Category Archives: movies

Celebrating Helen Malsed, toy inventor

slinkydogNo matter what decade you blasted through childhood, you know the work of Helen Herrick Malsed. She was an innovator and inventor with a knack for listening to children, and her work continues to charm the kid in everyone.

The Slinky was already a popular toy in the 1950s, but Helen overheard her young son wondering aloud how it would look with wheels and went to work planning a prototype. She pitched her pull toy idea through the mail to James Industries, who loved it and made the Slinky Dog and the Slinky Train into a reality. After decades as a staple of playrooms across the country, her pull toy doggie achieved animation superstardom when he was included in the “Toy Story” movies. “Slink” was introduced to new generations of kids, making him just as loved by six-year-olds today as he was nearly sixty years ago when he first appeared on the shelves.

malsedpatentMalsed was a college dropout, forced to quit her education when her father went bankrupt during the Great Depression. She had a sharp, creative mind, and even though she followed the traditional path of marriage, children and homemaking in the 1950s, that intellectual talent bubbled forth.

“She was always thinking up things,” her son said in Malsed’s Seattle Times obituary. “She was just exceptionally creative and an incredible speller and grammarian. She read every inch of print, even the classifieds, in both Seattle papers every day.”

In total, Malsed created over two dozen toys and games, including Fisher-Price Snap-Lock Beads and many other toys for different companies. According to varying reports, she earned approximately $1 million from her ideas, was the major reason James Industries expanded operations numerous times, and it all began with an idea in the mail.

Malsed passed away on this day in 1998 at the age of 88, but her legacy lives on.


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Filed under History, inventors, movies, pop culture, toys, women

So Long, Mermaid Man, and Thanks for All the Fish


Ernest Borgnine passed away on Sunday at the age of 95. He did so much as an actor, and inevitably showed up in anything that was fun, from McHale’s Navy (classic TV show AND cheesetastic movie) to the record-keeper in Red. He was also a character actor in the first-ever sci-fi TV show in the U.S., Captain Video, starred in Airwolf, and guest-starred in everything from The Love Boat to E.R.

Where we’ll really miss him, though, is Bikini Bottom. His childlike sense of fun came through loud and clear with Mermaid Man. Let’s hope Barnacle Boy is ready to fill those seashell pasties. Rest in peace, Ernest, and thanks for all the wonder.

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Have Joss Whedon in the Palm of Your Hand

He’s had us in the palm of his hand for years, deftly manipulating our emotions with a flick of his little finger. (No! Not Wash!) Now you can return the favor and get the Joss Whedon mini-action figure, packaged with the DVD of Morgan Spurlock’s “Comic-con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope” and on sale at Toys R Us stores in July.

It’s the perfect thing if you’ve created the entire “Firefly” cast out of Legos and only need a director to finally take the show to a second season, or for re-enacting fierce storyboard sessions with Whedon and all your Avengers action figures.

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Filed under Comics, movies, pop culture

Can’t Have E.T. Without the Heat: Spielberg Restores Film Firearms

Never fear, nostalgic movie-watchers! Steven Spielberg is rolling up his sleeves and taking you to the gun show.  Thirty years ago today, E.T. the Extraterrestrial was released in theaters and quickly became one of the most loved family films ever. The famed director digitally removed the F.B.I. agents’ guns from the film in 2002, replacing them with walkie-talkies, because everyone knows you run from any official-looking person boasting a walkie-talkie.

While he made the switch to please parents’ groups, he learned you can’t please all the people all the time, and hardcore fans are the ones who shell out the bucks. Spielberg has been quoted as “regretting” the decision to change scenes in the movie, but we should honestly just be glad that buddy George Lucas didn’t talk him into including Jar-Jar Binks in the altered version. E.T. will be restored in time for a 30th Anniversary Celebration on Blu-Ray in October.


Photo credit: Flickr/ladybugbkt

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Disney World De-Wings Tinker Bell Teen

Take note, cosplayers: every time the Disney World dress code stings, a fairy loses its wings. A 15-year-old girl was recently stopped by security because she looked “too good” as a dressed-up Tinker Bell. The staff told the cosplaying teen she had to change out of the look that had taken hours to build because she could be mistaken for an actual Disney employee. Turns out there’s a dress code for visitors which bans costumes on everyone except little kids, because child labor laws discourage official five-year-old fairies.

The girl said she did it for her boyfriend, who dressed up as Peter Pan for the trip so they could make the visit special. There’s no mention about the young man changing clothes, so we’re assuming he doesn’t have the master-level costume skills of his young date.

At least Disney gave the girl some clothes to change into, although with the hair, glitter and make-up, she still probably looked like Tinker Bell on her day off. Freepass tickets were also handed out to soothe the would-be fairy’s nerves, because even Disney knows you don’t tick off Tink.

Our advice to the talented seamstress? Comic-Con is just around the corner, and they would love your look. Just add a taser to the end of that wand so you can fend off any unwanted suitors.



Photo credit: Flickr/Erik van Roekel


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Quiz: Are You an Action Movie Hero or Girlfriend?

If you do become the hero, may we suggest some sensible shoes?

One of the greatest dangers to women through the decades is the role of Action Movie Girlfriend. These innocent women are killed off willy-nilly so their secretly-super guys can step up and wreak vengeance on evildoers. Are your days numbered, or are you ready to forget the horns and just grab the bull by the balls?  Take this quiz and find out!

1. My boyfriend is…

a. A stoned pizza delivery guy who plays World of Warcraft all day.

b. Secretly trained by a deadly cult/martial arts school/bunch of gangsters/killer aliens but now he’s just trying to lead an ordinary life.

c. Chuck Norris.

d. Boyfriend? Please. He would just slow me down.


2. I can defend myself by…

a. Getting committed to an asylum and doing enough pull-ups that I can cock a shotgun with one arm.

b. Throwing a few kung fu moves until I am overpowered by bad guys and/or knocked out a window.

c. Screaming.

d. Re-programming Skynet from the phone app I just built.


3. Together, my guy and I have…

a. Secret superhero identities and separate cans of whoop-ass.

b. An adorable tot who either has a target on his back or the ability to learn ninja moves from his daddy.

c. No hopes and dreams, just an asthmatic turtle named Frank.

d. A zombie survival plan that may involve shotguns, napalm and the desire to see the undead flicker like birthday candles.


4.  Lately my boyfriend has seen me…

a. In a giant cargo loader kicking an alien’s ass.

b. In a slow motion montage of happy moments laughing in the park.

c. In a picture frame that will be broken and strewn about later in the movie.

d. He hasn’t seen me, because *I’m* the ninja.


If you answered with all Bs, you are at risk. Step up the jujitsu lessons, practice at the gun range more often or just leave him for someone else. Any guy will do, as long as they don’t sparkle. (That opens up a whole new can of worms.)

If you answered all Cs, run! Don’t pack a bag, don’t scribble a message, just run! You are moments away from hearing bad guy theme music while you’re unpacking the groceries.

If you answered As and Ds, you’re not in danger, but your boyfriend could be toast if he can’t keep up. Promise him you’ll avenge his death by kicking the crap out of forty or fifty bad guys, because you are the hero.


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