Friday, July 29, 2005

Pimpons Ain't Easy

I visited the planet Whatitis today. I was very well received by the very friendly beings there. The Pimpons, as they call themselves, are well known throughout the galaxy as being great providers of entertainment and as so, actually work pretty hard at it. "Pimpons ain't easy" is the way that these masters of the leisure arts like to describe how much effort they put into what they do.

I visited the capital city of Blunnt and they were very generous, offering me gifts to take on my journey.

A fancy belt buckle.

A very nice spinning necklace. I believe they are paying homage to the Graviton Unit, without which many spacecraft would never achieve escape velocity.

And a drinking vessel.

They also offered to put "spinners" on The Danger Sled, it was very generous of them, but I had to decline. The spinners aren't safety rated for the landing gear.

It was such a ball there, literally. It was like some sort of Marti Gras (an Earth event that takes place in the spring at a place called New Orleans) festival was going on all day and night. They kept calling me "Playa," which I believe is a reference to my status as an Intergalactic Gladiator. They even gave me a nickname, I am a little embarrassed to tell you it is President Jon Slick. I am not exactly sure how they came up with that, but it was tha sizzle nonetheless.

Evidently, you can input your name into their generator and get your own nickname. You can do it here: Whatitis Visitor's Bureau nickname generator.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

I Hate Sidekicks Part Two

I never intended the that the last post be the end all on sidekicks, yet I feel that I certainly missed a few important ones that have graced our lives in the past 20 or so years. I'll start with Fluke's suggestion of Electra Woman and Dyna Girl.

Oh no, they're on top of giant bean crocks!
This team was on the Sid and Marty Kroft Supershow on Saturday mornings. They were kind of like Batman and Robin but they had giant wrist devices that shot electric bolts that shattered glass and knocked people over. It was very campy, but not quite as campy-cool as Adam West and Burt Ward. You have to give them their due, though, for being able to push empowerment for women, yet have the cheesecake on display for the men.

I found a nice video of Dyna Girl turning evil! Evil Dyna Girl is totally hot! Image and video courtesy of Electra Woman and Dyna Girl Webpedia.

Daggit was a robotic dog from Battlestar Galactica. He hung with Boxey during Galactica's quest for a shiney planet called Earth.

Wait a minute, that was a monkey in that suit? You lied to me! Damn you all! Damn you all to hell!!

Twiki was Buck Rogers robotic companion. With his trademark "Beedeep beedeep beedeep," voiced by no less than the Man himself Mel Blanc, Twiki had the job of supplying the occasional sardonic comment as well as carrying Dr. Theopolis around. There was one episode where he got to dance with a female robot. Two robots gettin' down in a space disco is truly a spectacular site, indeed.

HERBIE the Robot hung with the Fantastic Four in their 1978 cartoon when censors thought that Human Torch would inspire kids to set themselves on fire. Previous and subsequent FF cartoons did feature Torch, though, so who's the idiot now, Flanders?

The Godzilla cartoon featured Godzuki, who's entire purpose in life was to stir up trouble with a giant monster then call for help from his Uncle Godzilla, who would smash the monster du jour. I tell you, I would certainly cause a lot of trouble myself if I knew that all I had to do was summon my gigantic fire-breathing uncle to save my bacon. "What, you won't seat me at the buffet now? Oh Uncle Earl!"

MASK had count 'em two sidekicks. Matt Trakker's son Scott and his robot T-Bob, who looked like a certain astromech droid with a wheel sticking out of his hiney. The two would always hide in the trunk of Matt's flying car whenever he would take off to stop VENOM's plan to blow up the oil fields or steal the platinum or whatever.

I did not want to do this. I did not want to do this, but I got a request for it. What do you do when the sidekick gets a sidekick? The answer is Scrappy Doo and Scooby Dum. There was also a Scooby gramps and a cousin, too, but I am not barking any further up this family tree. The Scooby cartoons in all their forms were bad and the movies were worse. Matthew Lillard, you made a fine Shaggy, but I know you can do better. I've seen SLC Punk.

Sidekicks was briefly a television show starring Gil "Buck Rogers" Gerard and Ernie Reyes Jr. Reyes is legitimately a black belt, but I could never buy the concept of him as a kid kicking and throwing around 200 pound thugs. A much better fight scene between him and Dwayne Johnson can be seen in The Rundown.

Silly Jonathan Brandis, M-249 Squad Automatic Weapons weren't in 'Nam!
Sidekicks was also a movie starring Jonathan Brandis as an asthmatic Walter Mitty type (read a book!) who dreams of teaming up with Chuck Norris. It's an OK movie, but it did have a nice message about believing in yourself and trying your best.

Xena had Gabrielle as a traveling companion and they've even kissed, much to the delight of middle aged men living in their parents' basement and mullet-sporting women everywhere.

And of course, there is the Suzuki Sidekick. Isn't that cute? It's like a little SUV!

So there's my second list of sidekicks, many of whom were useful as companions, like Gabrielle, interesting people, like Evil Dyna Girl, or even useful conceptually, like catapulting a Suzuki at a castle that you are laying siege to. I would've settled for Twiki or maybe even T-Bob, but no... I... get... this... thing.

How's it goin' boss?

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

I hate comedy relief sidekicks!

I got a call to see J'onn Sinew Nu in his office. Sinew Nu is one of the muckety mucks up in the marketing department. A VP or something. Normally, I don't get too riled up about the marketing folks because they are all making special titles for themselves like "Sr. Manager of Page 12" or "VP of That One Thing That I Take Care Of," but it seemed important so I went to his office to check out what the deal was.

"Jon," he says. "We like you a lot here in the Intergalactic Gladiator Entertainment. The fans are really behind you, you know how to work the crowd, and you have this great no-nonsense approach when it comes to your opponents.

"Go on." I'm wondering where this guy is going.

"We've been doing a lot of research here in the office, and we think that you are missing just one element. You need just one thing to put you over the edge."

"What is this one thing?" I have to ask. I wonder how much I am going to regret this.

"You need a sidekick!"

"A what?"

"You know, a companion on your long journey. A buddy. Comedy relief!" His eyes light up at the prospect, but my mind started to wander. I start thinking about the sidekicks that heroes have had all these years. Tonto, Sancho Panza, Dr. Watson, Kato, Jimmy Olsen, Ed McMahon...

Robin -- Not the first sidekick ever (I couldn't even think of who that could be), but the one that many people think of when they think sidekick. Robin came around to lighten up the Batman series and add a bit of youthful energy. It got to the point where just about every superhero had some kind of a snot nose running around with him. Green Arrow had Speedy, Aquaman had Aqualad, and until getting himself strapped to a V2 rocket, Bucky was Captain America's sidekick.

At some point all the sidekicks got their own title. The Teen Titans burst onto the scene and saved the town of Happy Harbor from some nogoodnick. The Titans have been around in some form ever since. Dig it.

Wendy, Marvin and Wonderdog -- Ugh. What can I say about these guys besides "Ugh?" They were on the Superfriends, but not when the Superfriends did cool stuff like kicking the Legion Of Doom's collective butts or beating down some Space Pirates. The Superfriends just visited haunted houses and helped out lost aliens who were looting the oceans for fuel or something.

The trio was quickly replaced with The Wonder Twins, Zan, Jayna and Space Monkey Gleek. The twins were decent, they had their powers and helped out the Superfriends. They even got to go out on their own and respond to calls on the Teen Trouble Alert. Gleek, on the other hand, was a pointless, annoying monkey with a stretchy tail and a penchant for obnoxious hijinkery.

Interestingly enough, Scooby Doo was the one sidekick who had the show named after him. Scooby spent every single freaking episode getting lost with Shaggy, getting scared with Shaggy, and eating.

Blue Falcon's comedy relief came in the form of Dynomutt. Blue Falcon was kind of a Batman analog, he had a blue costume, some gadgets and he fought crime from a flying car. Because this was a Hanna Barbara cartoon in the 80's, he got a robot dog with a goofy voice that screwed everything up.

G-Force has an unusual entry in the genre of sidekickery. When this cartoon came to the US from Japan, it was too violent and adult for the kiddie crowd, the edits and tailoring of the show created huge gaps in the story that were filled with this familiar looking plot filler, 7-Zark-7.

I would be remiss if I didn't include Norman Fell on this list. Yes, Three's Company's own Mr. Roeper hung with the Rat Pack in their heyday, mine sweeping Dean-o's unfinished drinks and trying to score on Frank's castoffs.

Orko -- He-Man's comedy relief magician who was neither funny nor good with his magic. Oh look, he screwed up a spell again, wah wah.

The GoBots had Scooter, who was the only GoBot who couldn't fire lasers from his fists. But, check it out, he can make holograms. Wow.

Launchpad -- Darkwing Duck's companion. I'm not sure what his deal was, he was popular enough to be in two cartoons at once, though, as he crossed over onto the Duck Tails show.

The Human Ton's Sidekick Handy was a nice changeup from the normal marble-mouthed calamity causers. He even championed reading books, which is especially admirable coming from an evil puppet.

The Thundercat's sidekick came in the form of Snarf. He wasn't too bad, I guess. He was just kind of there and he caused the last laugh at the end of the show a lot, I think. He was joined by a more energetic nephew at some point, but that wasn't enough apparently, because the Thundercats also encountered

The Robo Berbils. Oh oh, they caught Lion-O! What scene from what movie could this thing possibly be paralleling?

Oh yeah, they're like Ewoks, but robots! Probably the worst thing about the concept of the Ewoks is that it shows how Lucas sold out to cute. The battle could have been with Wookies, but teddy bears with spears would make nice toys, made for TV movies, and cartoons.

Oh, but Lucas wasn't out of bad ideas yet. In order to show the wonders of digital effects and a name inspired by (reportedly) his kid's babbling, he brought us Jar Jar Binks. A creature so obnoxious, so scene-chewingly vile, that in response to fan backlash, Lucas reduced the cartoonish (in both behavior and appearance) oaf to mere cameos in episodes 2 and 3. Don't tell me you love Jar Jar, I refuse to believe it.

The movie Mallrats featured Brodie as Quint's sidekick -- hey how come Brodie's the sidekick?

"Jon? Jon? Are you with me?"

I snap out of it and mumble "Yeah, sure. Sidekick." If I could bleed unenthusiasm from my pores, this place would be flooded.

"So let me introduce to you, your new sidekick. Come on in here!"

I look at the door and this thing crashes through, stumbles across the room, slams into Sinew Nu's desk and pushes a gleeful arm out to shake my hand. "Howya doin' boss?" he asks, pumping my hand. From his mouth, "boss" sounds kind of like "bwauwth."

What the heck is this thing anyway?

Monday, July 25, 2005

Murder at Moor Manor

I have a bit of a secret, I've been writing a mystery play. I know that sounds a bit unusual, but I've been a huge fan of the Hacknorian mystery series Herculoid P'oirot for the longest time. After reading so many of these great stories, I thought that I would try my hand at creating one.

Famed Sleuth Herculoid P'oirot
Please bear in mind in that this is a work in progress. This is the scene where a body is about to be discovered in the mansion.

Bunny rolls a serving cart into the front room and offers the Lord and Lady tea.

Bunny: Would you like some tea, Lord Thistlebottom?
Lord Thistlebottom: Quite. Verily. Harumph harumph.
Bunny: I say, it was a dreadful storm last night. I swear the thunder kept me shivering under covers at all hours.
Lord Thistlebottom: Aye, that was a bloody loud storm all right.
Lady Thistlebottom: I daresay that it kept me shivering in my bedclothes as well. The thunder sounded — murderously loud, indeed.
Bunny: Indeed.
Lord Thistlebottom: Pip, pip.

Roger enters in all white and carrying a racket.

Roger: Morning, all, I am to meet Randy early for our squash match today.
Lady Thistlebottom: Roger, you sit down right now and eat a warm meal. It is so cold out there you’ll catch your death.
Roger: Oh mother, you worry so.
Lord Thistlebottom: Hear hear. Harumph.
Lady Thistlebottom: Harumph indeed.

The doorbell rings and Bunny leaves to answer it.

Lord Thistlebottom: Harumph indeed? Why, Lady Thistlebottom, your senseless prattling never ceases to amaze me. Never ceases to amaze me and drives me to drink.

Lord Thistlebottom pulls a flask out from his robe pocket.

Lady Thistlebottom: Oh, I wish that you didn’t drink so. Remember what happened to poor Uncle Herbert?
Lord Thistlebottom: Remember? I’m drinking to forget.

Bunny reenters followed by Inspector Reynaldo.

Bunny: Lady and gentlemen, Inspector Reynaldo.
Lady Thistlebottom: Good day, Inspector. What brings you here on this day?
Inspector Reynaldo: Good day, all. Unfortunately my visit here is of business. I am afraid last night’s storm washed out the only bridge into town. We are — trapped here at Moore Manor until… I say, what is that in that corner behind the curtain?

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Picture time

I thought that I'd share some photographs of me.

That's me with my cool shades and Vibro-Ax on one of the Fire Islands of Hacknor.

Vibro-Mace, laser shades and space helmet.

Absolutely horrible class photo of me from the Intergalactic Gladiator Academy.

Fortunately, they let me retake the picture. I am wearing my ceremonial gladiator helmet, but I sure wouldn't want to fight with that thing on.

Here I am with my Lasar Sword.

It's Miller Time, baby!

Some people call me the space cowboy....

Tailgating at the Bears game.

Here is a picture of me in the Mid 80's. I was experimenting with my look a bit.

I am mullet man, wearing a mullet if I can...

That's when I was in the Army. A fine looking trooper I was.

Me and baby Kiera.

Pictures courtesy of Portrait Illustration Maker.

I found a picture of my wife and I on our honeymoon in Las Vegas.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Lousy Kitchen Droid

We used to live in a nice condo, it had a decently sized kitchen with all the necessary appliances, including a dishwasher. That's really one of the more important things that a young couple could ask for in a room designed for the preparation of food.

We moved into a house in March and it we've been calling it our dream house since we saw it. It's not a huge house, but it's a great Chicago-style bungalow with plenty of space to keep our junk and raise a kid.

The drawback is that the kitchen is kind of small and there is no room for a dishwasher.

So I see this commercial on TV for Crazy JJ's House of (Slightly Used) Droids and Appliances. It's got this crazy looking little guy with glowing eyes waving his arms and hawking his wares. He's showing model after model of quisinarts, blenders and window washing droids -- all with this high pitched scratching noise of a voice. Then he gets to "it."

He calls "it" the KD-209 and it is apparently the greatest thing in Kitchen Droid technology since the Laser Bread Slicer 5000. It can wash, dry and put away the dishes. It can clean the counter tops. It has a wet dry scrubber for the floors. It can even feed the dog.

It's got arms and scrubbers, cleaners and dirt sensors. It's got a cheese slicer and a mellon baller, a toaster cleaner, an ice cube maker and a bottle opener. It's got all kinds of neat things and I think to myself "Oh yes, I must have the KD-209." My wife agrees, and soon I am off to Crazy JJ's.

When I get there, I see that there is a KD-209 on the floor, but JJ says that the floor model is the only one left, and all he wanted to do was haggle over the price with me. He kept giving out numbers and numbers, never really stopping and always in that voice that sounds like a Chadra-Fan gnawing on a blackboard.

Finally, we set on a price and I rush home with my new KD-209 happy as a little school girl. I power the thing up, set it loose in the kitchen and go on my merry way. I have to go to work, Patricia has to go to work, Kiera's going to preschool. I figure that there won't be a problem, it's a droid, it's got one of those bolt things so it won't run away or whatever, it can just do the dishes and clean the floor.

I get home from a long day of gladiating and I see a horrific mess. There are dirty and broken dishes everywhere, the KD-209 is spewing smoke from one nozzle and grease from another, the floor is a mess, the faucet is spraying water all over the place and a cat is hanging from the ceiling fan, which is odd because I don't have a cat. There's garbage on the floor and I have no idea where my dog, Scotch, is. She must be in the basement hiding under a rug or something.

I fight my way to the droid and shut the thing down. My wife is furious! This thing is supposed to help us out in the house, not make a mess of everything. So I call Crazy JJ's and as I try to explain the situation, the scratchy, high-pitched voice on the other end says "Oh, uh, this isn't JJ. JJ is not here, JJ is on Tatooine, this is his, uh.... this is Fred. Yeah."

"You sound familiar," I reply. "Do I know you?"

"No no no no no," he screeches. "This is Fred."

I take the thing back to the store and "Fred" (who looked an awful lot like JJ) wouldn't let me return it because it is damaged. I try to explain that the stains and the scratches are from the droid running amok in my kitchen, but the little shyster wouldn't take the thing back. Eventually, he agrees to give me store credit on my next purchase.

I look around and there really isn't anything that I needed, there was an old protocol droid that boasted knowledge of over 17 languages, but I thought that number was a bit low. There was also a binary load lifter, but it was missing a lifting arm and wouldn't be able to really lift too much. I don't think that I have anything that I really need lifting, anyway. There was a set of leg rockets from an R2 unit, but evidently those things are not compatible with anything else. It's the sockets or something.

I was really disappointed, there wasn't anything that I wanted. That is, until I saw the 5DF-1 ship washing droid. The Danger Sled gets a lot of space dirt on it with all my traveling between home and Hacknor, so it would be nice to have a little help cleaning it.