Carell Pulls Out

That's what she said. His publicist. What?

Steve Carell announced Monday that he is leaving his hit NBC comedy The Office at the conclusion of its next season. With less than 30 episodes left to wrap up the many loose ends in Michael Scott’s life, I decided to compile a list of things that need to happen before The Office, mostly likely, closes its doors for good.

Toy Story Mania

The merchandise for the first Toy Story film in 1995 was severely under produced. So much so that it was referenced in Toy Story 2. Tour Guide Barbie notes the blunder of short-sighted retailers failing to stock enough Buzz Lightyear toys for the holiday season. No such mistake was made this time. Toy Story 3 paraphernalia has dominated Toys R Us, Target, Walmart and grocery stores (editor’s note: grocery stores are like the food side of Walmart. Sorry for any confusion.) for several weeks now.

Almost every character in the film is represented in either plastic or plush, depending on their composition on screen. Perennial favorites Buzz and Woody are well represented, but even newcomers such as Buttercup and Lots-o-Huggin’ Bear can be found on store shelves. Some characters, like Dolly or Mr. Pricklepants, will require a bit of leg work to track down, but rest assured, they do exist, and more are likely on the way.

In addition to the stuff you have to straight up pay for, there is a great array of Toy Story collectibles that are only available through participating promotions. Sara Lee “Soft and Smooth” brand bread has a UPC redemption program that allows you to send in 5 UPC codes to receive a Buzz Lightyear soft lunchbox (a $14 value, according to the form). I’m much too old to tote my lunch around in a character lunchbox, but I guess I could use it to store my Pokemon cards or Hot Wheel cars.

Kellogg’s brand cereals also have a great Toy Story promotion that lets you choose your swag. Each of their participating cereals includes a code printed inside the box that represents one “Toy Story 3” point. With four points, you can score yourself an actual Hamm piggybank. For eight codes (the highest point value), you can send away for a USB powered Alien Desk Light (that’s much easier than trying to grab one from a claw machine). There are also options for a movie ticket, concession cash and a Mr. Potato Head t-shirt.

If you happen to have a box of Rice Krispies or Frosted Flakes sitting in your pantry and you don’t intend on sending away for any of the Toy Story 3 merchandise, I will happily accept the donation of any codes you may have to offer.

It’s been a while since I’ve mailed away for anything, so I was impressed to learn that neither Toy Story promotion requires a fee for shipping and/or handling. For the Kellogg’s deal, you don’t even have to buy a stamp. The entire transaction is done through their website. The only downside is that, according to the fine print on the website, I could find myself waiting 60-90 days to receive my loot. That seems like an unusually long delivery time, so I’m hoping a more accurate estimate is closer to 8-12 weeks. Stay tuned!

A Little Splice of Heaven

is the story of Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley), two rock-n-roll genetic scientists who spend their time splicing animal DNA together to create The Wuzzles. Their current work revolves around a pair of amorphous blobs named Fred and Ginger. The slugs hold the secret to an enzyme that will make money for the corporation backing Clive and Elsa’s genetic research, but the pair mostly exists to foreshadow events involving the other, shapelier creature.

Skycoaster & The World of Yesterday

I spent my Saturday night checking out the classic car Cruise at Old Town in Kissimmee, Florida. There’s plenty to say about Old Town, but today’s blog is far more concerned with the adjoining Fun Spot amusement park and its big stupid rides.

What looks like the world’s tallest goal post is actually a ride where you (not me, you) are suspended from a cable and slowly dragged backwards by your feet until you are parallel with the apex of the structure. You are then released and swung majestically and horrifyingly down and back up the other side.

This type of ride is officially known as a Skycoaster, but I prefer to call it the Superman Simulator. Fun Spot might be wary of potential lawsuits from such a moniker, but it didn’t stop them from painting Spider-Man with breasts on the side of their kiddie rollercoaster.

This particular Skycoaster is the tallest in the world (at least the tallest listed on Wikipedia) at 300-feet. If the height doesn’t scare you away, the cost might. If you want to experience the Skycoaster, you will have to pony up 40 bucks for your first flight. There’s a discounted rate for returning riders as well as package deals where you can purchase a video recording of your descent and a t-shirt that says something to the effect of ‘I survived the Skycoaster and all I got was this lousy t-shirt’.

Despite the exorbitant cost and insanity involved in allowing carnie folk to swing you back and forth over a lake, suspended 300 feet in the air, there never seems to be a lack of willing participants. I, however, will not be providing a first hand account of the Skycoaster.

See the full sized versions of these photos as well as more from Fun Spot and Old Town on my Flickr page.