Friday, June 30, 2006

Classic Cartoon Countdown #1: Transformers

Well, I can only drag this thing out so long. If it seems as though I've been neglecting this blog lately, its only because I've been out of town so much lately, first to California and then this week to Nashville. And while I had visions of cranking out a few more honorable mentions, I can't justify putting the actual countdown off any further, so they'll have to go mentionless. Without further ado, I give you the #1 Classic Cartoon of my childhood: The Transformers

Transformers! More than meets the eye!

The Autobots were mainly cars and were the good guys.

The leader of the Autobots was Optimus Prime a big rig truck who in his robot form was only the main engine part of the truck. Where the trailer portion of his truck form came from I never knew. Just when he would transform it would come out of nowhere.

The Decepticons were the bad guys and were a bit more versatile in their forms, although they had a large fleet of jets that was probably their core transformation.

The leader of the Decepticons was Megatron, a robot that transformed into a gun that was like a hundred times smaller than his robot form. He would transform into the gun, and one of the other Decepticons would shoot the gun. In addition to the jets there was also a guy who changed into a tape recorder (Soundwave), and he had some little mini-decepticons who were the tapes and would come out and turn into a dog or a bat and attack the Autobots.

Somehow these robots came from outer space and were here on the earth battling each other. There were always some humans around for us to relate to, and I remember learning from this show that being inside a car during a lightning storm is good because the rubber tires keep you grounded.

Eventually, to keep the interest of the viewers, some new subgroups of robots were introduced. The ones I most remember were the Dinobots, who were autobots who turned into dinosaurs; the Constructicons, decepticons who transformed into construction vehicles, but also could merge all together in Voltron-like fashion to make one super robot; the Aerialbots, Autobots who were jets, and who also formed some uber-robot; and the Insecticons, Decepticon insect robots.

The Constructicons

Transformers was a great show and I really enjoyed it until perhaps they got too successful for their own good. At some point, a Transformers movie was made for theatrical release. I remember we were really excited about it, but never actually went to see it. (We usually only went to 1 or 2 movies a year when I was growing up.) I've still never actually seen this Transformers movie, but there must have been some huge plot points, because after the movie came out, the entire cartoon changed a ton. Most notably Optimus Prime had been replaced by a robot named Rodimus Prime, but also there were some new weird space robots and we never could really figure out what was going on and who everyone was. So we lost interest and stopped watching it. I'm not sure whose idea it was for the movie to completely change the plot of the TV show and leave some of us lost and bewildered.

As I've been reliving this memories from my childhood, I find that a lot of the shows I used to watch were thinly veiled commercials for the toys that were affiliated with the shows. But apparently the veil was thick enough that I never really felt that way about the show. In fact, I always felt that the toys were just a way for us to relive our favorite moments from the shows. That said, the Transformers were by far the coolest toys ever associated with a cartoon. Toys that transformed from robots into jets, cars, guns, tape recorders, even dinosaurs and insects.

I remember one year making a list of Christmas gifts I would like that included probably 20 different transformers. Not that I expected to get them all, just that I would have been happy with any of them. The only drawback I can remember to the toys was that you had to put all the stickers on yourself, and it was no easy task to get them all lined up in the right spot without them getting stuck misaligned. Getting those stickers right could make or break the look of your Transformer and it was a stressful first 30 minutes of having the toy as you got it all set up. I remember my older brother got the whole set of Constructicons one year, and one of the pieces was kind of tricky to transform, at least tricky enough that I broke it once and had to pay to replace it.

The Transformers truly were a great show with a great line of toys associated with it. And for that they have earned the #1 spot on my Classic Cartoon Countdown.


Here's the final countdown:
#10: Underdog
#9: Thundercats
#8: G.I. Joe
#7: Superfriends
#6: Scooby's All Star Laff-a-lympics
#5: Voltron
#4: X-men
#3: Looney Tunes
#2: He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
#1: Transformers

Stay tuned next week for a brand new Friday feature.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Random Thoughts from I-15

I'm briefly back in town, having arrived late last night from family vacation to California, and I'll be leaving Monday for a brief academic trip to Nashville. Watch for pictures on Flickr and what not, but I thought I'd share some of the random musings I had during my 12 hour drive home.

-If gangs really want to be taken seriously, they should start graffiti-ing things other than mirrors and stalls in public restrooms. I mean seriously, when did this become the place to mark your territory?

-There's such a thing as an Old Navy outlet store. How do you get cheaper than regular Old Navy? Do the cargo pants come with dollar bills tucked into the pockets?

-When there's a big row of cars in the passing lane all going 10 under the speed limit, somewhere in the front of that row, there's someone with open road in front of them. What is that person thinking? Are they thinking? What's it like to be that person?

-I was impressed and pleased by the presence of dedicated slow lanes for trucks west of Vegas, but can't we go a step farther and create a special lefthand lane that you can't drive in unless you are doing at least 5 over the speed limit? I know that this is how the "fast" lane ought to work, but there are way too many people who think that they are too good for the "slow" lane, even though they aren't even approaching the speed limit. I think making it explicit would really help things along.

-How would I know where the Starbucks is in Baker, lady? I've been here for about 20 minutes, and all of them were spent in the Arbys I just walked out of.

-Diary Queen is pretty much the place to be in Scipio.

-I like to sleep with a cone of silence surrounding me. Some people seem to drive with a cone of blindness surrounding them.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Classic Cartoon Countdown #2: He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

I am Adam. Prince of Eternia and keeper of the secrets of Castle Greyskull. This is Cringer... my fearless friend.
cringer and adam

Fabulous secret powers were revealed to me the day I held aloft my magic sword...
sword aloft

...and said... By the power of Greyskull!

Only a few others share this secret... The Sorceress...
and Orko.

Together we defend Castle Greyskull from the evil forces of Skeletor.



I'm really not sure that much else needs to be said. I think the intro speaks for itself. But maybe I'll just say that He-man was a show that I loved to watch every afternoon. This cartoon is just recently becoming available on DVD, so maybe I'll have to check that out sometime. He-man always had plenty of chances to get rid of Skeletor. Pretty much every week, he'd have Skeletor hanging off a cliff or something, only to let him go.

He-man had some of the coolest toys of all the shows out there. Every action figure had its own unique feature it seemed. There was the cobra guy who shot "acid" (I guess if you had some kind of acid you could use that instead of water), I had a lizard guy with a tail you could whip around, there was a two headed guy, a guy with three different faces (Man-E-Faces, I believe was his name), Ram Man, who had a spring inside so you could launch him just like in the show. The Orko figure I had had a little zip cord thing to make him move around on his own, plus it came with a magic trick. There was even a line of He-man figures that featured a rotating chest piece that showed battle damage! There were tons of unique figures to get. Of course there were a few lame ones. Our neighbors had a Prince Adam figure, and someone I knew had a Teela figure. Who wants a girl action figure? Girls?

And we haven't even got to the castles yet. You could get the Castle Greyskull or Skeletor's castle and they each had some cool features. I especially remember Skeletor's castle had a microphone that you could use to change your voice to sound kind of Skeletor-ish. How cool is that?

The success of the cartoon inspired a theatrical released movie that was a huuuuuuuuuuuuuge disappointment. Basically, He-man and Skeletor came to our world and did some stuff, but they were the only characters from the cartoon who even showed up. Not sure who thought this would be a good idea. Maybe Los Angeles (or wherever it was set) was easier to get to for filming than Eternia. Whatever the case was, I'm sure children across the country shared a collective, "huh?" upon viewing this film.


One quick note regarding the countdown. In American Idol-esque fashion, you'll have to wait a little more to find out what is #1. I'm leaving tomorrow morning for a family vacation to California (Oceanside) and will likely be without internet for approximately 8 days. I can only imagine the number of emails I'll have in my Inbox when I return (2? 3?), but I'll also be unable to post to the blog. And I'll only be in town for 1 day before I leave for a conference in Nashville, so I can't promise that you'll know the winner until two weeks from today at the earliest. On that note...Big Digital, out.


Here's the updated countdown:
#10: Underdog
#9: Thundercats
#8: G.I. Joe
#7: Superfriends
#6: Scooby's All Star Laff-a-lympics
#5: Voltron
#4: X-men
#3: Looney Tunes
#2: He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

Friday, June 09, 2006

Classic Cartoon Countdown #3: Looney Tunes

looney tunes logo

In the grand scheme of cartoons, the looney tunes crew really deserves their own special category. So many classic characters and classic cartoons with a huge portion of success coming on television as opposed to the feature film route that Disney has gone. Sure, the Looney tunes have had their theatrical moments (Space Jam, Looney Tunes: Back in Action), but they pale in comparison (in my mind at least) to the classic cartoon plots that kept us rolling every Saturday morning. The fairly large cast of Looney Tunes, some of whom never meet each other include:

Bugs Bunny - the star of the cast, who has run into most of the characters in the course of all the toons, he's always the smartest (and a real smart-aleck), and wins in the end, although sometimes things look bleak for our hero.

Daffy Duck - Bugs' rival, especially in the sense of the whole duck season-rabbit season debate. Daffy always seems to get his bill blown around to the back of his face. I love it when that happens.

Elmer Fudd - Fun with speech impediments. Awesome. "Be Vewwy, Vewwy, Qwiet. I'm hunting wabbits."

Sylvester and Tweety Pie - I'll be honest, not my favorites, but still crucial members of the team.

Yosemite Sam - for some reason we always called him 'Semite Sam when I was growing up. Usually faces off with Bugs Bunny and gets really mad, shoots his guns, etc. Somehow became a popular mudflap icon.

The Tasmanian Devil - tears things up, usually interacts with Bugs Bunny. Somehow became a popular T-shirt icon along with Bugs and some of the others in the early 90s. Not sure how that happened. Of course, I'm not sure how wearing clothes backwards became popular back then either. I mean, I know it was because Kris Kross was doing it, but I don't know how that made it popular.

Speedy Gonzalez - Andale! Andale! Arriba!

Pepe le Pew - Always chasing that cat with the stripe down her back. Does he even do anything else? I love how she's always running at top speed, and he just hops along and always catches up.

Porky Pig - More fun with speech impediments. Does this guy have a job besides stuttering through the whole Th-th-th-that's all Folks?

marvin martian
Marvin the Martian - Always getting ready to destroy Earth with a death ray or chasing Bugs Bunny around, and talking in his funny voice.

Foghorn Leghorn - I-I-I-I say boy, let me tell you...

Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner - I've saved my favorites for last. I love to watch the Coyote with all his schemes and how they all go awry in the most impossible ways imaginable. I think my favorite Looney Tune of all time is the one where he's got some kind of boulder catapult set up to launch a boulder at the roadrunner, but somehow the boulder or the catapult itself end up on him every time, in ways that completely defy physics. He must get smashed like 15 different ways.

Some of my other favorite Looney Tunes, aside from the aforementioned Roadrunner, and the whole Duck Season-Rabbit Season bit, include the singing frog who only sings when no one else is around ("Hello my honey, hello my baby, hello my ragtime gal"), the Barber of Seville, the other opera looking one where Elmer is dressed like a Viking and sings "North wind blow, South wind blow, thunder, hurricane, typhoon,....smog!", the one where Bugs is visiting some castle and some guy gets "The Nose in the Book penalty", when Bugs takes on the bull as a matador,and I'm sure there's others that I'm forgetting right now. If not for Looney Tunes I would never have heard the phrase "one lump or two", and even know I'd be more likely to associate it with getting hit in the head with a large mallet. I remember hearing how violent the looney tunes were, but c'mon how many people have access to dynamite.

But seriously, Looney Tunes put out some great stuff. Better than the Tiny Toons, and anything else they've come up with lately. Just give me the classic shorts.

Th-th-that's All Folks!


Here's the updated countdown:
#10: Underdog
#9: Thundercats
#8: G.I. Joe
#7: Superfriends
#6: Scooby's All Star Laff-a-lympics
#5: Voltron
#4: X-men
#3: Looney Tunes

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

1 Year Anniversary Extravaganza

Today, June 6th marks the 1 year anniversary of me beginning this blog. This post is, by my unscientific count, #95. In honor of this special anniversary, I invite you to check out the post that started it all, and here's the story about how the blog got its name. FYI, the title was going to be "A Life More Ordinary", before Chris made his whole "Big Digital" comment. I'll offer you some fun facts about the blog. For example, since I started tracking site visits back in late February, there have been 1415 hits on the blog, averaging approximately 14 per day.

Some of the search terms that bring people here most often are ones related to the McDonald's characters, gaucho pants, milk going bad, and more recently Voltron searches.

I've made several friends who I only know from their blogs, or perhaps their blogs and their flickr/myspace/etc accounts.

I've had two weekly features -- the Friday Featured Fast Food Favorites and the Classic Cartoon Countdown, currently at #4, I'm a sucker for alliteration, can't you tell?.

Some of my personal favorite posts include: Gaucho pants, What Bonnie said, Why I Hate Catch Phrase, What I Learned in History Class, and the Underwear Shopping story.

Two posts tied for the most comments (8). Those were the end of the Friday Featured Fast Food Favorite, and the post about Superfriends.

Thanks to everyone out there who reads. While I would probably keep writing even if no one was reading, its still nice to know that someone is enjoying what I have to say.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Classic Cartoon Countdown #4: X-Men

If only I'd made the X-men #5 on my list I could have coordinated this entry with last week's huge opening of X-men 3: The Last Stand, which I saw on Monday by the way, and thought was pretty entertaining.

Movies, aside, I'm pretty sure the only reason that I am even a fan of the X-men is because of the Saturday morning cartoon that used to come on. It introduced me to the likes of Professor Xavier, Wolverine, Storm, Rogue, Gambit, Jubilee, Beast, Cyclops, Jean Grey, along with such badguys as Magneto, Mr. Sinister, Apocalypse, and the ever present sentinels.

There were several different plotlines explored during the run of the show, and I never was able to follow one of them, but I remember parts of the stories of the Phoenix, the X-men going to some island where there were dinosaur people living, the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, Wolverine going to Japan, and even one where Magneto had teamed up with the X-men, at least I think I remember that.

I think the coolest thing about the X-men is that they are like the other all-star shows I've already mentioned (Superfriends, Laff-a-lympics) except that they were designed that way from the beginning, so they are more likely to compliment each other in terms of personality and abilities.

And beyond anything else you might say about this cartoon, it was just so freakin' cool. I'm sure that a large portion of the recent film trilogy's success can be attributed to the fact that this cartoon was one of the sweetest ones that ever hit the airwaves.

Here's the updated countdown:
#10: Underdog
#9: Thundercats
#8: G.I. Joe
#7: Superfriends
#6: Scooby's All Star Laff-a-lympics
#5: Voltron
#4: X-men