Pokémon: Is This Real Life?

20 years ago Pokémon was introduced in the United States with the release of Pokémon Red and Blue.

At the time I was 15 years old and probably skewed a little old for the games target audience. (Nintendo was clearly trying to corner the 10 year old asexual Venusian subterranean crabling demographic, of which I was obviously not a part of.)  Regardless I quickly came to love the game and its concepts and have been a huge fan ever since!

The original Gameboy games were genius, entertaining, strange, and fun.

The first cartoon series was goofy, endearing, and hilarious. (Also quite a bit was lost in translation which only seemed to make it better.)

The wave of countless Pokémon merchandise which followed was impressive, of course including some great toys which I also partook of.

The Team Rocket Meowth Balloon vehicle.  Which I personally own.

My personal interest in Pokémon can be traced back to a single specific moment which I distinctly recall.  I was in my bedroom at my childhood home and was reading a magazine or comic book (most likely an X-Men title) and I turned the page to a distinctive full page ad.  On that page I saw a crowd of small impish animals clustered together while a giant cartoon net was falling down over them.  In parenthesis the phrase ‘Got ya!’ was scrawled nearby and in the bottom corner of the ad was the (now synonymous) title and phrase, ‘Pokémon: Gotta Catch ‘Em All!

I instantly found the image very intriguing and I actually remember stopping to examine the ad, which was very odd for me at the time.  As a kid when I was reading comic books the ads would, at most, get a brief aggravated eye roll as I disappointedly realized that my storyline had been interrupted.  But there I was inspecting the cartoonish designs of these unknown creatures.

At the time I had no idea what any of them were.  There was a little barking rat, a squat yellow squirrel, some sort of floating rock creature, a fire breathing dragon, an evilly grinning purple spiky thing, giant insects, a tortoise with guns on its back, and a large stoic faced teddy bear.

I immediately loved the designs and style of these things and whatever Pokémon was, I was already sold.

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Pokemon really made me appreciate the aesthetic of ‘Demented Pet Shop’ 

That image was particularly difficult to find online and I have still been unable to find a clean image of it anywhere.  Everything I can come up with is either a scan, or like the image below, a picture of the ad itself.  (It is still one of my favorite Pokémon images and I’d love to one day get a print of it to hang in my office.)

Looking it over in my youth I saw that Nintendo was listed in the small print at the bottom of the ad I realized it was a video game of some sort which was exciting, however at the time I didn’t have a console, only the handheld Gameboy.  So alas I thought I’d have to wait until a friend picked it up in order to see what it was about.  Thankfully of course, that wasn’t the case.

From there it was a whirlwind of Pokémania!

I picked up Pokémon Blue first.  However once I realized I’d have to trade between the Red version in order to follow the mandate of the game, and indeed catch them all, I wound up buying the Charizard emblazoned Red Version as well.  (And although I eventually had several friends who played the game, initially I wasn’t sure I’d find anyone who was interested.)

Soon the Pokémon cartoon was in full swing as well, which became my first real experience with anime and the various tropes and staples of that animated genre.  I found the show really zany and hilarious, I loved all the characters, and it helped to flesh out the pixelated world of the games.

For years Pokémon was steadily on my radar.

1998 – Pokémon Yellow launched, essentially combining the continuities of the cartoon and the first two games.

August 1998 – Pokémon Stadium hits the Nintendo 64.  Probably my favorite Pokémon spin-off game ever made.  Not only could you upload and battle your Pokémon with friends on glorious 3D rendered battlefields, you could also play the Gameboy games on the big screen.  All that AND there were a ton of GREAT mini games that were fun, challenging, and really quite funny.

December of that year the Pokémon card game made its way into the mix joining the other card games I geeked out with, Star Wars, Babylon 5, Magic, and then Pokémon!

1999 – Super Smash Bros. hit the scene featuring the quintessential Pokémascot Pikachu.  With whom I would regularly use to provide a Smash Bros. smack down.

November 1999 – Pokémon Gold and Silver hit the scene and a new Pokémon adventure was under way, beginning a regular pattern of Poké games which have found success and innovations to varying degrees through the years.

With the most recent Nintendo 3DS games the handheld Pokémon world has been completely rendered in 3D and fully animated.  Pokémon are traded across the globe on international servers.  And friends can talk smack directly through their 3DS, in real-time, from across the country when battling online!

It really is impressive to see how the Pokémon franchise has . . . . EVOLVED! (Get it?)

Well now we have Pokémon Go, the franchise’s first foray into the mobile gaming market.

At first glance Pokémon Go appears to be a bit of a downgrade in terms of gameplay, essentially a simplified cell phone version of the Pokémon Card Game.  However upon closer examination it is much more than that.

From my experience with Pokémon Go so far, it appears to be a real world expression of the long established Pokémon universe and the best kind of fan service.  I mean this property is now 20 years old and there are very few people, children and adults alike, who don’t at least know who Pikachu is and Pokémon Go lets you bring that world out into the real world.

Part of the enduring appeal of the Pokémon games is the universe in which the game and show take place.  Across the various islands of the setting Pokémon and Pokémon training is a prevalent way of life and a common bond which the citizens of that world actively embrace.  The Pokémon are fantastical companions, champions, and partners in that world.  In the games there are people around every corner eager to show off their favorite Pokémon and put them to the test in battle.

Throughout the adventures of the games there are clumps of NPCs waiting to square off against you and your Pokémon team.  There are ill-prepared school kids with weak little Rattatas and Caterpies that they’ve caught in the school yard.  There are construction workers in hardhats working around cities with steely Magnemite companions.  Groups of swarthy leather clad punks may try to jump you with their poison types.  Cyclists and swimmers will challenge you along the way.  Criminals, old folks, librarians, shop keepers, EVERYONE has Pokémon in the Pokéworld, and because everyone has them everyone has something in common.

It’s just one of those quaint, fun, fictional universes where any individuals who try hard and do good will win, and eventually defeat the evil shadowy organizations like Team Rocket and others who secretly work against the ideals of that world by exploiting Pokémon for their own greedy ends.

I’ve had several conversations with friends over the years that involved, in some form or another, the phrases “Wouldn’t it be great if Pokémon were real.” OR “If I could live in a video game universe, it’d be the Pokémon universe.” OR “If I could just have one actual Pokémon it would be X, Y, Z.”  And watching the show those feelings are reinforced as you see the young idealistic trainers go off and adventure across the globe.

Now let me tell you a little story about Pokémon Go.

The other night at around 10pm I was letting my dogs out (my real life Pokémon, apparently I’m a terrible trainer though because they never battle for me.) and as the puggles were sniffing around I flipped out my cell phone and switched on Pokémon Go just to see if I might catch a Weedle or Bellsprout while I stood there in the backyard watching them pee.

Looking through the game I noticed a Pokémon silhouette nearby (for those who aren’t in the know that means there was a type of Pokémon lingering around which I had not yet captured.)  Being the Pokémaster I am I immediately knew that shadowed figure was the shape of an Electabuzz, a fairly rare find and something I hadn’t even seen yet in the game.

After the dogs had completed their business I ushered them back inside and set off to find this fabled electric type Pokémon.  Although navigating the in-game radar of Pokémon Go can be a bit tricky I was able to determine that the Electabuzz seemed to be on the next street over.

So I briskly began walking down the street and around the corner.

I could see the Electabuzz footprints diminishing, meaning I was moving in the right direction and getting closer.

As I approached the darkened corner I saw two other guys on bicycles come racing toward me up the street.  They were maybe in their mid to late twenties from what I could tell and their sudden appearance put me slightly on edge.  Although there wasn’t anything necessarily threatening about them, it was 10 at night, dark, the middle of the week, and I was now outnumbered.

However before I could let my fears get the best of me one of the guys held up his cell phone and circled around the end of the street on his bike.

“You playing Pokémon?”  He called out to me cheerfully.

“I am actually!”  I said relieved.

“Are you looking for the Electabuzz too?”  He followed up.

“I am!”  I quickly replied.

Both of the cyclists chuckled and again held up their phones.  “It’s about three houses down this street!”  They informed me.

I thanked them and they rode on their merry way while I marched down the street, ran into that Electabuzz precisely where they said it would be, and captured that sumbitch right then and there!

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My Electabuzz cries himself to sleep every night because he knows he’ll never capture a gym

As I was smugly walking back to my house checking out the stats on my most recent catch I had a thought.

“That was a very Pokémon-esque interaction.”  I thought to myself.  “Just walking down the street hunting rare Pokémon, when suddenly I run into a pair of other trainers on bicycles, we have a brief encounter that sets me up for the big catch at the end.”

It was like something straight out of Pokémon Red/Blue like riding down Cycling Road or climbing the Pokétower.

“Maybe Pokémon finally is real?”  I concluded.

Well done Niantic.  Well done Nintendo.  Keep it fun fellow players.

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Why Rogue One Might Be Better Than the Force Awakens

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Star Wars fans should always be quick to remember that the Star Wars movies were not created in a vacuum (regardless of their various deep space settings).  George Lucas himself has stated that the Star Wars movies were essentially an amalgam of some of his favorite movies and genres assembled within a new and different science fiction setting.

For instance the Dune novels by Frank Herbert are directly referenced more than once in the Star Wars films and it doesn’t take much additional digging to find their influence throughout.

The samurai film epics of Japanese director Akira Kurosawa were another major influence on George Lucas and many elements from the movie The Hidden Fortress are woven into the narrative of the original Star Wars movie.

The film noir genre itself and movies like The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca were ones Lucas grew up enjoying and many of the seedier elements of the Star Wars universe find their origins with them.  The Mos Eisley Cantina and Jabba the Hutt are a direct result of Lucas’ love of the gritty gangster ridden noir films.

There are of course other influences and aspects of the creation of the Star Wars movies which can be traced to many different sources; various science fiction, other films, fantasy literature, mythology, and even real world politics all of which are too numerous to mention here.  All of this is to say that originally Star Wars was never about the things for which it has now become famous, like reinventing the movie industry or altering the perception of science fiction on the big screen.  Instead I would argue that Star Wars was Lucas’ attempt to reintroduce many of the elements of “classic” Hollywood back into the harsh and often dreary cinemascape of the 1970’s.

At this point I must immediately interject here that I in no way believe Star Wars to be a rip-off or even unoriginal, in fact quite the opposite.  Although the Star Wars movies are heavy on familiar themes, pulp fiction references, and film making of a bygone era (even the scene transitions are antiquated wipes, pans, and dissolves) it was all pieced together in a wholly unique blend of space opera epic which introduced the world to the lightsaber, X-Wings, TIE Fighters, Wookiees, droids, and a whole slew of iconic planets, characters, aliens, and starships.

My point is this: As a long time Star Wars fan I have cultivated the opinion that, as a general rule, Star Wars (in all it’s varied forms and formats) is at its best when it emulates other things and frames them within the Star Wars universe; and doesn’t try too hard to be “Star Wars”.  Star Wars is not purely sci-fi, it isn’t purely fantasy, and it isn’t meant to be dramatic high art.  When any of these elements over shadows the others or when the elements of Star Wars itself begin to dominate the storyline the result is failure.

From my experience this balancing game falls apart in the expanded universe books, games, and other forums.  Though there is an argument for such an imbalance within the prequel movies as well and the reason why that trilogy has become so universally panned (though all of that is a topic for another time).

With the Star Wars novels in particular, especially the now defunct old EU, the authors attempt to capture the feeling of Star Wars too much by directly referencing the Star Wars universe in an awkward forced way.  Or they focus far too much on the sci-fi elements of the setting, presenting high tech jargon while casually rattling off obscure alien species and bits of Star Wars trivia in order to seem authentic.  All the while lauding a story lines which might seem clever in other sci-fi but seem out of place in the context of Star Wars.

There are however some great Star Wars novels, some of my favorites are the Death Troopers books by Joe Schreiber which are essentially horror/zombie novels set in the Star Wars universe.  Additionally Cloak of Deception and Darth Plagueis by James Luceno take up the staples of political thrillers set during the time of the prequel era and include all the Sith intrigue and Jedi apolitical maneuvering you’d expect, along with plenty of action and starships.

Similarly many of the best episodes of the Clone Wars series were when Dave Filoni and company played with various concepts and framed genre and  various trope story lines which had not been seen in the Star Wars universe beforehand.  The Clone Wars cartoon included murder mysteries, heist episodes, and giant kaiju-like monster attacks; all under the interpretations of the Star Wars universe.

Even the Star Wars video games have been at their best when they simply borrow from other popular video games and lend their unique and exciting Star Wars spin to the premise and gameplay.  Star Wars Battlefront was essentially Battlefield 1942 in space.  Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds was very much the Star Wars version of StarcraftStar Wars Racer, the Phantom Menace podracing game, was the Star Wars answer to any number of popular racing games of the day.  Those video games were GREAT!  Sure there were other impressive Star Wars games through the ages but many of those put a tight focus on specific characters or directly put the players in control of reenacting scenes from the movies.

Other Star Wars games did not stand up as well.

One of my least favorite games were the Force Unleashed series.  I believe they suffered from trying far too hard to feel Star Wars.  There certainly was some enjoyment in the array of Force powers available to Starkiller, the main character of the games, and the sandbox of destruction possible as a result.  However that game was a ridiculous mosaic of random elements from the Star Wars saga combined with fanboy wish fulfillment, wrapped in an incomprehensible story arc which was absolutely contradictory to the canon of the movies themselves.  I know a lot of people enjoyed that pair of games but not me and I’m sorry, it’s how I feel.

The only real example of a Star Wars property making a success from overtly trying to be “Star Warsy” was The Force Awakens, which does it’s best to redesign the original movie nearly beat for beat while adding several new and exciting characters and twists throughout.  In fact my biggest complaint regarding Episode VII is the plots general unoriginality.  However the characters and overall execution were so great that the redundancies in the narrative could be overlooked.

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This December will see the release of the first Star Wars spinoff movie, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (ugh.  Just call them Anthology Movies).  Rogue One is being touted as a war film, a pilot ace flick, and a heist movie all taking place within the setting of the Star Wars universe.  It is because of what we know regarding the plot that I believe Rogue One will be a great Star Wars movie and possibly better than The Force Awakens, for the reasons stated above.

The Star Wars universe is precisely that, an expansive diverse universe of possibilities and has the possibility to be so much more than a story of the Skywalker family and the Jedi.  Star Wars is also not simply a pattern of film making which if done right can be repeated ad nauseam into infinity.  And the Star Wars universe certainly is not just another sci-fi franchise that any tired sci-fi story can pasted onto, sprinkled with a few lightsabers, and titled Star Wars.  It is the exoticness of the well-worn settings and pervasive mandate for adventure which the Star Wars universe was built upon and which is able to take old stories and reform them in new ways.

Hopefully this is the case with Rogue One.

I really hope Rogue One takes off (pun intended) and is a big hit for Disney and Lucasfilm and I would love to see this first spin off movie blow The Force Awakens out of the water.  I’ve said this before, and although I have absolutely no ill will towards the Force Awakens, but I really hope that in the long run Episode VII really isn’t anyone’s favorite Star Wars flick.  With so much new Star Wars on the horizon hopefully as new movies keep opening up in theaters they will continue to outdo the previous ones in new and different ways.

Eternia Restoration Part 2: Hand Washed Plastic Pectorals

It looks like it’s about time for the next installment of my Eternia Restoration Project and if you’ve been waiting for a close up look at the individual action figures of my Masters of the Universe collection, then this is the post for you!

Cleaning up this group of figures wasn’t as nearly as difficult as cleaning up the mouse-urine-soaked hoard of GI Joes that comprised my Terrordrome Renovation Project a few years back.  By comparison this toy restoration will seem as easy as a sparkling wave of magic issued from the elegant fingers of the mysterious Sorceress of Castle Grayskull!

To begin I separated all of the accessories and weapons, figured out exactly what I had, and (after a quick internet search) sorted them all out to the appropriate heroes and villains.  Then over the course of a few days I gathered up small batches of the figures and gave them a dunk in a bucket of soapy hot water, gently scrubbed them with a toothbrush, rinsed them off, vigorously shook out any excess water from their hollow abdomens, then toweled them off and let them dry over night.

Like I said most of these figures were in pretty good shape, all things considered.  Sadly several figures I thought to be complete were actually missing arms, accessories, or were just completely broken.  Also there were a couple of otherwise flawless figures who had fallen victim to unprovoked pet attacks and were irrevocably scarred by dog teeth.  Apparently the family dog at the time was deep in the puppy chewing stage when some of these figures entered my collection.

Battle wounds add character!

In a few of these cases I was able to take a very small pair of wire cutters and trim away some of the gnarly plastic snags and gouges.  After some delicate snips and clips it actually helped shape up some of the nastier bite marks, making the figures slightly less disfigured.

As far as cleanliness went though there really wasn’t much to contend with.  One or two of the Eternians had been tatted up with some marker at some point, a couple were just mysteriously sticky, but the only real troublesome figure was the legendary Moss Man.

Covered in a fine coat of coarse green felt, Moss Man not only had fur adhered to his stock Masters of the Universe body but said exterior moss was originally endowed with a distinct perfumed scent.  All of that situation; a brillo pad fur, adhesive undercoat, and whatever chemical magic was used to induce that smell combined with years of play meant that Moss Man had gathered a lot of gunk, identifiable and otherwise, all across his namesake moss!

Even cleaning Moss Man however was not an arduous task, he just took a little extra time as I gently brushed out the years of embedded carpet fibers and pet hair.

All in all the best way to describe this effort is to say that I spent a few hours of my free time giving sponge baths to a large group of musclebound men in my basement.

But enough about that let’s take a look at the results!

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Clearly Eternia has a shortage of shirts.  Pictured are two average varietals of He-Man on the ends, Thunder Punch He-Man on the left, and He-Man’s alter ego Prince Adam wielding his fuchsia sword middle right.  Thunder Punch He-Man is the most complete all the other He-Men pictured are missing most, if not all, of their accessories.

 

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Here we see a group of recently washed heroes of Eternia: Mekaneck, Cyclone, Wundar, and Ram Man.  Mekaneck is missing his armor, Cyclone is complete with his lenticular chest piece and shield.  Wundar is actually a mail away promotional variant of He-Man given away from Wonder Bread.  Fans and collectors gave the brown haired version the name Wundar and the name stuck!

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More heroes! Fisto (you read that right!), the aforementioned Moss Man, Man-E-Faces, and Roboto with theme song by Styx.  Moss Man is complete with his brown club.  Roboto is missing one of his interchangeable arms. Man-E-Faces and Fisto are missing their weapons.

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Childhood favorite Orco with his weird stack of coins accessory which features other characters pictures on them.  (Of course most of those are missing)  He also has a rip cord that would send him spinning.  Also pictured is a random Orco stamp that was in my collection.

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Baddest of bad asses SKELETOR seen here in his battle damage variety and undamagable original flavor!  Although battle damage Skeletor is missing his accessories I was ecstatic to find that the classic version was 100% intact!

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Four of my favorite baddies: Fakor, Trap Jaw, Stinkor (the villainous scented equivalent of Moss Man), and Tri-Clops.  These guys were the best at being the worst!  Whenever I was plotting evil deeds these would be my go to guys to make it happen.  However in the process they lost most of their accessories.  Except Stinkor, though at this point he has lost his distinctive scent.

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Skeletor’s B-Squad: Mosquitor, Whiplash, Webstor, and Spikor.  (I’m sensing a pattern here with the names.)  Whiplash was one of the figures that received the worst of the canine maulings.  Although you can’t quite see it in the picture his entire right arm is chewed all to hell.  A lot of cool action features with these four though, dripping blood, whipping tails, zip lines, and retractable arms!

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The Evil Horde!  A revitalization of the Masters of the Universe meant new and better figures!  Enter the Horde, these guys pulled double duty battling He-Man AND She-Ra.  Who has the time?  Seen here Mantenna, Hordak himself, Grizzlor, and Leech.  Leech had a great feature, he had a vacuum sealing mouth.  When you pressed a button on his back he could suction up to flat surfaces!

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Let’s not forget about King Hiss and the Snake Men!  Actually let’s go ahead and forget about them, I was never really much of a fan.  But these two were pretty cool, Rattlor and Sssqueeze.  In my story lines these guys were always on loan from King Hiss in order to repay Skeletor and/or Hordak a favor.  These were the only Snake Men to ever grace my MOTU collection

 

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Sadness.  Let us not forget our fallen heroes (and villains).  Here we have the broken toys.  Clawful, Man-at-Arms, and Trap Jaw.  Thankfully I had two Trap Jaws and the other was in fairly decent shape.  Unfortunately Clawful is missing an arm, and that crazy crab curmudgeon was one of my favorites!  Similarly Man-at-Arms has encountered an equally disarming fate.  I’ll be vigilantly on the lookout for these missing limbs as I occasionally go through old boxes at home and at my parents house!

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Once again we have my wife’s She-Ra collection, finally reuniting Prince Adam with his sister Princess Adora under the roof of Castle Grayskull!  Pictured: SweetBee, Frosta, Perfuma, She-Ra, Bow, Glimmer, Castaspella, and the jealous beauty Catra!

 

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And just for shits and giggles here is my small collection of Masters of the Universe figures from the early 2000’s as sculpted by the legendary Four Horsemen.  As a kid I wanted the original Merman and Beast Man but they always eluded me but that all changed in 2003!

Well there you have it!  Up next the VEHICLES!

 

That is all!

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.    

 

 

The Colonel’s Pants

So before you read any further I must warn you that I am about to discuss some very obscure Star Wars material, and will be arguing a point that may very well only be important to me.  When I say obscure I don’t mean a Wedge Antilles or Bossk level obscurity, think more obscure!  I’m talking about a specific character so minor that they only appear on screen for a few seconds and have absolutely no dialogue.  On top of that I’ll be nitpicking the details of that characters costume and posit some ideas which may go against the standard conventions for said character.  So if you’re not ready for some Star Wars deep cuts then get the fuck out!

Colonel Wullf Yularen.

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That is a name which in recent years has become only slightly more recognizable with Star Wars fans.  Before that Colonel Yularen was a character with very few background details and even fewer fans who seemed to give a shit about him.

In the original Star Wars (A New Hope) from 1977 Colonel Wullf Yularen appears in a single scene (though further on I will put forth the theory that Yularen actually appears a second time in that film.)  The colonel’s only film appearance (though possibly first of two) is during the infamous Death Star Conference Room scene where Grand Moff Tarkin informs his heads of staff that the Emperor has dissolved the senate and later Darth Vader chokes a guy.  Sitting directly next to Admiral Motti (the haughty Imperial who gets Force choked by Vader) you will see Colonel Wullf Yularen in his distinctive white uniform jacket.

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From the years of 1977 to 1995 the character was left unnamed and without a title or any background information whatsoever.  However in 1995 Colonel Wullf Yularen was first named and given a brief biography within the Star Wars Customizable Card Game put out by Decipher.  At the time the names and lore text of the cards were considered canon and it was there stated that the colonel was a leader of the Imperial Security Bureau contingent aboard the first Death Star.  After that the character found his way into subsequent Star Wars encyclopedias and information tomes that would be published later but little was done to further his biography.

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The Colonel Wullf Yularen card was printed in the original release of the Star Wars CCG

It was from this glance of the character of Yularen in the CCG and his concise but interesting biography which really made me a fan.  I would often try to include the colonel in my Star Wars decks despite the fact that he was not that powerful and his abilities not all that impressive.  This guy was briefing Tarkin on stuff and apparently in such good standing with the Emperor that he’s the one Palpatine sends to ensure everyone is towing the Imperial line.

Eventually in 2006 an action figure of Colonel Wullf Yularen was created in a special boxed set of the Death Star Briefing Room.  It was a joyous day for Yularen fans in particular or Imperial officer completeists in general.  However despite my personal excitement I was confused by the look of the figure whose uniform was entirely white, which is unlike any other standard Imperial uniform seen in the movies or the books.  In the expanded universe books Grand Admirals did wear all white uniforms but were also adorned with golden epaulets and the corresponding double rowed rank insignia.

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“Oops looks like my pants got mixed up in Thrawn’s laundry again and his with mine!”

A mystery and controversy had begun.

The controversy lies with the fact that Yularen was clearly defined in the lore as being part of the ISB, the Imperial Security Bureau.  The uniform of the ISB would eventually become associated with the black cap, white coat, and black pants which is seen on various officers in various background shots of the first Death Star.

The black/white/black uniform of the ISB was always sort of a mystery because it only ever appears in the first Star Wars movie and is only ever seen on the Death Star.  Until it was established as the accepted ISB uniform those Imperials were simply known as “Death Star Officers” or “Imperial Fleet Officers.”  Now as stated before Yularen only appears in A New Hope and is only on the Death Star and is later established as a high ranking officer in the ISB.  Do you follow me so far?

So with all of that in mind shouldn’t the pants of the action figure for Wullf Yularen have been black, and not white?  To me the answer was obvious, and clearly Hasbro had made a mistake.  That being said however he is such a minor character and the pants in question are never actually visible while the character is seated at the Death Star conference table.  Oh well what can you do?

The issue of the all-white uniform became further compounded when in 2008 a younger version of Wullf Yularen was included in the prequel cartoon series The Clone Wars.  In the series Yularen is given the rank of Admiral in the Republic fleet and works closely with Jedi knight Anakin Skywalker as they battle the forces of the Separatists.

Another banner moment for Yularen fans!  Who would have thought that we’d ever get more Wullf Yularen!  But alas this inclusion in the Clone Wars brings with it further Yularen scandal.

The wonderful Dave Filoni, director of the Clone Wars and it’s followup Star Wars Rebels, has stated that they decided to include the character of Wullf Yularen as a nod to the original trilogy and gave him the rank of Admiral in order to show his rise through the ranks to the position of Grand Admiral, a rank which the show’s creators mistakenly thought the character had attained at the time of A New Hope as signified by his white uniform jacket.

Once the mistake was realized a good old fashioned retcon was deployed which stated that Yularen retired from the Navy at some point after the Clone Wars with the rank of Admiral but was later personally asked by the Emperor himself to reenlist with the ISB in a new position as colonel aboard the Death Star.

However the damage was already done.  Despite the relatively unadorned rank insignia of Wullf Yularen (three red squares and three blue squares) along with a preestablished history, the idea that Wullf Yularen was a Grand Admiral at the time of A New Hope had found a foothold within the fandom.

Until now!  It is at this time that I would like to present my evidence of precisely how Colonel Wullf Yularen should be depicted and to firmly establish his position as colonel within ISB operations.

First of all as most of us know by now the Expanded Universe was completely wiped out just prior to the release of the newest Star Wars installment, The Force Awakens.  That meant that pretty much anything was once again up for grabs in the Star Wars universe and unless something explicitly happened in the first six movies or the Clone Wars cartoon it was no longer considered Star Wars canon.

However the first expanded universe book of this new canon was titled “Tarkin” and documented the rise to power of the titular character.  In that book Wullf Yularen made a few very minor appearances and thankfully was firmly reestablished once again as a colonel in the ISB.

So that bit of business is taken care of.

Now for his uniform.  A couple of years ago I put together an ISB uniform of my own to wear to conventions, Death Star briefings, or fancy dinners.  I figured an Imperial officer costume would be a nice alternative to my much more cumbersome stormtrooper armor.  Wanting to do something a bit more unique then the typical grey fleet officer I decided to go with the Imperial Security Bureau look.  Black cap, white officer jacket, black pants.  As a fan of Yularen I gave myself the rank of colonel and adorned my costume accordingly but I wanted to examine the movie with a fine toothed comb and seek out as many of the ISB uniforms as possible in order to make sure the details of mine were precise.  Through my observations I found that there are actually two variations of the ISB uniform in A New Hope.  One with the typical imperial cropped riding pants and tall boots and one with a straight leg and dress shoes.  Not a huge difference and from all observations my costume was spot on.  Below are most of the uniforms appearances in the film.

 

Then as I was going frame by frame looking for ISB officers aboard the Death Star I came across the scene where Han and Luke, disguised as stormtroopers escorting Chewbacca, are awaiting a turbolift to the detention area.  In that scene our heroes are passed by a pair of ISB agents.  These two agents are actually the clearest examples of the uniform in the movie and as I was examining them I realized something.  The officer on the right is Wullf Yularen!

Could that be?  Is that Colonel Yularen out and about walking the Death Star corridors?  It certainly appears that way to me, despite the addition of the black cap everything is exactly the same down to the rank insignia.  Unless there were two actors with the same face and same pristinely trimmed mustache on the set of Star Wars then I had to be looking at what was essentially an unacknowledged second appearance of Wullf Yularen!

Here take a look at the side by side comparisons.

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A second appearance by the colonel is completely in keeping with the rest of the film seeing as several of the Imperials from the conference room scene appear later in the movie.  Admiral Motti and General Tagge discuss the fate of Princess Leia with Tarkin and Vader after the conference room scene.  Chief Bast is seen in several scenes before and after, most notably as the officer who warns Grand Moff Tarkin that the Rebel’s attack against the Death Star might be more dangerous than previously expected.

What this whole long drawn out rant is trying to explain is that Colonel Wullf Yularen wears black pants and it’s irrefutably proven in one quick scene.

With the discovery of that full body shot of the colonel those black pants should now be considered official canon, despite the implications of the white panted action figure.  From everything that I’ve researched no one seems to have realized that one quick corridor scene is in fact a display of Wullf Yularen’s full uniform in motion.

So in the future whenever you’re discussing Star Wars or Star Wars Costuming with your friends, family, and colleagues and find yourself in an argument over the uniform of Wullf Yularen or of the ISB in general (as I’m sure happens on at least a weekly basis) feel free to point them in the direction of Mindless Philosophy and I’ll be glad to set them straight!

 

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A piece of fan art in the Clone Wars style which incorrectly depicts Wullf Yularen wearing white pants.

 

That is all!

People I Know: Jason Lemmon

This interview you are about to read has been the most difficult of the People I Know interviews to edit thus far.  There are several factors to this, one of which was my recent 100th Post post which surprisingly put me under a lot of pressure to perform.  Secondly it seems that these past few weeks have been hell-bent on doing everything they could to delay any and all progress I tried to make on posting this interview.  And thirdly the words of Jason E. Lemmon are not easily condensed down into a manageable blog length format.  It proved to be quite a struggle and some of his concise wisdom had to unfortunately be cut so that other gleaming Lemmon nuggets could shine through.

But who is Jason Lemmon you may be asking yourself.  He is an enigma.  A man of humor, yet a connoisseur of some of the most finely crafted dramatic works.  Jason seems to be an individual who stands alone, thinking for himself yet often can he be found in the company of throngs of his friends.  An individual of deliberate speech and mercurial wit.  Prepare yourselves for a glimpse into the mind of this one, this only, Jason Lemmon.

Joshua:  First of all Jason, thank you for sitting down with me here today for this interview.  I’ve got some hard-hitting questions, I hope you’re ready.

Jason:  I am.

Joshua:  Good.  Starting off I know you’re going back to school now, so what are your goals currently, in life?

Jason:  My goals.  Well I’m going to college to be a math teacher for high school.  But I have a lot of different goals.  I mean are you talking like bucket list type goals?  Or just like what I want to do with my future?

Joshua:  Well let’s say, what’s your five-year plan?

Jason:  Five year plan, ok.  Well three and a half to four and a half years of that is college so . . .

Joshua:  (Laughing)  Let’s go seven year plan . . .

Jason:  Seven year plan, ok.  So then with the extra three years then, I hope to find a job.  Although I’m not sure if I’m going to relocate or not, and find a person that I regularly have sex with.

Joshua:  Those are some good goals.  That’s three years, you should be able to do that.

Jason:  Well it gives me seven years for the girl, because that could happen during college.  The teaching job probably won’t happen until I get the degree.

Joshua:  True.  That’s true.  And so it would definitely be a girl though that you’d regularly be having sex with?

Jason:  Um, I mean as of now that is all that I’m open to.  But if I were to find a man who overpowered my erotic senses then I guess I would make the exception.

Joshua:  Now Jason, you are a naturally funny person, humorous I mean.  Who are some of your favorite comedians of all time?  And, in the same answer, who are some of your favorite current, or newer comedians?

Jason:  Well my inspiration in comedy was always George Carlin.  It’s unfortunate that he passed away especially with some of the stuff that’s happened in the last few years.  I would have loved to see his point of view on them.   That’s like the easiest answer by far.  And then modern-day, Louis C.K. has honestly gone up, I love him almost as much as I love George Carlin because I find Louis C. K. to be one of the funniest men alive.

Joshua:  Have you watched his show, the new one, Louie?  I’ve only seen a couple of episodes but I enjoyed it a lot.

Jason:  It’s a great show, it still doesn’t surpass his standup, but it’s still extremely funny.  You know he had an old sitcom that was canceled very quickly, but it was on HBO, called Lucky Louie.

Joshua:  I remember hearing that name, I never saw it though.

Jason:  And of course, just the other day my roommate and I watched Pootie Tang, which was written and directed by Louis C. K.

Joshua:  What??  No.  Are you serious?!  I had no idea!

Jason:  It’s true, yeah.  He was the sole writer and sole director of Pootie Tang.

Joshua:  No way!  That . . . blows my mind.  Really?

Jason:  Go watch that movie again, and you’ll have a completely different perspective of it.

Pootie Tang: Written AND Directed by Louis C. K.

Joshua:  Wow.  I’m going to have to do that.  You have blown my mind here today.  That’s fantastic.  But staying with the topic of comedians here for a moment, what in your opinion makes a good comedian?  And what makes a bad comedian?

Jason:  I think half of it, a good 50% of being a good comedian, is just presentation alone.  Because you can take hilarious bits and make them not funny at all just by presenting them wrong.  And vice versa, you can say things that aren’t even regarded as humorous but somehow you deliver them in a funny way.  So yeah I’d say 50% right there is that.  And then the rest is just split up into stuff like coming up with jokes that people can relate to, things that people don’t talk about often but everyone experiences.  You’ll almost always hit the mark with stuff like that.  If you can hit on taboo subjects, I mean I guess part of being funny is having balls.  Being able to say things some people will hate you for, but a lot of people will find you hilarious for.  And again an easy way to suck would be bad presentation.  Also if 90% of your material is stolen, that usually isn’t funny.  So that’s why I hate Carlos Mencia.

Joshua:  Who are some other comedians that you hate?

Jason:  Um, Dane Cook.  Although I used to love him actually.  When he first started, I thought Dane Cook was absolutely hilarious.

Joshua:  Lauren and I were talking about this exact thing recently.  We were saying that it seems like it was very quickly that everyone went from really liking Dane Cook, to suddenly everyone hates him.  We were trying to figure out the reasoning for that.  I said because I think he got real cocky, after he got successful.  After he got successful, it just seems to me that he got really cocky and really lazy.

Jason:  I think you’re right on, because I think he started off as some guy doing something completely weird and odd, you know?  He was  just being who he was, and it was funny.  But then once he became really popular he let if all go to his head and now what he is doing is no longer weird and out of the normal but it’s really cool and badass and so he just started to act like he knows that now.  His performances come off now as him overdoing everything.  It just seems like a lot of his jokes where he took them too far wasn’t anymore because they were funny, but because he just knew that’s what everyone reacts to.  He just lost a lot of the humor, again I guess it goes back to presentation.  He just presented things differently after he became famous.

Joshua:  Now you’ve done some stand up right?

Jason:  Just very little, locally.

Joshua:  Yeah, but go into that a little.  What was that like for you?

Jason:  It was actually a pretty great experience, I probably performed for 15 people total, and 9 or 10 of them were friends and family.  But it was still really fun.  I mean it’s not exactly what you expect once you get up there, and no matter how confident you are you’re nervous as hell once you’re on the stage.  It was a really good experience and I actually wish I would have gone on with it more and in the past four months or so I’ve started writing stuff down to possibly get back out there.

Joshua:  Really?  That’s awesome.  That’s fantastic, I hope you do.  I would be interested to see what you have to say, it’d be good.  Continuing with comedy a little bit more, there’s the old practical joke with the bucket full of water over the door.  Person opens the door, water pours down on top of them.  So recreate that joke, but instead of water what would you put in the bucket?

Jason:  Well a funny thing is I’ve done almost this same joke, but I did use water.  Once when I was in high school I paid a kid to mow my lawn while my mom was at work because I was supposed to mow the lawn.  While he was doing this for me, he was almost finished, and while he was mowing down the side of my house I went out on the roof and dumped a bucket of water on him.  Which I found hilarious.  He didn’t because he was in the middle of doing me a favor.  Granted I had to mow the rest of the lawn, but I only paid him part of what I originally was going to because he didn’t finish mowing my lawn.  So . . .

Joshua:  It was a win/win.

Jason:  Yeah that’s fair right?  Anyway though to answer your question, since I didn’t do that.  Obviously there are plenty of inappropriate things that I would love to put in that bucket such as semen, or something like that.  Usually just the phrase “bucket of semen” is pretty funny.  One of my big things though is that the joke needs to be funnier then it is going to piss the person off, and I think that would be about as mad as you could make someone.

Joshua:  Yeah I think that would do it.

Jason:  But if I were going to really fill it with something . . . this is a tough question.

Joshua:  It is.

Jason:  It would always be fun to put the oil in there and then blow feathers on them, but that’s only because it’s so clichéd it would make me laugh.

Joshua:  And if you could actually arrange for that to work in real life, like get the feathers to blow on them and have it all work out, that’d be great.

Jason:  Yeah it would be great because you would have just perfectly reenacted the oldest cliché in comedy.  But I have always thought that cottage cheese was really funny.  I know when I was younger I used to say that I always wanted go swimming in a pool of cottage cheese.  It just seems like such a random substance.  But the more I’ve actually been talking about that, the more I’m actually now thinking in my head, creamed corn.

Joshua:  Creamed corn?  That’s a good one.

Jason:  So either creamed corn, or the blood of a recently murdered victim.

Joshua:  (Laughing)  Yes, both good answers.  Good, good.  Alright now moving on.  I know you’re an avid reader.  Who are some of your favorite authors and are you reading anything currently?

Jason:  My favorite author is Kurt Vonnegut Jr., he’s my favorite author because he has my favorite book, I mean all his books are great but my favorite book is Breakfast of Champions, or Goodbye Blue Monday.  I also really like Chuck Klosterman a lot.  He used to write for Spin magazine, and now he’s got a bunch of journal books out and two novels, although the first one sucked.  But the second one sounds really interesting.  I’m technically currently in the middle of another book, although I’ve forgotten all about it and haven’t read it in probably three months.  I was in the middle of the Handmaids Tale, it’s very good.  As far as comedy writing, Chuck Klosterman is pretty funny.  I read all of George Carlin’s books, obviously.  I guess when I read, for some reason I lean a lot more toward serious drama.  There’s a book that was incredibly good, that I can not think of the title of . . . . but I highly recommend it.  I own it even, and it is amazing.  So read that.

Joshua:  (Laughing)  Alright, I’ll have to check that one out!

Jason:  There’s a great book called the 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear and it’s like kind of a kids story but it’s written more for adults.  It is fantastic.  No one has ever heard of it, but I always recommend it.

Joshua:  You may have told me about that before.

Jason:  Oh did I?  I may have.  Well now it’s on record that I recommended it to you.

Joshua:  What would you say has been the best movie/book adaption of all time?  That you’ve seen at least.

Jason:  That’s tough.  Right away Fight Club comes to mind, because it’s so popular for being, the movie that was better than the book.  At least in my opinion, and many others.

Joshua:  Which is like the rarest of things.

Jason:  Yeah.  But that’s such a cliché answer I don’t want that to be my answer!  Let me think a second here . . . . my problem is all the books I read are books that weren’t changed into movies, or were changed into way, way worse movies.

Joshua:  Ha!  Yeah.

Jason:  Honestly, I think the Shining is better than the book.  Although its nothing like the book, they’re so far apart they’re almost two different things.  I don’t mean it to be insulting but by changing so much I think they even improved it.  I mean the book’s not bad but . . .

Joshua:  I’ve never read the Shining.

Jason:  It’s okay.

Joshua:  Well I don’t think you have to worry about that criticism, I’m pretty sure Stephen King doesn’t read my blog.

Jason:  Ummm . . . . I’m gonna have to say Fight Club.

Joshua:  Oh?  Good answer, good answer.  I’ve never heard that one before.  Now, as a big movie buff Jason, quickly off the top of your head:  Favorite director of all time, favorite movie of all time, and favorite genre of movies.  Go!

Jason:  This is actually really tough.  I really hate this question.

Joshua:  Good I like to ask questions people hate.

Jason:  I like Todd Solondz a lot because his movies are kind of weird and unique.  Honestly though I’d probably have to say Darren Aronofsky is my favorite director, if I had to choose one.  His movies are crazy, they’re always good, and he’s just unique I guess.  It seems like everything he puts out is something that you’ve never seen before and I mean it’s amazing to see one director doing that because Hollywood itself can’t even do that.  So I’d definitely go with him I guess.

Darren Aronofsky: Better than the entire Hollywood collective.

Joshua:  And can I just interject here about how disappointed I am that he’s not directing the Wolverine movie, because that would’ve been just the craziest fucking thing ever.

Jason:  Yeah that would have been insane, I was interested when I first heard that.  Now the next Wolverine movie is just going to be as good as the first one.  But now for favorite movie of all time?  Again this one is really tough just because it gets updated all the time.  Actually I do have one answer to that I just always give because it’s always up there, and that’s Johnny Dangerously.  I have always thought that movie was absolutely hilarious, I don’t know, it’s one of my favorite movies.  For it’s time it’s absolutely fantastic.  It’s very ballsy for its time, had a lot of jokes that people considered risqué.  And Roman Moroni is such a great character too.

Joshua:  And what is your overall favorite genre of movie?

Jason:  Genre, is probably the hardest one to answer.  I mean I love to watch comedies, but the thing with comedies even though this completely goes against what I just answered, is that none of my favorite movies come from comedies (other than my absolute favorite movie).  But I mean when I list my top ten favorite films of all time, it’s almost all drama and maybe a little bit of thrillers, but drama always has a huge role.  It seems like when you get into sci-fi or comedy those are genres that aren’t going to have a top film unless it’s like epic, it has to be absolutely amazing.  Whereas drama, because they involve so many emotions you just have to make a really good film and then on top of that everyone is emotionally involved and therefore it feels like an even better film.  So I think that’s why those always lead, dramas kind of rule my favorites.  But I think that horror and comedy are my two favorites to watch, they’re the most fun.  And when the two mix, it’s fantastic.

Joshua:  So Jason very quickly if you can, and this may be a difficult request, summarize what you think the biggest problems are with modern Hollywood and the movie industry.

Jason:  I don’t know what’s wrong with movies, honestly, in reality it’s more the audience.  The fact is Jack and Jill made money.  The only movie that beat the Muppets at the box office, which is a classic comedy, the Muppet movie was witty, everything was genius about that movie, and the only movie to beat it and destroyed it this weekend, was Twilight.  You look at the popularity of certain movies and you start to realize that they are going to continue to make shit, because everyone’s eating this shit up.  So unfortunately I think for there to be a real significant change in how well movies are written and made we’re going to have to actually see people starting to put the better movies up top and not watch the shit.  I don’t see that happening.

Joshua:  Earlier today we were talking about blogs, and you mentioned your movie blog and you have My Blog Skip.  What do you like to write about on your blogs in general, and why do you write blogs?

Jason:  I started My Blog Skip because in the past I’ve had multiple blogs here and there I had Who Let the Blogs Out for a little while, but I just enjoy writing and sharing things that I find interesting or funny.  But every time I made a blog I would just lose interest and not really care so I decided to start again, go at it one more time with My Blog Skip.  At first I was pretty successful and I think my favorite thing that I wrote, and I only did like three of these, was called Saturday Cinema Showdown where I just took two movies and basically made it sound like they were fighting in a boxing match, but really I was just rating which one was better than the other.  I really enjoyed it but I put so much time into those blog entries.  The photoshopped images alone would take me an hour just to get those looking correct.  I put so much time and effort into it and I didn’t really have any readers at that time, like I had two or three friends who read it so as much as I enjoyed it, and it’s not even that I didn’t appreciate the few that did read it, it’s just that I lost interest without even thinking about it.  I stopped writing them.  I realized suddenly I’m two Saturdays behind and then I kind of just left that.  Then I think becoming a member of Reddit was a big help because I started seeing funny things all the time, so then I would post those sometimes.  Then it became a pretty generic blog where I’d barely write but I would post things all the time that I would find funny.  I’m glad I still have that but just recently I realized I still wanted to be writing, that was the whole purpose of even starting it, I wanted to get back into writing.  My one friend actually started a cooking blog on called Through the Cooking Glass on Tumblr, and I was asking her about that.  I was saying ‘what made you decide to write this’ and she said ‘I just wanted to write again and since I love cooking, that would be a good way to focus on the writing’.  Then I realized that was my mistake I’ve been trying to come back to writing in general, nothing specific, and I realized that maybe if I focus specifically on something I love, which movies are the big thing, that I’d find it easier to write more often.  Then I created Movie On Up, and from there I’ve been pretty successful so far.  I’ve posted seven posts, and this has only been just over a week.  But that’s why I started it though, it’s all been trying to get back into writing and this time I found specifically if I focus on this category, that’s the way to do it.

Joshua:  Yeah, that’s why I started interviewing people, and started this whole People I Know segment.  I know a lot of interesting people so why not just write about them, instead of trying to think up something to write about.

Jason:  I was actually pretty jealous whenever you started posting these because it was an idea I thought was good enough that I wished I’d thought of it.

Joshua:  Wow.  That’s a very high compliment actually, thank you.  But now I’m going to completely change the subject.  There was a quest we were on at one time and I can’t remember if we’d ever discovered this or not, but your birthday falls on John Stamos’ birthday.  My birthday is the same as Bob Saget’s, and we were hoping to find another of our friends who had Dave Coulier’s birthday.  Did we ever find anyone with Dave Coulier’s birthday?

Jason: We never did find anyone with Dave Coulier’s birthday.

Joshua:  Because I thought at one time you said that you had found someone who shared his birthday.

Jason:  Actually I feel like there was a point where I thought ‘oh my god, that’s the birthday!’, but I don’t think it was a friend or anyone, I don’t think we ever found someone who we could talk to or hang out with.  Do you remember what the birthday is?

Joshua:  It is September 21st.  Dave Coulier’s birthday is September 21st.

Jason:  Well maybe a reader out there will have his birthday!  If any of you out there share Dave Coulier’s birthday contact Josh.

Is your birthday September 21st? Send me a note, let's be friends!

JoshuaAnd if you live in the Ohio area.

JasonOr if you want to get on Skype with the two of us.

Joshua:  And just hang out on Skype for hours on end.  The circle must be complete.

Jason:  We can start a Full House birthday blog.

Joshua:  Ok, now here’s a question I’ve been asking everyone I interview, but I’m going to change it up a little bit for you.  Everyone hates this one, and you might hate this even worse because it’s going to be a little more difficult for you.  Here it is, describe yourself with a phrase of 7 words or less.

Jason:  My mom named me Jason Edward Lemmon.

Joshua:  Next!  I know you’re a fan of dinosaurs, if you could have, own, any one dinosaur and that would be the only dinosaur alive in existence, which one would you have?

Jason:  Now does this dinosaur for sure act friendly toward me, or do I not know?

Joshua:  It would act, however you would think it would.  Let’s say that you raised it from an egg, so it would be as friendly toward you as it possibly could.  I would be pretty confident that you raising a dinosaur would make it fairly friendly towards you.

Jason:  My initial reaction would be a velociraptor because Jurassic Park made them look pretty badass.  Especially if it was going to be the only dinosaur on Earth, everyone would be much happier with me for selecting that dinosaur since it is the popular favorite.  But even raising it nicely a velociraptor to me seems like it would still kill people.

Joshua:  Yeah I think that would probably still kill people.

Jason:  I guess I’d have to look into the details of the whole situation to decide whether I want the velociraptor or not.  I guess I’d probably need a backup dinosaur now, since I don’t know what they’re going to give me for details.

Joshua:  Yeah, you have no way of knowing what the dinosaur reanimation commission will say.

Jason:  So for backup dinosaur, probably the stegosaurus.  Because it was my favorite as a kid, and I don’t know, it just seems like one of the farthest things from anything in existence today.  So that would be a good one to bring back.

The debate: Would you rather have a raptor or a stego?

Joshua:  That’s a good one, and I like your reasoning, you just don’t see shit like a stegosaurus anymore.  Here’s another question for you, it’s sort of a classical philosophical conundrum.  Button then zip, or zip then button?

Jason:  For pants?  Oh I always zip then button.  Oh wait!  No.  I don’t actually!  That just seems like the way to do it but then now that I think about it I always button then zip.  That is really weird that my reaction was that, it just seems so normal, but then I realized oh wait I do button first.

Joshua:  It’s harder to zip first really, because if you button first . . . .

Jason:  Yeah, then it’s just straight up with the zipper.  And that’s what I always do.  Now you’ve blown my mind!

Joshua:  (Laughing) Good!  I’m glad!  Now Jason the final question I have for you:  Is there any one pop culture subject that you think doesn’t get enough attention?  It could be a band, a movie, a television show, anything or anyone that you’d like to promote and get others to take notice of.

Jason:  I would like to see more attention drawn to the old Mr. Show episodes.  It’s an absolutely hilarious show, you know Bob Odenkirk and David Cross, I own all the seasons and it’s one of the funniest shows I’ve seen, but nobody has seen it.  There’s so many people who say ‘oh yeah I think I’ve heard of it’ but nobody has actually seen it.  I think everyone needs to see that.  And also, I’m gonna actually pick two things because they’re equal, the comedy group Stella is hilarious.  They had a TV show, but before that they were just 5 minute internet shorts.  If you haven’t seen the show, watch the show.  Then if you like the show get online and look those up, because on there it’s not TV and they can do whatever they want and it’s highly inappropriate and ten times funnier.  Then on top of that, their stand up is absolutely ridiculous.  I saw them live and it was one of the best standup events I’ve ever been to.  So watch Mr. Show and check out Stella.

Jason Lemmon says: "You should watch this show! It's funny!"

Joshua:  Thank you Jason for sitting down here with me today, it’s been a pleasure, I thank you for your time sir, and do you have any final words before we end this?

Jason:  Nope.

Joshua:  That is all!

Friday Funny Pages: Watch Your Mouth Red

“Oh . . . . shoot!”

You’re soaring through the air holding on for your life dangling from a haphazard chain of pokemon as they desperately attempt to escape the suction of a raging typhoon below.  I’m sure if any of us were in this situation we’d have the exact same response.

I am a huge Pokemon fan.  As much as I love the various games, I think the real gem of the franchise is the cartoon series, especially the original production which was brilliantly goofy and hilarious.  I always liked that, from start to finish, Ash never really had his shit together and in many respects was a horrible trainer, as Brock and Misty would often point out.

I’m not well versed in many other anime series, or manga for that matter, but because of my huge devotion to Pokemon I long ago bought the Pokemon Adventures manga collections written by Hidenori Kusaka with art by Mato.  There are some major differences between the cartoon and the comics.  Firstly there is the whole reading flow of manga which still confuses me on occasion.  Secondly the main character Red.  Despite his general appearance Red is not Ash.  Red is not simply an alias for our pal Ash, and the storyline of the manga is pretty intricate, not just a black and white take on the show.  Taking some main points from the games and the cartoon, the comics really expand upon those familiar touchstones and blow up Pokemon into an epic saga that sees rivals uniting against a common enemy, widespread conspiracies slowly unraveled, begrudging respect earned for the main character, and an alliance of unlikely heroes brought to bear on a villain who was attempting to suppress the inherent goodness and pleasant competitive spirit of the pokemon trainer lifestyle for his own personal gain.  Oh, and it’s still goofy and amusing.  Trust me it’s pretty entertaining, and a bonus: Red doesn’t arbitrarily throw his Pikachu into every fight.  You actually get to see a much wider array of pokemon taking it to the streets then you ever do in the old cartoon.

The above image comes from Pokemon Adventures Volume 3, towards the end of the entire arch when Red, Blue (Red’s rival who is still pretty much Gary, verbatim.), and Green (an original chick trainer who is not based on any other familiar characters) find themselves in the deepest of the trouble they get into.  We can see that Red is having a time of it here.  I just think it is incredibly amusing that they decided to translate this with simply “Oh . . . . shoot!” and not just a scream, or maybe a “Hang on!”

Just “Oh shoot!”

Funny.

Anyway until next time go find the old Indigo League Pokemon series and watch through it, you won’t be disappointed.

That is all!