The Mysterious Story Behind Van Halen’s Ban on Brown M & M’s


STAN: Today’s edition of 10 Minutes of Brilliance has “Nothing for Anyone.”
HARRIET: Stan, you exquisite jerk, I don’t think you have that quite right.
STAN: No? Oh sorry. I meant to say it has “Something for Everyone.”
HARRIET: Much improved. Now tell Jack’s Readers what to expect.
STAN: Mediocrity, followed by boring verbiage.
HARRIET: No, no! I meant the topics.
STAN: 1. Oh. First, a behind-the-scenes look at rock star contract demands.
2. Next up, a great new app for people who travel
3. We’re proud to present the record breaking stupidity of Florida State Representative Charles Van Zant.
4. Finally, blogger Goldberger…
HARRIET: His name is Goldenberg, Stan. Jack Goldenberg.
STAN: Whatever. And finally, blogger Goldstein presents “The Last Pet Video You’ll Ever Have to See for the Rest of Your Life.” And now, without any further do do, here’s… what’s his name.
STAN: Whatever.

Rock Star Contract Demands: The Mysterious Story Behind Van Halen’s Ban on Brown M & M’s

Things aren’t always what they seem–even in the World of Rock ‘n Roll. Remember the furor years ago about the outrageous demands David Lee Roth, lead singer of Van Halen, put into his contract?

Under the clause “Munchies” Mr. Roth (whose real name is not Otis Biggelsworth McFeltersnatch) insisted that the band required “potato chips, nuts, pretzels and M&M’s  backstage and on their tour bus. Then David Lee Roth inserted into the 53-page contract: (WARNING: ABSOLUTELY NO BROWN M&M’s!). Was David Lee Roth being petulant? And more importantly, do you even know what “petulant” means?

STAN: What does petulant mean?
HARRIET: Google it!
STAN: It means, “Google it?”
HARRIET: No, Stan , you idiot, it means getting terribly annoyed at a small detail, especially if you don’t get your way.
HARRIET: Do you even know what “chagrined” means?
STAN:  Google it?
HARRIET: You’re getting close.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. Everyone knows stars like to be pampered. After all, many of them act like children who want what they want when they want it. (Which reminds me, “Honey, what’s for dinner?) (OK, new Readers of 10 Minutes of Brilliance, I am just kidding when I asked my wife , “What’s for dinner?”) (I already know what’s for dinner.)

ANNOUNCER: Attention, 10 Minutes of Brilliance Readers! Blog writer Jack Goldenberg had just performed the amazing Triple Parentheses? Three in a row and he landed perfectly. He just tied the World Record for Consecutive Parentheses. Will he go for a 4th and try to break the record?

(Where was I? Oh, yeah.)

ANNOUNCER: He has! He’s done it! For the first time in blog history, Goldenberg has smashed the previous 1956 record of three consecutive parentheses with a stunning 4th parenthesis! Oh, the humanity!

I remember now, I was talking about outrageous clauses in rock ‘n roll contracts. As it turns out, David Lee Roth was not being childish nor overly demanding by stipulating  hisNO BROWN M&M’s” clause. “We were accused of being abusive simply because we could., ” Roth explained,”but the reality was quite different.”

Here’s the real story.

Van Halen’s live show was a huge spectacle. It required booming audio, spectacular lighting, high voltage electricity, and immense structural support, all of which could some tumbling down on the band and the audience if it wasn’t properly installed. But some facility managers who booked the high-flying and expensive Van Halen tour cut corner when it came to safety. Some didn’t even bother to read the long contract, jeopardizing the safety of the band and its fans.

But David Lee Roth was a lot shrewder than people at the time gave him credit for. He couldn’t take the chance local promoters might perform a less than adequate safety check. So he added the “NO BROWN M&M’s” clause to ensure his entire contract was read and adhered to. If he saw BROWN M&M’s in his dressing room or anywhere backstage, he knew local promoter’s didn’t read the contract and probably weren’t  prepared to protect the band and fans from imminent danger.

Anytime David Lee Roth found brown M&M’s anywhere in his touring venue, the show didn’t go on until the structural problems were fixed.

Here are some other backstage and contract demands of the rich and infamous:

James Brown

Superstar James Brown requires a 5-star hotel, a hooded hair dryer, an oxygen tank and an extra room for his mistress–his wardrobe mistress, that is.

Busta Rhymes

Busta Rhymes contract calls for several bottles of Moet Chandon, a 24-piece bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken and condoms. Don’t ask!


The one and only Cher require a wigwam. Oh no, that’s a wig room, extra space for her huge collection of wigs. She also warrants an extra room for her massage therapist, bouquets of freshly cut lilies and gardenias, and a TV showing classic movies. Fake flowers and fake plants are forbidden.


Jennifer Lopez a k a J-Lo

Sultry singer Jennifer Lynn Muñiz, a k a Jennifer Lopez, a k a J-Lo, has a long list of riders her management adds to her touring contracts, including a trailer at least 40 feet in length, in which EVERYTHING IS WHITE.  Everything! She also requires yellow roses with red trim, CDs chosen from a list of 43 artists, and specific brands of scented candles (Diptyque—Tuberose, Figuier, and Heliotrope). What, no Glade plug-ins?



Most of the contact demands in Bat Out of Hell superstar Meatloaf’s contract relate to food. He requires 100% multigrain bread, (preferably Vogel’s Flaxseed and Soy), 2 bags of potato chips, a package of low fat chicken or turkey wieners, 4 hard and crunchy Gala apples, 4 low-fat fresh-baked muffins from a local bakery, steamed broccoli and green beans almondine (not too soggy) a sliced roast pork tenderloin, a sliced, a sliced roast beef tenderloin and two baked potatoes. Then for lunch…

The Absolute Best Way to Get from HERE to ANYWHERE

Although some 10 Minutes of Brilliance Readers live in the Southern Hemisphere (South America, South Africa and Australia) where Winter is the next big season, the vast majority of Brilliant Readers live north of the Equator, so they’re busily making exciting plans for their Summer vacation.

I’ve come across a new site that simplifies the best way to get from wherever you are to wherever in the world you want to go. But before I do that, I thought it might be helpful to tell you when to look to get the best prices on airfare.

The best time to look for the least expensive airfare  is early Wednesday morning. That’s the day most airlines dump their unused reservations for sale and higher priced tickets that didn’t sell the previous weekend. Now onto the main course, how to get from where you are to where you want to be, Don’t leave home without it

Rome2Rio web site simplifies the best mode or modes of transportation to get to anywhere in the world.

Rome2rio organizes the world’s transportation information into one convenient Web site. It’s a door-to-door search engine that returns an itinerary for travel by air, train, coach*, ferry. mass transit and automobile.

By the way, do you know what coach travel is?  I didn’t. I had to look it up. I figured they meant a stage coach, like the had in the old west. You know, with one guy driving the horses and the other guy ridin’ shotgun, in case they were attacked by Indians who were upset you didn’t call then native Americans.

“Au contraire,” as my French grandmother would say. A coach is a type of bus that conveys passengers on excursions and on longer distances between cities—or even between countries. Now aren’t you glad you learned that today? I am.

Anyway, check out Rome2rio. It’s one cool app for travelers.

What’s up, Chuck?

In 10 Minutes of Brilliance’s continuing effort to define Brilliance, it helps to understand what real stupidity looks like. In case you were wondering, it looks like this:

Florida State Rep. Charles Van Zant said that

Florida State Rep. Charles Van Zant said the new Florida State school curriculum will “attract every one of your children to become as homosexual as they possibly can.”

In 1997, there were reports that watching the British children’s show Teletubbies could cause your kids to “turn homosexual.” Oh, not all of the Teletubbies were involved in the conspiracy. It was just Tinky Winky. What proof did Jerry Falwell and others have that Tinky Winky had a hidden agency. It was right there before your eyes. He was purple. You do know the color purple can “cause” homosexuality, don’t you.?

The next supposed major conspiracy of the liberal media was the hit show SpongeBob Square Pants. No, SpongeBob’s square pants weren’t purple, but there was something about him that caused the extreme right to proclaim the show was another left wing conspiracy to “turn children into gays and lesbians.” It doesn’t matter that science has proved sexual preference is biological, not environmental. After all, what’s science got over hysteria, bigotry and abject stupidity? Absolutely nothing, right?

Of course, as any dues paying viewer of Fox News knows, the real “cause” of homosexuality are several Disney animated movies. That’s been the claim of the ill-informed for some time now.

Now, along comes Florida State Representative Charles Van Zant to warn unsuspecting parents that the overarching threat to society as we know it (really, society as he knows it) is Florida’s new $220 million allocation for standardized testing. “I really hate to bring you that news,” Rep. Van Zant said, ” but you need to know.”

Van Zant claims that unless  Florida finds a way to take back the $220 million for standardized testing, it will, “promote double-mindedness in state education, and attract every one of your children to become as homosexual as they possibly can.”

Drop the double-mindedness talk, Chuck. Try some open-mindedness. But not the purple ones.

The Last Pet Video You Ever Have to See for the Rest of your Life.

I love dogs, but I hate dog videos!

Cats are OK, not my favorite, though. But I hate cat videos!

Are you starting to see a pattern here?

Move over, Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, Toto, Sandy, Pluto, Scooby Doo, Benji and Jasper. There’s NEW dog in town! His name is Jesse.

I was pretty sure I would be able to honor my pledge to never again watch another pet video, dog, cat, monkey, skunk, bird, turtle, snake, frog, or whatever! Then I saw the best dog video I have ever seen in my entire life. Jesse is not just good, Jesse is amazing! If you’ve never watched any of the videos on my blog, now is time to start. Jesse the dog is amazing (and so is my friend, marketing mastermind and professor Les Borden for sending it to me.)


 Now it’s Time to Say Goodnight. As Only the Beatles Can Deliver It

And who can say it better than the Beatles. Good Day and Good Night, Brilliant Readers. Thanks for the use of the the hall.  Jack Goldenberg

WARNING! The Toughest Job in the World Is a Real Mother!

Today we’re going to cover a lot of ground, so fasten your seat belts.
1. We’ll start off with a description of “The Toughest Job in the World” and see a video of some of the 27 people crazy enough to apply for it. I’m warning you, this job is a real Mother!
2. Then, there’s a tribute to my Mom who I imagine is reading 10 Minutes of Brilliance in Heaven. I doubt she’s in Hell or Pittsburgh, because she led a good life and was never very fond of either of those places.
3. Next is a piece about having a second Mother’s Day every year. I swear it’s not a Hallmark plot. Some people think that might be a good idea, but I’m sure Jewish mothers would say, “What? You don’t love me the other 363 days?”
4. Then, there’s a piece about my hometown, Ballmer, Merlin (a k a Baltimore, Maryland). People from Baltimore called themselves “BaltiMORONS!” That’s either just plain stupid or quite possibly “truth in packaging.”
5. Next, take a short 10 Minutes of Brilliance True or False Pop Quiz.
6. And finally, there are some wonderful ironic photos I thought you’d enjoy courtesy of my friend and former college roommate, Tony Witlin, who borrowed them from some anonymous Internet writer/photographer.)

Read the rest of WARNING! The Toughest Job in the World Is a Real Mother!

Stickman Stew is Toy Fair 2014 Most Powerful Action Figure


You can’t blame the toy industry for the ugly and violence-prone state of this year’s crop of action figures to emerge from Toy Fair 2014. Instead, blame the zombies.

Never in the history of the world has evil, horror and terror ruled its ugly head so prominently since Dick Cheney was Vice President.

Welcome to the Zombification of America. Right now, my foreign Readers are busily looking up “Zombification.” (Give it up, Olaf. You won’t find it.)

Zombies are creatures who started as humans, died from a serious infection and then rose from six feet under to come back and haunt the rest of us. The closest analogy I can give would be substitute teacher.


This is probably how Mr. Rogers would look if he came back as a zombie.

It's sometimes hard to tell the difference between a Zombie and my Uncle Abe. I think this was my Uncle Abe.

It’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between a Zombie and my Uncle Abe. I’m pretty sure  this is my Uncle Abe.


Kim Kardashion

Please look away! This Zombie is too disturbing to look at!

 Zombies!  They’re everywhere! They’re everywhere!

Zombies have taken over everything. It’s understandable these creatures are lead actors in movies (Dawn of the Dead, Shaun of the Dead and The Walking Dead) and TV shows (Dawn of the Dead, The Walking Dead and Duck Dynasty). Now they’ve invaded toy stores as well.

As I roamed the aisles of Toy Fair 2014, the annual industry event where toy companies show off their best bets for toy success in the coming year, I was struck by how ugly, fearful and blood soaked the toy industry has become. Especially when it comes to action figures.

Oh, sure, Superman will still be flying through toy stores faster than a speeding bullet to defend his mantra, “Truth, justice and a little nookie from Lois Lane.” Batman and his Batboy Robin will still cruise  the Toy ‘R Uses of the Universe in the Batmobile, defending Gotham City against nefarious enemies like The Joker, The Riddler and assorted Tea Party Republicans.

But the new crop of toys expected to be popular for Christmas 2014 includes a mob of vengeful, ruthless, blood soaked, killer Zombies. And those are just the good guys.

Zombie gro;

What are the odds of this? I was looking for images of Zombies and I came across this picture of Beverly Zee, my date for my high school prom. I should have realized something was amiss back then when she ate one of the chaperones.*

* Note to my Readers: This is the problem when you write a blog with over 13,000 subscribers. Some are my Readers are Baby Boomers and some are from Generation Z. The young people in my audience have no idea what a chaperone is.

Chaperones were adults who attended events likes proms and dances and made sure none of the young people drank alcohol, did drugs or had sex. Unless, of course, you broke into the science lab when Mr. Truchet and Mrs. Bell were outside the Milford Mill gym smoking a cigarette. I’m just saying.

Here’s why Zombies are so much worse than your standard, garden variety vampire:

Vampires just suck your blood. Zombies eat you!

No wonder these killer dolls are fodder for phobias and nightmares even for the adult kids who buy them.

But when it comes to real kids, the Zombification of toy stores is somewhat of a paradox. Dolls and action figures are supposed to be the loyal, warmhearted companions of innocent children, not cold-blooded killers.

There are few things creepier and more malevolent than play pals who invite you to dinner because you are dinner.

With Zombies on my brain, I visited Toy Fair last month to see what America’s toy makers had conjured up for Christmas 2014. I went to see what’s new and also to cover the event for 10 Minutes of Brilliance Readers.

That’s right, Brilliant Readers, I braved the Zombie-saturated aisles of Toy Fair for you, knowing full well that an unexpected, innocent tap on my shoulder would likely scare the BeJesus out of me. And that’s tough, because I’m Jewish.

Top 10 Most Powerful Action Figures at Toy Fair 2014

I’ll deliver the results of my Top 10 Most Powerful Action Figures at Toy Fair 2014 in true “Dave Letterman Top 10 style.”  You know, Dave starts with Number 10 and the last one he reads off is always Number One.

(Usually by the time Dave gets to Number #7, Margaret falls asleep. But maybe that  just happens at my house.)

So I’ll start at #10 , but I need to say a little about the Winner first. The most power action figure of Toy Fair 2014 is Stickman Stew.

stickamn stew waving

This is Stickman Stew, he’s a STEWard of love and respect and Winner of the Most Powerful Action Figure of Toy Fair 2014. Unlike action figures that come with a ready made bios, Stickman Stew doesn’t come with a huge back story. Which leaves the world of Stickman Stew wide open so kids can use their own Imagination! Now that’s a concept!

Let’s hear it for the lovable, uncomplicated Stickman Stew. He’s warm, generous, courageous and kind. The only way he’ll kill you kid is with kindness.

He’ll be your kids’ pal and unlike the terrifying zombies, monsters, murderers and makers of mayhem who will be under Christmas tress and Chanukah bushes this holiday season, he won’t suck your blood or cause you to be dead, then undead , then dead again.

More about Stickman Stew later and how he became the Number One action figure at this year’s Toy Fair. Now it’s time to count down the Top 10 Action Figures.

STAN: It’s time? It’s time! It’s past time!
HARRIET: What the matter now, Stan?
STAN: Jeez, I was hoping Golberg could have delivered his Top 10 Toys by now.

HARRIET: Well, he does seem to ramble on.
STAN: Ramble. Schmamble. Goldenheim can’t shut up. I had a conversation with him once that started on a Tuesday and by Thursday I had to get a note from my Mom to be excused.
HARRIET: Your Mom? Stan, you don’t have a Mom.
STAN: Yeah, right! Then how was I born?
HARRIET: You weren’t born, Stan. You’re not real. You’re just a character Jack made up.
STAN: Don’t start pulling that crap on me, Harriet. I am real. Goldberger’s the imaginary character. I made him up. 
HARRIET: We’re not going to solve this now, Stan. Let Jack get on with his blog. We’ll talk about it later.
STAN: Yeah? When?
HARRIET:  How ’bout NEVER. Is that soon enough for you?
STAN: Yeah, that works for me. Thanks.

Now, it’s time to deliver the most powerful action figures from Toy Fair 2014. In the #10 spot is that loveable Chuckie.

#10  Chuckie

This Chuckie doll has been modified by the owner to make Chuckie look even scarier. How sweet!

This Chuckie doll has been modified by the owner to make Chuckie look even scarier. How sweet!

The Chuckster is the creepiest of the creepy dolls. Though he isn’t the original creepy doll, he is definitely the most notorious. Not only will he kill you and attempt to steal your body, he makes bad wisecracks while dismembering you. Who does he think he is? Conan O’Brien?

#9 Living Dead Dolls

The first Living Dead Dolls were craft dolls, made individually by hand by Ed Long in 1998. He showed them to a friend, Damien Glonek who liked the dolls so much, the two of them became partners. They made 12 more Living Dead dolls. The dolls sold out instantly so Ed and Damien launched their doll business, continuing to make each doll by hand.

They were selling them at a Chiller Theatre convention, when Mike “Mez” Markowith purchased one of the dolls and decided to mass produce them from his company, Mezzco Toys .


Living Ddeead dolls

Living Dead Dolls pose for a family photo.

Living Dead Doll Death Certificate

Eat your heart out, Cabbage Patch Kids. The Living Dead Dolls don’t have birth certificates. They have Death Certificates!

Living Dead Dolls

More Living Dead Dolls-how very pretty!

#8 Krypt Kiddies

Meet the Krypt Kiddies. Meet them if you dare. Parents crazy enough to buy these horror dolls for their little monsters should have known something was off when they saw the Krypt Kiddies slogan, “Cuter than Hell.” These terrifying creatures will give your nightmares nightmares.

krypt kiddies

Here’s a family photo of some of the nastiest dolls at Toy Fair, the Krypt Kiddies. They all died a terrible death like Sick-A, the cutie in the red dress. She was a restaurant critic who died from food poisoning. Really, I don’t make this stuff up.


krypt kiddies

This little devil is Lil Red, the ringleader of the Krypy Kiddies. His favorite trick is to lead the kiddies into chaos, then save them at the last minute, The bigger the calamity, the bigger his evil grin? I guess he was the Eddie Haskel of Krypt Kiddies.











Meet cuddly little Baby Arvin. This doll is not so horrible to look at if you imagine that's ketchup on his infant shirt. Unfortunately, it's not

Meet cuddly little Baby Arvin. This doll is too horrible to look at. It helps if you, imagine that’s just ketchup on his infant shirt. Unfortunately, it’s not.


#7 The White Walkers

The White Walkers are a mythological race from an ancient time. In the darkness and cold of the Long Night, the White Walkers killed everyone in their path. Since that wasn’t enough destruction for their evil hearts, they raised the dead to help them slaughter more innocent people. What a nice bedtime story that will make.

The WHite Walker

This is the White Walker from Game of Thrones. Pretty scary, huh?

Thw white Walkker

The White Walker action figure–not so scary.

#6  Psycho Mother

Psycho Mother

This is Psycho Mother. I have a feeling Mother is only the first half of her hyphenated name. Wait, wasn’t she in “I Dismember Mama?” Can’t see Mom clearly. Click on the image and it should enlarge.


#5 Boogers from the Planet Nose

I don’t know if if can call a bodily function an action figure, so maybe I’m breaking rank with this one, but when I said, “Hey Google, give me the most disgusting toy you’ve got, Google came up with Boogers from the Planet Nose. The name sounds like a bad title for a B movie if 6 year-olds ran Hollywood. Wait, 6 year-olds are running Hollywood, but that’s another story for another blog.

Boogers from the planet Nose

Meet Boogers from the Planet Nose? Who’s in his gang, Phlegm and Vomit? This toy is truly the Pick of the Week.

You may be surprised to find out that “Boogers from the Planet Nose”  are aliens from, you guessed it, the Planet Nose. According to the ever-so-short back story, the Planet Nose had a terrible environment of toxic waste and slime. So the Boogers decided to “blow this pop stand and seek greener pastures”

They’re grotesque, sticky, and a real gross out! I show them here with some shame, but I refuse to introduce you to their 6 different characters in the Boogers world. Trust me. You don’t want to know.

I’m an eternal optimist and I try to see the bright side of everything. The only bright side I can see here, imagine what we’d be dealing with if this same toy company came out with a toy for Uranus.

#4 Colby Carrot

I had no idea I’d be choosing a carrot for the 4th best action figure to be shown at the 2014 Toy Fair, but then Colby Carrot is no ordinary vegetable. The originator of Colby Carrot, Radha Agrawal, a k a Radha Radish, was disappointed that when kids ordered pizza at her farm-to-table pizzeria, because they never ordered veggies as a topping, along with their cheese and tomato paste.

When she gave her veggie toppings super hero names, business picked up tremendously. dramatically. So she decided to encourage kids to eat veggies by making “action figures.” No offense to Colby  Carrot for putting action figure in quotes, but the tuber does deserve credit for having the mission of getting  kids to eat more wholesome foods, like veggies, and less sugar, processed food, fast food and soda pop. (As the Creative Director of the first Happy Meal, I’ve always felt somewhat responsible for the obesity among American children.

And Colby’s creator deserves credit fo making super heroes out of mushrooms, eggplant and spinach, to name a few

Colby Carrot

Colby Carrot’s slogan is “Eat Your Super Powers.”

Of course, no action figure can live in a world without pals to hang out with and Colby’s got a pretty cool bunch called The Super Sprowtz. The gang of super heroes veggie includes Mike Mushroom, Erica Eggplant, Zach Zucchini, Todd Tomato, Susie Sweat Pea, Brian Broccoli, Gita Garlic, Oliver Onion and Sammy Spinach. All the vegetable puppets have super powers, ‘natch, and Colby’s is super sight.

Colby Carrot’s exploits to make Amercia safe for vegetables and to encourage kids to have better nutrition earned him the #4 place on the most powerful action figures from Toy Fair 2014. He’s improving children’s health one dancing vegetable at a time.

#3 The Newly Deads

The Newly Deads are 5 foot high animated figures who eyes glow in the Halloween Night. They’re really funny, rather than scary or disgustin,g which is why they made it to #3 on the Most Powerful Action Figures from Toy Fair list.

It’s the Honeymoon Couple from Hell, the Newly Deads

#2 Presidential Monsters

When I first saw Blacula, I thought, “Now that’s really in bad taste.” But when I realized that Presidential Monsters weren’t just making fun of President Obama, they were Equal Opportunity Offenders, taking a poke at all the Leaders of the Free World, I just laughed and laughed.

No offense to any of the Presidents, but this just a satirical take-off, with a nod to “Hail to the Creeps.” There’s Eisen Howler, Zom-Bush, The Ronmy (hey wait, he wasn’t even President), Lincolnstein, Al Gor, Wolf Bill, The Monster from the Watergate Lagoon, Benjamin Franklinstein and more. They’re funny, collectible and a great way learn, well, the darker side of history. They earned the #2 spot from Toy Fair 2014. If you’d like to see the whole collection, just visit Presidential Monsters online