themselves in a boxcar in the first book, but I believe it might get tiresome for them to be constantly reminded of this point over and over again.  Besides, by now they’re probably better known as a mystery-solving family anyway.  I think they should embrace their new positions as “Scooby-Doo imitators” and go the whole nine yards.  If they really did want to keep the boxcar thing going, they could probably turn that boxcar into a Mystery Machine-type vehicle and go cross country.

How come Stephen Hawking says time travel doesn’t exist?  In a recent television special, Hawking carried out an experiment to test the validity of time travel.  Basically, he set up a party for time travelers and left an open invitation lying on the ground outside of the building where the party was being held.  According to him, any time travelers curious enough to attend the party would arrive on the spot and, seeing the invitation, would join Hawking inside.  Hawking waited for over an hour to see if anyone would show up, but no one did.  He then stated that he had just proven that time travel doesn’t exist.  By his reasoning, there should have been roughly a dozen people suddenly wandering around the room, but since there was no one else there, clearly time travel had not been invented yet or even perfected at any point in the future.

I think Hawking has a bit of faulty reasoning here.  It seems a bit arrogant to me to send out party invitations to a bunch of time travelers for a television special and expect them to show up instantaneously.  I feel it is safe to assume that they might have encountered problems in the space-time continuum while attempting to get to the party.  Also, they might have seen the special, or at least a rerun of it, in the future, felt insulted by Hawking’s demeaning portrayal of their activity, and decided not to attend to avoid being further insulted.  Some may have actually shown up, but, if certain time travel theories are to be believed, they were either moving too fast for the naked eye to normally observe or they showed up for different versions of the party in alternate universes.  The possibilities of time travel have been debated for generations in both academics and mass media.  Because of this, I believe that Hawking should have waited for more concrete evidence to show itself before passing judgment on something which could possibly exist in the future.

How come the henchmen in Sly Cooper and the Thievius Racoonus video game chase Sly around for a few moments if they see him, but if he gets away, they just go back to their regular patrol route without a second thought?  They know he’s lurking around the place stealing things willy-nilly, especially because their boss just told them so via the public address system.  However, they just retreat back to their normal walking patterns as soon as Sly is out of earshot.  One would think that if these minions used a little more common sense, they would expand their designated patrol areas and hunt Sly all over the map.  Instead, they stick to one solitary zone and leave it to their brethren to try to catch Sly.  The minions in the later Sly games at least have the sense to chase the raccoon over short distances before giving up the ghost.  Of course, all of the minions seem particularly susceptible to a few good whacks from Sly’s wooden cane, so maybe they are actually wise to keep away from their adversary.

How come you always see “endless runner” games on mobile devices but never “endless walkers?”  I have played quite a few endless runner games recently and each has been a delightful experience in and of itself.  However, it is clear to me that a twist on the genre could bring a great deal of excitement, or at least originality, if done correctly.  Instead of outrunning a giant wave of lava or a gargantuan monster, the player could be attempting to cross a busy street which just so happens to have a sidewalk always in the distance (you don’t have to be Frogger to have this sort of setting).  The player’s character could walk at a leisurely pace giving the player a chance to look at the beautiful graphics of the world around them.  The main problem with this idea is that there are very few places where such games could be played.  The Nintendo Wii has had a couple of walking games made which used the Wii Balance Board, but they have not resembled what I am picturing in my mind.  Smartphones and tablet computers, from which a number of endless runners originated, could support endless walkers, but the active portion of the genre might be a bit limited.  If an endless walker could be built into treadmills and implemented at health clubs, they may experience a surge in popularity.  Someone needs to get in on this genre now!

How come the song goes, “Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning?” Are there different levels of enjoyment in different states?  Do North and South Carolina offer different levels of early morning enjoyment?    Can happiness levels be considered equal in every part of a state as small as South Carolina?  Do you think taking songs literally leads to temporary madness?

These are just a few pop culture questions that have gone through my mind over the years.  Do you have a different take on the questions I have outlined above?  Are there pop culture queries that have driven you crazy?  Leave your thoughts in the comments; they might influence future posts.  Tune in next week, I’ll have more pop culture questions and answers!!