29th Jan2013

Thrift Justice – Bipartisan$#!+

by Will

thriftj

Lord knows I’ve been sitting on some stuff for months, but I really wanted to commit this to the page before I forget all of it. This was just such a crazy scenario to me that it HAD to be a TJ post. So, where to begin? OK, last week, the country celebrated not only the second inauguration of Barack Obama, but also the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. As those events also brought with them a day off work, I decided to use that time to check into some things on Craigslist. One item kinda caught my attention, even though I didn’t really want it. The ad was for a Playmates Star Trek Starfleet Officers Box Set, unopened, for a great price. As a reformed Trekker, that line has always held a special place in my heart, and it hadn’t been opened. Game on! I’d actually started emailing with the guy the day before, but we’d never set up a time. Late Sunday night, I emailed him saying that I was off the next day, and could come by then. Well, I woke to an email saying that he was at work, but his wife was home and I could set up a meeting time with her. Ugh.

2013-01-28 20.06.53

Let me backtrack here. While unassuming, I’m still a random black guy from the internet. No matter how awesome something may sound, I was always raised to think that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true. I don’t wanna meet some random dude’s wife, and end up in a Dateline special, as either the victim or the offender. The last thing I need is meeting random white women in their homes, Star Trek be damned! Still, it was a great price…I called the number the husband gave me, and she seemed a bit taken aback. I explained I’d been speaking with “Rick”, and she said that she would have to call him to find out where he had even stashed the thing. OK, fine. She calls back, and she’s found it. Great. She tells me “They usually tell you not to give out your home address to people on Craigslist”. See, she’s just as wary as I am! I tell her that I could meet her somewhere public or even wait until her husband gets home. No, she says it’s OK and proceeds to give me her address. Then, she tells me that she’s in the middle of a homeschool lesson (red alert! red alert!), so to come by around 5. Yeah, it might make me judgmental, but I’m still not in a place where I’m fully comfortable with the homeschooling movement. What makes me think I could do a better job teaching my kid than someone who’s been trained to do it? Hell, my kid would only get As in “Batman”, but he’d fail Math. But I digress…I’ve often said that I judge folks for the stuff they sell at yard sales, and I was beginning to judge this situation.

2013-01-28 20.06.00

At 5, I end up in a small neighborhood, and pull up outside their house. As I walk up to the door, I notice about 3 Romney stickers on the back of their van. THREE?! Then, I notice a big ass Romney sticker in their living room window. You don’t put stickers in a place like that! Stickers aren’t for the home, unless it’s a Fathead, and those people are still douchebags. I kinda thought about turning back, but duty called. I am the Toy Whisperer, after all (don’t worry – I felt like an asshole just typing that). She meets me at the door, and closes the door so the dogs won’t get out. That’s fine, I don’t want this transaction to last any longer than it needs to. I pull out the money, grab the box, and get ready to leave. Before I got away, she began to tell me that the set had been purchased by her father because he thought that stuff would be worth something someday, but he had since died and none of it was really that valuable. Remembering a tip from Brian over at Cool and Collected, I asked, “You mean there’s MORE?” She said that there was, and she invited me in.

2013-01-28 20.05.53

As soon as I got inside, it was like a Romney Wonderland. More posters and whatnot. She told me that the rest of the stuff was in the attic, and she trusted me to hang out with the dogs in the living room as she climbed up to get it. That’s when I heard it: Sean Hannity was playing on the kitchen radio. Aw, shit. “Calm down, Will”, I say to myself. “You’re freaking out for nothing. It’s not like she’s gonna come down and ask you who you voted for.” She comes back down with the stuff, and she proceeds to the kitchen to turn the volume a little lower on the radio. She comes back to me and asks, “Did you vote for Obama?” WHAT IN THE FUCK?! So many thoughts rush through my head: Who asks that? What do I say? Is she asking me that ’cause I’m black? Is she about to make an example of me that will end up on the 11:00 news?! Why did she have to pull this on MLKmas? Didn’t she at least like the Kelly Clarkson performance today? SO MANY THOUGHTS!

2013-01-28 20.06.09

It’s a TRAP!

I wish I could tell you that I became a hero that day. I wish I could tell you I looked her in the eye, and said “You’re damn right I did!” But I can’t. When you’re in an environment like that, “Yes We Can!” because “No We Ain’t!” While still looking over the items, I simply mumbled, “Yeah, the first time”. Careful choice of words. Make her think, “Sure, he did it the first time, ’cause well, the coloreds have to stick together, but he realized that Barry wasn’t the best choice for America. He came to his senses!” At least, that’s what I was going for. Don’t worry black people/bleeding heart liberals: I voted for him both times, but I feared for my life, and what I said wasn’t exactly a lie. I did vote for him the first time. She didn’t need to know about the second time. So, there was a beat, and time stood still. That’s when she said “Well, I turned off the radio. I didn’t want you to be offended.” What an odd sentiment. First off, it was kinda nice that she didn’t want me to be offended, but then it begged the question WHY are you listening to something that you know is offensive? Still, she didn’t have to turn it off. She could’ve turned it UP, so that was considerate of her.

2013-01-28 20.06.33

Diplomacy!

As I look over everything, I ask her what she’d want for the lot. ANOTHER amazing price. But there was a catch: I had to renounce my political affiliation. No, I’m kidding. I hadn’t brought enough money, but I didn’t want this to pass by. I remembered seeing a 7/11 on the way, so I told her that I’d run to the ATM and be right back. She was just fine with that. Fast forward to 10 minutes later, and our transaction was complete. She even helped me to my car. But I also noticed her kinda eye-searching my car. Had she never seen the inside of a black person’s car before? Was she shocked that I didn’t have THREE Obama stickers on my car? Did she notice the Inauguration Edition of The Washington Post on my passenger seat? These things matter not. I got what I came for, and I could escape back to safety!

2013-01-28 20.04.45

So, here’s the my entire haul. As always, if ya see anything you like, shoot me an offer. It saves me from having to list it somewhere. But you can’t have Lando. After my experience on Inauguration/MLK Day, I’m keeping Lando to complete the triumvirate. I Have A Dream That Yes We Can Have A Colt 45!

19th Oct2012

Thrift Justice Road Trip – Williamsburg, VA

by Will

Yup, I love spinoffs, so let’s give Thrift Justice Road Trip a shot. There probably won’t be many, but I felt like this deserved its own umbrella. Anyway, on the way home from our honeymoon, Lindsay and I stopped at the Williamsburg Antique Market. Don’t let the exterior fool you. It may look small, but this thing is like a TARDIS with infinite space inside! I didn’t really buy much, but I saw enough conversation pieces that I thought I’d share ’em with ya. This is primarily a picture post, but there are a LOT, so get comfortable!

I only recently started paying attention to Johnny Lightning, but this is hardly an “antique”. That said, it’s pretty cool they had the V.I.P. license. Man, I miss that show…

I can practically see this on Mr Roper.

Y’all, my penis is SO confused right now…

This was interesting. It’s the same shape as the 3M bookshelf games, but was made by Hasbro, licensed by NBC.

In the final season, Ken is replaced by G.I. Joe

I don’t care what this box says. That’s a Phyllis Diller doll!

Strawberry Shortcake. In box!

I was tempted. This was $30. Remember that for later…

This dude will dance ANYWHERE

According to this box, “Anything” either means “Be a doctor” OR “Be a dumb bitch with cute clothes”

Somewhere in America’s heartland, the American Pickers just got boners.

The accursed replacement Dukes. Surely, this must be cheaper than the Bo & Luke lunchbox we saw above. WRONG! $80!!! How are the hated replacements MORE than the beloved?!

I’ve only seen this show once, but I swear this was the least attractive cast in television history. Epstein looks like he shat himself, while Mr Kotter looks like every pedophile in every afterschool special EVER.

“Dear Santa, I want that game with the creepy mean old man who got shot.”

Another of my Pop Culture Blindspots. I know he was an alien, but did they have sex? If so, did she get cervical cancer or anything?

This thing had a lot of rust which kinda made it more distinguished. Ya know how toy customizers like to “grime up” figures and pretend they made them better? Well, this is like that, but it works.

In 80 years, the Ken doll will be wearing Barbie’s uniform, and no one will bat an eye.

According to this lunchbox, this show is about a telepath who commands 4 tiny men with his powers. I love how the invention of Photoshop has made everyone a graphic design asshole, including people who know nothing, like myself!

Well, I hope you enjoyed this version of Thrift Justice from the road. I typically show you what I bought, but it really wasn’t anything exciting. Trust me!

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.

15th Feb2012

Thrift Justice: All’s Fair In Love and Toys

by Will

In the last post, I finally documented my time at the 2008 Toy Fair. It was a nice little coincidence that Toy Fair started last week, but I really needed to set the scene for this post. If you remember, I mentioned that there are a lot of industry-only things available at Toy Fair, and most 80s toy collectors would love to get their hands on that stuff. Well, wait’ll you get a load of these!

For those not in the know, @specialeteacher is from Denver, so I end up spending one of the family-centric holidays out there. In my travels, I’ve discovered an AMAZING antique store that I have to visit every time I’m out there. The funny thing is I still don’t know its name. I kinda know where it is, but I don’t know what it’s called, they don’t put their name on their receipt, nothing. A lot of the time, I wonder if it was just a hallucination. It’s manned by a dude with no legs, who has a cute dog that pees on the floor. CRAZY! But it’s real. I know it is.

On my last visit, I didn’t really find a lot that excited me. In fact, it seemed like the store hadn’t changed since my visit the previous year. So, I headed for the door, and that’s when I saw it – a box right next to the door with an 80s Mattel catalog in it. I immediately snatched it up, and noticed there were other catalogs in there. Coleco, Galoob, Hasbro – all industry-only, rarely seen by fans. The owner told me that they were brought in by a guy who used to be a toy exec, and he’d gotten them all from various toy fairs. It was like finding Hef’s own special stash of porn! We’re talking the rare, good stuff! Of course, I grabbed basically all of them. I didn’t care how much they cost. I didn’t care that you could find most of the info online. I just wanted to own these. I’ve always loved catalogs, and those were just the retail stores like BEST Co and Evans. This…this was something totally different. So, here’s what I got:

 

 

 

 

For toy aficionados, you’ll recognize Coleco as the folks who gave us the mass-market Cabbage Patch Doll, several licensed ride-on vehicles, and a lot of action figure lines, like Rambo, Sectaurs, and Starcom.

 

This is the Galoob catalog from 1988. The most notable lines from that era are Micro Machines and the first Star Trek: The Next Generation toy line.

 

Of course you all know Hasbro. This is from 1987, which featured a lot of Jem, Transformers, and G.I.Joe toys. In fact, it has the Defiant shuttle gracing the back cover!

 

Finally, we’ve got Hasbro from 1989. This one is surprisingly thin. I remember back when I read Toyland that this was a soft year for toy releases. Still, it’s got the Joe stuff you expect, as well as a few other lines.

So, where do we go from here? Well, I’ve got a plan. Over the course of this year (well, the 10 months that are left), I’m going to spotlight each catalog in a post. I’ll post scans of pages (no more of this phone pic mess), we’ll run down 5-10 of the coolest items in each. After all, I feel this is information that should be shared with other toy fans -at least in the digital sense. They’ll have to pry the actual catalogs out of my cold dead hands!

08th Feb2012

The Toy Fair Post

by Will

This is part of a post that I teased all the way back at the tail end of 2011, and here we are, almost 2 months later. Before we jump into things, I should probably tell you that you won’t get the whole story this go-round, but it’ll lead into wonderful new things. That’s worth it, right? Anyway, I thought this would be a great time for the post, as many of my e-friends are gearing up to head to NYC for Toy Fair, and what you’ll see here ties into that. What’s Toy Fair? Well, I’m glad you asked!

The American International Toy Fair is held every February at both The Javits Center and the Toy Building in NYC. It’s a trade show for the industry, where buyers come to see the toys that are expected to be the hot items during the next holiday season. As it’s a trade show, it’s not open to the public. So, this has caused the show to be surrounded by a certain mystique, as toy fans have wondered what occurred within those halls. To a toy fan, going to Toy Fair is like going to Mecca. In recent years, however, it has been easier to gain access, as blogs have been able to gain press access. What used to be relegated to a ten-minute segment on 48 Hours is now the bread and butter of the toy blog set. Toy Fair news, especially the exclusive kind, is guaranteed site hits.

As we’ve already covered on the site, I love learning about the toy industry. Sure, the product is nice, but there tends to be a more interesting story behind the product. It recently occurred to me that I never wrote about my own Toy Fair experience. I, like other toy fans, have had dreams of entering the halls of Toy Fair. Remember that 48 Hours special I mentioned in the last paragraph? Well, that’s how it all started. I remember it clearly: 1988 – I was eating one of those giant chocolate chip cookies that you get from delis. And since I had a loose tooth, chewing said cookie knocked out my tooth. Anyway, while eating this cookie, I was watching 48 Hours (I was a weird kid), and they were showing the Galoob Star Trek: The Next Generation toys. This was also the dawn of my Trekkiedom, so seeing toys and Star Trek at the same time sent my little heart a-flutter. I noticed that the toys were being presented by spokesmodels wearing Starfleet uniforms. As I continued watching, I learned that this show happened EVERY year! Unfortunately, it was also only open to people in the toy industry. I didn’t know how, but I was going to find some way into that show. That was the plan.

Fast forward 20 years later. Yes, it really took 20 years. I was working at Diamond Comic Distributors, and I’d pretty much exploited that job for every opportunity it presented. I got sent to New York Comic-Con, San Diego Comic-Con, and worked with the dude who wrote most of the episodes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Hell, my biggest account handled Transformers, G.I. Joe and Ghostbusters! I’d made all my dreams come true – except one. It was time to go for the brass ring. You see, Diamond also has a toy department. Well, they actually kind have two: there’s Diamond Select Toys, which is basically Art Asylum in sheep’s clothing and there’s the Diamond Toy Department, which buys up mass market things, like Marvel Legends from Hasbro, and then distributes them to comic shops. Due to its role in the toy industry, Diamond also has a presence at Toy Fair. I don’t know how I pulled this. I honestly never expected this to go through, but I mentioned to my awesome, awesome boss that I’d always wanted to go to Toy Fair. A few days later, he tells me that he can get me a pass. Sure, I’d have to get up there on my own, find my own lodging, etc, but I could get into the show. To this day, I wonder how he pulled that off, as they really loved to say “no” around there. So, one Vamoose Bus ticket purchased, and I was in NYC.

So, Toy Fair. It was everything I ever wanted yet nothing I expected, all at the same time. First off, while the news outlets focus on the hot popular stuff, like Star Wars, Cabbage Patch (well, in the 80s), and G.I. Joe, I was amazed by how much of the show actually catered to toys you’d never really think much about. See, as a Toy Fair novice, I didn’t realize that the GOOD stuff is at the Toy Building. Most of the major companies, like Hasbro, Mattel, etc, have year round showrooms at the Toy Building, and they hold most of their presentations there. The Javits Center is where they might set up a booth, but it’s not where they’re showing the best stuff. Instead, the Javits Center is comprised of smaller vendors. To make a comic analogy, Marvel and DC are in the Toy Building, while Javits is the small press.

Walking around, it was interesting to see 10 different Chinese vendors trying to sell the same little pedal car. I guess they all use the same factory, and then it becomes a bidding war to see who can give retailers the best price. Oh, right. I forgot that part. The purpose of Toy Fair (in theory) is so that retail buyers can get a sneak peak at the holiday season’s projected hits, so that they can place their orders for the season. I said “in theory” because it’s a not-so-well known fact that there’s actually an earlier November Toy Fair that’s just for the big guys like Toys “R” Us, Target, and Walmart. So, while the February Toy Fair might feature “new” stuff for some buyers, it’s more of a refresher for the bigger guys. Anyway, you end up seeing more stuff that would end up in a mom and pop toy store than you would in a major market retailer. For example, this was during the Mentos/Coke craze, so there was actually a science kit with elaborate tubes and stuff, allowing you to really get some mileage out of that explosion.

Since I didn’t know about the Toy Building showrooms at the time, I missed out on all the cool stuff. Still, I made my dream come true, and I got into Toy Fair. There was a lot of other stuff that happened during that trip, worst of all was me losing my cell phone in a cab. It was like a scene from a movie – I realized I’d left it in there just as it pulled off. I ran after it, but it turned a corner. As I ran around the corner, there was a SEA of yellow cabs. Which one was it?!! So yeah, lost my cell phone in a cab, in New York City, on a government holiday ( I think it was Presidents Day).

So why did I post this now? Well, one of the best parts about Toy Fair is the exclusives. Some of these are rare toys, while some are just industry-specific brochures. I’m sad to say that I didn’t leave with much during my adventure. I still have the program, and I think I have a picture frame, but that’s about it. However, over Christmas, I went to Denver and found a few Toy Fair items that I simply couldn’t leave behind. I think any child of the 80s would love to see these, and that’s exactly what’s going to happen…tomorrow.

01st Feb2012

Today In Black History…

by Will

So, if you followed me on Twitter at this time last year, then you’re already familiar with this whole process. I wanted to do it again this year, but I’m unreliable, and I’ll probably miss a day. Plus, as I’ve acquired more black followers, I’m learning that this isn’t so uncommon. Instead of looking like a “biter”, as they say, I wanted to show that I can roll with the big dawgs! So, I thought I’d blow it out in one fell swoop. Plus, at the end, you’ll find a handy, dandy PDF that you can print out and remember the great contributions that Ne..African Americans have made to our society. There’s a different event for each day, so share it with your white friends, and put a copy up on your Kwanzaa mantle. Yes, we can!


 

 

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.

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

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.

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

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

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.

Be sure to celebrate responsibly, but let’s get it poppin’ like a Jackson Hewitt commercial! After all, it’s what our ancestors would’ve wanted.

Black History Calendar

 

 

 

 


29th Aug2011

Baltimore Catches Cosplay Fever!

by Will

So, once the 2-part Baltimore Comic-Con epic ended (thanks again, Brian!), I found that I still had a bunch of pictures left from the show. Now I know there are folks out there who do better cosplay posts than I could, but I still thought I’d give it a shot.

                                 Well, the theme song did tell us they were loose…

                                 Ga-Blac-Tus HUNGERS…for Popeyes!

In the newly-launched Marvel Jr line, Kid Kap isn’t sure he’s up to the challenge of Reddy & Bones

In the J.J. Abrams-verse, even Dr. Crusher & Wesley have been rebooted!

She had a giant axe. I’m still not sure if she was supposed to be someone or if it was just self-defense…

It’s nice to see the sistahs come out. Did I spell that right? We don’t use “er”, right? Anyway, She-Hulk was in an awesome JLA Vixen costume on Sunday, as she sat next to me at the Stan Lee panel.

Hey, Mike! Steve! Rob! Aren’t those your moms over there?! Baby Doll looks like a young Meredith Baxter-Birney. If you read that in Chef’s voice, my mission here is done.

I’d say this was “Optimus Prime”, but I can just hear one of you saying, “Actually, that is the King Grandliner Robo” or some shit like that. Well, this is America. In America, we call ALL robot trucks “Optimus Prime”! Put down the Pokemon, and pick up a baseball. U! S! A!

                                The Odinson doth invite you to visit his band’s MySpace page!

                                 Watch out, Miles Morales! Here comes Kid Spidey! And he’s white!

                                 Great costumes, but I guess I was just expecting…more from the Smallville Reunion.

Somebody saaaaave meeeee!!!!!

                                Black Kick Ass! Somebody alert the New York Post!

This pic ain’t fooling anybody. Dude on the right would be too busy banging chicks to be busting ghosts. Dude on the left? Totally a Ghostbuster.

                                Not true cosplay, but it ought to be!

This chick made me kinda salty. You see, she was already posing for someone else, and I just took the picture. She noticed me and said “You have to ask! It’s rude if you don’t ask!” Look, you were ALREADY posing! Costume wasn’t that hot anyway.

Wait, why are we rooting for Thor?! And she looked like Kat Dennings! I would’ve bought every issue of Dark Reign if they’d drawn “Lokette” as Kat Dennings!

As aspiring America’s Top Blerd, I’m required by the King Doctrine of 1962 to acknowledge Blenguin.

Guys, I don’t know about this whole “New 52” thing…

07th Apr2011

So, Which TV Network Are You?

by Will

I’m not sure if this is obvious to some, but the “television experience” has changed a LOT in just a few short years. Once upon a time, people were concerned about airdates and antenna positioning, however, the prevalence of DVR and cable have pretty much done away with all of that. The aspect which has experienced the greatest change, however, is that of network branding. Currently, networks no longer really have a specific identity, instead choosing to let their shows speak for themselves. This can be confusing, though, as what does it say about a network when its most successful shows involve crime scene semen or anti-social nerd caricatures? This wasn’t always the case. There was a time, not that long ago, when networks not only promoted their programming, but also their identities. This was true from the biggest network affiliate to the smallest local syndicated outlet. For example, Channel 5 used to show the same reruns of Mr. Belvedere, Three’s Company, and Who’s The Boss?, but for the summer of ’92, they expected you to refer to it all as “Camp Teeheehaha”. Sure, you’d seen the shows before, but they were taking advantage of the American experience of going off to summer camp in an attempt to rebrand the shows. That’s some Don Draper shizz right there! Networks did little things like this to show that they supported their series; after all, they’d already paid for the syndication rights, so they might as well get their money’s worth. Nowadays, all we have are court shows. If you miss one, another will be on right after it. There’s no real need to promote, as there’s no real difference: sassy black woman judge, sassy white woman judge, sassy might-be-Latina judge, etc. The shows have changed, but so has the promotion of said shows. So, where am I going with this? Well, growing up, I used to think about which network I’d want to be on were I to have my own series. As I grew from boy to man, in what was (to me) a golden age of television, I noticed certain things about each network that made me want to park myself on their prime-time lineup. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

ABC

This one is pretty much a no-brainer, as anyone who grew up in the 80s and 90s knows where I’m going with this. ABC had a bunch of shows which made them seem like The Touchy-Feely Network, whether it was the family drama of Life Goes On, or the generational experiences of Thirtysomething. Judith Light starred in the riveting TV movie of The Ryan White Story, and families loved gathering around to watch dads across America get hit in the crotch on America’s Funniest Home Videos. All of those shows, however, had NOTHING on the powerhouse known as TGIF.

I’m not going to go into the history and lineup of the TGIF block, ’cause most of y’all were there. Maybe it’s the comic fanboy in me, but what I loved most about TGIF was the shared universe. I guess I’m always looking for a sense of community, and I loved how the early series tended to be related to each other in some way: Mark Cooper (Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper) subbed for Michelle Tanner’s (Full House) class, while Harriet Winslow (Family Matters) was the elevator operator at Larry & Balki’s job (Perfect Strangers). Steve Urkel (Family Matters) did a science project with Mark Foster (Step By Step), while Dana Foster (Step By Step) gave love advice to Cory Matthews (Boy Meets World) at Sea World. With all of this crossover action, it was kinda fun trying to imagine where I might fit in. Maybe I’d be friends with Eddie Winslow, like Weasel and Waldo Geraldo Faldo. Or maybe Karen Foster would reject me before her character oddly disappeared to pursue a country music career. Or maybe I’d be the black friend that Cory and Shawn used to have when Minkus was still around. The possibilities were endless!

One of this biggest perks of a perch on the TGIF lineup was that you also got to host the Saturday Morning Preview special. These are relics of days gone by, but back when networks still had Saturday morning cartoons, they always kicked off the season with the Saturday Morning Preview one Friday night in September (Sure, NBC had one, too, but those were usually hosted by Cosby kids or those awkward kids from ALF or The Torkelsons). The TGIF ones were great, as everyone was (usually) still in character and they genuinely seemed excited about dreck like Hammerman and Little Rosie. Everything was awesome in TGIF Land! As an added bonus, once Disney bought ABC, every show was pretty much required to do a stint at Disney World, so free vacation!

CBS

Growing up, I can’t ever remember wanting to be on CBS. That’s not to say that I didn’t watch CBS shows. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Up until the dawn of the CSI Era, CBS got a bad rap as The Old Folks’ Network. Yes, they had programming like Murder, She Wrote and 60 Minutes, but I never saw it like that. If anything, I always felt that CBS shows had a sense of maturity that couldn’t be found on other networks. I grew up watching Murphy Brown and Designing Women – both shows that spoke more to my experience of being raised by strong, single women from the South. So, I never wanted to be on CBS, as I felt I was already there. Next!

NBC

While ABC was courting me with TGIF, NBC had another acronym waiting in the wings for my affection: TNBC. By far, the most successful NBC branding of that era was “Must-See TV”, but I couldn’t really relate to that. I enjoyed the shows, but they all took place in Manhattan, as the protagonists seemed to have these fantasy jobs that paid for their massive apartments. As much as I love New York, I wasn’t gonna be on “Must-See Thursday” unless I sold a joint to Theo Huxtable or got transferred to Hillman College. Then, along came TNBC as a world of possibility for young black guys. Sure, Lisa Turtle didn’t do much for The Cause, but California Dreams came along and showed me that I could be a drummer. And there was that black dude on The Guys Next Door – sure, no one remembers that show, but I remember he was there. Then, we got Saved By The Bell: The New Class, which always seemed to have a slot for a hip, dancing black guy that needed to be filled. And Hang Time – a show about basketball! C’mon! As a teenager growing up in the late 90s, nowhere felt like “home” as much as TNBC. Yes, I realize that those shows were basically created for girls, but I still kinda felt like those characters were my people.

The BIGGEST perk of being on NBC, however, is one of these:

I don’t know if it’s contractual or what, but if you’re on an NBC show, you are pretty much guaranteed to film one of these public service announcements. A lot of PSAs just come off kinda clunky, but The More You Know has gained a special place in the annals of pop culture. Most PSAs are lame, but I always saw these as some kind of badge of honor. I’ll take one of these over those Truth.com kids ANY day!

Fox

Oh, Fox! It’s amazing how an entertainment network can be so edgy, while its news wing is so conservative. Fox was founded on Married…with Children, so that has colored its identity. While ABC was the Touchy-Feely Network, Fox was on the complete other end of that spectrum. Besides the early reality fare like World’s Greatest Police Chases, there was a “Fox Show” model: the aforementioned Married…, Top of the Heap, even Herman’s Head. Generally, if you wanted to make middle America uncomfortable for about 6 episodes, and your show wouldn’t work anywhere else, then Fox was the place to be. Even to this day, I’m surprised by how much Fox Standards & Practices allows on the air – the entire Seth MacFarlane franchise is a good example of this.

I’ve admired Fox because they are willing to take chances. They still carry shows that you just wouldn’t see anywhere else, and they miss more than they hit. The beauty of the network, however, is that it lives by American Idol alone. The show airs 5 months of the year, but the ratings are high enough to make Fox the #1 Network for the entire season. Growing up, all they had was The Simpsons, but the attitude seemed to be the same as it is now. Sure, reality programming has evolved, and Fox has taken advantage of that, but it’s still the same old Fox. I’d want to be on Fox ’cause they’ll promote the Hell out of your show during NFL and MLB games, but you’re still gonna get cancelled after they move your show to Sundays at 7:00 PM.

UPN

Has there ever been a network with more of an identity crisis than UPN? It’s remembered as The Black Network, but that’s not entirely accurate. Sure, the network had a lot of horrible black shows, like Homeboys in Outer Space and The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer, but there was so much more to it than that. The oddest part of UPN was the it’s prelaunch reputation didn’t match what ended up on the screen. Here’s the pre-launch promo for the network:

As you see, it’s relying on the reputation of the shows that had been developed by Paramount in the past, yet doesn’t really go into detail as to what we should expect from the network. Were they just going to rerun all those shows they just mentioned? Should we be expecting new stuff? Classical music! Rock music! Then, the network launched, and we were introduced to DiResta, Marker and Platypus Man. When your network is bolstered by shows starring a Mad About You costar and Richard Greico, you’re in trouble. Yeah, there was Star Trek: Voyager, but it could also be said that UPN was the nail in the Trek coffin, as both of its offerings were reviled by fans. Early UPN was the television equivalent of the Dot Com Boom, as they really just threw around a lot of ideas to see if they’d stick. Richard Dean Anderson as a cowboy. A Love Boat reboot. A bunch of shows NBC had knocked off their schedule because they apparently weren’t “New York” enough. Through all of this, there was one spot where I could see myself.

Around the time the NBC’s TNBC block was at its peak, UPN started toying around with a similar concept for weekday afternoons. Comprised of reruns of Sweet Valley High and a new teen show called Breaker High, the network adopted the slogan “UPN is U’pn”, which was pronounced “oo-pin”. Sure, it made no sense, and to say it aloud sounds like something you’d hear in a commercial for Dunkaroos. Maybe they were implying that UPN was moving up? Maybe UPN was jumping? I don’t know, but where there are teen shows, I’ll be there. Anyway, Breaker High was about a bunch of kids who were in a semester-at-sea program. It had everything you’d come to expect from teen shows, but starred a charismatic Ryan Gosling and Tyler Labine. I loved the Hell out of that show, even though it didn’t even last an entire season. The U’pn block ran for about 3 months on a daily schedule until it just disappeared one day in November, as the timeslot was given back to the stations. Breaker High finished up its run on Sunday mornings, but the only time I ever saw anything worthwhile in that network was the 3-month U’pn Era.

The WB

OK, I already covered the fact that I’m drawn to things that give off a sense of community, and no network exemplified that as much as The WB. When it first launched, the network’s promos revolved around the image that all of the stars hung out on the Warner Bros backlot. Going to work seemed like it would be a ton of fun, as you’d see Nikki Cox on the elevator, and run into Tia and Tamara Mowry on the way to the set.

Plus, I was entering a point in my life where I really kinda wanted to be in a boyband. While girls my age were pining for heartthrobs, I wanted to be one, and nobody developed teen stars quite like The WB. The stars of those shows kept the teen magazine industry in business for the better part of a decade. If you were under the age of 20, and wanted to make it big, you either needed to fly to Orlando and audition for Lou Pearlman, or you needed to get yourself on a WB show.

Even though it’s a bit of a joke in some circles, The WB did more for pop culture over a decade than people realize. I explored this once before, and my feelings haven’t changed. For that reason, The WB is where I’d want my show to air. You can thank them for Buffy, even if you blame them for Katherine Heigl. To top things off, I think they had a really classy send-off video. A network hadn’t folded since the DuMont Network, so I had no frame of reference for these things. However, if you’ve got to go out, this is the way to do it:

28th Mar2011

Why Starfleet?

by Will

Yes, this began as a late night Twitter rant last week, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized a full blog post would give me a reason to play with MS Paint.

As some of you may know, I’ve been a Star Trek fan for most of my life. Back in middle school, my friends and I had the Star Trek Encyclopedia, as well as any tech guide or manual that Simon & Shuster decided to put out. We were the ones watching all those Star Trek: The Next Generation reruns that used to clog up Channel 20’s schedule. As I got older, however, my pallet began to prefer more mature tastes, such as Power Rangers and Aqua Teen Hunger Force. I gave up the ghost during Voyager, and I’ve only seen a handful of Enterprise. That said, you can take the boy out of Trek, but you can’t take the Trek out of the boy. My brain’s still full of a lot of useless 24th century knowledge, and every now and then I find myself trying to make sense of it. During an usual bit of insomnia last week, I found myself wondering why, exactly, a human would even want to join Starfleet.

For those not in the know, in the Star Trek Universe, Starfleet is the “Space NATO” to the United Federation of Planets’ “Space UN”. Its members are predominantly human, and it is headquartered in Fort Baker, California. While Starfleet’s primary mission is to explore and seek out new life, things can get pretty tense out in space. Between wars with Cardassians, or lethal electrical feedback, there’s no shortage of danger for a Starfleet officer. Based on current economics and world affairs, I find myself wondering what would inspire a human to join an outfit like Starfleet, as the risks seem to outweigh the rewards. Let’s take a closer look at a few things.

Money: In today’s society, a big reason that people enlist in the Armed Forces is money. Whether they want to provide for their families with their signing bonus, or get in on some of that G.I. Bill money, the financial benefits entice many into joining the service. This, however, isn’t true for the Starfleet cadet. You see, the 24th century is based on what has been called “The New World Economy”. For all practical purposes, Earth has done away with poverty and hunger, but it has also done away with currency. As a sidebar, I don’t really know what I want to do with my life. Whenever I’m looking for work, people always ask me “Well, what would you want to do if money weren’t an issue?” I HATE this question because money is ALWAYS an issue. I just can’t wrap my head around that not being the case. I know that there are people who can, and God bless ’em, but that’s just not me. So, that’s why I have a hard time understanding why you’d want to go out in space, and risk getting tubes shoved in your ass and ear holes by a bunch of space zombies if there’s no financial gain. That’s too much danger to just write off as “the cost of exploration”!

Sex: Could the lure of Space Pussy be enough to get you to join up? But could you imagine the STDs out there? Or will a hypospray just clear that right up? Also, note that I said Space Pussy and not Space Dick, because the future doesn’t seem too bright for women – utopia be damned. If you’re a young, single woman in Starfleet, you’ll end up phasing through the floor or being killed by a large sentient oil spill. And don’t even try to be a gay male! Over the 40 year franchise, we’ve seen men in miniskirts (the “skant”) & go-go boots, but we were still led to believe that they liked the minge. Have they ever shown a homosexual on Star Trek? The closest they got was that androgynous race, and Riker still couldn’t help himself from giving one of them a bunch of confusing urges. Otherwise, the only gay icons of the 24th century were Major Kira, Tasha Yar, and Harry Kim. No, they never confirmed this, but c’mon…

Technology: If you’re a tech geek, then Starfleet is probably a dream come true. You could join Starfleet Engineering and test out all of the gadgets that you used to read about on your PADD before mandatory lights-out at the mining colony where you grew up. There’s a lot of leeway for experimentation, and there’s no battle for patents and ownership ’cause there’s no money to be had. The worst part, however, is when that technology backfires on you. I’m going to go with the simplest case here. You see, during space battles, the ships are protected by shields. When those shields are struck, it results in electromagnetic feedback that sometimes shoots out of the ships consoles and control panels. Many a Starfleet officer has been killed while simply sitting at his station during the wrong battle. When you graduate from the Academy, they might tell you to watch out for The Borg, but you’ll find that you risk your life just by simply walking down the hall. Observe (the fun starts at 01:18):

Meeting New Races: It might sound exciting to meet a new race of beings, but some of them have some crazy beliefs that you have to put up with. Sure, we’ve got the Scientologists and the vegans, there’s one 24th Century-era race that will KILL YOU IF YOU STEP ON THE FLOWERS! Did I also mention that they worship a giant space chandelier? Aside from little quirky things like that, sometimes you just deal with some straight up, fucked up shit:

Supporting Your Government: OK, I get it. There’s no money to be had, you’re not that into green chicks, and you don’t really mind phasering giant space slugs. Then, what is your incentive? Oh, maybe you’re just really patriotic. After all, your government (which now commands a network of planets rather than just Earth) has created a society in which you are taken care of, and given a chance to be a tool of discovery. Why wouldn’t you want to support a governing body like that? Well, maybe it’s because the United Federation of Planets is just as shady as today’s governmental bodies.

First off, there’s Section 31, which is The Federation’s version of the CIA. Nobody talks much about them, as very few people know that they exist. Not only do they exist, but they’ve had their hands in everything from the Temporal Cold War to the outlawed genetic enhancements that were performed on humans, like Dr Bashir. You may think everything’s well and good, but your government still doesn’t trust you, even in the 24th century. Also, their tactics are questionable, as they engage in full-scale, Jack Bauer level torture. They ended a war by eradicating an entire race. For Section 31, no one is off limits, so they might come for you one day.

On top of that, there’s all the shady stuff that the Federation does to coerce non-member planets into joining. The sheer existence of a bunch of space hippies like the Maquis proves that not everything that the Federation does is liked by all. Sure, you can’t please everyone all of the time, but the Star Trek Universe is based on the assumption that you not only can, but you have. So, why are The Maquis so mad?

So, I know it’s science fiction, and I really shouldn’t overthink it, but I’m just starting to think that the Star Trek Universe posed more questions than it answered. When I was 5, I used to weep at the fact that I’d never live to see the creation of Starfleet. I mean, even if I did, it would’ve been the crappy, Kirk-era Starfleet, and I don’t get down with The Original Series. After some careful thought, however, I’ll take capitalism, with its non-exploding walls and curable-by-penicillin-STDs, any day! The future’s just not for me, but I hope my great, great, great grandson, Hyperflex Westion IV, is a better man than I am, and will find a reason to beam up.

07th Mar2011

5 Corners of Pop Culture That I Don’t Understand

by Will

Yeah, so I go around boasting that I know so much about pop culture, but even I have my blind spots. For example, I’m not much of a movie guy. I’ve never been one for going to movies, and I used to just tell myself “I’ll catch it when it comes on TV”. As a result, there are tons of movies that have become modern day classics (Titanic, Shrek, Avatar) that I’ve never seen. So, don’t recruit me for your trivia team if you need a Movie Guy. Outside of movies, though, there are 5 particular areas of pop culture that I just don’t “get”.

Now, I’m not exactly trying to be controversial, but I just know I’m opening the gates for a flame war. That said, I’m not necessarily saying there’s anything wrong with these five things, but they just don’t really hold much meaning for me. If you can think of a way to change my mind, or can point out great aspects that I’ve missed, then I certainly invite you to do so. This isn’t a bash session, but rather a cry for help: help me understand the big deal about these things.

1) The Big Lebowski – I’ve had people tell me “You don’t get The Big Lebowski ’cause you’re black.” Um, OK…That’s never really affected my interpretation of movies before (although Bamboozled did make me hate white people for a day or so). Since college, I’ve had people tell me that Lebowski is the most quotable movie ever, while extolling the virtues of The Dude. It was an entertaining movie, quirky in the vein of Fargo. It’s a fine movie, but I don’t get the *phenomenon*.  I don’t get why there are action figures of crew-cut John Goodman and Jeff Bridges looking like stoner Jesus in a bathrobe. I don’t get the uptick in White Russian consumption.

In terms of pop culture clout, The Big Lebowski has basically become the White Scarface. Scarface has become somewhat inspirational in urban circles, especially to a generation of rappers. Sure, Tony Montana ends up dead, but before that, he came from nothing and ended up having everything. With that, you can kind of understand why he has become the poster child for those who also come from very little. On the flip side, I don’t see anything aspirational about the story of The Dude. They occupy the same levels of pop culture, for different demographics, for different reasons. Maybe those folks were right: I understand Scarface, but I don’t understand The Dude. Maybe it is because I’m black…

2) The Muppets – Don’t get me wrong: I love Muppet Babies, and the Muppets version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is one of my favorite Christmas songs. That said, I just never really got into the movies. In college, I spent time around a sketch comedy group, and that was the first time I learned how much comedy circles revered the Muppets. Maybe I haven’t seen the right movies, and I’m missing out. I just don’t get the appeal. In some ways, I think I may have the same issues with the Muppets that I have with Alvin & The Chipmunks – I can suspend my disbelief, but I have a problem with these “creatures” coexisting with humans. The same way that I’m slightly disgusted by the idea that humans girls have the same kind of crushes on 4 foot singing chipmunks as they would on Justin Bieber, I also can’t really deal with the Muppets gallivanting around the “real world”. Sure, it works for Sesame Street, but I don’t see why adults are entertained by this, unless they’re high. And yes, do understand the irony of this statement coming from the guy who still watches Power Rangers.

3) Jersey Shore – Sorry, folks. Watching the premiere of Jersey Shore felt like a chore. Everyone who knows my love of bad television thought that I’d simply fall in love with the show, but they were wrong. I think I may have a different threshold than others. It seems that Jersey Shore is a guilty pleasure for quite a number of young professionals who love the show, but would never admit to it. It also seems that quite a few educated people love tuning in. That’s great. It’s just not my cup of tea. I LOVED the True Life episodes that spawned the show, but I really found nothing likable or engrossing about the cast of Jersey Shore. I did, however, enjoy watching that guy punch the shit out of Snookie ’cause, really, how often do you see something like that?  Jersey Shore is like going to the zoo – people feel superior as they ogle the “dumb” animals, but that shit eventually gets old and you find yourself looking for the hot dog cart.

4) Harry Potter – They’re cute books. I get that. They’re not, however, a worthy basis of what has become a literary juggernaut. Let’s rewind a bit, though. I missed the genesis of the Harry Potter phenomenon because I was somewhat off the grid. I went to Summer College at Cornell the summer that the first book started picking up steam. Now, if you’re not familiar with Cornell or Ithaca, its almost like its own little world. Generally, you have to really seek out information from the “outside world”, or else you won’t know of anything outside the Ithaca city limits. These were the early days of the internet, and there was no social networking just pushing information at you. When I got back to civilization, I started hearing rumblings of this “Harry Potter” thing, but really didn’t know what folks were talking about.

A big reason that I was resistant to Harry Potter was that I didn’t like the caliber of the early adopters. Sure, everyone reads Harry Potter now, but in the beginning, it was a certain group of people: the kids who weren’t allowed to watch TV, who only played with no-name educational toys from mom & pop stores, whose parents drove hybrids. Mainly, Harry Potter was the entertainment of yuppie children, and I hated all that they stood for. I can’t ignore what the franchise has done for literacy, which has actually been a great by-product of the phenomenon. It truly got people into reading, and that’s the one thing I like about it. That said, I’ve never found it all that original.

I grew up in a Roald Dahl household, so it was quite obvious when I started seeing his ideas popping up in the Harry Potter books. The extent of most people’s knowledge of Dahl is typically Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, and maybe Matilda or James & The Giant Peach. If you’ve more than just those, however, you’ll see what I’m talking about. It angered me that people felt that Rowling’s ideas were so groundbreaking, when I’d seen many of them before. For the people who saw where I was coming from, they still brushed me off with a “Well, nothing’s original anymore” or “Well, Rowling did a great job putting all of those Dahl concepts into one series”. Whatever. Like I said, they’re cute books, but I don’t see why they took the world by storm.

5) Star Wars – Basically, this comes down to the fact that I grew up with the philosophy that “Trekkies Can’t Be Warsies”. I latched onto the late 80s Star Trek revival, and that was where I put my focus. Unlike the other things I’ve mentioned, I “get” Star Wars, but I just don’t have the patience for it, nor do I have the desire to learn.

Star Wars just feels downright inaccessible to me. A few years ago, the only stuff that was “canon” consisted of 3 movies (and a holiday special that no one likes to acknowledge). Later on, there were 3 more movies, which was still manageable, especially since the “real fans” hated the new films and flipflopped on whether they acknowledged the events portrayed in them. Then, however, there was the Clone Wars cartoon, which bothers me because you can’t get attached to any characters, knowing they’re ALL gonna die. Then, there’s all the Expanded Universe stuff (which may not be considered canon, but is still held in high regard amongst the hardcore fans) and don’t get me started on all the comic series. So, at the end of the day, it’s still just 6 movies and some shows, but it feels so much more daunting. In terms of fandom, I like to go ALL IN. You can’t just tell me, “Oh, there are these books, but they don’t count.” If they exist, I’m going to feel like I need to read them and decide for myself if they count. And it’s just too much. The same argument could be made for Star Trek, but I got in early on that stuff, while Star Wars got rolling before I was a gleaming “surprise” in my father’s eye. I know it’s all psychological, but it just feels like being a Star Wars fan requires too much damn legwork. If you’ve got an “Star Wars in 3 Minutes” primer you want to send me, I’m all ears. Otherwise, I don’t think I’m ever gonna have that soft spot for The Force that so many of you seem to have.

So, there you have it. I hope we can all still be friends. I didn’t set out to bash the stuff that people hold dear, but I simply wanted to give my impression of these things. I welcome you to try to convince me otherwise, as I will admit that I do feel a bit left out at times. However, I fear that I’ll just get a bunch of comments like “Ur a fuckin’ moron!” Oh well, at least you’re leaving comments!