Posts Tagged ‘online

25
Aug
19

Does Anyone Play ‘The Secret Society’ PC Game by G5 Games?

***

I am looking to see if anyone here plays this game and is interested in working with me on a “friend” capacity.  Also, if you do play the game, can you explain some features, like Strength points and how the whole friend-adding and other friendly interactions work?

For those who don’t know the game…uh, look it up at the App Store?  It’s not hard to find.  It’s a hidden objects game, sort of an advanced adult version of those old Highlights magazines.

20
Jul
18

Cherish Your Anonymity

*****

With so many suffering heavy punishment for speaking their minds via modern technology, it’s ever more vital we who do not “tweet” with our actual names spelled out on a glowing screen applaud and celebrate our “anonymity.”  We cowardly souls who bravely don costumes and vent as we feel fit when technology works with us; we should be comforted and celebrated.

It seems like every day in the news someone is getting grilled for something “offensive.”  We have squads of LGBT and feminism police officers, hordes of body-celebrating (instead of shaming) and various other armies going to war with the most sensitive of mining equipment capable of picking up the slightest blip of questionable commentary, increasingly adjusting the high standard of moral conduct until everyone who isn’t a violated woman or LGBT-type person will be guilty of offense and thereby open to verbal, mental and physical assault by the so-called victims.  So far, we without publicized names have been safe of retaliation.

I can’t speak for every offense case, but I would not be surprised if some offenses deemed fit for court or the loss of a job turned out to be misinterpreted.  After all, kids on a playground can cry wolf and have a teacher call a parent simply because the tattle-tale had a sweet face or stronger voice than the supposed offender.  And, who is to say some of these offensive voiced bits aren’t said at times when the speakers are not in the best of moods or right minds?  I know I don’t subscribe to alcohol or recreational drugs.  But, others do.  And, just because shit comes out of one’s mouth three years ago on a bad day does not mean that person is anti-gay or a chauvinistic maniac.

And, what if someone is a tad gay-phobic or unclear on the nature of that lifestyle?  Is every inappropriate remark worthy of jail time or a giant fine?  Are we catering to lawyers so they can put their hideous faces and names on every item advertised on local TV?  I don’t want to see so many lawyer ads.  I don’t want those people thinking they run the place just because they are getting old and think investing in a little advertising everywhere makes them immortal.  You TV lawyers have really become annoying!  And, I will not likely support you or any cause/company with your name on it because you are (annoying).

But, I’m getting off-subject, now.  Ehem.

You really have to mind your words and be sure you don’t touch another living soul lest you be accused of inappropriately fondling someone.  A pat on the back could be deemed the grabbing of a breast (on your back, apparently).  A sociable kiss on the cheek might be viewed as unwanted intimacy of the worst kind unless you can certify you are from a nation that does this socially as a part of their native culture.  Parents who kiss their kids on the lips?  You’re likely next on the chopping block.

One wonders if “social media” isn’t a mousetrap.  It lures people out of hiding to voice every little thing to come into their tiny brains…only to get them in trouble?  Snap!  You’re dead and out with the banana peels you slipped on coming in here.

But, I suppose, being anonymous DOES have it’s setbacks.  I mean, people are less trusting of random or fake names…unless you learn to share a sense of creativity and/or humor and can spell correctly (which so many cannot).  [Stop trying to speak English if you cannot use a dictionary.  I don’t use Spanish words I don’t know how to spell.]  You can’t really be a shopkeeper with a fake name, can you?…unless it’s a brand name.  But, even then, you have to be accountable for that shop with a real name/some form of ID.   People who use their real names seem to be taken more seriously because they seem fearless and, well, real, genuine.

[Yet, in this shady world of face-less interaction–unless you use some service like Skype which seems already forgotten these days–how do you determine a real face you see is that person’s real face?  And, how many “faceless” internet users stalk those “real” people, taking advantage of the exposed while remaining randomly generated user names, often with long barcode-like numbers attached, giving me the impression they are “bots” or some call center staff members in a building dominated by Middle-Eastern folks by the dozens?]

It seems astounding that more celebrities don’t use fake online names/accounts.  But, maybe they do, and all we know are the ones we hear about in the news when some mosquito with a microphone or phone-camera is stalking these people.

Once upon a time, people kept personal thoughts on parchment scrolls they had to carry with them wherever they went.  If anyone else read them, it was because the author read, lost or donated the scrolls.  Many years later, people kept notebook-style journals, especially teenage girls, who would lament brothers and parents violating their privacy.  Now, we have computers of various capacities and sizes.  And, instead of a PC journal like the one Doogie Howser, M.D. kept, so many turn to blogs and these accursed “tweeting” type accounts, putting everything “out there” for the world to see and LIKE and shallowly evaluate from afar…from anonymous spaces.

In short, those of you who have not put your real selves out for all to see, ye who do not YouTube your boob lube and hash-tag your new ‘do rag and personal mag’ (magazine), blippity blobbity blah!….  My blood pressure spiked just then and tangled my tongue-fingers.  Or, is it my finger-tongue?  Anyway.  Those of you, like me, who create unique identities for themselves online for whatever reason, embrace and applaud your anonymity, today.  And, count your blessings.  Because you could be somewhere down the list of those moral-criminal-hunting Elmer Fudds and receive severe punishment for the slightest misunderstanding or careless outburst on your worst day.  But, for now, you’re Joe Cool and free to be loose with those journalistic lips.

[We should start a holiday.  But, no one seems to follow me on those thoughts any better than I follow others.  So, I guess I’m limited to suggesting and waiting for some trendsetter to print up all the hoopla and manufacture all the swag.]

Happy Anonymity Day(s)!

24
Nov
16

The Future of Black Friday?

*****

Imagine if you will…

The future of Black Friday in a world of internet shopping…

Just wait. It could all turn around. But, instead of people fighting in the stores, they’ll fume and fight over internet/web site crashes. They’ll keep the foreign hotline operators busy with complaints about internet service. The operators will offer them fake sympathy and minor discounts to keep them plugged in yet mildly happier.

After all, do you think families will get any closer the more they push fast computerized everything from radio speakers to watches?

No.  This is like driving cattle.  Retail and outlet stores drove people for decades to chase their sales.  Now, as so many stores give up and move resources online, the stampede route shifts in a slightly different direction (until the next big movement in sales appears on the horizon…if there is a horizon left).

Maybe someday, all the lonely people of the world will surround themselves with AI families, their phone, clock, TV, etc. It will be like Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, except all the characters will be digitized voices and flashing lights.

Amazon.com is putting all of your shopping money into dominating Mars and consuming the global economy. But, go ahead and feed the beast, a beast not unlike Wal-Mart type stores trying to house everything and run all hours of the day. Soon, Wal-Mart will create its own extinction event, and online empires like Amazon will stand out like skyscrapers…skyscrapers no one will see because all they know are numbers, words, video clips and flashing icons on digital screens.  Unless people get wise to some kind of reading/writing and math Apps, I fear even being able to read a label or balance a bank account could become a challenge.

I think Black Friday can be a fun time for a small family/group if they keep a positive attitude and camp together. But, more often, bargain hunters turn around to make a profit off their “hot items” or get really cruel and competitive about the hunt as if their life will be empty without the sale item. If you’re not on your A game, you tend to feel like a squirrel in rush hour traffic. If you’re not with a happy group that doesn’t care if they get every sale item or any sale item and just enjoys shopping together…don’t go.

—–

[I was just inspired to write more about Black Friday, the USA way to spoil a family holiday with thoughts of bargain hunting amid mad crowds of careless people who will trample each other and suffer buyer’s remorse, later.  ‘Amazing what glancing over blog posts will do.]

 

15
Jan
16

Childhood Regression, a 2001: A Space Odyssey Thing

*****

childhoodcartoon-regression-youtubeboom_ap6J

*****
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.

24
Nov
14

Meaningless Followers, Artificial Beauty

Just a quick “alert” to all the pretty (and handsome) “faces” who seem to be “attracted” to my postings from the simple inclusion of a key tag word.  It seems–if I throw in a “tag” for some topic/genre on one of my posts, I will find attractive strangers “following” my activity here.  But, if I “tap the glass” (or look behind that pretty poster), I won’t find anything other than some advertising satellite picking up a blip on its radar and maybe keeping a shady eye on my breathing.

Just because I write about food, hair, drugs or money doesn’t mean I am a regular representative of that topic/item.  So, why does one post deserve followers who are chefs, hair stylists, drug dealers/pharmacists or money…handlers?  And, if it’s worth following, why not say why or introduce yourself…and why you wish to follow?  Even if you “don’t have time” for comments NOW, you should be able to make time.  Right?  You did make time to ferret around and click buttons here, didn’t you?  Or, is this just some subway system for Nook-heads and Pad-i-wants?  [That last one was a tiny Star Wars joke.]

I recall one such pretty face I found “following” me not so long ago.  I wrote a random post about hair, asking for advice/input.  I don’t think I received much.  She seemed genuine enough from her profile.  So, I sent her a message which received no response.  But, I did get some junk mail, later.  I have no idea if the two incidents are related, but with all that can happen online, who knows.  All I do know is the pretty face was worth less than a postage stamp to me.  It’s like being handed a picture of food.  I can’t eat that.  And, a face that isn’t responding or expressing more info about their interest in your work/output/appearance is…well, it might be me when intimidated in the face of beauty.  But, in most of these cases with “faces” I find online, it’s usually trouble.

So, thanks, artificial faces and silent stalkers for adding to my discomfort in this life.  There’s a special place in cyber Hades for you.

And, for the rest of you who might be real people reading this, don’t hesitate to express your interest instead of just clicking a LIKE or FOLLOW button.  Your comment/input is valued by me.  Your silence and eyes are worth more to yourselves.

 

10
Jul
14

Do You Attach Your Face to Things You Do Not Like/Use?

Have I already told you how much I get irked by advertising and any spokesperson/”news anchor” who seems locked into either only saying good things about everything they are forced to pitch** or spreading foul gossip? It just happens to be something that has built up an intolerance in me at this time. Thus, I am taking this moment to release some mental debris.

[You like picking your way through other people’s thoughts; right? If so, have at this lot. But, you may want to bring along a snack and/or beverage as I get a little “windy.”]

**You’re honestly going to see every movie you mention whether it suits your interest or not? Sure you are. Maybe if someone pays you a favorable sum just to do it. But, I guarantee you won’t like every last one. Still, you will sit with a fabricated smile upon your plastic face and tell the world how great they all are because, for some twisted reason, your paycheck depends upon such nonsense.

[Some would say I have too much free time if I let such things bother me. They don’t watch TV or don’t see what I do. They say I give such things too much thought when they and/or others just let them be. And, perhaps, they use them without thinking as much. To each their own.]

In a magazine, newspaper or one of the many lame “flash” slots you find on a PC/tablet/phone screen, you may only get a static image of someone modeling for a product/service. And, there’s a good chance the model’s image has absolutely nothing to do with the product (other than, perhaps, the environment in which the product may be used).

[“That woman is dressed for the office. That product must be good for my suffocating work station. Surely, it will make me feel better at the end of my shift.”
OR
“That man is dressed for the office. I should add that (potentially addictive/hazardous, ridiculously small and ineffective sample size) product to the (senseless and wasteful) swag bags for all of my employees at the next company function and shake hands with the representative/s for the manufacturer to boost revenue/merger/buyout potential.”]

In some hastily assembled cases, the ads use images snatched from web sites/online photo galleries (with proper permission/payment, we assume). Does that model truly support or use the product advertised with their face/body? Probably not. More likely, the model needed money and was willing to pose in some outfit they did not pick themselves before their image was used for all sorts of merchandising and questionable services in the hands of countless “businesses.”

How low it must be to buy/borrow/steal these models and slap them in some ad like a common hand or package. Sure, maybe the models signed themselves over to partake, but does that mean those seeking representation have to morally cheat or buy up every/any “prostitute” in town? What if the product/service is assuredly bogus/worthless or corrupt? How sad it must be to see your face on an ad for a product/service you don’t personally approve. I personally would not want my face/artwork/image in one for something toxic like sex “toys,” cigarettes or pills of any kind promising benefits at the expense of retirement/daily necessity funds and baffling side effects. How sad it is to see what people will do for a buck only to cost countless others their bucks for no good reason/result.

With “televised” commercials, it’s quite similar if not worse. I think it’s worse to invest more time exposing oneself as a spokesperson/representative of a product/service one doesn’t support (or filming a scene without knowing what it will be used to support/promote). How sad to be a struggling actor/actress forced to take on such a mindless role in hopes of proving oneself worthy of licking the lint off the wardrobe of some “bigger name” who offers a “better” job. I don’t think I’d feel so good about my fame and limited fortune with some undesirable commercial (or “porn”) in my history book. I sure don’t want to end up on some talk show where the host thinks it’s positively amusing to dig up that soulless garbage.

I see an add for some “tragic” disease or ailment attributed to the use of some form of modern medicine, and it features a young man or woman with his/her head in their hands. I can only imagine the photographer telling this individual to look depressed/hopeless in order to boost sales of the “cure.” If the person is genuinely afflicted by the ailment, I suppose there might be some “justice” in getting the word out. Yet, those who know the person might pester them more often rather than be of any help/support. If the person is just an actor/model…who wants to be the poster child for a potentially fatal disease?!

Every now and then, I imagine myself being “famous” and trying to be selective about what talk shows I visit while some agent insists I have to make an appearance on some crappy one lest I take a dive into fan bankruptcy. If forced to appear before some immoral/amoral host, I tell myself not to partake in their misguided amusement and verbally/publicly speak out against them if they cross my boundaries. I’d rather save the trouble of scandal and lawsuit, skip the chicken feed to maintain my overpriced and exceedingly large mansion in range of brush fires or other natural disasters and keep all relationship details hidden away like a hermit.

The more I hear of actors/actresses not wanting to watch themselves on film, seeing therapists and/or being stalked by paparazzi, the less I like the idea of “fame.” I’d like to kick all those “camera mosquitoes” where the sun doesn’t shine for harassing/disrupting the lives of these “celebrities” whether the latter ask for more attention or not. And, if they ask for cameras to risk blinding them or stealing every shred of privacy for tabloid bull crap, how sick is that? What body part do they sacrifice first to ease some twisted part of their brains? What separates the side-effects of fame from the closet habits of other mentally troubled souls who resort to “cutting” and eating disorders?

In recent years, it’s been made easier. You don’t need an agent. Just make your own or get someone to set up a plot in cyberspace and fill it with all sorts of mental dust bunnies. Do you really need to know what I eat for breakfast or what I am wearing to get through your day/life? Not unless you’re taking notes on how to be a stalker.

Seriously, what is the sense of all this excess information tracking? How is this helping people to interact peacefully or to simplify their lives? How is this beneficially entertaining unless you are actual friends with these people, sharing this information when you meet for (lunch)? In an ideal world of people struggling to ask each other out on dates, I suppose such detailed “bios” might grease the wheels with surprises of one’s favorite this or that. But, from my observation, the odds seem to be in favor of abusing/misusing provided information. At least, the “water” seems too polluted with gossip, scandal and threats to one’s life to be of any serious benefit…unless you somehow feed/live off of such vices.

But, I suppose, I could save breath, and we could all just stop exposing our eyes (and ears) to advertising/video as a whole. Ay?

Suppose, many years from now, we all want to laugh and/or cry for investing in all of these all-in-one gizmos designed to do everything from light the dark spaces under our furniture to manage our daily activities and bank accounts yet fall apart at great expense in the clumsiest of hands. Suppose we learned sooner than later not to put all of our eggs in one expensive basket and lived without tools that still rely on batteries and risk radiation poisoning with consequences yet to be fully understood/seen. Suppose we did something about filling landfills with trending garbage and sacrificing our dignity/privacy/health to false quick fixes. Suppose we said “adios” to all things internet and televised/advertised/radio-broadcasted and started focusing on producing what we needed in peace and harmony with the rest of nature. I imagine that would have some gloomy side effect of its own, unleashing some other unpleasant, dark cloud upon the masses for not submitting themselves to the questionable imagery and sales pitches.

[Now, suppose I wrote all of this for nothing and didn’t have digital/internet space to fill with these thoughts. I suppose I’d share it the old way, face-to-face, with whoever I found willing to share such thoughts in my proximity.]

If anything is to be learned from superheroes and related kids shows, it’s that–no matter how you dress it up–there will perpetually be some scum out there we have to either elude or fight off til the next crap maker comes along to pester us. The enemy doesn’t wear colorful or stereotypical costumes and/or fully disclose their diabolical plans to the world. Nor are the creatures that lurk in the shadows as dangerous as what humans can and often do inflict upon themselves/their fellow “man.” We “citizens” have to be more aware and make better decisions to save ourselves in more ways than we care to ponder.

06
May
14

Put It on EBay!

“Put it on eBay!” he says. “You’re not enjoying it. Get rid of it!”

That’s my father’s (and, generally, my family’s) final and echoing word on anything sitting somewhere and not being put to use…when it’s not their own stuff sitting somewhere and not being put to use. It only adds weight to the weight I already carry for having indulged a whim and brought something “home” though I don’t get to use it as often as I could (if ever). [And, if I never use it, it’s because I wanted to share it with someone special and don’t presently have that someone. And, that just drives me crazy, too. Why keep buying stuff that I WISH to use with someone (else)?] As negative as I get labelled for “pissing” on this and complaining about that, I can’t find it in me to point out every little item or question someone’s collection to the point that I tell them to get rid of it promptly. But, my family does this (particularly) with me.

[For any of you warped by current TV trends thinking this is a potential “hoarding” situation, don’t even go there because it’s far from it. And, if I ever became even close to being unable to getting around/through a room, I’d go mad like Donald Duck and pitch the lot to the curb. I refuse to box myself in anywhere.]

I could easily fight them off with a stick and scream, “Mine! I keep it!” But, as I think this over one more time–in my attempt to be fair–I begin to question the value of so many things. What am I NOT enjoying? Oh, there’s a long list.

So, if I am not enjoying my parents/family…can I put them up for sale/auction? How about my life in general? Do I set a high or low minimum bid? Who would ever (click) Buy It Now?

[I say this and then realize or decide there must be someone worse off who’s saying they’d trade right away. So, don’t speak too quickly. But, this is just another passing thought that sort of made me laugh. And, I hope it gives you who choose to read this a chuckle, too.]




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