Archived entries for Stuff I Watch

You’ll wish ‘Space Stallions’ was a real Saturday morning cartoon, too.

Here’s something super cool I’ve been meaning to share for a while that any lover of Saturday morning cartoons and 80′s pop culture can appreciate: Space Stallions!

Space Stallions Header

As darkness is covering the multiverse, far away in the galaxy of the wild stallion, a spark of hope is born. Guided by the light of Mother Mustang, the Space Stallions must defeat the Demon of darkness, Destructo.

Though I’ve had this bookmarked for a couple of months, I’ve been hesitating to blog about it. At the time I thought I had stumbled upon something so amazingly amazing and uniquely unique that nobody else knew about, only to find out it’s been covered by the likes of iO9, Topless Robot, and other sites much bigger than mine MONTHS before I discovered it. Cue Price is Right fail horn.

But after thinking on it some more, and living with the knowledge this cartoon features A FUCKING MAGIC SWORD THAT TRANSFORMS INTO A KEYTAR, I decided there’s no way I was NOT going to put Space Stallions on my blog. Sometimes you just have to make gutsy editorial decisions. (Also, I was in desperate need of some fresh content. I’m really scraping the bottom of the barrel today, kids.)

Space Stallions, sadly, is NOT a real Saturday morning cartoon from the 80s, but a 3D-animated film from 2012 by two students of Denmark’s famed The Animation Workshop, named Thorvaldur Gunnarsson and Jonatan Brüsch.  I actually discovered the mega-awesome theme song first on Bandcamp, and for a time believed that’s all there was of Space Stallions. Imagine how my mind was blown when I also found out there was an actual animation and characters to go along with it.

Mother Mustang

Had it existed during my childhood (and I so wish it did), Space Stallions would have easily taken their rightful place alongside the Rankin-Bass classics like ThunderCats and Silverhawks.

Now if you’ll indulge me for a moment, I’ve come up with a wishlist of my own Saturday morning cartoon ideas I’d love for some talented animator to tackle:

Someone please make one/all of these happen:

B.E.A.R.A.C.U.D.A.S.

Fearsome beasts of land and sea, these guys are either ferocious armored bears that transform into ferocious armored fish, or ferocious armored fish that transform into ferocious armored bears.  I didn’t bother coming up with it, but the acronym would be something awesome that reflects that.

AracadeBots

Normal arcade machines that transform into giant mechs empowered by the moves and special attacks of their own video games. They’re controlled by a group of teens who hang out at the arcade all day and one day discovered the secret code to make them work. The only downside is they STILL have to shell out quarters every time, so they’re forced to live normal kid lives and do things like work and chores in order to make the necessary coin to keep saving the world.

SnailBlazers

Half-snail, half-human superheroes who run at lightning-fast speeds and leave behind a trail of glowing, toxic slime. Being snails, they’re able to use their shells for protection as well as carry around an arsenal of cool weaponry. Really, my whole rationale behind this one is to know whether or not it’s possible to make snails cool.

And it should also go without saying, all of these are set in the 1980′s.

Something that pisses me the Freak off.

John Leguizamo's FREAK

One of the greatest comedy specials I ever saw was John Leguizamo’s Freak, which originally aired on HBO back in 1998. Part stand-up comedy, part autobiography, Leguizamo is brilliant as he recounts and reenacts all the character-building, intimate details of his life–like the first time he got laid, which was to an old woman with gigantic, bat-like “coochie lips”–with humor and brutal honesty.

The oldest son of Latin-American immigrants, Leguizamo was raised in poverty in some of New York City’s roughest neighborhoods, which makes for a melting pot of crazy characters John brings to life with outrageous impressions–like his deaf and gay uncle Sandy who “invented Spanglish Sign Language,” which for me are some of the funniest bits. And of course, John’s very raw, hold-nothing-back portrayal of the love/hate relationship he has with his father. Leguizamo effortlessly slips in and out of character as he paints a tacky, velvet portrait of his Latin-American upbringing and eventual rise to fame, commanding the stage with stories, song, and dance, all set to an awesome soundtrack. In short, Freak is one of the best, most entertaining one-man shows I have ever seen. I was already a John Leguizamo fan before I saw it because of movies like To Wong Foo and Romeo + Juliet, and to a MUCH lesser degree, the Super Mario Bros. movie (which is TERRIBLE, obviously, but John Leguizamo has the weird ability to fill me with an irrational love for it). Oh, and did I mention it’s directed by Spike Lee?

I’m sorry, I really don’t mean for this to turn into a review, but I feel it’s important for me to demonstrate exactly how much I love Freak so that you’ll better appreciate WHY I’M SO PISSED OFF right now as I hold this piece of shit DVD copy of it in my hands.

NOT AMUSED. AT ALL.

Let me back up a bit.

Until recent years, Freak wasn’t available on DVD or in any other format. For the longest time, the only copy I had was on a shitty, worn-out VHS that I had recorded off HBO back in the day. As far as I knew, that was the only copy in existence because even pirated copies of this thing were impossible to get. (Trust me, I was looking.) It wasn’t until the latter part of the 2000′s that a torrent copy of Freak eventually started making the rounds and someone who shall go nameless got me a copy, for which I was infinitely grateful. Between my old VHS and the, uh, “surprise” digital version I got later, I have probably seen Freak dozens of times. I can watch this show over and over again and still find something new to love about Leguizamo’s performance every time. 

So now let’s get back to the reason I’m so pissed off. A few days ago I was thinking about Freak again and kind of regretting that I never picked it up on DVD. At the very least I wanted to own it for that awesome, pop-artsty cover design. I spent over ten years wishing that someday I’d be able to watch it in higher quality than the shitty, worn-out VHS tape I recorded off HBO so long ago and then in 2011 this DVD was eventually released. It had been on my Amazon Wishlist for-fucking-ever (we all have Wishlists full of those “someday” items, don’t we?) and I finally, finally decided to treat myself.

And now I’m going to tell you why this DVD is a waste of $12 despite it’s glowing 4- and 5-star reviews on Amazon.

First of all–and this is the minor complaint, believe it or not–the video quality of this DVD is atrocious. It is VHS-transfer quality at best, and when there is even the slightest bit of motion on the screen, everything looks blurry and has scan-lines running through it, like this:

Shit-tastic Quality

John’s performance is pretty animated, to say the least. He moves very quickly, break-dances at times, and often runs around like a retard (I mean that in a loving way)And all of that would be so much more enjoyable if it didn’t look like complete ass. This shit is unacceptable.  But like I said, the video quality is not even my #1 complaint. 

The MAIN reason why I’m so pissed off is because this recording has been dubbed over with completely different audio not only for every song that was featured in the original, but also for some of John’s speaking parts–to the point where I suspect a different voice actor filled in altogether. WHY, WHY, WHY? Keep in mind, I am extremely familiar with Freak, having seen it as much as I have. I KNOW what that audio should sound like. The original recording featured a bunch of awesome pop/rock songs like Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust,” Al Green’s “So In Love With You, and the amazeballs Freestyle song, “Don’t Stop the Rock,” among others, all of which John busted some serious moves to. You know what this DVD gave me instead? Generic-sounding stock music that only vaguely resembles the original songs that made this performance so memorable to begin with.

This copyright shit has gone too far.

It’s pretty sad when you can’t even buy a DVD nowadays without the worry that it’ll sound completely different from what you remember. Take The Wonder Years, for example. The DVD collection of that show has been stripped of its original opening theme song, as well as a lot of the 60s-era music that originally featured in the episodes. This is also why you won’t hear Frank Sinatra’s classic “Love and Marriage” during the opening of Married With Children anymore. THIS IS A TRAVESTY, people. The worst part is I don’t even know who to blame. And dammit, I need somebody or something to blame. I just wish we lived in a world where artistic integrity was valued more than splitting pussy hairs over copyrights.

My advice? Pirate the shit out of this movie. Preferably find yourself a copy of the 1998 original. That’s the only way you’ll get to experience it the way you were meant to.

You are now entering The Busey Zone.

The Busey Zone

I learned three important facts about Gary Busey (a.k.a The Poor Man’s Nick Nolte) today:

1. Gary Busey is still bat-shit crazy.

2. Gary Busey has a YouTube channel called “The Busey Zone.”

3. Gary Busey wants to fuck an inner tube.

If you only watch one thing on YouTube today, please let it be the first 23 seconds of this video. I promise it is worth watching for the bizarre, early 80s-esque intro sequence alone. And if you’re brave enough to continue, you’ll be rewarded with Gary Busey describing in great detail how you can “pump fuck” an inner tube without anyone noticing.

No shit, this is part of the actual quote:

“Get some rubber hosing that you can put around the hole of the inner tube. It looks like a round mouth. What you can do is find pleasure by yourself with an inner tube in a beautiful body of water with trees, with birds flying around and chirping, doves honking at you, it’s just beautiful and puts you in a romantic mood. But no one’s there but you. And the inner tube. So what you do insert yourself–your pleasure body parts–into that hole on the inner tube, and then you can push and pull the inner tube and just smile and just smile and act like nothing’s happening. And that way you can PUMP-FUCK that inner tube from the top of the river to the bottom of the river!”

Had I known Gary Busey’s videos were THIS FUCKING AWESOME, I would have subscribed a long time ago.

[Hat tip to UPROXX]

My favorite spaceman is the one who gave us MTV.

This week’s League assignment was yet another single-word prompt: “spacemen.”

I’m late with my response this week (because Ni No Kuni happened) and a lot of my fellow Leaguers have already beaten me to some great topics, like E.T. and Astronaut Barbie (which I was totally going to make fun of, you thunder stealers). Also, I’ve been completely Star Wars-ed out since the news that J.J. Abrams will be directing Episode VII nearly broke the internet Friday, or else I’d write about that.

So instead I thought I’d boldly go where no man has gone before–before 1981, that is. On August 31st of that year, MTV made television history when its first-ever broadcast, the MTV Moon Landing, appeared on television screens across America and introduced an entire generation to 24-hour music television.

This is what those kids saw:

Though I’m too young to remember the original Moon Landing (I wasn’t born until September that same year), it’s an iconic TV spot that MTV played in heavy rotation throughout the 80′s, and to this day, why MTV still gives out “Moon Man” statues at its annual Video Music Awards.

Moon Man Statue

(By the way, does anyone know if it’s possible to get a replica of one of these things? Because I’d totally Flavor Flav it as a necklace.)

Between having an older sister, and parents who’d let us watch pretty much whatever we wanted, MTV entered my life at a very young age. My earliest memories of it are from around the time I was five, so we’re talking 1986 or so. I couldn’t tell you what the first music video I ever saw was, but I do distinctly remember squealing with delight whenever Peter Gabriel’s video for Sledgehammer came on. I couldn’t get enough of those dancing naked turkeys.

Sledgehammer Dancing Turkeys

(I still can’t.)

As a card-carrying member of the MTV Generation, I watched MTV religiously from the mid-eighties to around the time I started college. I miss those lose lazy summer days when it was too hot to play outside, giving me a perfectly valid excuse to lay around watching Beavis & Butthead while ignoring my chores. Then, somehow, gradually and almost without warning, MTV just stopped being important to me. Where once we had a network full of awesome shows like Yo! MTV Raps and Headbanger’s Ball in addition to, you know, actual music videos, we now have a cesspool of retardation such as 16 and Pregnant and Jersey fucking Shore.

Back then, even the non-music-related shows were awesome. Remember Liquid Television and the bizarre coolness of Aeon Flux? Or how about all the awesome/hilarious game shows, like Remote Control and Singled Out ? (You ain’t cool unless you knew who Chris Hardwick was before Nerdist.) Twelve-year-old me used to daydream about being a contestant on Lip Service because I totally know all the words to K7′s “Come Baby Come.”(And still do.) 

But anyway, this is not meant to be a “get off my lawn” post about how much MTV sucks now. I mean, everybody already knows that, right?  Instead, this is a loving tribute to the MTV I used to know, and the Moon Man who regularly landed in my living room and blew my goddamn mind with awesome music and unique programming.

Remember when the VMAs used to, like, actually mean something man?

Oh sure, we had our embarrassing teen pop acts and one-hit wonders in the pre-Bieber era, too. I thought it’d be fun to dig up a couple of my favorite performances from the MTV Video Music Awards vaults!

Guns N’ Roses Performing “Welcome to the Jungle” (1988)

A 7-year-old child should not be allowed to witness such raw sex and power, but I did, and I’d like to think I turned out better for it.

Paula Abdul Performing ‘Forever Your Girl (Medley)” (1989)

You know, Paula was never a great voice, but GODDAMN that woman could dance.

Vanilla Ice Performing “Ice Ice Baby” (1990)

If you were to time-travel back to my bedroom in 1990, you’d find me glued to the screen, struggling to understand that funny feeling I had while watching this.

Faith No More Performing “Epic” (1990)

One of the best songs ever. This is not open for debate.

En Vogue Performing “Free Your Mind” (1992)

This performance right here is like the 1990′s personified. God, I miss these bitches.

Shit. I was supposed to write about spacemen, wasn’t I?

Now that I’ve managed to completely go off-topic, let’s get things back under control. This week’s assignment from The League of Extraordinary Bloggers was simply the word “spacemen.” Our leader, Brian, is really stretching the limits of his creativity lately with these topics. Here are a couple of my favorite spacemen-related posts written by fellow Leaguers:

  • Goodwill Hunting 4 Geeks shows off his spacemen action figures. I’ll give you ONE guess which toy is my favorite.
  • The Man Who Stares at Toys mentions my favorite alien beings from Aqua Teen Hunger Force!
  • That Figures went in a really cool direction with this post about Levi’s jeans circa 1995 “Space Man” commercial.
  • Fortune and Glory Days covers one of my favorite 80′s movies, E.T. The Extra Terrestrial.
  • Whatever I Think Of! talks about Spectra, Astronaut Barbie, and other incredibly lame space-themed toys for girls.

This trippy synthesizer animation is totally mesmerizing me today.

To steal a line from Gin & Juice, Moog’s got the cultivatin’ music that be captivatin’ me.

This is essentially a glorified ad for the new Moog Sub Phatty synthesizer, but it’s awesome nonetheless. And you don’t even need to be on drugs to appreciate it. This is exactly the type of thing I love looking at, which is probably why I enjoyed the also-trippy-as-balls musical game Dyad as much as I did.

In honor of the new Moog Sub Phatty analog synthesizer Flying Lotus & Adult Swim veteran, Adam ‘Lilfuchs’ Fuchs collaborated on a short animation called Moog Sub Phatty: New Machine For Living. You can hear the new Sub Phatty analog synthesizer in Flying Lotus’s original score for the animation, called ‘Such a Square’.

 [via Gizmodo] 

 

Wanna know what my most anticipated movie of 2013 is?

I recently participated in a roundtable discussion over at the always awesome Strange Kids Club about our most anticipated anticipated films of 2013.

This is mine:

Ender's Game

Ender’s Game is the long-awaited, big screen adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s 1985 novel of the same name, which happens to be one of my personal favorite sci-fi books of all time. Slated for a November 1 release, the film stars Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, and Asa Butterfield as the titular protagonist.

If you want to know more about the upcoming movie and exactly why it’s #1 on my box office radar this year, and see some other top picks by fellow bloggers like Shawn Robare of Branded in the 80s, head on over to this article at The Strange Kids Club!

McDonald’s Big Mac with a side of synth and lasers.

Not since Big Mac Tonight (who remembers that guy?) do I recall being this goddamn excited about a McDonald’s commercial. Just watch it and you’ll see what I mean:

I saw this little slice of throwback awesomeness last night during the AFC Championship game and kept hoping it’d pop up again because it blew my friggin’ mind. It’s like the fast food version of the early 80′s HBO intro, except not quite as amazing. 

[tweet https://twitter.com/shezcrafti/status/293171901604429824]

That’s pretty weird, right? I mean, when’s the last time you saw a commercial you wanted to immediately watch again? I fully support this abstract, artsy direction McDonald’s seems to be going in lately with their Big Mac commercials (see also this one and this one). I’m on a diet right now which means AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR BIG MAC ATTACKS, but I definitely do have time to stop and share my appreciation for totally rad, 80s-tastic commercials like this one.

Just humor me on the “Harbowl” thing, ok?

I had to get this out of my system.

Bad Dudes Harbowl

Super Mario Harbowl

Double Dragon Harbowl

P.S. Sorry to my Twitter followers for the excessive amount of #Ravens tweets.

P.S.S. It’ll probably be worse during the Superbowl.

Oh, A Cowboy Needs a Horse (Needs a Horse! Needs a Horse!)

The first random thing that popped into my head (well, besides Bon Jovi’s “Dead or Alive”) after seeing today’s assignment from The League, was an animated Disney short from 1956 called A Cowboy Needs a Horse. I surprised myself by thinking of it, because this cartoon is one of those things from the obscure, nearly-forgotten minutia of my childhood that I’m constantly rediscovering in weird ways (quite like Questron and the Clue VCR Mystery Game) ever since I started blogging.

A Cowboy Needs a Horse (1956)

A Cowboy Needs a Horse (which you can watch in its entirety on YouTube right here) is about a little boy who goes to sleep one night and dreams of being a cowboy. As he slumbers, an incredibly repetitive song of the same name accompanies his transformation from an ordinary boy into a cowboy complete with a horse, a rope, a song, a hat, a pair of fancy boots, and a set of shiny spurs, which are all “drawn” into the scene. It’s all very Little Nemo-ish and the animation is classic Disney.

Little boy dreams he's a cowboy.

Here’s the song. Please don’t hate me after it inevitably gets stuck in your head!

Since I was born in 1981, I’m obviously too young to have remembered this cartoon when it was new. My introduction to it was in the form of a Disney Sing Along Songs VHS tape that I got for Christmas one year–this one, to be precise:

Disney Singalong Songs - Heigh Ho

If you’re around my same age, you might remember these things. They were a series of home video tapes that featured a compilation of songs you could sing along to from both animated and live-action Disney movies and shows. Most memorably, kids were encouraged to “Follow the bouncing ball!” which looked like the Mickey symbol and helped you keep time with the lyrics. (And I swear to this day, the insanely catchy intro song from these tapes still gets randomly stuck in my head sometimes.)

A cowboy’s gotta keep ridin’, ridin’ along…

This week’s assignment from The League of Extraordinary Bloggers was simply the word, “cowboys.” Here’s how my fellow extraordinary bloggers interpreted this fun topic:

*I’m early this week (for once!). I’ll update this section with more links as more folks turn in the assignment.

I Spy an Awesome Kid’s Movie: Cloak & Dagger (1984)

You might recall this movie as that time the kid from E.T. got chased by spies, and something or other involving an Atari game of the same name. Cloak & Dagger is a 1984 kid-centric, spy-themed movie that stars Henry Thomas (who played Elliott in E.T: The Extra Terrestrial and is really good at crying) and Dabney Coleman , who I’m sure needs no introduction (but for some reason I feel the need to point out I will forever associate him with the short-lived early 90′s sitcom, Drexell’s Class.)

Cloak & Dagger (1984) Poster

As far as lesser-known, underrated kid movies from the 1980s go, you’d be hard-pressed to find one with as cool a plot as Cloak & Dagger.

11-year-old Davey, whose mother is dead and whose father is preoccupied with his own problems, has retreated into a world of video games and an imaginary hero-pal, the swashbuckling superspy Jack Flack. When an FBI agent about to be murdered slips him a video cartridge containing top-secret data, Davey is suddenly plunged into the intrigue and danger of real-life espionage. No adult believes his story, so he must run a gauntlet of violence and villainy aided only by a younger girl and the encouragement of “Jack Flack” at his side. How long can a comic-book role model guide him through this encounter with reality?

[source: IMDB]

(I know it’s kind of a cop-out to simply copy & paste the description from IMDB and not do my own full review, but here it is after midnight on a Sunday night, and I’m punching the clock to get this post done on time. It’s been a helluva week.)

Awesome kid spy stuff aside, I love this movie because of its obvious ties to video game pop culture, and that it’s like a cinematic time capsule of vintage 80′s electronics. I mean, look how huge those walkie talkies are! And I really like Henry Thomas as an actor too.

To make up for my lack of review, here’s a crap ton of screenshots for you:

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

And here’s one last screenshot of Dabney Coleman doing that whole “cool guys don’t look at explosions” thing.

Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Jack Flack always escapes!

Wondering what this is all about? This week’s assignment from The League of Extraordinary Bloggers was a single, cryptic word: “spies.” Here’s how some of my fellow Leaguers interpreted this obviously secret message:

Patrick Bateman wants to show you his Pokemon.

If you listened to the latest episode of the Cult Film Club podcast, you know I’m a huge American Psycho fan and ranked it #1 on my list of favorite cult films of all time. And just from a casual look around this blog, you know I love all things Nintendo. So I nearly shit a brick when this deleted scene surfaced in my feed today, which re-cuts the infamous business card scene into a Pokemon-showing dick-measuring contest.

Oh my God. It even has a watermark.

For a little more context, this scene was supposed to be included as a fun extra on Lionsgate’s 10th Anniversary Blu-ray release of the film, which never panned out. And now that I know this, I’m pretty upset. Like, murder my co-worker with an axe while listening to Huey Lewis upset.

[via Robot Mutant]

Saw it. Loved it. Cried a lot. Now I can’t stop comparing.

My sister and I saw Les Miserables over the weekend. If you’re planning to see it, A) make sure you like musicals, and B) make sure you really like musicals, because it is literally over two and a half hours of singing. I only say this because some people seem not to have gotten the message that this film is a direct adaptation of the Broadway musical Les Miserables, as opposed to Hugo’s original novel (although some elements of that were incorporated to great effect). My sister, for example, didn’t quite grasp exactly how musical-y it would be and thus didn’t care for the film (even though I totally warned her).

Anyway, I don’t want to write a full review apart from saying I loved it. I just wanted to remark on how impressed I was by Samantha Barks’ performance in the role of Éponine. She totally stole the movie for me–which is saying something, considering she shared the screen with Ann Hathaway (who made me cry like a fool). Éponine is the character who sings my favorite song, “On My Own,” so I was really looking forward to seeing/hearing it the film.

I did some Googling when I got home and found this Samantha Barks performance from 2010, which was filmed for the musical’s 25th Anniversary. It’s a much different style than the way she sang it in the film* (which was much more raw, emotional and intimate), but it gives you a good representation of her singing ability:

*If you’re interested in hearing it the way she sang it in the film, that version can be found on Spotify. I learned Samantha previously starred as Éponine in the London production of Les Miserables from 2010 – 2011 before being asked to star in the film, which was her first movie role ever. I am impressed, Miss Barks.

Samantha Barks vs. Lea Salonga

Up until seeing Samantha, my only basis for comparison was Lea Salonga. Here’s her version of “On My Own,” which also blows me away every time I watch it:

Lea has such incredible control over her powerful voice, but Barks’ imperfections actually work in her favor, especially for a character like Éponine, who’s so vulnerable. I guess what I’m trying to say is, even though I think Lea has better range and ability, I felt like I connected more emotionally with Samantha in this role.

This is one of the things I love about musicals (and by extension film versions of musicals): seeing how the cast changes, and what each new performer does better or differently. It can also be a little frustrating at times, because you go to see a musical and and find yourself wishing you could mix and match from previous and current casts to achieve the perfect lineup. But for me that’s all part of the fun.

So, who do you think sings it better?

My childhood arrived in a TurtleVan.

Well, technically it arrived in a box from Amazon.com. One of the shittiest things about breaking up right before Christmas was having to return all the gifts I bought for my boyfriend (actually, the shittiest part was having to unwrap them first, then return them–do you know how depressing that was?), but hey, at least I got some money back…which I spent on myself. I’m considering it a consolation prize.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Complete Classic Series Collection brings together all ten seasons–193 episodes in all–of the classic Fred Wolf TMNT cartoon, packaged in what is one of the coolest-designed DVD box sets I’ve ever seen–a replica TurtleVan! I’ve been lusting after this baby since it was announced back in August (that post is here), and know that a couple of you guys in The League also got this for Christmas, which means you made me insta-jealous, which means I decided I couldn’t live another day without having this in my life. It is my childhood, after all.

TMNT Complete Series

TMNT Complete Series

There’s a ton of reviews for this box set all over the internet, so I won’t bother adding to that noise with one of my own (I’m pretty biased anyway–you know I have nothing but unconditional love for my four green heroes). Instead I’m going to reminisce a little and tell you about the day the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles entered my life. It seems like such a trivial thing, but it’s one I will never forget.

TMNT Complete Series

It was the fall of 1988. I was in second grade. I used to get babysat by a woman who lived across the street from my parents, who had two kids around my age. She also watched a bunch of other kids from around the neighborhood and there was a good mix of boys and girls, with a few different grades between us. We were together as a group every school morning before the bus came and every afternoon until around six, or whenever our parents got home from work and were able to pick us up. That’s a lot of time to spend around other kids, and as you might imagine, we didn’t always get along. One of the things we frequently fought over that had the power to determine if we were going to get along on any given day was the TV: what to watch.

TMNT Complete Series

One afternoon, Jonathan, a boy who lived down the street from me and who was a few years younger, practically had a meltdown when the other kids wouldn’t let him put on his favorite show. Two of the kids (I won’t name names) were bigger and meaner than the rest of us, not to mention spoiled-rotten shitheads who always got their way. They said the show was stupid and teased Jonathan relentlessly for liking it, to the point that it made him cry. I had no idea what show Jonathan wanted to watch so badly (nor did I really care) and I never liked getting involved with Shithead #1 and Shithead #2, having been the subject of their ridicule more than a few times myself. In those situations I’d normally just go with the flow, to stay in The Shitheads’ good graces and hope to avoid becoming the target. But something about the whole thing just pissed me off that day. Jonathan was such a nice, sweet boy, and I knew The Shitheads were teasing him just to be dicks, not because there was anything else on TV they really wanted to watch. He was younger, smaller, and totally defenseless, and I felt bad for him. So I stood up for the little guy.

Well, you can imagine how they treated me after that–but hey, Jonathan got to watch his show. And I got stuck watching it with him. The Shitheads rounded up the other “cool” kids (of which I was no longer a part of) to go outside and play a game, declaring I wasn’t allowed to join them. But as it turned out, I soon wouldn’t care about their stupid game, or trying to impress The Shitheads ever again…because I had just been introduced to the greatest, most mind-meltingly cool show I had ever seen.

TMNT Complete Series

The show, of course, was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. To this day I still remember the exact episode: Enter the Fly. I can’t say for sure what exactly drew me in. Maybe it was the sheer absurdity/awesomeness of what I was witnessing–four green, wisecracking, pizza-loving turtles ninja-fighting against a giant mutated fly (not to mention flying a blimp). Maybe it was the seriousness of this particular episode’s plot, and how I in my eight-year-old innocence really thought April might die! But what’s more likely is that I fell in love, as so many kids my age did, with the personalities of the Turtles themselves. Leonardo’s bravery, Donatello’s genius, Raphael’s wit, Michaelangelo’s heart. I know it sounds cheesy, but the Turtles as we know them in that cartoon represent everything we wanted for ourselves as kids. Despite being outcasts, they were cool and likeable. They were smart. They were funny. They had these incredible abilities. They were the best of friends. They saved the day. In short, they were “The Good Guys.” They stood for something. All of this is apparent just from watching any single episode.

On that particular day, having gone through what I did, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were there for me in a way that nobody and nothing else was. I didn’t care that I had just alienated myself from the group or possibly jeopardized my neighborhood social status forever. I had done something I felt was the right thing to do and  The Turtles were on my side for it. This all seems like a bunch of stupid kid stuff, I know, but when you’re eight years old, these things matter.

TMNT Complete Series

Things were never the same between me and The Shitheads again. That day was something of a turning point for me. It’s the day I decided I didn’t care how uncool I was for liking something that made me so happy. Did I know that single episode would lead to a life-long obsession with all things TMNT? No. I just knew watching the show made me feel good, and I couldn’t wait to find out all there was to know about these four green guys. On that day, and on many days since, I have made new friends because of TMNT. I learned to draw because of TMNT. I learned to try new things because of TMNT. I had a happier childhood because of TMNT.

Seeing this show for the very first time was the beginning of a passion that has brought nothing but good things into my life. And that’s the highest praise I could possibly give it.

Miss Bliss, we need to have a serious talk about your best friend’s wardrobe.

Ah, good old Tina Paladrino: Teacher. Sidekick. Fashion victim.

Even back in 1988, I have no idea where you would have been able to buy outfits as tacky as hers. They’re even tacky for Saved by the Bell, perhaps only a slight improvement over Nikki, who was kind of a Miss Paladrino in miniaturebut at least Nikki has the excuse of being in junior high. As the show’s second fiddle, Tina’s blinding, jewel tone palette stands in such stark contrast to Miss Bliss’s tastefully understated couture, the whole thing comes off as a desperate plea for attention. The only thing more ridiculous than Miss Paladrino’s outfits are her facial expressions.

Let’s critique her Top 20 fashion abortions, shall we? Come on, it’ll be fun.

#1 – Bow Tie Tit Constrictor

This first one has it all: gigantic shoulder pads, suspenders (whose only purpose seem to be squashing Tina’s already too-small breasts), and more hot pink than should be allowed. It even has a theme. Do you know what it is? If you said “bow ties,” eh, okay. I would have also accepted “fugly.”

Tina Paladrino

#2 – Purple Regret

This outfit belongs on a 12-year-old girl who plays with Barbies, not a grown-ass woman. Also, note the purple scrunchie on her head. As you’ll soon learn, this is the start of a trend where Miss Paladrino continually amazes me with her ability to find matching hair accessories just as ugly if not more so than her outfits.

Tina Paladrino

#3 – Re-purposed Purple Regret

Believe it or not, this very familiar-looking get-up is from a completely different episode. I’m guessing this scene was shot back-to-back with the scene above, and the wardrobe people had to scramble to modify Tina’s look in the hopes we wouldn’t notice the recycled scrunchie and cardigan. Either that or Miss Paladrino is a slob who doesn’t regularly do her laundry. Either way, this silk flower nightmare look is a slight improvement over the last. Slight.

Tina Paladrino

#4 – Excess-ories

WTF are those things? Alligators? Angry fish? Retarded sharks? The sad part is this outfit would have been fine without them.

Tina Paladrino

#5 – Tuxedon’t

Ladies, dressing like a man is not cute. The only time it’s acceptable is if your name is Paula Abdul and you’ve time traveled back to 1988. And here again with the matching scrunchie.

Tina Paladrino

#6 – Colorblock Cockblock

The colorblocks really accentuate those shoulder pads. Even her goddamn scrunchie is colorblocked. This outfit repels cocks, is what I’m saying.

Tina Paladrino

#7 – Neon Identity Crisis

Her jacket can’t decide what color it wants to be. It also makes her look 50 pounds overweight. SO HOT.

Tina Paladrino

#8 – K-Mart Cowgirl

Oh my god, it’s a fucking cow print skirt! And a parade of little cows printed across her shirt! WHERE DO YOU EVEN FIND THIS STUFF? I’m a little disappointed there isn’t also a cow-print scrunchie.

Tina Paladrino

Let’s get a closer look at those chest cows (which by the way, lol):

Tina Paladrino

#9 – Green Striped Shame

At this point Miss Paladrino is single-handedly keeping the scrunchie makers in business.

Tina Paladrino

#10 – Polka Dot Desperation

What’s worse than a frumpy cardigan with gigantic polka dots on it?

Tina Paladrino

A frumpy skirt with tiny polka dots on it. Also, is the tie really necessary? At this point I have to assume she’s actively trying to make herself more unattractive.

Tina Paladrino

#11 – Bow Tie Polka Dot Bastard

If outfits #1 and #5 had an illegitimate lovechild, this is what it would look like.

Tina Paladrino

#12 – Whore of the Roses

Totally self-explanatory.

Tina Paladrino

There are even more roses on her back, you guys. SIMPLY AMAZING.

Tina Paladrino

#13 – Major Moron

The only thing more pathetic than wearing fake Army decorations is the amount of time it must have taken to transform an ordinary t-shirt into whatever the hell this is.

Tina Paladrino

#14 – Lesbian

Sorry, I don’t have anything more creative to say about this one.

Tina Paladrino

#15 – Printed Depression

In this episode, Miss Paladrino gets all depressed because her boyfriend Donny left her. I blame this shirt.

Tina Paladrino

…and then her next outfit plants her firmly in psycho ex-girlfriend territory.

Tina Paladrino

#16 – Tiebreaker

The last of too-many times when Miss Paladrino wears a tie, with a special encore by The Scrunchie From Outfit #11.

Tina Paladrino

#17 – Checkered Cheesevomit

This outfit even makes Miss Bliss look like she wants to vomit.

Tina Paladrino

#18 – Polka Dot Princess

It’s official now.

Tina Paladrino

#19 – Polka Dot Princess II

Jesus this woman loves dots. It’s unhealthy.

Tina Paladrino

#20 – Tina Plaidadrino

Puns are awesome. Shut up.

Tina Paladrino

Before it was retconned as the first season of SBTB, Good Morning Miss Bliss lasted for one brief, 13-episode season before cancellation. IS MISS PALADRINO’S WARDROBE TO BLAME?? I don’t think that’s too unreasonable an assumption.

The Most Pixely Man in the Universe

Animator Caleb Hystad re-created the classic Masters of the Universe cartoon intro in glorious pixel art, because, why not? And I’m posting it because this is exactly the kind of silly crap I post. I mean, have you looked around here lately? No seriously, have you?

Hey Caleb–on the off-chance you ever read this, how about doing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles next?

What’s this? A Michael Bay movie I kind of actually want to see?

Preposterous. Never thought I’d ever type the combination of words that make up this headline, but here we are.

The 80s! Miami! Body building! Steroids! Bullets! Running in slow motion! Hot cars! THE ROCK! I’m actually not sure what the hell it is I just watched, but it looks like something Michael Bay was born to direct. This is one of those movies that will either be terrible (The Happening) or totally fucking awesome (Boogie Nights), which, in my experience, any movie starring Mark Wahlberg can only go one of those two ways.

See, people think I hate Michael Bay for that whole Teenage Alien Ninja Turtles thing. Not true. I’m definitely not what you’d call “a fan” of the guy, I just think he should apply his typical “blow shit up first, worry about plot later” moviemaking formula to something other than beloved fan properties. I believe he’s capable of making a totally awesome as balls original movie.

Will Pain & Gain be that movie? I don’t know. But it certainly takes me back to the good old days when Marky Mark (I will never stop calling him that, deal with it) looked like this:

Marky Mark 90s Calvin Klein Ads

What? I’m not made of stone, people.

Pain & Gain

The Culture of Cult Films: What is “Cult”?

Cult Film Club, Episode 2, Part 1 - What is Cult?

Cult Film Club podcast Episode #2 is now live!

For this second meeting of the Cult Film Club, Shawn, Pax, and I decided to have a more general discussion about what makes a film “cult.” (Don’t worry, we’ll get back to our established format of reviewing terrible/awesome movies we love to death in Episode 3!) As it turns out, defining what a cult film is (or isn’t) is difficult to pinpoint, and opinions on the matter varied considerably. Add to that the idea that cult films can both lose and gain “cult” status over time, and things get even murkier.

In the process of trying to nail it down, we touch on a lot of different films, including those with rabid fanbases like Star Wars and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (I take full responsibility for that one), those that were box office failures, cult films that are so well known that we now question whether or not they’re still considered cult, and conversely, movies that were once popular, mainstream successes but have become more “cult” over time. We delved so deeply into this topic that we ended up with two episode’s worth of material, and had to split things up.

Here is Episode 2, Part 1:

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Head on over to the Cult Film Club blog to see the full list of movies we mention.

If you like what you hear you can subscribe to the Cult Film Club on iTunes.

You can also join our not-so-exclusive but totally rad club so you can know which movie(s) we’ll be discussing next and watch along with us.

‘The Hobbit’ reviews are in! Aaaaand they’re terrible.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Failure?

Well, the reviews have started to roll in and so far it’s looking like The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is an unexpected disappointment, not that that will stop it from making shitloads of money. It currently only has a 65% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which is alarming for one of the biggest, most anticipated films of the year. But is anyone really surprised at the bad reviews? They took a book that was significantly shorter than just one of the three Lord of the Rings books and stretched it into an epic three-part film, and a lengthy one at that–this first part has a running time of 162 minutes. That is OVER TWO AND A HALF HOURS, ya’ll. The only thing more epic is Hollywood’s ability to milk beloved franchises until they’re cold, dead and lifeless.

Not to mention Peter Jackson’s puzzling decision to shoot The Hobbit in 48 frames per second, giving it a weird, plasticky, fake look like something you’d see on television. Despite early negative feedback with test audiences and critics, Jackson defended his decision and basically told us all we were old farts afraid of change. This article over at IGN does a good job of pinpointing all the reasons why 48 FPS for a fantasy film is a bad idea.

Here’s but a sampling of the bad reviews, which are worth reading if only for the awesomely cheesy Lord of the Rings-related puns:

Full disclosure: I have not seen The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey yet.  I was planning to go this weekend, but now I’m not so sure it’ll be worth it. Did any of you guys see it last night, and if so, was it in 3D and/or 48 FPS? Are the bad reviews warranted? Please let me know what you thought. A $15 movie ticket and nearly three hours of my life are at stake.

ShezCrafti on Nerd Lunch Podcast #64 – Ninja Day!

I’m honored to have been a guest on the always awesome Nerd Lunch Podcast, especially for Episode #64 where we observed and celebrated that which is the most beloved and important day of the holiday season, NINJA DAY.

In this Ninja-tastic episode of Nerd Lunch, we watch and review Ninja III: The Domination starring Lucinda Dickey (of Breakin’ and Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo fame) as an aerobics instructor who gets possessed by the spirit of an avenging ninja and goes on an epic killing rampage. Why the Oscars passed on this one, I will never understand.

Ninja III: The Domination

Join me, CT, Jeeg, and Pax for awkward discussions about ninjas doing awesome ninja-y things, playing arcade games while wearing leotards, how V8 Juice is better than sex, freakishly excessive body hair, and why Ninja IV: The Prosecution needs to happen. I hope you like Vanilla Ice.

Listen here:

Nerd Lunch Podcast #64 – Ninja Day

The Cult Film Club is here to rescue you from boring movies.

The cat’s sort of already out of the bag about this, but a few posts ago I hinted at my involvement in a new podcast project, and now I can officially announce it:

Cult Film Club

I, along with hosts Paxton Holley of Cavalcade of Awesome and Shawn Robare of Branded in the 80s, have combined our powers of awesome to bring you Cult Film Club, a monthly podcast and blog about MOVIES WE LOVE TO DEATH–the weirder, more obscure, or awesomely bad, the better. We’ll be covering movies from the 60s, 70s, 80s, and beyond, with a good mix of action, martial arts, exploitation, comedy, westerns, drama and probably even some that we’ll be at a loss to properly categorize because they’re just that ridiculous.  We’ll also be rotating host duties and movie selection every episode, so you’ll get to experience the full breadth of our amazing and/or terrible taste in movies. And trust me, the movies will be amazing and/or terrible.

Listen to our promo:

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I am DYING to tell you what movie we’ll be covering in our first episode, but you’ll just have to wait until this Wednesday, December 5th to find out since that’s when our first episode drops. But here’s a hint–it stars someone really famous who loves hookers and blow. I know, there’s SO MANY PEOPLE IT COULD BE.

Couple of other things I wanted to mention real quick:

Oh, one more thing — please help us out by subscribing to us on iTunes. (You can just lie to us and say you listen regularly, we won’t check up on it. But I hope you’ll listen anyway!)