Posts Tagged ‘history

06
Nov
18

Voting Is a U.S. Right, Not an Obligation!

*****

If you live in the not-so-United States, there’s a lot of hub-bub about VOTING. Oh.  Hey.  Is that today?  Yes, it may be happening right now!  Wait.  Read this.

It goes into all sorts of heated debates about rights which nip and peck at matters like race, gender and religion. It teases about aspirations for taxes, schools, jobs and the big ol’ dinosaur of a “snake-in-the-grass” known as insurance. It starts to sound like a chariot race at some Roman coliseum or an NFL football crowd. It’s like war without most of the bloodshed. I guess…that’s…a good thing?

And, unless you pay no attention to TV or…apparently…any screen receiving “feeds” of some “newsworthy” kind, you are sure to see and/or hear something about the push to vote. It might be worse than the push for pumpkin-spice everything, the obnoxious internet service monopoly commercials and…well, no, none of those is as annoying as the lawyer who can’t stop flashing his face and talking in his annoying voice every half hour because he decided to invest in every branch of life as he knows it, thinking that gives him a right to be a broadcast nag. On that matter, I vote NO.

Now, back to the bigger voting matter(s). Oh wait, we interrupt this blog for a commercial endorsement by some celebrity…yep, I think it’s none other than Mr. Technology Rapper, Common. Okay. Uh-huh. Got it, smooth talker.

So, as I was saying…

What? Wait 8 seconds to bypass this ad for candidate Dingleberry? *sigh* Oookayyy…

Ya see what’s happening here?

Now, if you have the patience and don’t suffer from one of those “attention-deficient disorders,” I have a few things to say. And, I might get winded. But, that’s just part of the misery of being a citizen in “the greatest country in the world.” [Nobody’s perfect here. Okay, Earthlings? If you seriously cannot read all I have to say, you may kindly skip down to the lower portion that begins with “Let me just make this short and bittersweet.”]

Americans?…and all who occupy the country even if you are not “legally settled in” the place. Voting is a citizen’s right. Yet, from all the noise going around, it sounds more like an obligation pending. And, on the sides, you have all the talk about interference and other reasons to be concerned.

This time, the red guys win. Next time, the blue guys win with the adolation of most “celebrities,” those members of some “academy” or “foreign press” association. [It all sounds like secret society talk, like some Luminati or Nazi nod or stroke of the nose. We got ya, boss. Wink.] Nothing good can really be achieved if every day is spent battling Joes and Cobras, or if one “side” paints the town red just for the other to paint it blue when they dominate “seats.” It’s just a waste of time and energy (life).

If recent years haven’t made it abundantly clear, the whole U.S. voting system is a joke and a mess. [Remember the “chad” fiasco from a previous election? That thing that made the cryp-to-spo-rid-i-um scare seem trivial.] But, like other U.S. messes, it goes around and around, and no one really makes an improvement. Is that stability or insanity? [And, if anyone in Russia is laughing at this, take a look in the mirror, once in a while. Are you really any better off? Is any country truly happy with itself? I’d like to know, and I might like to live there.]

And, when the voting is supposedly done, the winners get a mixed bag of quiet time (in which they can do whatever they want) and time in the spotlight when they either get mention for some kind of achievement or pestered for what they did wrong. The latest gladiator to enter this arena has been grilled and then grilled some more for being an all-around fool. Yet, all the noise hasn’t made him even flinch.

Does that mean he’s just that secure in himself or is all the noise just noise and an illusion of unrest? And, if it’s an illusion of unrest, what is going on here? What are “they” protecting at the risk of several minds, not to mention lives?

I begin to question the whole security and essence of my existence. Don’t you? Are we all just cattle being scared into bumping into each other, dropping money we supposedly earn to secure our “status” in this world and our futures, dropping it on the grate that filters into some system we have no control over though we are pressed to vote it into existence year after year? Are we just batteries in some grand machine, handed illusions of better lives until we are broken and replaced? Or, are we truly valued individuals who have a right to live on the same planet and, at least, not assault each other as we find balance with the environment?

I know the concept of everyone living content and having kids as they will is beyond my comprehension of population control. It’s some idyllic fantasy of a science-fiction show about some people and aliens in spandex costumes breaking apart the universe in pursuit of other worlds to occupy and systems of order to upset. [Yeah. Let’s upset some other race. Not ours. Whatever. I guess it’s all learning from experience. Right? Even if it takes an eternity for the light bulb to glow.] I can but choose not to imagine what life would be like if we were no different than deer and lions chasing around in the wilderness, risking the chance of being slain and eaten. But, such is “domesticated” life, conditioned in our minds for such a long time. Right?

And now, back to our voting program……still in progress.

—–

If voting is a gauntlet of fear and anger with a roaring crowd occupying some sort of stadium, arguing over which “side” will rule the land, I really don’t want any part of it. I mean, I am not sure I fit into that sort of medieval mentality, that clash of kingdoms and warlords where you paint your faces to represent a side and then unleash all kinds of confetti-infused mayhem on the land. You’d think the country would have evolved beyond the WW2 days of war bonds and collecting materials for vehicles, rations and weapons. Is this Game of Thrones or Fantasy Island?

If you are pressed to vote and looked down upon for not voting, isn’t that sort of…bullying? Isn’t that as bad as sexism and racism?

Is the “system” so desperate to keep everyone “involved” just to appear as if they care and can work together rather than actually learning to work together?

Has life on this planet become all about the “clicks” and “likes” rather than actually putting our hands together to make some good happen?

Are the “powers that be” so concerned about order crumbling into chaos that their only reassurance is to pressure everyone to partake in this mad scene called a vote?

If we all quarrel and fuss, are our voices reassuring anyone?

Is this like a game of Marco Polo in which being heard confirms we’re still alive and not up to no good?

If a tree in the forest makes a sound, does that mean it’s not plotting to end you?

And, if you must vote with only what you get from ads and debates and those colorful not-so-little flyers passed around until they litter the streets like some 1940s war-era movie disaster, isn’t your vote a bit mis-educated? Misguided? How many candidates make the same promises and then bend differently once in office? Does it really matter who gets in the offices? Does any side really win forever? Does anything good last? Is everyone ever happy?

[Now, I am sure it’s worse in other countries. I know no Americans are getting beheaded, killed for going against the flow and/or voicing opinions that don’t agree with the ruling force. Women aren’t as “repressed” in the U.S….though one could argue the conditioned mindsets of makeup and fashion are a bit like shackles. Is that comforting to know or just a different color of the same crap?]

I cannot honestly say I have any grand knowledge of or trust in any candidate. Sure, I could “research.” But, if all I get is the “resume” of aspirations, am I not still taking a gamble on a person’s character? I cannot be guaranteed one person put in a government job slot will improve anything. And, whether or not my vote does some good cannot be proven. It’s no better than me offering up a prayer unanswered or tossing a coin in a fountain and making a wish. Yet, both of those are not NEARLY as costly to “air time,” taxes and the environment.

[I have voted in previous elections. And, did it make me feel good? Not really. I get that voting, as a right, gives people a chance to decide who gets some sort of job which is supposed to improve the way everyone lives. But, there’s just as much chance my choice will get slammed for some crime he or she did not previously admit and turn out to be something I did not want, at all. I trusted a man’s calm face only to then question is motives and worry about the environment not only threatening job security but the resources that sustain life. If my vote contributes to making my life miserable or ending it sooner than it should be…what the frick am I achieving?!]

When George Washington became the first president of the “United States,” I doubt everyone who could vote voted. People were present and denied the chance and/or right to vote. Some couldn’t make it to wherever it was decided to have their say. Yet, some consensus pushed him up the red-white-and-blue pipe to the top and convinced him to lead the people as he had led some faction through war. And, somehow, this was better than the old taxing ways of the “red coats” and the even older conquering broods that stormed lands, slaying and enslaving natives. Well, it got his face stamped on a few things; that’s for sure. But, is that such a great thing, considering what other places have been stamped with and/or the names they’ve been given? [Boy, I sure enjoyed my weekend at Screw-Your-Soul Lake! I got the chance to climb Mt. Sisyphus and ride the It-Doesn’t-Matter-Horn.]

SEGWAY ALERT! [And, I don’t mean one of those semi-trendy electric scooters.]

And, let’s stop making memorials for every damn wrong humans committed! Aren’t movie remakes enough to let people know they aren’t learning from past mistakes? We’re not making new good; we’re just remodeling the old bad. A statue that represents a racist attrocity isn’t going to stop people from being racist. It’s just as likely to remind people how and/or why to commit one. [What did that guy do? Oh…now that I think of it, maybe I should do that.]

Ever heard of a killer that mimicked a past one? That’s kind of what history does. It’s a sneaky reminder of all the good and bad deeds done in the past, and that filters through our minds like panning for gold. Some will get the virtues while others collect the vices.

Just because there is a Mecca, pope or Buddha doesn’t mean everyone is going to pray to it, him or her and get the benefit. But, at least, those three are hopeful options versus big, glaring reminders of some horror that took place. I’d personally rather walk down a street to find some positive inspiration rather than a reason to feel depressed and/or unreasonable guilt, thank you very much. Yes, many, many people died here. But, you don’t see nearly as many memorials for all the natives trampled and slaughtered under the cover of Thanksgiving! No. Just plenty of casinos and “reservations.” Did we learn anything, class?

And, breathe.

Voting is not something you hand out on the street, not knowing where it has been and where it is going. You don’t smuggle foreigners into voting booths to sway your preference. You should not have to even worry about another country tampering with the ads and/or results. [I won’t name names because that’s like the old school ritual of gossip about “germs.” And, that’s…kinda like bullying. But, thanks a bunch, electronic “conveniences.” Is it so hard to print paper forms or take a vote in person? Why not just have every voter stand in front of a video (or “phone”) camera and voice their choice like the kooks who participate in those “reality TV game shows” who send someone packing every week? Wait. Can that be tampered with, too?] You don’t quibble about ID proof or pester your citizens about anything that they are or do other than being a registered citizen and their choice of candidates. You should not be fed similar mud-slinging stories from all of the candidates and then forced to make a choice with poor education.

If voting is no better than a “Catholic school” permitting some questionable–to say the least–practices or drilling old scripture into your heads that isn’t being respected, it’s as useless as making a complaint to the boss at work who brushes it off for whatever reason and works under the thumb of another guy who works under the thumb of another guy who… Can’t we come up with a better system, already? Or, just do our best to respect the decisions of some person or persons that want to make such decisions so badly so as to keep our heads and liberties, if we still have any.

Let’s not trade dictatorship for democracy or shuffle the cards and pick one of the already disfunctional systems.

And, god or gods help us, let’s not hand over the planet to the alien robots some aspire to replace our humanity, as flawed as it may be. As cool as some might think it is to meet a Transformer, do you really want to be replaced by one or be denied the chance to have real children of your own who go on to have their own children, and so on? Do you really want humankind, your kind, to end its historic tale in a blaze of disaster and failure? Do you think all monkeys want to be known for flinging poo?

I’ve personally heard enough about the origins of democracy to make me give up my fascination with ancient Greece. But, I’d really like such negative and worrisome feelings to just go away so I can wander in daydreams of the old exquisite architecture and happier toga parties…or kimono parties in the Far East, surrounded by cherry trees in full bloom.

Making televised ceremony of some “heir” taking a throne before making baby heirs to ensure the future of one family keeping the old kingdom’s balls rolling isn’t better. It’s like “reality TV” government. And, I really don’t see how probing into the lives of your leaders is allowing anyone to think clearly enough to run any nation. It may be “transparency,” but I don’t want someone watching me poop just to know I am not up to no good. Are the concepts of trust and faith so dead and gone from this world? Are we all so criminal that no one can be trusted with doing GOOD? [And, if you’re booking a flight to Mars just to get away from it all, send me a letter, telling how much better you have it there, provided you don’t repeat these mistakes we humans haven’t learned to correct, yet. Bomb-shelter scare, anyone?]

Ideally, you should have a chance to speak with the candidates and get a feel for what you really like and dislike about the people. After all, this is all “for the people, by the people.” Right? Well, how close is “by the people” if the candidates are just images on a screen and some audio clip endorsing the ad? And, how much do we really get out of debates other than who slammed the opposition best and who stood up for him or her self? Are debates just a wrestling match and test of social stability?

—–

Let me just make this short and bittersweet. [I just like to say that in hopes of preventing myself from foaming at the mouth and exhausting all of my resources, resources like those considered so abundant that they can be wasted on everything “WiFi,” cable-fed and campaign-related when there are people and other animals struggling to live in a world that can’t come to terms with population control and balance with nature. And, maybe, if you DO suffer from a drifting mind, you’ll float down here and get the consensus of my thoughts.]

If voting is not simply a right of United States citizens (and should be a right in other countries, as well), if, instead, it is some sort of obligation like taxes, attending certain schools and obeying certain laws, then it should be an educated decision people make as comfortably as depositing waste in their toilets. Yes, I am saying voting should be as pleasurable as pooping and peeing. And, right now, it’s not even close.

If you made voting available online–as I am sure many are considering even now–that is not the solution! A swipe right or left on some mobile device might be easier than going to a foreign building to fill out a ballot, but it’s as or even more likely to be corrupted and, thus, futile, just because you cater to lazy whims and, again, consider resources like electricity and all of these invisible rays passing through our bodies and everything else on the planet just to transmit “decisions” we should be making face-to-face, with each other, considering such resources so abundant that they can be wasted when so many go without and fall to the wayside.

Let’s really work together to find a “system” that works as well as or better than those supposed globally peaceful “federations” you hear about in some show about “space explorers” who…end up going to war with other worlds and fighting over who is right and wrong, anyway. There has to be a better way! Let’s find it! Not just Americans. Not just celebrity-sales-pitch slaves. Every human on Earth.

Oh, now don’t get any pushy ideas about me as some candidate. I have little to no concrete wisdom about running a house, much less a country or planet. Just noble aspirations and a weakening heart crumbling under so many social pressures and failures. And, I don’t have a clue who I could work with to make things actually better for everyone.

Don’t vote for me. Vote for your city, state and/or country’s security. Vote responsibly or not at all (just like using drugs, including alcohol, pills and all things weed-y). If you cannot meet with the candidates and feel confident in what they could do (because we cannot expect anyone entering a sea of mysterious operators from warring factions to be some kind of Moses parting the Red–Red? Hmm.–Sea), then your vote is dangerous and likely futile.

If no one votes…well, that’s not likely to happen anytime soon. But, if you don’t vote, does it really matter? Someone’s going to step up to make decisions, in pursuit of establishing noble order, domination of territory or just a place in history books. Some folks will follow that person while others will resist. And, if you do vote only to complain later about and/or suffer from the results, did you achieve anything good? And, isn’t that a shame?

I’m Writingbolt, a currently faceless (because I honestly fear for my life, sometimes) identity on a cash cow farm…er, blog site, and I support this statement, even if it fills enough pages to quality for a whatever Times bestseller. If nothing else, I’ve stated my opinion, for what that’s worth. I’m told it’s good to write down one’s thoughts. I hope that’s true. And, I hope I haven’t wasted any precious resources with this output.

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08
May
18

F-Book Stalking and Reliving Old Wounds

****

So, it’s like this.  I don’t use the site/service I prefer to call F-Book.  You know what I mean.  The place you profile people, poke them, stalk feeds, etc.  I’ve heard enough agonizing, annoying stories about the place.  So, I keep my distance.  And, for the most part, so does my family.  Yet, there are those who find their reasons and do all…that.  They may not have their own “page,” but they’ll still dig into the pages of others, of people they used to know just to see where they are now.  And, if people actually thought to look for me?  Well, too bad, so sad, you won’t find me there.

My sister decides to show me pictures of people we used to know when we were kids.  If these are former classmates of hers, I’m okay with it.  But, I still think it’s wrong if she’s not actually reaching out to these people.  That’s just stalking…or ghosting.

But, when she shows me people I shared a class with…people I used to think of as love interests and/or friends…people I lost touch with…who have now moved on, married, had kids…….

It’s like I’ve been in prison all this time.  It’s like I missed out on life.  It’s like I’ve lost them all over again and multiple ways.  It’s hard to just brush it off and say I’m not bothered or discouraged.  I’ll likely need time away from seeing more of…that…to forget about it, as aging is likely to afford.

In  a very small way, I suppose I should be happy these people, at least, appear happy.  And, the girl I thought I’d eventually marry…at least she has a kid with a name I would have agreed to give the child.

I don’t know which is worse.  Or, I do and don’t want to admit it.  If I had done the searching, I might find myself wanting to get lost in a bottle of booze I dare not touch.  But, I didn’t open the box.  My sister did.

…..

How much can one guy like me take?

I just needed to vent, to process this a bit and now have to let it all go.  So many falling stars.  So many beauties I’ve come to adore running off with other men.  I’m just too slow.  It’s my fault.  But, I’m better off not letting them get to me.  Let them go.  And, where I fall I fall.  Just tune out what I cannot hold or control.  Wait for my moment.  My moment will come.  Or, I’ll die a hermit in good service.  I’ll be like a monk or prophet.

 

09
Jan
17

Argh! What and Where Is That Beer Commercial?!

****

It’s in my head, again.  An old beer commercial.  I thought it was Budweiser.  But, now I am thinking it’s Miller Lite.  CAN ANYONE HELP ME FIND THIS?!

Okay, so the commercial starts with a couple at a bar/club in the 50s or 60s.  As they get up and dance, their outfits change to meet the disco era/70s.  And, the longer they dance, the more time periods they pass through until the pitch line and a scene of the future in which the woman has a necklace that is floating around her neck like orbiting asteroids.  I’m pretty sure the phrase, “I like it like that,” is repeated a few times during the ad, which seems to fit Miller Lite.

Name and locate this ad!  Please.  So I can relieve the nagging pulse in my head.  [I even tried to record this ad once back when I still used a VCR.]  I’d peg it as somewhere between 1992 and 1998.  But, I could be off.

27
Sep
16

What a Waste

*****

It hit me yesterday as another lame presidential debate unfolded and, of all people, Donald Trump hits me over the head with the V8 bottle.  All the money wasted on slandering ads.  But, the buck doesn’t stop there.  The whole election system seems a waste of time, money and work hours.  Presently, it’s about a woman who is never going to be forgotten for being absent-minded with her use of computers and a business blowhard who is as fearless as he is foolish when it comes to public relations.  And, in the middle of the arena is a heap of currency from gamblers.  Above their heads is the “fate of Americana” if that’s not just tabloid hype.

Pull the string a little harder, and you find ties to American rights fought so hard for by the armed forces.  I have heard some people question why anyone would not vote for the next president when “our troops fight so hard for these freedoms.”

Is going to war really worth the mockery of an election process?  Is that really a favorable freedom, voting for people who are pressured into mud-slinging nonsense to rile a divided country into taking up sides built on playground behavior rampant in elementary schools?

I am reminded–for whatever reason–of someone I know who worked with a “charitable organization” and came home with some rather expensive “swag” which was spread among staff as a tax write-of–er, gratitude for services.  My family didn’t need the “swag.”  Someone else surely could make better use of the items.  Why do people who don’t need these items get them?  And, what do I anticipate most people who get this “swag” to do with it?  Well, odds are, they’ll either put it up for auction (say on eBay) or offer it to someone else with a good chance that someone else will not use it, either.  Maybe I am being pessimistic.  But, it smells more and more like the likely outcome, at least, from where I live, from my point of view.  Knowing my luck with stepping outside this point of view, I’ll go to another state or country and find much more sensible, generous and productive use of such “swag.”  And, I am sure, in some places, worse use.

In short, I guess I am just nauseous from how much time, money and resources are exhausted each day on crap that amounts to nothing.  And, in the back of my head, I hear the Foo Fighters singing that song about “reaching the prize at the end of the road” and all that “nothing” that comes before seeing one’s own “ghost.”  As I said to myself last night, I fear one day, in the distant future, some other race will look back upon humankind and sum it all up as a waste of space and resources, a species that constantly tried to assert itself as right in self-centered ways until extinction.

I’m clinging to a shred of hope that won’t be the case.

Maybe guys like Kaepernick have the right idea about not partaking in the national anthem.  But, if so, what does that say about the nation who boasts being #1.  And, what’s it going to take to remedy the situation?  Certainly, not a “bank bailout.”  Certainly, not another ridiculous election of a figurehead with two opposing teams of underlying “factory workers.”  Certainly, not a nation of people giving up on trying.  [But, I’m leaning toward falling into that last group, myself.  Which isn’t good.]  Certainly not more APP businesses that are a flash in the pan predecessor of a scary  world already seen in movies mankind made.  Certainly not more minimum wage jobs and guns in hands of desperate and foolish people.

I don’t have any grand answer.  But, I’d love to establish a decent think tank.

26
Feb
16

20 Years of Personal History with Pokemon

*****

You’ll have to excuse me. In my haste to grab a piece of Pokemon mania surrounding the 20th anniversary, I downloaded some weird auto-correct system which occasionally interjects the names of creatures from the games.

I thought I’d take this time to share a bit of my history with Pokemon. [Prepare to “geek out” with me.]

* I first read an ARTICUNO about the novel release of two exclusive versions and collections of pokemon as Game Boy games so long ago, I forget the year. [Or, were they simply listed as portable games?]

* Then, around OCTILLERY 1998, I discovered the American/English version of the (Indigo League) cartoon series. On the plus side, I feel like a JIGGLYPUFF when I think of the artwork and CHARMELEON characters, including the protagonists. [Pokemon sucked me in just like Mega Man. I used to spend afternoons and evenings, after school, flipping through game manuals just to ponder the different robots and invent some of my own.]

The creatures alone are thought-provoking. Then you add the human characters who come with so many stories of their own. I was instantly swept away with the idea of three friends being free to travel around the world and experience so much just because they decided to catch and train wild animals, pursuing small tokens of achievement from what are classified as gyms (more like martial arts dojos).

Occasionally, a female character’s anime hair color turns me off. Gary, Professor Oak’s grandson, can be annoying. Clefairy is very annoying. Kadabra, Hypno and Jynx are a tad unsettling. I do TYROGUE of SEAKING the “heroes” ZAPDOS primary Team Rocket members over and over. Butch has a voice that makes eyes water. And, I do not need to see James dress like a girl/woman.

* In 1999, I risked being late for MACHOP just to fetch toys from Burger KINGLER. I can’t tell you how MANKEY times I made a RAPIDASH over there just to punch back into work, KOFFING and WEEZING. There were so MANKEY toys to collect, you couldn’t PIKACHU which one(s) you wanted. You just took your CHANCEYS. Maybe you had a few minutes and a nice cashier who’d let you fondle packs to check for familiar shapes.

* I remember one of the managers at my workplace voicing a strong hatred for the “evils” of Pokemon (essentially the part about humans forcing animals to fight each other). And, while I initially let his concerns fly over my SKITTY head, I gradually agreed with him. The fighting aspects are corrupting (of minds), promoting violence and cruelty to other animals. In a way, Pokemon is bullying glamorized by a colorful, whimsical package. It takes hold of you like cigarettes, an innocent social/stress-relieving drug until you turn hostile/defensive from withdrawal or suffer internally. [More on this, later.]

* I went a bit CRAWDAUNT with collecting; I’ll admit. [But, I won’t list everything I bought.] It started to feel like a sickness when I was GULPIN several Happy Meals (instead of just asking to buy the toys separately) and searching Blockbuster Video shops for “exclusive” items. Some items I could easily part with while others I suspect may stick to my hands. I wonder if the soundtrack from the show had any sway over my judgment. [There’s that Viridian City song in my head, again.]

* When the Gold and Silver (Johto) editions of the game were about to debut (before I had seen any Pokedex additions), I drew up an assortment of creatures I was thinking about submitting to the game company. When I saw the new line-up already had a Hoothoot, Noctowl and Totodile, I GHASTLY. They were in my sketchbook (under different names and slightly different in appearance). I am fairly sure I could pinpoint other creatures in the official listings that resemble my sketches. I know at least one frog strongly resembles one of the elemental lot I drew, mimicking the various forms of Eevee. [I chalk it up to two people having the same ideas.]

* By 2004, I was packing my obsessions away and looking abroad for adventure. I had to hide my Pokemon just to grow up and get outside my box for a while! So, I donned my Indigo Leag–er, fedora-ish hat and boarded a plane to Spain. When I NIDORAN into a BELLOSSOM, I knew I was in trouble. The strong winds made it double, leaving me quite devastated, at times. I sure felt like Brock on that trip, ogling so many pretty faces but never quite connecting with any of them. I tried to maintain Ash’s fiery enthusiasm, staying “on the road to Viridian City.” [“Come on; let’s go.”] Instead, I suffered similar setbacks from his short-sighted ambition/observation skills. And, when the time to return home drew near, I was more than a little Misty.

* Pokemon kinda DRIFTLOON off the TV radar over time. The last plot I recall involved May and Max (in the Johto series). Along came Digimon, Yu-Gi-Oh and many others which distracted me from asking questions up until 2008 with the TV signal change and–was it 2012?–when Saturday morning cartoons became a thing of broadcast-TV past. [Of course, anyone with cable or internet TV would not notice. They’d just shrug at my dismay as if a feather grazed their SHELDER.]

*In 2014, while babysitting for my sister, cable TV allowed me to introduce the original cartoon series to my nephew, keeping the volume down to a WHISMUR so I wouldn’t wake his brothers. At the time, I was curbing BELDUM during naps, playing a few of the old Game Boy games and one I had yet to play. And, while I had no interest in explaining the fighting aspects to him, I did enjoy discussing the characters. Since then, we’ve had moments of creativity in which we either draw our favorites or craft new characters.

*As of 2015, I’ve been able to introduce three nephews to the characters and some non-violent games found online. When word of the 20th anniversary reached my computer screen, I felt renewed enthusiasm.

Then, I saw the promo for Pokemon Go, the new project for 2016.

If you haven’t seen the video, I suggest you check it out. I cannot imagine grown people running around cities with “smart phones,” trying to catch holographic Pokemon in motion (as they magically appear) and/or gathering to “flash mob” Mewtwo. Actually, I can imagine idiots dodging work and causing traffic hazards/disasters with such foolishness. But, isn’t there a better way to advance/enjoy the craze?

And, again, why all of the fighting requirements? Game Freak/Pokemon, take a page from the Yokai Watch book. In that anime/cartoon series, the protagonist collects ghosts in various ways, rarely if ever resorting to violence. It’s about using his head instead of claws, teeth and laser beams. The Pokemon cartoons HAVE shifted focus from fighting with the Orange Island League, for example, using carnival-like challenges to earn gym badges. That’s much nicer than beating another animal senseless with deadly weapons/powers (though the fatal aspect is reduced to “fainting”).

Do not backtrack by promoting battles, again. Respect your lovely creations. Well, most of them, anyway. Some of these newer pokemon are a bit of a stretch in terms of sensible creatures. [If someone could explain the “mythology,” I’d be grateful.]

Hey! By working through my more serious feelings on the subject, I seem to have beaten the auto-correct system! I haven’t seen a single MISSING NO. since I went POLIWHIRL about the negative aspects.

[Awe; crud.]

To all the other Pokemon fans who read this post:

May you continue to be inspired and delighted by the characters. May you cosplay and craft to your hearts’ delight. But, should anyone coax you to battle, turn them down; walk away. And, save yourself a lifetime of gaming by observing pokemon around you in nature. Stop the pet abuse. The world doesn’t need more strays.

Sincerely,
Writingbolt

15
Jan
16

Childhood Regression, a 2001: A Space Odyssey Thing

*****

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*****
A thought came to me last week like a star flash billions of light years away finally reaching Earth. I needed to see the final few episodes of Captain Simian and the Space Monkeys.

It was nineteen ninety something when I had my first VCR recording nearly every episode of that short-lived yet lovable cartoon. It’s a bit corny yet can be quite philosophical/insightful and makes plenty of science fiction/comedy references (usually with the assistance of holographic baboons, or “holo-boons”).

So, that’s what I did. I traveled back in time via an internet wormhole to relive a slice of life that wasn’t great. My life was in limbo. And, anything comical was like life-support. I never partook in “recreational drugs.” So, a cartoon about human predecessors given human intelligence by alien beings who need help saving the universe from destruction at the “hands” of a thinking black hole…was just what Dr. Bones ordered. [I also could have used a few more bananas in my diet.]

After that experience, I craved more. [As Captain Simian would say, “Check. Childhood regression. It’s a space odyssey thing.”]

I flipped through a Rolodex of countless TV shows I have watched in my lifetime thus far and stopped at Jim Lee’s WildC.A.T.s (also from nineteen ninety something). If you’ve stopped by my About Me page, you might notice the framed image of a man with yellow hair wearing a red mask, standing next to a woman with white hair and face paint. Those were my two favorite characters from that poorly written and drawn cartoon. I looooved Zealot and imagined I was her Grifter. [It was a rare romance in cartoon history.] Had the majority of animation and dialogue not been so poor, the show might have lasted longer. [The same can be said of Ultraforce.] Little did I know there were changes made from the comic books (which I never read) which might have upset some fans.

I had just dipped my toes in the end of that series when other recommended shows streaming down the screen started tickling my addiction nerve, the same nerve that hums when I get hooked into certain video games. “Remember that one?” I asked myself. “Oh, it’s been eons since I watched that. And, what about that one? I still remember…her!” [Even as I write this, I am hearing the theme song from Ultraforce playing in my head, and I am bopping to it like a complete dork. I used to replay that show’s opening until the VHS tape started to wear.]

I began surrounding myself in virtual windows, traveling to other worlds like bookworms devour stacks of books. Each cartoon transported me back to a different place in my lifetime. These–quantum leaps (ha!)–seeped into my brain, reopening parts that had already been weathered and scarred. And, I am not sure if this is a good thing or not.

Am I healing by traveling back to what was? Or, am I becoming more lost in mental space, detaching from everything that comes with adult life in “the real world?”

I can imagine myself reverting to an infant or fleshy blob with just enough brain to process or be stimulated by the visual “entertainment” I lived upon all those lonely years. Goodbye, paperwork. Goodbye, household chores. Goodbye, laundry and picking out new clothes every day. Goodbye, fears and accidents. I will be just fine in my animated bubble…as long as you keep the fun streaming.

So, while others mourn the passing of a British musician and sing his old tune about “Major Tom,” I say, “This is Major Writingbolt to Ground Control. I’m slipping through the daaark. I’m sitting in a room, fighting back the gloom. I’m thinking without air and am not sure that I care. Yes, this is Major Writingbolt to Ground Control. I’m slipping through the daaark…in a most unusual waaay. And, I don’t know what is todaaay. But, if this is joy, I think I will be okaaaaay.

And, here’s the really important question, the end-all-be-all question of questions that must be asked lest minds explode……

Anyone got a banana?”
===============

For those who did not find the above too lengthy to read, a little trip down cartoon memory lane (the good and bad of past cartoons viewed with a now adult perspective).

One key thing I recall about many of these was the push to sell toys. Quality animation and sensible stories rich in detail didn’t matter. If you got one or both, you were lucky. The primary goal seemed to be selling toys and targeting genders. Thus, if a particular show didn’t have a respectable toy line, it was strangely disappointing (at least, to me). But, in the thick/rough of merchandising nightmares, there were a few gems.

1. Captain Simian and the Space Monkeys (circa 1996-1997, 26 episodes, Hallmark Entertainment/Monkeyshine Productions, Inc./Bohbot Entertainment): A NASA chimp gets lost in space only to be rescued by an advanced alien race in desperate need of help saving the universe from a power-hungry entity that resembles a black hole. The chimp is given “higher intelligence,” a primate crew, a space ship that breaks off into smaller ships and all the technology he needs to win the fight…eventually.

The good: Great voice cast, great characters (both main and cameo), great animation, great opening sequence/instrumental theme music, decent comedy, decent action, a touch of romance, plenty of ponderous moments that make you think about everything from human nature to spiritual purpose, plenty of references to/parodies of other movies/shows, nice use of fudged famous quotes during the end credits of each episode, it’s like Star Trek meets Red Dwarf, safe for most ages (though toddlers may be disturbed by some images and miss some of the “clean” yet adult jokes)…

The bad: It only lasted 26 episodes (I failed to record about 3 of them on VHS), I have yet to find this series on DVD, a Shao Lin action figure was not included in the regular stock sold in stores (and I would be elated for someone to find/send me one to complete my set)…

Personal notes: I initially heard of this show at a toy convention where I found one dealer selling a few of the action figures. When I saw the show on TV and found some of the toys at a local toy store, I was compelled to invest and got most at a decent price. I love most of the characters; some of the (uncertain) villains are a tad creepy. As with many cartoons, I fall in love with the female characters; and Shao Lin is no exception. [I wish Captain Simian would show her more respect in the series, but he is emulating Kirk from Star Trek.]

*****

2. Jim Lee’s WildC.A.T.s (based upon the Image comic book series, circa 1994-1995, about 12 episodes aired): A team of unusual heroes fight alongside a ridiculously wealthy businessman for a good alien race’s cause to stop an evil alien race from possessing the people of Earth while gathering limitless power hidden within the planet.

The good: The budding relationship between Grifter and Zealot, Voodoo, Void, Pike, Grifter’s gadgets, good opening sequence/theme music, the plot of the short-lived series reminds me of GI Joe stopping COBRA from building its destructive laser cannon in the early episodes…

The bad: Plot holes, animation goofs/poorly drawn characters (at least one that changes as the series progresses), okay-to-poor explanation of good aliens versus bad aliens, some robotic and plain lousy-if-not-foul-smelling dialogue, a ridiculously wealthy little person who can buy or make whatever he wants yet still needs this odd-lot handful of rebels to defeat a weak army of aliens and robots, not recommended for kids under 10 or deeply religious families…

Personal notes: As I already stated elsewhere, I fell in love with Zealot. [Voodoo and Void have their charms, as well. But, Zealot’s appeal is similar to Wonder Woman without the questionable lasso as a weapon and patriotic costume.] And, I felt Grifter was about as close as you would get to a hero I could portray/emulate without millions of dollars, dead parents and a “swinging bachelor pad.” The coolest toy I have from the series is the 13″? Grifter. [Though the equally large Maul is cool to pair with the smaller figures as he was the only character who could grow to giant size. I wish they had made a 13″ Zealot and Voodoo.]

*****

3. Ultraforce (based upon the Malibu comic book series, circa 1995, 13 episodes, DIC/Bohbot Entertainment): An unusual yet strangely familiar handful of heroes, including a boy who goes through a hormonal transformation to become as strong as Superman, band together to take on a semi-unique lot of villains terrorizing Earth (but particularly one city).

The good: Great opening sequence/theme music, decent heroes (a few unique ones), better villains (Lord Pumpkin is quite awesome), it’s like X-Men and the Avengers thrown into a blender…

The bad: Poorly drawn characters (steroid-enhanced male characters, especially)/Animation goofs, corny/bad dialogue for some characters, questionable team dynamic (why do these heroes need to be a team?)…

Personal notes: I was not too impressed with the toy line. And, this was one show that–at the time–was putting out these stupid “variant”/”chase” figures which contributed to dealer hording and collector sickness. I did notice the striking resemblance between certain Ultraforce and Marvel Comics characters. But, I also noticed Ultraforce trying to give them unique “side effects”/origin stories (which gets a B for effort).

*****

4. Tigersharks (from a weekend feature called “The Comic Strip,” circa 1987?…I thought it came out around 1990-92, Rankin/Bass): In a distant future, a group of research scientists? (who are not all exactly human) rush to a world completely covered by water to stop a band of pirates from destroying a peaceful civilization of aquatic creatures and fish people. Their leader gives them the ability to turn into sea-creature-hybrids so they can fight underwater for long periods of time (though Dolph needs air frequently).

The good: Great characters (Captain Bizzarly, Octavia, Angel, Dragonstein, etc.), great animation, it’s like Silverhawks had a baby with the lost city of Atlantis…

The bad: Poor/Lousy and quite corny dialogue from–I presume–hurried/pressured writers trying to make another Thundercats series, corny opening sequence/theme song, puzzling/corny premise and reactions from certain characters (it’s the sort of cartoon you want to watch with the sound off, just appreciating the visuals…though you would miss Bizzarly’s iconic voice), the action figure line was very limited yet cool (and similar to the look of Thundercats figures), I have yet to find this series on quality DVD…

Personal notes: Admitting to another childhood crush, I adored Octavia slightly more than I liked Angel. I was not a big fan of octopi before I saw this series. For me, this was like an underwater Star Wars (before Waterworld became a movie and after it became a sequel to Atari’s Swordquest: Earthworld) with fewer characters. Following the series on TV was not the easiest as episodes were broken up with the other cartoons featured in the Comic Strip Sunday? mornings when my family would usually be going to church. I may have only seen five complete episodes as a kid. This and Silverhawks were shows I liked to record with an audio cassette recorder and then play back (like books on tape) while taking hot baths. There was something strangely appealing about taking a hot bath and listening to stories of the heroes and villains clashing in icy scenes.

*****

5. Thundercats (circa 1985-1989, 130+ episodes): A group of cat people escape the destruction of their home planet and migrate to Third Earth where they meet an assortment of colorful characters and face a horde of monstrous villains–including a rather scary mummified wizard–while adapting to life with a leader who is not what they expected after losing their previous mentor/leader (who revisits them in spirit like Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars).

The good: Great characters, great animation, great opening sequence/theme music, great music (particularly the music used with Panthro/the Thundertank), one of the greatest vehicles ever designed for a cartoon (the Thundertank), whimsical stories/adventures with hints of mythology/legendary tales (like King Arthur and the lady of the lake), morals for the kids, it merited an animated film spin-off (in which new characters were introduced), many (not all) of the action figures/toys are finely sculpted/crafted…

The bad: Some corny/robotic dialogue (which gets teased about by some, including the cast members), I think there may have been a few animation goofs/voice placement mistakes (actors reading lines for the wrong character and/or mouths moving without voice), Lion-O and Snarf can be a bit whiny (like Luke from Star Wars), Mumm-Ra’s wailing/laughter can get a bit loud/annoying…

Personal notes: This remains one of my all-time favorite cartoons, if not the top of my list here. I was a bit obsessed/infatuated with Cheetara and the female space cop (who I always confuse with Silverhawks). I particularly remember episodes featuring the Driller and a creature who needed gold to stay warm (which he begged Cheetara to bring him until his dark side was revealed). I felt Lion-O and Tigra were semi-gay/whiny. Panthro was my favorite male Thundercat. I particularly enjoyed the “trials” mini-series in which each Thundercat tests Lion-O so he can earn his leadership role. This was a rare show for which I had a sticker book and poster on my bedroom door.

*****

6. Silverhawks (circa 1986, 65 episodes, Rankin/Bass, Lorimar-Telepictures, Pacific Animation Corporation/Japan): The even-more-futuristic-looking follow-up to Thundercats (no relation other than animation quality/company) in which a group of specially selected human (and one alien) space explorers/astronauts are given cybernetic bodies for safe travel to a distant space station where they act as galactic police officers, fighting alien criminals lead by a rather scary red villain who drives a giant squid. The cybernetic bodies also let the heroes fly like birds and fight in space without the need for oxygen tanks.

The good: Great animation, great characters (even the scary one), great opening sequence/theme music, cool settings, cool villain vehicles with a sort of retro gangster (Dick Tracy) vibe, cool visor/mask effect used by the heroes, decent science lessons for kids at the end of many if not all episodes, cool individual pet bird addition/concept for each of the heroes and some villains (not the worst reason for a second round of action figures)…

The bad: The weird use/projection of lasers from the heroes’ bodies, (again) some corny/robotic dialogue (the leader of the heroes is particularly odd in behavior/vocal quality), not the most intelligent plots at all times (villains not achieving much before being dispatched rather quickly), the big bad boss Mon-Star may be a lil scary for some kids (including young me)…

Personal notes: [I already stated some with my Tigersharks notes.] Unlike other cartoons, this one didn’t exactly have the strong female types I usually like. I did like Steelheart. And, Melodia was an okay villainess. But, that’s not saying much. Hardware, Molecular, Mumbo Jumbo and Pokerface were my favorite characters. [I disliked Quicksilver much the same way I grew to dislike Lion-O and Tigra from Thundercats and Leo in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cartoons (after the origin story).] I enjoyed the episodes that featured the casino and Pokerface’s eyes flipping. I hated Bluegrass’ mohawk (which was a lame 1980s craze) but loved how he fought with music and a guitar that could turn into a robotic bird. The Mirage ship–I suspect–was inspired by the Phoenix from G-Force/Gatchaman and mimicked by Captain Simian’s Primate Avenger.

*****

7. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (circa 1983-1985, Mattel/Filmation): A female astronaut from Earth crashes on a distant alien world where humans also exist. She gives birth to a boy (who we see only as a ridiculously muscular man squeezed into a tight outfit) who is summoned to a mysterious magical castle by a sorceress to become He-Man, the strongest man in this planet’s universe, and to battle an assortment of equally muscular and bizarre villains lead by Skeletor, a wizard whose face was turned into a glowing skull by his quest for power.

The good: A great overall fantasy experience, some great characters and plots, a decent story with greater depth not fully tapped in the initial series (especially Teela’s story), a memorable toy line, it merited a few reincarnations, morals for kids after every episode…

The bad: A substantial amount of “reused content” (animation sequences that repeat though backgrounds may change, the product of rushed animators on a budget), this was one of a number of cartoons pushed with the intent of selling mass quantities of toys during the 1980s toy boom, and the action figures were often poor copies of each other with minor paint changes and different heads, a questionable cartoon for “body image” (namely He-Man himself who is buff and pasty as Adam and then buff, half-naked and ridiculously tan in hero form)…

Personal notes: I participated in an action figure design contest which was REALLY rare at the time. But, sadly, I could not come up with any stellar original designs (which is kinda ironic when you think about how the show reused bodies for different characters) and only won a Sorceress magnet for my effort. I was particularly scared by the two-part “pyramid of doom” episode in which He-Man went underground and was captured by some wizardess (as far as I recall). The most memorable episodes for me were the one in which Orko lost his magic amulet in the back of a tar pit dinosaur while trying to impress a snobbish relative of Prince Adam…the one in which Orko met the female “Orko” and that odd bat creature that drained his people’s magic…the one in which He-Man was trapped in a maze and had to ride a giant arrow to escape…and the one in which the Sorceress was lifting a ball of light between her legs with her mind. [That last one was the first episode I remember seeing.]

It was the cousin series, She-Ra that had me and my sister running home from school one rainy day to catch an episode. [Yes, another crush; I was madly in love with Adora/She-Ra as well as a number of other female characters (including Castaspella, Catra and Frosta). This was one of the first cartoons that made me wonder–even at a young age–why cartoon females were drawn so attractive. There were no “Plain Janes” and very few silly girls like She-Ra’s Madame Razz and a few of the forest people.]

*****

8. Filmation’s Ghostbusters (the animated series, circa 1986): A rather silly cartoon about the sons of the previous generation of ghostbusters (from a live-action TV series) and a rather animated gorilla (who worked with their fathers) keeping the family business of “busting” (or zapping to a parallel world) futuristic ghosts alive. [Not to be confused with “The Real Ghostbusters” which was a parallel 1980s cartoon based upon the Ghostbusters movies featuring four men in overalls zapping ghosts in New York City with proton-beam guns.]

The good: Some great characters, great opening sequence, decent animation, decent/catchy theme song/music (including some good moody music for certain scenes/scenarios), morals for the kids, some good plots, an okay toy line, certain DVD sets included episodes of the original live-action series (and the original cast/dads appear in the cartoon)…

The bad: (As there was with the original He-Man) Some “reused content” (sequences/scenes repeated to fill/kill time), some ridiculous gadgets, a questionable/puzzling HQ (which reminds me of Pee-Wee Herman’s playhouse), some of the acting/voice parts become rather annoying (Eddie is the most annoying)…

Personal notes: I found Prime Evil to be rather scary as a kid. But, his cousin?–who looks like a scary blue knight and has a mask that lifts to reveal some sort of light–was the scariest of them all in one episode. I personally adore Mysteria, Jessica and Futura (who is lovable in a very 1980s way). Tracy, Brat-a-rat, Belfry, Haunter, Airhead (though he uses one line a bit much) and the Ghostbuggy are quite amusing.

*****

9. G-Force (aka Battle of the Planets aka Gatchaman aka Eagle Riders, circa 1978-1985, 85 episodes, Sandy Frank Entertainment): [Pardon my foggy memory; I have not watched an episode of any incarnation in over a decade. This may yet go on my online flashback list.] A team of space explorers? in bird costumes fight aliens disturbing galactic peace with futuristic (and slightly odd/goofy) weapons and vehicles (like Batman).

[I will possibly add the good and bad when/if I view some of the “original” (as I remember it) series.]

Personal notes: This was THE first science fiction cartoon I ever saw as a kid. And, truthfully, all I remember from my first taste was a robotic centipede and a spaceship that broke into pieces and turned into a fire bird. [I can clearly remember the fire bird flying across the screen during the end credits.] I also remember the fat guy and little kid among the heroes who resemble Hunk and Pidge from the original Voltron (“Lion Force”) cast) and the lovely Dove/Princess (my first animated crush). When Voltron came out, I thought someone had copied G-Force but left out the cool spaceship. Many years later, when I learned the series was also called Gatchaman and saw the American reboot “Eagle Riders,” I didn’t feel the same excitement/enthusiasm I had as a kid. Even the phoenix/fire bird ship looked different.
*****

10. Pole Position (circa 1984, 13 episodes, DIC/LBS): An adult man (Dan) and woman (Tess) stunt car team follow in their parents’ footsteps, “fighting crime” with futuristic cars that could turn into other vehicle modes and feature talking computers (Wheels and Rhody) in the dashboards (like KITT from Knight Rider). This was loosely inspired by (not based upon) an arcade game. [If you’ve ever seen Nascar Racers, this is similar with less emphasis on racing and a touch of criminals trying to steal technology seen in Iron Man (Marvel Comics) plots.]

The good: Great opening sequence/theme music, likable characters, very cool cars with witty voices…

The bad: From what I can remember, the show relied heavily on its theme song/opening and cool cars, there’s a lot of shrugging and lucky breaks in hazardous situations that almost make the show a circus or magic show without the warning (not to try this at home) we often see today…

Personal notes: At the time, I recall watching a show called Hunter and thinking the brunette detective (who also liked to sing) resembled the lead female (Tess) from this cartoon. And, I had a slight crush on both women. 🙂 This luckily has come out on DVD; I have yet to get a set, though. I DO have a few old VHS tapes I acquired from a closing video store and eBay.

I just recently watched the first episode (called “The Code”). It was surprisingly heavy in detail for a kids’ show, including a few plot twists and deception not seen in other cartoons of the time. I keep thinking Daisy, the little girl in the show, is the older pair’s daughter. But, apparently, they are all siblings.

[Some years back, a series called Skysurfer Strike Force featured strangely dressed heroes with cars that could turn into rocket sleds. Sliced Ice (what an odd name) reminded me of the woman from Pole Position (and had a hot costume). I visited a eerily vacant and hidden toy store once and found a few Sliced Ice toys there (none of the other Skyforce characters) which seemed odd at the time when female character toys/figures were regularly snatched up by dealers.]

*****

11. Galaxy Rangers (1986, syndicated/rerun until 1989, Gaylord Entertainment/Tokyo Movie Sinsha animation, 65 episodes): A futuristic and rather mature anime-ish cartoon about quartet of specially selected human cowboys/rangers sent out with special powers/weapons to bring down a criminal organization headed by a mysterious Queen who leads the Crown Empire.

[I have yet to look at any old episodes. So, the following assessment is from memory.]

The good: Good animation (if you like anime), cool robotic horses and alien villains, Goose–the “glowing energy man” and speedy gunslinger–is one awesome character, Niko–the telekinetic–is similarly likable, this show was like Bravestarr or the Fantastic Four crossed with the Wild, Wild West…

The bad: [I’ll get back to you on this. But, I didn’t care for the guy with the laser/power arm nor the computer expert guy who was the “token minority” character. Also, a few action figures were made; but, apparently, they were not released in the USA? Only Australia? For some reason, I remember seeing them on store pegs. But, I never had one.]

Personal notes: [Again, my memory is rather foggy.] This has been released in a few DVD formats/collections. While I don’t remember much, I do recall finding Niko attractive. But, Goose was–hands-down–the best character on the show. If he wasn’t purposely pushed to be the star, he was the star to me. He stood out and was quite bad-ass like Grifter in WildC.A.T.S. and Wolverine in the X-Men cartoons. I managed to find an old video warehouse (about a decade ago) that had factory-sealed tapes and acquired one that came with crayons.

IF someone could/would reboot this series, I think Knights of Cydonia by Muse would be a PERFECT music piece to accompany the show/movie. I can just about match the animated footage to the song, visualizing the Rangers riding their robotic horses during a certain portion.

*****

12. G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (circa 1983-1986, Hasbro/Sunbow/Marvel): The American cartoon (though it may have been animated/drawn by Japanese artists) about a rather large team of soldiers from various divisions (navy, air force, etc.) with exceptional skills and costumes who fought COBRA, “a ruthless terrorist organization” bent on ruling the world.

The good: The original mini-series involving the assembly of the M.A.S.S device (or death laser cannon) is especially good, some great characters (namely Snake Eyes, Scarlet, Lady Jaye and the Baroness…though Cobra Commander, Storm Shadow, Destro, Zartan, Tomax/Xamot and the Dreadnoks are also quite memorable), great opening sequence/theme music, decent action, cool vehicles, it’s safe for kids because no one ever gets killed or seriously hurt (though Snake Eyes loses the ability to speak and never shows his face and some characters do carry other battle scars), this went on to take various incarnations, including the Sigma Six series (which featured such lovable characters as Jinx and Tunnel Rat)…

The bad: Some corny dialogue, not the greatest animation (though not the worst, either), some plots may strike viewers as weird/disturbing (but not for anything graphic/adult)…

Personal notes: Even if he was strangely handicapped, Snake Eyes remains one of my favorites and probably the one costume I’d don at a GI Joe costume party. [I kinda favored Barbeque, too. I don’t think I could pull off Quickkick, but he was decent and mildly amusing.] I grew tired of Duke, Gung Ho, Flint and Shipwreck rather quick. All of them went mad–I think–at some point during the series which was unsettling to watch. Need I mention my crushes on some of the female characters? [Nah. 🙂 ]

*****

13. Jem and the Holograms (circa 1985, originally featured as part of a cluster of cartoons that included a Big Foot monster truck cartoon and Robotix): An emotionally heavy and fairly mature “cartoon for girls” in which Jerrica Benton takes over her deceased father’s music company and forms a band with some friends and a pair of earrings connected to a hologram-generating super computer…while keeping rivals Eric Raymond and the Misfits at bay, juggling sometimes complex romantic relationships and benefiting sick/orphan kids.

The good: Great characters (even if some are horribly painted in 1980s colors and fashion fads), strong/good music sung by an artist that had her own band/album (Belltower), a respectable toy line which included cassette tapes featuring songs from the show closely related to each 13″ character doll, the whole Jem/Jerrica hologram-costume-change concept was awesome (at the time) and still holds some merit/appeal (competing with Wonder Woman, Sailor Moon, Cutey Honey, etc.), secondary characters were more involved than in other shows (and had their own special episodes to deal with family issues), serious topics like the loss of a family member, war times and relationship disagreements were featured in thought-provoking ways, this is definitely a show for inspiring fashion design/designers…

The bad: Some of the episodes/plots just make you laugh when you’re supposed to be shocked/crying, a few characters can be rather annoying at times, the animation isn’t the best, this show might make you cringe at the thought of painted-on eyebrows and horrible eye shadow color choices, and a horribly different movie was just made [I have yet to actually view more than a few trailer seconds of it; so I can’t fully judge. But, I know a number of changes were made.]…

Personal notes: Of all the characters, I thought Pizazz was the most hideous but probably the best of the “villains.” She’s the female equivalent of Starscream from Transformers. Actually, Stormer is the best of the Misfits/villains because she rarely does anything cruel and actually shows a softer side a few times during the series. [Although, I liked Clash, too.] Yes, this is a “chick cartoon,” and I am a guy who liked it immensely. Needless to say, I had a HUGE crush on Jerrica (and Kimber…and Video…and Synergy). As a kid, I liked almost every female character. Again, I was not a fan of Pizazz. Nor did I care for Roxy, Raya and Jetta. I remember–even as a kid–thinking this show was unusually heavy emotionally and different from other cartoons. It was a huge source of inspiration, rivaling Thundercats. Being a boy, the show was not something I discussed casually around other boys. But, there were a few in my class who secretly admitted to liking the show.

*****

14. Dungeons and Dragons (circa 1983-1985, Marvel Productions/Toei Animation, 27+ episodes): A group of kids visit a theme park and ride a roller coaster that magically transports them to the world of Dungeons and Dragons (a fantasy role-playing game that inspired a whole slew of similar projects and a cult following) where they are given special roles and powerful weapons to battle villains and find a way back home with the dungeon master’s mysterious assistance.

The good: This was a decent splash of 1980s stereotypes with a wholesome outlook and a fantasy backdrop, decent (though dated) animation, good characters (each with their own strengths and weaknesses, the latter typically emphasized over the former), some intense battles/plots with quests for magic items and rescues of creatures in peril, Tiamat (the five-headed dragon) and Venger are exceptionally cool characters, the series was released on DVD in a nice (and–last I checked–very affordable) box set with a colorful and detailed book)…

The bad: [I honestly can’t remember much that was bad other than the occasional whiny or slightly scary episode. The baby unicorn is probably the worst character as it is frequently in peril and whining/wailing.]

Personal notes: I often confused this cartoon with a creepy live-action movie (which I vaguely remember featuring some evil rock that gets stuck in a microwave oven before destroying a family home in the end). Don’t ask me why. But, the villain in the movie reminds me of Venger. I was drawn to the Tiamat character as it also appears in “The Real Ghostbusters” with the mythical counterpart that brings the dragon down. [I remember the guy having orange-ish skin and four? eyes and being able to disguise himself as a private investigator.] This show may have sparked my interest in redheads, including Scarlet from G.I. Joe, Kimber from Jem and the Holograms and the evil army woman from the movie Willow (who later joins the heroes to stop the dark witch). [Just as She-Ra and, later, Jerrica/Jem sparked my interest in blondes.] I was a bit scared of the cult talk surrounding the game books but a big fan of pretending to be the characters from the cartoon. I recall an old game which–I think–was called Dark Tower and looking through some of the game books for monster/character ideas for my own projects/art. I remember reading about Kobolds and drawing pictures of “yellow mold” and “black pudding” with warriors using long metal poles to slip by without harm. Before Mighty Max (which was a lame toy line but a great cartoon that wrapped itself into a perfect loop, returning to the first episode from the last), this show touched on the concept of struggling to return home from a fantasy land and thus became a valuable source of inspiration. Hank’s (the archer) light bow was the coolest weapon at the time; better than any lightsaber or laser pistol, in my opinion.

*****

15. The Thing Cartoon (circa 1979, part of the Fred and Barney Show): A teenage red-haired boy named Benji possesses a pair of magic rings which–when combined–attract the magic rocks that turn him into the Thing (from the Fantastic Four) and reverse the process when the Thing joins his two fists. Benji uses this power to stop bullies and other thieves from causing trouble.  Kelly, the little blonde sister of his classmate? Betty is the only one who knows his secret.

The good: It features the Thing…well, some incarnation of the character, the animation is decent (for the time), most of the characters are likable (dated stereotypes)…

The bad: This is a really corny, silly hero cartoon which exploits a Marvel Comics character, in the first episode the Thing uproots a tree and small building among moving other things just to let a motorbike run out of gas instead of catching the bike himself, in another one magic ring is crushed by a steamroller and then returned to use by rolling the steamroller backwards…

Personal notes: This was one of the first superhero cartoons I ever saw and has been a very faint memory until now. It contributed to my interest in the Thing (over the other members of the Fantastic Four) though it makes little to no sense. It also probably inspired many of the transformation concepts I have envisioned since that time or started a chain reaction that carried over to Spider-Man’s symbiotic suit and Witchblade.

25
Nov
14

Thoughts on the latest “big” sexual assault/cold case debate

If you mention a certain fairly famous comedian’s name these days, you might start a fire.  [I won’t start one now.  But, I’ll tell you he has had a few shows with his name attached to the title and sold pudding pops for years.]  But, while some might “get their dander up” about the women lying about abuse to get money from the guy, I’d like to offer a countering argument with some personal experience (which I won’t exactly discuss here/publicly) to back my assessment.

[If you want the short “tweet” version, here it is:  The women were terrified to go up against the media.  The guy has the potential to be intimidating/manipulating.  And, while the women can’t legally get rich from bringing the cases up now, they need and deserve emotional closure.  It’s better to get this off their chests than go to the grave never making their feelings known.  And, any one of them who happens to be a fake has her own conscience and higher power to deal with.  As for anyone who feels the need to remove any and all connections to the man simply because of the fuss going on, you people are being stupid.  Either you respect the man or you don’t.  And, if you didn’t know the truth, why not?]

I know that’s not a good short version.  But, here are more words to tickle your brain cells.

Just because a bunch of women come forward several years after being (rumored) abused/raped/taken advantage of does not mean their case/s is/are invalid.  Sure, there are legal boundaries for what can be done within a set amount of time.  That’s just the paperwork mumbo jumbo tied to all the financial organizations.  So, worst case scenario, they can’t get rich from bringing this up so late after the incident.

But, had they brought up the matter soon after it happened, can you imagine the “fire wall” they might have faced?  I think what one woman said is true.  He is famous for being the good, fun, nice guy, and he’s making moolah in his prime (which seems perpetual).  If you take on a giant like that legally, you’re bound to get squashed.

Now, there are exceptions to the “rule” like a certain Monica who went up against the U.S. president.  She didn’t care who he was or if he was in good health.  She went in guns blazing to get her peace.  And, what actually happened may still be up for debate.  But, why bother?  Let those involved go on living in peace without the tabloids and regurgitating interviews.  And then, there was the famous football player/actor accused of murder.  Anyone who caught a piece of that media coverage (or a certain Seinfeld episode) know how that went.

These women–the legitimate ones–didn’t have anyone in their corner after IT happened.  They kept silent, probably out of fear.

Funny people often have a dark side we don’t normally see.  Let that be known.  If you don’t know or deny it, check again.  Comics/Comedic actors fight depression and dark forces out of the spotlight.

And, if you’ve been in a painfully broken relationship–however long or brief–and have ever felt you didn’t say enough or walked away under unfavorable conditions, you might be familiar with a term called CLOSURE.  A couple can get divorced and still feel aftershocks of emotion decades later.  Some get re-married.  Others harbor grudges and/or scars.  But, the smart ones get everything they need to out on the table so they can breathe easier.  [For some, this need is insatiable.  They’re just perpetual hurricanes of venting.  And, pray you never become or face one.]

These women–the legitimate ones (and only they and those they know can vouch for their validity)–need closure.  Now.  Before he and they are dead.  It just happens to be when he is losing his health and mind that they felt strong enough to speak.  It’s no different than the spouse of a hostile mate (and it need not always be the man who is hostile) being too afraid to get out of the negative situation.  Sometimes it takes the opposition being on their deathbed for the “victim” to finally “peep.”  ‘Nothing wrong with that.




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