Thursday, January 29, 2009

Not So Belated Book Review: Millennium Falcon

So for once, I've read a book more or less when it came out, and can review it more or less immediately. Wow.

This book definitively answers a question you may have had about the Falcon if you ever heard that old rumor that she used to be used by Jedi:

Did the Jedi (most particularly, Anakin Skywalker) ever actually use the Falcon?

Well, one of them sorta did, but not so much as a Jedi (and he didn't really fly or ride it, and he wasn't Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker)-it's a bit complicated.

The plot of the book is pretty unimportant (and pointless). The main point of the book is to establish the Millennium Falcon as not just another cool ship, but the cool ship, and-get this-a character in her own right.

As a continuous narrative, this could have been either boring (if executed typically or poorly) or very good (if executed masterfully). Instead, the history of the Falcon is slipped out to us in tiny drabbles and whatnot mixed in with the book's "real" plot. So you may or may not like it, based on how you feel about the Expanded Universe in general and matters such as the current post-Legacy of the Force novel series time period in particular.

If you decide that, based on either of those things, you don't want to read it, however, you'll be missing out on some moments that were, in my mind, pretty cool:
  • The birth of the Falcon. (Mostly for the purposes of establishing that, hey, the Falcon was a pretty finicky and crazy ship to handle long before Han Solo got his hands on it.
  • The buzz droid incident. (I dare not explain it, but for me it was the best single event in the book.)
  • The time an albino circus rancor attacked the Falcon because it thought the Falcon was eating its animal friends.
  • The time the Falcon wore tribal war paint.
  • The most personal instance of the Falcon inflicting injury on Han Solo. (This time, it really wasn't Han's fault, although he really should have known better than to keep a live device of unknown origin in his pants pocket.)
  • The prospective title of Leia's memoir.
  • How the victim of the buzz droid incident got back at the Colicoids (the creators of the buzz droids and the droideka [the latter of which was modeled after their own anatomy] alike) for killing his business partners shortly before the buzz droid incident-and his revenge comes after stewing in jail for sixty-odd years. (Note that I forgot this when I wrote it up the first time 'round, and edited it in. This is sad, because it's perhaps the second best bit in the book.)
Decide for yourself if that sounds enticing.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Hey, Darth Vader... you have any ideas for a blog tonight?

(Always jumping on bandwagons long after they've fallen apart. Ah, well.)

-Signing off.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Are You Listening, Google? This Might Get Me To Download Chrome.

I was browsing today, and realized, as I slogged through dozens of Internet Explorer tabs, that there's a browser tool I could really get behind: The tab alphabetizer.

The way I browse, I often end up with so many tabs that I can't quite navigate them all, and have to resort to the "quick tabs" view, which has tons of potential but doesn't let me resort the tabs. I want some button that can immediately alphabetize all your tabs alphabetically by URL, so that when you've got thirty tabs (or however many the limit is-I actually reached my computer's limit on tabs in a window the other day), you can just hit it and get something organized instead of a hopeless mess.

Tabs, by the way, are one of those things that, once I learned they existed, I realized I could never go without them again. Not 'net browsing, anyway.

-Signing off.

Monday, January 26, 2009

East Vs. West (Vs. East Vs. West): Machine Robo-er, Robo Machines-er, Machine Men-er...

Sometimes, when a toyline is transplanted from one language group to another, the transition is relatively smooth. (Transformers, for instance, was pretty seamless in the early days of G1, although as time dragged on, the two sides of the Pacific drifted apart increasingly, to the point where nobody has any idea how to reconcile Hasbro's view of the fictional multiverse as opposed to TakaraTomy's view.)

Other times, we see what happened to Machine Robo.

Machine Robo has been known by many names: Robo Machines, Machine Men... and Gobots.

Yep. This:


or possibly this:

Well, okay, that last one was something different descended from Machine Robo in Japan itself, so it doesn't count (much).

Anyway, one unique feature of the distribution of Machine Robo is that it was actually separately distributed in three different English markets. Again I say, for emphasis, separately.

In the UK, kids were presented with "Robo Machines," embodied primarily in this fiction, which is quite distinct from Gobots, despite most of the characters sharing names. Eventually, distribution of the Gobots cartoon superseded this fairly minor comic, and it was mostly forgotten as the line was rebranded.

In Australia, the line was initially distributed as Machine Men, and the most media it got was these. Uniquely, the Machine Men line was popular enough that Bandai didn't want to risk its popularity by rebranding it, so instead they rebranded the cartoon as Challenge of the Machine Men. (I can't imagine how Machine Men would have fit on the Challenge of the Gobots title card.)

Compare this with Transformers, where when a character crosses the Pacific, usually the most important change is in the character's name, or possibly a tweak in personality. (There are exceptions.)

-Signing off, partly because the computer is sluggish right now.

Friday, January 23, 2009


You know, when the subset of Transformers we call "Generation 2" was in full swing, I was pretty well-poised to observe the toy aspect of it.

It surprises me whenever I'm reminded that I only saw about half the commercials.

Of course, the "rap" commercials may simply have not aired where I live. Ohio is historically a notoriously "white" region (much as I hate the phrase).

(By the way, if you can figure out what the rappers rhymed with "Bruticus" and it isn't just "Bruticus," could you indicate what it is? Something like "Rudicus," I suppose.)

This commercial could be considered the last of the G2 commercials, even though it's actually the first of the Beast Wars commercials.

Yes, I selected a slow-motion edit of the commercial deliberately. Why?

Because it's freaking hilarious, that's why. (Note that the bat is brown, but the bat Optimus Primal is blue and gray for no reason.)

Not to mock Beast Wars. It's my favorite single Transformers franchise. Even two seconds of it probably took more work to animate than that entire commercial.

Of course, Japan had to go and dub it funny.

Usually, the complaints go the other way around. It's nice to be reminded that companies in other countries can screw up translating series.

-Signing off.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Random Commercial Action!

No offense to the kid actor here...

...but didn't Hasbro have the creepiest kids in its commercials?

And again. Yeesh.

On a different note, this commercial makes very blatant the copyright infringement behind the confusing case of Autobot Jetfire (AKA Skyfire). (On a side note, I remember that toy. My brother gave it to me, and then took it back because it was one of his favorites [it really was one of the best-engineered toys of the era]. Then his dog ate the gun. Darnit.)

By contrast, Japan's commercials were pretty awesome.

That's right, these commercials are so nifty they're illegal here in the US. (It was apparently determined at some point that using stop motion in advertising for toys was implying that the toys were capable of things they couldn't actually do, and thus it is banned here. Darnit, regulatory agencies!)

-Signing off.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Separated at Birth?

For your consideration:

Lex Luthor.


Power armor he built himself.

Power armor he built himself (though to be fair he technically didn't design it [he did make his own modifications to it, though]).

Both have issues. (One is insane, the other merely cranky.)

Both are bald, with rather heavy eyebrows.

Both ran for president. (Both won.)

And both have enemies who took issue with their election.

Decide what the truth is for yourself.

-Signing off.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Super Robot Profiles: Macross

Macross is an anime from 1982-83 which was adapted into the first part of Robotech for North American distribution. (This is a simplification-the first Macross was followed by at least two "non-sequel sequels" [basically new series set in the same or a similar universe] and about a bazillion retellings of the same stuff, the latest one of which is slated for this summer.)

Created by Tatsunoko, this series follows what I think of as "the Tatsunoko Rule." The Tatsunoko Rule is as follows: The robots from a given Tatsunoko Productions series must fight enemies at least twice their own size, preferably at least five times their own size, and if possible a few thousand times their own size. This, despite the series ostensibly being one of the earliest "real robot" series, which changes the focus from a single, essentially magical robot to a large number of mass-produced robots that are fairly clearly technological.

The Tatsunoko Rule extends even to the enemy warfleet that attacks Earth in the series.

(Image yanked from Jeff Russell's Starship Dimensions, specifically the -10X page. The SDF-1 Macross, the ship used by the protagonists, is on the bottom.)

That big ship on top? It's one of the Zentradi's medium-sized ships. And to be fair, while the Executor dwarfs even the massive flagships used by the Zentradi, the Zentradi "home base" is literally four to ten times the size of the Death Star. (You can use this page for a visual comparison of the two structures' official sizes.)

The really interesting part, though, is that that, as a species, the Zentradi themselves follow the Tatsunoko Rule. The Zentradi, while more or less the same species (in some insane Japanese way) as humans, are approximately the same size as the mecha piloted by the humans. This obviously helps account for some of the usage of the Tatsunoko Rule here, which really is more than can be said for any other Tatsunoko series. (Part of the irony here, of course, is the fact that the big ugly mecha used by the Zentradi [ugly in the best possible sense-they're charming designs] are, while faster and more agile than their opposite numbers, pretty much a cinch for their tiny and less technologically advanced enemies to destroy.)

Other than that, blah blah love triangle blah blah fishcakes.

Also, one of the later Macross series featured the protagonists controlling and powering their fighter mecha by playing guitars.

I'm sorry, but that's a little too silly even for me.

-Signing off.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Scariest of All Computers...

...even scarier than Computo.


This is Compucore, the insanely powerful computer from the cartoon Robotix.

Now, as this picture demonstrates, Compucore has... mobility issues. But this doesn't even remotely cut down on "her" scary powers. (Compucore's voice is decidedly feminine.)

This relatively rarely used power is something that Compucore has in common with the Ark's computer, Teletraan I: Scout drones. Of course, instead of being satellite-like (which Sky Spy only sort of was itself), these things were faster than fighter planes and really maneuverable. (The sequence which featured them seeking out vegetation on the planet's surface was pretty well animated.)

This was the least of Compucore's scary abilities, however.

Take, for instance, its sole means of manipulating the environment around it:

That's right, a tentacle.

So whatever is this tentacle for?

Stealing (and granting) souls, of course! That's right, Compucore could download a person's essence from their body and then store it, delete it, or put it into something else.

That something else generally being a Robotix, of course.

Here's the other scary thing about Compucore, which really pushes this power over the top-Compucore has almost no initiative and a total lack of morality, loyalty, and helpfulness.

Case in point: When the Terrakors capture Argus, the leader of the Protectons, and also Compucore, they order Compucore to suck Argus's essence out, delete it, and then replace it with a Terrakor essence.

Does Compucore grant any mercy to its creator, perhaps react to special programming? No. Compucore deletes Argus without mercy.

Of course, in keeping with Compucore's unhelpfulness, it doesn't mention that it had a backup copy of Argus's essence, either...

-Signing off.

Friday, January 16, 2009

First Car Blues

So when I look at the local paper this morning, a random column declares that "[one's] first car is always cool."

Bunk. Bunk, I say.

The columnist proclaimed that it didn't matter that his first car was a 1986... lame thing. (Dunno what make or model, and don't care.)

It's all about the freedom, etc. poppycock.

My first car? Lousy.

Perhaps I should elaborate a bit first.

The first car I drove regularly was a massive grey F150. It didn't matter that this thing (nicknamed "Uncle Marky") was the same size as every other F150 my dad's ever owned, it felt bigger. Especially since I was the one driving it.

But that, of course, wasn't my car in any way, shape or form-it was just the car I was learning to drive in.

My first car was a 1989-or-90 Ford Tempo. The first time I started driving that thing...

...the muffler and exhaust pipes fell off without warning. This problem was compounded by the fact that it still belonged to its previous owner. Fortunately, he's my dad's buddy, so it wasn't a big deal, and a few hundred bucks and a week later, the car, such as it was, was mine.

I didn't start driving it regularly for a few more months, though, because that was when I started college.

And at the end of my first week...

...I totalled it.

So much for first cars.

That would be the end of this story, except that, after using Uncle Marky again in its place for a few months, I got another car (for about the same price). Guess what?

Another 1989-or-90 Ford Tempo. I kid you not.

So it was almost like having the old one back. In effect? Still a lousy car. In case you've never driven a Tempo, it's pretty maneuverable because it's small, but its engine is proportionately weaker than that of a typical minivan. So it takes a long time to get up to speed in one of the bloody things. (I don't know for sure, but I think that the brakes in my first one might have been screwed up, hence the crash and burn. 'Course, I've been a much more cautious driver since that accident, and have only been pulled over a grand total of three times since then [twice for going too slow, once for expired tags that we'd forgotten to change].)

So that thing ran well for a while, although it lost its muffler and exhaust pipe on the highway once. (If you were the guy behind me, I'm terribly sorry. Also, nice save.) But eventually, it had to be replaced.

With another Tempo from the same year.

I'm totally serious.

Things went all right with this Tempo, although it once lost its muffler and exhaust pipe in the college parking lot (this seems to be a recurring problem, yes?) and I had to drive it home while wearing earplugs.

Then came the nice car.

My dad's boss was moving, and he had a broken-down car that his wife was demanding he get rid of. So my dad got it cheap. And after it was fixed, it was mine, because that last Tempo was looking pretty ragged.

The new car? A 1996 Buick LeSabre. Despite a rather big chip in the fiberglass, the car's in darned good shape (even now, a few years later).

And, oh yeah, upgrading simultaneously from the Tempo to power windows, semi-useful air conditioning (not on hot days, unfortunately), power seats (my parents' cars don't generally have these), and an actual engine?


-Signing off.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

That's One Fierce Kid...

Thanks, TFWiki, for having so many delightfully informative and hilarious articles.

Methinks that the Power Cycle must be some kind of precursor to Sideways.

(In case you didn't catch it, that kid and motorcycle are "attacking" both Decepticons and Autobots-Optimus Prime and Megatron, no less-with virtual impunity.)

And that makes me wonder about the kid even more.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Real Superhero Adventures: Superman's Other Awkward Issue

I am in fact referring to the same issue mentioned very briefly here. I am dreadfully sorry for discussing the subject.

The issue itself is Larry Niven's essay here. Not the subject of the essay as much as the essay itself. Just to make that clear. I'm planning to tear apart the assumptions of Niven's essay. Nothing personal, I just want to tear it apart because it's not as clever as it makes itself out to be. (Granted, it's nearly forty years old, and is thus quite dated, but still.)

I'll address it point by point. (If you've never read it, you might consider skimming it.)

I. Superman can't be, um, attracted to human women.

Blatantly false. Blatantly. As we (i.e. the Internet-going populace) know, lots of people can, um, be attracted to mere images. A living creature that resembled the opposite sex of one's own species that closely would be more enticing, even if s/he shrieked hostile things in an alien tongue at your mere presence (indeed, for some this would be a plus).

And Kryptonian relation to humanity is questionable. Could be there, could be (but probably isn't) pure coincidence. But Kryptonians are hardly the only very humanlike aliens out there in DC, and we know that at least some of those can (probably) interbreed with both humans and Kryptonians. (We also know that as of ~3000 AD, Daxamites can interbreed with humans. Since Daxamites are only a half step away from being Kryptonian themselves...)

II. Superman would lose control of his body during... you know.

Oh-ho, and now Niven's contradicting himself. Earlier, he said that Kryptonians can't be compared to humans, and now he's saying they're just like humans? Foul! Foul!

At any rate, I tend to think that Superman has a lot of self control. I mean, during the time period Niven was writing in, Supes had "super ventriloquism" as an innate power because of uncanny self-control! No training, no nothing, yet he could still do something most people needed a combination of aptitude and training for!

III. Superman would lose control of his carnal urges during... you know.

I think I've already addressed this, haven't I?

IV. Superman's... climax... would be naturally lethal, with the force of a gunshot.

Bleah, Niven. Bleah.

I'm not inclined to think this is true, primarily because there's no evidence that Supes has abnormal blood pressure. Perhaps his heart is a bazillion times stronger than mine, but that doesn't mean it pumps his blood around harder. And the same may or may not be true of all bodily fluids. I'll leave it at that.

V. Kryptonian sperm will have all of Superman's powers.


Okay, we know that, in the Silver Age, all Kryptonian animals had cells that gave them the same powers as Superman. That doesn't necessarily mean that individual cells of Kryptonian animals would have Superman's powers. Particularly, since sperm lack most organelles (the structures that allow most cells to function), I'm inclined to think that, while Supes' powers do originate on the cellular level, sperm cells would not have the necessary structures to grant them these powers.

Most of the consecutive points work on the supersperm assumption, so I'll skip ahead.

XI. Superfetus will kill the human mother.

Heh. Okay, this is not necessarily true either. In the Golden Age, little Clark Kent was strong from the moment he arrived on Earth. In the Silver Age, well, I'll assume it was fairly similar. In the modern post-Crisis etc. universe, it's generally agreed that it took a long time for Clark's powers to emerge-not until he had roughly hit puberty or after. Why does it make sense for Superfetus to harm the mother?

Also, it's clear that the modern penchant for magic red sunlight lamps cancelling out Superman's powers was not yet in vogue when this was written; otherwise it'd be very simple to answer this problem for even Silver Age Superfetus.

Also, I'm not even touching point XII. Superman's no Zeus. (Explanation for that remark here, if you don't know enough about Greek mythology.)

-Signing off.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

CSI: Stupidi

It ought to be pretty obvious from the state of my blog, but I'm not a big fan of so-called adult television.

CSI: Iacon by ~Golden-Dragon-Girl (my sister) on deviantART

(If you can't read that [I can, but my eyesight is notoriously superior], follow that first link to the deviantArt page.)

I do and have frequently watched the huge flood of crime dramas that currently dominate the post-8:00 PM time slots on broadcast television, but I'm at my limit. (My breaking point was an episode of Criminal Minds where it turned out that the rather insane guy of the week who had been shooting other motorists had killed his entire family about the same time he snapped, and most of his family's appearances had been hallucinations. Way to be a downer, man.) While many of the Bruckheimer plague shows have been reasonably smart and clever (as adult television goes), there's a black sheep in every family. The black sheep in this family is CSI: Miami.

This show is stupid. And when I say that, I don't mean garden variety stupid, I mean borderline brain-damaged.

Aside from the gratuitous gore (part and parcel of all CSI shows) and the gratuitous and exploitative shots of women (both of these are alluded to by the little comic above), the show has Horatio Caine, the weirdest and most out of place of all of the CSI series team leads. In addition to his spectacle crunching, Caine is very creepy, and actively looks like he doesn't belong in the lab coat that he only occasionally dons. His creepiest moment comes when he tells a "pedophile" that the guy is "resisting arrest." When the guy says "No, I'm not," Caine says "Let's see how long that lasts," moves towards the guy, and the episode ends. So apparently, it's cool to beat the crud out of pedophiles? (The reason I put quote marks around pedophile earlier is because the girl he was after [this was a clear case of entrapment, by the way] was fourteen. While it's still illegal, there was no sign the guy was going to get violent as the other pedophiles involved in the episode had [the show's weird logic seems to indicate pedophiles are incapable of having sex with children without also killing them], and while it's still a problem, it's not like he was going to rape a five year old, which is the domain of the real creeps. My sister compares the "pedophiles" who go after fourteen-to-seventeen-year olds to losers who can't pick up a smarter, more mature woman. No offense if this describes you.)

Then there's the fact that every single episode, regardless of how appropriate it is, seems to work in a reference to extramarital affairs. In an episode that aired last night, the case involved an amnesiac who had apparently stabbed a man to death. It turned out, upon pulling records, that the guy's father had died from a stab wound inflicted by an angry ex-wife. How did the ex-wife get angry? They don't say, but you can bet it involved some nookie.

The "eyecandy" part of the series extends beyond merely distracting us with in-the-face shots of various pleasantly formed body parts, by the way. In one episode, a character is crouching over, getting into the nitty-gritty of the crime scene... and her hair suddenly goes WAFT WAFT WAFT all pretty-like. The fact that the big sweeping shots that all CSI shows do fly around over the bays and seem to take twice as long as other shows also adds to this feeling.

Then there was the episode where a "private investigator" orchestrated a murder and turned out to be involved in this horribly convoluted and silly plot involving a businessman named (IIRC) Peter Cullen (not that Peter Cullen) and his murdered partner and secretary and an affair (see?) and a SWAT team and... Okay, that's enough. Anyway, this "PI" did all sorts of really illegal things to discredit the CSI team, "effectively" foiling their efforts, until finally the CSIs sent the guy who had been having the affair with the wife of the dead partner who was killed by the SWAT team (and the PI had also been hired by the murdered partner to find out information on the affair, by the way) and who had been the PI's tool in orchestrating the SWAT murder with a wire in order to trick the PI into a confession so that the tool guy could get a plea bargain (this would also let them convict Peter Cullen, who had shot his murdered secretary personally [what happened to all the complicated plotting?]). The PI wasn't fooled, and yanked the wire off and wrecked it before he started saying all the incriminating stuff, which of course was stupid because he had forgotten that there was a thermos on the table that had a bug in it (because tool guy had brought it). And then, for no apparent reason, with no apparent explanation, Horatio freaking Caine was right there and he apparently had ninja skills, because they didn't see or hear him coming in the super-bright Miami sun.

If you look at that last paragraph and go, "WHAT THE HECK?!" well, I can't say I blame you.

If you don't, I'm wondering about you.

Oyah, they solve all their crimes within a single day. Explicitly. Apparently, they need to hurry because they're worried about the statute of limitations running out? Ha ha ha.

(Okay, if you didn't get that: Most crimes have limited durations where they can be punished. Murder is not one of these crimes. Just to be clear.)

-Signing off.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Gadget Time

So in Robotix, the Robotix mecha are basically bigger, uglier Transformers.

One thing that they have in common is the ability to extrude weapons and tools, often very peculiar and unique ones, at will.


Series main villain Nemesis can extrude a drill apparatus from his mouth.

Is it a weapon?

No. Looks kind of like he's prospecting or something, doesn't it?

In actuality, however, he's trying to break in to the enemy base with it for some reason. What reason is that?

There's a camera in the drill that came out of his mouth. Also note that perspective seems to indicate this thing is hecka long.

-Signing off. Short, I know, but so is my time.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Quotable Transformers

Since this is the twenty-fifth anniversary of Transformers, and is further seeing the debut of the third Transformers feature film, I figure it'd be a fun little exercise to put together some of my favorite quotes (and many other people's favorites) from the entire history of the metafranchise.
(Note that my selection process for actual quotes is actually pretty much based on the lines either being funny, or a little bit inappropriate for children. Or both. Don't ask which are which.)

Actual Quotes

"I've got better things to do tonight than die!"
-Springer, Transformers: The Movie.

"This is the world, Mr. Drath. Everything is for sale."
-"Snake" (Cobra Commander), Only Human.

"Are... are you my father?"
-Nosecone, Grimlock's New Brain.

"No planet ever lost its orbit underestimating the stupidity of Starscream."
-Astrotrain, Triple Takeover.

"I'm stupid! I'm stupid!"
-Starscream, Triple Takeover.

"Just don't stand there with your cockpits open, you fools!"
-Megatron, Quest for Survival.

"Now remember, before you do anything, think, 'Is this what Sky Lynx would do in my position?', and you will not go far wrong."
-Sky Lynx, Call of the Primitives.

"Me Grimlock feel important!"
-Grimlock, Call of the Primitives.

"Decepticons! Leave this place... or die!"
-Zombie Optimus Prime, Dark Awakening.

"Revenge: soon. Anticipation: high. Vengeance: GOOD!"
-Omega Supreme, The Secret of Omega Supreme.

"We're all gonna die."
-Rattrap, numerous times.

"Die-cast construction. It's a lost art."
-Optimus Primal, The Agenda (part III).

"Peh, educational stuff. I'd rather [be] watching things explode."
-Rattrap, Go with the Flow.*

"Waspinator want to re-negotiate contract!"
-Waspinator, Go with the Flow.

"Kicker! Don't be an idiot!"
-Hot Shot, Cybertron City.

"If you want to ignore my orders, then I have no choice but to send you back to your mother."
-Optimus Prime, Energon Stars.

"Tidal Wave! Tidal Wave! Tidal Wave!"
-Tidal Wave, lots and lots of times.

"Huh? Where are those Autobots go?"**
-Demolishor, Megatron's Sword.

"Optimus Prime! Super mode! Powerlinx! Optimus Prime! Super mode!"
-Optimus Prime, The New Cybertron City.

"Megatron lives! Megatron lives! Megatron lives!"
-Tidal Wave, Megatron Resurrected.

"I know what you're after, Megatron! You want our energon!"
-Optimus Prime, Megatron Raid.

"What's this? Hot Shot's blaster-but why is he giving it to me?"
-Optimus Prime, Starscream the Mysterious Mercenary.

"If you're trying to make me angry, you're doing a good job! But trust me, Junior... you wouldn't like me when I'm angry."
-Megatron, Battle of the Asteroid Belt.

"...It's the awesome power of energon! Amazing!"
-Optimus Prime, Energon Tower.

"I can't let those Terrorcons steal any more energon. So don't even attempt to revive Unicron. That's our new mission. And that's why I'm gonna have to ask you to leave."
-Hot Shot, Rodimus: Friend or Foe?

"Hang in there Kicker! Just use your body to control your momentum HEYYYYYY! You gotta do what I say, you understand? ...Use your body, Kicker! It'll help you move in zero gravity!"
-Ironhide, Go for Unicron!

"Whoah. Dinobots! I thought they were extinct!"
-Jetfire, The Return of Demolishor.

"I could annihilate the Decepticons by deploying the energon grid. But then I run the risk of destroying the entire universe, because it's loaded with raw energon!"
-Optimus Prime, The Return of Demolishor.

"Here's the plan. We'll attack Unicron and defeat Megatron. Let's do it!"
-Optimus Prime, Unicron Unleashed.

"Heh heh heh. It always amazes me when someone wants my job."
-Megatron, Open Fire!

"This is Unicorn!"
-Galvatron, The Emperor of Destruction Vanishes on an Iceberg.***

-Sixshot, The Emperor of Destruction Vanishes on an Iceberg (in response to the above).

"I am Wreck-Gar! I dare to be stupid! I will destroy the whole city!"
-Wreck-Gar, Garbage In, Garbage Out.****

Things That Should Be Said

"I'm the best there is at what I do, and what I do is very pretty."
-Sky Lynx, original line by yours truly (and obviously riffing on some other more famous line).

"Sometimes Waspinator thinks universe hates Waspinator. Other times, Waspinator wonders if maybe universe loves Wazpinator. Finally, Waspinator realized that universe and Waspinator in love/hate relationship."
-Waspinator, original monologue by yours truly.

"Wheelie say you die today."
-Wheelie, probably seen in some photocomics.

"Want to join the Decepticons again? We've got energon goodies!"
-Megatron, top caption here.

"A laser gun just came out of my chest! ...perhaps it belongs to Hot Shot."
-Optimus Prime, top caption here.

"Hi, we turn into fat guys."
-Sharkticons, formerly the top caption here.

Things That Shouldn't Be Said But Are Kinda Funny

"I (expletive) your mom."
-Optimus Prime, Shortpacked.

"Wheelie say no (expletive) way."
-Wheelie, probably seen in some photocomics.

*These quotes were pulled from the TFWiki. I think this one's messed up.
**This one isn't. That is, it's the actual line from the episode.
***This was from the RTM 1 dub of The Headmasters. This dub is sometimes known as the "
crackhead dub." We think he meant Unicron, except that he was actually talking about this.
****Wreck-Gar was voiced by Weird Al in that series.

-Signing off.

Writing Techniques: Descriptions

One obstacle to writing is description.

Yes, I said obstacle.

The problem with description is that many people, heady with the rush of a clever idea, or in a hurry to get the story written, use description totally incorrectly. They can be very good descriptions, but they're still the wrong descriptions.

How can this be?

Here's some old descriptions I wrote years ago, from my description-mania period. (Description-mania is a symptom of writers who create Mary Sues and the like, by the way, and the types of descriptions we see of Mary Sues are maniacal descriptions. Fanfic writers take note.) They're three monstrous descriptions of various creatures.

This creature stood on the spindly, jointed legs of a sea spider, with a body like a manta ray’s. There were several poisonous spines on his tail. Two “horns” projected from his head next to the eyes. Surrounding where the mouth would be were eight spiny tentacles, and instead of a mouth inside the ring, there was a long, trunklike proboscis. Mounted at the end of the proboscis there was the head of a hammerhead shark, warily watching the others as its jaws worked convulsively.

An armored body with large, sensitive eyes that were surprisingly well protected narrowed into a long tail tipped by a combination stinger, acid sprayer, and spinneret. Long, spindly legs proved surprisingly strong, supporting the monster and whisking it along the ice and snow at amazing speeds. Powerful jaws surrounded by menacing spiked limbs snapped in anticipation. Enormous pincers extended forward, ready to crush [some guy]. The whole creature was the size of a main battle tank and twice as heavy.

Massive jaws clattered convulsively beneath gigantic, domed eyes that glistened in the light. Mighty wings beat the air ferociously. The creature’s body was well-protected, and a tail tipped by a pincer-stinger whipped about. The limbs were powerful and clawed, and extended forward, searching for something to impale.

Ha ha, get it? They're descriptions of monsters? They're-Never mind. These things hijacked entire paragraphs. The second two occured within two paragraphs or so of each other, which made them even worse. They sprawled across their pages. They demanded attention, and slowed down the reading. If you want the typical modern audience, who prefers their books fast-paced because they watch movies and television, this descriptive style is too clunky. If you can make this deliberately funny (Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams both put this in a lot of stories, IIRC), the reader will probably not be bothered so much.

Here's something from just a few years ago, when I took a creative writing class.

It was like an insect, with an articulated shell, but it had only four limbs in all, and if it was in a lifelike pose, it had stood on its hind legs in life.

This is getting in and out of what could have been a quite complex description in a hurry. It establishes a fact on the subject's appearance (it's like an insect), which will immediately give the reader a lot to go on. Then, it mentions how to differentiate it (it stood on hind legs, and had four limbs instead of six). It's still detailed enough that many will have a picture in their heads (although most will have a somewhat different one, one of the few flaws of the method).

Generally, this level of description can be quite effective, if you slip bits of it in between actual story bits, or mixed in with the story's actual action ("the monster, now full-grown, blah blah fishcakes ate people").

Then there's this level of description.

Mary was hot.

The key, of course, is striking up a balance for one's own story. The preceding description lacks elaboration-was Mary hot because the air conditioning had gone out? Or was she hot because she is very good looking? Or has she spontaneously combusted?

Not good description either, unless you're being funny again, and possibly using the ambiguity of the description. (Maybe Mary is a pyrokinetic? Or even just a pyromaniac?)

The key, as always, is to match the style of description to your story and even your audience. My sister remarks that little kids love long descriptions (this may be why fanfic writers tend towards them, for one, as a lot of fanfic writers are pretty young). Older writers tend to cut out a lot of the story flab, and apparently older readers don't mind this. (It depends on the oldster, I suppose.) And there's no end of variation inbetween.

-Signing off.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

And Now I'll Go On About Robotix Again...

I just can't help it. I don't get why nobody mentions this series. Well, aside from the fact that it was incredibly short-running, had a very unsuccessful toyline, had ugly characters... Never mind.

Let's take something I would have blogged about already in my previous post on the series (just use the little label thing to find it, doggone it) had I had a less tetchy computer or twenty hours to devote to the post.

Series main villain Nemesis, and his lieutenant Tyrannix (who is only occasionally treacherous despite his name), are having a little talk because Nemesis's power supply is good for the moment, but Tyrannix's batteries are pretty low. (They had neither Duracell nor Energizer. Shame, shame.) Tyrannix, in a previous episode, had tried to bury Nemesis, so Nemesis was lording it over Tyrannix over the reversal in their positions.

Uh-oh, who are these guys? They're not from the toyline!

MUAHAHAHAHA! Ahem. These are a group of pretty much nameless rock monsters who inhabit... whatever the name of the planet is. (The series is fast-paced. I mean, it's fast. It's about an hour and a half long, and it has almost as much story as the first season of Transformers.) Pretty much all of them live in a mountain which happens to be in the area where the Robotix must find the energy crystals which are used to power Robotix, which the Robotix are clean out of, hence their travelling there.

In many respects, they're pretty similar to the Granites from Inhumanoids. This isn't surprising; the cartoon was made by the same folks. They had the power to seemingly materialize from nowhere for ambush purposes; I suppose this was a poorly animated way of suggesting they were concealed as piles of rocks and coalescing. Or maybe they could phase intangibly through solid rock. I dunno.

They also proved strong enough to defeat energy-depleted Robotix, and posed a decent threat to full-powered ones at short range, although the Robotix were able to easily defeat them with their powered weaponry.

You might be asking just how the Robotix were able to recharge in order to fight these guys. Well, behold:

That's right, the rock creatures eat the same kind of crystals that Robotix use for energy as food. Oh, and that glowing thing you probably thought was an eye? It's a mouth.

I love these things. Their facelessness and mouths that look like eyes probably would have creeped the heck out of me when I was a kid, but they're awesome now.

-Signing off.

An Invention I Can't Live Without

Is there any tool created by all of Western civilization that is really as useful and important as the fork?

No, I'm totally freaking serious. Forks are awesome. For those of us who are chopstick-impaired (this does not include my sister, who made a snotty comment over my shoulder about doing without forks), the fork is perhaps the most efficient of all eating utensils. It can be used to cut (though only with effort and preferably against soft foods), stab, scoop, and tear. The reason sporks are so inconsistently used isn't because they are half-fork and half-spoon, it's because they're otherwise respectable spoons trying to pass themselves off as having the functionality of a fork. (They actually are a little more useful than spoons, in my opinion, but what's the point of making a tool that does what a fork does poorly when you have a fork already?)

But the usefulness of the fork is such that it travels beyond the dinner table. No, seriously. Have you ever tried to bale hay? I was shocked, truly shocked, to realize that not only is it really hard without a pitchfork, but incredibly light and easy with a pitchfork.

Then there's the trident, a cross between the fork and a spear. Let's be frank: Better luck next time, guys.

Why does no one validate forks? I don't get it.

-Signing off.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Is This Really...

...only the second or third time I've done a linkblogging type post?

Coming soon.


That's awesome.

At first, I said, "Usually, the vehicles Gundams turn into aren't that pretty." And then I said "Oh, I see."

I admire this guy for considering making the effort, but I don't envy him his task.

The third model of truck described on this page weighs 58 tons. That's a lotta firetruck.

I'll come up with something better for tomorrow, it's just that I ran into so much of this stuff that I was thinking about linking today that it refused to be denied, and it seemed better to linkblog than filter it out.

-Signing off.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Many Forms of Bort

One of the more interesting characters from the "lost" cartoon Mighty Orbots is Bort.

This is primarily because he is one of the relatively few robots with extensive shapeshifting (as opposed to transforming) abilities. This in itself would not really make him unique, but as all of the individual Orbots grant their powers to their combined form, Bort happens to be one of the most versatile and useful members.

This, for reference, is Bort.

This, for additional reference, is also Bort. He's pretty good at that shapeshifting shtick.

This is also Bort, changed into a beam projector of some kind as part of a complicated scheme to restore Orbot team member Ohno to her robotic body after a villain transformed her into a human (they can't combine into Mighty Orbots without Ohno, see).

And here's Bort as a laser-tipped circular saw whilst fighting said enemy.

Here, however, is what is clearly the pinnacle of Bort's shapeshifting skills: The loveseat.

(Most of these screenshots are taken from the episode The Wish World; the last one is taken from the episode Prehistoric Planet, hence the significantly lower quality image.)

Sadly, he clearly doesn't appreciate his own skills here; he promptly dumps Bo and Boo on the floor when he realizes that a good TV show is coming on.

-Signing off.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Cartoon Profiles: Robotix

Robotix is another rather unique show. (Wikipedia describes it as "not good enough to continue [without its toyline]." I say shut it up, Wikipedia. Aren't you supposed to avoid opinions?)

Like Inhumanoids, it started in a block of very short segments (in fact, the same block; it was about six minutes per episode not counting the introduction and credits). And also like Inhumanoids, it exists in its entirety on YouTube.

Robotix takes a couple of premises that were successful elsewhere and synthesizes them. Here's the first episode, led off by the introduction:

In a nutshell, Robotix is Star Wars meets Transformers. It features massive intelligent transforming vehicle/robot entities, and takes place in outer space, featuring a cast of characters straight out of Star Wars and Star Trek blended together. (Among the good guys are a guy who is almost exactly a law-abiding version of Han Solo, and a guy who is a white-haired, bearded Spock.) The opening scene of the first episode is so much like Star Wars' opening, I nearly started chanting "Rip off! Rip off!" when I first saw it. (In a good natured way, of course.)

The differences start to come into play with the Robotix themselves.

See, like the Gobots, they started out as organic. But unlike the Gobots, they started out as ugly little alien things (the Gobots apparently were virtually human).

Don't look like they're getting along well, do they?

Yet they still manage to cooperate long enough to build a lot of stuff, including the above cryogenic chambers (which is part of what allows them to later become the Robotix, which started "life" as very complex construction/combat vehicles), and they also, as independent races (Protectons and Terrakors), have two great feats of engineering:

The Terrastar...

...and the thing whose name I don't recall at the moment.

The cartoon holds a special place in my heart because it has wonderful set and technology design. I had originally intended to flood my picture capacity on this blog with pictures, but I'll settle with what I've done so far. (For now. I've got the pictures anyway, so I'll probably slowly filter them into the blog for the next couple of weeks.)

Also, as Inhumanoids did, Robotix has a stunning conclusion. (Stunning for its presence; as I've discussed, lots of cartoons like this lack them.)

-Signing off.