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Thursday, October 2, 2014

This Motley Fool Didn't Do The Math...

The Motley Fools, specifically David Hanson, states that, compared to the stock market, home appreciation values are horrible, only generating a 19% return since 1958.
Considering the amount of money Buffett is used to dealing with, one would expect Buffett to live in gaudy mansion or even his own private island. Surprisingly, that couldn't be further from the truth. Buffett still lives in the same Omaha, Nebraska home he purchased in 1958 for a measly $31,500. Now, $31,500 today doesn't buy you what it did in 1958, but even adjusted for inflation, that amount in today’s dollars is only around $260,000.
The Douglas County, Nebraska, Treasurer's website appraises the house at $660,200.

660,200 / 31,500 = 20.9587301587302
Multiply by 100, you get 2095.5%, which is comparable to the 2785% return on U.S. stocks MF graphs. (No idea what data they use for the stock returns number. Dow Jones? S&P?)

Now, of course, the Motley Fool is an investing website, and most of their money is made on reporting on the stock market.  So, yes, their reportage will be biased towards investing in the stock market, and less on other forms of investment.

But it appears that the Oracle of Omaha knew what he was doing when he bought that home.  It's in a nice neighborhood, near a major city park and university, with easy access to downtown Omaha.  It was built in 1921, has five bedrooms, and 2.5 baths.

And let's face it...  real estate can be a very lucrative investment!  Smart homeowners pay off their mortgage quickly, buy another house or property, rent that, and use the rent payments to pay off the second mortgage.  Looking to buy?  You might want to try Berkshire Hathaway Home Services.  (See, Warren knows what he's doing...)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Some Like It Cold: What If You Crossed "Some Like It Hot" With A Beach Movie?

So I was browsing this week's movie posters over at Heritage Auctions, and I discovered this:

I'm always intrigued by crazy movie titles, and this caught my eye.

So I checked the cast, and that's when my mind shifted into fifth gear!

Frankie Avalon!  Dwayne Hickman!  (Of Dobie Gillis fame, he was in a lot of these teen screeners.)  Yvonne Craig!  (Batgirl.)   And James Brown?!  Lesley Gore!  (Of course... these movies always have music built in.)

I needed to know more, so off to Wikipedia!

Quite a fun plot.  Girl trouble.  College ski trip.  Cross dressing.  An all-Black ski patrol (James Brown & the Famous Flames).  An ice-skating yodeling polar bear?!?  And, of course, Annette Funicello, as a naughty professor!

Here's a pic of Frankie and Dwayne in drag:
They're supposed to be British.
Which, coincidentally, has a long, proud tradition of men performing in drag.

Actually, they're kinda cute.  But nowhere near Page Three.

Would I watch this movie?
Heck yeah!
You had me at "yodeling polar bear" and "lederhosen-clad lodge manager"!  (And Yvonne Craig.  Come on... this is a beach movie!  Set in a ski resort!  So bikinis and turtlenecks!)

This movie was to have a sequel, titled "Cruise Party", but the meager box office of "Ski Party" nixed that idea.  But Frankie Avalon did appear on "The Love Boat" in 1978...

TCM has a great overview! (Part of a bigger feature on Beach movies!)

You might want to do a double-feature with "Hot Dog ...the Movie", filmed in 1985.  It's got an even better poster!
Phil Roberts did the art!  You can see his other work here!

Or, if you've got kids (or are a discretionary viewer), you might want to view Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine instead.  That one stars Vincent Price as the villain!  And an opening sequence animated by Art "Gumby" Clokey!  Sadly, it was to be a musical, but was edited. Oh well...

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ice Water Challenge? PFFT.

The ALS "Ice Bucket Challenge" is a brilliant piece of viral fundraising.

It's raised awareness and money for a minor disease which doesn't earn the (monetary) interest of pharmaceutical companies.

Some have criticized the waste of water as many states suffer drought conditions.  (To which I reply: yes, you are correct.  But there are many MANY other activities which waste even more water.)

But to me... everyone is doing it wrong.

You REALLY want to show your cojones?
Take a cold shower for five minutes.
Matter of fact, why not raise money by taking pledges?  So many dollars for each minute spent in the shower!  

Or better yet, go swimming on New Years Day.

Here in New York City, that sort of thing has been going on since 1903.
The Coney Island Polar Bear Club has monthly swims from November through April.   They hold a big "everyone is invited" event on New Years Day.  (You can attend the monthly events, just send them a request via their website.)

According to Wikipedia, there's an event at Maryland's Sandy Point State Park which attracts thousands of participants who take multiple plunges for charity.

So... I challenge EVERYONE to take a polar bear plunge next New Years Day.  Almost every one is for charity, and what better way to start the new year?  

Thursday, August 14, 2014

My Train of Thought Takes a Detour: Mike Tyson and Burt Reynolds

The other day, a colleague, who is not geeky but likes cool stuff, mentioned Comic-Con.

So I casually mentioned that Mike Tyson would have a cartoon show on Adult Swim, similar to the "meddling kids" trope perfected by Scooby-Doo.

It includes Mike Tyson, a ghost, a talking pigeon, and Tyson's 18-year-old adopted daughter, who is Korean.

So, of course, I pulled up the "You Meddling Kids" trope at TV Tropes.
I clicked on the "Western Animation" folder, to see how many examples existed from Hanna-Barbera.

Quite a few, of course.  H-B exploited this design.  It's a good design: Goofball, Comic Relief, Brainiac, Regular Guy, Regular Girl.  (Here's a different analysis.)

Then I got to wondering...  did any of these "copy-dogs" ever cross-over with Scooby-Doo?

Easy enough to answer... The New Scooby-Doo Movies featured weekly guest stars.  Here's the episode guide.  

Yup.  Josey and the Pussycats.  Jeannie.  Speed Buggy.   But wait... who is Jerry Reed?  He shows up in Episode 14: "The Phantom of the Country Music Hall".

Jerry Reed was a successful songwriter and performer, best known (at least to me) as Burt Reynold's sidekick in "Smokey and the Bear".

But...  here's where it gets interesting!

He made his first movie in 1975, with Burt Reynolds:
W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings
"As of 2013, the film has not been released on DVD or any other home video format."

!!! When my family bought a VCR in 1980, the first thing I noticed upon visiting the video rental store for the first time was the sheer selection of Grade-B,C, and Z movies available!  Stuff you might see on the Late Show, maybe once a decade.  Stuff that the actors themselves have forgotten.  (No, I didn't hit a high at that point...I was a naif.  I would plotz a few years later, when Blockbuster opened their first store in Omaha, featuring complete runs of Star Trek and many other examples of eye candy.)

Burt Reynolds was HUGE back then.  "Cannonball Run" and "Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" were hits.  And here's a Reynolds movie that was never released on VHS or any other medium.

Yes, the plot isn't much...  but check out this cast!  
(Click on the names for Wikipedia articles.)

Burt Reynolds
Conny Van Dyke
Jerry Reed
Ned Beatty
James Hampton
Don Williams
Rick Hurst
Mel Tillis
Furry Lewis
Art Carney

Conny Van Dyke... she's the love interest.  Nothing much interesting about her, aside from being signed to Motown Records as a caucasian!

Jerry Reed, we already covered above.

Ned Beatty... he's one of the great character actors of the 20th Century.  Best known as "Otis", Lex Luthor's henchman in "Superman".  (And the villain in "Toy Story 3".)

James Hampton... another great character actor, mostly on television.

Don Williams... lauded country singer.

Rick Hurst... best known as "Cletus Hogg", Boss Hogg's cousin on "The Dukes of Hazzard".  (He replaced Enos.)  Another great character actor.

Mel Tillis... a giant of Country music.

Furry Lewis... noted country blues guitarist.

Art Carney...  best known as "Ed Norton" on "The Honeymooners".  

Is there a soundtrack?  You betcha!  On vinyl!
There's also a novelization, which seems to be better than the actual movie.

My theory... Reynolds owns the rights to the movie, and keeps it locked away out of embarrassment.  (It currently has a rating of 5.8/10 on IMDB.)

Of course, there are bootleg DVDs out there.  
Myself, this is the sort of movie you watch on cable TV late at night, preferably with a bottle of scotch.  

Whoa...  interesting distraction!   "Jeannie", the cartoon version of "I Dream of Jeannie".  It's not named as an example of "those meddling kids" trope, but it is similar.

Here's the interesting bit!
  • Babu seems to have been based on Bob Denver's one-shot character, Harold, from the original show, who was also a genie whom Jeannie needed to train, though he does not seem to be Haji's son. Added to that, bizarrely enough, Babu wore what appears to be a male version of the original Jeannie's pink costume.
Wait... WHAT?!
Yes...  from Wikipedia:

"My Son, the Genie"
Claudio Guzman
Bill Richmond
December 12, 1967

On the same day Jeannie is ordered to help train an inept young genie (Bob Denver), Tony finds out that U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson will be coming for dinner.

Is it me, or does his costume look like it was stolen from a flying monkey?

Friday, March 7, 2014

This is a test.

Getty Images is offering royalty-free images, but via their embed code.

Let's see if it works...

Why, yes, that is quite nice.

More information?  Read the BBC report.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Super Bowl XLVIII Commercials: Fourth Quarter

(If you're curious about this, go read the Wikipedia article!  I don't know how much input Steve Jobs had with this ad, but it singlehandedly changed how Madison Avenue viewed the Super Bowl.)
Coca-Cola football ad.   meh.  I was hoping for a call-out to Mean Joe Greene.  They couldn't have made him the groundskeeper?  Lost opportunity.  FAIL.   

Butterfinger.  Marriage counselor.  um... okay...
What is technology?  Microsoft?  *sniffle*

Nice ride.  Hyundai Elantra.  Huh?
Nice copyright notice, NFL!
All the villains are played by Brits.  HAH!  Jaguar.

Oikos!  Full House.  Heh!
T-Mobile.  heh.  minimum.
Soda stream.  ha.  Sex appeal.
What?  London?  24?   Live Another Day.
two minute warning.
Puppy escapee. Clydesdales.  meh. 
nice tits. waldrobe malfunction?  GoDaddy.
Doritos.  ha!
Ameican Idol.  nice teaser.
Hey... who started the tradition of Gatorade baptism?
And that's the game.  Seahawks.  43-8

Super Bowl XLVIII Commercials: Third Quarter

NFL and football comics usually don't work too well...
But if you're curious, you can find them here!
Doberhuahua!  Audi A3.  wha? Funny ad, but what's the story?  Don't drive a hybrid?

Pink.  Quiet Riot.  Goldie Blox   Quick Books.  okay...

Tim Tebow.  Again.  ha! Doing his own stunts!  T-Mobile.

Axe Peace.   interesting.  but...

bear in a country store. Chobani.  hmm.
This quarter sponsored by Bud, so there will probably a Clydesdale ad soon.
Okay... here it is... the bizarre Kia Matrix ad.  I saw this earlier this week.  That's Turandot being sung.    The special effects are a dime-a-dozen.  Nothing like The Matrix.   meh.  What's the message?

Sprint.  ten people on the plan.  Band version.  Family version shown twice earlier.

If you're happy and you know it.  Heinz.  cute.  With a fart joke?
Bruce Willis.  HA!  Car safety.  Honda.  Fred.  Almost as awesome as Gwen!

Secret homecoming.  Budweiser.  Nice idea.  But the Canadian Hockey ad is still better.  It doesn't pull the heartstrings.
America.  True Cool.  legacy.  Detroit.  Bob Dylan.  um... I think Germany might have something to say about all this. Chrysler.
Local ads:
We can fix this.  NFL.  meh.
Toyota highlander.  BORING!  
Vampire.  TimeWarner cable.  Future is coming.  Meh.
End of Third Quarter.  36-8