Saturday, October 10, 2015

HALLOWEEN: When Halloween Was Forever

For Saturday morning, a Saturday morning cartoon. This seems to be the most popular episode of The Real Ghostbusters, and it's easy to see why: Samhain is the cartoon's most memorable villain. He even returned to menace them again in "Halloween II 1/2."

Friday, October 09, 2015

This Week in Neat-O

Well, certainly the neatest thing that happened to me this week is that Jez in Dallas generously gave me a few bucks after I declared my love for this year's Lego Minifigures. It turns out they sell these things in one of the stores Becca works in, so she picked some up for me. They sell these in mystery packs so you don't know which ones you're getting, but honestly, these are all so great that I wouldn't have been unenthusiastic about a single one of them.

These are the four I got: the Wacky Witch (complete with surprisingly complicated skirt and a black cat), the Gargoyle, Bigfoot Squarefoot (with a camera, so either he's on vacation or, as I like to imagine it, taking blurry selfies and selling them to tabloids), and the Fly Monster. This is the order I opened them in, so I unknowingly saved the best for last. As soon as I saw him in the pictures, I knew Fly Monster was my favorite, and I actually got him! Fantastic stuff! I love them all, and one day, I'll actually build my Lego sets again and incorporate them all. Hmm... maybe Fly Monster and Squarefoot can be a pair of aliens for my Space System astronauts to encounter.

Thanks again, Jez! These things are just wonderful, and you're a generous person.

Here's some other neat-o stuff:

:: WNYC's Sex, Death and Money podcast has a short interview with Sonia Manzano, aka Maria from Sesame Street. I can't wait to read her book.

:: Two more teasers for Jessica Jones.

:: The exciting trailer for season 2 of Star Wars Rebels. More Vader! More Ahsoka! A new Inquisitor! Captain Rex! Hondo!

:: The trailer for the Coen Brothers' Hail, Caesar! looks like the kind of movie I love and my wife hates. I can't wait to see it. Alone, but still.

:: Leonard Nimoy reads Isaac Asimov's classic story "The Last Question."

:: One of my favorite sites on the internet, which I don't link to often enough, is Dinosaur Dracula. We're in the midst of his Halloween Countdown, one of my favorite annual occurrences, and I particularly liked this post about McDonald's Halloween Pails. I remember having them when I was a kid... I'll have to see if I can track those down one day.

:: Birth Movies Death has an interesting post: The Muppets Have Always Been for Grown-Ups. I think it's a nice answer to the people who have been upset over the tone of the new sitcom. The post's author, Bob Chipman, points quite rightly to the history of the Muppets, how they've always mixed tones, and how they've always been aimed at a truly general audience and not just for kids. Most of what I've been seeing has been either older people misremembering The Muppet Show or confusing it with Sesame Street, who are making a depressing case that Kermit should be nicer and inoffensive and basically all of the mistakes Disney made by curtailing Mickey Mouse's bratty tendencies and neutering the character. Or it's Millennials who grew up with the much more kid-oriented Muppet Treasure Island and don't understand that the Muppets in the sitcom are much more in-character than they've been for the last 30 years (with the exceptions of the two most recent movies).

I've been trying not to go on a long rant about it, because I've said everything about it so often over the last few years. Look, it's like 90% of the population just forgot about the Muppets for 30 years. They weren't there to support The Jim Henson Hour. They weren't there to support Muppets Tonight. I watched people freaking walk out of Muppets from Space with their kids and then complain later that it was too slow and quiet and not wacky enough, like the Muppets are supposed to be the damn Teletubbies. But you saw Muppet Treasure Island in between sixteen straight viewings of The Lion King (the most overrated movie ever), and now suddenly the Muppets belong to you, and you're going to lecture me about what you think Jim Henson's original vision was and how the new show has strayed from it?

YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT.

Jeez.

Okay.

(Chipman also makes a good point about ABC trying too hard with the ad campaign and turning viewers away, or promising a different show than it actually is. That's par for the course with ABC. Remember when they kept murdering Lost with misleading promos?)

I'm going to end on a lovely note, with Glen Keane's newest animation, Nephtali, a production of the Opera National de Paris.

HALLOWEEN: Peanuts, 1982

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Halloween: Mutts

Kevin Corcoran 1949-2015

I was sorry to see that Moochie passed away this week, and at the age of only 66. When I was a kid, I used to watch reruns of The Mickey Mouse Club on Disney Channel (back when they played a lot of old Disney content), and I remember seeing him in some of those and some episodes of the anthology shows, so I remember seeing Moochie of the Little League and Adventure in Dairyland and Spin and Marty and even The Rainbow Road to Oz. And, of course, he's in some of my favorite live action Disney films, like The Shaggy Dog, Old Yeller, Swiss Family Robinson, and the slight-but-charming Toby Tyler. He was always a reassuring presence, too, in the occasional documentary about Disney.

Very sorry to see that he's left us.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

HALLOWEEN: The Halloween Whopper

You know one of my chief joys during October is special edition Halloween food, so when Burger King decided to introduce a Halloween Whopper, I knew I was going to have to eat it at some point. Everyone else has been sharing their pictures and experiences, so... well, here's mine.

As you can see, I also got onion rings and a cherry Icee. A little treat for me; I love Icees, but I don't have them often, and since I'm on a sugar high right now, I'm reminded why.

I'm actually not much of a Burger King fan, so I haven't had any in years. They just remodeled our local place so it looks less like the kind of place where you're going to get knifed during a drug deal gone wrong, and since this is a new, special thing for Halloween, I figured BK would try a little harder. As I've said before, one of the things I love about special edition Halloween food is that it tastes fresher, rather than like something that's been sitting in a warehouse (or whatever the BK equivalent is).

The black bun is actually pretty beautiful. I thought it was going to be off-putting, but it's got a great color to it. My photo doesn't really do it justice (there's a lot of sun today), so you'll have to take my word for it. This one has A1 Steak Sauce on it, as well as baked into the bun, and wow, it really makes all the difference. It has a rich, smokey flavor, which is something I've never, ever said about a fast food burger. They should consider keeping that a regular component of the Whopper, because it just adds so much to the overall experience of eating it. I ate it about 40 minutes ago, and I can still feel that heat in my throat and taste it a little in my mouth, and I don't hate it. It's hot, so the Icee was a pretty good combination for it.

This may be the only time I eat one, but I would gladly have another if the time and money worked out. It's a nice treat, particularly after a really hard, really emotional therapy session. Burger King went all out on this one, and you can taste the difference. It might not make me a BK convert--I was born a McDonald's kid, I'll die a McDonald's kid, and probably early from all of the McDonald's I've eaten--but this was easily the most rewarding Burger King has been for me since they had Return of the Jedi glasses back in '83.

Oh, and by the way: I cannot yet attest to whether it will turn my waste green, but Gizmodo has an article that explains why it happens, if you're interested. Science!

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

The Book Light Lady

Roger had a post a few weeks ago about about going to see Ant-Man that made me think about my experience going to see the movie. I didn't talk about it a ton because of my usual mid-summer depression, but I had a nice time. We don't make it into movie theaters very often anymore because of our financial situation--in fact, we've only done it twice this year, both Marvel movies, The Marvel movies have become my Star Wars now, so those are the movies I make sure to save up for so we can go out and see them. They're events for me, and Ant-Man came out on my birthday, so it was perfect timing.

I really liked the movie, but I especially liked the whole experience of going to see it. Because of my anxiety, I do get a little skittish inside the theater, particularly when waiting for the show to start, as I feel the people pressing around me. Hard to breathe. And we have to go to matinees, which is fine with me; I'm much more a Sunday afternoon moviegoer than a crowded Friday night moviegoer. Our local place had a show at 10 on Sunday morning, and even though it was in 3-D, we went for it. I knew there'd be very few people there. We got to go out for breakfast beforehand and had a nice time.

I was right: there were only about 8 other people in the theater. But one of them was the Book Light Lady.

The Book Light Lady has become a sort of touchstone for me at the theater. I started seeing her after we moved here, back in 2001. She's an elderly woman with white hair, and before the preview/commercial program begins, she's always sitting in her seat, reading a novel with one of those clip-on book lights. Back in 2001, I had a lot more disposable income, and we went to the movies a lot more often. And what was really surprising to me was that I mostly saw her in genre movies.

That was a weird time when I was 25 and just starting at Northern Illinois University. I was sort of in that "Well, I guess I have to grow up now" mindset, aided by the way certain people who are related to me tended to make me feel like they were embarrassed by the 25 year-old who collected Disney movies and Muppet action figures and Star Wars stuff. But there, framed by the glow of a book light, was a woman older than my mother who was going to see every genre movie I did and clearly enjoying herself. That just made me feel great. I think most genre fans go through that moment where they feel like maybe growing up means leaving all of that stuff behind. The Book Light Lady, as we came to call her, made me realize that no, I didn't. I could incorporate that into being an actual adult.

(Of course, the mental illness and survivor guilt trauma have really thrown that into a detour, but... I'm getting help for that.)

One time, after leaving the first showing of The Two Towers, I saw her getting into her car: a Volkswagen Beetle with a license plate that was the name of an LOTR character. That was amazing.

I've never said hi to her or anything. She's just been a reassuring presence. I still remember how she laughed when Orlando Bloom stood nude almost to his pubes in Troy and Becca literally screamed "No!" I still remember how she and Becca were the only ones who quickly got it in Shrek 2 when Puss-in-Boots goes all Garfield and sighs "I hate Mondays" and both laughed. I'm always glad to see her, and over the years, even though we don't go so often, I still occasionally see her at those weekend showings of genre movies. If I don't see her, I worry. I don't know if I saw her at anything last year, but we don't always get to that same theater when we do go to the show; last year, we were much more fond of going out to Geneva and seeing a movie there because we could make it a treat day and go to Five Guys. (We don't have one in DeKalb.) Haven't been there in 2015... Damn, I'm suddenly hungry.

But the weekend of my birthday, when we walked into the theater to see Ant-Man and there she was, book light on and reading, it helped to make my birthday shine. The Book Light Lady is alive and well and seemed to really enjoy Ant-Man as much as I did. I had a nice birthday, but one of the highlights was just seeing a movie with her and knowing she's still getting out to the movies.

(Incidentally, Roger says he hasn't seen a Marvel movie in three years. I hope he catches up, because Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy are pretty amazing. Guardians of the Galaxy in on Encore a lot these days, and it's quickly becoming one of my all time faves. If you have to see just one, see that one. But really, see both. But also, see all of them. But especially Guardians of the Galaxy. End fan mode.)

HALLOWEEN: Lego Minifigs!

Every year, Lego releases a new series of standalone minifigures. I always see something I'd ideally love to have in my meager collection, but I never can afford to buy any of them (or much of anything, really), so I just look on and admire from afar.

This year's collection is really special, because they're all horror-themed. These are small, but here are all sixteen of them:
Pirate ghost! Human fly! Aw, hell, I love them all. Even the zombie businessman. Man, kids have the best options these days. Not that I wasn't happy with the Space, Castle, and Pirate systems as a kid, but... damn. I remember me and Carl drawing out plans for what Batman and Indiana Jones Legos would look like on graph paper, and now kids actually have Batman and Indiana Jones (and Star Wars and Avengers and Jurassic Park and Lord of the Rings and so, so many more) Legos.

I can't afford Legos, so I haven't bought any in years. (I do get the video games, which I either buy used or am given for birthdays--I'm an easy gift) But these... these guys make me wish I had some disposable cash for a day. Great job, Lego!

Monday, October 05, 2015

Muppet Monday

The new Disney Junior Muppet Moments is Halloween-ish.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Song of the Week: "April Come She Will"

When it gets cloudy, dark and chilly like it's been this week, this is one of the songs that comes to mind. Melancholy, bittersweet, and lovely, perhaps my favorite Simon & Garfunkel song. It's just one of those 3AM songs that hits me just right, a crisp tune out of the darkness. From their classic 1966 album Sounds of Silence.

HALLOWEEN: Tumblr Finds