Penn & Teller: Bullshit - Ghostbusters Episode Review

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This review was originally written on July 29, 2005
Worst BS Episode Ever. Didn't Disprove Anything.

[2016 NOTE: When I originally wrote this review back in 2005, the "Ghost Hunters" show was in its infancy, and they actually did attempt to disprove things. The show was not the joke it would later become, which caused me to stop watching many years ago.]

As a fan of the Ghostbusters movies and animated series, and having an interest in the paranormal, I was very interested to see this episode. I was really curious as to how Penn & Teller would try to prove that ghosts/spirits don't exist, when there is lots of hard evidence to the contrary.

First, I was expecting some sort of Ghostbusters reference, especially since that was the episode title. I thought maybe we'd see Penn & Teller wearing Ghostbusters jumpsuits/uniforms or something. I was highly disappointed to find that they mentioned the word/name "ghostbusters" 8 times total, and that was it. None of it was in reference to the movie, but to the "job" itself.

As for this particular episode, I thought it was a little shortsighted of Penn & Teller to simply dismiss all paranormal studies based on the two (count 'em, TWO) groups they got on the show. I wonder if they tried to get any famous paranormal investigators on the show, but couldn't. You know, the ones you frequently see on shows like Sightings, or the two guys from Ghost Hunters. It's very well possible that they just happened to get the worst two groups in the paranormal investigator community. There are no doubt frauds in that community (as in any group of people). Maybe they just happened to get two of them.

There's a famous haunting that (I believe) was shown on Sightings called the "Heartland Ghost" (a tv movie was made based on it). It was about an entity that was leaving actual physical cuts on this guy. They filmed it while it was happening, and the cuts just appeared out of thin air. Why didn't Penn & Teller try to disprove that case? What about any of the other famous hauntings commonly shown on the ghost specials that pop up around Halloween? Winchester House? Hotel del Coronado?

Normally, I agree wholeheartedly on the topics Penn & Teller cover. I mean, really, anyone with common sense knows that the Virgin Mary doesn't REALLY appear in a grilled cheese sandwich. But for this topic, they left so many things out, that they would need much more than a half-hour, and would need to deal with famous cases, in order to prove to me that the entire "world of the paranormal" is fake.

I highly suggest avoiding this particular episode and watching *any* episode of Ghost Hunters instead. Those guys thoroughly investigate supposed hauntings, using science and experimentation, and more often than not, they deem places to NOT be haunted.

If you're interested in seeing this episode for yourself, it is available on The Complete Third Season DVD set.

Rugrats Go Wild DVD Review

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This review was originally written on May 5, 2005
Why No Scratch & Sniff Cards With The DVD?!?

The Scratch & Sniff options on the Rugrats! Go Wild DVD relate to the "Odorama" stunt used during the film's original theatrical release. Special numbered cards, each representing a particular smell, were available with kids' meals at participating Burger King restaurants from 6/2/2003 to 6/29/2003, and separately at Blockbuster Video stores from 6/15/2003 until supplies ran out.

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Participants picked up the cards, then took them to the local movie theater showing the film. When a particular number flashed on the screen, viewers scratched off the scent that had that particular number on it. Numbers flashing in red mean that the viewer should find the corresponding number on their card (glow-in-the-dark for their convenience), and be ready to scratch-and-sniff when the on-screen number turns green.

Sadly, Paramount Home Video decided not to include the cards with the DVD release. So unless you got a card when the film was originally theatrically released, you're out of luck.

Here are the numbers, DVD time codes of when the numbers first appear on screen, and description of the scent.

1 - 05:31 - strawberry
2 - 11:42 - peanut butter
3 - 22:41 - a flower
4 - 39:05 - smelly feet
5 - 48:50 - root beer float
6 - 62:58 - fish

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(image courtesy of Jimmy Tyler)

Really Naughty Dots Books Review

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This review was originally written on May 5, 2005
Fun Books With Annoying Layouts

If you didn't already guess, "Really Naughty Dots: Fun for Adults Only" (RND) and "Really Really Naughty Dots: Explicit Fun for Adults Only" (RRND), both by Eddison Sadd, are connect-the-dots book with the revealed pictures being of guys and girls in rather naughty adult situations (read: having sex). There are 30 puzzles total in each book. Each one has a pun title and caption (adding to the fun). In RND, puzzle #25 contains the least amount of dots (230), while puzzle #8 contains the most (450). In RRND, puzzle #8 contains the least amount of dots (113), while puzzle #17 contains the most (307).

From what I understand, all of the books in the Naughty Dots series were originally released in England many years before they were published in America. I've never seen the original versions, but I hope the layout was better than these. In both books, almost all of the puzzles are spread across two pages, which means that you'll be drawings lots of lines across the inner spine of the book. I don't need to tell you how annoying this is. Connect-the-dot puzzles should always be on one page, not two. To add insult to injury, a few puzzles have dots right on the inner spine which are impossible to connect (so you'll just have to draw your lines as close to them as you can).

On the plus side, the puzzles are very detailed and contain a lot of dots. Often you won't know what the image is supposed to be until you've connected almost all of the dots. The puzzles do have partial photos to give you a hint as to what the revealed image will look like. In some puzzles, there are photos of nipples, with you connecting the dots to draw in the breasts around them. I liked this idea of using photos mixed into the puzzles, but I think that there should have been a section in the back of the book with the complete photographs of the puzzle images.

Before I wrap this up, I should probably take a second to tell you that in RND, puzzle #3 contains two #208 dots (the second one is supposed to be #209). Also, in RRND, puzzle #12 contains a number 136 but there is no dot for it because it shouldn't be there. Also, the woman's hand in puzzle #18 looks strange. So be on the lookout for those quirks.

Overall, the puzzles were fun to do (aside from the two-page annoyance), and I enjoyed these books very much.

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G.L.O.W. - Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling DVD & VHS Reviews

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This review was originally written on May 5, 2005
Comparing The DVD To The Previous VHS Release

Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, also known as G.L.O.W., was a women's professional wrestling promotion that aired in syndication from 1986–1990, with the majority of the action taking place at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas. The show was ultra-cheesy, feature colorful (and highly stereotyped) characters and over-the-top comedy sketches. G.L.O.W. has gotten a bit of a revival over the past decade, culminating in a documentary and a scripted Netflix series this Summer starring Alison Brie.

Three volumes of episodes were released on VHS back in the 1980s by Today Home Entertainment, and were subsequently re-released on DVD by Allied Artists in the 2000s. All three DVDs contain the same slideshow and promo bonus features. I will be taking a quick look at all of them, starting with Vol. 1 - Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling - DVD, VHS - which runs 58 minutes and features the following matches:
  1. TAG TEAM: Royal Hawaiian & Spanish Red vs. California Doll & Americana
  2. TAG TEAM: Sara & Mabel vs. Salt & Pepper
  3. TAG TEAM: Hollywood & Vine vs. Tina Ferrari (WWF's Ivory) & Ashley
  4. BATTLE FOR THE G.L.O.W. CROWN: Matilda the Hun vs. Tammy Jones
There are two minor portions at the start and end of the program from the original VHS that were edited out of the DVD. (1) Seven seconds of music on a black screen before the first visual. It's the first seven seconds of the song that's already playing as the show on the DVD begins. (2) The INI logo at the very end.

Except for these two minor portions, nothing else was edited out. The F word was used twice and racial slurs were used once (all left intact from the original VHS release).

There are two minor defects that weren't in the VHS: At 21.59 is a slight defect that is not in the original videotape. Also, at 56.16 is a minor edit that is not in the original video tape. During the end credits Tina Ferrari interview, about 21 frames (less than a second) is cut. It sounds like it was done because the audio on the master they used to make the DVD was bad at that spot. Tina's complete line is: "I like a man... that you can have a little control over." The "..." represents a one second pause in her words.

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Vol. 2 - The Saga Continues - DVD, VHS - runs 58 minutes and features the following matches:
  1. SINGLES: Olympia vs. Jungle Woman (with Nature Boy at ringside)
  2. GRUDGE MATCH: Spanish Red vs. Americana
  3. TAG TEAM: Corporal Kelly & Attache vs. The Southern Belles Scarlett & Terror
  4. TAG TEAM: Heavy Metal Sisters Chain Saw & Spike vs. The Cheerleaders Debbie Debuante & Susie Spirit
  5. THE RUSSIAN: Ninotchka vs. Little Feather (with special appearance by Ebony)
  6. THE TERRORIST: Palestina (from Syria) vs. Sally, The Farmer's Daughter (from Nebraska)
  7. THE HANDICAP, TWO WRESTLERS AGAINST ONE: Hollywood & Vine vs. Mt. Fiji (350 lbs.)
  8. SPECIAL GUEST APPEARANCES: Jackie Stallone manager of the good girls & Matilda The Hun
The picture is a bit darker than the original videotape, the audio was turned up a bit too loud, and there are faint picture rolls throughout that were not in the tape. All minor video and audio defects were in the original VHS release.

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Vol. 3 - Fans Beware - DVD, VHS - runs 58 minutes and features the following matches:
  1. TRIPLE FEATURE: Spanish Red & Jungle Woman (with Nature Boy) vs. The Cheerleaders Suzy Spirit & Debbie Debutante (with special appearance by Tina Ferrari) (1 fall, 20 min time limit)
  2. TEXAS BAR ROOM BRAWL, ANYTHING GOES: Dallas (The Texan Cowgirl) vs. Ninotchka (The Russian Colonel) (no time limit, no rules, no pin-falls, fighting both in and out of ring)
  3. STREET FIGHT, LOSERS CLOTHES COME OFF: California Doll, Farmers Daughter, Tina & Ashley vs. Hollywood & Vine with The Soul Patrol (Envy & Adore from Chicago) (8 ladies in the ring at the same time, $16,000 and champagne to the winning team) (no time limit, no rules, no disqualifications, no pin-falls, weapons?) (see David McLane assaulted and disrobed)
  4. SINGLE FEATURE MATCH: Dementia (Mgr: Aunt Kittie) vs. Little Egypt "The Desert Flower"
The following vignettes are also included:
  1. G.L.O.W Rap - David McLane & The GLOW Girls
  2. The Spanish Kitchen
  3. California Dolls - "Points to Ponder"
  4. Drs. Fiel and Grope - Gynecology/Plastic Surgery/Psychiatry
  5. Asking Ashley
  6. Tips From Tina
  7. The Farmer's Daughter's Letters Home
  8. Easy as K.G.B. with Colonel Ninotchka
  9. Card Playing with Matilda the Hun
  10. Children of the Night
  11. Morning Coffee
  12. Mt. Fuji's Dream
  13. And Many, Many More
Nothing has been edited out. Everything from the original videotape release is include here.

Digital Concepts 89379 3.1MP Digital Camera Review

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This review was originally written on May 5, 2005
Takes Very Poor Picture Indoors, Consumes Lots Of Batteries

I bought the Digital Concepts 89379 3.1MP Digital Camera because I needed one solely for taking photos of the items I sell on the internet. I didn't want to spend a lot of money (read: over $100) on a digital camera, so when I saw this at Wal-Mart for $60, and saw that it had a built-in flash, I figured that this would do the trick. Even though it's a cheap camera, I figured that it should be able to handle such a simple and undemanding task as taking photos indoors of various little and big items. Boy was I wrong.

This camera takes VERY POOR picture indoors, even though it has a built-in flash. In fact, the flash makes the pictures worse. Pictures taken with the flash appear all washed out.

Unless you hold the camera incredibly steady, you risk having shaky pictures. Half the photos I took were shaky, even though I held the camera as still and steady as possible. The camera has a hole on the bottom where a tripod can be inserted. I highly suggest you use one, if at all possible.

It consumes battery power at a fast rate. I put new batteries in it and within a few hours it started complaining that the battery was low. When it prompts "Low Battery," it doesn't let you use the flash (how annoying!). It uses 3 AAA batteries, but has no adapter for house current, so you're forced to feed it more batteries. It even uses up battery power when you're not using it at all. I had a set of 3 brand new AAA batteries sitting in it for two weeks, while the camera was just sitting in it's opened packaging. When I went to use it again, first I saw defects in the preview screen, then eventually the camera would keep shutting off as soon as I would turn it on. Thus I was required to put another set of three brand new AAA batteries in it.

It has a 16MB built-in flash memory which requires a constant electric current to store your photos. Should the camera lose power (for instance if the batteries die or are removed), all stored pictures will be lost. Sakar recommends always downloading your photos to your computer as soon as possible to prevent unintentional data loss. I recommend not buying this camera unless you have a SD card or buy one along with the camera (luckily I did). The SD card supercedes the built-in memory, so all photos are saved onto the card instead, where they will not be lost because of the power supply.

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The package comes with the camera, instruction manual (which is easy to understand, if somewhat poorly written), drivers disc (with PhoTags software), USB wire (to connect the camera to your computer), and a hand strap. Although the manual tells you first that the PhoTags software is needed to transfer the photos to your computer, if you continue reading you'll learn that it isn't. In fact, you can use the camera without installing PhoTags at all. The driver installation is located on the CD at: \drivers\setup.exe. Once installed, when you connect your camera to your PC, it will appear as another drive on your computer (two drives if you have a SD card in it). Then you can just copy, move, and delete the photos on it from Windows Explorer or whatever way you normally work with your computer files. I don't know if it's just me, but I found that Windows kept reinstalling the drivers every time I connected the camera to it. That got very annoying real quick, especially when once it made me get out my Windows 2000 CD.

You *might* need PhoTags to use the camera as a webcam, but then again, you can probably find some other software on the internet (maybe for free) that will let you do that as well (and maybe even better).

In case you're wondering, PhoTags is a rather useless program to organize photos (to a certain degree), add text and captions to them (which can be turned on and off using "Active Captions" technology - software required on the computers of anyone you send your photos to), make minor corrections (such as red eye removal), and do simple photo print projects (calendars, greetings cards, postcards, etc.). Two of the photo projects are non-existant: Album Creator and Video CD Creator. When you click on either of them, you are taken to the PhoTags website where you are prompted to buy the full version for $10 to add these two features.

Although I didn't expect to get a top-of-the-line digital camera for $60, I did expect to get something that would take decent photos indoors. I guess I'll have to keep looking.

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SpongeBob SquarePants - Sponge Buddies/Nautical Nonsense DVD Review

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This review was originally written on May 5, 2005
Why Did They Have To Ruin The Cast & Crew Interviews?

I'm not going to comment on the episodes found on the SpongeBob SquarePants - Sponge Buddies/Nautical Nonsense DVD because almost all of them can be found on the Season 1 & Season 2 box sets, which is how you're better off seeing them (at least they're in order and paired together with the proper companion episodes). Instead I will be focusing on the bonus features. Not the Violent Femmes music video, because that too can be found on the Season 1 box set, but on the cast and crew interviews that make up the rest of the bonus features. I love the interviews and the "in studio" voice recording re-enactments, but I *HATE* how EVERY piece of this great footage is ruined because someone thought it would be a great idea to cover up almost the entire screen with a bubble graphic frame. You can only see the video through a small round part of the middle of your tv screen, and even then it isn't clear as there's a bubble "shine" over it. I'd love for Paramount/Nick to include all of the original, non-bubblefied footage on the season 3 box set, even though most of the episodes are for seasons 1 and 2.

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SpongeBob SquarePants - The Complete 2nd Season DVD Review

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This review was originally written on May 5, 2005
Not As "Complete" As It Should Be

How can this be the "complete" 2nd season when the two alternate versions of "Shanghaied" are missing? Paramount/Viacom/Nick included the Patrick and Squidward ending versions on the "Sea Stories" DVD, but yet left them out as bonus features on this set. I'd like to know why. Double-dipping, I suppose. They've done that with almost all of the 13 (as of this writing) unnecessary individual releases, some of which contain bonus materials not found on the season sets.

Speaking of bonus materials, this set has very little of them, especially when compared to season 1. Since they already have a lot of bonus materials in the vault from the individual releases, it wouldn't have been a lot of trouble to include them in this set. Again, double-dipping, I guess, provides the answer.

Vitamin C - More Audio CD Review

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This review was originally written on May 5, 2005
Great Music, Outdated & Crippled Enhanced CD Portion

Vitamin C's "More" was originally released in 2000 by Elektra Entertainment Group (a division of Warner Music Group). "The Itch" music video on the CD-ROM portion of the disc ("Enhanced CD") is crippled using HyperCD technology. (HyperCD is the brand name for a way of removing a small slice of meta-data from a digital file such that the file is made unreadable. This process is called "encrippling." Only when the "encrippled" file on a computer is linked with the piece of meta-data on a web site can the user view the content.) Unfortunately, the video will NEVER be playable because the website was taken down a long time ago.

HyperCD technology absolutely sucks and would have given me a good reason NOT to buy anymore CDs had the technology not already gone the way of the Dodo.

Let's see, where should I begin...

1. Running HYPERCD.EXE from the main/root directory of the CD installs files to C:\HYPERCD and puts an icon on my desktop without telling me it's doing this, and for no real reason anyway. This is the first instance of my hatred for HyperCD technology. Spyware does this kind of behavior. (I'll let it slide that this menu exe doesn't contain any real content, and is really pointless to have anyway.)

2. "The Itch" music video is located on the CD here: \content\Vc01.hlk. However the "content" directory is set to be hidden by Windows. There's no reason to hide the file like that. People who bought the CD don't have to be treated like pirates, though that's the basic premise for HyperCD technology when used in a manner like this.

3. The HyperCD browser plugin installer is located on the CD here: \SETUP\SETUP.EXE. However, the program runs in an endless loop on my computer. When it starts to run the second time, I quit it.

4. The plugin gets installed for IE (C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\PLUGINS\nphcd32.dll), but not for Mozilla. I had to manually copy/move the plugin to my Mozilla plugins directory. (The installer gives no indication of what the plugin is named or how many files it installs. The HyperCD.com website gave me the file name.)

5. Since I had to manually quit the install program, this of course means that my default browser (Mozilla - which the plugin was not automatically installed to) won't be launched, and I won't be taken to the site through which I can view the video. Thankfully, I found the URL of the website in this file \SETUP\HCDSETUP.INI on the CD. The website is: http://elektra.broadbridge.net/vitamin_c_001/index.html

6. If I try to go to that site, I get a "server not found" error message as that server, much less that page, was taken down long ago. This is why the internet should not be relied upon to provide exclusive content for a physical item. For example, the Jurassic Park DVDs gave you an exclusive "weblink" to online content on the making of the then in-production Jurassic Park 3. Needless to say, that "bonus feature" is non-existent now. Of course, that case is drastically different from this one. In the case of any CD using HyperCD technology, the content actually exists in the CD itself, but is crippled unless viewed from within an online webpage. It's one thing to have a link to content that can't be viewed, it's quite another to have the content itself but not be able to view/hear it.

7. Using the Internet Archive, I was able to get a copy of the files on that page: index.html, all images, and MOST IMPORTANTLY VitaminC_Vc01.hlq (which contains the missing portion of the video file already on the CD itself). Unfortunately, VitaminC_Vc01.hlq is set to *only* work if it's on the original web server (elektra.broadbridge.net). So even having an archived copy on another website or on my own computer won't work (Mozilla reports: "Error in server identifiers(008)").

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Thanks to HyperCD technology, it looks like I'm going to be forced to buy the DVD for the movie "Get Over It!" which contains "The Itch" music video as a bonus feature. I shouldn't be forced to buy an additional product, at a cost of $10 more, for something that was advertised as a "bonus feature" of a product I already bought. That is just plain wrong!

By the way, the other content on the Enhanced CD are outdated copies of Java Environment (JRE13I), Netscape 6 (N6SETUP, N6UNINST, SETUP), Real Player 8 (NSRP8), Direct-X 6 (\SETUP\ DXM6PTCH, DXMEDIA), Spinner internet radio service (\SETUP\INSTALL SPINNER FREE), WinAmp music player - with Vitamin C skin (SETUP\INSTALL WINAMP FREE), ICQ Plus 2.05 instant messenger (SETUP\IPLUS205), and AOL 5 (\SETUP\AOL\).

Vitamin C - Vitamin C Audio CD Review

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This review was originally written on May 5, 2005
Two Minor Cuts, But Overall Very Enjoyable

Since Vitamin C's "Vitamin C" CD has been reviewed to death on Amazon (143 reviews as of this writing), I'll just make this short and simple, only adding what little information I can.

Two of the songs have minor cuts at the end.

Track 6 - "Do What You Want To Do" - cuts off at the end as the next track starts.

Track 10 - About Last Night" - end of song fades into track 11 "Fear of Flying."

There's a bonus song which isn't listed in the track listing on the back of the CD case. However, if you buy the CD factory-sealed, there should be an orange sticker on the front with white and yellow-orange text which reads: "Includes the anthem for all friends, for all times Graduation [Friends Forever] and the hits Me, Myself And I and Smile. Bonus Features! Graduation [Friends Forever] (The Student Interview Mix); video and interview footage for your CD-Rom (Enhanced CD)."

So, Track 13 is "Graduation [Friends Forever] (The Student Interview Mix)" (that's the official title).

The Enhanced CD video and interview footage mentioned on the label is for "Smile," though there is one brief clip of Vitamin C singing "Graduation" in a studio with the choir.

Rugrats Holiday Classics Audio CD Review

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This review was originally written on May 5, 2005
I Hate When Great Singers Are Forced To Sing Horribly

I like cartoons and I like novelty albums. Since I also like the Rugrats, I thought I would love Rugrats Holiday Classics. Boy was I wrong.

The background music isn't holiday music, but some lame hip-hop/dance beats that sound like they came from a Casio keyboard or a samples CD ("Tommy's Silent Night" is the only exception).

Some of the songs have religious themes which shouldn't be there. For example, "Toys For The Girls" degenerates from a toy song to a religious song. All of the songs should be about things babies and kids would think about around holiday time, but sung to the melodies of the classic holiday songs. If I wanted to hear the songs with religious themes, I'd listen to an album of the original versions.

Most of the songs have choruses that repeat too often. Although I like the Rugrats voices, listening to them repeat the same dumb verses to the same annoying music several times within a few minutes time, and repeat that twelve times, is too much for me to bear.

BEST SONGS - "Twelve Days of Rugrats" and "Rugrats Chanukah" (honorable mention goes to "Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer" because I love how Cree performs it as a sort-of rap).

WORST SONG - "Tommy's Silent Night" (hand down winner). You have Tommy singing in baby-speak about baby Jesus backed by the nice traditional "Silent Night" music, which makes this sounds offensive and sacrilegious. To add insult to injury, E.G. Daily is forced to sing off-key in character as Tommy. I know that she can sing this song beautifully if give the original lyrics and the opportunity.

If you want a great Rugrats music CD, get The Rugrats Movie soundtrack (and possibly the Rugrats In Paris soundtrack - I haven't heard it myself). STAY FAR AWAY FROM THIS ONE!