Seasonal Dread

So it seems like winter is going to be a little clingy this year.  The cold grip of the dark months is reluctant to release us into the warm embrace of spring and summer!  The trees are beginning to bloom, flowers have sprouted up from beneath the soil, and we’ve already had several days in the 70’s.  Yet alas we are once more plunged into the 20’s and 30’s and slapped with frost and snow.  Then with a violent whiplash it thaws for a few days and teases our senses with a few hours of warmth before decimating our hopes and dreams with more cold and schizophrenic flurries!

However when you think about it, how bad can it really be?  We know a warm-up is around the corner (eventually) we just have to wait it out a few weeks until our planet’s tilting axis can really set into place and hit us with a little heat.

Now here’s a question:  Which is worse, a lingering winter that delays our joyous springtime making us anxious with anticipation?  OR a prolonged autumn that teases us with warmth but which leaves us dreadful for we know it can’t keep away the inevitable encroachment of winter?

Personally I love the winter so I don’t see anything wrong with either of these options.

That being said, just because one loves snow and cold doesn’t mean they’re not susceptible to the dismal affect it can have on ones mood!  If the winter months were simply a solid stretch of crisp, sub-zero temperatures, with piles of snow and ice slowly accumulating over the months it would be perfect.  However there are always those gross stretches of winter, usually at the start and end of the season, where the world is just snowless and barren and grey and bland.  Those inglorious times when it’s not quite cold enough to freeze and the ground is frothy with mud and slush.  Sidewalks, cars, and roads are washed out with thick coatings of salt and the earth and sky seem to swirl into a colorless smear of greige.  Trees are bare, grass is trampled, and any other plant life is shrived and brown.

That’s when I’m not a fan of winter.  That’s when I find winter depressing.  When the world seems like a silent, cold husk, and all hope is lost.

While flipping through my notebook I found a poem I wrote that deals with this subject:

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‘Late Autumn’ by Hugh Bolton Jones

Thoughts at Late Autumn

Nature in an unnatural state, 

A monument between moments.

 

Sunlight strung through barren limbs, 

Where once drapped abundant shade

 

The beams bring about warm contrast, 

Against cool breeze and rock I sit upon

 

Distant sun persists cross sky and face,

Minds grow chilled as adjacent solstice snarls

 

A great Titan looms on haunches plotting,

A dead season to brood atop the world

 

And like those dimwitted lords of Othrys,

The Yule tramples white uncautiously

 

To consider evasion as unheralded it proceeds,

To die in grey vaporous thoughts of ennui

 

Struck with cyclical amnesia fearful, despondent,

In mortality, as behind so ahead, is forgot

 

Soon though the phoenix arises us anew

The grip of stasis released and revived

Chilled, bitter life, greyed again greens

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The Eternia Restoration 2016

It should be stated that I have three older siblings.  Much older siblings in fact.  When I was born my two sisters had already moved out and the next youngest, my brother, was turning 18 and was on his way to leaving the house as well.  Growing up I was essentially an only child, as such I quickly developed a love of toys.  There was something great about being able to create your own entertainment through imaginative play which really clicked with me.  Wherever I went I’d bring along a few cars or action figures for the trip in case things got boring or I found that the mood required a high speed chase or epic battle scene.

One of my earliest collections of toys were the Masters of the Universe figures and playsets.  In fact it was probably one of the earliest fandoms to which I belonged.  As a kid I loved the He-Man cartoon and would spend hours recreating the battles and adventures of that crazy post-apocalyptic fantasy world of Eternia.  In the basement of my childhood home I had a large corner that was dedicated as a play area where I kept most of my toys and playsets.  There were representatives from several classic toy lines lingering around in that basement.  Star Wars (of course), Transformers, GoBots, Voltron, and even Rainbow Brite (I’m not ashamed!) but dominating the playscape was He-Man and the Masters of the Universe!

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The art of the Masters of the Universe franchise is outstanding and this poster sums up my era of collecting the figures.

From around the ages of 4 to 6 Castle Grayskull stood at the center of my toy multiverse like a dull green beacon of adventure!  I had what seemed like a legion of heroes and villains to choose from along with several of the zany and seemingly inefficiently engineered vehicles.  Swords of power and magic staves were strewn across the carpet just waiting to be taken up in combat by the most worthy of heroes or misshapen of monsters.  Skeletor, Hordak, He-Man, Buzz-Off.  These were names of legend.  The epic storylines I would construct would incorporate many of my other toys until seemingly every toy I owned had vowed their loyalty to one side or the other in the continuous struggle of good versus evil.

The laws of physics and rules of logic did not apply to my corner of the basement which made those epic struggles all the more fun.

However there was one rule to that play area, the rule of Mom!  Specifically Mom asked that I keep my toys picked up and tidy when I was done.  No doubt this was some attempt by my parents to teach me about responsibility and the importance of taking proper care of my possessions.  Having children of my own now I completely understand but at the time it was really putting a cramp in my style, more importantly it was hindering He-Man’s quests which would often span several days, picking up where they’d left off during the previous afternoon.

How was I expected to pick up my things when Skeletor had just invaded the castle and was holding Ram Man hostage?  Man-At-Arms just called in Optimus Prime for assistance and if I put it all away now I’ll never remember who had already been killed off and who was only slightly wounded?

However time and time again I was asked to keep my toys picked up and the basement tidy and time and time again I would forget, half-ass it, or outright refuse until finally my other had enough.

“Keep your toys cleaned up or I’m getting rid of your He-Man toys.”

Cue the Ennio Morricone music.  A challenge had been thrown out.  Our eyes locked in a silent but intense stare.

I feel that I must point out here that I would not describe myself as having been a defiant kid or someone who by any means challenged authority but I was, and to this day still am, extremely stubborn.  When I feel like I’m being wronged I’ll double down and hold my ground.  Unfortunately for me my mother is the same way.

Now I was young, I don’t recall the exact details of what happened next, but as you might expect I did not keep my toys picked up or at least didn’t keep them picked up to the standards of my mother.  Believing Mom to be bluffing I was utterly taken aback when like a galactic crushing cyclone my mother came swooping down into the basement and began disassembled Castle Grayskull, the Fright Zone, and Hordak’s Slime Pit.  She meticulously plucked up every multicolored weapon; melee, energy, or otherwise.  He-Man, his friends, and enemies were unceremoniously bagged up together with seemingly no appreciation for their deeply ingrained and often conflicting friendships and rivalries.

In an instant Eternia was completely wiped out, it was like millions of plastic voices had cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.  It was Alderaan all over again, if Alderaan were a series of techo-medieval kingdoms populated by barbarians and beast men.  (Who knows, maybe it was, we’ve never had a real good look at Alderaan at this point.)

I was told my He-Man toys had been thrown away and that was the end of that.

In the intervening years other toys would come and go.  The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would eventually rise to prominence and surpass He-Man and his friends in number and overall interest.  But there was always a soft spot in my heart for the denizens of Eternia and the few small pieces of He-Man accessories and memorabilia which managed to slip through the cracks would go on to become artifacts of great import in my future play.

Whether or not that experience has left any indelible emotional scarring, who’s to say?  I’ll ask my psychologist when I see him next week.

It wasn’t until years later, around age 9 or 10, when I was sent into our crawl spaces in search of holiday decorations, and I discovered the truth!  My Masters of the Universe toys hadn’t been tossed out like so much fantastic garbage but had simply been stashed away, hidden from me and simply awaiting to be rediscovered.  Occasionally afterwards I’d covertly work my way back through the racks of clothes and stacks of boxed junk in the crawl space in order to get back to my old friends.  I’d pick through the toys remembering how awesome they were and matching them up with their distinctive armor and weaponry.  Even at that time I didn’t dare take them out beyond the crawl space for fear that my mother might have simply forgotten they were up there and upon discovering them would finish the job once and for all!

Well now after all those years I’ve finally freed the citizens of Eternia from the bondage of those attic boxes and have decided to make use of them in a new series of blog posts I’m calling The Eternia Restoration 2016.  If you’re familiar with my Terrordrome Renovation 2011 then you’ll know what to expect!  The short answer is I’ll be going through these old toys, cleaning them up, putting them back together, and just generally restoring them to as much of their former glory as is now possible.

So let’s get right down to it!

For starters here are a few shots of the toys I’ll be cleaning up.  These Masters of the Universe figures, vehicles and playsets have seen a lot of action and are far from complete.  Overall however they were really in much better shape than I expected!

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The heroes and villains directly from their cardboard imprisonment. For the record at this time they all smelled like a lovely melange of Moss Man and Stinkor odors.

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The remaining accessories. Already we can tell there are a lot missing.

 

Next we have the vehicles and war machines of the Masters of the Universe!

 

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The majestic Dragon Walker. The zaniest design for a vehicle ever produced and the best part is that it’s motorized! Here’s hoping we can get it to work!

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Stridor. The mechanical mount of Eternia’s heroes.

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Skeletor’s Land Shark. Watch out all you celebrity billionaire business folk, this is an actual Shark Tank!

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The Wind Raider. This is the oldest of the vehicles I have. It’s missing several parts and is sadly in the worst shape.

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Attack Track. Another highly illogical mode of transportation and it too is motorized!

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Battle Bones. This has always been my favorite. Essentially the bus of Eternia but also a handy carrying case when visiting friends and family.

 

Finally here we have the big guns, the playsets.  I was lucky enough to have not only Castle Grayskull, but the Fright Zone, and Hordak’s Slime pit as well!  Still in pieces I really want to clean these suckers up before reassembling them.

 

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Castle Grayskull. Surprisingly almost all of the castles parts and decals seems to have survived the years in exile.

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The Fright Zone and Slime Pit also seem to be in good shape though I haven’t had time yet to pull them out and sort through to find out.

 

FINALLY we’ll end this with another bit of good news: I’m happy to announce the reunion of He-Man with his sister She-Ra!  Huzzah!  As fate would have it our house was already in the possession of a She-Ra collection which my wife saved from her childhood house a few years earlier!

 

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She-Ra the Princess of Power and her pals.  Although my wife Lauren kept these heroines hair on fleek she seems to have lost all of their accessories.    

 

 

UPDATE: The New Hit Meme

So you may remember a few weeks ago I had a post showing off the new Star Wars/droid related meme I had created featuring the phrase I Think I Just Voided The Warranty.  If you don’t recall that entry of Mindless Philosophy you can check it out here!

In that blog I encouraged you the reader(s) to take this meme and put it to good use beyond my initial Star Wars referencing.  It has some solid meme potential  and if we can just get a few outlets for it the Voided Warranty meme just might spread across the entirety of the interwebs as any good meme does.

As it turned out one dedicated reader (a student of this particular brand of Mindless Philosophy who is now earning top marks) by the name of Tim McFarland submitted the first few additions to the Voided Warranty library of memes!

Below are Tim’s creations, and if you’d like to hear more from this Tim McFarland character you can expect to learn more about him in an upcoming addition of our ongoing People I Know segment!

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A late entry from the meme manufacturer himself.

 

That is all!

Minute by Minute

 

One of the benefits of being a lifelong, outspoken Star Wars fan is that sooner or later you don’t really have to go out of your way to find cool or interesting Star Wars stuff.  Eventually everyone I know realized that a large portion of my conscious thought is focused on Star Wars and unless they’re talking about Star Wars the chances are pretty high that I’m not listening.  Therefore my friends and family are constantly bringing new and exciting Star Wars tidbits to my attention and it’s great!  Whether it’s production news, toy releases, or simply attempting to test my knowledge base I seem to constantly be engaged in one Star Wars conversation or another.

Recently a friend brought something to my attention which has become a new tangent for my Star Wars obsession.  This particular tangent is a podcast entitled Star Wars Minute.  Without the slightest bit of hyperbole Star Wars Minute is a pure work of genius.  It’s one of those simple, yet brilliant concepts that is begrudgingly infuriating only because you didn’t come up with the idea yourself.

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The main premise of the podcast is that the two hosts, Alex Robinson and Pete “The Retailer” Bonavita, watch the Star Wars movies one minute at a time, every day, Monday through Friday, and break those minutes apart, analyze them, celebrate them, and most importantly delve into hilarious prolonged discussions about each glorious minute.  Starting back in 2013 the hosts worked their way through every minute of Star Wars, Empire, and Jedi, and are now currently well into The Phantom Menace.

At this point those of you reading are probably thinking one of three things:

A:  “Oh wow!  This sounds great!”

B:  “I mean, I like Star Wars but this seems like too much . . . . “

C:  “How the hell can you talk, at length, about one minute of a movie?”

Allow me to address these questions before I continue.

A:  You are absolutely correct.

B:  It really isn’t overwhelming at all.  Sure there are a lot of episodes but you can really jump in anywhere, or just pace yourself and start from the beginning.  The episodes are generally 20 – 40 minutes long and if you like Star Wars I guarantee you’ll find yourself soaring through them in no time.

C:  That’s the beauty of the Star Wars movies, there is a lot to talk about.  If you really think about it, in any given minute of any of the Star Wars movies there are any number of elements coming together at the same time on screen.  You’ve got the actors, the characters, the aliens and ships of the Star Wars universe, the production style and cinematic choices of George Lucas, John Williams’ music, the various special effects, behind the scenes trivia, various drafts of the screenplay, and the list goes on.  So in short there is a great deal to talk about, both good and bad, in every minute of these films!

Now I don’t know the exact origins of Star Wars Minute or the duo that hosts it but here is what I’ve uncovered from their on-air conversations and a bit of interwebs research.

Alex Robinson is a comic book writer and artist based out of New York City.  Pete the Retailer was a manager at the New York location of the cult entertainment megastore Forbidden Planet.  Based on pure conjecture and their roster of podcast guests I’m guessing that these two friends pooled their network of contacts within the writing, cartooning, and comedy scenes and brought together this brilliant daily podcast with an expertly understated flare.

Pete and Alex have a great chemistry on-air and their conversations and dissections of the Star Wars movies are both informative and entertaining.  It’s like sitting around with your friends watching the movies, pointing out the interesting aliens that are stumbling around in the background, examining the confident ineptitude of Han Solo, and really analyzing the whininess of Jedi-to-be Luke Skywalker.  However I don’t want it to seem like the hosts exclusively make fun of the Star Wars movies, this isn’t a podcast version of MST3K.  Pete and Alex have an honest love for the fantasy/sci-fi adventures from that galaxy far, far away.

It should also be pointed out that Pete and Alex are Star Wars fans dating back to these films earliest days and the two of them are very knowledgeable about the fictional facts of the Star Wars universe, but not too knowledgeable; which in this case is an asset to a show such as this.  Although these guys are Star Wars super fans with a long running successful Star Wars podcast I do find myself occasionally shaking my head in dismay at some of the Star Wars knowledge they slip up on.  That however leaves the hosts and their guests open for a great amount of comedic speculation meaning the show doesn’t dwell too heavily on the practiced regurgitation of Star Wars lore.

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Sure we all know Wuher was the bartender but Chalman owned the Mos Eisley Cantina.  Duh!

Speaking of the guests, almost every episode of Star Wars Minute has guest hosts who are Star Wars fans and experts of varying degrees.  Most of the guests seem to be friends and colleagues of the hosts who each add interesting and humorous points of view that help keep the daily podcast fresh week to week.  A few of my favorite guests that I’ve heard so far are Tim Kreider, Chris Radtke, Jackie Kashian, and the best of all Tony Consiglio.  When perusing the various episodes keep an eye (and ear) out for those guest stars and make it a point to listen to weeks when they appear.

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If you can appreciate this image, then you’d probably appreciate Star Wars Minute.

Overall I’m just going to say this: if you’re a Star Wars fan and are looking for a new Star Wars related podcast to listen to I highly recommend Star Wars Minute.  You can jump right into the daily show which is now covering the Prequel Trilogy or you can go back to the beginning and make your way through the hundreds of episodes which minute-by-minute examine the classic Original Trilogy films.

And Pete and Alex if you’re ever in need of an extremely knowledgeable Star Wars fan for an open guest spot just go ahead and send me a message.  I’ll just be over hear studying my many tomes of Star Wars lore!

That is all!

Friday Funny Pages: Can I Touch It?

This happens every time Peter and Mary Jane stop by to visit Thor.

This image is just so perfect for several reasons.  First off Mary Jane’s comment of course, she just seems so very interested in the subject.  Next is Thor’s suspicious side-eye.  You can almost see the God of Thunder asking himself the same question we are, “Is she really asking about my hammer?”  Lastly just take a look at Peter Parker’s face.  What more needs said?

Ah, poor Spider-Man never quite able to ever keep up with the big guys, whomp, whomp!

Friday Funny Pages: I Want To Prepare For War!

Now we prepare!  Prepare for war . . . . as we always have”  With an orgy!

Hotchi motchi!  Yes, let us prepare for war!  This is how everyone should prepare for every war!  I think there would be a lot fewer fatalities in all wars that follow such preparations.  If you haven’t guessed by now this comes from a Wonder Woman comic, from which issue exactly, I’m not sure.  It doesn’t really matter.  I’m guessing this isn’t actually supposed to be portraying a lesbian gang bang, rather it’s supposed to be some sort of sporting wrestling practice.  Honestly though, look at those two in the foreground, that doesn’t look like any wrestling moves I’ve ever seen.

This panel immediately brings up two thoughts: 1)  How do Superman and Batman get anything done while this place exists. and 2) I really want to start a series that features Blue Beetle (Ted Kord) and Booster Gold dressing in drag in an attempt to gain access to the training grounds of the Amazons.  An. Entire. Series.  It would be fantastic.  It would be like Bosom Buddies, but with superheroes.

Anyway, back to what you were doing!

That is all!