Tag: Twister

Day 994: The Game Of Milton Bradley’s Life

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I confess: I am but one week away from commemorating my 40th year on this planet, and I have yet to ever play The Game of Life. This is not due to some ethical or existential objection to simulating the course of one’s existence upon a square slab of cardboard, but rather due to my friends and I having spent our youthful recreation time with Star Wars toys and kindly ol’ Super Mario. I never got around to playing Candyland either.

As beloved as this board game may be, with its plastic minivans, its cruel cash-drains and generous paydays, buried deep within its roots is a transformative story. The original version of the game, concocted by Mr. Milton Bradley himself, elevated the concept of gaming from prescriptive quests for moral elevation to a more practical and modernized measure of success. More importantly, it came packaged with choice.

The Game of Life as we know it (well, as you probably know it, since I’ve never played the thing) features one early decision: go to school or get a job. After that, each soul is subjected to the whim of the spiteful spinner, suggesting that life is but a cavalcade of random collisions, and that we are always at the mercy of the fickle flick of fate. Mr. Bradley’s outlook on destiny was far more empowering.

Milton Bradley, 1860s

Tracing the Bradley lineage would suggest that a rather dreary definition of “life” could have taken center-stage in his outlook. The family tree was planted in America in 1635, and since then its bark shows the hatchet-marks of murder, Indian attack, kidnapping, and at one point hot embers being poured into an infant’s mouth. When Milton finally squeezed his way onto the planet in 1836, the Bradleys were a little less prone to being butchered, but far from being economic titans. Read more…

Day 377: My Story Pitches For The Upcoming Hungry Hungry Hippos Movie

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Back in October, a news item plopped onto my desk like a sack of wet rubber thimbles. Perhaps you remember it. Hasbro, the toy company behind Nerf, Play-Doh and Catchphrase, announced that their film division, which runs out of a tiny yet surprisingly whimsical windowless office on the Universal Pictures lot, would be following up the immense lack of success from last year’s Battleship film with a new three-picture deal.

This seems right. And it makes fiscal sense – my comment on the film’s “lack of success” was actually a bit off. Sure, the budget was $209 million and the domestic take was a paltry $65 million, but this flick was huge overseas, bringing the total worldwide gross up well over $300 million. Why not give Hasbro the keys to a new trio of blockbusters?

And the products they chose to spin into celluloid? Action Man, a British version of G.I. Joe (already another successful franchise), Monopoly (okay, Wall Street with Atlantic City real estate), and Hungry Hungry Hippos.

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No, I’m not making that up. A game whose skill and strategy level reach no further than slamming one’s hand down repeatedly on a plastic lever is getting green-lit for a major world-wide theatrical release, whilst my screenplay about an alcoholic mime who communicates with a wise but heart-broken snail named Plook sits on the shelf. Read more…

Day 227: The Hasbro Conspiracy

On the surface, Hasbro brings joy and smiles to hundreds of billions of people every second by giving Shortcake to our Strawberry, Action to our Figures, Ladders to our Chutes, and Head to our Mr. Potato. But underneath lies something more insidious, more… well, I don’t want to say evil, because then they’ll come after me. But it’s entirely possible they are evil.

First off, look at their name. Founded by Henry and Helal Hassenfeld, the company was originally called Hassenfeld Brothers. Look at all those H’s – and we all know that ‘H’ is the most decidedly evil letter in the alphabet (I’m looking at you, Howard Hesseman).

Oh God. I think he heard me.

But there’s more. Did they get the name ‘Hasbro’ as an abbreviation of Hassenfeld Brothers, or because the company was originally located in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey? More ‘H’s. I’m telling you, this is a conspiracy.

They transitioned from selling textiles to producing pencils and school supplies, then to toys. The Hassenfeld Brothers decided they wanted to own the spirit of every American child. They aimed to invade their young minds through the Fun Cortex, which is located right beside the tiny part of the brain that remembers the lyrics to old Doobie Brothers songs.

Also known as the ChinaGroveocampus.

In 1952, the Hassenfeld Brothers bought the rights to Mr. Potato Head from its inventor, George Lerner. All George got in return was fifty cents and a half-empty fifth of cheap gin (probably). Lerner, despondent and depressed, later took the lives of more than a dozen civilians when he flew a hijacked blimp into a busy frozen yogurt store.

Sometimes it’s easier to just make this stuff up. Research is for the weak.

Read more…

Day 208: Hosting TV Talk’s History

Hey kids. It’s your Uncle Marty here with a little talk to get you ready for grown-up life. Your parents will handle the important stuff: sex, career, whether it’s okay to ask a woman if she’s pregnant. I’d like to talk to you about talk shows.

You’ve probably seen a few of them. You have probably stayed up late to watch Robert Pattinson get interviewed on Jimmy Kimmel, marveled at a woman’s number of potential baby-daddys on Maury, or paused to consider the transvestite refrigerator salesperson who likes to tickle midgets on Jerry Springer. You may have wondered why these shows exist.

If nothing else, to see what an actual GWAR fan looks like.

Let me first tell you that Jerry Springer is not a talk show, it is a circus of abstract surrealism, depicting an outlandish freakscape that only exists in the murky recesses of your most hideous nightmares.

Today I’d like to share with you some of the talk show hosts of the past, the men and women who can be blamed for Oprah, Ellen, Letterman, Leno, and the rest of the talk show herd.

This is Phil Donahue. He more or less invented the daytime talk show. Except rather than set up rehearsed stories by visiting celebrities who coincidentally have a movie coming out, Phil talked to regular people about regular things like atheism, spousal abuse and breakdancing, or those magical times when all three of those topics coalesce into one weird evening.

Phil laid down the foundation for Oprah Winfrey’s talk show, then proceeded to get buried under it as Oprah grabbed all the ratings. During one episode, seven audience members fainted. This turned out to be a hoax organized as a protest against low-quality television. It worked – low-quality television has since been completely removed from the airwaves, leaving behind an Eden-esque bliss-hole of eternally-spewing goodness. Read more…