The Oatmeal Squares Thing

Some of you may have seen errant posts on my Facebook or random posts elsewhere (including an infamous YouTube video sent to me while I was in Japan) in regards to my friend Billy and the breakfast cereal, 'Oatmeal Squares'.  You probably don't understand.  That's okay.  I'm going to type it all out for you and you STILL won't understand.  At least this way I have a resource I can update and point people to.  An Oatmeal Squares wiki, if you will.

This all started back in 2009 when my friend Billy and I were newly acquainted and were both trying to get to know one another.  I am a big fan of breakfast cereal and posed the question, "I say, good sir, among the vast array of choice, which breakfast cereal do you prefer?"  Now, I grew up around the grocery industry and I have a long history of product knowledge.  I was prepared for a great number of cereals, both available and discontinued, yet his answer astounded me.  "Oatmeal Squares," he replied nonchalantly.  I blinked.  Oatmeal Squares?  Really?  Out of all of the tasty cereals on the market, he goes with the OLD MAN cereal?  Perhaps he didn't understand the question.  When I asked again and received the same reply, I knew that something was wrong.

I pondered this for a few minutes.  Was there some redeeming quality in this part of a balanced breakfast that I was overlooking?  Just because it has the word 'OATMEAL' in it doesn't mean that it's some lacquered attempt for old people to look cool among the breakfast crowd.  But, alas...it is.  I could not accept this.  I called Billy on his love for a clearly inferior product, but he would not relent.  What was a simple conversation between friends turned into a quest for truth and justice.  If I was truly a friend, I would not allow this man to continue this delusion.

I started taking every opportunity I could to bring Oatmeal Squares into conversation.  Too tired to come out for a drink?  Those Oatmeal Squares are aging you prematurely.  Is the queso too hot?  Well, your poor choice of breakfast cereal has obviously blanded your taste buds   Cough got you down?  That's because Oatmeal Squares rot your soul.  You know, that kind of thing.  Soon, though, it was time for me to leave the country.  So I did.  I thought the battle was done.  But it was not to be.

Many months later, in Japan, I receive a message.  It's from Billy.  I am overjoyed to hear from my friend, but what awaits me is heartache and misery.  He went out and bought a burger from one of my favorite local establishment and relished in a mockery presentation that ended up with the burger in the trash and his sinister enjoyment of Oatmeal Squares.


This doesn't cover all of the other things we've subjected one another to, but the YouTube Video is just the latest volley in a war of words and images.  It won't be the last, either.

[Update:  Among other things, since this posting I got an autograph from Summer Glau of Firefly fame and had her write, 'Oatmeal Squares are awful' and gave it to Billy as a gift.]


The Iron Giant

One of my favorite films of all time is, 'The Iron Giant'.  It's an animated film released by Warner Bros. in 1999.  It flew in under the radar and 'bombed' at the box office by only pulling in $23 Million but well internationally.  I didn't know about it until it had been on video for some time.  I was told it was something special.  It's one of the very few DVD's I kept when I sold everything because it IS truly special.

'The Iron Giant' is set in 1957 and revolves around a young boy named Hogarth and his friendship with a giant alien robot that he befriends in the forest outside his hometown.  It's well animated and voice acted, but the thing that makes this film such a gem is the story.  It's a story about changing your destiny and living up to your potential.  It's an animated movie, sure, but it's not a children's movie.  There are so many nods, references, and themes that puts this up with Shawshank Redemption for me as a favorite film.  Now, when I say 'nods and references' I'm not talking about in a Shrek kind of way.  This movie is now eleven years old and NOTHING falls flat.  It's not pop culture.  It's a slice of America.

First off, the main character is not a stupid kid.  He's intelligent.  He has an imagination, but he's not an exaggeration.  Also, the other characters are well realized.  The villain is a pompous government nobody that wants to be a somebody.  He's a threat because he is desperate.  In his bid to convince others that the Giant exists, you believe that he would do anything.  There is a beatnik character named Dean that is a local to the small town but obviously doesn't fit in well, mirroring Hogarth's existence...but in a real way.  There is a sense of realism that permeates the entire movie, actually.  At one point, Hogarth runs into a tree branch and it gives him a small nosebleed.  That's what happens.

There are so many small things that make me smile in this film.  The horrible, stilted acting in the B/W horror film that Hogarth watches on late-night TV.  The cheesy duck-and-cover Nuclear Holocaust film at the school.  The picture of Hogarth's absent father (getting into a military jet) on his nightstand.  The 'Red Scare' comic book on the porch.  The mention of alcohol as a contributing factor to a sailor's incredible story about a giant robot in the sea.  And then there's Superman.

The main theme of the film is that you can choose who you want to be.  Superman is used as a parallel to the Giant's disposition and abilities, and done well.  I've talked about how I'm more of a Batman than Superman kinda guy, but in the 1950s Superman was the idealized nature of humanity.  Although the Giant may have been designed for more sinister purposes, he has the option to choose to be a good guy, just as Supes could've ruled the world like Zod.  There are a lot of parallels to other media in this film, but it's all from the time.  Lots of communism and us-vs-them conversation too.

Finally, I want to mention love.  Near the end of the movie, Hogarth looks up to the Giant and says, "I love you."  It's a heartbreaking moment and a rare use of the word 'love' to deal with emotions that don't involve romance.  A lot of films try to communicate love in it's raw form and few succeed.  I freely admit I weep like a baby at the end of this movie, and often throughout it.  I highly recommend it.

Also, there's no singing.  Thank God for that.