C is for Cereal

I was rather sad to read that the sale of breakfast cereals were declining in the United States, the reason being that it “takes too much time”!

I saw this post from SamuraiFrog about The Great American Cereal Book and immediately wrote: “OMG – this is a book for me. I LOVE cereal.” Believed I should write about it, but then thought, “Didn’t I just do that?” As it turns out, the post I was thinking about I wrote in 2006 (!) – time is so strange – when I described my peculiar and specific rules involving the mixing non-presweetened cereal. So I guess I can revisit it here.

Why I love cereal:
1. It was the first meal I could prepare myself.
2. As alluded to in the previous post, it is very educational. As an active reader of the box, it was where I learned that riboflavin and niacin were B vitamins.
3. I learned the difference between brand names and generic names. I realized that “raisin bran” was not trademarked, which allowed Kellogg’s and Post each to have an iteration. Whereas, round oat cereals not made by General Mills were called something other than Cheerios, such as Tastee-Os.
4. They would sell several brands, usually six or ten, in something called “Snack packs” or “Variety packs”, little boxes with perforations so you pour in the milk and could eat them right out of the box.
5. They were entertaining. From the coloring of my cereal milk to the “Snap, crackle, pop” of Rice Krispies.
6. The ads. Often featuring future icons such as Tony the Tiger (Frosted Flakes – “they’re great”) to the rodent of Trix (“silly rabbit, Trix are for kids”) to Captain Crunch, I loved these little videos designed to lure me to buy – or get my mom to buy – their products. (Now, I’m more jaded…) The ads were so engrained in the culture that the Kellogg’s rooster and theme (“the best to you each morning” for Corn Flakes were echoed in the Beatles’ song “Good Morning Good Morning.”

I was quite fond of the Post Crispy Critters ads; I can’t explain why except I loved the King Leonardo show; the cereal itself was not all that good. But no ad did I love more than this Rice Krispies ad, which is absolutely brilliant musically, the way the verses work together in the last 15 seconds.

Here are 10 Trippiest Cereal Ads, most of which I had not seen
Cereal commercials from the 1960s and 70s, all of which I remember

I’ve now discovered that some of the generic brands are just as good, but certainly not all. I have had Cheerios substitutes that tasted like cardboard.

I was rather sad to read that the sales of breakfast cereals were declining in the United States, the reason being that it “takes too much time”! This led to the development of breakfast bars; I tried 2 or 3, and hated them all. I also tend to dislike cereals with stuff in them – Cheerios with these dried out things they call strawberries, or Lucky Charms, with those so-called marshmallows. We actually have a box of Lucky Charms in the house right now; one of my wife’s students brought her a box when they discovered that the marshmallows weren’t halal.

Since SamauraiFrog listed his 20 favorite kinds of cereal of all time, I thought I would do the same. Please note that I don’t eat most of these now.

1. Sugar Smacks (Kellogg’s) – they changed the name eventually to Honey Smacks
2. Sugar Crisps (Post) – “can’t get enough of those Sugar Crisps, they keep me goin’ strong”
3. Alpha-Bits (Post) – I used to spell out words in my bowl
4. Shredded Wheat (Nabisco, now Post)- pour hot water on it and watch the biscuits sag
5. Total (General Mills) – loved the idea of a cereal that gave me ALL the vitamins
6. Froot Loops (Kellogg’s)
7. Honey Nut Cheerios (General Mills)
8. Wheaties (General Mills) – hey, it was the “Breakfast of Champions”!
9. Corn Flakes (Kellogg’s)
10. Rice Chex (Purina, now General Mills)
11. Trix (General Mills)
12. Cheerios (General Mills) – still eating these
13. Raisin Bran (either brand) – but generally better than the generics
14. Rice Krispies (Kellogg’s)
15. Corn Chex (Purina, now General Mills)
16. Spoon-Sized Shredded Wheat (Nabisco, now Post) – still eating these, too
17. Corn Pops (Kellogg’s)
18. Life (Quaker Oats)
19. Quisp (Quaker Oats)
20. Kix (General Mills)

Info about cereal and nutrition.

ABC Wednesday – Round 11

July Rambling: the God particle, and Key’s defense of slavery

Rod Serling, Mike Wallace, Roger & Chaz Ebert, Banana Splits, Golden Girls, Cookie Monster, 1904 Olympics

Cognitive Deficit: How Budget Cuts Could Prevent Scientific Breakthroughs
“The Higgs boson isn’t just one missed opportunity – it represents how much the U.S. stands to lose if we don’t give our scientists the support they need. The Congress of the early ’90s might have pulled the plug on a $10 billion particle accelerator, but it’s hard to imagine today’s Congress even contemplating such a project when attempts to fund basics like unemployment insurance and infrastructure repair result in partisan gridlock.”
Also:
We’re ALL Immigrants, Higgs is Our Common Ancestor.
Why the boson is like Justin Bieber.

Remembering when Francis Scott Key, the man who penned “The Star-Spangled Banner,” defended slavery in court.
Key “had a much narrower conception of freedom of speech. He argued that the antislavery publications could be suppressed in the name of public safety since they might incite violent rebellion. He defended a narrower conception of American citizenship — that it was reserved for the native-born and whites only… White men did have a constitutional right to own property in people…” Applicable discussion for today.

US Senator John McCain (R-AZ) calls out the sheer lunacy of Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) when she and four Republican colleagues accuse Hillary Clinton’s deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin of being circuitously connected to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The deplorable 1904 Olympics.

Jim Stanek, Disabled Veteran Says United Airlines Staff Kicked His Service Dog, Asked If He Was ‘Retarded’

Kevin Marshall collected the musings of Alan Ilagan, who recently served on the jury for a locally prominent murder trial.

Lynneguist’s mom died, and what you can do in honor of that.

The girl I met in Rome in World War II named Miss Mountain of Flowers.

Roger Ebert loves his wife Chaz. Wednesday, July 18, was the 20th anniversary of their marriage.

Wynton Marsalis on America’s Musical Classics. What They Are and Why We Need to Share Them with Our Kids.

The two Londons.

I got an invitation from Glassdoor. At my request, here’s Gordon’s post about it.

If you like classic television, check out Kliph Nesteroff’s Classic Television Showbiz.

Rod Serling in an interview with Mike Wallace just before the The Twilight Zone’s first broadcast.

Steve Bissette writes on Facebook: “I always thought Bob Marley HAD to have seen or heard the BANANA SPLITS theme. Compare Bob’s “Buffalo Soldiers” riff; —c’mon, don’tcha think so, mon?”

This is funny if you’ve watched too much Dora the Explorer.

Cookie Monster connects with his inner Carly Rae Jepsen.

The Superfriends/Golden Girls mashup.

Senator Al Franken (D-MN) on the Senate floor, eulogizing his late writing partner, Tom Davis.

A JED eye chart.

How to write 99 3/4 in Roman numerals.

That classic La maquina de escribbir.

When you write yourself into a corner.

FROM THE OTHER BLOGS

Change in credit card rules?

The new poll tax: voter ID.

Agreeing with Ronald Reagan – hey, it happens.

The Ridin’, Tom Paxton Blues.

GOOGLE ALERTS

In this short video, presented by Applied Transformation, Inc., Roger Green talks with Ivan Misner about Misner’s view on business networking and whether or not it has a place in formal education.

Roger Green, founder of Edinburgh-based Spotless Commercial Cleaning, has stepped down as chief executive after 24 years.

Roger currently serves as Vice President, Strategy, Policy Marketing & Communications for the HealthEast Care System in Saint Paul.

Salvation Army Honors Roger Green with Rare Citation.

Listen to 11 Even by Roger Green: My first full-length solo album after leaving the Czars, features Marc Dalio on drums, Eric Thorin on bass, Eric Moon on Piano.

(Limo picture c 2012 Mark Klonfas. Cat picture c 2012 Alexandria Green)

The (belated) Christmas present

I have this huge box in the living room which has become a constant reminder of my frustrations, technological and otherwise.

The major thing I wanted for Christmas was a stationary bicycle, something I can use for exercise at home when:
* the weather is lousy
* I have a finite amount of time, so I can’t go all the way to Siena College to play racquetball
* I have to stay home to watch the child while my wife is having a work or church meeting, or is going to work out at the YMCA

So, in January, the Wife bought me one. Before she purchased it, she said she would assemble it, because it would save money. This made me quite uncomfortable, actually, because we have a few half-done home projects. Yet one must not be too ungracious when receiving a present. But after the school winter break was over, I got frustrated, and I opened the box to find OVER 90 PARTS. I carefully laid them all out, and then read the instructions.

If you go to, say, this site, you’ll read testimonials such as: “Put together in minutes, instructions were great, not many parts to assemble” (not many parts?) or “Assembly was pretty straightforward and took about 45 minutes (I suggest doing a bit at a time to avoid getting overwhelmed like I do when faced with assembly).”

I could NOT figure out, in instruction item #1, what item was the first piece to go into the base of the bike. I was highly motivated, yet could not crack this nut. Arrgh.

Now it’s July, and I STILL don’t have a stationary bike. Or more correctly, I have this huge box in the living room that has become a constant reminder of my frustrations, technological and otherwise. So when the Wife started making the five-year plans for the house – they are extensive – I balked and said no renovation until the bike was assembled. She could assemble it, she could pay someone to assemble it – I did not care.

Ultimately, she hired two guys who showed up and finished it in about 30 minutes. I was SO happy.

Now, let me rant about GPS. These guys came from Saratoga, about a half-hour from Albany. The Wife confirmed that we live near Hudson Street, but the GPS got them downtown, to South Pearl and Hudson, and you can’t to my house from there. Then they called from Madison Place when my wife told them to go up on Madison Avenue. All told, it took them about an hour of driving around the city of Albany to get to my house, when it should have taken 15 minutes if they hit all the red lights, had they accepted the directions my wife offered to give them. “No, thanks, we have GPS.” Meh.

A day or two later, we hear on our answering machine one of those automated surveys to see how the guys did. Apparently, the system is not smart enough to recognize that it’s reached an answering machine, and kept asking the first question over and over again, interrupted only by “Sorry, I didn’t hear your answer.” Meh.

But the bike assembly was great, the bike itself is great. And even though it’s summer, I can imagine using it on those too hot days, as well as the stormy ones.

The college wedding


Five years ago today, a couple of these people got married. The bride is named Lucy, a friend of my wife’s from college who I had not met until the day before the ceremony. The groom even my wife didn’t know (and – geez – I can’t remember his name).

Coincidentally, a football player named Ian Johnson got married to his college sweetheart, Chrissy Popadics, on that very same day, after famously proposing to her after his team, Boise State, won the Fiesta Bowl.

Last I knew (February 2012), Ian and Chrissy were still together. But I have no idea about Lucy and her beau.


But what I really wanted to talk about are colleges. Lucy’s wedding was at Brown University in Providence, RI. When you travel down the street, one crosses an archway and suddenly one is on the university grounds. I LIKE that, a lot.

It’s my considered opinion that campuses that are close to the city have a greater mutual connection. The College in St.Rose is like that in Albany. UAlbany is a split decision, with the downtown campus integrated, but the much larger uptown campus somewhat harder to get to. Binghamton U, in my hometown, is worse, isolated on the highway, and in Vestal, not even in Binghamton proper.

Video Roundup – July 2012

Garry Marshall noted that on his birthday, he was serenaded by Julie Andrews and Whitney Houston.

First off, a preview:
Here is a link to the trailer for “5 Hour Friends”, a new movie with Tom Sizemore, Musetta Vander, and Kimberlin Brown. “A lifelong womanizer gets a taste of his own medicine.” My niece Rebecca Jade writes: “This is the film I’m in, playing a singer [typecasting!], keep an eye out for it… Final edits should be done in late August and then working to get major distribution and inclusion at Sundance.”
***

Here are some movies I’ve seen on video recently.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

I was surprised to find that I thoroughly enjoyed this picture. It told a credible re-imagining of his origin as a scrawny Steve Rogers (Chris Pine) who wants to serve his country, even if it means being a guinea pig for a machine that, theoretically, at least, would make him stronger. Those critics who did not find this exciting enough confuse me. It had the pacing not out of place with the dramas I’d seen from the 1940s. When Cap became nothing more than a costume, I found that particularly compelling.

All of this said, there was one glaring thing that I found less than believable. One was selecting a particular baseball game; one would have thought that mistake would not be made by…whomever.

And can someone please explain the Marvel Movie Universe to me? Presumably, the Fantastic Four, featuring the same Chris Pine, is NOT in the universe, and neither are the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man films? But what of the new Spidey flick? I suppose I could look it up, but I expect a comic geek out there can explain it to me better.

Sidebar: Thom Wade on Understanding the Value of Power?
***
Thor (2011)

I found this a bit confusing and muddled. I listened to director Kenneth Branaugh’s discussion of the deleted scenes, and I’ve become convinced that the insertion of one or two, including one featuring the Warrior Three and Sif, would have clarified things somewhat for me, though it might have been at the expense of the pacing.

Still, I found I liked the film more as it went on. Chris Hemsworth was a quite decent Thor, though I think Tom Hiddleston as Loki and even Idris Elba in the relatively small role of Heimdall stole the show. Natalie Portman was fine as Jane Foster, though I kept thinking that the role didn’t need someone of her acting pedigree.
***
The Princess Diaries (2001)

I saw this originally in the theater and liked it well enough. Anne Hathaway, in her first starring role, was credible as the nerd who would be royalty, and Julie Andrews was perfect as her grandmother, and, not incidentally, the queen of an obscure land. Watching it again with an eight-year-old who believes she’s practically a royal herself – she IS distantly related to the late Princess Diana – I realized what FUN it must be for the target audience.

I spent most of my time watching the extras, which included director Garry Marshall’s recollections of the film, trying to create a fun movie set, celebrating birthdays. He noted that on his birthday, he was serenaded by Julie Andrews and one of the producers, Whitney Houston. Houston and one of her colleagues practically gushed at snagging Andrews for her role. Seeing a happy and confident Whitney was actually a bit sad, given what happened subsequently.
***
On HBO, watching in a hotel room:

The Big Year (2011)

As the intro says: The characters played by “Steve Martin, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson are at a crossroads — one is experiencing a mid-life crisis, another a late-life crisis, and the third, a far from ordinary no-life crisis…. three friendly rivals who, tired of being ruled by obligations and responsibilities, dedicate a year of their lives to following their dreams.” And the “cross-country journey of wild and life-changing adventures” is…birding.

This is a pleasant enough diversion. Not a lot of big yuks, even though it was billed as a comedy. It isn’t great cinema, but, having dealt with comic book obsessives, I found the players totally in keeping with behavior I’ve seen.
***
Harrison Ford turned 70 on July 13, and I realize I’ve only seen him in American Graffiti (1973), The Conversation (1974) – fairly recently, Witness (1985) – probably my favorite of his roles, Working Girl (1988), Presumed Innocent (1990), Regarding Henry (1991) – my least favorite, The Fugitive (1993), Sabrina (1995), and Six Days Seven Nights (1998). Nothing since, though he’ll be playing Branch Rickey in 42, a story about Jackie Robinson, so I may watch that. I’ve seen no Jack Ryan roles or Air Force One. I did probably see him in various TV shows early in his career.

OK, I did see him in three Star Wars and two Indiana Jones (1, 3) movies, but that’s pretty much a given.

Ernest Borgnine died on July 8. I’m not sure I really enjoyed watching the early 1960s TV show McHale’s Navy. But there was a character played by Joe Flynn named Captain Binghamton, and since I was FROM Binghamton, NY, I was compelled to watch. I saw him as a guest in LOTS of TV series. The first movie I saw him in was The Dirty Dozen (1967), which I viewed at a drive-in theater (remember those?) The only other theatrical movie of his I saw was The Poseidon Adventure (1972). Need to see Marty and From Here To Eternity, at the bare minimum.

Celeste Holm died on July 15. I know her better for TV shows (Archie Bunker’s Place, especially) than her movies. For instance, she played two different characters on the program Medical Center, a show I watched regularly, which starred Chad Everett, who died on July 17.

Steve Bissette reviews the apparently terrible, new Oliver Stone movie SAVAGES, so I know I don’t have to go. (Language NSFW.)