Infinite (Debt) Crisis

Is anybody besides me worried about our leaders? I mean, they can’t even solve a debt crisis. What if they need to solve an actual crisis?

You know — like one with zombies or terminators!

We’re totally doomed.

Zombie apocalypse:

Barack Obama and John Boehner wake up after a long night of negotiations and swiftly realize they’re the only ones still alive.

All around them is a zombie swarm.

They have to act quickly and decisively. Do they take the stairs or the elevator to safety?

Obama suggests stairs. Boehner will settle for nothing less than elevator. Obama thinks he’ll lose face if he takes the elevator. Boehner starts to walk away.



Zombies eat their brains.

Crisis on Infinite Earths:

A near-omnipotent being known as the Anti-Monitor tries to destroy the universe by racking up huge debt.

Earth’s heroes unite. Except they don’t.

Michele Bachmann contends that there is no Anti-Monitor, and even if there were, he wouldn’t hurt anyone.

Mitch McConnell suggests a battle strategy that involves racing really fast for a while, then taking a break plus counting earlier victories toward this victory. Everybody gets confused and says this is a gimmick. Mitch McConnell is totally out of breath from running and from explaining his plan.

Harry Reid suggests a battle strategy that is almost exactly like the plans that have been presented before, with the main difference being that it’s totally unacceptable to everyone.

The Earth explodes and dollar bills flutter through the air.

The Anti-Monitor raises taxes and destroys Social Security.

Cylons attack!

A ragtag band of humanity has survived a catastrophic financial attack by cyberkinetic beings known as Cylons.

Now what?

Commander Boehner comes up with a plan to fight and run.

Lieutenant Cantor and his followers will agree to fight but will never agree to run.

Barack Obama, president of the Twelve Colonies,tries to get everybody to say “So say we all.”

The ship goes quiet. Everyone just stares.

Obama shrugs his shoulders and walks away.

The Cylons never have to do anything because the Battlestar Fiscal Responsibility just sits in space, not moving. Eventually, it just runs out of fuel.

Ratings sag.

Secret Invasion:

Shape-shifting beings known as Skrulls invade the Earth.

The world’s leaders accuse each other of being Skrulls.

Paranoia ensues.

Everybody destroys everybody else.

In the end, Glenn Beck is revealed to be a Skrull.

He’s the only one who ever actually was one.



Separated at birth?



This is kind of horrifying, and maybe it’s meant to be.

It’s a Casey Anthony mask that recently went up for bid on eBay.

The winning bid came to $999,900.00 this week.

According to Mail Online, the E-bay seller wrote in his ad: “Forget Freddy, Jason, Meyers, here’s your chance to scare the *#&% out of everyone and win every costume contest with possibly the most frightening mask on the planet.”

“Sculpted to precision for a parody video, only nine of these props were made for production and I got my hands on a few after the video wrapped. I know these will be priceless. A significant piece of crime history.”

Don’t worry if you missed out. There apparently are more masks and more chances.

Meanwhile, do you know who the mask reminds me of? Do you see a resemblance to someone much more beloved, much more heroic, much more human?


It’s this guy, a handsome devil and solid citizen who never once has felt the need to regain his partying lifestyle.

Bat Boy never left behind his partying lifestyle, you see.

Nevertheless,I think you’ll agree, the resemblance is uncanny.

And I know he’d appreciate a nanny named Zanny.



This is for you, Fergface

The familiar orange couch makes a long anticipated return. This week, Teen Nick made the dreams of 20 and early 30 somethings come true when they began a new block of late-night programming featuring beloved Nickelodeon programs from the ‘90s.

Starting at midnight, you can relive Saturday nights before you entered the dating scene with All That, Kenan and Kel, Clarissa Explains It All and Doug. The network has promised more shows are to follow as evidenced by a lengthy promo featuring Pete and Pete, Hey Dude, GUTS, Legends of the Hidden Temple, Ren and Stimpy and Rugrats.

My personal favorite, Salute Your Shorts, hasn’t been officially added but many other Gen-Y’ers are lobbying for it. Anyone remember being completely creeped out by Zeke the Plumber? The Camp Anawanna theme song is firmly planted in my brain even though I haven’t heard it in nearly 20 years.

Wow. 20 years! That just hit me, it’s incredible that the ‘90s were two decades ago.

In 1990, I was 8 years old. My social life consisted of the occasional sleepover, reading The Babysitter’s Club and spending my weekends in the company of SNICK and other Nick programs. And yes, sometimes, I really was Afraid of the Dark!

Watching Doug the other night immediately brought me back to being back in my childhood home in Logan County. I’d put on pajamas, get a bowl of popcorn and stake a spot on the couch for an evening of TV made just for me.

My brother and I even had the at-home version of Double Dare. I wanted my family to be on the show so much that I vowed if I ever visited the Nickelodeon studios in Universal Orlando, I’d meet Marc Summers and plead my case. Then, I’d be on my way through that incredible obstacle course. What 8-year-old wouldn’t want to dive into a gigantic sundae and pick an enormous honker in search of those elusive flags.

As with collecting toys and reading comic books, seeing these old friends on the screen again allows me to escape to a simpler, carefree time in my life. My problems then weren’t paying bills or worrying about employment, my only job was to have fun and just be a kid. Nickelodeon helped make that possible.

I feel sorry for the preteens and teens growing up today in a society so infused with sex and violence. Unlike one of Teen Nick’s current program, Degrassi, we never had to have Clarissa explain what to do in case of a teen pregnancy.

So, thank you Nickelodeon for providing a reprieve from our rapidly changing world. The ‘90s really were All That and more!

Check out for the latest schedule updates!

Shocking news! (video included)

Daily Mail reporter and sometime Nerd Living blogger Amber Marra has been following the story of Brandon Gladspell, a Kanawha County middle school student who was expelled from school for bringing a prank gum pack to school.

The gum emits a small electric shock when a prankster’s victim pulls a stick from the pack. The toy falls under Kanawha County Schools’ deadly weapons policy.

Brandon’s dad Harry plead his son’s case before the Kanawha Board of Education and got the expulsion dropped to a 10-day suspension. He approached the board last Thursday to get the suspension removed from Brandon’s permanent record but had no luck.

The school system has apparently destroyed Brandon’s gum pack, so we didn’t get a chance to see it in action. Lucky for you, my 9-year-old cousin brought one to my grandmother’s house.

Continue reading

River City Comic Con

Reader Nicholas Anderson of St. Albans alerted us to the River City Comic Con this Sunday in Marietta, Ohio.

If you aren’t one of the throngs at ComicCon in San Diego this week, well, this is a pretty driveable alternative.

The event got a nice write-up in the Marietta Times.

Jordan Lowe, owner of Asylum Comics, one of the sponsors of the convention, said more than 15 vendors from around the region are expected for the event. The convention includes costume contests (for children and adults) and contests for writing and drawing. Also, there will be face painting and a caricature drawings for children.

The event is set to run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Junior Fair Building at the Washington County Fairgrounds. Admission is $2 for adults and children 8 and under are free.

Get an education in gaming

Do you want to play a game?

Or, maybe, create one?

Gaming — Sandy Baldwin, director of the Center for Literary Computing (left) and graduate assistant Benjamin Emika. (WVU Photo)

West Virginia University has unlocked its entry to the magical level of gaming with a new graduate certificate program set to debut this fall.

Graduate students in computer science will be able to earn a certificate in interactive technologies and serious gaming, a potential gateway to working in the ever-growing game industry.

The program, approved by the WVU Board of Governors, is a collaborative effort between the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering and the Department of English.

“Notice it’s called serious gaming,” said Tim Menzies, associate professor in computer science and electrical engineering. “We’re serious. This is the future of human interaction of all societies.”

From “Pong” to “Halo,” the dynamics of games have changed from blips and bleeps to a vast paradise of multidimensional visuals, characters and storylines. Gamers no longer sit in front of wood-cased tube TV sets fiddling with one-button joysticks in isolation.

Nowadays, gamers worldwide engage in online communities where they strategize with or against one another in seeking their virtual goals.

It’s an ideal time for game-centric students to delve into the industry, say the brains behind the certificate program. Continue reading

Bel8ted thoughts on Super 8

By the time I got out to see “Super 8,” it was only showing twice a day at my local theater, which I figured meant it was on its way out. And sure enough, it’s gone today. I was really interested in seeing it, though, because much of it was filmed right here in West Virginia under as much of a veil of secrecy as you could have for a major motion picture that also happens to have the word “Spielberg” attached.

A few thoughts:

Weirton looked mint. I’ve always thought Weirton is an interesting town to drive through anyway. You come through town and the steel mill rises up around you like a fortress. Well, it looked especially interesting on the big screen — particularly some broad shots that showed the town up against West Virginia’s rolling hills. The fictionalized mill was a key part of the back story, and the town gave the movie an industrial, late-1970s character. Perhaps most importantly to those of us who live in West Virginia, the movie didn’t portray the residents of the fictional town of Lillian as ignorant or backwoods or even condescendingly kind. Then again, Lillian was supposed to be in OHIO, so there’s that. (Just to be a semihypocrite and make a joke at the expense of Buckeyes: There was some pretty bad driving portrayed in “Super 8.” No, really, the driving was pretty bad.)

— My cousin is a photographer in Wheeling. During “Super 8” filming in 2010, she drove the 27 miles to Weirton to take some pictures of the filming. She was supposed to focus particularly on a tank rolling through town. Turns out her lack of media credentials was a problem, and she was politely disinvited from the set right as the tank approached. Later she learned she’d been standing right by director J.J. Abrams, who she didn’t recognize. Oh well. She had a good day and got a good story out of it. I was trying to spot the specific tank during the movie, but I got into the story and forgot to keep focusing on it. By the end, it turned out there were kind of a lot of military vehicles depicted so I’m not sure I ever would have pinpointed the right one.

— When I see Abrams’ “Bad Robot” company logo, I know by now there’s a good chance I’ll enjoy whatever’s connected with it. It was fun to see “Bad Robot” right up beside producer Steven Spielberg’s “Amblin Entertainment” logo that signified quality entertainment for my entire childhood. Some of the scenes with the alien in “Super 8” snatching up the citizens reminded me of the off-screen creature (which we now know was “the smoke monster”) that snatches the pilot out of the crashed airplane in the pilot episode of Abrams’ “Lost.” Abrams does off-screen creepiness really well. As a side note, the pilot from “Lost” was played by Abrams buddy Greg Grunberg, who also appears in “Super 8” every so briefly as a sitcom actor. For that matter, Grunberg is in almost everything Abrams does, including “Alias,” which starred West Virginia’s own Jennifer Garner.

— Those who said “Super 8” is kinda like a cross between “E.T.” and “Goonies”/”Stand by Me” were right on. It’s a childhood adventure with a menacing alien twist. Joel Courtney, who plays the sensitive hero Joe, looks like E.T.’s Henry Thomas (“El-li-ott”) crossed with Sean Astin in his “Goonies” days. In Super 8, Joe has lost his mom. In E.T., Elliot’s dad wasn’t around. I can’t remember about the parental status of the kids in “Goonies” and “Stand by Me.” Can anyone prompt my memory?

— “Super 8” is the best movie I’ve seen so far this summer, and I speak with the expertise of someone who saw “The Zookeeper.” I’ve still got a lot of movies left on my list, including Harry Potter, Captain America and Cowboys vs. Aliens, so there’s still time for a change in my rankings.

Did you see Super 8? What’d ya think?

Photo from the Weirton Area Museum and Cultural Center.

Be a VIP for the company

It’s nice to be wanted!

And cable company/telephone/Internet companies are vying for my allegiance.

At least that’s what I thought at first when I opened a flyer from Suddenlink marked “V.I.P. Invitation” and “EXCLUSIVELY FOR YOU.”

Then I noticed it had been mailed as “Exclusively for Addressee,” followed by my address.

Addressee, eh? Well, nevertheless, I’m a wanted man.

Suddenlink is offering me VIP perks if I add phone service on top of Internet and cable. I’d get phone service for $25 a month — including access to priority customer service, caller ID on my TV (“See who’s calling while watching TV!”) and occasional free pay-per-view and Video On Demand movies.

A little deeper in my mail pile was an envelope from Frontier, formerly thought of as the telephone company.

Those guys were offering me high-speed Internet for just $14.99 a month.

Inside that offer was a separate flyer touting Hulu, which is a fancy, modern way to watch TV. I’d get one week free and then pay only $7.99 a month for access to full seasons of current shows, plus classic series and acclaimed movies.

I’d have to study the math a little better to know who’s got the better deal. But it’s a nice position to be in.

The cable company wants to sell me phone service, and the phone company wants to sell me TV shows.

And EVERYBODY wants to sell me Internet.

When companies compete, I win!

Now for this important announcement about the Miss Mothman Pageant

Mothman pageant accepting entries; open state-wide

The 4th Annual Miss Mothman Festival Pageant is now seeking contestants to
compete for the 2011 titles.

With age divisions from two years old to married women, this pageant is
unique in that everyone who participates receives an award. No one walks
away empty handed.

On Friday, contestants for Teen, Miss, Ms. and Mrs. will compete in the
following phases of competition: Moth Wear, Evening Wear and On-Stage
Interview. A Queen and Princess will be crowned in the Teen and Miss
divisions, and a Queen in the Ms. and Mrs. divisions. Runners up and
optional winners will be announced in each group.

On Saturday, the children’s pageant will be held for contestants in the
Tiny, Little and Junior Miss age divisions. They will compete in Casual Wear
and On-Stage Interview. At the conclusion of the pageant, everyone is
crowned a Miss Mothman Festival Princess with their own tiara and sash. Then
the runners-up, optional winners, and Queen are announced in each.

Age divisions: Tiny (2-5); Little (6-9); Junior (10-12); Teen (13-15); Miss
(16-20); Ms. (21-28); and Mrs. (any age married).

Located in Point Pleasant, the tale of the mystical creature, the Mothman,
is celebrated annually, and this year marks the 10th anniversary of the
festival which takes place Sept. 17 and 18 along Main Street. The pageants
take place at the beautiful Point Pleasant Riverfront Park. There is no
admission to the festival or pageants.

For more information, please contact Delyssa Huffman, director, at
304-576-4181 or 304-593-8998. You can also visit the Web site to download
all of the information and an application:

The early-bird deadline to apply is Aug. 6 for just $30. After that, the
entry fee is $40 till Sept. 3. A Mother-Daughter and Sibling Discount is
offered for just $60.

How to win a free 4G phone

Verizon Wireless announced it will officially mark the introduction of its fourth-generation wireless network to Charleston on Thursday with drawings for mobile phones at its Charleston Town Center and Trace Fork stores.

The drawings will take place at 10 a.m. The first 50 customers to visit each location will receive a specially wrapped chocolate bar. Two of the bars at each location will have a “golden ticket” inside that will award the recipient a fourth-generation Long Term Evolution, or LTE, Droid Charge phone by Samsung. The company said the phone has a $560 retail value.

Verizon Wireless has said that customers with 4G LTE smart phones, laptop modems and hotspots will be able to take advantage of speeds up to 10 times faster than the company’s 3G network.