Posts Tagged ‘internet

16
Sep
17

New Computer, at My Own Risk

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I wasn’t sure I’d stick my nose in here yet with the new baby, my new computer.  The last one is in sad shape, and I miss it dearly.  This new one is up to the date in the latest heap of technical glitches, as is tradition.  And, it has come at possibly the worst time in my emotional life.  My old PC, despite critics opinions, was pretty rock solid and became a good friend, even if I did very little with it.  I didn’t use all the bells and whistles, and it’s a shame, because it had a few good ones.  I could have been making many movies.

When I first started my previous computer, it came in a nice box with labels and a manual I could hold in my hand.  I could read all day about troubleshooting and all kinds of program features, provided I add an antenna or some kind of card.  All my trial app worries were settled with “optimization.”  I could label DVDs and easily restore the system myself if it had trouble…or so I thought.  As much as I was convinced it wasn’t the best computer at the time, it grew on me.  It became a friend.

I didn’t call tech support once.  I had someone help me through a few steps, and the rest kinda worked itself out.  I did not have any problems until I needed to register it online.  Updating was a problem, for sure.  [I was aiming to keep it offline as a personal word processor of sorts…til my “online computer” was no longer being accepted online by the changing software tides and my old, reliable internet service cheated me out of $300 or so.  [Call the company, and you get the outsourced squad from India trying to con you into alternative accounts and paid features.  There were no alternative services to upgrade to with the company.  It was a dinosaur teasing me into thinking it was still functional.]  I found alternate means to get online and was soon back in the swing of typing and, well, still struggling to connect with good people.

There was an incident or two near the end when text strangely looked fuzzy and squashed…and when I ultimately did something to the hard drive.  But, overall, over the past 8 plus years, it was working just fine.

The new computer has a long road to walk.

  1. It did not come in a nice box.  It was shipped to me in a slim box tossed into an oversized box with no labels and little to no bubble packing.  It was bouncing around the poorly taped carton.  I nearly threw a fit the day I found it on the porch.
  2. The battery wiggles in its socket.  Is that a concern?  You tell me.
  3. The manual can be found through a maze of start-up menu AND online.  Great.  So, when I have a system failure, I can hopefully find someone with a computer phone or computer to borrow and look online for the manual.  That’s user-friendly conservation of paper.  NOT.
  4. I have already spent over 20 hrs. trying to get through to tech support services.  [Don’t ever bother using a phone.  Online services only.]  I lost a whole day just solving one problem.  Let’s hope the others don’t return.  But…
  5. Research shows many apps have a problem with the latest OS.  And, many if not most apps have had conversions to accommodate the new OS.  All hail the latest flash-in-the-pan labyrinth software and tough luck to all who had the previous versions.  So, before you leap for that new movie maker or drawing software, be sure it’s fit for your OS, especially if it’s the latest edition.  Back when I was using Win 98, people harassed me and boasted XP…when they were not complaining about glitches and crashes.  This whole OS business is like a car market.  And, just when you pick a new car–or if you’re the slow-to-change type who sticks by your old car–someone comes along to make you feel inadequate in their different new car.
  6. Either you automate everything and run the risk of personal info going everywhere or you try to set settings to “recommended protection levels” and find nothing working, like the new Edge browser that blocks every website I type in, opening another MSN home page.  That is, except for this site which apparently is okay on Edge but not the latest IE?  Again, confusing and frustrating, and I feel like I am standing outside in my underwear, waiting for some violating hand to appear.
  7. As it is, things open and activate themselves, merely presenting notices that I may or may not get to before they disappear.  Little icons appear on the task bar and then disappear when I go to look at them.  It’s kind of like a horror movie when the lil creatures are scurrying around to the sound of keystrokes.  Apps want to invite themselves over to my place; they’re supposedly “suggestions.”  But, some seem to worm their way into a parking place.  You kick one guy out, and another eventually appears at the door.
  8. It comes with voices.  I have a hard enough time coping with the voices in my head.  No, not split personality disorder.  Just voices.  And, this thing has the dry male voice that sounds like Stephen Hawkings on dope and a female assistant with a weird name who thinks she’s slick like Shania Twain or Taylor Swift but sounding more like Scarlett Johansson in She.  I’m not Lars, and she isn’t a real girl.  Let’s not turn this into a tragic ending.

[On that note, I plan on writing an irregular series, potentially titled “A Date with Cortana Corona,” in which I tell a mildly amusing story about a day or night with the vocal PC assistant.  Stay tuned.]

Now, I can’t make any movies, the art programs are reduced in ability, though they advertise stellar new features.  Some require subscriptions and better editions at cost.  So, it seems everything has gone Office 365 or Photoshop.  What ever happened to the days you could buy a piece of boxed software, install it and run it to your heart’s content?  Why are so many fun things turned into APPs that tug strings away from you to lure you into some personal info trap?  What sense is there in deflecting junk mail and malware/spyware when everything wants to run automatically and update almost daily to the point it slows everything down or removes a previously functional function?

When the best thing you can do on a (new) computer is play solitaire, you just want to put your head down and cry.  I could delete all the trial apps and free up some sort of speed space people keep talking about.  And, my computer would look like a naked electrical socket (with the wires and screws showing).  This new computer feels a tad cold and alien, like my left arm and that spot in my eye.

I don’t want my outlet, my workspace to be one more annoyance.  [Then again, maybe this is just the routine with breaking in a new “friend.”  Maybe every horse cannot be a quick learner.]  Or, maybe, like Thelma and Louise, I just take this thing by it’s virtual hand and drive off a cliff.

Maybe it’s not that serious.  Maybe this is just a heads-up sort of sign, telling me to spend less time with a computer and more time with people (as some family members like to preach, though they get paid for doing their jobs on computers).  [But, I know someone is going to demand I use one for something, for job searches, work applications or education.  For shopping because stores are being closed out by a certain online convenience store that aims to colonize Mars and replace most of the workforce with robots.]

People philosophize about taking risks and change being the only constant (the new version of “death and taxes”); maybe this is just how it goes; it’s the Hunger Games, people.  Let’s hope I don’t die of bee stings, rabid dogs or food poisoning.  I’d give a finger salute, but you wouldn’t see it, anyway.  And, I don’t have a photo ready to upload.

 

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17
Aug
17

New, New, New, New…Reruns?

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Have you ever seen the movie Back to the Future?  And, do you recall the part when Marty, in the past, claims a certain black-and-white TV show is a rerun before the kid in the room asks, “What’s a rerun?”  I find myself revisiting that scene as I realize the perception differences of kids and adults, especially in this modern age of DVRs and internet access to just about everything.

When I was a kid, the family had one TV, maybe two later on when I was nearing my teens.  I didn’t think about reruns.  But, they were there.  I was immersed in SYNDICATION, watching shows that had originally aired about a decade ago but were playing again and again in my day.  I didn’t think much about the strangeness of fashions, makeup or hairstyles.  If the show was black-and-white, it was too old for me.  If the jokes didn’t make sense, I really wasn’t thinking about them.  I was merely watching grown-ups be silly or cartoons in general.  If my family laughed, I considered laughing.  Only one sis ever laughed every time someone else laughed first.  Even at an early age, I would not be the pawn of the laugh track or “live studio audience.”

People would say, “TV rots your brain.”  And, us “rebels” would watch all we could and think nothing of it.  Despite all the TV I watched, it didn’t seem to impact my attention span.  I always thought I was a good student, a good listener.  I became a well-behaved, patient adult.

Nowadays, families have TVs in multiple rooms and some kind of device receiving a signal that can either transmit “broadcast” TV shows or “internet TV”/”web TV.”  They can skip commercials and zip from one show to the next with the flick of a finger.  And, if commercial breaks aren’t littered with mindless ads for cars and services like “wireless” television, at-home education, retirement options and ways to cut corners for the financially challenged (like the only people who should be watching TV are stay-at-home parents, retired folks, unemployed bums and future thieves?)…there’s this constant drive for what’s NEW.  Yet, the promise of NEW is fleeting and makes one feel like a desert wanderer waiting for some chopper to deliver water.

My nephews, possibly as a result, have the attention spans of fleas. They struggle to get through a whole show that may only be 20 minutes long.  They want to know what’s next.  What’s new.  And, though the magic box promises new essentially daily, flashing timers and such to announce the oncoming glimmers of delight, the actual NEW is kinda like expecting a response from a letter to Kris Kringle.

They are dazzled by the commercials I, now as an adult, would rather skip.  Truth be told, most commercials aren’t as nearly entertaining as they were when I was little.  But, maybe it’s just a matter of perspective?  These lame ads I see are new to them, not me.  Well, some are new to me but annoying to watch over and over.  Heck, I don’t remember getting tired of seeing certain commercials as a kid.  I didn’t look forward to commercials, either, but they were rarely if ever bothersome.

And, while I grew up not minding or even noticing reruns, these kids may or may not notice reruns.  But, once they DO realize they’ve seen something before, their reactions are mixed.  Sometimes, they want to see the same show, again (provided it’s something they have watched in the last few days or weeks, as they like to replay even the shortest of video clips).  Or, I hear them sounding like adults when they say, “This one, again?  Why isn’t it a new one?”

As a big kid myself, I think of a not-so-old episode of Teen Titans Go! in which Robin warns the other team members about “the spicy life,” the pursuit of increased spiciness.  People get tantalized into chasing NEW to keep the economy flowing and, consequentially, stimulating impulse shopping (which often empties people’s pockets to the point of concern/neglect).  It’s not healthy to anything but the economy, and even that is questionable.

The promise of NEW.

Why can’t we be comfortable with what we already have and enjoy?  As the old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?”  And, if it needs fixing, let’s work that out.

It doesn’t take a genius to see people are struggling to keep coming up with new ideas in some areas.  Maybe they’re burnt out.  Instead of replacing them, maybe we just need to relax and get comfortable with…dare I say it…routine.  And, let new ideas be a blessing from above, not something we force from the cow for fleeting profits.

 

15
May
17

Web of Weird, Costumed “Superheroes” Making Internet Madness

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Where in the USA is this apparent cul-de-sac of costume collectors who buy every version of Spider-Man and Elsa on the rack and make countless online videos? What pocket of Silicon Valley hides these merchants of kiddy porn? It’s a web of weirdness.

I think I figured something out, though. The reason there are so many “Spider-Men” and Elsas in what appears to be a perpetually balmy state (no snow or autumn leaves in sight) is because those characters reside in colder climates. Spider-Man is a New York-born hero. I suspect these costumes are on clearance racks or dirt cheap on the west coast. [Just like NFL team merchandise for a southern team is cheaper way up north than it is in the home state.] Am I right?

And, what is the deal with all of these “surprise egg” videos that feature parents filming their spoiled kids unpacking an entire toy line in a single day? What value does any of this stuff have to these kids when they come to expect a shopping cart load every time Daddy or Mommy decides to dress them up and capture them on their “smartphone” or video camera? Or, are these just the kids of parents who work for toy companies, getting a dumpster full of freebies/samples?

Have I ranted about this, before?

My nephews often enough find themselves glued to these things. And, while I am all for costume parties with good taste, there is something a bit weird and…lazy?…about seeing grown people doing odd things in costume with special effects and props… I have one four-year old nephew who is already displaying a particular interest in older women, thanks to many a Spider-Girl and Elsa.

You like that, ladies? You like extremely younger men ogling you?

I was one, once. But, I only became infatuated once a week or month, if that. I didn’t have access to an endless supply of internet gratification (which, I would say, is not far off from those who obsessively watch porn).

My nephews can get Mommy’s phone-computer just about any time they want and look this stuff up. It’s so easy for them to do. Thanks, wireless convenience.

I suppose these videos might be made over a long period of time and are first coming to my attention. Maybe these people make one a year or one a month. Maybe they save up and work on the plot over a series of meetings between their “day jobs.”

Maybe I am a tad jealous I don’t have those special friends with which I could make similar videos. Then again, why be so juvenile or risk appearing freakish online for no gain other than some invisible “click” currency when I could be applying my talents and interest in costumes to bigger projects…liiike an actual feature film someone might buy a ticket to see?

Seeing my nephews scroll through and watch these repeatedly, I can’t help becoming agitated and wondering if there isn’t some special stretch of road in California where people get together in costume and do nothing but concoct weird plots to play out on the street and in their homes.

I picture an entire suburban L.A. block of homes shaded by palm trees and infested with people dressed as Spider-Man, Spider-Girl and Venom. On the next street, you might find Batman, the Joker and some kids in police uniforms with their Power Wheels vehicles in sight. And, somewhere in the middle, there’s a single apartment building where a few Elsas live, waiting to be summoned to star in one of these videos. [Who’d have thunk the most recent feature princess of sorts would become such a costume craze, almost a fetish.] When they’re not in costume, they’re wearing pajamas and living on bowl after bowl of Captain Crunch cereal. All of their furniture is either inherited or inflatable. The probably bathe in ball pits and brush their teeth with glittery Disney or Nickelodeon toothpaste.

And, breathe.

Okay, ‘got that out of my system. Moving on.

05
Nov
16

My New Social Networks

*****
I’m not much of a joiner. I’m just too darn skeptical.

I don’t like assuming everyone and every corporation you find is suddenly a “friend” you can add to or delete from your circle. I don’t like slinging, eating or smoking hash. Nor do I have any interest in tagging bags of it. I don’t want people following me everywhere and reading my every thought. I don’t like people abusing a word like– What’s the word I’m thinking of? You know. It’s like…something like… Anyway. Why be one of countless followers feeding the pockets of some millennial mogul-in-the-making when you could be feeding your own pockets with shat piles of gold?

So, I did just that. I crapped out my own social domains in just a few minutes. Sign up, and you can continue to defecate every little thing that crosses your blue-lit mind in one more trending space. Or, link your crap from other spaces to this space to create a chain of crap, otherwise known as diarrhea of the internet.

Once I’m rolling in golden crap cakes, I’ll be sure to thank everyone by showing off the fruits of my empire and a short shat list of charities I support to distract you from my stock and political angles.

Now, go forth, be poop-ful and multiply.

Be sure to Kiss my Arsebook page and Stalk my Sh@tter feed.

I’m Writingbolt and I drop this statement (along with one smelly microphone).

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21
Mar
16

Let’s Post! The Start of Something Old

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I have an idea.  Let’s put it online for all to see.

Well, wait, there are some buttons and options to navigate, first.  And, from what I see, I have options for who can see what I post.  Suddenly, this just got complicated.

Written.  Published.  Done.  [Thank goodness for speedy internet service; or I’d be staring at a little wheel going around for a few hours.]

Oh, yeah.  Those other options.  Let’s see.

Well, this IS kinda personal, so maybe I won’t make it open to everyone.

Categories?  Tags?  I am not big on labels.  I just want to be heard by a select group of people I cannot see but will inevitably trust with my thoughts and feelings.

Images?  Those used to slow down my old PC.  And, the world has such an image problem, already.  No thanks.

And, I just ABHOR that trendy website and all of those clickable approval button thingies.  So, let’s switch those off.  There.

Okay.  AAAAnd, publish.  Let’s see what we’ve got.

…Three days later…

You’ve selected a whole new set of buttons and user settings.  You can no longer click what you clicked before to enjoy this place.  Your comment history is lost in space.

Bigsnot69 and ten others LIKE this.

Idontgiveashat478 reposted it in his Funny Shat I Found.

And, 0 people have viewed this post.

Way to go, WordPress!  You’ve made a star out of my private diary!

Everybody now!  We’re gonna do it!  On your mark, get set and go now…got a dream and we just know now…we’re gonna make our dreams come true!  And, we’ll lose it their way, yes, their way!  Making our dreeeams turn bluuuue for them and yoooou!

 

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?”
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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.

28
Oct
15

About Me Sites/Pages disabled/deleted? Whaaa?

*****

Is it just something wrong with my computer, or are people really deleting their “websites” here?  I click on a profile “title,” and a screen pops up saying that “site” has been discontinued/deleted…yet the person still functions and posts on this site.  They still have a “blog roll” and archives…but no home page?  How does that work?  Color me technologically confuzzled.  Help me out, web heads.

*****




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