04th Mar2013

Thrift Justice – Injustice For All

by Will

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Every now and then, I get requests to point out some of my Thrift Fails. Contrary to how the posts come across, my success rate varies. For instance, a lot of my thrift stores recently did floorplan resets, which I HATE. This happens every 2 years or so, and it just kind of ruins the flow of things. Not only are product quantities at low levels, but it takes awhile for everyone to get used to the new location of certain aisles. As a result, I haven’t really bought anything in about a month from that particular chain. The last time, though, was the fault of management. This is going to come off as “Will’s being a whiny bitch”, but whatever – it’s MY site. Still, if there’s one thing I hate, it’s inconsistency in rules, and this is a prime example of that.

Last Wednesday, I stopped by a thrift store near home, and noticed  they’d gone through the dreaded aisle reset. They had a few “quirky” things, but nothing really awesome. That was, however, until I got to the VHS aisle. Only recently have I even started paying attention to tapes, as everything good is on DVD now, right? Right? Wrong. A lot of stuff has yet to be transferred to DVD, while certain things in the format have skyrocketed in value (like WWF tapes with the old logo). Well, on an endcap of children’s movies, I found this:

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Not actual pic. I stole this from some site.

An unopened, non-special edition boxed set of the Original Star Wars Trilogy from 1992. Just look at how beautiful that box is! The best part, however, was that it was still shrinkwrapped. Whenever I see tapes, I wondered how battered they are from being shoved in and out of old VCRs, but these tapes wouldn’t have that problem. They were virgins! This store sells VHS tapes for 3 for $1, so this was a great score. Or so I thought. When I got to the register, the cashier tried to pull the “there’s no price on this” routine. Let me back up a minute. I’m not sure if this is common for all stores, but this particular chain has a policy where they can’t sell anything that doesn’t have a price listed on it. This is a far cry from the “No Price? Finders keepers” policy of the local Goodwill! Anyway, this “rule” is some bullshit because it’s been broken MANY, MANY times. They look at it, they appraise it (usually at about $2-3 dollars), and we both go on our merry way. Not this time. She called over the Latina manager (this is important, because I’m going to play a race card soon). She turns it around in her hand, and goes “No…I cannot sell. No price.” I proceed to tell her that I got it over at the tapes. Tapes are usually 3/$1, as she knows, so why is this any different? It’s 3 tapes. Then, she looks at it some more, and tries a tactic that I know and hate: trying to side with me in how unfair the rules are. I know this game because I’ve played it. I worked retail, too, hon. She says, “I soory. Be can’t sale without the price. It’s reely a domb rool, but I canno sale.” I told her, Hell, I’d even pay $3 dollars if it was that big of a deal – that’s 9 tapes! Surely, she wouldn’t get in trouble over that. Then, remember that race card I mentioned? Well, I told her “The white manager usually assigns a price.”

There are many different managers at this store. One of them, seemingly the queen of them all, is this mean old white lady. She lords over her staff of Ecuadoreans. While it’s true that she had made some cash register verdicts on prices, she’s sometimes the real hardliner when it comes to the rule. Still, I was banking on exploiting this manager’s fear of her in order to get my way. It’s really kinda sad the person I’ve become since I started this whole racket. Anyway, IT WORKED! She sighed, and told the cashier to ring it up as the 3 tapes for $1. I was in the clear! Long Live The Man! Until this other dude came up out of nowhere. He was also an employee, and manager chick decided to show it to him. They started talking to each other in Spanish, while pointing at different things on the box. Since I was worldly enough to take French in school, I can only assume they said, “This is Star Wars. This shit’s worth something. Fuck this guy. Viva La Rasa!” What? Most of the Spanish I know was learned from WWE wrestlers after the Attitude Era! She comes back over to me and says, “No, I canno sale.” By this point, they had already rung up some of the stuff you’ll see below, and the cashier asked if it would be credit or debit. I stood there a few seconds, and said, “You know what? Yeah, I don’t think I’ll be taking any of this.” And I walked out. See? I told you I was a petulant little bitch.

I can’t win ’em all. I get that. I just feel like they should be consistent – the same with everyone, all the time. I’ve had that rule broken, and I’ve watched them break it for others. It just seems odd to me that something like this is when they’d decide to go by the book. It makes it look a little fishy on their end, if you ask me. It really kinda pissed me off, mainly because I’m an only child and used to getting my way. It’s a shame I never grew out of that. Anyway, I’ve got high blood pressure now, and this isn’t a hill on which to die, so I went home, smoked a cigar, and recorded the first ep of Classick Team-Up.

To close things out, here are some things I’ve seen recently that, while quaint, just weren’t coming home with me.

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The only reason I didn’t buy this was because I already own it. I’m not a hip-hop head, but I LOVE this album. I also love that awesome Bill Sienkiewicz cover. Bobby, Bobby Bobby, Digi, Digi, Digi!

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Never saw this movie, but I love a good vintage, carded figure. Still, I hate dragons and shit.

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The store had a bunch of ALF puzzles. Ya see, 20 years ago, families used to gather around the “boob tube” every Monday. Before watching the riveting adventures of a middle aged newswoman, they tuned into NBC to watch a show about a cat-eating alien with a cornucopia for a nose. This is his story.

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In my mind, the only people who owned LaserDisc players were Patrick Bateman types. Still, I almost bought this just to frame it.

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I almost bought it, but the die was missing. Kinda regret leaving it behind, come to think of it. C’est la vie…

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I’m ashamed by how much I wanted this. I didn’t want to own it, per se. I just wanted to see it. Were they basically bum fights? Did the crackheads know they were being filmed? Were they authentic crackheads, or were schizophrenics unfairly being thrown into the mix? And it was the New York edition! Does this mean there’s a Real Housewives-esque Crackheadz series covering different cities? I had a lot of questions that needed answers. The second time I saw it, I was prepared to buy it. I needed answers! Sadly, the disc had been stolen from the case…probably by a crackhead…gone wild.

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Finally, this is what I left behind in my huff. You may not be able to tell, but this was a Dolly Parton doll from the 70s. Since the aisle reset, I found myself in the middle of the doll aisle, and noticed the selection looked a bit older. When I saw the face on this one, I thought, “That looks like Dolly!” Checked my phone, and I was right. The funny thing about it is her suit was glued on to her, so you couldn’t strip her nekkid like a Barbie. Not sure if that was in her likeness contract, or if that was a modification made by the previous owner. I was set to buy her, but I was thwarted by PriceGate. So, I can only assume Dolly is at home with Juan or Maria. Yup, that’s the note I’m choosing to end on.

01st Mar2013

West Week Ever – 3/1/13

by Will

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One of these people just had the West Week Ever! Who was it? Keep reading!

I had a bottle of Ruby Red Grapefruit juice last Saturday, and it brought on a rush of memories. Anybody else remember the early 90s, when the Ruby Red grapefruit apparently acquired its own agent? It was everywhere, and Ocean Spray was obsessing over it the way current celeb gossip sites worship sideboob. Where did all that come from? It was a fucking fruit. Had science JUST created/discovered the Ruby Red variety at that time? Was it the same scientist who discovered Blue Raspberry? If so, I’ll bet that fucker’s rich!

Hawaii

Speaking of weird cultural phenomena, I have a big issue with Hawaii. Ya see, I always thought it was a cool place, filled with pineapples, leis, and dudes named “Danno”. Then something weird happened around ’98-99. Two things converged, changing my opinion of Hawaii forever: the original Making The Band and Baywatch‘s 10th season. Most people think Making The Band started on MTV with Diddy, but that’s not true; ABC started the show, showcasing the creation of the boyband O-Town. This would be boyband mogul Lou Pearlman’s last shot at the big time, and it’s filled with some great moments (like the guys start wondering about their contracts when they see a news report about *NSYNC suing Lou over theirs -which the Backstreet Boys had done just years earlier). In the original lineup of the group, the “brooding, older brother role” (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s a refresher) was filled by quiet, Hawaiian loner Ikaika. We got an inside look at Ikaika’s upbringing, which pointed out that Hawaii was kinda weird. Apparently, his family was almost musical royalty out there, akin to Don Ho and his “Tiny Bubbles”. He had an ambivalent attitude toward fame, and a weird girlfriend. Long story short, all his Hawaiian weirdness led him to quitting the group (NOTE: I once met a MTB producer who told me the real reason, but I ain’t trying to get sued. If Gawker wants to pay me, then I’ll bring out the top shelf material!). After all I saw of Ikiaka’s home life, it was clear Hawaii wasn’t all macadamia nuts and pogs. Then Baywatch made things worse.

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It was pretty well-known that Baywatch was getting tired of Los Angeles, and production was going to be moved somewhere new (and cheaper) like Australia. For some reason, though, the nation originally formed as a penal colony gathered up every citizen and protested the arrival of Baywatch. Apparently, tiny red swimsuits would give the place a bad name. So, producers scrambled, and production was moved to Hawai’i. Yeah, see that fucking apostrophe?! Where the Hell did that come from? Apparently, Hawaii had just decided to get fancy on us. Was it always supposed to be spelled that way? Anyway, Hawaii was not a good fit for the Baywatch formula, as they apparently don’t have shark problems or smugglers down there. Instead, The Hoff opened a “top gun lifeguarding academy”. Lifeguarding requires training? I thought any white kid over the age of 13 could be a lifeguard. I mean, they all HAVE been lifeguards. It’s a “white of passage” (TM williambrucewest.com 2013). Hawaii shat all over the Baywatch legacy. Red suits were traded for yellow, the amazing “I’m Always Here” theme song was replaced by some Hawaiian drum shit, and, worst of all, it introduced us to Jason Momoa – the worst Hawaiian of them all! Many folks know Momoa from Stargate Atlantis (I’d say Conan The Barbarian, but nobody saw that), but he’s been around a lot longer than that. And with the exception of his Baywatch role, he always plays the same role as “silent, long-haired muscle warrior”. Why did Hawaii have to darken my screen with that guy? Why can’t it go back to being the beautiful, normal place George Jefferson went to lower his blood pressure? Is there no hope for Hawaii?!!

courtesy awesometoyblog.com

courtesy awesometoyblog.com

I didn’t really talk about this year’s Toy Fair, but there’s one thing I want to discuss: Mattel’s Batman ’66 line. While a lot of people are excited about it, this is one of the dumbest ideas ever in the creation of toys. Look, it’s cool to see, and I’m sure I’ll buy the Hell out of the ones I find. Note the end of that sentence: the ones I find. There’s no way this line is a success because they’re already handling it poorly out of the gate. This is a SPECIALTY item and not appropriate for mass retail. For folks who don’t understand what I’m saying, this is the kind of thing you should get from comic shops or Mattel’s Matty Collector website, but shouldn’t be sold at Toys “R” Us. One of the major arguments about Mattel’s market viability is the fact that they spent too much time catering to collectors and not to MOMS. After all, moms are the ones who buy toys, and not kids, so they gravitate to recognizable characters. This is why you have a Batman or Superman in every wave (if you’re smart), and you avoid $20 figures from a 30 yr old cartoon. This was the reasoning behind ending the sprawling DC Universe Classics, to rebrand as DC/Batman Unlimited, which focuses on those familiar characters. So, with that in mind, what mom wants to buy her kid “Middle Aged Paunch Batman”? It’s like Mattel’s setting the line up for failure, just so they can blame us for “not supporting the line”. All I’m saying is we better enjoy that first wave, ’cause I don’t see us ever getting an Egghead or King Tut figure. And for the figures that may have been tooled, but we haven’t seen, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them eventually end up on MattyCollector – where they should’ve been all along. And why NOW? It’s not an anniversary year for the series. I think this implies one thing: we’re finally getting DVDs. In any case, I’m very interested to see how this plays out.

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Another week, another podcast – and I’m LOVIN’ it! Classick Material of The Cold Slither Podcast has finally spun off his own side project, with Classick Team-Up. This is a one-on-one interview series, and I was honored to be his very first guest. #1! #1! #1! We discussed everything from Spanish television to “CuntGate” to WWE, and more! I also probably owe some folks an apology (You know I don’t wanna edge you out, TimDogg98!). It’s probably one of my most candid pod appearances, so you’ll either LOVE it or HATE it. That’s just how I pizza roll. You can check it out here.

Oh yeah, before I go, FUCK GEORGE TAKEI! After my deGrasse Tyson takedown, I tweeted that George Takei was next. I hate everything about him on social media. His stuff is just NOT that funny, plus they say it’s really his husband behind all the tweets and facebook posts. All I know is this: if he had spent a fraction of his online energy on his acting career, maybe HE’D be the Priceline Negotiator. He needs to go somewhere and sit down, like Nichelle Nichols.

Links I Loved

Oscars Mixtape: Best Original Songs of the 1980s – Shezcrafti

The League Has Spoken: Happy Birthday! – Cool and Collected

Alright, Lets Discuss the DC Comics Robin Spoilers – Team Hellions

Providing The Grade: Justice League of America’s Vibe #1 – The Kliqnation

This Week’s Posts

Because Nobody Asked: Will On Comedy

Comical Thoughts: Nova #1

This Week’s eBay Auctions

One of them got in trouble for singing about boobs, while another was compared to a different part of female anatomy. One retired but got to continue living with his manservant, while the other resigned for serving man. But only one of them could have the West Week Ever:

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Seth MacFarlane hit the big time start making a low-rated primetime cartoon for Fox. After its cancellation, Family Guy gained an audience in reruns, while Seth slept through his boarding call for American Airlines Flight 11 on the morning of September 11, 2001. Twelve years later, he’s got three animated series on Fox, he’s the highest paid writer on television, and he got the opportunity to host an event that’s simply not offered to everyone. Whether or not he did a good job (the debates are ongoing), he’s made the most of his “second chance”, and this is why Seth MacFarlane had The West Week Ever.

 

15th Oct2012

Thrift Justice – Thrifting For Two

by Will

So, I got married last week.* I’ve got a post coming about that, but the main change is that this has affected my thrifting. You see, I used to sneak off to thrift stores, while the wife watched football or Chopped. Recently, however, she has been bitten by the crafting bug, so she wants to find all kinds of old stuff to upcycle and use for projects. This means that she now has a reason to frequent my stores. I have successfully infected her (and it doesn’t require penicillin)! With this in mind, we set out on Saturday and hit 3 of my usual spots. I’ve been having quite the streak of luck over the past week, and you’ll love what you see at the end of this post!

Let’s work backwards here. At the last stop, I found a grab bag filled with 3.75 figures. I only saw 25th anniversary G.I. Joe Mutt and I was sold. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized how great of a find this was. I ended up with Mutt, Junkyard, 2 Crimson Guardsmen, 3 movie Vipers, an exclusive Duke, and a TRU exclusive Dialtone (Agent Helix repaint). The bag also contained a few of the G.I. Joe vs Cobra figures, as well as members of The Corps, but I already chucked those. I know I’m selling Mutt & Junkyard (already have ’em), so holla if interested.

Now, for a little life lesson. You see, folks, it’s not all fun & games in the world of thrifting. While your success ratio can be high, every now and then you’re gonna get burned. I saw this DVD set as I was standing in line at the register. The price tag said $2.90, so I jumped at it. I’m not really sure why, though. I think I was overcome by the fact that I know folks are nostalgiac for old Nick, even though this didn’t apply to me. You see, I didn’t have cable growing up, so I only knew of the shows from when we were in motels or I was at a friend’s house. Plus, I have a few friends who grew up with Melissa Joan Hart, and they all say she was a raging bitch. All that aside, I’ll buy the first season of ANYTHING if the price is right, and this price was Bob Barker right. So, imagine my surprise when I got home to find this:

THERE AIN’T NO DISCS IN THERE! This isn’t totally uncommon, but usually happens with CDs. It never fails: whenever I find a CD at a thrift store that I want, I open the case to find that the disc has already been “liberated”. I didn’t expect this, however, from a DVD box set. I guess I’m getting sloppy, as I picked up a Heathcliff set last week, and the first thing I did was check the discs in store. The thought never occurred to me here, however. Luckily, Lindsay checked the receipt and noticed it had been charged as a book, so I only lost $0.90 on the matter.

Now, I’m not sure how you’re going to feel about this: I don’t remember if I’ve ever seen the original Star Wars Trilogy. Before you throw stones, I’d like to point out my good pal over at Cool and Collected hadn’t seen any Star Trek until recently. It happens! I know I’ve seen drips and drabs, but none of the complete movies in the last 20 years. Face it: pop culture is constantly shoving Star Wars down your throat with jokes about The Force, Volkswagon commercials, and Family Guy parodies that I felt I’d gotten all I needed to know from that. Still, this set was $9, and I didn’t think I’d find a price better than that. No, it’s not the fancy schmancy Blu Ray, but it’s widescreen, so that should calm down some of the nerds. Anyone who knows me knows that it takes me forever to actually watch the DVDs I own, so I hope to get to this before retirement.

I tend not to talk a lot about my mom on here because most of you wouldn’t understand. I had an interesting upbringing, but it was a good one. I wasn’t allowed to have a lot of stuff that other kids had, like toy guns, but I got along fine without them. Sometimes I snuck stuff by her. For example, I was a huge Garbage Pail Kids fan when I was 4, and I used to stick them on the refrigerator. My mom initially thought they were Cabbage Patch Kids until she took a closer look. Let’s just say they don’t make stickers like they used to. Try as she might, she could not get those things off. So, she resorted to just covering them up with graded homework and calendars from the local real estate agent.

Another thing my mom didn’t like were M.U.S.C.L.E. figures. I’m not sure if it was because they were pink, but I also managed to get one that was particularly grotesque. Now, I tend to have the memory of an elephant, but there’s one occasion that slipped by me. You see, I happened to get a M.U.S.C.L.E. from a grocery store vending machine (which, upon looking back, means it was probably a knock off), and I was so proud because I didn’t have any of those toys. Well, one night, something compelled my mom to come into my room. She saw the toy on my dresser, and decided that it wouldn’t be spending another night at Casa West. As she tells it, she opened the front door, and threw it as far as she could. We had this bro named “Roland” who mowed the lawn, and she made sure not to tell me until after his next visit. The funny this is that I never really noticed it was gone. I always classified vending machine toys under the banner of “toys for poor kids” – like kids meal toys, they are a fleeting joy. They aren’t the kind of things you’ll have lifelong memories about. She eventually told me the story, and I couldn’t believe it. All these years later, I still can’t believe it, but it’s kinda funny to me. So, when I found these at the thrift store on Saturday, my first thought was “I can’t wait to show these to her.” All she could do was laugh. So, that was my long winded way of telling you that I acquired 75 Series 1 “flesh” M.U.S.C.L.E. figures for an AMAZING price. At the end of the day, this line meant nothing to me outside of a funny story, so make me a good offer and they’re yours!

Oh, and how did the wife fare? Well, she’s a pretty voracious reader, but slacked off during wedding prep. That all changed when we found a thrift store selling hardcover books for $0.90. So, she came home with a stack large enough to choke a crocodile! Because crocs..eat..books…just go with it, OK? Anyway, that’s it for this installment. Next time, I’ll tell you about my buddy Joe, who happens to wear a M.A.S.K.

*My photos suck because my former staging area is now the home of our brand new wine fridge.

18th Aug2011

Thoughts on Captain America: The First Avenger

by Will

So, I’ve been a bad blerd. I want to be the black authority on geekdom, yet I wait a whole month to see one of summer’s biggest comic movies! Anyway, I finally saw Captain America: The First Avenger the other night. Final thought: it was really enjoyable.

Since you all saw this thing weeks before I did, this isn’t going to be a review. After all, you don’t give a shit if I liked it or not. I do, however, want to share a few bullet point thoughts that occurred to me throughout the film. Shall we?

-Dum Dum Dugan! I was so glad to see him, and it wasn’t just a random cameo. The Howling Commandos had a pretty big role in the war scenes.

-Speaking of the Howling Commandos, I *really* wanted Derek Luke’s character to turn out to be a young Nick Fury. I’m ashamed to admit that I totally forgot that the character of Gabe Jones existed. Anyway, if it had been Fury, it would’ve established a preexisting relationship with Cap for the Avengers movie, plus it would’ve allowed Fury to have been a part of the Howling Commandos in movie continuity.

-While we got a battle montage, I really wanted a training montage – mainly so I could figure out when Cap learned to fly planes. He was in the Army, and not the Air Force or the Navy. Somehow, though, he just knew how to fly every aircraft he commandeered.

-Bucky Barnes. While the comics tend to paint him as “Wartime Robin”, I think I prefer that to the film’s “older brother figure who’d steal your girlfriend” persona. I didn’t really like him, and I certainly didn’t like him enough to want to see him as the Winter Soldier, should the movies decide to go that route.

-Man, Tommy Lee Jones has aged into quite the scrotum-faced old man! I mean, it’s almost on a Matthau level. It was nice, though, that he got a comic movie do-over to make up for Batman Forever (yes, I know MIB was a comic, but let’s be honest – nobody even cared until the movie came out).

-I really expected Howard Stark to be a dick. He was not, and I liked that. In fact, I’d really like to know more about the character – but this version, and not the weird, philosophical brainfuck of an origin they’re giving him in S.H.I.E.L.D. at the moment.

-How come movie Nazis always have the coolest clothes? Sure, they’ve got fucked up beliefs, but an unbelievable tailor! I’m pretty sure Red Skull was wearing a leather shirt at one point. Leather shirt!

Not to get all preachy, but I did take something away from the movie: America could REALLY use a symbol like Captain America now. We’ve gotten too jaded and cynical for something like that to work, but people tend to be strengthened by a powerful symbol. If only there were something we could all rally behind. All we’ve got now are the Kardashians…

Anyway, that’s all I got. Enjoyable movie. Not my favorite comic movie or anything, but I’m sure I’ll buy it on DVD. That’s mainly because I’m a DVD whore, though…

18th Feb2011

The Digital Revolution Is Being Televised

by Will

I like to think of myself as an informed person. By no means am I a genius, but I like to think of myself as “Jeopardy Smart” – I know a little about a lot. There’s one thing, however, that I know a LOT about, and that’s television. I’m not just talking about shows and actors, but the behind-the-scenes aspect of television. I’ve studied the biography of Brandon Tartikoff, I’ve read everything I could about the Late Night Wars, and I recognize there’s more genius to Peter Engel than we give him credit for. So, with all this focus on TV, I’m always taken aback when something fails to make any real sense. One such occasion was the broadcast switchover from analog to digital. While we were given plenty of warning (and even an extension), it was never fully explained as to why the switch was taking place. For non TV folks, I’m referring to the fact that you can no longer watch TV with a simple antenna, but are now required to have a digital box in order to catch an over-the-air TV signal. Some explanations suggested that it would free up the analog airwaves to be used for emergency purposes. According to some accounts, the government plans to auction off the vacated analog spectrum. For whatever the reason, it was never clear, and it was a huge headache for the elderly population. Most of the folks reading this have cable, so y’all never noticed any real change. I, however, grew up without cable and I was raised by the Black Golden Girls. Preparing them for the switchover was akin to prepping them for potential missile attacks from the “reds”. What truly came as a surprise, however, was that the switchover would open a door to the past that I never dreamed possible.

It was like this, but picture them black

Here’s a little full disclosure for you: I’ve never had cable. My mom finally caved and got it once I moved out, but I have never lived in a place that had cable. To make matters worse, I have a basement studio apartment, so getting any kind of over-the-air signal was a bit of a challenge before the switchover. I’ve never minded a little static, though, as I grew up watching Baltimore TV through the static because their Channel 54 had better shows than our Channel 20 (syndicated Punky Brewster, son!). Nobody told me, however, that digital airwaves would do away with that ability! Now, if you don’t get a signal, the screen just goes blue or you get a “No Signal” message. Another part of my childhood gone. That damn digital box ruined my life, as it pretty much eliminated the ability to watch any local station. What it did provide, however, was a link to the past. You see, I now only really get 3 channels, but those 3 channels have turned out to be more awesome than I could have imagined. I tend to suffer from a pretty bad case of seasonal affect disorder where pretty much any condition makes me depressed. Yeah, I should probably see a professional about that, but my home remedy is regression. That was a big deal back in college: “Hey, it’s Finals Week, so come to RPU and join us for comfort food and your favorite cartoons!” It’s a remedy I still employ to this day, and it works. Apparently, “everything old is new again”, and the 3 digital channels that I manage to get actually do a pretty good job recreating my childhood. Let’s take a closer look at what we have here, shall we?

As I said, none of my local network channels seem to work any longer, but most of those channels have additional digital channels that the stations seem desperate to fill with programming. For instance, our local NBC station has a digital channel (4-2) that played nothing but old beach volleyball matches. Our local ABC affiliate, however, has something I actually enjoy. You see, they carry the Retro Television Network (Channel 7-2). In what could be considered a “Poor Man’s TV Land“, RTV focuses on showing hour-long dramas from the past. Stumble across the channel, and you’ll find yourself watching I, Spy or Magnum, P.I. The true beauty of the station, however, is that it shows Knight Rider and The A-Team every glorious night. It’s like I’m 3 years old again, and I ain’t complaining! Sure, those shows haven’t aged all that well, but I simply don’t care. Forget How I Met Your Mother 5 times a week – I’ve got the DVDs; when I’m rushing home in the evening, it’s to travel back to a time when bullets didn’t kill and a talking car was a rarity.

I first discovered RTV last winter when I was unemployed, and I pretty much thought that was as good as the retro television scene was going to get. Then, everything changed on January 1, 2011, when the local CW affiliate started carrying Antenna TV on one of their digital channels (Channel 50-2). While RTV is more of a TV Land clone, Antenna TV is more of a Nick at Nite clone. It hearkens back to the days when Nick at Nite used to play actual classics, and not The George Lopez Show and Roseanne. We’ve had a ton of snow days recently, and during that time I’ve seen shows that I haven’t seen in years – things like  Too Close for Comfort, The Monkees, and Gidget. What really put a smile on my face was when I read that Antenna TV would also be adding Three’s A Crowd to their schedule. I know it’s a terrible, formulaic show, but I’m a Three’s Company fanatic. It has always bothered me that spin-offs Three’s A Crowd and The Ropers aren’t a part of the syndication package. Antenna TV will be showing the entire franchise. I don’t care if it’s 4 in the morning, I’ll be watching.

I’ve been familiar with qubo for some time, mainly due to the fact that the qubo programming block took over the NBC Saturday morning timeslots formerly occupied by TNBC and Discovery Kids. My biggest gripe with qubo was that they focused on thinly-veiled Christian CGI cartoons, like Veggie Tales and 3-2-1 Penguins.  I actually enjoyed Penguins, but I felt they were hitting kids over the head with the Morals of the Week. So, when I realized that there was a qubo digital channel (66-2), I wasn’t exactly rushing home to watch it. Sadly, I get the strongest signal from that channel, so I find myself watching it more than I would like. Well, imagine my surprise a few months back when I caught something called qubo Night Owl. Apparently, qubo acquired the rights to the Filmation cartoon library, so starting around 1 AM, they show He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, She-Ra: Princess of Power, Bravestarr, and (the “unreal”) Ghostbusters, with the gorilla. It’s not award-winning television, but it’s pretty cool to watch if you’re drunk and/or can’t sleep. You might, however, find yourself wondering if She-Ra’s skirt was always that short…

So, while I still can’t explain the reasoning behind the digital switchover, I found a way to turn a negative into a positive. I kinda proud of myself, as I tend to like to just complain about stuff. In any case, I’m just like you. I can drive a car and hold a job. I just can’t watch television shows when they air. Oh well, thanks to the internet, I can just watch them the day after. While you’re consumed with your DVR and your On-Demand, I’m taking a trip back to a better time. Everything old is new again, and I’ve got a front row seat. Don’t you wish you could be me? Ok, you can stop laughing now. Come on, that’s not cool. Stop laughing!

*channel numbers based on Washington, DC viewing market. Check your local listings for your own damn digital channels

23rd Feb2010

Fuck the MPAA – I’m Downloading My Movies From Now On!

by Will

I have a REAL BIG problem with the current state of DVDs at retail. I’ve been a fan of the medium for about 8 years, and I’ve dropped quite the coin on DVDs. I used to be a New Release Whore, who’d scour websites to plan out what I was going to buy each week. TV season sets? If it was a first season, I was down. Blockbuster Previously Viewed sections? I was a connoisseur. If I wasn’t cycling through a toy or comic phase, all of my disposable income (and then some) went to DVDs.

As a DVDphile, I wanted the BEST version of each title. If there was a 2-disc version, I didn’t waste my time with the single disc. If there was an anniversary on the horizon, I knew that I should wait to see if a special edition was on the way. If there was a Director’s Cut, don’t bother me with the theatrical version.

I guess, at this point, I should elaborate on something. Like a low-rent Batman villain, I have a bit of a psychological tic when it comes to DVDs: I don’t consider a viewing experience “complete” until I’ve watched EVERYTHING on the disc. This means unrated cut, theatrical cut, commentary track(s), and featurettes. I can’t file a disc away on my shelf until all of this has occurred. As a result, more of my collection is in the “incomplete” stage, stacked up around my apartment. I don’t always watch what I buy. In fact, in many cases, I may have found something on sale and just bought it because I’d heard of it by way of mouth. So, the piles keep growing…

Why do I do this? Well, I love pop culture, and I’m always out to learn. Many consider extra features to be a waste of time, but you can learn a LOT from them. A commentary track by a disgruntled director can be more entertaining than the movie itself. Actually, I have several movies in my collection where, had it not been for the special features, I would’ve gotten rid of them (Comic Book: The Movie, for example).

Anyway, DVDs and I had a great thing worked out. Then, however, the studios decided to come in and fuck everything up. How did they do this? The Digital Copy. The Digital motherfucking Copy! For those not in the know, many recent DVDs include a digital file of the movie that you can store on your iPod or computer. Apparently, this is so you don’t always have to have the disc on you, and it’s good for commuters. Commuters aside, there are so many reasons to hate the Digital Copy:

-It’s assumed that you’re essentially paying for your Digital Copy when you purchase the DVD so, like DRM-protected materials, the disc comes with an authentication code. That same code also has an expiration date. So, let’s say I find a copy of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra 2-disc edition on sale next summer (because I would only buy that thing on sale), the authentication code will have already expired. So, basically, part of the built-in cost of the DVD is already null and void. After all, the single disc would run you about $12.99-14.99, while the 2-disc would run about $19.99-24.99.

-Remember how the Digital Copy price is built in? Well, back in the day, you would buy a 2-disc edition of a movie, and you GOT 2 discs worth of material. The first disc was basically the movie and commentary tracks, while the second disc was for featurettes, web links, and the unnecessary-yet-quite-common text script. Nowadays, everything’s on the first disc, and the second disc is usually JUST the Digital Copy. So, you’re basically getting fewer features than you would’ve gotten 2 years ago.

-The introduction of the Digital Copy also changed the distribution of features on releases. A few years ago, a single disc edition would come with a commentary track and a couple of features, while the 2-disc came with the bulk of the features. Now, however, most single discs have NOTHING other than the movie. If you want any kind of feature, you’ve got to get that 2-disc version. Now, I know I said that I always wanted the best versions of DVDs, so you’re probably wondering why this bothers me. After all, I was going to buy the 2-disc anyway. Well, it bothers me that there exists ONE disc with EVERYTHING on it, but in order for me to get it, I have to buy the Digital Copy. You see, in most cases there’s nothing on Disc 2 that I even want, since it’s JUST the digital version. So, I’m expected to buy a 2-disc version of something that doesn’t exactly warrant 2 discs!

So, why this argument? Why now? I give you Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths.

Released today, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths is the latest in the burgeoning market of direct-to-DVD animated features that are mainly aimed at fanboys. The faster they crank these out, the less special they seem. The fact that the average run-time is between 70-80 minutes means that these either fail to “get to the meat” or wrap up in a satisfying conclusion. I wasn’t really looking forward to the main feature, in this case, but I was interested in an animated short surrounding The Spectre. Considering the fanfare this feature was receiving online, it appeared that it was seen as more of an additional facet to the release than a mere “special feature”. Warner Bros, however, seems to disagree: the single disc of the movie has NO Spectre featurette. It merely has a sneak preview of their next DVD release. Thanks. If I want to see The Spectre, I have to buy the 2-disc Digital Copy version. For a 12-minute animated short. Oh, and with the 2-disc version, Disc 1 offers me trailers of DC Animated DVDs THAT ARE ALREADY OUT, while Disc 2 gives me 2 “bonus” episodes of Justice League, which any fan who’s gonna shell out for the 2-disc ALREADY HAS! They should’ve just called the 2-disc “The Fuck You Edition”.

I’m tired of being screwed around. Fuck it, I’m out! I’ll be over on uTorrent if you need me.

29th Jul2008

The Dark Knight – A Review

by Will

“I believe in Harvey Dent.”

joker-poster-for-the-dark-knight

The Dark Knight. OK, so I promised this last week, but I felt I needed to distance myself from the movie enough to really do this justice. Then, I realized there are enough reviews out there, and they’re all glowing. What did I honestly have to bring to the table? Did I love the movie? Yes! Did it make me want to renew my popeship in the Church of Batman? Hells Yeah! However, like every fanboy, a couple of things popped into my head during the movie:

-Nice touch, having Joker kill Spawn. You mean you don’t know what I’m talking about? Black mobster, nice suit? That’s Michael Jai White, who played Spawn in the movie where he was trying to kill President Bartlett…

-How did Joker survive the same fall that killed Gwen Stacey?

– I finally understand what it’s like to live in Gotham City: to witness a clown, dressed as a nurse, blow up a hospital, in broad daylight

– OK, so who didn’t see the Rachel Dawes demise coming? Her role was important enough to recast, yet she’s a Batman character who no one’s heard of? Yeah…

– So, Batman now pretty much has a God’s Eye view on Gotham City. That’s the kind of guy who might one day build a satellite to spy on all of his Super Friends. Hmm..

-I wish I had an Alfred. No, I wish I had Michael Caine as my Alfred.

-I love that every new Batman movie includes a “Bruce Wayne is a Dick” scene. It’s like watching deleted scenes from American Psycho, and I still think the Bruce Wayne persona is more fascinating than people give it credit. I think the “I believe in Harvey Dent” slogan is pretty cheesy, but if you really take it to heart, it kinda grows on you.

-Anybody watch Gotham Knight? OK, then why the Hell did they go to the lengths of making us like Anna Ramirez, just to have her turn out to be the 24-esque mole (and why were the creators afraid to call her who she really was: Renee Montoya?)? OK, I can kind of understand why, but I still don’t really get the purpose of that DVD. It didn’t accomplish anything, and it would’ve had more of an impact if it had been released a year ago, as something to hold us over, and included the voices of the actual cast, a la the Hellboy animated DVD series.

– What was with that Batman voice? I think I’m just programmed to only like Kevin Conroy at this point.

-Heath was terrifying. I mean, that performance was incredible, and it certainly paints Joker in a new light. It’s easy to lose sight of what his primary motive is: nothing. There’s no logic, rhyme, nor reason to what he does. I just read Batman: Strange Apparitions, where Joker decided to kill everyone whose name was a palindrome. He opened up the phone book, and went in alphabetical order. That’s how twisted he is! Batman *is* the reason the criminals have upped the ante. When you’ve got a guy dressed as a bat, beating up criminals, it’s going to inspire more colorful foes. At times, he seems to realize this, but he refuses to accept it. If he’d just quit, I kinda feel like the mob would take over Gotham, and all the gimmick villains would simply move to Metropolis….

– So, who’s gonna make all of Batman’s gear now?

-Once again, nice touch moving Bruce to Wayne Tower. That happened back in the 70s, when he felt that the mansion was too far away from the city for him to be effective. I actually feel it’d be a harder secret to keep, what with city planning and all, but it was a nice touch, nonetheless.

-So, they hired Cillian Murphy for 5 minutes? OK…

-And what a letdown on the Anthony Michael Hall tip. His role had been top secret for months, and we all thought he’d be someone we know, like Firefly or maybe a revamped Bob the Goon. Instead, he’s just Random News Guy.

-If there’s one thing I’ve learned that Batman and The Hulk have in common, it’s that they both hate those fucking dogs…

-It’s OK, Bruce – you dodged a bullet. Rachel wasn’t gonna age well anyway…

Now, I’ve been in a state of Batman overload since watching The Dark Knight. In the past 10 days, I have read the following:

Batman: Knightfall Vol. 1 TP
Batman: Knightfall Vol. 2 TP
Batman: Knightfall Vol. 3 TP
Batman: The Long Halloween TP
Batman: Dark Victory TP
Batmn: Ego GN
Batman Adventures: The Lost Years TP
Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia GN

That’s over 1500 pages of Batman! Then, to cap it off, I watched all of Disc 1 of season 4 of Batman: The Animated Series (AKA “The Good Cartoon”). Let’s just say that even I think I’ve gone too far. That said, I realized a new side of Batman, a sadder side. You see, most of those books encompass the period early in his career, as seen in The Dark Knight. The interesting part of that era is that Bruce Wayne seemed to think that “Batman” was temporary. As you even see in the movie, he dreams of the day that crime will be vanquished, and a good, noble, public hero can take his place. He saw Harvey Dent as that person. Bruce felt that one day, he could just walk away and lead a normal life. That doesn’t happen.

I just find that so interesting & depressing – he basically got stuck in a dead-end job, and struggles to accept it(See? It happens to rich people, too!). Declaring a war on crime is akin to declaring a war on terror – it’s a bit naive to believe that there can ever been an end to that war, plus that battle comes at a price. He had to sacrifice his own happiness, his own life, so that he could keep his promise to his dead parents, and rid the streets of crime. Now, Batman’s a pretty intelligent guy. By some accounts, he’s the most intelligent character in the DCU. Now, that said, I find it odd that someone so smart could convince himself that the impossible was actually possible. He’s certainly got a masochistic side, but he couldn’t hope to win. Maybe it was his pampered upbringing, or just the desire to please his parents, but I just don’t see how he ever thought there’d be an end to this life once he put on the cape. Or maybe he’s just punishing himself. Survivor’s Guilt? And I think there’s a story there: at what point did he realize he was in it for the Long Haul? Does he even realize that currently? In early stories, he thinks he’ll one day win, but lately, it seems like he’s Batman because he doesn’t know how to be anything else. The current approach occasionally drives him to do rash things, like keep files on how to kill his friends or build a sentient satellite to spy on those same friends. I just wonder, 9 years into his career, does he even want to stop? Could he stop? What would he do if he did stop being Batman? Like I said, I really think there’s a story there.

Anyway, The Dark Knight was incredible. If you haven’t seen it, you’re no longer my friend.

02nd Jul2007

Surf Dudes, With Attitudes…

by Will

“I’m walking on eggshells here, when I’m used to fucking throwing eggs.”

I f’ing love youtube, for this alone:

Not just the credits, but the music video! This takes me back to such a better time. No student loans. No underpaid job. No heartbreak. No Quartlife Crisis. All I cared about was whether or not I’d get McDonald’s that afternoon (I was a fat kid, and I got McDonald’s almost every Saturday) and I wondered if I’d ever end up with a girl like Heidi Noelle Lenhart (“Jenny”, aka “the brunette”). God, did I love that girl. And she pretty much never worked again. Little known fact: her stepfather is Haim Saban, creator of the Power Rangers and former owner of the Fox Kids Network. That bitch’ll never have to work again!

Why is this show not on DVD?!! The fucking Waltons series is on DVD and that demographic doesn’t even know how to operate a DVD player. It’s a travesty…

22nd Jan2005

Go Team Venture!

by Will

“Smurfs don’t lay eggs! I won’t tell you again! Papa Smurf had a fucking beard! They’re clearly mammals!”

I’ve gotta tell ya, it feels so good that eBay and I have reignited our illicit love affair. I keep supplying the funds, and she keeps supplying the goods. So, what did I just get in the mail? Venture Bros Season 1! Yup, it’s bootleg, but it’s totally worth it.

I’ve been on such an Adult Swim kick lately, which is hard to take care of, seeing as how I don’t have cable and all. In the past week, I’ve bought Aqua Teen Hunger Force Seasons 1 & 2, and I just got Venture Bros.

If you’re not watching this show, you’re totally missing out! While, it’s not as absurd-yet-hilarious-if-you’re-stoned funny, like ATHF or The Brak Show, Venture Bros is great if you understand pop culture, and always realized something was amiss in the Jonny Quest camp. If you mixed Jonny Quest with the Hardy Boys, and throw in a couple of dick and masturbation jokes, you’ve got the Venture Bros.

For an added bonus, I found the blog for Jackson Publick, the creator of the show.

http://www.livejournal.com/users/jacksonpublick/

After each episode, he went online and posted a lot of behind-the-scenes factoids, so it’s like getting DVD bonus features for free.

Anyway, Season 1 is currently in reruns on Cartoon Network, so check them out. If you want a Season 2, then tell ALL your friends, like I’m doing now, ’cause the show could definitely use the ratings. OK, back to ATHF…

Go, Team Venture!

05th Jan2005

Got A New DVD Player. Probably A Piece Of Crap.

by Will

So, crisis averted. While the DVD player is with the technological angels in that NeoTokyo in the sky, I have replaced her. That’s right, I went out and bought a home theatre system!

Man, do I know how to throw away a buck! Don’t despair; my resolutions are still on track. After some comparison shopping, I found one at Circuit City for $79! Yup, Seven-nine. Is it a piece of shit? Probably. But, it’ll probably last as long as my last one did. The last one was an Apex. Not the standard of quality most people would expect. But it lasted 3 yrs.

This new one? Doesn’t even have a brand name. Oh yeah…it’s a Nexxtech. Gotta trust any company with two x’s in the name; they’re either specializing in the distribution of mid-grade pornography or giving us shitty electronics. Who knows, maybe Nexxtech does both. Plus, it’s a seal of quality if “tech” is in the brand name. It’s true. It’s in the Bible…

And they had the audacity to ask if I wanted the extended warranty! We, at the West Foundation, do not invest in warranties. We buy cheap, so when it breaks down, we buy another one. That’s putting your dollars to work! They know this thing won’t outlast the warranty, but I’ll bored with it by then anyway. In three yrs, there’ll be cooler models, that play holograms of your movies in your living rooms. Unfortunately, by that point, Nexxtech will be manufacturing killer robots. I only hope the robots still let us watch holograms in the living room….

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