Quick Hits: Beyond Thunderdome


Mine is among the households that still subscribe to the daily newspaper, in our case
The Philadelphia Inquirer, and every Sunday the Parade Magazine supplement lets me glimpse what is being sold to so-called middle America. Whenever I flip through its pages, I almost invariably come across mind-blowing ads from The Danbury Mint for stuff like this:



I've seen collections of porcelain cherubs displayed prominently at the home of a friend's grandmother, so I know that people actually buy them. And we surely belittle someone else's aesthetics or accumulative instincts at our own peril; George Carlin had it right when he pointed out everyone's double standard on stuff. But the disconnect at the nexus of source material, rendering, and cost when it comes to such bizarre bling as The Tweety Pendant is so great that I get whiplash twice, once just from the garishness of the damned thing and again upon reading that it can be had for a mere three monthly installments of $41.50 each.


The final installment of The 101 Most Watchable Movies of All Time at Forces of Geek has been posted by grand poobah Stefan Blitz, counting down the top vote-getters with commentary. I'm still astounded that Young Frankenstein didn't make the cut. Many of the movies that did make it failed to evoke pithy quotes from me, and quite a few of them I haven't seen even once, but they'd add up to one heck of a film festival. [Update: As the series link above doesn't seem to go anywhere anymore, I point you to the introduction, from which you should be able to navigate through the series via the "You might also like" links at post's end.] Here are my own contributions to the wherefores of watchability, as not-quite-promised earlier this month.

Airplane! — Mrs. Cleaver speaks jive.

Blazing Saddles — I can think of three moments in the history of filmed entertainment with culturally acceptable, gut-busting usages of "rhymes-with-trigger"; Cleavon Little has one here.

Citizen Kane — You can watch it for the acting, for the cinematography, for the astounding details pointed out in Roger Ebert's commentary (from which I might be stealing this remark), or just to remind yourself of how much movie history is traceable to this film. There's a reason why it's a metaphor: It's the Citizen Kane of movies.

Grease — I could sing the soundtrack in my sleep and wake up dancing.

King Kong (original) — I've seen the DVD extras dissecting the miniature work, and I still buy every damn frame of the movie. Up yours, CGI.

Muppet Movie — Plinky-plinky-plinky-plinky-plink.

Planet of The Apes (original) — Okay, "damn dirty apes," Statue of Liberty, blah blah blah... The coolest thing about this movie? I'm not afraid to admit that I have a little bit of a crush on Zira, and maybe even Cornelius.

The Princess Bride — A hundred bucks if you can come up with a line from this movie that isn't quotable.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan — After we thrilled to the gang getting back together (and precious little else) in the first film, we finally got a new, big-screen episode of Star Trek in the second, capped by one of the most memorable scenes in Trek canon. Or, in a word, "Khaaaaaaaaaaan!!!!!!!"

Superman: The Movie — Not for the buffoonery of the Lex Luthor gang, but for the wisdom of Jonathan Kent; for young Clark in Smallville; for "You've got me? Who's got you?"; for that incredible John Williams score; and for Christopher Reeve, who takes off his glasses, stands up straight, and becomes Superman in Lois Lane's apartment without a hint of red and blue.


As noted the other day, I'm part of probably the last generation to have grown up with only a half-dozen or so TV channels. We did technically have cable, although I didn't know it at the time, because South Jersey was too far away to receive broadcast signals from Philadelphia; our television sets still had dials until I was about 7, though, and it wasn't until we got a push-button set in the living room that things opened up beyond the three networks, PBS, and the few independent stations on UHF.

My point is that if you wanted to veg out in front of the box, sometimes there was just nothing on remotely of interest and you settled for The Lawrence Welk Show on Channel 12. New or rerun, Welk had silver hair, a powder-blue suit, and that trademark Ukranian-German-Dakotan accent: "T'ank yu, boyyz, for dat luffly songgg." Fred Armisen does a fair enough impression of him on Saturday Night Live, but funny as it was the first time — and it was ridiculously funny — the bit with Kristen Wiig as the, shall we say, odd one in a singing-sisters group has worn thin. What's more, I don't recall anything on The Lawrence Welk Show being remotely as suggestive as the song in SNL's opening sketch a couple of weekends ago; if it was supposed to be innocuous and the performers were clueless to the suggestiveness, well, that would work, but I thought host James Franco was pitching woo far too strongly. Then I remembered a video link from Mark Evanier's blog featuring "a modern spiritual" popularized on the radio by Brewer & Shipley called "One Toke Over the Line"; either Welk's entire ensemble was so pure it had never heard of a common slang word for puffing on the wacky tobacky or someone in the chain of command from producer to performer was trying to pull one over on the old guy.

Quick Hits: The Quickening


A heap of miscellany to share tonight — or whatever the heck day and time this post ends up sticking — much of it finally getting moved out of the clearinghouse...

Batman ® and artwork © 2009 DC.

I have an essay on Batman going, but my stack of comics and news about DC's plans for the Dark Knight are outpacing it. The latest word is that the "main" universe's Bruce Wayne is not dead (big shock) and that, while his adventures in the timestream are being told by Grant Morrison, a new series of graphic novels aimed at casual readers will be launched by writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank under the rubric Earth One, unencumbered by the continuity of things like Batman: RIP, Final Crisis, and Blackest Night. Superman will be getting similar treatment at the hands of J. Michael Straczynski and Shane Davis. More Batman later.


Still © 2009 Disney.

Due to the lateness of the hour and the fact that everyone else in the multiplex was there to see Avatar on opening night, the handful of us taking in The Princess and the Frog had the screening room almost entirely to ourselves. It was magical. The Nine Old Men would be proud of this return to "2D" fairy-tale charm, and for it to be overlooked amidst the year-end onslaught of tent-pole spectacles and Oscar bait — worthy as those might be, too — would be a tragedy.


Pipe-wrench fight! Screencap from the "Take On Me" video, directed by
Steve Barron, © 1985 Warner Music, with caption © 2008 Dustin McLean.

I'd be surprised if most of you haven't experienced the Literal Videos phenomenon by now. Dustin McLean began the trend with his take on A-Ha's "Take On Me", and others ran with the idea.

The main reason why I haven't linked to these sooner is that periodically I look for a better one than "Total Eclipse of the Heart" — 'cause while it's a pitch-perfect example of the form (lyrically, not musically), it also uses one of the few '80s tunes for which I feel the exact opposite of nostalgia. Time has since ranked this video #6 on its list of the the year's viral videos, however, so for you, Dear Reader, I give up, type its name, and allow a little piece of my soul to die, comforting myself with the knowledge that at least it's not a Peter Cetera song. Also recommended are the literal videos of "Love Is a Battlefield" and "Safety Dance"; I haven't seen 'em all, though, so let me know your own favorites.


Screencap © 2009 whomever.

Auto-Tune the News does just what it says. Well, I guess not just: Its producers manipulate audio and video clips, set them to music, and chime in with their own commentary. Episodes tend to have a "liberal" bent and may, like the installment linked above, contain language on the order of a bleeped F-word.


In the immortal words of Marv Albert, "Not what they had in mind!"
Screencap © 2009 MSNBC, taken from the website Probably Bad News via the link below.

This list of 21 News-Caption Fails at BuzzFeed is even more self-explanatory — although for the less Web-culture savvy, I should clarify that the phrase fail or epic fail is slang used to either subjectively judge something poorly or, in this case, indicate major objective (and often humorous) oops. Some off-color material is included.

Our next few items involve explicit cussing and "balloon" animals having sex. If you'd like to avoid them completely, skip down to Batman eating popcorn.

@#$%!

Cold, snowed in, or otherwise fed up with the forecast in your area? Mixing scatology and meteorology at The F---ing Weather might take the edge off the bad news.

While I'm not big on swearing myself, by the way, I find that whole
dash-dash-dash deal pretty disingenuous. At the same time, I know that some people are totally thrown for a loop by such language. So just to be clear: The above website and an unaffiliated spinoff offering one-line movie reviews spell things out, no fudging, flaming, flipping, frigging, freaking, fricking, frakking substitutes, dashes, or dingbats (the kind of typographical symbols seen above).


The most-innocuous-at-a-glance still that I could find from the commercial
linked below, via an article at Animation Magazine's website, © 2008 Durex.

Those of you who can handle animated condom creatures getting it on must check out this award-winning Durex commercial (which even comes with faux outtakes). It garnered production company Superfad a pair of Clios for excellence in advertising. Maybe the Durex folks can help solve the problem that dooms the stick people to extinction, first brought to my attention years ago by my sister and still dang funny.


Batman and The Joker enjoy some sherry with Alfred and ask the musical questions,"When
did you have time to rig up both of those boats?" "Does talking that way ever damage your
throat?" Characters ® DC. Screencap © 2009 its creators or some affiliated entity.

The latest installment in a video series called The Key of Awesome has Batman rapping about plot points from Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight that don't quite hold together for him. It's good stuff that got me to try their take on Dracula's lament over "emo vampires"; not bad, but I've seen better Twilight parodies.

Screencap from Jason Segel's bravura performance
in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, © 2008 Universal.

I've also seen better laments from Dracula, including "Dracula's Lament" — the song written and performed by Jason Segel for his character's vampire-puppet rock opera in last year's film Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Segel, who plays the chart-addicted Marshall Eriksen on How I Met Your Mother and has been a member of Judd Apatow's repertory company since Freaks and Geeks, reprised the number in a highlight of the puppetastic 1,000th episode of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, backed by The Broken West. The Jim Henson Company created the puppets for Marshall, incidentally, and were impressed enough with Segel's creativity to ask him and the film's director to tackle the next Muppet movie.


Batman symbol ® DC and packaging © 2009 Warner Bros. Entertainment.

This was supposed to be up much earlier, but it turns out that Amazon still has Batman: The Motion Picture Anthology on sale for less than twenty bucks. The DVD set includes two-disc Special Editions of Batman, Batman Returns, Batman Forever, and Batman & Robin, the first two directed by Tim Burton and the latter two by Joel Schumacher. Some of them have their admirers, all of them have their detractors, with the last pretty much indefensible. I still don't think that George Clooney was an inherently bad choice, though; he's closer to the familiar suave, millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne than was Michael Keaton, and had the film called for him to explore the Dark Knight angle its legacy could have been very different.


Screencap © 1977 DePatie-Freleng or ABC.

I'm wrapping things up with a commercial that I didn't mention in my earlier reverie on Saturday mornings but have since tracked down. Many ads during my formative years were insanely catchy; nothing's been lodged in my mind for the past three decades, though, quite like "Hanker for a Hunk of Cheese". You're either about my age and your nostalgia neurons are about to go into overdrive or you're not and you have no earthly idea why this would mean anything to anybody. There's solid background on the Time for Timer segments on Wikipedia.

Tree A.M.


I've had such trouble getting posts up lately that I decided it was safest to focus my final Christmastime thoughts on
the morning after.

Many places have made for a special holiday in my life, but none matches the house in North Jersey where my father's parents lived during my first decade. There were decorations, stockings, relatives, carolers, and gifts under what in memory at least is a majestic tree. So much could be written about the annual anticipations of Christmas in Wyckoff — my sister and me waiting by the curb for Santa to arrive in the company of firefighters, handing out candy to the neighborhood kids; trying to fall asleep, since we knew that the jolly old elf wouldn't return to leave presents until we did (but also hoping that his visit would awaken us so that we could finally catch him in the act); preparing for dinner, then waiting for Dad and Grandpa to finish their post-meal couch time so that we could roughhouse or enlist their help in explaining, assembling, and playing with what had been opened earlier that day.

For me, though, the afterglow of Dec. 26th was just as magical as the eve of the 24th and the daylong festivities of the 25th.

Stocking Stuff



Art © 2005 David Malki, explained later.

Christmas is here. I wish you a day of peace.


Screencap © 2009 Worldwide Pants Inc.

Are you dreaming of a Betty White Christmas? The saucy gal, whose shtick these days melds the randiness of her Sue Ann from The Mary Tyler Moore Show with the cluelessness of her Rose from The Golden Girls to great comedic effect, dropped by The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on Monday night (it's a general link since the specific clip isn't working for me). While the seams showed a bit — I'm guessing not enough rehearsal time to memorize the lines or know what to improv, hence the slight hiccups in dialogue betwixt her and Craig — she's a national treasure.

Big Man and Krampus


Nothing about Chanukah prohibits writing or posting during the holiday, but for the past couple of weeks circumstances have again worked against me getting things online. I dearly hope I'm able to get a bunch of reviews up, and soon, so that they can be linked to in my year-end lists of favorites — if there's no progress between now and Christmas, I fear a visit from the Krampus.


The above vintage Austrian postcard featuring the Krampus is but one
of the many representations of the demon you'll find around the Interwebs.

Okay, the Krampus actually made his rounds earlier this month.

Friday Night Lights



Photo © 2007 Insunlight, used under license.

Happy Chanukah!
I've had trouble with posts again, and if you know anything about the holiday it's kind-of ironic that even this one hasn't lasted, but maybe the eighth time will be the charm.

Envisioned



Schoolhouse Rock promo art © circa 1973, and logo & characters TM/®, ABC-TV.

My bed had a quilt over the top sheet, and then a dark-green cover (made of corduroy or something like it) over that, with matching cylindrical pillows for show that went at the head and foot. I had a single — or twin, which never made sense to me if you only have one of them — while my sister's bed was queen-sized, again with a bedcover over her quilt. She had characters from Sesame Street on hers; mine was just a pattern of generic toy soldiers, alphabet blocks, and teddy bears.

The placement of the quilts as the meat in a sheets-and-cover sandwich is important to fully grasp the scene of us, on a Saturday morning some 35 years ago, marching downstairs with those quilts clutched tightly in hand, messily cleaving the carefully tucked-in bedspreads of the night before. I'm not sure whether it was that we were still half-asleep or that we were too danged excited, but we didn't spend much effort untucking the covers — we just woke up, grabbed the quilts, and pulled, likely discharging enough static electricity on our journey to the living room to power the whole block. Once downstairs we would pour out some cereal for breakfast and I'd make us chocolate milk notable for how lightly it was stirred, leaving a spoonful of syrup at the bottom for dessert.

Despite the fairly slim slice of time during which this ritual could have occurred, based on when we lived where it occurred, corresponding for me to the ages of three to seven years old, it's burned into my memory as my personal Golden Age of Saturday-morning cartoons.

As this was the mid-1970s, Hanna-Barbera ruled the day. Filmation was an important runner-up, especially when it came to afternoon reruns of their late-1960s adaptations of the DC Comics superheroes, and of course there were original series and/or repackagings of silver-screen shorts from Warner Bros., UPA, Terrytoons, MGM, DePatie-Freleng, et al. But with all due respect to Filmation and the soon-to-come Ruby-Spears, Hanna-Barbera defined '70s Saturdays through an overall style that kids innately recognized and a few overt trademarks too: One was the color-contrasted jaws on figures from Fred Flintstone and George Jetson (where the conceit likely began as a five-o'-clock shadow) to Atom Ant, Yogi Bear, and Huckleberry Hound. Another was the similarity shared by such anthropomorphic animals as Yogi, Huck, and Quick-Draw McGraw in the '60s, mirrored somewhat in the '70s explosion of canine characters due to the popularity of Scooby-Doo. Then there's, well, all those dogs, like Hong Kong Phooey and Scooby's sometime crossover chum Dynomutt, plus the troupes of teenagers modeled after Scooby's Mystery Machine gang. In the late '70s Hanna-Barbera threw together most of its headliners and some lesser lights in Laff-a-Lympics, a successor of sorts to the late-'60s Wacky Races spoofing (if that's even possible) that icon of lovably tacky entertainment Battle of the Network Stars; its comic-book incarnation, small world, was written by one Mark Evanier.


Cover to Marvel's Laff-a-Lympics #6 © 1978, and logo & characters TM, Hanna-
Barbera Poductions. Script, Letters: Mark Evanier. Pencils, Inks: Scott Shaw!. Colors:
Carl Gafford. Credits from Evanier via, and scan courtesy, The Grand Comics Database.

There were only a handful of channels in those largely pre-cable days of VHF and UHF dials, made up of the three network affiliates, PBS, and a couple of independents. So it was pretty easy to memorize schedules and click among the big three every half-hour. On the other hand, it would be years before I'd even hear of a VCR, and we would rue scheduling conflicts as much as or more than time slots that had little to offer across the board. Ads were usually entertaining enough, frequently animated, and often tried to sell us cereal as part of "this nutritious breakfast" — a breakfast larger and more varied than I have ever seen in reality. Sometimes you lucked out and got a cool installment of Schoolhouse Rock during the commercials (and let's face it, almost any installment was cool), sometimes you sat through In the News.

Saturday-morning memories make up a significant part of the Internet landscape, and adding one more was not my intention, but this blog has suddenly turned into a variation on Tristram Shandy sprawling out of my fond memories of Super Friends. I've been meaning to write about that show since the Lost Episodes DVD set was announced this past spring, if not before, and news of the first-ever season's belated release prompted the anecdotes of yesterday and today. Much that gets written here is born, to quote the blog title of someone who occasionally comments on my posts, of tangents.

Despite a childhood spent enjoying the heck out of television, and cartoons in particular, and superhero cartoons most especially of all, I very quickly became defined in my own mind and others' as a comic-book kid. Yet as I acknowledged in my first installment of Empaneled, the too-infrequent series of essays that was to be the cornerstone of this blog, it's entirely possible that my love for comics grew out of my excitement over the superheroes whose adventures streamed from the magic box in our living room. If the comic books truly didn't come first, and had my parents not been familiar with them from their own childhood (or had comics simply been as out-of-sight, out-of-mind at that time as they became a generation or so after mine), I wonder just whom — at the risk of getting way too existential for a blogpost that references Dynomutt — I would have become.

We didn't have websites or even videotapes back then, so comic books were our permanent records of favorite characters, with writing and drawing by hand in mimicry of them how we continued the exploits of our favorite superheroes or racecars or spaceships (and then invented our own). My first real paid piece of writing was an article called "Superheroes on the Small Screen" — but it saw print in a publication called Comics Buyer's Guide. I might have written much the same article for a fan magazine on animation or genre television, and still turned to writing, cartooning, and graphic design as a career, working in video stores instead of comics shops along the way. Or, bereft of the extension of my Saturday-morning mythologies afforded by comics, I might have been more interested in sports or model-building or any other hobby that could have led me down a far different path. While I nearly minored in film in college, I've taken exactly one class in hands-on filmmaking and never practiced the craft on my own.

The photographer at my sister's wedding asked me, as he did the other four-eyed guys in the family, if I was still "me" without my glasses. Although I would still be me without comics, as a matter of biology, how much like this me would I be?


Super Friends promo art © circa 1973, and logo & characters TM/®, DC Comics.

Dinner on ME



Package art for the latest Super Friends DVD release © 2009
and characters TM/® DC Comics (swapped in for the title card
since it seemed even more appropriate to the post).

At a New York City comics convention in 1994, when the World-Wide Web was still in its infancy and videocassettes were the primary medium of personal viewing, I was lamenting the lack of access to the Hall of Justice.

I'd been active in the AOL chat rooms devoted to comics, and some acquaintances made there — as well as folks I knew in person from working at Fat Jack's Comicrypt in Philadelphia
and a couple of fellow contributors to CAPA-Alpha, comicdom's longest-running amateur press alliance — were trying to convince me to join the more sophisticated Comics/Animation Forum on CompuServe. So I attended an informal Forum dinner during the convention with them.

The dinner was presided over by
Mark Evanier [ev-uh-neer]. It's tempting to say that Mark has forgotten more about comics and show-biz history than most other people have remembered, but I'm not sure that he actually forgets anything. He's been referenced before on this blog, he'll be referenced again, and if you have any interest in behind-the-scenes stories about Vegas, Broadway, or Hollywood — particularly the Golden Age of TV sitcoms, variety shows, and voiceover work — you should be following his own blog, News from ME.

While there was lots of small talk as well as roundtable discussion among the twenty or so of us, it's fair to say that Mark was holding court. Occasionally he would throw a question down to a quiet fellow in black with dark, tousled hair and glasses at the opposite end of the table who, most of us were surprised and delighted to discover, was Paul Dini, one of the creative vanguard behind
Batman: The Animated Series. I recall Dini apologizing to someone at dinner — the son of one of the CompuServe gang, I think, but I'm not really sure who-all attended (outside of the few folks I knew from elsewhere) because I didn't actually join the Forum until a short while later and never thought to match names to the memories of the night — for not being able to add the Dark Knight to a sketchbook placed in front of him. While he was professionally a writer and not an artist, Dini explained, he did have some drawing ability, but he couldn't do Batman worth beans. You have to think that, in the long run, an original Paul Dini Mickey Mouse is a rarer and more interesting conversation piece anyhow.

Upon the check's arrival, everyone reached for his or her wallet and Evanier waved us off. "You are all," he said with the slightest pause right here, "my
guests." It was neither a smugly stentorian proclamation nor falsely modest. I don't remember as exactly the words that followed, but amidst the protests and thanks that followed, he added, essentially, Look, I can afford to do this and it thrills me... but I'm gonna be writing it off as a business dinner — so you need to throw some more questions my way, and I need to throw some more back at you for market research, before we break up for the evening.

That was when I piped up to ask why none of the various
Super Friends series had ever been released on home video. Maybe it was because there were licensing entanglements between DC Comics and Hanna-Barbera Productions, Mark said — at the time, Hanna-Barbera had been bought by Turner Broadcasting but Turner hadn't yet merged with Time-Warner Entertainment, which owned DC. More likely, however, it was because there was just no demonstrated demand for them or the property would have been exploited, pure and simple.

Fifteen years later the first of two double-disc sets collecting the original
Super Friends run has been announced, which is actually what prompted this post. The release of the second set later next year will mean that not only every Super Friends episode but all animated incarnations of the Justice League, from 1967's lesser-known Filmation adventures to 2008's direct-to-video adaptation of Darwyn Cooke's instant-classic graphic novel The New Frontier, will be available legally, professionally, and sequentially. I'll try to pick things up there tomorrow.

Quick Hits: Electric Boogaloo


So the Lost Rewatch hosted by Nikki Stafford, who does not pay me, is at the point where we're getting more of Jack's much maligned (and rightly so) 0ff-Island beard. Whenever I see it, I can't help but think of Gerard Butler as Leonidas in 300, which in turn makes me think of this:



I don't know where it originated. A friend forwarded it to me before I had the blog and, I think, even before I had the new laptop and regular 'Net access. You're welcome to try to
source it yourself.


Package art © 2009 Warner Bros. Entertainment. Characters TM/® DC Comics.

Those of you on the Eastern seaboard with a Five Below nearby may already know of it as a place to stock up on cool little (or big) holiday gifts. I've picked up stickers and coloring books for the nieces at a dollar a pop; got an only semi-crappy battery-powered freestanding book light as well as a much better one that plugs into any USB port for a few bucks each; and, perhaps most impressively, kept myself from buying too much off of the remaindered-book table. Last year, I filled a bag with neat stuff for an annual family pollyanna.

My local store recently expanded the DVD section, and if I cared more about owning movies I'd probably have scooped up a bunch. Of course what ends up at Five Below is overstock — plain editions that have been replaced with extras-laden reissues, flat-out unpopular titles, or less-desirable/outmoded formats like "fullscreen" — but the HD/regular-DVD combo of Justice League: The New Frontier that I found was a no-brainer. Blu-Ray may have won out as the industry standard over HD-DVD, and I'm sure the double-sided disc means some loss in technical fidelity, but the regular-DVD side still plays fine for my purposes. I haven't actually seen the movie yet, and based on reviews it doesn't hold up to the Darwyn Cooke graphic novel from which it's adapted (no surprise given the limitations of running time and budget inherent in even the best direct-to-video efforts), but I was going to Netflix it for research anyway. Now I can watch it and listen to both commentary tracks at my leisure — one from Cooke and the other from a half-dozen folks including director Dave Bullock, executive producer Bruce Timm, and voice director Andrea Romano (whose names will certainly be recognized by aficionados of modern Warner Bros. Animation projects).



Over at
Forces of Geek Stefan Blitz has posted an introduction to The 101 Most Watchable Movies of All Time. As I was one the contributors, the overall list of movies won't be a surprise to me, but everyone else's comments will be and so will the ranked Top 25. When the whole list has run its course at FOG, I'll probably share my nominations here along with the comments I submitted, some of which were, predictably, outside Stefan's keep-it-to-one-sentence request.

Mean


If you've ever left a comment on a blog, you may very well have come across word verification.

On blogs hosted by Blogger/Blogspot, at least, the proprietor can select an option where commenters are asked to type in a nonsense word that almost always could be a real word, but isn't: Unlike those jumbled-up, visually skewed letters and/or letter-&-number combos used by some websites to ensure that you're not some kind of automated malevolence, these nonsense words generally have vowels and consonants placed in such an order that they're pronounceable; on rare occasion, an actual word will even slip in.

I've taken to sharing definitions for (or other reactions to) my verification words in my comments, if a definition comes readily to mind for the word on the screen at that moment. It's like Sniglets, which Rich Hall popularized on HBO's Not Necessarily the News and in a series of books back in the '80s, but in reverse. I lay absolutely no claim to being either the first or the best at this, but I've amassed enough that I have some favorites to share.

forized — What you become when you put on your glasses.

Entivand — Ask your doctor about it today!

Grango — The energy drink for active seniors.

MyStyMe — The magazine for pigs, from the publishers of Architectural Digest.

beyacho — If you're, like, so over the word frenemy, but a total beyotch has become a muchacho, just let 'em know that you're proud to call them your new beyacho. And that's... One to Grow On.

Gapia — A melting-pot country of Denims and Khakis not far from Banana Republic. (Look, folks, they won't all be winners.)

torchiti — Small Italian fire-bearing devices.

coryo — An unsuccessful attempt at merging British and hip-hop slang.

injug — whereHulkfindmoonshine

Cablegra — The World's Best Incomplete Cablegram Service.

Please chime in with your own favorites, coined by yourself or somebody else (with attribution if possible, naturally), in the comments section to this post — or to get really meta, go to leave a comment and trust that you'll have a good definition for the verification word that appears. The only rule is that no alteration can be made to a word as it appears on the screen save for capitalization if appropriate; then again, since they're nonsense words, nobody will know if you cheat.