Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Word World

Hey everybody! I'm having a good day, are you having a good day? Good. Cause I'm here to ruin another completely benign children's show for you.

I'm actually pretty okay with Word World. It doesn't annoy me and it's fairly effectively educational. Basically the idea is that it is a world where everything in it is made up of letters that are pressed together and then spontaneously form into whatever the word is spelling out. This includes the living beings.

The place seems to be populated only by animals, which I guess makes sense, cause seriously, trying to imagine a human made entirely out of letters is just super creepy.

The whole idea with the letters is that anything in the world can be produced at any given time provided that the characters have the right free standing letters to spell it with. All the characters here seem pretty benevolent, so we're not going to worry too much about the implications of the power they have at their hands. I doubt anybody's going to be getting the idea to put together a flamethrower anytime soon. What does worry me a little is the fact that everything is made out of the same material. Sure, get all science on me and tell me that we're all made of different arrangements of the same molecular substances or whatever, but really, those aren't big enough for us to see with our naked eye, and can't usually be arranged by us at will to be whatever we want them to be. I'm just thinking that, if I lived in this world, I'd feel a little bit uncomfortable living in or interacting with objects that were made of the exact same material as my body. I'm not going to say it's like living in a house made of body parts... but that's kind of what it's like...

Not only that, but all the characters seem to have boxes full of single letters sitting around their houses for whenever they need to make something. I'm really not saying that this is like keeping a box of arms in your closet... but really, it's a little bit like that.

The part that bothers me the most though, is that the dog (appropriately named "Dog" ) has, in his house, the Word World equivalent of a ball pit. Which in this case is a pit full entirely of free letters.

I wish I could find a better picture, but these goings on have been curiously under-documented.

Now I'm not saying that this is like diving into a pit full of various limbs and organs... but really that's kind of totally what it's like. 

So in the end I just can't get totally comfortable with Word World. Just for that. Make of it what you will. 

I was totally going to draw a house made of body parts to demonstrate, but then I realized that I've already done that, so I'll just refer you back to my Donald Duck and Goofy clubhouses from my Mickey Mouse Clubhouse post and leave it there.

Not to say I can't still be peer pressured though. That's up to you weirdos. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Mother's Day Musing

My blog has very little place for anything that isn't dripping with the greatest amount of sarcasm that I can muster, you are all aware of this. However, since it's my blog and I can do whatever the heck I want with it, I'm going to write a completely straight bit because I feel like it.

I've posted about my mom here and there on this blog before, usually poking a bit of fun at her, cause she's a fun lady and can take it. Tonight my mom sent me a text message. It wasn't anything particularly special or significant. It was just asking where I was. I wasn't sure why she had asked, so I asked her about it and she replied that she just worries about me from time to time and wants to make sure I'm doing alright and not working myself too hard and the like. This shouldn't have been very significant, and it would have been very easy for me to smile and roll my eyes and say "I'm just fine, mom," especially since she just saw me earlier today and we live next door to one another, but something about it just struck me. My mom, with a million other things to think and worry about, still has time to worry about her grown daughter enough to send a text, even when she knows I'm fine. And, as it just so happened, I hadn't been having the best evening, and that one text was enough to remind me that there are a lot more things to feel good about than the stupid little things I was feeling down about.

I see a lot of kids out there taking their moms entirely for granted. It's usually some variation of "Ugh, my mom just doesn't understand." Sure, maybe that really is the case with some mothers, but I really don't think it's as widespread as any teenager or other free thinking youth I encounter makes it out to be.  Maybe your mom understands a whole lot more than you think she does. See, everybody emerges into puberty with their own set of complex problems that they immediately think nobody could ever possibly understand. This translates to the vast majority of adolescents and often young adults feeling like their parents "just don't get it" and are probably too old fashioned to understand anyway. But I'd be willing to put money on the bet that most of the people reading this have a mom who does get it. She may not go about responding to everything in the way that you think she should, because she's a different person than you and processes things in a different way, but in all likelihood, she really does get it.

At any rate, I just wanted to tell my readers how thankful I am for my mom, Wendy, for getting it, and for being one of the strongest and wisest women I know. And, if you like my blog, you should be thanking her too, because without her nudging me, I wouldn't have nearly enough push to even update as consistently as I do. And since I know she's going to read this: I love you momma! Thanks for worrying about me; I'll try not to give you too much to worry about. Though this is me we're talking about, so don't get your hopes up. But I think you're pretty swell, and if everybody could have you for a mom, I think the world would be in great shape.

In light of Mother's Day coming up this Sunday, I figured it was a good time to post this and to challenge my readers that, if you have the privilege of being able to, to call your mom and let her know you appreciate her, regardless of whatever differences you and she may have. Chances are, she's spent at least some time today thinking and worrying about you and would really appreciate the effort. I mean, really. She's worth it.

Friday, April 19, 2013

A Journey Into the Psyche of DJ Lance

A while back I did an overview of Yo Gabba Gabba where I spent a good deal of time poking holes in the premise, the characters, the execution, and just about everything else about it as well. I was convinced that I would have all my readers firmly on my side regarding my feelings on the show. Come to find out, however, that opinions about it are actually pretty split. I got quite a few comments informing me that I might not have been fair in my evaluation of it. The most vocal and well thought out of these opinions came from my friend Rachel who I suspect would probably watch Yo Gabba Gabba even if she weren't the mother of two young children, and who has the capacity to evaluate it more intelligently than should really be possible for what it is.

Among other things, Rachel seemed to think that my assessment of the situation revolving the orange-suited MC of the show, DJ Lance Rock, was not a very accurate one. See, I was going on the assumption that DJ Lance is being held there against his will by some unseen, malevolent organization, and Plex, the little yellow robot, is programmed to activate the torture device in the DJ's fuzzy orange hat if the man ever decides to misbehave.

A picture of the DJ for reference

Rachel, on the other hand, has done some thinking on this, and she is of the opinion that DJ Lance is not a victim at all, but is instead the benevolent god of the realm contained within the Yo Gabba Gabba box. 

This thing

She maintains that DJ Lance watches over and guides the mentally challenged residents of Gabba Land with Plex the robot as his magic disciple to teach them to stay out of harm and to do the right thing. She urged me to reconsider my position and to try and think about it this way instead, so I obliged her and opened my mind to new ways of thinking. I did a lot of research and watched several full episodes of the show to give it a chance.  And I did reach a conclusion. Just not the one she wanted me to reach. 

First off, I really can't ignore that DJ Lance really looks like he's in pain. And not the pain of a loving god having to watch his creations descend in to sin and chaos either. The stakes of this show are far too low for that. I'm talking real physical pain here, which is what led me to believe that he was being tortured in the first place. 

DJ Lance exists in a seemingly alternate level of reality from the others, meaning that he lives alone in a completely white space, while the rest of the cast exists entirely (at least to my knowledge) within the couple yards of cardboard diorama set up on the table in the middle of the space where DJ Lance exists. This, in combination with the fact that the DJ constantly looks frantic, pained, or disturbed but trying to hide it, leads me to one conclusion: DJ Lance is an insane man playing with his toys alone in a white padded cell. 

There could be many reasons for his confinement, but I'm not here to speculate on that. It should simply be  assumed that DJ Lance is somehow enough of a danger to himself or others that he had to be put away, and the only thing deemed acceptable for him to have in the room without hurting himself is his orange costume, the table, and his set of toys. You'll notice, if you look, that none of the Yo Gabba Gabba beasties really seem to have very sharp edges except for maybe Plex with his antennae, and they mostly all seem to be stuffed or made of some sort of foam.

And so every day, in a fit of psychotic hallucination mingled with loneliness, DJ Lance plays with his box full of friends and they have all the adventures portrayed in the show, learning lessons about basic human kindness, safety, and friendship. All of this is part of Lance's journey to recovery. It obviously isn't a hopeless situation. DJ Lance seems only concerned with doing good and helping his friends to be happy and safe, but there's a long way to go yet, considering that he does still seem to be imagining things like cheerfully suicidal bubbles that just looove to be popped, intimate details of each of the characters digestive tracts (the red one has three stomachs), and this thing: 

Speculation is that, as DJ Lance continues to work through his issues and become stable, the Yo Gabba Gabba universe as we know it will become gradually more tame, and then slowly disappear, leaving only the table, and DJ's five motionless toys. He will then be able to return to society, reformed and functional, and live out the rest of his life very happily, provided there are no relapses. 

At any rate, I  think there is a lot of hope for DJ Lance, and that this weird, terrifying world he has created is a very important step on his road to full recovery. He is headed for a bright future in which he will not, in fact, bite his friends. 

I wish him well. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Terribly Festive - Follow Up

So hey. You guys.

You remember last time? When I mentioned that my sister had been talking about a song that contains the lyric "we shared a Christmas hug"? And how I totally thought that she was making it up? Well, we found it. And it is the best thing I have ever encountered.

A little background:

Apparently Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, when he's not doing his regular job, has a dream, and that dream is to be some manner of inspirational lyricist. So he, seemingly realizing he had the power to make this dream a reality, got in contact with sappy sentimental songwriter, Janice Kapp Perry. The two of them teamed up to make a Christmas album, and from that album emerged their collaborative opus, "The Christmas Hug". And now I am here to share that with all of you.

The Christmas Hug
Words by Orrin G. Hatch
Music by Janice Kapp Perry
Vocal by Gene Morford

We saw her through the window
Of her humble little home
The street was bright with Christmas lights
But she was all alone
She’s lived here in the neighborhood
For twenty years or more
But no one cared or no one dared
To knock upon her door

She opened up the door to us
And welcomed us inside
And though she smiled bravely
We saw tears were in her eyes
Her family was so far away
And could not come this year
The thing she needed most of all
Was suddenly quite clear 
     We shared a Christmas hug
     We shared some Christmas love
     And felt the tender ache of loneliness depart
     We shared a Christmas hug
     We finally cared enough
     To feel the miracle of Christmas
     In our hearts

We held our simple Christmas gift
In ribbons green and red
But saw there was a greater need
And offered it instead
Our little girl ran to her arms
And hugged her tenderly
She said “there could not ever be
A sweeter gift for me” 
Repeat Chorus 
Christmas comes and Christmas goes
Doors will open, doors will close
So many Christmas mem’ries we hold dear
But the best of all the best
Always stands out from the rest
It’s one we will remember through the years 
Repeat Chorus 
A simple hug brought Christmas
To our hearts

I will not mar this glorious moment by saying much else. But, Senator Hatch, I think you'd better keep your day job.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Every Single Time...

So the other day I woke up looking particularly haggard. Nothing abnormal, but it was a day when I had to deal with a lot of children (more than usual, cause the ones I nanny are already used to me looking frightening) and so I wanted to slap on a little bit of makeup so I would look less like an angry man. This is what I discovered:

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Terribly Festive

So. Christmas music. It sure is bad nowadays, huh? Not anything like the good old classics you remember from when you were young. Those kids these days just don't know how to write a good Christmas song, do they? I find that a lot of what people choose to gripe about over the holidays is the mass amount of terrible Christmas songs that seem to find their way onto the radio this time of year. I personally have never really been able to see why this is, because, in my family, awful Christmas songs make up one of our most beloved traditions. See, I come from a family of musicians, which I feel has given me an appreciation for what distinguishes a good song from a bad song. Of course, I also grew up in a family of smart-alecks, which gave me an appreciation for why terrible songs are hilarious. When the Christmas season rolls around, we keep the radio on as often as we can, and when one of these songs comes on we all delight in singing along as awkwardly and off key as possible. It's reached the point where I start feeling giddy whenever something like, say Justin Bieber's enchanting little tune "Under the Mistletoe"comes on the radio. I can't help but get excited and sing terribly along with it. So I'm here now, as this current holiday season comes to a close, to share with you a few of the songs that are particularly special to me and my family.

Keep in mind that the definition of what makes a 'bad' Christmas song is very specific here. Most of us agree that those novelty Christmas songs that are trying to be funny are generally nothing but annoying, but that's not the sort of bad that I'm talking about here. What I mean are the songs that don't know they're bad. The songs that, for whatever reason, think they are so very touching or influential or inspirational and just fall very short of their mark. These are the songs that I love. So, without further ado, here are the terrible Christmas songs that are very near and dear to my heart. 

The first two on my list are the two I find the most tame, despite bringing out varying degrees of hate in the more cynical folk. I don't want to be too mean about them, as they are songs that a lot of very nice, intelligent people genuinely like. I'm sure a lot of these songs fall under that description. I like a lot of things  unironically that are generally considered 'bad', so I'm not in the business of making people feel bad about what they enjoy. That said... "The Christmas Shoes"...
This song is a tale of a man who isn't really feeling the Christmas spirit as he is out doing some last minute shopping until he encounters a young boy out trying to buy a pair of shoes for his dying mother and learns the true meaning of Christmas. That's the general idea. Earlier this evening as I was working on this post, my father referred to this song as 'emotional blackmail'. And really, that's what it is. You can't not be  moved to tears by the plight of this poverty stricken young boy and his terminally ill mother unless you are the most terrible heartless person in the world. Why, even the Grinch himself would have an extra four or five sizes added on to his tiny heart by the heartfelt sincerity of the boy's plea. And that's why I think so many people hate it so much. Because it makes them feel uncomfortable about not liking it in the first place. And that is exactly why I love it. This song is basically threatening that if you roll your eyes at its sappiness, then you will be outcast from society for hating all that is good and not understanding the meaning of Christmas. This is enough to send the people who don't like it and don't know they're being blackmailed into a frothing rage, sending them on tyrades about why they hate this song and generally stirring discontent for anyone who dares not to be moved by it. That is just pure evil genius, and I respect that. "The Christmas Shoes", you are as diabolical as you are fun to sing, and I tip my hat to you. 

The second is less... smart, I think, on the whole. It is not crafty enough to be manipulative, and is, perhaps, all around more innocent than "The Christmas Shoes" but far more deeply sincere as well. The song I am referring to is "Mary, Did You Know" or, as I like to call it, the stupid question song. 
I am all for keeping the real meaning of the holiday present in the music that plays on the radio during the season, but this song seems to flounder a bit, particularly due to the fact that yes, Mary DID know all these things. That's what the angel told her when he said she was going to have this baby. So as sincere and well meaning as it is, it's still a dumb question, which makes it a fun song to mercilessly mock like the excellent individual I am. Not to mention that my sister does a delightful off-key and 'heartfelt' rendition of it, complete with an awkward shimmy jerk dance that is really quite stirring. 

As I said, those ones are pretty tame. It's hard, at least for me, to find any offense in sentimental little numbers meant for small town Christians. The songs that I find truly special during the Christmas season are the ones that cater to the wider mainstream. The holiday love songs; the white guilt ballads; the songs that work so hard share the very vague message of 'Christmas is neat'; these are where the real meaty goodness of bad Christmas music lies.

Here's a song that tries too hard. I've never really even been sure what it's trying too hard to do, but it is.
A song that seems to think that growing up means asking for more vague, unattainable things for Christmas, like peace on Earth and for everybody to hug and stuff. I think my favorite part of this is that the singer seems to be asking Santa for all of these things. Lady, Santa ain't know how to make any peace on Earth in his toy shop. Leave the guy alone and ask for normal things like an iPod. Quit your contemplative introspection and go out and rally for peace or hug a hobo or something yourself. Santa's a busy man. On the list of songs that are my favorite to overdramatize off key, I think this one might be the top...

Now, everybody knows that Christmas is all about spiting last year's lover by flaunting around this year's, but I think this song takes it to the next level.
Video aside (though it should not be ignored because it is one of the most hilariously overdramatic and spiteful things ever) this is the ultimate song about re-gifting. Though there are a few bewildering logistics... Like... if she gave HIS heart away to somebody else, then how did he get it back the next year to give it to somebody else? I am so full of questions here. Anyway, I really have no idea how the rest of the song besides the chorus goes, despite having listened to it several times today, because it kind of tunes itself out. I don't even have to do any work for it to fade into the background. But the chorus always comes back in with its powerfully petty message and makes this song something truly special.

But among all of these, there is no song that spews self-righteousness vaguely disguised as Christmas cheer quite like this.
My favorite part is when it zooms in on Sting looking like he doesn't want to be there during the "bitter sting of tears" line....
Written from the perspective of a bunch of rich white people who have absolutely no idea what Africa is like,  "Feed The World" makes up the centerpiece of any great banquet of terrible Christmas music. Just in case you were enjoying your white suburban Christmas a little too much, Band Aid is here, straight from the 80's, to remind you that you should be feeling guilty about the things you have because people in Africa are suffering. I mean, they don't even have any giant rivers there or anything! One can only hope that, in addition to this song, all of these artists donated a significant portion of their millions to humanitarian aid, or else this song's premise falls completely flat instead of just mostly flat. And let me tell you, I just about screamed with delight when I discovered that there was a great big sparkly Glee version of this song as well, because that means the completely clueless sentiment expressed in it is still alive and well today in mainstream pop. Because sometimes we really all do need to be reminded that yes, there really are people that stupid. Also, for a real treat, come over to my parent's house some time and watch my dad jerk to this like an awkward white 80's kid. 

So there's my list. I'm sure there are more out there, and I'm always on the lookout. For instance, my sister maintains that there is a song that exists somewhere that contains the lyrics "We shared a Christmas hug..." However, searches for this gem have turned up little, and so I am convinced that is is a mere urban legend. Kind of like bigfoot except for with worse writing.

Anyway, I know that Christmas is now over as are most of the holiday songs on the radio, but I want you all, next year, to try and find something different in all the awful things playing over the holidays. Don't grump and groan because the music has completely missed the spirit of the season or is just plain terrible. Think of it a different way. Because if we believe hard enough, bad Christmas music can give us all a very important gift. The gift of laughter.

And as I said before, if you happen to like any of the songs on it, please don't feel attacked. This is all just opinion. After all, I  like several of the Barbie movies. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Worst Feeling

I experienced something terrible the other day.

Nobody over the age of eighteen ever really wants there to be any evidence laying around that they were once in their early teens, but, unless they kept an embarrassing diary or had a binder full of pictures of Orlando Bloom or something, it's not likely that anything is really going to turn up to haunt them when they're an adult. Now, I loosely fit under the category of what can technically be called an 'artist', which means that I spent a lot of my early teens drawing. I can't ever really bring myself to get rid of old drawings because they represent a part of my growth process. Of course, this means that I have a whooole lot of regrettable and embarrassing things from that time period that have not been destroyed. This is cringe-inducing sometimes, yes, but I can usually just accept that these things exist but can assure myself that they will never be seen and move on.

And then there was my experience from the other day... It went a little something like this:

Now, there is a slight chance that I'm still safe and that they ended up in a box in my parents currently inaccessible basement, but I quite honestly have no idea. The uncertainty is agonizing.

So I'm going to be in hiding for a while. Just to be safe. 

No, I'm not overreacting.