For other weird things like this that I do, follow me on Twitter and Instagram. They’re a good resource for my general shenanigans.]]>
Anyway, the Big Fish folks responsible for Fairway Solitaire were nominated for a DICE Award. Unfortunately, they did not win. The game’s antagonist is a gopher named Gutsy McDivot and I’d like to think this is how things went afterwards:
Click it to see it in Big-O-Vision!]]>
I need to make two things clear before I continue. The first is that I have been an almost-lifetime fan of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (I say almost because I was released before they were). I watched the original cartoon show, have collections of the first comics, littered my room with toys and little brown swords, etc. From the time I first discovered them until way past the point I should have let them go, they were a major part of my life.
The second point I’d like to make is that I’m neither defending nor condemning Michael Bay. In fact, I’m not even taking a stand on the movie itself. Unlike some people on the internet, I don’t have the magic power to know how a movie that is still in pre-production will eventually turn out and am likewise unqualified to review a film that is literally just words and sketches on paper at this time.
Let’s get into the big concerns, shall we?
THE INTEGRITY OF THE FRANCHISE
A concern I’ve heard expressed is that the changing of the origin will somehow impact the integrity of the franchise because aliens are less plausible than pet turtles who can barely move around turning into ninjitsu-wielding man-turtles after a dousing with intergalactic ooze. For the sake of this piece, we’ll pretend that point of view makes enough sense to even justify discussing it.
TMNT started out as a joke when Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird combined Marvel’s New Mutants with the ninjas of Frank Miller’s Daredevil and Ronin works. This is evident in the original comics. It was a gag. But, like Dave Sim’s Cerebus started out as a parody of sword-and-sorcery comics like Conan, TMNT became something much greater. The comics took the Turtles from ancient times teaming up with other small-press characters to far-off intergalactic arenas fighting the Triceratons.
The first television cartoon series started in 1987. More than likely, this is the version of the Turtles with which you are most familiar. While the original comic book adventures were darker, more violent and all of our heroes had red headbands, this new spin simplified things for children. The vengeful, dangerous Shredder of the comics gave way to the James Avery-voiced minion of Krang. Their initials were added to their belts and each turtle was color-coded to make things easier for smaller attention spans. In short, nearly everything from the original comic series changed to make the cartoon possible and attractive to a wider audience. “The origin was never changed!” you scream. I shush you.
I’m going to assume this is about where you left things. Your last memories and, possibly, only memories of the franchise itself came from that original cartoon series (possibly also the original movies) and you’ll be darned if anything comes along to change that!
Here are some things you might have missed:
Obviously the fandom that’s currently concerned about the future of the franchise was okay with all of these follow-up projects, right? Maybe I wasn’t paying attention, but I don’t recall seeing the petitions.
Interestingly enough, the loudest and whiniest opinions about Michael Bay don’t seem to match the success of his career. That seems a bit odd, doesn’t it?
Let’s assume that when Michael Bay started working on Transformers, you were hesitant but maybe a little excited. Then you started seeing the character designs and saying things like “Why does Optimus Prime have a mouth?” or “Why is Megatron so spiky?” I know I did. But I looked forward to it. And when I saw it, I had a great time. As an avid watcher of the original Transformers cartoon and collector of its toys, I didn’t find my love of the fandom affected at all. In fact, it brought back a long-dormant interest in action figures that transform (I bought over $150 worth of toys after seeing the movie) and I had a good time with it. Did I wince when Optimus Prime said “My bad” or when Bumblebee urinated oil on John Turturro? Sure. But a lot of people hated the whole movie and the entire experience. In fact, it only pulled in $710 million dollars.
Wait, that doesn’t seem right. Of course, the crowds all went in blindly and didn’t know how much they would dislike it. Clearly this would be a cautionary tale for whatever future sequels might come along. And, in fact, the second Transformers movie, Revenge of the Fallen, only brought in $836 millon. Hold on, that’s more.
It’s widely acknowledged that RotF was an inferior entry in the series. Even Michael Bay said so. With their faith shaken, savvy, angry audiences had said “Enough is enough, Michael Bay! These movies are terrible!” I think you know where I’m going with this. The third film made over a billion dollars.
You may complain about Michael Bay’s movies and methods and call him Lord Destructor of Childhoods (more on that nonsense shortly), but you watch his movies. And I know this because I see so many rabid complaints about so many specific moments in the flicks that there’s no way you haven’t. Some I have to take your word on because I didn’t see the second one. It looked silly and I’m an American human that can make his own choices about what films he sees. But you might’ve. And every ticket sold says “Please, sir, may I have some more? You’re doing it just right.”
Michael Bay is not a time traveler. Unless you’re still a child (in which case you’ve certainly abandoned interest in this and moved on to something else), your childhood is over. It’s time-locked. It cannot change. The only impact your present life can have on your past life is if you stir up some repressed memories of wonderful or horrible things. And even then, there’s just the potential to change your perceptions of growing up. Everything that happened still happened and nothing short of an evil time-traveling director can change that.
If someone tears down your childhood home, your childhood still happened. Should your accountant parents suddenly become roving carnies wandering from town to town in search of thrills and funnel cake batter ingredients, they were still accountants the whole time you grew up. And if someone changes something about some characters you liked as a kid, YOUR CHILDHOOD IS FULLY INTACT. If a lack of change is so very important to you, know that the ways in which these fictional characters were initially presented to you still exist on DVD, in reprint comics and on eBay where all the action figures live that we don’t play with any more.
If you really, truly, incorrectly believe that the very fiber of your childhood is at risk when this movie exists, pretend it does not. Don’t see it. Don’t feed the machine. That is your right as a consumer. Skip it. I dare you to ignore it. There will be a three or four month burst where the commercials are on TV and the toys are in the Kids meals and the buzz is all a-buzzy. Ignore it and find something else to do. You’re stronger than marketing, right?
By the way…a moment about Robbie Rist, the actor who said Michael Bay was “sodomizing” the franchise by making the Turtles aliens and referred to Bay “raping our childhood memories.” (Robbie Rist, by the way, did the voice of Michelangelo in the three live-action movies and is also notable for playing Cousin Oliver, final nail in The Brady Bunch’s coffin.) As I stated, Robbie, if something in the present affects your memories from childhood, you need to reassess how seriously you take things. And if you’re willing to equate someone making a movie with a violent sexual crime, you immediately lose the right to be taken seriously yourself.
THE ORIGIN DOES NOT MATTER
There are several things about TMNT that are very important, but mostly it’s the feel. It’s the setup and the dynamic. It is not the origin. In fact, the origin itself is inconsistent depending on which media you follow. In the comics, it was a cannister of ooze created by a race of outer space brain creatures that bounced out of a truck. In the cartoon and movies, it was altered to be more terrestrial. Both of these ooze origins were incredibly important to the storylines that followed, but had no bearing on the characters (the characters themselves also vary from medium to medium, but whatever).
Look, you want green guys with shells who have ninja equipment. You want Raphael grumpy, Donatello nerdy, Michelangelo partying and Leonardo vanilla. These are things that may or may not happen in Michael Bay’s movie. In fact, the characters may wind up being regular turtles from Mars that land on Earth and get splashed with a mutagenic ooze. We don’t know any of these things. The most important part of this whole entertainment experience is the entertainment part. Will it be good and be handled respectfully?
I don’t know. And neither do you.
So shut up about it. Don’t fight it because it’s going to happen no matter how hurt your feelings are. If you’re still dissatisfied when it comes out, don’t see it. Read reviews. Ask a friend who saw it for his or her opinion. You can’t do anything about how it’s made, but you can make decisions about how you handle it once it is. If you’re not interested, don’t see it.
I dare you.]]>
So, anyway. Here’s a thing.
He stared ahead, trying to make sense of the blank, dull wall in front of him. He reached out and touched it tentatively, as if it might be intensely hot or electrified. But it was neither. It was quite nothing, in fact, aside from roughly the same temperature as the room. The wall was smooth and bare and held no evidence as to the fact he’d just come through it.
Only moments ago he’d been racing through the palace at the top of the mountain, the artifact intended to save the entire kingdom held under his arm with precious care. He had placed it onto the Altar of Hope, creating a brilliant explosion of color and light, eradicating the misshapen army of the Underneath once and for all. But that was moments ago.
Now he was on his bedroom floor, surprisingly dry (it had been raining in the palace, you see) and no longer smelling like ammonia from the blood of the fearcats he’d slain. He was just…there. And confused.
He tried to stand up, but his legs wobbled. He braced himself on the bed, remembering doing very much the same some time ago when the Randarg had floored him with its great hammer (before he realized the Randarg’s weakness behind its ears and dispatched it, naturally). But here the walls didn’t glow with the light of a million luminescent beetles. Here the walls were painted off-white and didn’t seem to writhe when stared at. Here the walls were just walls.
Finally on his feet, he stood in the center of the room, taking it in. It all felt incorrectly normal. He was sure he’d been in the kingdom for years of planning and fighting and saving the world. But everything here, in what should feel like home, seemed exactly the same as when he’d left. He picked up the cell phone he’d left on his nightstand and saw the charge was full and he’d missed no calls. He tossed it gently onto the bed as he’d so recently tossed the small Fair Duchess down from the Little Towers to her freedom waiting below. He had, right?
After a quick walkthrough of his unimpressive apartment, he returned to the wall he had crawled through as he slipped out before the celebrations could begin and he was to be named king. He dropped to his knees and pressed his ear against it, waiting to hear the whoops and hollers of freedom that mark the death of oppression. He heard the washer and dryer running in the apartment next door.
Only briefly did the thought come to him that perhaps he’d made it all up. That his overtaxed brain had simply disengaged for a while and he’d either hallucinated or dreamed everything. But he looked at his hands, which felt stronger. He felt prouder, more accomplished. The feel of the Steady Armor on his back and the grip of the Darksword burning his hands before his pure intentions cooled its heat. He remembered it all. Every victory, every loss. He remembered his tears soaking into his coarse beard scruff when the queen fell to her death and the anger that followed. He could recall everything. What it was, how it felt and how each step forward had changed him.
But the wall didn’t remember. Or his clothes. Or the fact he no longer had any beard scruff to speak of. He stood in the middle of his adventureless room for a long time, listening and waiting. But all he heard was the sound of the air conditioning unit clicking on and off. And he was apparently waiting for nothing.
He laid himself across his bed, on top of the covers. Staring at the ceiling (and not the multicolored stars and near planets of the kingdom), he realized he had truly returned. That everything had certainly happened and that all he’d felt and learned and suffered was as true as anything can be. And yet somehow it hadn’t. He had returned from nowhere stronger and better and smarter and sadder.
Again he regarded the ceiling. Folding his hands across his chest, he quietly spoke to it.
“So what happens now?”
A friend was having an art show at a local bistro, so I attended to be supportive, have a couple drinks and for lack of anything else to do. While there, I ran into Diana, a former coworker from my days working at Borders. I mentioned my sob-story about having been fired and she (amusingly tipsy from martinis) told me about National Hotline Services, her current employer. Saying they were looking for part-time employees, she gave me the number and had me call. I did and was granted an interview.
I went to 620 Kenmore Avenue for the first time later that week. It’s an unimpressive brick building with office space and one apartment on the ground floor and four apartments above. The office was split, having housed a dentist on one side and psychiatrists’ office on the other (I think). There’s an alley to the side and a small five-car parking lot around back. Forgettable at first glance, you can pass by without really ever noticing it. I even had trouble finding it when I went there, not sure that was it. It didn’t look like an office. There wasn’t even an outside sign explaining its purpose. It was just there.
I had a very bizarre interview with Diana and another employee named Mike McKenna. I say it was bizarre because the interview had no higher-ups. Diana did HR, but the bosses didn’t deem an interview for part-time answering service work worth their attention. I answered their questions amusingly and honestly. When asked to name someone who inspired me, I mentioned Kevin Smith as I was impressed with how he turned an idea and some credit cards into a movie-maker’s dream empire. This was a good move as McKenna, a New Jersian, was also a Kevin Smith fan. We talked for a while, joked for a while and in the end I had the job. I was essentially an operator for the answering service part of the business a few hours a week.
It wasn’t long before I moved on to full-time work at NHS. I upgraded to full-time operator for both corporate compliance hotline calls and the answering service. Eventually I pointed out that the posters could use some work. I fired up Photoshop and came up with something new. My importance was cemented. Over the next few years, I found myself creating new roles for myself in the company. I worked on new posters, helped build an all-new website, made friends. I was present for site visits with clients, meetings with the owner/president and made myself important to NHS. A big part of it. I went every day to 620 Kenmore Avenue feeling more and more in touch with it every day as it became more and more a part of my life. A life that was changing every year.
During the next few years, I saw the birth of my son, the death of my father and the sad fade of my marriage. When the wife and I decided things wouldn’t work out, I moved into one of the apartments above the office where my son lived with me every other week. The building became a literal home. At around that time, David moved in to one of the apartments in the building as well. We spent some time being confused and crazy and enjoying a little to much what it was like to be free of obligations and being tied down. Eventually I began dating one of the other tenants and David met Meggie, whom he would later marry and create the adorable Lex.
My relationship failed and I moved to an apartment a few blocks away for the sake of distance. I still found myself at the building for work and spending time with David and Meggie, who moved into my old apartment. The old relationship was revived and failed again, so I was there from time to time for that. My new place never felt like home. In the two years I wound up being there, I never finished unpacking. It was uncomfortable and didn’t fit. But it was what I needed at the time.
Even after I left NHS, I still had reasons to be at the building. As I said, David and Meggie still lived there. I still visited the office with a good deal of regularity as my friends continued to work there. I began dating a former co-worker who also eventually moved into the building. Around the middle of 2009, it was announced that NHS’s current owners had sold the company and would be shutting down the office at 620 Kenmore Avenue. I was working in northern VA then and spending much less time around the building. But I still made a point to visit. After all, David, Meggie and my girlfriend still lived there. When I started working in town again at the end of 2009, I was able to spend a little more time there with everyone. That building, while empty in the office, was still full of my life as it had been for almost 8 years.
David and Meggie are moving out at the end of the month. And the girlfriend doesn’t want to be the girlfriend anymore. So it occurred to me yesterday that after so long, I would no longer have a reason to go to 620 Kenmore Avenue when June rolls around.
I moved around a lot as a kid, so I never grew attachments to places. There’s no one place I can point to and say “That was my childhood home. That’s where I grew up.” When I help David and Meggie move in a few weeks and walk away from that building for what may well be the last time, it will weigh on me. But it’s a small town. I’ll go by there from time to time, probably on one of the long walks I find myself taking of late. And down the road I’ll be able to point to that building and say “That was the home of my young adulthood. As much as I have, I grew up there.”]]>
I first ventured into the world of Twitter in early February 2007. While I can no longer access those initial, tentative tweets, I assume they were insightful statements about the world around us and current events, not just an informal list of when I was hungry or needed to go to the bathroom.
Since that time, I’ve posted over 5,200 pieces of wisdom. I’m no math expert, but that comes out to an average of 230 posts a day for the last three years. That’s a lot of Twittery. That’s dozens of dozens of hours I’ve devoted to observations and quips and photos of ducks. String all that time together and I may well have lost an entire year of my life pecking away at my keyboard and greasing up the touchscreen on my iPhone.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is that you’re welcome. There’s a lot of sacrifice involved there. In fact, I’ve more than once considered outsourcing my Twittering. I even tried it for a while, but the creepy little man I hired to follow me around tweeting my important thoughts and events mainly just typed things like “HE HAZ NO PAAAANTS” or “HEY R U LOL?”. I had to let him go. I also had to let him get slapped by my hand.
At least I’m not expected to deal with inane trending and tracking for my Twitter feed. No, I leave that up to the professionals at sites like tweetstats.com. That’s how I learn facts like how my Tweet Density is greatest around Noon on Sundays BUT NOT SATURDAYS because then I tweet the most around 6PM. I also don’t tweet much at 5 AM in general. My top words used are apparently know, thats, time, good and going. This is likely because of a six month experiment in stand-up comedy style tweets that I did, all ending in “then you know THAT’S a good time to get going.” For instance, “When you set her cat’s fur on fire, you know THAT’S a good time to get going.” That experiment went about as far as my previous real world experiment, rockets powered by actual rocks. That is to say, it didn’t go very far.
How will Twitter be viewed in the future? Will subsequent generations view this as the beginning of an age of unprecedented access to information or the dawning of never-before-seen global self-involvement. Who cares? Listen, Twitter isn’t about yesterday or tomorrow or an hour from now or an hour ago. Twitter is about the moment and Twitter is about me, dammit. I’m not here to reply to your musings or retweet your attempts at jokes. I’m on Twitter to give you an up-to-the-very-second account of my minutiae and actions. Sandwich I just ate? Ham and cheese. Times gone to the bathroom today? 9 (back off, it was a cleansing day).
Twitter is about me, just like it is for 5 million other users.]]>
Anywho, the point of this ramblefest is not to bore you with science. The point is to let you know that I miss you, Dear Visitor. I miss saying things to you and having you read them and chuckle or cry. I miss your comments like “OMG LAME” or “needs more laughing” or “DRAW PICTURE ON COMPUTER”. Basically, I miss your attention. I intend to win it back. So I’m going to start writing here every week with accompanying illustrations (sorely lacking from this post, but you haven’t made your intellectual attention down payment yet). Here are some pictures I drew on a whiteboard to celebrate the new year:
This is not a promise or vow or guarantee. I just want to start posting here every Monday. I hope that you will check back weekly and should I slip or stumble or entirely forget about you, I hope that you’ll forgive me and check in later in the week or four to twelve times a day until something new posts. Each week I’ll talk about something different that may or may not have anything to do with me (next week, for instance, will in theory be about Twitter, but will mostly be about me using Twitter).
Slap me up into your RSS feed reader thingy or follow my Twitter feed and I’ll let you know when the new frivolities begin. Including this, I expect to have 52 shiny little blogicles by the end of 2010. It’s nice to think that as I settle into my hover chair deep in the moon hole, I can look back and think “I did it. I really, really did it.” Then I will snicker. “Moon hole.”
For instance, I recently did an illustration showcasing the new Blambot font Squiznor. It is this:
I’ve also done things like this here Boba Fett:
That’s it for now! Just wanted to get more current. Be sure to follow me on Twitter if you want to get immediate updates from the Awesome Factory.