The Alabaster Sock

We Will Fight the Threat with Fighting

Posts Tagged ‘Nostalgia’

Posted by Matt on March 14, 2011

Okay, first thing’s first: I’ve been watching a lot of Teletoon Retro lately (for any American readers who may or may not exist, that would be the rough Canadian equivalent to Cartoon Network’s Boomerang. It started up a year or so ago, and has thus become the object of affection for ironic twentysomethings who don’t want to evolve their entertainment palates past third grade) and have to ask, what’s with my obsession with shitty cartoons? I watch the shit on this channel, and removing the old Looney Tunes shorts and the odd episode of The Real Ghostbusters it really is just a sea of shit, why? And it’s not just this, either. I braved the grating, unfunny Nostalgia Critic just because I kind of enjoy hearing someone talking about these shitty cartoons that I often remember as well. (And before you question why I waste so much of my time, remember that this is the age of multitasking. I am usually coupling these pointless adventures with something far more important, like…I don’t, sorting some files I have alphabetically. Something like that.)

They’re not interesting to think about, other than in a “I can’t believe real, adult people spent hours of their lives producing this, what the fuck”; the vast majority are the definition of pure mediocrity, a wisp of a thing (for whatever reason, animation does not seem to have a large number of fascinatingly/entertainingly-bad oeuvre like live action does; the bad stuff is by and large painfully boring), obviously developed for sugar-addled 7-year-olds who have time to be subliminally advertised to. Or maybe that’s not true….well, not for me. The fact that animation is not limited in its imagery, capable of so many thing, that sort of draws me to it. So…I guess it’s the fantastic stuff that endears to me? Or maybe part of me is secretly one of those dreaded nostalgia-driven nerds, and the dominant rational nerd part just keeps it under wraps most of the time? Who knows.

But yeah, I keep watching this shit. Here’s a list of observations that have developed over this time:

He-Man is really, really, really bad. Like, I think calling it animation might be giving it too much credit. It’s only a few steps above Clutch Cargo. I’m sure the people at Filmation did the best they could with the zero budget they had, but still. We really have had an television animation renaissance once the 80s ended; sure, some stuff is still stiff and ugly, but at least they seem to have enough money/skill to animate scenes where the characters actually interact with each other. (And yet Paul Dini and Bruce Timm would move on from this crap to much better things.)

The Real Ghostbusters is much better than pretty much everything else on the channel in terms of both animation and writing (which isn’t saying much, really); some of the stuff still plays up my folklore/weird monster love. However, it has that weird “Obviously outsourced to Japan” aesthetic that I often find pretty jarring. (And yet J. Michael Straczynski would move on from this okay stuff to become a rather mediocre comic book writer)

-The main difference between the G.I. Joe and Transformers animated spin-off movies? The Joe one is one of the few exceptions to my “animation doesn’t do interestingly-bad” observation from above. Even with just some cursory knowledge of that property, you are led to question every single story decision on display. It’s amazing in its ability to make both fans and people who have never heard of G.I. Joe have no idea what is going on. I still don’t recommend ever watching it, though.
The Transformers movie, on the other hand, is just a slog, with the only point of interest being the way it attracted a bunch of C-Level ‘name’ actors and Orson Welles in his dying days. It’s written almost as if they expect us to actually care about a story with characters named Hot Rod and Ultra Magnus, Weird Al Song Out Of Nowhere or no.

The Raccoons is quintessentially Canadian; who the hell else would think that kids would be interested in watching what is essentially a bog-standard family drama with cartoon animals? Heavy moralizing, a complete lack of excitement…yet this show was on television for 8 fucking years. It looks alright, but man, what the fuck?
Of course the breakout star of the show was the primary antagonist (most of those ironic twentysomethings I mentioned before all know the name Cyril Sneer), and this is of course because the protagonists were so boring that we really do cheer for the unrepentant cartoon capitalist to just bulldoze them all into oblivion. Yes, it’s one of those things.

I swear, one of these days I’ll actually have something worthwhile to write about.

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Posted by Matt on January 29, 2011

Another continuation of an old old post that sucks.

I’ve been watching commercials from children’s programming blocks again. From this, I have come to a new conclusion: advertising fast food to children is vile. The toys, the sugar cereals, the snack foods, and all the other junk you don’t need that clogged the commercial breaks are nowhere near as disagreeable on a most basic level of fast food.

Here’s why: I’m sure most people of my age or older remember a time when going to McDonalds was a big deal. Like, when you were a kid, you wanted to eat there, it was something special. As most people get older, they realize something: McDonalds food, and pretty much all other fast food, is bland and boring. How could I ever be convinced this food was ever even satisfactory? It’s fucking wafer-thin ‘meat’ coasters and microscopic french fries drenched in salt. It really makes you appreciate the thick, juicy, hand-crafted motherfuckers you get at home. Even if you still eat fast food, it’s out of convenience or cheapness, not out of a desire for the food itself. It’s never “Let’s go to Burger King!”, it’s “I need something quick…look, there’s Burger King. That’ll work, I guess”.

So, the food sucks, and it’s the worse thing for your health unless you eat caramel and chocolate-covered steak stacks deep-fried and coated in salt and sugar, so why are kids so obsessed with it? I guess it’s been sweetened quite a bit (the buns especially are very obviously filled with sugar), and when they don’t know any better that draws them in. But that can’t be the only thing. And that leaves the marketing, which came to us primarily through commercials aired during kid shows.

Now, we all know kids are more susceptible to advertising than adults are. They just haven’t had the chance to become savvy, to know when they being marketed to (hell, many adults still haven’t figured that out). And that’s why fast food commercials aimed at kids were so bad, all things considered: they were aiming to get kids to want something that is very definition of something you don’t need, something that essentially has no redeeming qualities. And as far as my anecdotal evidence goes, it worked.

Now the things are far more regulated than before, and you know what? I don’t care. Fuck ’em.

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Posted by Matt on May 22, 2010

Bear with me, I’m on a nostalgic trip.

Early this morning, I saw that CTV was airing OWL TV. I used to watch OWL TV in my preschool days. It was one of those shows that made me interested in Animals!

How many of these kinds of children’s science magazine-format shows do they have now? Honestly, I think one of the easiest ways to get kids more excited about learning and science is to just show it to them, plainly, because nature has a way of being awesome on its own. I’m sure kids still like animals, and animal facts, right? They damn well better.

This, of course, led down the rabbit hole of children’s shows that I watched. Camp Cariboo, Fred Penner’s Place, The Umbrella Tree (fucking horrifying puppets), stuff like that. Then came…PJ Katie’s Farm. Upon reflection, I now realize the utter strangeness of this show.

Here’s the thing: the show was about a woman manipulating little home-made clay figurines to tell a story about farm animals, doing all the voices as well as narrating. No camera tricks, stop-motion, or anything. She just moved the clay figures and told the story in plain view. It’s sub-Manger Babies level television. Yet there’s something to the low-key affair and its public access production values; it makes me kind of glad it exists.

To show you how this show worked, here is a highlight reel:

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Posted by Matt on January 2, 2010

How is your new decade been? Guess what I did today? If you said ‘nothing’, you’d be wrong, because I did less than nothing.

The only thing I really did do was get flustered over one of my random Internet prowling missions for the name of something. It really is pissing me off. I’ve been able to find so much about so much other bullshit, the fact that I can’t couldn’t find it was CONFUSING AND INFURIATING.

Before I even finished that paragraph, I found what I was looking for. It was this show, which was shown on some local channels around ’97-’98. You know, I just didn’t see very many Australian claymation shorts featuring annoyingly cute little blobs and ass-faced space mercs back then, so there’s a reason it stood out, and why I was so adamant to find it again. That, and for pride. I AM A NERD WITH TOO MUCH FREE TIME, I WILL NOT BE DEFEATED SO EASILY.

Still, it’s interesting on its own. You can find episodes of it on Youtube. I’m not going to post them here, because I’m fucking lazy.

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Posted by Matt on December 22, 2009

When I was in the first or second grade, we made little booklets where we said what we think we would be doing at certain ages. I can remember exactly two:

(1)I said in my late teens/20s (right now, then), I would be working at the game shop I rented from all the time. Not exactly high standards, but what can I say? I thought it was the coolest job in the world at the time. I never did apply there, though. Nor any game store. Because they are, in fact, quite the opposite of the coolest job in the world.

(2)Skipping middle-age depression and right into retirement and old age, I said that I would own a moose farm. I am seriously shooting for this. This is just something that any person would want to spend their waning years doing. I doubt I actually knew what people farmed moose for, but hey, what could a shitload of moose NOT do for you?

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Posted by Matt on December 12, 2009

It’s the final judgement time once again. Considering my output rate on here, I doubt studying (for the exams that will require the least amount of study) will hurt it.

There a many childhood objects that I wish I could reclaim. None of them are toys or anything along those lines (burn the Velveteen rabbit, for all I care), but rather some of the class projects I did in grade school. Because I remember them, and I would like to look at them again, because some of that shit WAS CRAZY.

Take my first storybook, written in the first grade: The Sad Scorpion

Being a weird animal kid, I was often enamored with…well, weird animals. Or at least animals that would be weird to be enamored with in the first grade. Thus: a storybook about a scorpion. A sad scorpion, at that.

Why was the scorpion sad? Because he lived in the pet shop. I don’t know if I ever saw them selling Emperor Scorpions at the local exotic pet store, but I obviously knew that pet stores did carry them. Why am I explaining this? Because it’s my process, dumbass.

So anyway, the scorpion lived in a pet shop in New York City (because why not?), and then decides to leave the pet shop. Can one be sad at the lack of freedom if freedom is that easy? I don’t know. Would the citizens of Manhattan appreciate a scorpion wandering the streets? I don’t know that, either.

So, a series of truncated Disney-esque events ensue, and the scorpion ends up being followed by a turtle and a cat, who also want to escape from…something. The book ends with the bizarre image of the three animals speeding away from the island (and with the obligatory Lady Liberty in the background) on a hovercraft. Where are they going? Who rents hovercrafts in New York? All mysteries that will forever be locked in my first grade mind.

This was a major project for me. It was laminated and everything! Lamination in grade school was hardcore shit, and when something was covered in plastic, you knew it was going to last the ages (A friend and I also made an ‘Encyclopedia’ in our school free time, which included a ‘huge’ number of well-researched facts about oft-overlooked topics like animals, dinosaurs, birds, and clouds. You bet the principal laminated that fucker, and I bet if I went over to my buddy’s old house, we’d be able to find it again. I’m sure he’s totally up for that.)

My hubris got the better of me when I attempted to create a follow-up, which to this day has never been completed. The work, titled the far more subtle A Sense of Humour, followed a bizarrely-drawn version of another one of my obscure animal obsessions, the wolverine*. In what I could theorize was either a case of self-insertion, or just coincidental choice of names that sound good, the main wolverine’s name was Matt.

I had set-up the following plot for the book: Matt the wolverine’s mother warned him about evil snakes (my childhood ideas were filled with evil snakes for some reason that I really can’t pinpoint, which often frightens me) living in the bushes. Matt and whatever friends I might have concocted for him (I actually can’t remember this time!) were brave though, and they probably dared eachother to go into the bushes or whatever. Although never finished (probably because it was a side project and not something the teacher lady told us to do), I did have an ending in mind: the characters would hear something in the bushes, are terrified, and learn it was a practical joke (thus justifying the title, which I think I may have created first without actually understanding the term). Oh, the magnum opus that hath been deprived from us!

Needing something more down-to-earth in order to get my groove back, I then wrote a short story about a monster. The monster story, whose title eludes me, has the monster (whose design was partially ripped-off from Toxic Seahorse, showing how videogames corrupted my young mind) scare a family. In a shocking bit of poetic justice, the monster is then scared by the family, and learns that it’s not so fun to be on the receiving end of a monster rampage!

Even though my creativity was sparked again, that ended the age where we were to write storybooks in school (with a few exceptions later on, when I accumulated some cognitive ability, which of course makes the whole thing a lot less fun). However, I was beginning to put together my own comic books out of printer paper and pen in the 4th grade, which might be a story for another time. However, it is also worth noting that my first major comic projects have also been lost to the ages, which might be even sadder than the lost storybooks.

*In true Sonic the Hedgehog fashion, my wolverine looked less like the real thing and more like a combination of an otter (my favourite animal, and one that would have its own series!) and Little Critter.

*******
Just a dream update, because I haven’t had one in a while:

A few nights ago, the dream had me waking up on Saturday morning (like I want to wake up on the one morning when I don’t have to) to, what else, watch cartoons. But then my family and I are now at my one friend’s house, apparently looking after it. I want to watch whatever cartoon it is I want to watch, but I can’t find a TV (my brother is playing Mario World on the basement TV). I do see the cartoon, however, which features superheroes and some cartoonier characters battling it out with colossal space gods. Some of the superheroes are vaporized in the conflict.

This leads to a funeral scene on an airship. One Superman-esque character is told to use his shapeshifting powers to get the proper attire on. Apparently deciding to play the funeral as a comedy scene, the idiot shapeshifter transforms into several different things (including an Elizabethan-era Lady), before settling on a gorilla; all the while, properly keeping his head down in mourning.

After this I head into the farthest room in my friend’s basement, where I grab a trash bin and proceed to spit out a stream of goo filled with sunflower seed shell splinters. All the while, I am being watched by fraternal twins, who I seem to recognize as siblings (although I do not have any twin siblings). Thus ends the dream

Considering how most of my dreams as of late have involved me doing absolutely dick-all, I guess this is a bit of a step-up in terms of activeness.

Today’s dream, which I didn’t bother detailing, has me on a boat. I think it might have been a race, although all I know for sure is that the water that seemed to resemble my street was filled with other boats. Boats seem to be a recurring motif in my dreams lately.

What does the Internet dream expert have to say about this?

To dream that you are in or see a boat, signifies your ability to cope with and express your emotions. Pay particular attention to the condition and state of the waters, whether is is calm or violent, clear or murky, etc. Are you “smooth sailing”? Alternatively, you may be ready to confront your unconscious and unknown aspects of yourself.

Naaaaaaaaah.

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The Green Mints

Posted by Matt on December 3, 2009

This is based on a series of jokes a friend and I have been making lately.

When I was a kid, I read Archie’s Sonic the Hedgehog comics. I started picking them up because, hey, I knew (most) of the characters, and they were there on the Safeway racks, so why not? Fortunately, my first issue was filled with recaps & flashback, so I got up to speed quickly. I bought them for around a year before stopping. Thankfully, I didn’t stop before I got my hands of the Sonic/Image Comics crossover, truly a gem for collectors of things that don’t make a damned lick of sense.

Actually, while I still read the Sonic comics, I preferred the Knuckles the Echidna comics. Not just because Knuckles was always the radical badass, either. That series was neat to my young, fragile eggshell mind because it had a neat mythology to it. The weirder aspects of the Sonic comics just never really appealed to me the same way the weirder aspects of the Knuckles comics did. I mean, it took place on a floating island, there was a whole lineage of echidnas watching over Knuckles, there were cults, there were some awesome villains, there was a long history of wars…all that kind of stuff was damned interesting to an eight-year-old. Of course, I scoff at such things nowadays.

Obviously, others do not agree.

The Sonic series is still going, by the way. They canceled the Knuckles spin-off long ago, but that stuff has more or less been integrated into the main title, alongside every new development the games have inspired (although there is a newer spin-off that expands on the Sonic comic mythos, which unfortunately does exist). Considering how many mainstream comics have fell by the wayside in the same time period, or that can barely last a year (I mean, a year worth of issues, not the ones that take a year to put out three) in the market, there must be something that these are doing right.

You know, I’ve joined the legion of comic fans that want to see more superheroes revert to less serious times (despite me never having an early connection to superhero comics. Blame the 90s.) But as much as I’d love to see the stuff take itself less seriously, I really wonder if that’s what a real mainstream audience, which is what a lot of industry analysts constantly seek, wants. Especially kids, that mysterious organization whose taste is impenetrable.

Of course, there’s a fine line between something not taking itself seriously and what most mainstream comics are these days. They are quite obviously aimed at a certain kind of audience, the kind of audience that desires multi-part epics, super-complicated continuities, graphic violence and sex, and ‘adult’ themes like rape. I don’t think violence repels the mainstream (maybe some of the worse examples), but I bet what does is how boring a lot of them are. For books with unlimited possibilities for action, they sure seem to talk a lot. Not that slightly more slower-paced superhero comics shouldn’t exist at all, mind you, but they certainly shouldn’t be the majority.

HOWEVER

What are the most popular comics these days? Manga. Which consists of a million chapters (albeit, released at first in formats that are far more accessible) and have complex mythologies. Kids eat that shit up. Just like I did when I was reading Knuckles. Starting to see the connection here?

As much as I think stuff like Sonic should not take itself seriously at all, I also know that there are kids (and furries, but let us not head in that direction) who think these comics are cool. Like I did. These weird elements appeal to them. Back in the 80s, the two most drama-laden series imaginable (X-Men and Teen Titans) were insanely popular. So, maybe what I think appeals to kids (but really appeals to me) is not what should be aimed for. Maybe series that don’t take themselves very seriously are talking down to the audience more than we think.

Or maybe I’m dumb. I don’t know.

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I am an idiot

Posted by Matt on November 18, 2009

Oh boy, I’m going to have write things about the past decade, aren’t I? The decade where I was reasonably intelligent for only half of it, and even that’s debatable.
I could write about the Hamsterdance Song, I guess.

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Dea Bag

Posted by Matt on September 3, 2009

I found a bunch of videos of Saturday morning commercials on Youtube. On one hand, I do feel a bit of a nostalgic tinge when I see commercials I may recognize (not many on these videos because they’re even older), as it adds to the feeling of the atmosphere of the time. On the other hand, commercials are some of the closest things we have to pure, unadulterated evil on this planet, so it also feels slighty off to get warm, happy memories from them. It also seems slightly off to have people watching these things now, considering that when I was a kid, I always wanted them to end so the show comes back on. I guess evil leaves a lasting impression.

Posted in Idiot Box, NERDS!, Nobody Cares, Observations | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Dead Shift

Posted by Matt on August 12, 2009

One thing I’ve been trying to watch every now and then is the sign-off animation on the French CBC channel, which airs at 1 AM sharp..

Most channels don’t have sign-offs anymore. I can’t say I miss ’em. But still, it brings back memories. Not specific ones; just the feeling of the past. The past that I then remember I want to stay far far away from. The animation is nice, though.

Also, this is why I’m always so tired.

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