It's the Celebrity Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

My pumpkins have always been in the classic vein - triangular eyes and gappy, square-toothed grins. But over the past few years there has been a dramatic leap forward in pumpkin design. We have the technology, we can carve him.

Above is one of my favourites - someone's clever tribute to the classic Calvin & Hobbes snowmen. Below are some of the better pop culture pumpkins. Get more from Zombie Pumpkins, Extreme Pumpkin, PumpkinGlow and Pumpkingutter.

Peanuts & Homer Simpson

Wallace & Gromit

Statler & Waldorf

Buffy & Spike

Tom Cruise & Britney Spears as seen by Gallery of the Absurd

Gossip 'R' Us

"These are the people who saw an overcrowded marketplace and said, 'Me too!'"

Super blogger Tina Mockmore, formerly of Glitterati Gossip, now of Hollywood Offender has started up Gossip Blog Girl to help anyone who wants to join the cutthroat world of celebrity blogging.

Or, as she more eloquently puts it, "helping others avoid the pitfalls of gossip blogging, to aid in sifting through the sludge, to answer questions, spark ideas and have a place to recharge their batteries." I know I could have used that when I fell off the web this summer.

Tina asked me to answer a few questions about choosing a name for a blog and I was honoured to participate, especially as asked the creators of Pretty on the Outside, Cele|bitchty and Holy Candy. Heady company for such a slack updater as myself. Thanks Tina, I hope I was of some help.

DUI Charges as Lost Spoilers

Lost isn't back on the air until next February and already we know who's going to get killed off. Jin-Soo Kwon will be biting the dust after being the latest cast member to be arrested on suspicion of drinking and driving.

Daniel Dae Kim, who plays the reluctant Korean enforcer, was pulled over by Honolulu police and charged, following in the illustrious footsteps of his former cast-mates Michelle Rodriguez (Anna Lucia) and (Cynthia Watros Libby.)

After being busted for their own DUIs in 2005, both Anna Lucia and Libby were shot. Eko, played by Adewale Akinnuoye Agbaje, was also killed off following a traffic run-in with the Hawaii 5-0. Various reasons were given for their leaving the show, but a pattern is emerging.

With a huge cast and new characters constantly being added, it's easy for producers to knock off an actor causing trouble. I'd think it would be cheaper to hire them all drivers and let them get blitzed all they like than firing them - even I can afford a cab after I've been out boozing.

But if this trend is going to continue, could someone please give Matthew Fox a case of liquor and a set of car keys? I can't take another season of Jack's smugness.

To Infinity and Beyond!

The space shuttle Discovery blasted in to space yesterday carrying its usual payload of scientific doodads and a crew of clean-cut, athletic go-getters (I hate people like that). I know what you’re thinking: “Oh no, not another boring space launch. Change the channel. Change the channel!”

But something in the cargo caught my attention – a lightsaber used by Mark Hamil in Return of the Jedi. The kid in me wonders if there are really raging space battles taking place overhead that they need such a powerful weapon, but the realist in me figures it’s just a publicity stunt to earn George Lucas more money to throw on the pile.

Or maybe NASA has realized a simple truth – most of our knowledge comes from pop culture, so why not hitch a ride?

My first memories of space are from Star Wars, quickly followed by Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (Bidibidibidi, hey Buck). It’s how I saw space – a wild west frontier filled with lasers, wise-cracking pilots and short little robots.

Then came The Black Hole, Moonraker (a rather silly Bond film in retrospect) and Star Trek: The Motion Picture, my first introduction to Gene Roddenberry’s world. At the tine we only got two channels on TV, so I’d never seen the characters – luckily the film didn’t put me off.

From there I was introduced to the original Star Trek and its myriad spin-offs, to the writing of Issac Asimov, 2001, Dune and happily to the brilliantly funny Douglas Adams, whose Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy required you to have at least a modicum of sci-fi knowledge.

While my head may have been buried in the stars I had no real knowledge – or interest for that matter – in the realities of space exploration. So when I recently found myself in Florida, not far from Cape Canaveral, I jumped at a chance for a tour.

We saw Discovery sitting on the launch site (covered in high-tech scaffolding) and many of the Apollo rockets that took men into space. And as I sat in the control room that was used during the moon landing, I was thinking about how The Simpsons got it right in Deep Space Homer.

Assistant: Sir, the TV ratings for the launch are the highest in ten years.
Scientist: And how's the spacecraft doing?
Assistant: I dunno. All this equipment is just used to measure TV ratings.

So maybe sending the lightsaber into space wasn’t just a Lucas publicity stunt and NASA understands that to connect people to the space missions it may need a little help from pop culture.

The Second Coming of Chocolate Jesus

Chocolate Jesus
Well its got to be a chocolate jesus
Make me feel good inside.
Got to be a chocolate jesus
Keep me satisfied
The return of a life-size, naked and anatomically-correct milk chocolate sculpture of Jesus is causing less of a furor in New York this week, because the display of the immaculate confection isn't coinciding with any Holy days, as originally planned.

Last March the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights was in a rage over the planned Easter display of "My Sweet Lord," artist Cosimo Cavallaro's sugary saviour.

Personally I prefer my blasphemous treats in the form of pop culture parodies, but I can't be too bothered by an incident that had my humming Tom Waits all week.
When the weather gets rough
And its whiskey in the shade
Its best to wrap your savior
Up in cellophane
He flows like the big muddy
But thats ok
Pour him over ice cream
For a nice parfait
Below is a live performance of Chocolate Jesus by Waits on Late Night with David Letterman back in 1999. Good sound but dodgy video, but boy can that man strut!

The Geek Prince

Seth Green is the coolest guy in Hollywood. Sorry Johnny and Brad, you can't hold a candle to this scrawny, pasty geek.

It all crystallized for me during Family Guy’s subdued version of the original Star Wars. At the end of the episode Peter Griffin (voiced by series creator Seth MacFarlane) bickers with son Chris (voiced by Green) about Robot Chicken's take on the series.

Chris: Didn't Robot Chicken already do this three months ago?
Peter: I wouldn't worry about it, Chris. I don't even think people are aware of that show's existence.
Chris: Well, I don't know, Dad. I think a decent number of people watch it.
Peter: Oh, really? Define 'decent'.
Chris: I think it's the highest rated show on Cartoon Network, and the Star Wars episode doubled that audience.
Peter: Well, yeah. But double ten people is like twenty people. So, uh, what kind of numbers are we talking about here, you know?
Chris: Don't be glib about this stuff, Dad. It's a legitimate show and they beat you to the punch.

It was a fantastic piece of meta comedy that got me thinking about how many cool projects Green has been involved in.

The first time I saw Green was as Scott Evil, the reluctant son of megalomaniac evil scientist Dr. Evil. The disbelieving Scott voiced everything I have yelled during a James Bond film: “Why don’t you just kill him?” Why not indeed? It was a great character that managed to hold up against all of Mike Myers’ mugging.

That same year Green appeared as the werewolf Oz in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He was laconic and sarcastic and so much cooler than Michael J. Fox’s Teen Wolf. There haven’t been many positive pop culture portrayals of werewolves and Green’s should have made lycanthropes the “it” supernatural being.

Green got his next badge of cool by starring in a cancelled Fox sitcom. The network is infamous for green lighting cutting-edge comedies and then killing them off before the season is over. Green earned his stripes with Greg the Bunny, a show populated by a group of foul-mouthed puppets. It was dealing in bad puppets before Avenue Q and Wondershowzen and was hilarious. So naturally, it was killed off.

The next time I saw Green, or at least heard him, was on Family Guy. Though I think the show slips over the line from sharp to mean more often than not these days, it broke new comedy ground, constantly making me wonder how they could get away with what they aired. Chris is a wonderfully stupid/smart, horny teenager, who is getting notably better story lines so far this year.

Then of course there is Robot Chicken, a brilliant cornucopia of pop culture parodies acted out by stop-motion-animated action figures. Co-created by Green it is one of the funniest shows on TV. It mines all the TV and movies of my youth and asks what happened to the characters when the cameras turned off. No childhood memory is sacred – the Care Bears engage in ethnic cleansing; Masters of the Universe sex tapes; Apocalypse Ponys! It’s the most fun you can have playing with toys

Buffy, Austin Powers, Greg the Bunny, Family Guy, Robot Chicken – the guy has impeccable instincts in picking his projects – and has made geeky cooler than ever.

Kill Bunny

It’s always a good day when a new 30-Second Bunnies shows up in the mailbox. I get a surprising amount of joy watching squeaky-voiced little rabbits perform an entire movie in the time it takes for a commercial to pitch something nobody should buy. (Oreo pizza anyone?)

So when the reenactment of both Kill Bills arrived I was excited. The fuzzy versions of Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction distilled Quentin Tarantino’s language and flow into a potent shot and I expected the same again. Sadly, it didn’t deliver. Stripped of the style and music it just seemed… empty.

But I forgive as I spent the next part of the evening re-watching most of the rest of the 38 other leporid films. Such hoppy goodness.

Karma Police

How much would you pay for the new Radiohead album? Would you drop $14.99 for a CD or $9.99 for a digital download? How about $81 or just 10 cents.

It’s not just a theoretical question – the rock auteurs have announced their latest album, In Rainbows, will be available for download off the website, with buyers choosing what to pay. It’s an interesting challenge to the record labels, digital retailers and fans alike.

If a band only earns 10% of the retail price of a CD, then even the equivalent of the cost of one track from iTunes would potentially net them just as much. Of course some people will still download it for free, but those people likely weren’t going to buy it in the first place. For those who do pay, all the money is going to the band and the middlemen get zilch.

The pricing model for music is still being worked out. P2P networks forced labels to start selling digitally and Steve Jobs laid down the gauntlet that has sent the DRM walls tumbling in the past few months. Now Radiohead and their ilk are throwing new options into the mix.

People really should pay something for music – and I say this as someone who has indulged in my fair share of downloads. No matter how much labels and retailers might be taking off the top, some does filter down to the artist. And even musicians that offer their music for free needs to make something off their art. You don’t see them playing tours for free, do you? So if bands are now taking distribution into their own hands and the money (or at least more of it) goes directly into their pockets, all the better.

As for Radiohead, I plan to pay $5. I really haven’t enjoyed anything since OK Computer, but for that amount what do I have to lose?