21st Mar2013

My (Alternate) Reality

by Will

I’m not always a happy person. Sure, I crack jokes and everything on Twitter, but I guess you could say I’m “faking it until I make it”. Let’s just say it really hits home when a nurse asks you, “Can you remember when you were last happy?” and your answer is “I was probably 12.” Man, this is a downer intro to a post! Anyway, at times, I’ve clung to the idea of alternate realities. Hell, anything’s possible and it’s not like you can disprove the possibility (Ha! Take THAT, condescending Web Atheists!). Maybe there’s a Will out there who’s bouncing off the walls, and people describe him in terms like “effervescent”. If there are other realities out there, just think of the craziness that could be going on. Or let me do the thinking for you!

As our music industry celebrated the release of Justin Timberlake’s single, “Suit & Tie”, this week, in other reality former Backstreet Boy Nick Carter just released “Blazer & Bolo”.

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And apparently he’s a motorboating enthusiast!

Meanwhile, things are getting dicey on the late night talk show scene. After 20 years on the air, UPN has announced that Nick Cannon will be replacing Arsenio Hall as the host of What Up, Moon? Industry experts aren’t sure how to react, as it was only two years ago that Hall reclaimed his show from Damon Wayans, Jr. After touring the country with Skee Lo and Bobcat Goldthwait, Wayans finally landed at NBC, but there are still hard feelings.

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Some third world country is about to get a shitload of Woof shirts airdropped into it

Speaking of Skee Lo, he and his wife, megastar Kelly Rowlands, are expecting their 3rd child. Fans were hoping Kelly would take time off to reunite with Destiny’s Child, but the group has been on hiatus since member Beyonce Knowles was arrested on drug charges back in 2003. She later appeared on the 5th season of Celebrity Rehab, where she proceeded to insult both Rowlands and the DC fans. Needless to say, Kelly won’t be saying Beyonce’s name anytime soon!

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Skee Lo’s “I Wish” is the highest selling record to date

Talks are heating up that Michael Jackson will be taking the judge’s chair vacated by Bobby Brown on The Voice. As everyone knows by now, Brown was recently named the Exec VP of Artist Development for Arista Records, and Jackson is coming off the recent cancellation of his children’s show, Jacko’s World.

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In the book world, bestselling author James Frey is four books into his Little Pieces Saga. He’s been doing the talk show circuit promoting the next installment, A Million Pieces More. Tonight, he’s going to be on Bob Barker’s CNN show and Soledad O’Brien’s show on Playboy Radio. Tomorrow morning, he’ll wake up bright and early to be a guest on Let’s Get It Started With Fergie.

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Even in an alternate reality, douchebags still look like this

In the world of professional sports, NFL commissioner Vincent McMahon has announced that Brock Lesnar’s contract has been renegotiated with the Washington Coloreds. McMahon refused to acknowledge questions concerning the team’s racist moniker. The last time he addressed it was during an interview with Tabitha Soren, where he remarked, “What? Isn’t that what we’re supposed to call them?”

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“The NFL is committed to diversity – unless you’re a minority, bald, and/or have a goatee. Then, you’re clearly a villain.”

In the world of politics, President Clinton just announced, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman…in her butt. Lord knows I tried.” This is the 12th sex scandal for the long-seated president. It was just last year that he uttered the similar words, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman…in her mouth.” Needless to say, there’s no end in sight for the War on Orifices. Pundits are saying that there should have been some sort of provision for removing Clinton from office, but it seems that no one knows the current whereabouts of the Constitution. At present, most US laws are tweeted from China, while forged copies of the fabled document occasionally show up in pawn shops, according to the Pawn Stars Channel.

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“My fellow Americans, tell me you don’t just wanna bite dat ass.

Continental War V rages on, as Germany just fell to invading forces from Poland. The US has been hesitant to enter the fray, however Germany is our leading source for electronics, so something will need to be decided before the Tivo production season kicks into high gear. This has caused China’s statehood talks to stall. If you’ll remember, the US traded the Puerto Rico Territory to Emperor Hirohito in 1952, thus acquiring the China Territory and gaining a US presence in the East.

Meanwhile, plans are underway to commemorate the anniversary of the tragic events of May 4th, 1999. It has been 14 years since the state of Hawaii was vaporized by a militant sect of Jedi disciples, in what is now referred to as Operation: Phantom Menace. This led to the widespread persecution of Jedi, with many leaving the fold due to risk of being charged for treason. The “religion” is currently prohibited on American soil.

Photo courtesy of bystander, who decided an Instagram filter should be applied

Photo courtesy of bystander, who decided an Instagram filter should be applied

In the business world, DisMart announced that they’re planning to open a kiosk on the International Space Station. A mere 10 years ago, this would’ve been something out of science fiction. However, after Sir Richard Branson mysteriously disappeared, DisMart submitted a bid for the Virgin Corporation. Pretty soon, Mickey Mouse and Wally the Wallflower will be heading to space!

Well, I think you’ve learned enough about this alternate reality. Perhaps you should count your blessings. I mean, I’ve heard great things about The Diagram 2, but do you really want 14 Skee Lo albums on your mPod? What? Oh, that’s what they’re called here. Ya know, ’cause Microsoft makes them. I’m always drifting off to this world, though, as I have quite the imagination. So, just let me know if you ever want an update on how things are going over there.

15th Mar2013

LOEB Presents West Week Ever RED – 3/15/13

by Will
Who had the West Week Ever? Keep reading!

Who had the West Week Ever? Keep reading!

This has been a week! First, the elephant I shoved into the room late Wednesday night on Twitter: I did undergo a “procedure” yesterday, but everything seems to be OK for now. I can’t say much about it, but I assure you that I’m still fat and my penis is the same size it was when the week began. I can say, however, that I was really touched by the outpouring of tweets I got. It means a lot to me that a group of “strangers” can basically become a digital family. Thanks to @OAFE @T16Skyhopp @MeisterShake @JohnDoctorKent @timdogg98
@avenuesalamode @exveebraun @MattGuzy @monsterfink @RavingToyManiac @LamarRevenger @teamhellions @thebrandi @classickmateria @Brock626 @howardthedeck @chapmanrunner and @ponderiss for their concern 🙂

I also wanna thank @sharepointjoe @smurfwreck and @T16skyhopp for the awesome packages they sent me. I’m building a Kre-O army!

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I’m gonna try something different here. I’m not even sure of it’s allowed, but we’ll see. I haven’t been as involved in posting for The League of Extraordinary Bloggers as I should be, and the weeks sometimes speed by. Since I’m contractually obligated to do a West Week Ever each Friday (my sponsors at Will’s World of Wonder can be a bunch of dickholes sometimes), the only way I can do this week’s LOEB post is to fit it in here. So, this week’s topic is a photo challenge called “I see RED”. I thought about doing a huge shot of all my Red Rangers (ya know, to pander to the demo that drives the most traffic to this site), but I really don’t feel like digging all those out. Then, it dawned on me. I could use this:

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You may remember this shot from earlier this week on Twitter/Instagram. Check them out if you wanna see my hilarious yet racially insensitive caption. Don’t worry – there’s a story here. Ya see, I went to college with the Arizona Iced Tea heiress. For realsies, she exists! And she had the biggest rack I’d ever seen. So big that I dubbed her “racktacular”. My buddy used to date her, and somehow felt the need to tell her of her new moniker. Instead of getting mad, she jokingly wore it as a badge of honor…until her later reduction. A moment of silence for those magnificent titties. I always think of her when I see any beverage from Arizona.

Anyway, I was thirsty and didn’t feel like soda since it was 8 in the morning. So, my inner Spirit Negro said, “Watuhmelon?! Lah-dee-dah!”, and I tapdanced my way over to the counter. I’d never had it before, so what did I think? It smelled like Fruit Rollups, which is ALWAYS a plus. I’m not sure of the taste, though. I tend to hate synthetic watermelon, but this wasn’t bad. Know what it tastes like? Stay with me here, as I’m about to lose a few of you. It tastes the way a female rapper would describe the taste of her vagina. You know, they’re always comparing it to something good like Pop Tarts or Pepsi, but you know the real deal. Yeah, like that.

Here are some other Leaguer posts on the topic:
21 Red-iculous, Random Things About Me – ShezCrafti
I’m Seeing Red (You Big Dummy) – Flashlights Are Something To Eat
I’m Seeing Red – Cool & Collected
Welp, if that was the first time any new Leaguer has stopped by, thanks for playing our game and I understand if you’d like to leave now. For the rest of you, we’ve still got work to do.

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I used to dream about working for Wizard Magazine, but I guess it wasn’t in the cards. Not that I really tried. I made it to Diamond, but had friends who’d applied to Wizard. Basically, you were lucky to make $20K, while living in Congers, NY (where the median income was about $75K). Looking back, this isn’t so odd when you think of it in terms of “start-up culture”: to get an idea off the ground, folks tend to work long hours for little-to-no paycheck. The thing with Wizard, though, is that even once it “made it”, it doesn’t seem like life got better for the employee. That’s all from an HR/contractual side, though. In practice, it seems like the bunker mentality forged a lot of great friendships, and seeded the comic industry with the PR power players that it has today. Anyway, with all this in mind, I really enjoyed this Where Are They Now? article about a few Wizard staffers.

TV_Tropes

This may come as a surprise to some, but I’ve spent next to no time on TV Tropes. It’s a timesink, and it just seems too…easy. I mean, why read these things when you could just watch them and identify them yourself? Still, they put names on phenomena that otherwise didn’t have titles; I’ll give them that. So, I think I’ve boiled down the essence of the typical 80s/90s sitcomto 13 episodes. Think of it like the British TV model – even if it gets canceled after one season, it has accomplished its mission. Anyway, here’s how it would be mapped out:

01. Pilot Episode Where Illogical Conceit For Series Is Introduced

02. Episode Packed With Character Development

03. Episode Featuring Pillow Fight OR Argument Steeped In Sexual Tension

04. Episode With Appearance By Then-Contemporary Pop Star

05. Very Special Kidnapping Episode

06. The UFO Episode

07. Lie Told When Parent Comes To Town Episode

08. Episode Where Someone Ends Up On A Ledge

09. Episode Where Someone Gets Amnesia

10. Locked In Freezer Clip Show

11. Backdoor Pilot for Spinoff That Will Only Last A Fraction As Long As This Show’s Run

12. Episode Where Fan Favorite Supporting Character Leaves Show

13. Finale Where Final Scene Cleverly References Opening Scene In Pilot

I should do a Kickstarter, where I’d probably burn it off all at once on Netflix, cast Lena Dunham in it, and sit back to collect my accolades.

Links I Loved
Children Around the World Show Their Most Prized Possessions – The Robot’s Pajamas

Retcon – Hooray For the Bad Guy

“The Living Unicorn”.. when Ringling Bros. lied to me. – The Cold Slither Podcast

Have you cast your votes for Slither Madness yet?

This Week’s Posts
“I Wanna Xup, Baby” AKA Anyone Else Remember Xuxa?

This Week’s eBay Auctions

One put on his suit & tie to dust off SNL, while the other was ushered in with white smoke. One danced all over the Pandora’s Box of crowdsourcing, while another felt his heart go “pop!” Only one, however, could have the West Week Ever.

Grant, Hugh

Earlier this week, I was cleaning off the DVR and noticed I’d recorded Music and Lyrics. In my mind, I think I’d assumed it was American Dreamz (a lesser Hugh Grant vehicle spoofing reality shows), so I was never in a rush to watch it. Boy, was I wrong! To boil it down, Hugh Grant basically plays The Other Guy from Wham! who gets a second chance at his career when Not-Ke$ha asks him to write a song for her new album. He can’t nail down the lyrics until his neurotic plant waterer turns out to have a gift for words. Collaboration and romance ensue, yadda yadda yadda. I liked the movie because it kinda swatted away some of the romantic comedy tropes. I was left with a lot of questions that probably would’ve been poorly answered in a Nora Ephron film. I’ve always loved Hugh Grant, even if he does always play the same character. As the cool kids say, he “could get the D”. Well, on second thought, let’s strike that from the record. My rep is bad enough as it is. Anyway, his West Week Ever status was solidified the moment the movie started with this video:

I’m a big fan of parody done with heart. This video is PERFECT. From the actual song, to Hugh’s directional nod at the lyric “Let’s go”. The last time I’d seen something this reverential of 80s pop was the first Robin Sparkles video, and then it was all downhill after they repeated it without instilling any heart to the endeavor. Sure, the other people in the running may have had more real time success this week, but most of that involved stuff that made me mad. This video clip, however, brought me nothing but sheer joy all week. And since it’s my site, and I discovered it only this week, that’s why Hugh Grant had the West Week Ever.

06th Mar2013

West Week Ever – 3/8/13

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

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My favorite recent pastime is watching court shows and looking up the plaintiff/defendant on facebook. It might sound kinda stalkery, but sometimes it yields funny results. For example, last weekend I was watching an episode of Judge Judy, and I randomly looked up the plaintiff. Her status message was, “So I guess my episode of Judge Judy is on. lol.” I don’t know if people had been messaging her or if she randomly saw it herself, but it was kinda funny to see that in “real time” – especially since the episode was, like, 2 years old. Plus, it’s also interesting to see them on TV, acting the part of “the good girl”, and then they have unlocked accounts filled with blunts and bong pics. This is why you lock your accounts, folks!

Apparently, Pinterest removed one of my pictures this week because it might have contained nudity. Honestly, I don’t even remember the pic they’re talking about. I don’t really even use Pinterest, ’cause I’m not a bored secretary. Pinterest has kinda become the young professional’s Tumblr, but if they want to compete, they’re gonna have to allow some nudity. That’s Tumblr’s saving grace – that and ADD.

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Why do people still watch American Idol? Sure, people love to say “I only watch the beginning, for the terrible auditions”, but then you KEEP watching. WHY? To quote The Rock, “IT DOESN’T MATTER!” Name the last Idol WINNER who mattered. I’ll wait. Sure, the show gets you exposure, but the folks fare best who DON’T win. This goes all the way back to season 2, where most people forget that Ruben BEAT Clay Aiken. This pattern continued. Jennifer Hudson? Didn’t win. Chris Daughtry? Didn’t win. Katherine McPhee? Didn’t win. Adam Lambert? DIDN’T WIN! No, America voted for Fantasia, Taylor Hicks, and Kris Allen, respectively. Yes, Fantasia’s illiterate ass beat Jennifer Hudson! This teaches us 2 things: America can’t be trusted AND winning Idol is irrelevant. They’ll be back at their airport job in 6 months. You know a concept that I do miss, however? American Juniors!

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When a network stumbles upon a reality hit, it then must decide how many cycles to run per season. In the beginning, they run it into the ground, running it in the spring and fall. Eventually, it’s decided to keep the show to an annual basis, and something else is created to fill the gap. This is how the American Idol/X-Factor arrangement currently works. After the second season of Idol, however, they didn’t want to burn off a season during the summer, so to bridge the gap between spring and fall, Fox ran American Juniors. This is actually the merger of two UK properties: Pop Idol and S Club Juniors. This probably a good place to describe the key difference between US and UK pop acts. In the US, pop groups (especially boybands) tended to start like this:

“Well, we were all working at Universal Studios, and we’d run into each other at the same auditions. Eventually, we put together our group.”

In the UK, however, things are more staged:

“I was watchin’ the tellie, and I see advert for a pop group bein’ put together. I’d done some modeling, and me mates was always takin’ the piss. One day, I snuck off from a game of footer and auditioned. Next thing I knew, I was in the group.”

I know US pop acts are just as manufactured, but they at least pretend that they’re not. UK groups are essentially the result of a cattle call for pretty people. Anyway, one of the biggest UK acts of the time was S Club (formerly S Club 7, but Paul had decided to leave, so they didn’t feel like reprinting everything with a “6” when they could just remove the “7”). Considering S Club had a TV show, movies, and CDs, I guess management saw it as a sustainable brand. So, as the original group started to show its wear, the S Club Juniors concept was born, where thousands of kids tried out on the reality show, S Club Search, to be the next generation of S Club. So, in the final year or so of the original group, they had this junior counterpart group just waiting in the wings to steal their jobs. Once S Club disbanded, the Juniors were officially promoted to S Club 8. I swear I’m not making this stuff up!

So, American Juniors followed much the same model: there was a cattle call for cute, performing children, and instead of singling out one of them as the BEST, the goal was to create a pop group instead. Since America has that whole “everyone’s a winner” mentality these days, it wasn’t too harsh, but it was still great seeing such raw, young talent. I’m a bigger fan of seeing a kid and thinking, “That kid’s going places!” instead of seeing some 20-something airport attendant and thinking, “That dude’s gonna get a ton of pussy for about 6 months, and then he’s back to handling luggage.” Just go back and watch old eps of MMC, and you’ll feel the same way when you see young Ryan Gosling and JT. Sure, there’s the risk of becoming ruined as a child star, but there aren’t a ton of child singer success stories. I mean, there’s Michael Jackson (HORRIBLE example) and there was Charlotte Church (who kinda grew up to be a bitch). Otherwise, folks seem to wait til their teens to debut these days. I’m not sure if it’s due to fear over pubescent voice change or what. Anyway, at the end of things, 5 kids were chosen to be the “American Juniors” (how creative), and their debut single was “One Step Closer”, which had also been the debut single of the S Club Juniors. While the show’s ratings were pretty great, a second season was scrapped. I’m tired of Idol. Bring back Juniors!

Links I Loved

The 5 “Dustiest” Pixar Movie Moments – UnderScoopFire!

Classick Team-Up 02: Joe Zicari -Cold Slither Podcast

Childhood TV Crushes Tournament – Eclectik Relaxation

The Smallville Ending – The Robot’s Pajamas

This Week’s Posts

Thrift Justice – Injustice For All

Buy some stuff from Will’s World of Wonder!

Be sure to enter Cold Slither Podcast’s Slither Madness 2013: Battle of the Bands! It’s one of the best March Madness brackets, and I’m a sponsor!

One spent 8 years in the ’70s, while one won’t see his 70s. Another should’ve kept his damn mask on, while we wish the other was wearing a mask. Only one, however, had the West Week Ever!

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I’ve never lusted after Mila Kunis like most guys my age. I think my problem is that I never forget your first impression on me (this is also why I’ve never been a Beyonce fan). It’s not that Mila’s first impression was bad – it’s just that she was 14. That ’70s Show premiered during my senior year of high school, and Mila had actually lied to the producers about her age in order to audition for the role of Jackie. Since I read and watch everything concerning stars, this was kinda off-putting to me. Age is a funny thing. If you’re 31 and your gf is 27, nobody bats an eye. If you’re 18 and your girlfriend is 14, you’re probably on a list somewhere. So, I averted my glance. Over the years, however, Mila has grown into a beautiful young woman. And she’s the voice of Meg Griffin, which is also a plus! Still, for all of this, I never really gave her much thought until this week. I’m sure you’ve all seen it by now. She gave an interview in the UK to a VERY starstruck interviewer, and it was GOLD. Plainly put, Mila comes off cool as shit. It’s not a “she’s so hot” thing. I genuinely want her to be my friend. Ya know, the one who’s really cool, but also kinda hot, so she makes your wife jealous? Yeah, that scenario. So, for just being the coolest chick of the week, Mila Kunis had the West Week Ever!

22nd Feb2013

West Week Ever – 2/22/13

by Will

oie_922142seDasWF9

Today in Black History, Aunt Jemima discovered Uncle Ben’s affair with Mrs. Butterworth, thus splitting Black America’s first power couple.Benmima

Last weekend I had the pleasure of finally meeting Twitter pal LamarRevenger! Lindsay and I were doing a belated Valentine’s Day of wineries and antique shops in Hershey, PA, which put us in Lamar’s back yard. We met up at Crossroads Antique Mall, and had a great time exploring the place. I love meeting you online folks, and Lamar put me at 3. Who’ll be #4?! Only time will tell!

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It was announced this week that game developer Harmonix will stop releasing new music for Rock Band by April (The Robot’s Pajamas has a nice writeup about it). I haven’t touched my Rock Band games in a good 2 years, but this announcement still saddens me. You see, Rock Band was very important when I first started dating my wife. Her roommate had the game, so she spent a lot of her free time getting up to expert in most of the songs. When we met, I’d never played the game, so the formative days of our relationship consisted of her schooling me in interactive classic rock. There was a band featured in the game called Bang Camaro; I claim to be a music aficionado, but I still can’t tell you one of their songs. Anyway, we thought it was the dumbest, yet funniest name, so we dubbed ourselves “Sex Corvette” in the game. Whenever I needed to practice on my own, I had my own side project that I called “Fornication Wagon”. It’s been years since Sex Corvette and Fornication Wagon went out on the road. With this announcement, I think it might be time to get the bands back together. Ya know, for old times sake.

Speaking of music, last week, Shezcrafti and I discovered our shared love of Ace of Base. No, I’m not talking about “All That She Wants” or “The Sign”. Get out of here with that Top 40 shit! I’m talking DEEP cuts Ace of Base, from the albums that most Americans ignored. Sure, everyone owned The Sign (Happy Nation, for you international folks) but their second album, The Bridge, was one of THE BEST POP ALBUMS of the 90s. I’m not even lying. I’m pretty sure I wrote a tumblog about it awhile back, but “Ravine” is one of the most beautiful ballads of the past 20 years. It’s even more impactful when you learn it was written in the wake of a knife attack from a stalker. It turns out we both own all the AoB albums, including the recent one with the new girls. All this time, I thought I was alone, but I was wrong. I’m so, so glad I was wrong!

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People seem to be losing their shit over news that Michael Bay cast Megan Fox in the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. I say “so what?” Think of today’s “starlets”: Miley Cyrus, Vanessa Hudgens, Alexa Vega? You’d hate all of them, and it ain’t like Emma Stone or Jennifer Lawrence is gonna ruin her career with this on her resume. I mean, it’s not like this is the straw that broke the camel’s back. People have hated Bay since he took on the Transformers franchise. The same people who are saying “I’m fucking done with this Turtles movie now!” are the same who were supposedly done when it was announced he was helming it. At what point do you just walk away and stop caring? To complain now, is akin to going “Oh man, Hitler’s killing blacks now?!” Yeah, I invoked the dreaded internet use of Hitler. Anyway, no one ever said this was a movie for old school fans. One thing I’ve never really gotten about TMNT fandom is that the 80s kids think it’s theirs. That’s somewhat true, but there’s also the 2003 run, as well as the new Nick run. Turtles belong to several generations now, and this could just be its introduction to a newer generation. As much as people hate Bay, a lot of folks were paying money to see those “Bayformers” movies, so I guess this movie is for them. It’s not for you. I’m amazed at people’s inability to just say “You know, I don’t think this is for me” and walk away. It took me a while to learn that, but it’s much less stressful!

I hate to be some hipster/old fogey, but I’m tired of the media’s ability to scare us about some shit, and then just move on to the next thing. We’re never told whether or not these things have been cured/stopped/defeated. It’s just on to the next crisis. Here’s a list of things I’ve been instructed to fear in my lifetime:

Radon

Acid Rain

Old Men With Candy

Carbon Monoxide

Mad Cow Disease

Bird Flu

SARS

Super Gonorrhea

To my knowledge, none of these problems have been “solved”, but ain’t nobody talking about them anymore! Did the Super Gonorrhea take out the candy-bearing child molesters? I NEED ANSWERS!

This has been a bittersweet week online. It started great, with me and Lamar meeting up. Then, once I got home, all the crazies came out. I found myself leaving a bunch of toy centric facebook groups because of one bad apple. I’m not sure if you’re all “in the know”, but there are shit tons of toy groups on facebook for trading and buying toys. The problem, however, is that the same people are in ALL of these groups. I talked about it a bit more in-depth in this post. Basically, some one gets accused of screwing over someone, gets kicked out, and then forms his own group. Well, I joined these things to drum up attention for Will’s World of Wonder, but those people are either trying to lowball you or get something for free. Over time, I came to realize it wasn’t worth the hustle over there, but I stayed on in case some good deal came up. The other day, I posted an item I was selling, and specifically said “PM offers”. Some guy decided to start asking questions on the actual post. “How much did you pay for it? Is it the same scale as Soundwave?” At first, I indulged him, but he finally signed off with “OK, just checking”. So, after wasting a bit of my time, I told him “That was a lot of questions for ‘just checking’.” He proceeds to tell me not to get “butthurt about a $20 toy” and that “there are more important things in life to worry about.” I replied that I wasn’t “butthurt”, but didn’t appreciate him using me as his Google research stand-in, ON MY THREAD. Then, he and some other guys start making a side deal, again, ON MY THREAD. Any group with a halfway decent admin would’ve stopped that (trust me, facebook toy group admins are like the goddamned Gestapo. It’s like they were all the last kids picked for sports or some shit), but no one stepped in. When I called him on it, again, he tells me to “stop getting butthurt”. I told him he was being an asshole, and his condescension wasn’t needed. Eventually, like I pointed out above, I realized “ya know, this isn’t for me.” I muttered a “fuck this noise”, and quit the group. I pride myself on not being a “quitter”, but sometimes you just need to realize when something isn’t worth your time and effort. Work smarter and not harder. The decent people I met in those groups are already facebook or twitter friends, so I didn’t lose them. I just cut off the folks who were, apparently, leaving me “butthurt”. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

I’m such a jerk – last week, I forgot to include the link for my guest spot on the Cereal Killas episode of The Cold Slither Podcast. You’re all smart, savvy folks, so I’m sure you found it. If not, you can listen to it here.

Also, the Black Dynamite ep of the Traumatic Cinematic Show has gone live, and you can listen to me and the guys here.

This Week’s Post

Thrift Justice: The One With All The Books

Before I wrap things up this week, I wanted to point out UnderScoopFire’s State of the Site/Show Address podcast that went up this week. I love these kinds of posts, as I love to know what’s going on in the minds of the folks I admire. Plus, they serve as a good time to take stock of my own stuff. I’m really happy where I am in regards to podcasts. I always kinda wanted to be a “professional guest”, and I’ve had the honor of being invited on some great shows, having fun discussions with new folks. I never thought I’d get to this point so quickly, but I’m having a lot of fun. As for non-audio stuff, though, I’m still not where I want to be. There are folks out there who can get 10 comments on a post without even posting a link to social media. That is the definition of a “destination site”, and I think that’s where we’d all like to be. I’ve been doing this TEN YEARS. There are more blogrolls I could be in. There are more of your friends who could know about me. I’m harassing Twitter timelines with my links, and I still don’t know if it makes a difference. Hell, maybe folks have learned how to say “Yeah, that’s just not for me”. Who knows? Anyway, it just gives me something to think about. See ya next week!

 

06th Feb2013

Dai Another Day – My First Taste of A Sentai Series #powerrangers

by Will

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TENSHIN DAA! KIRYOKU TENSHIN AURA CHANGER!

So, I did something I swore I would never do. In fact, I’ve made fun of those who do it. Still, here I am: watching the source material for a Power Rangers series. Through a whole series of events, including a discussion with @suribot about Kamen Rider, I found myself with a LOT of sentai (“task force”) shows at my disposal. This led to me binge watching a 50-episode series over the past three days. This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive post, as there are many folks out there who could do a better job summing it up. I just wanted to share a few observations that I had as a newcomer to the genre. The show I started with is called Gosei Sentai Dairanger, which basically means “5-Star Task Force Dairanger”. For you Americans, it’s where most of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers season 2 footage came from (Thunderzords, bombs make monsters grow, White Ranger suit, etc).

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-Children are about to be executed in the first episode. In the second episode, a monster is stealing the souls of children and putting them in stuffed animals (with special appearance by My Pet Monster). In fact, the subtitle of the series should just  be “Kids Ain’t Shit, as they’re either canon fodder or assholes in this show.

-Cursing is allowed! Most monsters utter “Damn you!” right before detonating the bomb that makes them grow, Pink Ranger was called “bitch” a few times, and “That’s fucked up!” was uttered near the end of the series.

-They don’t even find all the KiDen Beasts (zords) until episode 7. They don’t form a Megazord until about episode 10. Great way to build suspense, but that’s no way to sell toys! Also, zord battles are actually less exciting than in America. Many of them take place over a silent background, so there’s no awesome music to get you jazzed up. They also end rather quickly.

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He has mini volcanoes on his head. And may work the door at a sex club. Photo courtesy: grnrngr.com

-Saban had to come up with some crazy excuses in order to use some of the monster footage (why the Hell would Rocky be addicted to Pachinko?!). It’s even more odd to see how these monsters were originally presented. One villain is a Japanese preacher (he’s shown carrying a bible), who just says “sex sex sex sex sex!” while branding people either positive or negative with his Degauss staff. He then turns into a magnet monster. Another monster is named General Kamikaze, who rides a motorcycle with a swastika on the back. And, not only was there a monster made of tofu, but it also enjoyed EATING tofu. This same monster’s power was to make everyone crazy drunk. He challenged the Blue Ranger to a sake drinking contest and LOST! Another monster is a cactus disguised as a child molesting gas station attendant who turns kidnapped little girls into dolls. Double. You. Tee. Eff.

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Trust me, dude in the leather jacket is wearing red, the guy next to him has green gloves, and Pink wears little shorts…and I’m sure there’s pink somewhere…

-It always seemed dumb that the Rangers ONLY wore clothes the same color as their ranger color. Turns out that’s done in Japan, too. In fact, a few of them only seem to have one outfit. Another thing I never understood was “Where do the morphers come from?” Well, apparently, this is a trope of sentai shows. You’re just supposed to suspend disbelief, and understand that they appear when needed.

-Saban always stressed the power of friendship and teamwork, but that’s no so prevalent here. They don’t miraculously work well as a team. In fact, most early adventures get worse because one member or another is late to a fight ’cause he had his own shit to do.

 

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Don’t let the smile fool you. This kid is a dick. He’s got a good reason for it, but still a dick.

-the whole Kibaranger (White Ranger) situation is a mindfuck. A random 9 yr old boy starts hearing voices, that tell him to break into the Pink Ranger’s apartment. To do so, he meets her, grabs her tit, and then steals her keys. Once inside, he steals the Kiba Changer and goes to “King Arthur” Byakko (Saba, to us), which not only gives him powers but also makes him grow to adult size. Then, he proceeds to just move his shit into her apartment, without telling her he’s the Kibaranger. Did I mention his mom is missing? Well, in order to get him to move out, Lin (Pink) tells him that his mother is waiting for him at Tokyo station. COLD. Of course she’s not there, and he comes back crying. For some odd reason, Lin lets him move into her attic. Where’s CPS in Japan?! For his special attack, he summons a heavy metal band whose sound is destructive to monsters. HONEST. Then an evil 9 yr old, Akomoru, appears and becomes Kibaranger’s nemesis. This becomes very important later.

In the end, I was amazed by how much I came to love this series. The suits grow on you, and I wish that Saban had found some way to use them – I mean, he used the horrible Kakuranger suits for the Alien Rangers, so he could’ve done something here. All of the characters (with the exception of Kazu/Yellow) are extremely likable, and you genuinely root for them. In Power Rangers, I think we all had a favorite, be it Red or Green (seriously, were there others?), but here you root for them as a unit. While they don’t start out as a great team, they evolve into a family. It doesn’t follow the 3-Act monster of the day format, which furthers the ongoing story. Some episodes don’t have a full team morph. Some don’t have zords. But taken as a 50-part whole, it’s an amazing saga. I can’t get the theme song out of my head, and I keep cracking up at saying “Tenpou Rai Rai Balls”. I was TRULY sad to see it end. In recent years, Power Rangers has tried to adopt the annual reboot tradition, but those series have never come close to having as much heart as found in these 50 episodes of Dairanger. I’ve heard that this series marked a turning point in how Super Sentai shows were plotted, so I’d be curious to watch a few that preceded it (ZyuRanger, the source material for 1st season MMPR) as well as some immediately after it, like Kakuranger (MMPR season 3) or Ohranger (ZEO). Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll have seen enough to be able to tackle an anniversary season, like Gokaiger! Long story made even longer, I’m hooked! I gotta see more. But there’s no way in Hell I’m doing it over the course of three days again!

04th Feb2013

Black History Month is Back-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack!

by Will

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Yeah, I’m being lazy. I should’ve spent the last year coming up with 28 more of these to further bolster my “legacy” or what have you. Then again, we got the same black president again, so why not the same Black History Month post? As they say in publishing, this is a good opportunity for me to “mobilize my backlist”. Hey, at least I slaved (oops!) over that beautiful collage up there!

If this is your first February following me, this is all new to you. If not, sit back and enjoy one of my favorite posts to write. You know the drill: there’s one per day, and I try to tweet them out each day. Still, some days I get lazy, so it might help to print out the PDF at the end of this post.

IT’S BLACK HISTORY MONTH, Y’ALL!!!

1) Today In Black History: Arnold & Willis Jackson became the first poor black kids adopted by a rich white person

2) Today in Black History: Jimmie Walker left his lucrative career in demolitions to become a comedian.

3) Today in Black History, The Eastland School for Girls admitted Dorothy “Tootie” Ramsey as its first black student

4) Today in Black History, the Fresh King of Bel Air was assassinated. The throne remained empty until a long lost son was found in 1990.

5) Today in Black History, Kunta Kinte is accepted into the space program, and it only costs him his eyesight.

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“Wasn’t my foot ENOUGH?!”

6) Today in Black History, the black girl became the Yellow Ranger, which was only slightly less offensive.

7) Today in Black History, boxer Cassius Clay was bitten by a radioactive Muslim, transforming him into Muhammad Ali

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“I ain’t no damn bean pie!”

8) Today in Black History, the remains of the fabled “Caribbean Queen” were found in the trunk of Billy Ocean’s car.

9) Today in Black History, Devonté Henson became the first black person to scale the Aggro Crag.

10) Today in Black History, a young Tyler Perry put on his first dress. Years later, he would learn that he could be paid for it.

11) Today in Black History, scientists combined the DNA of Morris Day and a pony. The result was Prince.

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“Purple Rain” was actually his My Little Pony name.

12) Today in Black History, Mr. T pitied his first fool, which is still illegal in most states.

13) Today in Black History, Lt Uhura inspired a generation of black women to work for the phone company.

14) Today in Black History, DeBarge discovered a place where they could dance the whole night away. It was an abandoned T.J. Maxx

15) Today in Black History, the US Government cracked down on music piracy after Rerun snuck that tape recorder into the Doobie Bros concert

16) Today in Black History, the Negro Hockey League was founded. After everyone had a good laugh, the site was converted to a Popeyes.

17) Today in Black History, Magic Johnson opened the first movie theater chain where blacks were encouraged to yell at the screen

18) Today in Black History, George Washington Carver’s lazier brother, Jamal, invented crunchy peanut butter.

19) Today in Black History, Janet Jackson joined the cast of TV’s “Fame”. Critics declared this would be the lowest point for the Jackson family

20) Today in Black History, Dwayne Wayne discovered a parallel universe – a different world, where Marisa Tomei was the only white person.

21) Today in Black History, Frederick, MD was named for Frederick Douglass – known for his love of Walmart and the white women

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22) Today in Black History, Aunt Jemima discovered Uncle Ben’s affair with Mrs Butterworth, thus splitting Black America’s first power couple

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They were the royalty of the black breakfast table!

23) Today in Black History, Acorn Avenue -an all-black version of Sesame Street, debuted featuring NeGrover & Big Turkey. It would only air once

24) Today in Black History, 16 Soul Train dancers were killed in what has come to be known as “The Cabbage Patch Massacre of ‘91”

25) Today in Black History, Autobot Rosa Sparks gained attention when she refused to transform into the back of a bus. (Courtesy of @OAFE)

26) Today in Black History, Jesse Jackson formed the R&B group The Civil Rights. They were dropped from Motown before releasing a single.

27) Today in Black History, with Knight Rider & The A-Team, NBC became the first network to devote a night to shows starring black vehicles

28) Today in Black History, Republican scientists proclaimed “Shucky ducky!” as they successfully completed secret cloning experiment, Operation: Chocolate Cheney.

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“Remember me? Black pizza guy? 999? No? Huh.”

There ya have it – your crash course to TRUE black history! Share it with your friends, leave it on the windshield of your favorite racist, or simply put it up on your refrigerator. And if you hate Black History Month, don’t worry – we only get 28 days, and 4 of those are gone. Have fun with St. Drinky-Drinks Day next month!

01st Feb2013

West Week Ever – 2/1/13

by Will

oie_922142seDasWF9

This one is hard for me. West Week Ever started out as the weekly spot for me to not only ramble about pop culture, but also really delve into the “science” of social media. That’s never been truer than today. You see, this week I found out that I lost a dear friend. The problem, however, is that I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel. You see, I’d never actually met this person. This was an online friendship. However, it was deep enough that it taught me that you can have actual, meaningful connections with people you’ve never met. It was my first such friendship, and it paved the way for a lot of the connections I have online today.

I’ve mentioned this person in the past. Back when I did Follow Friday, I was known to refer to her as “my favorite woman on Twitter” (it was cool – my wife didn’t tweet much at the time). It’s funny – when she first followed me, I thought she was spam. Non-descript avatar, seemed to be following a shit ton of people. Unlike a lot of people, I’m not waging a war against spammers, so I just let her be. Then, we actually started to interact. She was in grad school, while also working as a nanny. She loved that job and was always referring to her “girls”, like they were her own kids. She was curious about life and LOVED to dance. She fell in love, and shared her joy with me. When she dealt with something I had experienced, she came to me for advice. She was one of the first people to know about my engagement. She actually downloaded my a cappella mp3s from my college days, and was probably my biggest (and last remaining) fan. As sweet as she was, you’d never know about the things she had going on in her life. Eventually, because of those things, she kinda left the online world behind her.

Around the end of the holiday season, I started thinking about her. I remembered she didn’t celebrate Christmas (non-Jewish white girl, not celebrating Christmas? You’re missing out!), and that was always quaint, yet weird, to me. I remembered her last email to me, right after my engagement. It ended in sort of an ominous way. You know how when a TV show has a finale that’s not really advertised as a finale? Well, it was like that. She was going through her stuff, and I had a wedding to make happen, so I let it simmer. This was around the same time that Catfish on MTV was gaining traction, and while everyone online had jokes like, “Haven’t these people ever heard of Google?”, I started to wonder myself: was this friendship real? Was this person real? I had done my due diligence, so I managed to tuck it in the back of my head, and go on with life. So, when the holidays rolled around, I thought it would be a good time to check in. And that’s when I knew something was wrong.

Minutes after I emailed her, I got an auto response telling me that all inquiries about her should be forwarded to her sister, and it listed her email address. Whatever was happening here, I knew it couldn’t be good. Had something returned from her past? Was I really being  “catfished” and this person was simply tired of the charade and was ready to come clean? I wasn’t sure. I simply forwarded it to her sister, prefacing it with an explanation of how I knew her. And then I didn’t hear back. Until yesterday. In the middle of a work meeting, I saw that I had an email, and I knew who it was from when I saw the subject line. Something told me not to deal with it then. It would be there when the meeting was done. And I managed to stick to that for most of the meeting. Then, my mind began to wander and I gave in. After the first line, I wished I had waited.

The reply was from my friend’s sister. She was telling me that my friend had actually passed away back in July, from an aneurysm. I don’t get into this with many people, but there’s actually one thing off limits to me when it comes to joking around: aneurysms. It might seem like an odd thing to have off limits, but there’s a reason for it. You see, when I was 3 years old, my dad died from an aneurysm. Not only did that cause pain at a young age, and lead me to grow up without a father, but aneurysms have served as a sort of biological boogeyman ever since. You don’t know how you get them. You can just be living your life and BAM. And that’s what happened here. She had returned home from school, was getting ready to face the world as a grown up, and it all ended in an instant. So, as for my life’s scorecard, Will: 0, Aneurysms: 2. That’s two people who were very important to me, yet I didn’t know all that well, taken by aneurysms.

Again, this is a weird place for me. I’m not new to death. I was raised by the Black Golden Girls. Some random Alabama cousin dies every month. I’ve probably been to more funerals than birthday parties. It’s just amazing that someone you’ve never met can have that kind of effect on you. Before her, I was mainly following comic blogs, and not really interacting on Twitter. I really considered her a friend, as I consider many of you. You may see me as the obnoxious guy, telling bad jokes all the time, but I do it for you. I’m just the insecure guy trying to impress his friends in the lunchroom. It’s just that our lunchroom is digital. Whenever I think back to how stupid it might seem to worry about losing followers and whatnot, I think about situations like this and realize that many of you are so much more to me than that. And while that may seem sad, it’s the future. I know because AT&T commercials have been selling that dream for 20 years. Anyway, there’s no real conclusion to that. I just had to get it out. Maybe some of you will feel it’s a bit much, but I hope that maybe some of you can relate.

Whew!

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OK, so I was also invited to participate in UnderScoopFire’s list of The 50 Funniest Women of All Time. This was harder than you’d think, and I even had to poll Lindsay for her opinions. Basically, each of us submitted our Top 25, and then Howie Decker used his trusted methodology to compile the list. At the outset, it was never meant to be a DEFINITIVE list. Anyone who’s been on the Internet for a week knows that these are great for generating discussion. Still, some folks on Twitter were all “Fuck yo’ methodology” and “Where’s Megan Mullally?” I don’t wanna sell out the system because I like how USF’s lists are done. All I can really explain is my thinking on the matter.

First off, Sarah Beattie is an actual comedy writer, so even if I disagree, I defer to the pro. That said, I feel the need to bring up something I discussed with Howie. This was a really hard list to make because you have to be honest with yourself and ask “Do I really think she’s funny OR do I just think she’s hot?” Yeah, this may seem crass and sexist, but it’s an important aspect of comedy to recognize. This list wasn’t limited to the world of standup, but let’s just look at that subset for a bit. Male comics aren’t hot. They’re typically shlubby, balding and/or insecure. Dane Cook was the first, modern-day standup heart throb, which I think is the source of a lot of the ire directed at him. Sure, he’s not the strongest comic, but I think guys in the audience never felt threatened by comics until him. With Dane,  here was a guy who could easily fuck their girlfriends. That’s threatening. Now there’s the flip side. There’s an up and coming crop of SMOKING female comics. This isn’t to say they’re all not funny, but it does mean they bring something extra to the plate to compensate for weaker humor, if needed. I think they use their looks as a crutch. Take Amy Schumer. She’s cute and witty, and she’s studied every rape joke that Sarah Silverman has ever written. Still, she’s too green to be on a list of the BEST OF ALL TIME.

To me, a few people on this list haven’t paid their dues enough to be here. Along with Schumer, that includes Plaza (she’s one of the Best of Right Now, but time will tell), Farris (she plays dumb girl roles, not funny girl), Fisher (she married a funny guy), Schaal/Lynch (future Hall of Famers, but not there yet), and McCarthy (still coasting off that ONE good Bridesmaids performance). And that’s not even taking into account the people I just never found funny; I can still recognize their contributions to the “art”. So, that’s the beauty of democracy: everyone gets a voice, but not everybody “wins”. Still, I was honored to have been chosen, and I just wanted to shed a little light on my thoughts of the final tally.

Before I go, HUGE shout-out to my man @RobotsPJs who hooked me up with some Hostess goodness. Be sure to check out his Snack Reports over at The Robots Pajamas!

This Week’s Post:

Thrift Justice: Bipartisan$#!+

And check out my current eBay auctions!

 

25th Jan2013

West Week Ever – 1/25/12

by Will

oie_922142seDasWF9

This has been an interesting week. It didn’t start off all that great, but it has pulled into the station nicely. I was kinda down in the dumps, as I did my quarterly Google Analytics check, and I didn’t like what I saw. Honestly, the stats weren’t that bad. What bothered me most is the number of clicks I get from tweeted links. I have over 700 followers, and tweet each link 2-3 times, yet I’m only getting clicks from about 1% of those people. There’s something wrong there. Add to it that some assclown called me “unrepentantly negative” in the comments section of a friend’s blog. What bothered me most, though, was that this guy also said that he was disappointed that my friend had been retweeting me as a “key source of opinions”. I don’t think of myself as negative, even if I say a lot of negative things. I just can’t lie about shit when it’s shit. In the world of mainstream comics, there’s a LOT of shit these days. Sadly, there are too many old farts who think that things are gonna return to the way they were when they bought comics down at the drug store for a shiny dime. The business has changed.  So, I’ve lost some followers and been branded for all of that. Anyway, it was all somewhat sobering. Maybe my shit does stink. Who knows? As the week wore on, some great folks on Twitter reached out to me, and things picked up as the week went on.

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Wednesday, I was invited back on the UnderScoopFIRE! Podcast, where we played 80s trivia game What’s The Scoop? Hosted by Howie “Dick” Decker, I played against Jaime from Shezcrafti.com and Corey Chapman, producer of the USF podcast. Oh, and did I mention I won? I’m honestly not boasting, as I missed a lot of answers that I’m gonna get shit for from Twitter friends. Sorry, never seen Airwolf; we all have our pop culture blind spots. Anyway, you can give it a listen here, and the link will be added to the Podcast Sidebar. Btw, at the end of the show, I mentioned a new URL for Will’s World of Wonder. I must’ve been drunk, ’cause I surely do not own WillsWorld.com. So, carry on with the old info.

A few weeks back, my Twitter pal @Kap_L had a quick contest where he would draw the character of your choice if you were the first to respond to his call-out. I won, and requested Batman. At the time, I had no idea how talented he was. I just wanted a Batman. Then, this came in the mail last week:

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Just as amazing was the artwork on the envelope.

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Anyway, Kap’s definitely a cool dude and this is a nice addition to my collection.

I also happened to find the latest series of the LEGO Minifigures collection. I ended up with doubles and took to Twitter to find someone who might want to trade. Well, @Dex1138 stepped up and had the Hamlet/Actor that I needed. When the package arrived, it included so much more!

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There were magnets of my initials, as well as vintage trading cards. It was such a nice surprise, and you should definitely check out his site, AEIOU…and Sometimes Why!

If I’d been down early in the week, my spirits were lifted due to the reaction of the one post I did write this week: 1 Broke Plot: How 2 Broke Girls Shortened Its Lifespan. It began as a Twitter conversation, and was going to end up as a bulletpoint in this edition of West Week Ever. After a bout of insomnia, it turned into a full-blown post. Not only did folks I know seem to dig it, but I also managed to get it in front of a few media types, like USA Today’s Brian Truitt, the folks at This Was Television, and Josef Adalian from TV Week. If you haven’t read it, please do so. Even if you don’t like 2 Broke Girls, it’s still good discussion for anyone who likes the television medium.

Since I didn’t write much this week, here are a few posts written by others that I enjoyed:

Mer-Man Is Gonna Be My Gateway Drug – Howie Decker’s heartfelt account of how he got back into toy collecting, and the flood of memories and emotions that resulted.

Black Presidents – As we celebrate the 2nd term of Barack Obama, Classick Materia looks back on the history of black presidents in media, and asks “Who was the best?”

Snack Report: Hostess Orange Cupcakes – Vincent dips into his fabled Hostess war chest to review my favorite of the Hostess empire, the Orange Cupcake.

Doing More Things: My First Time Ice Skating – Last, but not least, my wife and I went ice skating last weekend. It was her first time, yet she skated circles around me. I fell. Twice. There are lots of pics of me holding onto walls!

Well, that about does it here. Tune in Monday, as you’ll never believe the Thrift Justice I have lined up!

23rd Jan2013

1 Broke Plot: How 2 Broke Girls Shortened Its Lifespan

by Will

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I don’t care if CBS is the #1 network, there’s something seriously wrong with the pacing of their shows. We don’t even need to get into How I Met Your Mother, as its problems are apparent. It’s funny how it spent its first 3 seasons “on the bubble” of cancellation because a certain CBS exec didn’t like it, and now it just won’t die gracefully. Another problem is the pacing of Two and a Half Men. In the span of 1.5 seasons, Ashton Kutcher’s Walden Schmidt has gone through a divorce and had 2 serious girlfriends. The show has successfully weathered the departure of Charlie Sheen, but it seems like they’re throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks. I mean, the Sheen era also had this problem (what exactly happened with his engagement to Chelsea?), but it’s more pronounced here. My biggest issue, however, is with 2 Broke Girls. I had a discussion on Twitter about it the other day, and the other party acted like I was pulling this out of my ass. If nothing else, I am a student of television. I understand the format and the business side of things. Plainly put, 2 Broke Girls rushed its main plot point so quickly that there really isn’t anywhere left for it to go.

In case you’ve never seen it, the show follows former socialite Caroline Channing, whose father has just gone to jail for some Bernie Madoff-like crimes. She’s blacklisted and penniless, and with nowhere to turn she finds herself under the wing of Max, a tough gal who’s sensitive under her brash exterior. If that wasn’t enough, Max is really great at baking, and dreams of one day opening her own shop. Caroline, who happens to be a Wharton grad, decides that her business sense and Max’s talent make the perfect combination. They’ll open a shop together, but in the meantime, they work at a local diner filled with colorful stereotypes. There are two conceits at work here: Caroline has to learn to live within her lesser means AND the girls have to struggle toward making their dream happen. To drive home the latter, the show always ended with an updated total of how much they’d saved toward their ultimate goal. This total also took into account losses, such as unexpected costs or bad investments. Kinda like Pokemon, it was nice to have a real-time figure, but it also made you realize that they had their work cut out for them. Then, they threw it all out the window.

In the first half of this, its second season, the girls have already established their cupcake shop. Did they win the lottery? No. Did Caroline’s dad have a secret stash of cash? No. Did they sell Caroline’s horse? No. You see, Caroline happened to find a newly vacant shop (which seems to have been the site of a murder, considering all the blood splattered on the walls), and she decides that now is the time to strike. Even though they only had something in the low four figures saved up, they manage to get $10,000 from Jennifer Coolidge’s Sophie. It still isn’t clear whether that was a loan or a gift, but the main point is that they now have their shop, while still juggling shifts at the diner. Why now? Where was the struggle? Sure, it’s not an instant success, so they’re still struggling, but it has creatively painted itself into a corner. They simply didn’t have the financial wherewithal to take this step and, in the real world, their business would fail. So, are we to look for another deus ex machina to keep their shop open?

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A typical sitcom has a lifespan between 5 and 7 years. Using that measure, the “getting the shop” development shouldn’t happen until the end of season 3/premiere of season 4. Then, you can turn your attention to the whole “Man, running a shop is harder than we thought” angle. It may not seem apparent, but this rush job has changed the main goal of the show. What began as “We want to open a cupcake shop” has now become “We want to run a successful cupcake business”. These are NOT the same thing; though subtle, there’s a big difference there. It’s the same thing I think of when I say that the show is called How I Met Your Mother and NOT How I Met My Wife (I still think there’s a reason for that). Also, the rushed timeline has cost the show certain aspects of character development. It had been criticized for the stereotypes of the other diner employees, but they were still important parts of the show. Someone had to understand that the shop would move Max and Caroline away from that world, but they seem to want to have their cupcake and eat it too. It’s so forced, like , “Hey, our manager from our other job just happened to be walking by our shop and came in to visit!” The diner folks may have been downplayed in an attempt to steer away from controversy, but the show is lesser without that interaction, as one-note as it may have been. Also, I don’t feel like Caroline was really experienced poverty enough. I mean, there were a lot of early season 1 episodes involving her discovering the Goodwill and other things, but she seems to have forgotten that she’s poor. In fact, she seems kinda OK with it. I think they could’ve squeezed a little more out of that aspect – at least through the end of season 2.

channing

Let’s talk about Caroline for a bit. When the show started, it was driven by sharp-tongued Kat Dennings, whose every line was some baudy double entendre. This season, however, the focus has been more on Caroline, which I think is probably the only good development of the season so far. That said, we still don’t know a lot about Caroline’s motivations. Most of her time has been spent trying to get laid, which then developed into new, yet ill-fated, love. Fine, but let’s look at the lifestyle aspect. Caroline really has no reason to stick with Max. Sure, she’s been somewhat blacklisted, but she’s still a Wharton grad, so there’s got to be something better for her out there. She was abandoned right after her father’s trial, but enough time has passed by now that she could move on if she really wanted to. No, I understand that she stays with Max because Max was all that she had when the upper crust of society turned its back on her. I get that. Still, outside of the dream of running a business, there’s not a lot to Max & Caroline’s friendship. After all, it was Max’s dream – Caroline just latched on because she saw a way to reinvent herself. At the same time, there’s this odd couple aspect that is being completely ignored currently. They come from two separate worlds, and by all rights, shouldn’t be friends. This is where the twitter disagreement came from, as the other party thought I was crazy for saying that Caroline wouldn’t be friends with Max due to her education and financial background. That’s exactly what I’m saying – your circle of friends tends to be governed by your socioeconomic status. There can be exceptions, but you’re not typically hanging out with millionaires unless you are one. Caroline kinda uses Max for her street smarts, but that relationship doesn’t go both ways. Now, Max isn’t exactly the most receptive audience, but I think the show could benefit from more culture clash, if only to prolong the conceit of working towards the shop.

So, the main question is WHY the rush job? What possessed the writers to rush the timeline on the cupcake shop? I’ve often thought that it was an odd time for Kat Dennings to sign on for a television series. Sure, it’s steady work/pay, but her star was just starting to rise in movies. She wasn’t Natalie Portman, but she’d done some good, snarky supporting work, and starred in Nick & Nora’s Infinite Playlist. It seemed like an odd time to theoretically devote yourself to 5-7 years of a show, where you could only do movies during season breaks. So, are they rushing things because she’s got an itch to get back to movies? Also, keep in mind that the show was co-created by Whitney Cummings. It’s not clear whether or not the Max character was written with Whitney in mind, as she was already committed to her self-titled NBC show. Still, Max’s “voice” is clearly Whitney’s, so I wonder if Dennings was more of a stand-in choice. There are enough clues to show that this wasn’t how the show was meant to unfold. For instance, they borrow the money from Sophie – a character who wasn’t even originally part of the show. Jennifer Coolidge was added early on as a subtle retooling of the show, but she wasn’t even a thought when the pitch was made. Now, I don’t expect that Whitney and Michael Patrick King had the entire series mapped out; Hell, even 24 was written 6 episodes at a time. I just feel like something happened behind the scenes, either at the studio or network level, that made the show speed up to where it is now.

As it stands, I don’t really want to watch the show anymore. I know that a lot of my Twitter pals don’t like it, but it’s not a bad show. I think the “cult status” world has gotten too comfortable with Arrested Development and Community that they just can’t deal with the multicam sitcom anymore. I get that, but I’m old fashioned. I like the characters and the dialogue (to think, people used to think Married…with Children was edgy!). Still, a lot of what made the show interesting was the struggle. These chicks were below the poverty line, but they were struggling towards a dream. Instead, they jumped on the first opportunity to come along, and got the funding out of nowhere. In my mind, they didn’t earn the shop yet. I know someone’s reading this and saying, “Will, it’s not real. It’s a TV show.” Yeah, I know, but there’s a science to these things. Right now, there are two ways to play it: they could lose the shop, causing them to have to start over. This would be a bad move, because they’ve already blown their “we got the shop” wad. OR they could continue to struggle, and eventually break even. At this point, though, that’s the path of a 5-season show, max (Which will still get it to syndication). We live in a different time, where maybe you can’t depend on getting 7 seasons anymore, but I still think that’s something you consider in season 3 and NOT season 1.5.

12th Jan2013

Toy Review – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles “Anchovy Alley” Pop-Up Pizza Playset #TMNT

by Will

2013-01-11 22

Forgive my pics – I only had my phone!

I’m not really a toy review guy. I’m kinda the juxtaposition of my pal Howie over at UnderScoopFire. Sure, I give my two cents on comics, but I never really delve into the world of the toy review. I guess it’s because I have enough online friends who are much better at this, so I never wanted to insult either of us. That said, I think I’ve stumbled upon something that isn’t in wide release, so I can’t miss the opportunity to be FIRST! After all, that’s what the internet is built upon. So, here we are! I was lucky enough to find most of the first series of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures for Christmas, but Donatello has been eluding me. I’ve driven up and down I-95 for the past week, but all I managed to do was complete my TMNT Classics collection. The new Mutagen Ooze figures have started shipping, making me think Series 1 may not be restocked in places. Well, Toys “R” Us finally decided to send me some Rewards Bucks, so I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. I did not find Don, but I did find this little gem that I didn’t even know existed: The “Anchovy Alley” Pop-Up Pizza Playset.

At a glance, it looked like this was some sort of micro playset, incompatible with the regular-sized figures. Upon closer inspection, I realized it’s a pop-up playset, similar to the ones that Mattel made The Dark Knight, as well as their Matchbox playsets. Unlike the TDK playsets, which were scaled to smaller figures, this was actually made for the regular, series 1 Turtles. While the box measures approx 12″ by 12″, it said that the playset expanded to 18″. I’d been interested in the TRU-exclusive Sewer Playset, but it’s simply too large and too expensive for me. TRU was raising the price on it weekly, and I just don’t have room for it. This is great, though, as it still provides the sewer experience at a fraction of the space and price. While the Sewer got up to $139.99 in local Bump-Up* Toys “R” Us stores, this rang up at $27.99 at a non-Bump-Up location. After using Rewards Bucks, it was down to $22.99. In the box, that price seems a tad high, but I’d have to see it unveiled before I could make that call.

 

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Before we get there, let’s talk about the packaging. As you saw up top, the box is designed to look like a pizza box, and serves as reusable storage for the playset. I thought that the outer case of the playset would carry the same motif, but it doesn’t really. You get the checkerboard pattern along the edge of the playset “lid”, but you wouldn’t confuse it for a pizza box, even if you saw it out of the corner of your eye.

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 As you can see, it opens like a pizza box, and you’re presented with a somewhat generic “basic pizza box”, with a small Turtle sigil in the top left hand corner (I just really wanted to use “sigil”). I’m not sure if they were worried it might bleed through to the otherside, but I kinda wish it had “PIZZA” emblazoned across it. Anyway, just like real pizza, you’ll notice that the corners have plastic protectors to keep the lid from smashing down on the “cargo” inside.

After removing the folded playset, you find that it includes one sheet of stickers to apply, and it opens up to initially look like this:


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 The brown piece is the pizza shooter in its stored position. Once the playset pops up, it can be mounted in three different places.

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 One sticker sheet later, and it looks like this:

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While there’s not a world of difference after you apply the stickers, you’ll notice that they really bring out the pizza parlor, as well as the depth of the sewer tunnels. If you look at the picture, you’ll notice that there are 3 main action features to the playset. Above ground, if you place a figure on the No Parking sign, the spring-loaded sign will cause the figure to kick through the doors of the pizzeria. Likewise, you can swing a figure from the ledge of the second partial story, which allows a figure to kick an enemy through the vault on the right. Finally, the manhole cover is activated by a lever, which will launch off any enemies standing on it.

The thing that really stood out for me as a MAJOR selling point was the fact that there’s nothing extremely “TMNT” about it. Some might see this as a detriment, but I grew up repurposing my The Real Ghostbusters Firehouse into everything from Stately Wayne Manor to Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. Being able to use this playset for toylines outside of TMNT makes it that much more awesome to me. I’ve heard a lot of toy folks lament the fact that today’s kids aren’t encouraged to use their imagination, and I think this playset is perfectly suited for that. It still has the pizza restaurant and action-feature manhole cover, but these are more subtle than they might have been in the past. I know that toy photographers will be glad to have another backdrop, and it’s not needlessly marred by ooze stickers or excessive pizza references like the old toys were.

There are a few downsides to this playset, but not many. First off, the manhole cover is glaringly large, so it’s scaled great for Turtles figures, but might look odd with figures from some other toyline. Considering the fact that the lid exists as a lever and not a passageway, I feel like they could’ve gotten away with making it smaller. The main con, in my mind, is the price. I mentioned that I got it down to about $22.99 before tax, but that’s still a bit much. I know the cost of plastic is going up, but I think this should clock in at around $19.99 at a non Bump-Up store. I’m just not sure this is a $27.99 toy, even in the current toy landscape. This means that Bump-Up TRUs are going to charge about $32 for it, and it’s DEFINITELY not worth that. I feel like this is the kind of item that I’m going to see quite a few of in thrift stores in about a year, but the current success of the TMNT revival might bump that timeline another year. I didn’t feel like waiting, and I know I’ll get a lot of use out of this, even if it’s just sitting on a shelf looking pretty. If you’re a TMNT fan, this is a great addition to your collection. If you’re a TMNT fan who’d been thinking about getting the Sewer Playset, I think you could get your feet wet with this and be just fine -especially if you live in an apartment.

Oh, wondering why there are no pics with the Turtles in the playset? I haven’t opened them yet. Yeah, I know…I just don’t feel right opening them until I’ve got all four. I’m weird like that.

Epilogue: I forgot to show you my favorite “treat” that came along with the playset:

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Ever since the days of the Kenner Action Toy Guides, I LOVE toy pamphlets. Outside of Bandai, I don’t really know any company that has released them in recent years. After all, there’s an internet and dead trees and shit. Still, I’m gonna cherish this til my constant folding and unfolding causes it to fall apart along the creases!

*Bump-Up Toys “R” Us stores are locations that raise prices based on the socioeconomic level of the surrounding area. Typically, richer areas charge more, though there have been reports of Bump-Up stores in less affluent areas. For more info, go here (yeah, I wrote that, too).

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