Saturday, October 17, 2009

Halloween: Jack Chop

Liberally taken from Mob.

Happy Birthday, Carl!

Here, eat this Dalek cake. It looks a teeny bit unstable, so I'd eat it quickly. Exterminate it! Exterminate with your mouth! Oh, wait, that sounds creepy. Sorry. Anyway, have this picture of a cake on your birthday. Then eat cake. Do this in remembrance of me. Damn, that also sounds creepy. Just have a happy birthday, god damn it.

Yo, Joe! Episodes 36-37

Worlds Without End, Parts I & II

Zartan and the Dreadnoks steal something called a matter transmuter along with the blueprints. Zartan takes the plans, Copperhead takes the device, and they split up to take them to their Redwood Base. Last time we saw Cobra Commander, Destro, and the Baroness, they were holed up inside a British castle. This time, their command center is literally inside a giant tree. They can't always have a gymnasium and a commissary.

Destro demonstrates the matter transmuter by showing Cobra Commander a video where someone turns a rock into an apple and an iron safe into a box made of tissue paper. Seems cool, but Destro doesn't actually have it yet, and the Commander's being all pissy about it, waiting for his beloved Zartan to bring it to him.

Well, Zartan's got the blueprints, but G.I. Joe is waiting to catch him. Steeler is complaining about the toll G.I. Joe takes on his personal life, but Clutch, Grunt, and Lady Jaye are totally unsympathetic about it. Which, you know, come on, welcome to the service, pal.

Zartan swooshes by, and there's a, um, high speed glider chase between Zartan and Flint. Zartan gets shot down, but the Dreadnoks rush in to rescue him. There's a big action sequence which is pretty nicely done--this is a two-parter, so again we're allowed to see an elaborate battle scene--and G.I. Joe recovers the plans while the Cobra leaders retreat. Destro is pretty gleeful; he wants the matter transmutor, but he's always happy to see Zartan fail.

Barbecue, Grunt, Clutch, Steeler, Footloose and Airtight unwind with some poker as they're riding back to HQ in the WHALE. Well, five of them do--Steeler is still wound up. He throws down his cards and complains about the larger battle with Cobra: one endless battle after another, on and on into eternity. Clutch shrugs it off, Barbecue sympathizes, but Steeler announces that he's going to quit G.I. Joe because there's no point fighting if no one's going to win, and everyone starts yelling.

Flint and Lady Jaye, meanwhile, meet on a train with General Wagstaff and Dr. Renault, the creator of the transmuter. But they are, perhaps predictably, Zartan and the Baroness in disguise!

Seriously, G.I. Joe just can not meet people.

Well, Lady Jaye and this seriously off-model Flint don't have the plans, so the Baroness throws down a smoke cloud and throws them out of the moving train. The two Joes survive, and now there's a kidnapping to solve. They're both rescued by Cutter's WHALE.

As a back-up, Copperhead is following the WHALE in his Water Moccasin and sees that Steeler is carrying the plans in a briefcase. He attempts to jump Steeler, but he accidentally sets off the device and things go all transmute-y.

This weird light encompasses the area, and things go all white.

And then Flint, Lady Jaye, Steeler, Clutch, Grunt, Airtight, Barbecue, and Footloose all wake up in some kind of desert. They don't know for sure what happened, but they're fairly close to HQ, so they decide to walk back and figure out what happened.

Things get weirder: Steeler is bitten by this strange insect that no one's ever seen before.

And they're attacked by Cobra CLAWs. When Clutch tries to radio headquarters for help, there's only static on the headset. The Joes manage to duck into a cave and elude the Cobras.

There's equipment inside the cave, including an AWE Striker that actually runs. The gas doesn't last long, though, so they head to a nearby general store and buy eight motorcycles. Joes carry a lot of cash, I guess (and cash is how Flint pays). Barbecue asks about the barren area at the top of the hill, and the mom and pop running the place explain it's a proving ground and a weapons testing area; the government is experimenting with bacteria strains and the Weather Dominator.

Well, something's wrong, obviously. And not only that, but Steeler is having a serious reaction to that insect bite.

And Flint has to get a retinal scan (as this very off-model Lady Jaye looks on) before the proprietors are willing to explain that when G.I. Joe "went under" the resistance was rumored to have a headquarters at the top of the hill. The Joes, seriously confused, ride off on their new motorcycles while the store owner complains that their American dollars are worthless.

So what happened? Grunt thinks they may have been out for longer than a few hours and that, during that time, Cobra defeated the Joes. After all, Destro invented the Weather Dominator, not America. The others don't buy it and keep heading towards Joe HQ.

However, the HQ is guarded by Cobra soldiers and Tele-Vipers. Cobra Commander has ordered the permanent closure of the building. Steeler feels terrible; he was just wondering if G.I. Joe really made a difference or not.

(Man, can you imagine? This is the difference they make? They can't stop Cobra from setting up base after base in America, they can't cut off any Cobra funding, they can't even shut down Extensive Enterprises for terrorist activities... I guess, based on this episode, they are doing a job, they're just not doing it with any real efficiency.)

The Joes attack the base and take out the guards (oh, you Tele-Vipers) and get inside the base. According to the computer records, there are fifty Joes. 44 are missing in action, three were killed for certain in "the last great war against Cobra."

There is some equipment still usable: an APC, some Silver Mirage motorcycles, and a few Sky Hawks, covered in dust and cobwebs. Flint orders Grunt to take care of Steeler and fix the computer, and the rest head out for some reconnaissance. Of course, if they wanted to do some effective recon, they'd change out of their uniforms/costumes, but they're rattled, I get it.

They find Cobra symbols everywhere. There's a Cobra Imperial Postal Service and an Empire Times newspaper. They get pulled over by Cobra police who turn out to be the Dreadnoks, but Flint, Airtight, and Barbecue lead them off on Silver Mirages.

Meanwhile, Lady Jaye, Footloose and Clutch are flying over apparently the entire countryside in Sky Hawks. There are some frightening changes.

The most interesting is that the United Nations is flying nothing but Cobra flags. Apparently, Cobra Commander has conquered the entire world. I have to hand it to the Commander, he seems to really have everything up and running. If he's smart, and he suddenly appears to be, he did what the Romans did and left most of the institutions in place, then made a lot of improvements to the state-run services and extended citizenship and its benefits to keep things running smoothly. In fact, there's probably a case to be made that things have improved in some ways with centralized leadership under Cobra. But then, those things never last, and there's so much to keep under control, and... well, that's way too political for this show. Let's go back to Flint, Barbecue and Airtight.

The presence of the Capitol building sort of says that Joe HQ is close to Washington, DC, but on this show it seems like America is about the size of downtown Chicago, so I'll stop trying to figure out where the headquarters really are. They're captured by the Dreadnoks, by the way; apparently, Joe HQ has been bugged.

Steeler is going out of his mind, but he's also being watched by--whoa, check out the uniforms for the lady Cobra officers! Oh, sorry, um, this woman reports to the Baroness that she's found Steeler.

Over in New York City, Lady Jaye is angry to see this instead of the Statue of Liberty...

Heil, Baroness! Hey, it's her Welte, we just leben here.

And the Sky Hawks get attacked by Rattlers. Cliffhanger!

As the second part opens, a bunch of Firebats and Rattlers attack the Sky Hawks and accidentally destroy the Cobra Commander Memorial. The poor statue apparently changes from the hooded version we saw earlier to the helmeted version in anticipation of its destruction.

Well, things are starting to look even worse. Zartan is the chief of police. There are soup lines for slaves. The Dreadnok police argue over whether they should take the prisoners to Zartan or straight to Destro, who will pay them more (they escape instead). Steeler is cracking up and wandering the desert, and apparently there's been a dress code installed in the Baroness' command center: no more bare legs.

Too bad. (This soldier's name? Layla. Infantry never get cool codenames.)

The Baroness is watching Steeler and can tell he's been bitten by one of Destro's mutated insects. They carry the "D virus." I guess D is for Destro here. Grunt is following Steeler in the AWE Striker, and Steeler seriously looks like he's about to die. The Baroness tells Layla she knows what to do.

Zartan decides to find the escaped Joes personally, while Destro decides to capture the Sky Hawks on his own. Where Zartan fails, Destro succeeds; while Flint, Airtight, and Barbecue elude the Dreadnoks, Destro uses some kind of laser net to capture Lady Jaye, Clutch, and Footloose. (He calls it the parasite matrix, all fancy-like.)

Cobra Commander has made some additions to the White House: here's the interrogation room. Huh, I had one of those things. Nerf made it; you threw it in the air and it did a whole boomerang thing.

Oh, here's your requisite Lady Jaye bondage.

The Commander refers to this as a "centrifugal persuader," and the blades start spinning like a giant fan. How this is supposed to make anyone remember anything, I don't know, but whatever Commander, you got it.

Steeler, still delirious, falls down the edge of a bluff with Grunt, where they make a horrifying discovery: three skeletons of G.I. Joes. They look at the dog tags and discover that the first skeleton is Clutch (Steinberg, L.), the second is Grunt (Graves, Robert W.), and the third is Pulaski, R. P., which is Steeler. Grunt is pretty rational--he knows he's not dead--but Steeler freaks the fuck out and starts thinking he must already be dead and just hasn't figured it out yet. Before he can go full retard, though, Cobra Layla shows up to take them to the Baroness.

Meanwhile, Lady Jaye is still in bondage. The Commander releases their bonds and sends them flying into an energy net, all while laughing like a little girl and telling them they're about to "embark on a great adventure." Horrifically, it seems as if that adventure is going to be a little pleasure cruise for the Commander, if you know what I mean. This is way beyond any Arena of Sport as far as getting this sicko off.

When Steeler wakes up, he's at the Baroness' house and he's been given medicine. Grunt has this all figured out; they're in a parallel world where Cobra has conquered the world and Steeler and the Baroness have some kind of a relationship. Oh, yeah.

When the Baroness arrives, she's actually overjoyed to see Steeler.

He thinks he's a Cobra prisoner; she thinks he must have amnesia. The woman is really, really concerned about him. It's sweet.

The other Joes are starting to figure out what's going on, too. But Cobra Commander isn't listening; he's setting robot boa constrictors on his prisoners.

(Boy, this is a bondage-heavy episode. And Lady Jaye's boobs look seriously engorged the whole time. Someone's having too much fun drawing this. Maybe it's Cobra Commander. Except he only gets off on causing pain. And Zartan.)

The remaining three Joes are also captured, but Destro tries to conceal their capture from the Commander for his own purposes. While the Commander is screaming about this, Footloose manages to break out of his chains and sends his robot snake flying through the glass observation window and straight into Cobra Commander. The system shorts out, the Commander is knocked unconscious, and the three Joes escape.

I just noticed, alternate-world Baroness doesn't wear glasses. That, combined with her not being so bitchy makes her the less hot one.

The Baroness, having realized that this Steeler is not her Steeler--and that her Steeler is in fact dead--agrees to help the Joes. She goes to Destro, who has captured Flint, Barbecue and Airtight, and tries to convince him that the Joes are defecting to "our side."

Destro: "'Our side' as in Cobra's?"

Baroness: "Our side as one without Cobra Commander."

Grunt adds that Cobra Commander is mobilizing a personal army to take out Destro, and Destro buys it. He storms out and tells the Baroness to take care of the prisoners. Instead, she contacts Cobra Commander and tells him that Destro is building an army to unseat him from the throne. And it's amazing, because they actually do gather armies right away and head out to meet one another right outside the Capitol.

Baroness: "I've just instigated the first Cobra civil war and I don't want a ringside seat for my handiwork."

All seven Joes catch up with each other and head back to the proving grounds to search for the gateway portal back into their own world. Flint finds it, and immediately sends Barbecue, Airtight, and Footloose running through it.

The Baroness is sad; she's losing Steeler a second time. But Steeler says that no one is waiting for him on the other side, and he announces to Flint and Lady Jaye that he's finally figured out that it does matter if G.I. Joe fights or not. So he's going to stay with the Baroness and lead the resistance against the Cobra Empire.

Grunt and Clutch decide to stay behind with Steeler and rebuild G.I. Joe. Flint and Lady Jaye are forced to accept their choice as the portal is closing and they must go through. We leave Steeler, Grunt, and Clutch with hope for the future and an open-ended plotline which will never be resolved. Too bad; it's been pretty good.

The Joes reappear in the place where they vanished, where Duke and Doc are leading a search team and are glad to find them. They ask about Steeler, Grunt, and Clutch, who are nowhere to be found.

Lady Jaye: "They're someplace where brave men are needed. Badly."

Flint: "Amen to that. Good luck, buddies. You deserve it."

This was a really good couple of episodes. I've said before, the two-parters are usually good because there's more time to carefully set up the situation and then to take the time to resolve it in an interesting way. I also liked that Steeler, Grunt, and Clutch stayed behind. Their presence was actually pretty cool because it felt a lot more like the Marvel comic book. In fact, in the first issue of the comic, "Operation: Lady Doomsday," there's a scene where the Baroness ambushes G.I. Joe on a moving train.

Man, if only they'd replaced Flint, Lady Jaye, Footloose, Airtight and Barbecue with, say, Stalker, Scarlett, Rock 'n' Roll, Snake Eyes and Breaker, it would have been so much like the awesome early Marvel comics. But, you know, turnover in action figure lines is high, and the cartoon did have to have a balance between story and showcasing the most recent toys, so I'm frankly amazed that Steeler, Clutch and Grunt, all original team members, were even in it at all. Shit, Stalker's lucky they even still know his name at this point.

Still, awesome episodes.

The Brave and the Bold Is Back

Yesterday, Batman: The Brave and the Bold returned with an episode guest starring Jack Kirby's OMAC. I was surprised anyone even thought about using the character, and I think it's part of what makes this show so special in the history of DC's Warner Bros.-animated series. There was also an episode back in June with Batman traveling into the future and teaming up with Kamandi to fight Gorilla Grodd and his ape army. I like that this show is so obviously indebted to Jack Kirby--not only by using some of his more unique and (in the animation world) unexplored characters, but also in some of the general look and tone of the series.

By the way, there was also an episode featuring another Kirby character, Etrigan the Demon. They teamed up with Sherlock Holmes to fight Gentleman Ghost. And Mister Miracle has appeared, as well.

It's also worth mentioning, as far as references go, that they've had some great fun bringing in little bits from the Adam West Batman series. There was one episode with a prison break where Batman ended up subduing unnamed (but obvious) villains that were specific to that TV show, like King Tut, Shame, the Archer, Ma Barker, Siren, Egghead, Bookworm, Black Widow, and Louie the Lilac. That's great stuff.

This may be my favorite Batman cartoon ever. And it's not just the references. It's the way this show tries to incorporate so many elements of fun and humor alongside the storytelling. This series is exactly what superhero comics should be like: silly, preposterous, enjoyable, and engrossing.

Friday, October 16, 2009

I Don't Have My Pumpkin Yet...

...but this is as good a reminder as any to be careful. (via)

Random Thoughts

I could’ve lived a long and happy life without knowing about Jalex fan fiction. It’s written by people shipping for a romance between siblings Justin and Alex Russo on Wizards of Waverly Place. It apparently falls into two categories: the kind where Alex really punishes herself with guilt for doing something so terribly wrong (the mere grossness and guilt of it really seems to get some people off, as does the idea of a young girl being so riddled with horror), or the kind where they find out Alex is adopted. It’s fucked up. It doesn’t help that every time I see a picture of actors David Henrie and Selena Gomez, they look like they’re pretty intimate. Like, very. So now there are entire episodes (and parts of the movie) that are weirdly uncomfortable. Someone told me about this and then said “If you don’t like it, just keep it to yourself and don’t ruin anyone’s fun.” Well, sorry, but your creepy, horrifying, underage incest-based fun is ruining one of my favorite shows. Thanks a lot, internet.

:: I was barely online yesterday, so I missed this whole “Balloonboy” thing, but I can tell it’s already long past time to shut the fuck up about it.

:: Blowing up the moon just to see what happens? This is what NASA is wasting its time on now?

:: Melanie Hain, the woman who caused a stir by wearing a loaded pistol to her kid’s soccer game, was shot to death by her husband in a murder-suicide while she was video chatting. This doesn’t help the argument that people who carry guns are stable, well-off people. Of course, the fact that you think you’re going to be in enough danger at a kids’ soccer game that you need to carry a pistol is sign enough of something not connecting for these people.

:: Is it really a big deal that Miley Cyrus didn’t tip when she picked up a bunch of takeout? Who tips on takeout? It’s fucking takeout! It’s really pathetic the lengths Perez Hilton will go to in order to make Miley look bad, just because he’s upset that he’s not a pretty, pretty girl.

:: Another pair of guys I didn’t know were brothers: England Dan from England Dan & John Ford Coley (“I’d Really Like to See You Tonight”) and Jim Seals from Seals & Crofts (“Summer Breeze”). Will one hit wonders never cease?

:: There’s nothing more idiotic than seeing a grown person using the words “poo-poo” and “poopy” when they just mean “waste” or “feces” or “shit.” Standards & Practices and the idiot notion of “polite language” have turned adults into morons.

:: Oh, you were a fan of something before I was? Wow, where do I buy your medal for that? I would let my music taste define who I am, too, except I’m too busy having an actual personality to care.

:: Now that Laika Entertainment (the studio that made Coraline) has decided to forego computer animation in favor of stop-motion only, it seems weird to me that they just let Henry Selick out of his contract. It seems to me that if you were starting a stop-motion studio, knowing Peter Lord and Nick Park have their own company, the first person you’d hire would be Henry Selick. He could be the John Lasseter of stop-motion. Why would you just let him go? What’s the real story to this? I’ve been hoping Selick would do something like this ever since Disney shut down production on Toots and the Upside-Down House just because James and the Giant Peach, an underrated classic, didn’t make hundreds of millions of dollars. Meanwhile, here it is 16 years later and Disney is still giving credit to Tim Burton for The Nightmare Before Christmas and kissing his ass and not acknowledging Selick’s massive contribution. I’m sorry, but let’s put Corpse Bride next to James and the Giant Peach and you tell me who the real animation talent is. Fuck Tim Burton.

:: Elvira is out for PETA this autumn pushing vegetarian-friendly candies. Because we’re all tired of getting those big chunks of meat in our Mars bars. (I know, there are companies that use gelatin from animal fat, but it frankly doesn’t stop me from thinking vegetarianism is lame.)

:: The new K-9 spin-off of Doctor Who looks AWFUL. I wish co-creator Bob Baker weren't so precious about the rights and they could just put K-9 on Sarah Jane Adventures instead. Despise the new design of the tin dog, too.

:: Miley Cyrus deleted her Twitter account this week, disappointing a legion of fans who felt that they were losing access to her. Miley had a good explanation for deleting her account: that she felt she was too busy tweeting about her life to actually live it. Which she’s said over and over again in countless blog posts and video blogs. Hey, wait…

Oh, you could write an entire book filled with nonsense from the Bible that the supposedly devout don't apply to their own lives. In fact, they did. It's called... the Bible.

People are finally figuring out just how to counter-protest.

:: Where the hell does Senator DeMint get off flying to Honduras to side with the illegal coup and against the elected president of Honduras, the United Nations, and the United States? Sedition much? I mean, I hate to go right to the liberal shorthand of declaring someone a traitor, but that seems pretty cut and dried to me. If someone who was an executive at Microsoft went out and told the press that he used Apple and that Macs were a better system, he'd get fired. And that's not even something that actually affects peoples' lives.

:: Domestic abuse is still considered a pre-existing condition in eight states. Which means that if you get beaten by your husband and you live in Mississippi, you don’t qualify for insurance coverage. Nice. Not only that, but WellPoint is suing Maine in order to raise its insurance rates by 18.5%. And a baby was refused coverage for being too fat. Who says our insurance system is broken?

Of course the GOP called Meghan McCain a slut for posting this photo: they resent it when a woman actually knows she has boobs. Next thing you know she’ll be insisting she has some kind of control over her body and can decide to only reproduce when she wants to.

Speaking of Apple and crazy Republicans, here's a nice merging of the two in one very short video. Politics depress me. So does ignorance... (Via)

155 Years of Oscar Wilde

Haven't had a quote post in a while. Wilde's birthday is a good enough reason to have one.

"Appearance blinds, whereas words reveal."

"To be great is to be misunderstood."

"A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it."

"Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative."

"Most modern calendars mar the sweet simplicity of our lives by reminding us that each day that passes is the anniversary of some perfectly uninteresting event."

"And, after all, what is a fashion? From the artistic point of view, it is usually a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months."

"All art is immoral."

"It is better to have a permanent income than to be fascinating."

"Hard work is simply the refuge of people who have nothing whatever to do."

"Life imitates art far more than art imitates Life."

"No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist."

"Anybody can make history. Only a great man can write it."

"Every great man nowadays has his disciples, and it is always Judas who writes his biography."

"Truth, in the matters of religion, is simply the opinion that has survived."

"Oh! journalism is unreadable, and literature is not read."

"It is through art, and through art only, that we can realize our perfection; through art and art only that we can shield ourselves from the sordid perils of actual existence."

"There is no sin except stupidity."

"To be good, according to the vulgar standard of goodness, is obviously quite easy. It merely requires a certain amount of sordid terror, a certain lack of imaginative thought, and a certain low passion for middle-class respectability."

"I can resist everything except temptation."

"Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about it."

"I am the only person in the world I should like to know thoroughly."

"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars."

"In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it."

"What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing."

"Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes."

"What a pity that in life we only get our lessons when they are of no use to us."

"The youth of America is their oldest tradition. It has been going on now for three hundred years."

"Children love their parents. Eventually they come to judge them. Rarely do they forgive them."

"Education is an admirable thing. But it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught."

"The English are always degrading truths into facts. When a truth becomes a fact it loses all its intellectual value."

"In old days books were written by men of letters and read by the public. Nowadays books are written by the public and read by nobody."

"Art is the only serious thing in the world. And the artist is the only person who is never serious."

"The only thing that can console one for being poor is extravagance. The only thing that can console one for being rich is economy."

"Ambition is the last refuge of the failure."

"Only the shallow know themselves."

"The old believe everything; the middle-aged suspect everything; the young know everything."

"One should always be a little improbable."

"All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his."

"The truth is rarely pure and never simple."

"In married life, three is company, and two is none."

"It is absurd to have a hard and fast rule about what one should read and what one shouldn't. More than half of modern culture depends on what one shouldn't read."

"The absence of old friends one can endure with equanimity. But even a momentary separation from anyone to whom one has just been introduced is almost unbearable."

"To speak frankly, I am not in favour of long engagements. They give people the opportunity of finding out each other's character before marriage, which I think is never advisable."

"I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself."

"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast."

"Fashion is what one wears oneself. What is unfashionable is what other people wear."

"When one pays a visit it is for the purpose of wasting other people's time, not one's own."

"If we men married the women we deserved, we should have a very bad time of it."

"Disobedience, in the eyes of any one who has read history, is man's original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion."

"High hopes were once formed of democracy; but democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people."

"Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live."

"Closed eyes listen, afraid to see on their own. Easily influenced and simply conformed."

"Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known."

"Now art should never try to be popular. The public should try to make itself artistic."

"The only thing that one really knows about human nature is that it changes. Change is the one quality we can predicate of it."

"Yet each man kills the thing he loves..."

"How else but through a broken heart/May Lord Christ enter in?"

"I have said to you to speak the truth is a painful thing. To be forced to tell lies is much worse."

"A thing is, according to the mode in which one looks at it."

"It seems to me that we all look at Nature too much, and live with her too little."

"Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation."

And a couple of unsourced quotes which may or may not be Wilde:

"The only creative thought one can have in an institution is how to get out."

"A true friend stabs you in the front."

"Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much."

"Morality, like art, means drawing a line someplace."

"Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious."