Friday, November 28, 2014

I Do Not Celebrate Black Friday

In honor of Blatantly Trying To Get You To Spend Money Day, here's a commercial sort-of-featuring Skeletor (as an action figure) advertising a much more expensive toy.

That's not the worst Skeletor voice I've ever heard, although it doesn't really compare to Oppenheimer's flawless vocals.

"'Cuz you were a wimp scientist and you could be a wimp villain!"

-Signing off.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Sorry, No Kryptonite

And for reasons I've mentioned (dang that's an old post-I actually apologize for mentioning Lovecraft stories*), even that wouldn't make much of a difference if Supes took the gloves off.

Like so.

*Incidentally, H. P. Lovecraft? Was a horrible racist that said horrible things about lots of people. Like, there's apparently a "game" that gives you a quote from Lovecraft and a quote from Hitler, and you're supposed to guess which one said which; usually, from what I've read of it, Lovecraft said all the worst things.

Of course he did. He was an imaginative little slime, and that's why people still talk about him, isn't it?

Incidentally, if we discounted old media based on whether it was created by awful, hateful people, the literary canon would almost completely evaporate, so Lovecraft isn't exactly unusual for having been an awful person. At least he just kind of sat at home and wrote stories people didn't end up paying him much money for, later dying broke.

-Signing off.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Five Things To Love About Filmation He-Man

I've mentioned a few times that I'm a genuine fan of the original Filmation He-Man cartoon (and its literal sister series She-Ra, for that matter).

Having just started a semi-regular rewatch that my sister and I do periodically with our complete collection of the series, I decided I'd catalog some of my favorite things in the series.

5. Our car is a badass.

So He-Man is technically a toy commercial, right? And the toyline is a typical boy's toyline, with figures with silly gimmicks and dopey little vehicles that are often even more ridiculous.

Hypothetically, Attack Trak is an advertisement for a similarly named toy, which was a typical weird little one-man vehicle. The series writers developed the concept-a tracked vehicle that "only He-Man can drive" because it perceives who's trying to operate it-into something completely different, that being the amazing character Attack Trak. (I add the "c" primarily for purposes of distinguishing the two.)

This is Attack Trak, casually ascending a cliff face.

And he doesn't have a driver, because Trak doesn't need a driver.

Imagine if KITT from Knight Rider was a tank that could climb anything and armed with lasers, and was kind of a jerk to boot. Some episodes didn't give him any dialogue or autonomy, but there was also an episode which displayed an entire fleet of Attack Traks; I'm pretty sure, from his ability to handle most of Skeletor's minions by himself, that if they'd just had a fleet of him that Skeletor wouldn't pose any threat at all, so presumably the production version lacked the sapience and for some reason they just didn't use Trak himself sometimes.

One of the last episodes of the series even expanded on the idea of the sentient/sapient vehicle, portraying Skeletor's Land Shark as Trak's bestial rival that he really didn't care for at all; sadly, the Land Shark's only other appearance in the series was as a generic bad guy car.

There are a lot of characters from this cartoon that I really like, but Attack Trak is probably my personal favorite case of a character arising from Filmation deciding to go their own way with the concept.

My biggest regret about Lou Scheimer's He-Ro, Son of He-Man pitch being a thing that never happened was that apparently all the vehicles were going to be large sapient mechanical creatures, a bit more in the vein of the Land Shark, but still enough like Trak that I have to think he was an influence on the idea.

4. How weird can this show get?

There's an episode of He-Man where Castle Greyskull gets pulled into another dimension, and they follow it...

...into a Steve Ditko-drawn issue of Doctor Strange.

There's another episode where He-Man gets thrown into another dimension, and things get even weirder.

Like, he fights what's basically a Captain Planet villain, Plundor, but Plundor is a pink bunny man and the cuddly animals he's threatening are called Schminavits (or something like that) and look like cutesy video game critters.

And the rescue party sent to find him just kind of floats through space on their way there.

They pass through more Ditko space on the way, incidentally. Filmation kind of liked Ditko space.

And Plundor's pollution machines looked like Dr. Seuss drew them.

That's not even getting into episodes featuring other characters from Orko's homeworld of Trolla (or Trolla itself) or Orko's Missing Magic, which involves traveling to another weirdo dimension with weirdo inhabitants who happily flout normal laws of anatomy/physics. Like, do you think a guy built like this...

...should really be able to do this?

I don't know that this show was the first to essentially go with the idea that other dimensions with weird physics can just use cartoon physics, but it is the earliest one I know of that does it.

(It's also interesting to note that the inhabitants of that world, Omiros, actually have distinctly different magic visually from all the other magic-users in the series. A little touch, but a nice one.)

3. Yog.

That is all.

(More generally, Filmation had a lot of great creature designs.)

2. Mom is also a badass.

Okay, so here's a little secret about Filmation's He-Man: Its version of Queen Marlena (Prince Adam's/He-Man's mother) was amazing.

Granted, a lot of writers kind of ignored her, to the point where a lot of people don't even seem to be aware that Marlena's full name is Marlena Glenn and that she was a spacecraft test pilot/explorer from a slightly nebulous future version of Earth. (Probably an explorer in the Star Trek sense; her spaceship had missiles.)

She spends most of her time hanging around being a queen and a mom, but then there's The Rainbow Warrior... where she demonstrates that she's actually still the best combat pilot on Eternia and personally shoots down about half of Skeletor's air fleet.

...Calling her the best pilot on Eternia isn't saying that much, because Eternians seem to be crap at three-dimensional thinking, but still.

1. The Dragon Invasion.

When I was a kid, The Dragon Invasion was one of two episodes of the show that my family owned on VHS since almost before I could remember. (I actually do remember it being purchased at the Wal-Mart that had just moved into town a little while before. It was a strange release for various reasons, but then, a lot of late '80s/early '90s VHS releases were pretty odd.) That means that it's one of two episodes I've watched more than any other.

It's still one of my favorite episodes and is probably among the reasons I get nostalgic about the series. And there's a good reason for that:

Skeletor is awesome in this episode.

Even when he's being written poorly, Skeletor is very entertaining, because he's a bright blue guy with a yellow skull for a face who's in it for the cartoonish Evulz, and his voice actor, Alan Oppenheimer, is a real treasure. (In all seriousness, I rate Oppenheimer higher than Frank Welker and Peter Cullen, probably the most famous voice actors of the era, for the specific purpose of villain voices-in fact, in that specific category he's probably tied with the amazing David Kaye, whose Beast Wars Megatron is probably my favorite cartoon villain of all time. All his villain voices and a goodly number of his not-villain voices are fricking amazing.) But this episode was written by Michael Reaves, who would later write for Batman: TAS and Gargoyles, which I will point out are generally very well-written series.

Skeletor is on his A-game here.

First off, I should establish something about Eternian dragons. Aside from Granamyr (who qualifies for everything I'm about to describe but is also the most powerful wizard on Eternia, and yes, he's much more powerful than Skeletor or the Sorceress-there's an episode where He-Man's solution to a problem, that problem being an evil wizard dragon, is "get Granamyr to notice the problem"*) and his fellow sapient dragons, there's a pretty fair population of unintelligent animal dragons. Among other things, they're capable of flying at speeds comparable to Eternian aircraft, breathe fire of destructive power comparable to Eternian vehicle-mounted weaponry, withstand Eternian artillery fire without apparent injury, demolish buildings with their tails, and have a limited degree of resistance to being controlled by the telepathic powers of Skeletor's minion Beast Man.

Specifically, a mother dragon protecting her eggs can't be controlled by Beast Man, and the episode opens with Skeletor and Beast Man raiding a dragon nest for eggs.

When Beast Man freaks out because he can't stop the mother dragon, Skeletor basically calls him a wimp and sends her plummeting into a nearby abyss. (Presumably, she didn't fly because she was surprised; she also wasn't seriously injured by the fall, because she showed up later.) Then he has the eggs dropped all over Eternia, uses magic to make the dragons grow instantly to adults and has Beast Man force them to rampage, and does all this just to distract He-Man from his real plan, which is using a magic artifact called the Dragon Pearl (he must have been feeling thematic that day) to capture the Sorceress and Castle Greyskull, puts up an impenetrable forcefield around Greyskull, and when the heroes break down the forcefield anyway (ironically with help from the no-longer-manipulated-by-Beast-Man dragons), uses the Dragon Pearl to tap into the captured Sorceress's powers and turn himself into a giant version of himself that's actually strong enough to bring He-Man to his knees.

He still loses, of course; this is He-Man we're talking about.

But The Dragon Invasion is the quintessential He-Man action episode, and probably the purest example of such.

...I'm probably going to talk about She-Ra before too much longer, because this was going to be a bit more general of a post and instead it ended up being just about Filmation's version of He-Man specifically.

*He-Man does this by being a bit of a jerk, by the way: He deliberately crashes his flying car into Granamyr's house.

-Signing off.

Friday, November 21, 2014

I Have No Excuse (Or Context)

I do, however, have (a video of) UNLIMITED DRILL WORKS:

Note that this is footage from a (mostly safe for work, although there are a couple of iffy bits) game that heavily references another game that's pretty much a porn game. (A really strange porn game.)

(The game from which this footage comes is crazy addictive, mostly because of the music, which is a looped section of an anime opening song called Kuusou Rumba. It goes in my head for miles.)

-Signing off.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

This Was A Meme Before Memes

When I discovered the Internet in its vastness years ago, there was one thing that didn't surprise me about it: Memes.

You see, my family independently invented the meme in the early/mid-'90s.

One of the earliest household memes was an "interact-with-the-environment" line from the 1995 LucasArts biker RPG Full Throttle:

For weeks after first playing the demo (we never quite got the full game), almost everyone in the household would repeat this (slightly mutated to "I ain't puttin' my lips on that") to each other at vaguely appropriate (or inappropriate) times.

Of a random piece of food that hit the floor or was ruined by a mischievous cat: "I ain't puttin' my lips on that."

Of something that was merely incidentally unpleasant: "I ain't puttin' my lips on that."

Apropos of nothing whatsoever: "I ain't puttin' my lips on that."

It still came up months and even years later, and even with virtually no context, my sister remembered what Full Throttle was.

That's a sign that a line, even a silly throwaway one, is memorable.

-Signing off.

Monday, November 17, 2014

My 1500th Post (And I Don't Care)

Finally saw How to Train Your Dragon 2 last night (the "finally" is because the DVD had been bought around a week before and was just sitting around, waiting to be watched, not because I didn't see it in theaters), and my biggest non-spoiler comment* on it is:

The Bewilderbeast sure reminded me of my cat.

(Image cropped from an official webpage.)

Granted, a Godzilla-sized version of my cat, but my cat nonetheless.

(I'm shocked that picture turned out at all. Normally every picture I take is super blurry because my hands invisibly vibrate at incredible speeds.)

Said cat, Captain (yes, that's her full name), is probably the fluffiest animal I've ever known, and started life as the tiniest, most pathetic kitten in her litter, with an eye fused shut-we weren't even sure at first if she had an eye on that side. (This is part of where she got the name Captain-she looked a little bit like a pirate with only one eye, and that side of her face is still completely black, so she still looks a little lopsided and like she's wearing an eyepatch.)

Being smaller and weaker, she decided to make up for it with energy and ferocity, and there was a time when none of the other cats in the house would dare to pick a fight with her.

Once she got a little older (she's not yet two), she actually mellowed out rather a lot, and is mostly a very calm animal. She's also much bigger than she looks-all that fluff combined with the way she used to carry herself, it was ages before we realized that she's nearly the same size as my sister's cat (who's nearly too big to hold and also, despite being a much older and generally less-friendly-to-other-animals cat, my cat's best friend).

She's also unusually protective, though, and in ways one wouldn't expect: For one thing, she's actually picked fights with her own mother to protect other cats. Her mother was still bigger than her at the time, and, y'know, had instinctually generated bonds with her. But she didn't care about that.

She also growls like a dog at pedestrians on the sidewalk and the (admittedly creepy) local ice cream truck and actually sometimes completely ignores other cats when they attack** her, which unnerves them to no end. (Though lately she's been scuffling with one of our other cats and getting said cat's claws stuck in her fur, to their mutual confusion.)

Anyway, point is, this big, protective dragon oddly reminded me unusually strongly of my little, protective cat.

Captain is also an uncannily smart cat, but that's a subject for some other post.

*Biggest spoiler comment (followed, of course, by SPOILERS FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NOT SEEN THE FILM): Stoick may have been my favorite character, and killing him off felt darned predictable and made me angry rather than sad. I had a good idea he was going to die when people talked about something tragic happening in vague, vague terms, and when I saw something somewhere that mentioned his name and was surrounded by comments along the lines of "Crying! Feels!," it was pretty much confirmed. (Guys, y'need to work harder on not being spoilery.)

When he got hit by that fireball, I was like "no, that can't be it, he just had a line like ten minutes ago about how a little fire wasn't going to finish him off! Wait, that was stupid foreshadowing, wasn't it? Bah, Drago is a dumb villain."

Second biggest spoiler comment: After watching the TV show that was based on the first movie, and getting to be familiar with the characters there, boy but Hiccup felt dumb in this movie. Put down the darned idiot ball, man!

It was a pretty decent movie and had some really good parts to it (I loved how low-key Hiccup and Astrid's relationship was-they pretty much felt exactly like real people) but unlike the first movie, it wasn't perfect.

And the first movie is, in essence, perfect. In honesty, it's one of my favorite movies of all time, with only a couple of others really being competition for it. ...And I just realized how similar it is to one of my other very favorite films, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.

**In case you've never lived with cats, "attack" can mean "aggressively approach with hostile intent," "playfully pounce upon," or "actually savagely attack." Even cats themselves don't always know the difference between the three.

-Signing off.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Invid's Guide to the Star Wars Universe: Alien Species (#138)

The Massive Index (Posts #1-#100)
The Less Massive Index (Posts #101-#110)
The Second Less Massive Index (Posts #111-#120)
The Third Less Massive Index (Posts #121-#130)

1371. Unidentified Byrsym species. Apparently, their planet, Byrsym, was sufficiently hot that they preferred to come out at night.

...Wow, that's a lot to go on.

Rating: 1/5.

1372. Unidentified camel-like bounty hunter's species. Okay, I'm looking at the page picture and having serious doubts that it's not actually a human/almost human being drawn slightly abstractly. "Camel-like?" Where the flip did that come from, exactly?

Also I kinda want to remove that guy's smug smirk (not least because apparently he's smirking at a woman who was seduced, betrayed, and then mutilated by horrible burns SERIOUSLY WHAT). Grr.

Rating: 1/5.

1373. Unidentified cantina patron's species. Okay, these guys are just modestly generic blue people such as have been seen a few times already. But they come from a story called "A Stranger in Town" which is well worth mentioning for its own sake. You see, "A Stranger in Town" is the story in which Yoda wanders into a town while carrying a crate the size of a semi cab (ON HIS BACK, NOT WITH THE FORCE THAT WE CAN TELL), buys a quick drink, and then, as a Separatist battalion shows up, opens up the crate to reveal an oversized personal artillery piece, with which he promptly obliterates the entire battalion. And then he leaves.

(All that certainly explains why Yoda walked with a cane when he lived on Dagobah, don't you think?)

That's why there's a planet that's called "Unidentified planet (Yoda's chaingun)" on Wookieepedia, and an article called "Battle of unidentified planet (Yoda's chaingun)."

I know that the old Expanded Universe has its detractors, and not without reason, but it was still a beautiful thing.

Rating: 3/5.

1374. Unidentified Cilpar species. They had a long-gone civilization that conveniently left behind a bunch of big old templed that were well-suited for resistance movements to hide in. They... could actually have been human.

Rating: 1/5. Ever notice how much danger the Rebels put ancient cultural artifacts in? They really liked using old temples as bases, see.

1375. Unidentified Crystan V species. They're apparently little.

And green.


Rating: 1/5.

1376. Unidentified dead red moon species. They were long-extinct when their homeworld was visited in a story set a year after A New Hope. They lived on a now-dead red moon, which is a funny description for a place.

Incidentally, their long-dead homeworld was then atomized by an artificial supernova induced by an Imperial traitor trying to destroy both an Imperial fleet and Rebel forces.

...Wow, special.

Rating: 1/5.

1377. Unidentified Delderaan species. Apparently, their northern tribes wove multicolored balls of yarn. Uh?

Rating: 1/5.

1378. Unidentified Dersonn III species. They were rendered nearly extinct, and the survivors were enslaved, by a sociopathic Wookiee bounty hunter.

Oh, nice, the Wookiee's article contains detailed descriptions of how he stalked and murdered his entire tribe and then a group of slavers! Just what I always wanted in an article! /sarcasm

...What was I talking about again? Oh yeah, this completely anonymous victim species!

Rating: 1/5.

1379. Unidentified dianoga-like species. They may actually be related to dianogas (trash compactor monsters), as the known member of the species was apparently native to the dianoga homeworld. And they apparently are an advanced civilization, because they apparently utilize terraforming. Also, said sole known member of the species was a mercenary.

That's awesome.

Rating: 4/5. It would take almost no effort to bump that up to a full 5/5.

1380. Unidentified diminutive pointed-eared species. They have egg-shaped heads with colored spots on top.

Rating: 1/5.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Another Castle, You Say?

Was watching a playthrough for the Game Boy Color version of the 1985 Super Mario Brothers game, and...

Well... did make sure that the toadstool guy got out before you did that, right, Mario?


-Signing off.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Super Robot Profile/Review: Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet (find it online for legal free here or here-though on this occasion, I watched a DVD purchased at Wal-Mart of all places) is a pretty great space opera turned fish out of water slice of life story turned psychological drama turned what the heck am I even saying at this point?

My sister and I were drawn to the series because it had a picture of a robot on the front, honestly; we're suckers for basically any mecha or super robot series that doesn't have "Gundam" in the name. (Nothing personal against Gundam; we just aren't as into it because everything in it starts to look the same after a while.)

For a series whose story significantly comes from a guy whose common English fan nickname includes the word "butcher," big chunks of it are pretty lighthearted and even cute.

Not quite that cute, mind you, although considering that this is part of a sequence (from a chibified net movie thing) explaining that one of the characters has spent his entire life either fighting, in battle simulations to prepare him for fighting, or having hypnotic sleep programming to strengthen his resolve for fighting, this is cute in a disturbing-as-hell way.

Anyways, this is one of those series that's kind of hard to talk about without ruining things (even comparing it to one of the series I'm thinking of comparing it to would probably be a spoiler, for one or the other if you've watched the other or the one-though this series is much lighter-hearted than that one), but I will say that the robot('s AI), Chamber, is way cuter and more lovable than a space death machine has any right to be.

(Also, as with a number of other slightly odder mecha franchises, my instant response upon finishing the series was to wonder how in the world one would try to integrate its plot into a Super Robot Wars game, because that's just a thing I think about a lot. It wouldn't be quite as tricky as Star Driver [which would be really darned tricky and I want to see it so bad], but it'd be quite the task unless there was a lot of time travel/sideways reality hopping.)

There are a lot of offbeat mecha series I've talked about; this one is one of the better ones, and while this might just be a small reference pool thing, it feels fresh and different from a lot of other things I've watched.

Like mecha and/or nautical vessels?

It has 'em.

Like ocean views?

It has 'em.

Like disturbing plot twists that aren't attached to a kill-'em-all series?

It has 'em.

I like this series quite a lot, is what I'm saying.

-Signing off.

Friday, November 7, 2014

That Shouldn't Be Allowed (But It's Kind of Great That It Is)

(I should have done a Star Wars post, but I didn't. I'll get to the next one soonish, I swear.)

It's stupid how funny I find messing with RPG bosses.

Status effects that shouldn't work on such bosses but do are basically the bane of their existence, and can turn stupid-hard fights into cakewalks.

Like, there's a sea serpent you have to fight in the third chapter of Mardek, for instance.

It's a big, mean so'n'so, with enough hitpoints to take forever to kill and a tidal wave attack that's just a pain to deal with.

And it's immune to neither sleep (can't move until a physical attack hits it and wakes it up, or until its relatively low resistance removes it) nor poison (deals damage every time the victim takes a turn, and it's percentage-based).

And it's not that hard to pick up a couple of special bombs that inflict almost all status effects. Using one, or if necessary a couple, to basically skip a boss fight despite their rarity? Totally worth it.

(Pretty sure that the first time I fought that serpent, I was way underleveled* for that fight. It helped that I had several magic-based ways to inflict damage and thus speed things up rather a lot.)

*The thing is, I'm a completely unrepentant level grinder. I've literally cleared tiny areas of enemies thirty or forty times in one gameplay session and I hunt down enemies that summon other enemies for the opportunity to kill their buddies. On the first occasion that the character Corgan from Septerra Core joined my party, due to the experience bleed from the massive amount of grinding I'd done (all characters in Septerra always get full experience regardless of whether you've recruited them, they're in your party, etc.-which actually cuts down on how much grinding you need to do, because you don't need to swap around characters to get the full effects), he already had what was supposed to be a high-level skill available-in a current playthrough where I just felt like rushing around, I've had him for a while and he still doesn't have that skill.

-Signing off.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

More Awesome Music Covers

Attack on Titan is a pretty great series, and one of the best things about it is that it's got great music.

But if you've watched it, you know that already, right?

So if you haven't, or even if you have, here's a "metal" cover of the OST song "XL-TT," which stands for "extra-large titan." ...No, I'm not sure why they chose that particular idiosyncratic naming scheme.

Whatever, it's still amazing.

-Signing off.

Monday, November 3, 2014

That's a Patient Cat

Not a fan of Final Fantasy VII or Sephiroth, but I'm a fan of the song, and this is fricking amazing.

The faces (and the bits with the cat) are worth watching the video for by themselves.

-Signing off.