Otter Pops

Five Things – 07.28.14

1.  The Mastery of Space  - Here’s a beautiful 1962 documentary produced by NASA about the Mercury program.  The fonts used and the static design elements are fantastic, and the actual space footage, test-footage on Earth and spaceflight animations are pretty great, too. It’s kind of hard to tell who the intended audience for this film is, though – it gives a pretty basic description of weightlessness and gravity, like it’s speaking to kids, but then takes a left turn and gets somewhat complicated.  I can’t imagine kids catching anything Gus Grissom’s putting out there.

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Barrel Pong

Five Things – 07.21.14

1.  Zack Morris’ Cookie Crisp - Before he was chasing Kelly Kapowski, forming rock bands, inciting and then mending teacher’s strikes, or randomly freezing time, Zack Morris was a child who liked sugary cereal that was awful for you. Here’s Mark-Paul Gosselaar selling the heck out of some Cookie Crisp:

And just because we’re sort of talking SBTB and I love SBTB, here’s a lost scene from the School Song episode in which Ox throws his hat into the ring.  I had no idea this existed.  It looks like it barely does:

Never has the cutting room floor been more appropriate.  That was pretty bad. But amazing.

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The Writing Process Blog Hop

The creative process isn’t something I really talk about, mostly out of a superstitious fear of ‘jinxing’ whatever good mojo happens to sometimes trickle my way and also a fear of inviting a boulder to block that stream by overthinking the whole thing.  However, Becky invited me to participate in this Blog Hop, and I thought it was a fun enough exercise and a chance to look that superstition in the face and politely spit in it. And then quickly apologize and run off to find a handkerchief.

Becky’s a whiz.  In addition to editing Crafting a Green World and creating/maintaining The Great Vegan Search Engine Project, she owns Glue & Glitter, her home for DIY craftiness, recipes, and her books.  She’s my wife, too! How about that!

So here’s a look at my process and what I’m working on, and below that I’m featuring a couple of writers that I’m a fan of, Christine and Robert.  Both of them are friends of mine and both have distinct writing talents and styles that I admire through clenched, jealous teeth.

What am I working on/writing?

Right now I’m involved in a rewrite/edit of two new books of children’s poetry: the first is book three (and most of book four) of a four book series, tentatively titled the mister or honey bee blues or here’s to the stars. The second is a followup to a book of post apocalyptic poems I wrote a few years back called distant friends.  I don’t know yet what the sequel is called.  That’s the first shelf, the one I tend to most frequently.  I’m also dusting off books one and two of the four book series and preparing second editions of those; those rest on the second shelf.  On the third shelf, I’m putting together a short story compilation and am in a slow first rewrite of a novel.

How does my work/writing differ from others of its genre?

Simply put, I think it differs in that everyone else in the genre seems to know what they’re doing and I really don’t.  I have an enthusiast’s interest in poetry but not an academic one, at all, and I never thought I would write poetry myself.  I never thought I was capable. The poems bubbled up while I was writing other things, in between things, like weeds, and I ignored them for a long time before I thought to maybe put a little effort toward cultivating them.  Once I did I came to love the way they breathed and put a specific image in my head, and started working toward that as my objective.  I’m not saying other poets don’t breathe or create imagery; of course they do.  Mine just comes from a surprised, found confidence, a love of singsongs, and perhaps a different measuring stick than other poets have and that all results in something that I can definitely look at and say that it’s my voice.

Why do I write what I do?

I guess I already kind of answered this from a form angle – I never thought poetry would be the form that my writing took. I’m still reluctant to attack an idea through a poem as opposed to a short story or essay, but time and time again it’s the direction my head and words seem to run.  As for subject matter, I’m insanely nostalgic about my own childhood in the ’80s and I’m a huge fan of entertainment/fashion/design of the back half of the twentieth century.  Spread a love of sci-fi and fantasy on top of that and you pretty much have the source material for most of my writing.

How does my process work?

Write, write, write.  Write all the time.  When I catch a hook, I grab it and let it drag me for awhile and if it takes me to the end of the line that’s awesome but it usually doesn’t and that’s not important.  What’s important is that I’m writing. All the time.

In a perfect world, this is true but the reality is that I can’t always get to writing or sometimes my head’s not there and when I can’t write it stings a little bit. At those points I get into organization mode and start looking at the more nuts-and-bolts aspects of the process, like edits and rewrites and page layouts and the whole publishing side of things.  There’s always something to do and there’s never enough time for all of it.  Especially when you’e got six projects in the oven.

That’s if I can’t write, though.  If I can write, I’m writing, and everything else can just wait and happen when it happens.


That’s it for me! Let’s meet Christine and Robert!

Christine Moore

I’ve known Christine for about ten years now and she planted her flag pretty early on as one of the funniest people I know.  Her blog, TV Kitchen, showcases her love of television and television history through the lens of her own life and her, you know, person history in a way that makes what she has to say unique and distinct. Here’s her bio:

Hey! I’m a freelance writer and digital content strategist based in Atlanta. I previously worked for a bunch of years in a bunch of roles at Cartoon Network, helping build digital experiences for brands including The Powerpuff Girls, Ben 10, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, Chowder, Adventure Time and Regular Show.

 I’m originally from a suburb of Chicago and graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. I’ve performed improv and stand-up comedy in Atlanta, and in addition to my TV Kitchen blog, I also write about television and comedy for Paste Magazine. In my spare time, I love cooking, baking, checking out Atlanta restaurants, spending time with my husband and preparing for the arrival of our first baby later this year! (Uh-oh, I sense another blog coming on…)


Robert Lamb

Robert Lamb’s a good friend of mine, and I’m a big fan of his writing.  His subject matter is usually about twenty shades darker than mine is, but we share an enthusiasm for the same what-ifs. His most recent book, Eight Black Offerings, is a collection of very grim what-ifs, indeed, and it’s fantastic and well worth your time.  Just don’t read it in bed.  Unless you sleep upon a bed of skulls.  But at that point you’re probably the type to do whatever you want to do, anyway.

Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction, but such are the trials of puberty. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster.

That’s it.  Check them out and if you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading.






Player's Guide Cover

Five Things – 07.14.14

1.  Puppy Pong/Doctor Pong - Here’s an interesting effort.  In Pong’s heyday, Atari pushed to get the game into doctors offices – both pediatricians and adults.  They modified the cabinets from Pong’s arcade presence accordingly and removed the coin slots, as the doctors would buy them outright.  Behold, Puppy Pong:

Puppy Pong

Apparently Snoopy was the original idea for this cabinet but the licensing was too costly.  Still adorable.  Here’s an illustration from the sales pamphlet feature Puppy Pong and the more grown up Doctor Pong, for adults.

Puppy Pong Pamphlet

Not gonna lie, Doctor Pong looks pretty slick. Here’s more:

Pong Ad

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Five Things – 07.07.14

1. Atari Touch Me - Atari released this unconventional arcade cabinet in 1974, a screen-less game that held four circular lights.

Touch Me Cabinet

Players had to follow the pattern in which the lights lit up, getting three tries before the game was over.  It was stylish, but unpopular compared to the other, more engaging games out there.  The concept had merit, though, as Ralph Baer proved when he released essentially the same game in handheld form in 1977, coloring the lights and calling it “Simon”.  Atari saw the success Simon was enjoying and scrambled to develop a handheld version of Touch Me, which they released in 1978.  It was too late, though; Simon was the game that resonated with consumers and lives on as a cherished memory.

Terrible name aside, there was a lot of style to Touch Me.  Here’s a poster for it:

Touch Me Poster

And a magazine ad:

Touch Me Ad

Even the device itself is slightly more stylish than Simon, though it’s a tough call:

Touch Me


2.  Action Center U.S.A. - I grew up in Orlando, Florida and I can tell you, for certain, that it is not “Action Center, U.S.A.” That aside, this ’60s promotional film is a pretty great attempt to make it appear that way. It’s interesting to see the ‘moment-in-time”ness here: Disney World had been announced but not yet built, meaning that most of Florida and primarily Central Florida were considered backwoods by the rest of the country.  That would soon change once the Magic Kingdom came along but for the time being the film had to rely on the Minute Maid and Tupperware headquarters to really sell this hot town.

The housewife/shopping section is particularly of-the-era, and the nightlife section is just great.  Jai-Alai OR Dog Racing? The mind boggles.


3.  How to Beat Video Games - Before you could just go to YouTube and get tips on the specific game you wanted help on, you had to order a VHS tape that was an hour long and wait 6 to 8 weeks for it to arrive in the mail and then, assuming you were still stuck on the game that compelled you to order the tape in the first place, fast forward to that particular part.

How To Beat Video Games

I can’t imagine that this was a very successful business.  There were books that served a similar purpose, giving tips for dozens of games (Nintendo’s is a particularly good one), but the tapes just seemed to be a little bit before their time.

Nevertheless, they’re full of ’80s video toaster effects and music and the game footage is pretty fun to watch, so here’s volume one:

4.  1-900-MONSTER – Here’s an ad for a ’80s hotline that told you scary stories.  The local news special being promoted right after this thing sounds way scarier than the hotline could have possibly been, but the hotline was probably the bigger success. You paid out the nose in 900 number fees back then!


5.  Jollity Farm - A fantastic animation by Dave Stone to a fantastic 1967 version of Leslie Sarony’s “Jollity Farm” played by the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. It’s just good!



Five Things – 6.30.14

1.  Circus World - Of all the lost theme parks, this is one that maybe deserved to be that way. In 1974, the then owners of Ringling Bros opened Circus World, a permanent circus-themed park in Orlando, Florida.

Circus World ad

The park was slow to get started, opening with only a big-top that housed an IMAX screen and a museum. And a model of what they wanted the park to look like.  Over the next 7 or 8 years it added a roller coaster, a carousel, a theater and, presumably, a bunch of unhappy animals.

Polar Bears

I’m not saying you can’t have polar bears in Florida, I’m just saying there’s a pretty high chance that they’re not happy polar bears.

Oddly enough, toy company Mattel got involved and ended up purchasing Circus World, then selling it back to Ringling at a loss.  That’s how popular this place was!

Circus World Sideshow

Unfortunately, America just wasn’t ready for an all-the-time circus and Circus World was turned into an Americana-styled theme park called Boardwalk and Baseball in 1987.  Apparently, America was even less interested in that idea and the entire complex was closed in 1990.  Here’s some home movie footage of the park, which was just about the only video memory of the place I could find:

And here’s a map of the park which, for all the park’s faults, has a pretty fab design.

Circus World Map


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Five Things – 06.23.14

1.  Kool-Aid Man Video Game - Putting your mascot in a video game can go either way; there are success stories like Yo, Noid! and there are less-than-success stories like M.C.Kids.  Unsurprisingly, it comes down to whether there’s a good game or not underneath the license when considering how these games are remembered.  Kool-Aid got a jump on the turn-your-mascot-into-a-game frenzy with their Kool-Aid Man game, released for Atari 2600 and Intellivision in 1983.

KAM Intellivision

There was really no subtext here; Kool-Aid wanted you to buy more Kool-Aid, and they knew you liked video games, so they gave you a Kool-Aid video game so you’d like Kool-Aid so you’d buy more Kool-Aid.  Even better, you could pay for the game using Kool-Aid points – those little stamps you cut out of the individual packages!


The game itself is gorgeous for that generation, but it’s mostly because of the colors used.  You play as the Kool-Aid man, protecting a body of water (a pool?) from “The Thirsties”.  The Thirsties are trying to drink all of the water out of the pool (which, presumably would result in a summertime disaster of some sort), and Kool-Aid man is tasked with sacrificing his juice to quench their thirst so that they’ll leave the water alone.

Kool-Aid Man screen

You can only quench the thirst of the Thirsties that are drinking from the pool – if you try to quench a Thirsty who’s not drinking you’ll suffer a penalty.  This speaks volumes about the Kool-Aid Man’s moral code and the complex rules of the world that he and this pool are in.

Kool-Aid Men

So it turns out there’s a third option between a good game and a bad game, and this one falls into that.  It’s “meh”.  A mediocre game that has a great color palette, a decent art style, and a popular license on top of those two things probably made the whole thing worth the effort.

Here’s someone playing it:

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New Vegan Cookbook Coming this Fall: BOWLS! by Becky Striepe

I am excited to share that my newest cookbook – BOWLS! – will be one of the next print and ebooks in the Timid Futures family! BOWLS! is a cookbook all about fixing meals that go into the very best of vessels. There are standalone and mix-and-match recipes, so you can customize your bowls to suit your tastes, your pantry, and your budget.

The announcement below is one that I originally shared on my personal site, and I’m so happy to be able to share it here, too!

New Vegan Cookbook Coming this Fall: BOWLS! by Becky Striepe

It’s been a little while since I spilled that I’m working on my next cookbook – BOWLS! – coming out this fall, and I wanted to share some super exciting news!

Exciting News Item 1: The amazing Elena Paulsen from Vegan ESP has offered to lend her editing superpower to BOWLS! I can’t tell you how grateful I am for her help. Putting together a print book has been a crazy adventure so far, and I’m overwhelmed with the support my friends have offered.

Exciting News Item 2: On June 28th, my friend Bonnie is shooting the BOWLS! cover photo, and our friends Kip and Brian are lending us their gorgeous kitchen as a backdrop.

Exciting News Item 3: I have found a printer! It’s a company called Lightning Press, and so far they’ve been super great.

If all goes according to schedule with the edit process, cover design, and proofs, it’s looking like this fall release is on track, y’all! My new goal is to get copies of this book into my hot little hands in time to sell them at Atlanta Veg Fest. And right now? It feels like we are on track!

This book is so much more than a stack of recipes, you guys. It’s full of love, and I can’t wait for you to see it!


Five Things – 6.16.14

1.  Apple PrototypesBusiness Insider’s got some photos of early ’80s Apple product ideas that never came to be…or at least, not in their prototype form.  This is a pretty great look at the cutting edge design aesthetic that Apple’s known for, and a snapshot of what that cutting edge looked like back then.  Here’s the iPhone before the iPhone:


The color range here mirrors their current iPhone 5c campaign a bit.  Also, what?


The Lisa workbench is pretty slick, too – even if I can’t really figure it out:



Hit the link for more. There’s even a look at the upcoming iWatch!

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Five Things – 6.9.14

1.  The Goonies (Famicon) - The Goonies was released in 1985 and was, domestically, one of the top 10 performing movies of the year.  So it makes sense that a video game was created in Japan for the Famicom system and never really released or sold over in the US, right? Goonies Famicom The game loosely followed the structure of the movie, featuring levels like the Fratelli’s hideout, and the pirate ship at the end.  It diverged from the movie in its objectives, where Mikey uses things like bombs to open doors and rescue the other Goonies.  This default state of kidnapped Goonies would surface again in the much weirder Goonies II.  There were also tons of human-sized rats that had to be defeated, and the Fratellis were never far behind.  One of the Fratellis, apparently, was a music buff and would blast you with musical notes – you had to find a pair of headphones to minimize the damage the notes somehow caused.

The Goonies eventually did make it stateside, but not in a way that consumers could buy.  It showed up in those compilation arcade cabinets like the Playchoice 10 that allowed people to burn quarters playing a selection of Nintendo games. PlayChoice 10 Seems like a huge missed opportunity not to offer this for sale on the heels of the film’s success.  Konami did release the much weirder and more awesome Goonies II in the US to much acclaim, but that’s its own story… Continue reading