Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Hate Light

I've a new crackpot theory to add to my ever expanding list....
I've been aware for quite a while that, when driving, I only seem to hit every single red light on the days when I am in a particularly foul mood. I hadn't really given it much thought prior to this, but I think I figured out how red lights react so consistently with nasty moods:

Within every stop light at every intersection in the world lives a creature that feeds exclusively on hate, which metabolizes rapidly and causes the creature to give off a bright red glow. It feeds by way of a small receptor that can be opened and shut at will, and the creature is wired to a device that triggers when the receptor is closed and turns on the green light below it. As the receptor begins to open so the creature can feed again, the device turns the light yellow until the creature has begun to metabolize.
The speed at which the creature feeds is directly proportional to the amount of hate at any given intersection. If there is only a marginal amount of hate, it will feed quickly in order to absorb as much of the hate as possible before it escapes. If, however, there is a large amount of hate, or if it is coming from many different sources, the creature will slow down and savor its meal, and will burn for far longer.

Do not try to tell me that this doesn't make perfect sense.

...OH! I forgot to mention that this creature was bred by the government to function at a near-human level of intelligence. Thus it is also takes satisfaction in the increased amount of hate caused by the red light in the first place, beyond what it already gains from the initial feeding. In other words, a creature that feeds on your hate and laughs at your pain.

Here is an artist's rendition of what this creature probably looks like:
No really, you guys. Think about it.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Roommates

....


And then this happened:

There is not a single thing that is not true about this story.

But really, my roommates are lovely people who give me hugs and keep the freezer stocked with popsicles, so I think we'll be okay.

Friday, August 12, 2011

So yeah...

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Erin was going out of her mind trying to get organized and move to a new apartment. Then she realized she was neglecting her poor blog, so she drew some crap so that the people would be happy and she could weasel out of actually thinking about actual stuff for a while longer.

Anyway, here's a thing that happened:
Sometimes I draw things that are actually completely true. Not usually. This is why.

Monday, July 18, 2011

We interrupt this nonsense...

And now a word from the writer/"artist":
(Loosely based on actual events)

Had to split it into two parts so it would upload....


Don't worry guys, Beth is watching out for you. Though it's amazing she didn't catch it sooner, considering that Grosland (our other roommate) doesn't actually build rocket ships in our living room either... At any rate, if any of my stories ever seem a bit... exaggerated, that's because they almost always are. Cause I'm a writer. And writers are liars.
Also let it be known that if you feel the need to try to find logic in nonsense and call me out on it, I WILL make an example of you. This is the lesson you all must learn to avoid the fate of my BFF Beth.

... I'm sleeping on the couch again tonight, aren't I?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Lazy post is lazy....

There is nothing about this picture that is inaccurate. Except the couch. My couch is actually plaid. 
Oh man, you guys.... my brain... I don't even know...

A few things: 
1)Yes, I DID put on Hogwarts robes and stay up until 4 AM in the name of Harry Potter, despite being a grown woman who should know better and who had to work in the morning.
2) Yes, I actually wore Hufflepuff colors. Proudly. 
3) I totally spent most of the movie sobbing outright.
4) I thought to escape actual effort with this post... I've been at it for an hour now because I can't type coherent sentences. 

That is all. Real posts might happen soon...ish... maybe.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Origin of a Bad Day

Been behind on things. That means you get another stupid comic. I'll post something else soon, I promise. In the meantime:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Probably More "Ad" than "Sense"

Some of you may have noticed that, in my recent endeavors to monetize my blog, I briefly used Google Adsense to place ads on my blog. Very briefly. Reason for this being that I got fired.
It went a little something like this:
After that I went crawling back to the Adsense admins and gave a groveling apology and begged them to reinstate my account because I was not actively trying to screw them over and was, instead, just an oblivious moron with very supportive friends and family who may or may not have actually read the terms of service. They flatly refused.

Suffices to say that Adsense and I are not speaking.

Thanks for the support anyway, you guys. I really do appreciate it.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Color Me Awkward - Update-

Oh my gosh, you guys, I totally figured it out! I figured out how coloring book artists achieve that special kind of awkward!

Once I figured it out, I was so psyched that I had to experience the magic for myself, so I made some of my own. I decided to use Lord of the Rings as my source, because I saw no reason not to. Apparently I don't know any better.

I'd like to take a moment to apologize to Mr. J.R.R. Tolkien, the cast and crew of all three of the Lord of the Rings films, and anybody who has ever been associated with the series in any way. I am very very sorry that this happened and I assure you that I am now sitting in the corner thinking about what I've done.

Now that's out of the way...
Here's... um... this:



But seriously, guys... These are way too fun. I could make a million of these things. In fact, I probably will. Expect more.

No, I have NOT already caused enough damage here. When have I EVER known to leave well enough alone? Come now, readers, I thought you knew me better than that....

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Color Me Awkward

 This week I've been thinking a lot about coloring books (for no particular reason, because I was definitely not at WalMart shopping for a coloring book for myself at any time this week. At all. Shut up.) Anyway, one thing I realized in the midst of my deep philosophical ponderings is that coloring books are really really awkward.

You see, when someone sets out to create a coloring book, they are faced with a problem of how to fill it. The first part is easy: choosing a topic or character, but then, after that, everything completely crumbles to pieces (which, all things considered, is probably an accurate metaphor for your life if you make coloring books for a living.) So you have a character... Now you have to make them do something interesting for thirty pages or so.  They've got to be doing something that kids are going to be able to color, and, unfortunately (unless it's a princess themed coloring book,) not every page is allowed to be a picture of the character in the same pose with alternating backgrounds of flowers, hearts, and sparkles. This usually results in the characters just doing... stuff... for the duration of the coloring book. Not really anything consequential, just stuff.
Everything from mundane daily activities

to bizarre, and occasionally nightmare-inducing randomness

 And heaven help you if the coloring book is based on a concept rather than a character. There are always the attempts to illustrate nebulous concepts like safety or brushing your teeth. The results are usually as follows:



I think some of the finer examples of awkward come from coloring books based on characters that already exist in their own cartoon or movie. In this case the character already has a context in which they exist which the individual making the book has to convey. This is where the captions usually come in to explain what is going on in the scene, and somehow manage to drain the scene of any dramatic tension it may have had.


 Somehow the caption magically makes these events seem very... nonchalant...

Another approach is to have the caption narrate what the character is saying. What the character is saying, incidentally, is usually completely inane.

Even without the captions, the pages still always seem to be drained of anything exciting or meaningful by depicting events that take place directly after something exciting has obviously happened


My favorite variation of this whole concept is the coloring books based on live-action movies, or actual people. See, with cartoons it's easy enough to render it on a page and keep pretty true to how it looks on screen. However, there is a special kind of awkward that can only come from trying to transfer something real onto a coloring book. Rather than clumsily trying to explain this, I am just going to show you examples from the gloriously terrible coloring book based on The Beatles that I stumbled upon whilst Google searching.
Here we have examples of everything I talked about:

Mundane daily activities


As well as bizarre randomness

 And don't forget the quotes that seem to contribute precisely nothing to what is going on
 
In fact, this one in particular seems to combine elements both from coloring books with a previously existing context, and those without. It's a perfect storm of nonsense. There are many more examples of this outside of the Beatles coloring book, but this one makes my point so beautifully that I saw no need to show any others.

This kind of awkward is simply inspirational to me. There's just something beautiful about the subtle discomfort that seems to weave its way through the pages of these coloring books. I only wish I knew how to capture this magic for myself. How do they do it? What intricate methods do they employ to make these pieces so outstandingly uncomfortable? There is a delicate art to it, I think, and I aim to study it and find out what it is. Only then will I be able to completely understand the true soul of the coloring book. Only then will I be a true artist.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

An Irrelevant Debate

Alright. I know I'm going to get burned at the stake for this one, but I'm going to put it out there anyway....

Lately I've been hearing a lot of the infamous Mac vs. PC debate. This debate has been going on practically since the beginning of time (or the invention of the computer, which, all things considered, IS the beginning of time for some people,) but, since I work in a computer lab that uses both systems, I've been hearing a lot more about it lately.

Here's the thing:

You can't debate Mac vs. PC. There's no real way to compare them. I'd say it was like comparing apples and oranges, but in this case I suppose it's more like comparing apples and windows (haaah, puns...) They're both computers, they're both functional. The difference between them is that they are programmed for different types of brains. If you spend a decent amount of time in the real world away from your computer (which may be asking a lot, considering I barely qualify and I'm not even one of the bigger computer addicts in the world,) you'll notice that some people's brains run on Mac, and some run on Windows. There are likely those whose brains run on Linux as well, and some who run on Playstation, and perhaps some who run on a hamster wheel, but that's irrelevant. People who run on Mac will always have trouble using a PC, and PCs will always struggle to use Macs, and when humans get frustrated with something that doesn't match their pattern of thinking, they like to blame it on the machine rather than their personal incompatibility with it. Nobody likes to admit that they're not very good at doing something, so instead they form a wall of defensive hatred against that thing and insist to everyone who will listen that the thing is stupid and terrible. Calm down, bros, it's okay if you're not good at everything, I promise.

Me? I'm a Mac, but that doesn't mean I hate PC. I fully realize that PC is better for a lot of things -- gaming, for instance, which is why I have a Windows partition on my Macbook -- but for general purposes Mac just works better for me. I'm not very good with a PC, but that doesn't mean we can't leave each other alone and still live in harmony.

I guess what I'm trying to get at is that I'd really like to quit hearing all the whining from both sides of this debate about why either system is the devil's OS, because there shouldn't even be a debate. Just stop getting defensive and let the other side do as they will; it's not like it's hurting you. I don't want another person parachuting in with a long diatribe about how Mac sucks when I'm trying to explain to a lab user how a program works. And don't think I'm picking on PC; while PC users seem to be more childish about it, Mac users love to be smug and insufferable, which is just as bad. Why don't both of you just leave each other alone? Keep your hands on your side, quit poking each other, and get your own work done. We'll all be a lot happier that way.
Seriously, guys, you're starting to scare me. Calm down. It'll be okay. I promise.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Irrational Dinosaurs

I'm not afraid of very many things. Mostly just drowning, falling, and sticking my hand into dark holes in rock faces. Of course, I'm also terrified to death of animatronic animals (dinosaurs in particular.)

It happened a little something like this:
My family and I stopped off in Vegas on our way to Disneyland when I was five. At the time, the Circus Circus hotel had some animatronic dinosaur-based attraction that was supposed to be pretty cool, so we went to check it out...

 And that's how my life was ruined. Further exacerbated by this:
when we went to Universal Studios a few days later.... Which is why, when I went to Disneyland with my friends on my high school choir tour eleven years later, I spent the entirety of the Jungle Cruise boat ride trembling in my seat and trying very hard not to weep
 Sweet mercy, noooo!

Now, whenever I tell people that I'm terrified of animatronic dinosaurs/animals, they always laugh at me. For years I thought there was something wrong with me and I was just being silly about the whole thing, but in more recent years I've been thinking about it, and I've begun to wonder...
How on Earth is this NOT a rational fear?

 In what way are robots made to look and act like vicious wild animals or bloodthirsty giant lizards NOT terrifying??* I cannot think of a single thing that is okay about this! Sure, mom and dad assure me that they're "not real" but the fact that they are robots does NOT make it better. It makes it worse.

Laugh at me all you want, but when those things go rogue and start terrorizing cities across the globe, you'll have nobody but yourselves to blame for trusting them.

* "In the earliest days of man, nature instilled in our primitive ancestors an instinctive fear of dinosaurs. And robots."
-Probably Darwin

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Raccoons are the window to the Soul

Now, I usually try to have a certain level of tolerance where vehicles are concerned. I don't believe in discrimination against cars based on their make, model, or the color of their paint (the obvious exception being the blue Toyota FJ Cruiser, which is still definitely following me. I am NOT paranoid.) However, I was recently introduced to the Kia Soul.

The series of events that led to the encounter with the Soul in question is an epic tale which I will save for a later time (that story will have its day soon, believe me.) All you need to know for now is that, on a family trip to Nebraska, my father hit a raccoon which managed to crack our radiator, screw over our engine, and effectively total our trusty Toyota Camry. After getting the car evaluated, we decided just to cut our losses and rent a car for the long drive home.

We asked for a "big" car so we could fit all our stuff. The dealership shoved us in a Kia Soul.



I did not like that car. Also, I kick like a girl. 

Now, the Soul's design is made entirely of dumb. I assume that this car happened because somebody over at Kia spoke up during a meeting and said "You know what I hate? Trunk space. Also back seats with leg room.What's up with that anyway? I say we get rid of those things and just make the car really tall instead!" And I assume that person was somebody powerful and intimidating, because then everybody else went along with it. That said, I ended up riding with my legs folded up on the seat and most of our luggage stacked on top of me. However, I am not here to complain about the Soul's stupid design. I'm sure the design is useful to somebody (really tall people with really short legs, for instance.) No, I was not so much angry at the car as I was mortified by it.

Okay. Look at this car:
When I first saw this car, I thought to myself  "Now that looks like a car that someone who is a douchebag might drive." I do not mean this as an insult to anyone who drives a Soul, but nobody can argue that it looks pretty uppity. This car is the preppy polo shirt of automobiles. 

Now consider that our rental had a California license plate. The effect was something akin to popping the collar of the aforementioned polo shirt.

I do not have anything against people from California. I know many lovely people from California. However, adding a California plate to this car somehow managed to make it look so smug and prissy that anybody would have wanted to punch whoever was driving it. 
 This car thinks it is better than you.

I cannot fully explain the effect that this had on my parents and I as we made our way home in that vehicle. All I know is that the first time we stopped at a rest area, we were each suddenly overcome with deep, burning shame. We shuffled past the other travelers, heads down, on our way to the bathrooms, quite certain that both they and their minivans were judging us.
I knew they were, cause I would be judging us too.

 In spite of that, the three of us somehow managed to suppress the urge to loudly inform the other people at the rest stop that it wasn't our car. We got the message across in a more... roundabout way.
Suffices to say that I have never been so mortified to be in a fancy car.
I am not quite sure what's wrong with my family, cause we've been clunking around in a rusty Nissan Sentra that nobody else would ever be caught dead in for years. We're usually not that concerned with what people think of us. Apparently we just have a deeply rooted fear of random strangers thinking that we are the kind of people who are from California and Drive a Kia. I guess we've got something against typifying upper-middle-class white suburbia.

Regardless, that is the story of how the Kia Soul and I became enemies.




Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse

So it looks like Disney is still trying to keep Mickey Mouse and friends alive. That is fine, I have no problem with this, in fact, I encourage it. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is a perfectly benign effort to do so. Sure, it's kinda boring, and shares a plot template with just about every other kids' show out there, but it is harmless. I could go off about how Mickey and co. are not as fun as they used to be, or how the cartoons have stopped trying to appeal to adults like they used to, but I wont. It's a well-meaning effort, and some of the songs are written by They Might Be Giants. That's pretty awesome. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and I are cool, except for on two small issues:

First we have Donald's ducks... Donald owns a family of pet ducks
I'm not entirely sure I'm okay with this. Though, at the same time, Pluto and Goofy are both dogs, and Mickey owns Pluto while Goofy walks upright. I'm almost willing to accept this one.

The second issue I have is with the clubhouse itself:
 ... Am... I the only one who is not comfortable with the fact that the clubhouse is made of the haphazardly assembled, dismembered body parts of Mickey Mouse? It really doesn't help that the red porch looks like a pool of blood or that the blue slide looks like a segment of intestine. Did nobody tell Mickey that this might actually be a bad idea when he showed them the blueprints? Cause, to me, this looks less like a clubhouse, and more like an elaborate threat that a serial killer would set up to let Mickey know that he's next...

I dunno, maybe I'm the sick one here, but just try to imagine a similar structure built with pieces of Donald or Goofy... Doesn't seem so innocent now, does it?

Edit:
I wasn't going to do this, but my sister absolutely insisted that I provide visual aids for the images I invoked above. She's to blame for me drawing this. That said...
The Donald Duck and Goofy Clubhouses:
I apologize profusely to everyone for the existence of this. I'm going to go sit in the corner now.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bear with me...

Okay, just as a heads up, I'm going to be messing with my blog a bit for the next little while. Trying to monetize and make it a little less eye-gougey and all that other fun stuff. Problem with that being that I suck at the internet, and so unless I manage to find some help with making everything work, it's going to be a pretty messy process. I apologize in advance for any unpleasantness or confusion you may experience. I'll try to get it all sorted out as quickly as I can.

On that note, if there is anybody who is actually capable of making a blog layout that is functional and appealing, I'd greatly appreciate it if you could lend me a hand. I've got a little bit too much ADD all up in here to get anywhere fast on my own.

Otherwise, hold tight, readers. I'll work it out eventually.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Wild Kratts

Surprisingly few people seem to recognize the names of the Kratt brothers -- Chris and Martin --  when they've come up in conversations about nostalgic tv shows. I was a bit perplexed when I found this out, because when I was young, Chris and Martin Kratt were my heart and soul.

For those of you unfamiliar, the Kratt brothers were the hosts of such animal-centric shows as Kratt's Creatures, and Zoboomafoo back in the day. Their aim was to teach us about as many animals as possible, and have fun doing it. Their daily interaction with so many amazing creatures was enough to make any animal loving child simultaneously envy and worship them.
They were wise and good and handsome, and they knew so much about animals, and oh, how I loved them. I loved them more than life. They made my fluttering ten-year-old heart sing in my chest whenever they graced the screen, and for years I watched eagerly, clinging passionately to every word that fell from their lips. 

But then one day they were gone. Zoboomafoo got cancelled, and the brothers disappeared from my life. I was very upset; besides losing Chris and Martin, my reasons for breathing, the only animal-centered show I had was now gone (I was a bit of an animal junkie. We didn't have cable, so Animal Planet was beyond my reach.) Eventually, however, my wounds healed an I moved on with my life. The years passed and I grew to be a woman, rarely sparing a thought for those two glorious men who had so captivated my young soul. I had thought them to be gone forever...

...

WILD KRATTS!!
Sister and I were folding laundry in front of the TV when this show came on. The volume and pitch of my delighted shriek exceeded all previously known limits of human vocal ability. My heart swelled with joy, and I knew that my world was right again.

Yes, the Kratt brothers are back, now fully animated and ready for more crazy animal adventures.
It starts off with a live-action segment of the brothers talking a little about the animal of the day, then goes into the animated segment where the brothers suit up like secret agents and go on a mission with crazy gadgets to find the animal and learn as much as they can about it.

Is it any good? Heck if I know. Doesn't matter. All I need are the live action segments at the beginning, and I'm a happy Erin. The animated part was good for what I saw of it. It's educational and the animated Kratts are hot it's engaging. There are some other characters too, and some storylines with villains and stuff, but I mostly ignore those. I kinda tune out everything except the brothers and the animal facts. It's all good though, because those alone are enough to sustain it in my book. If they were to drop the storyline and extra characters and make it just like Zoboomafoo except for animated, it would be the best thing to happen to kids' educational programming since The Magic Schoolbus.

Perhaps some day I will analyze the rest of the show for actual content, but for now I'm content to gaze at it through my nostalgia goggles and simply be happy that my beloved Kratts are back.
Keep the education coming, boys.

And if you haven't seen Zoboomafoo, you look that mess up RIGHT NOW!

Edit: After showing Wild Kratts to my roommates (who shrieked just as gleefully as I had,) we have determined that it IS, in fact, the best thing ever. Go watch it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sid the Science Kid

Usually I try to get a certain level of understanding of a show before I condemn it entirely, which means I at least have to watch a full episode or two of it first. Nevertheless, I feel that I can pretty confidently say, without much context, that there is a special place in Hell reserved for Sid the Science Kid.

Before you swoop down on me to contest that, I kindly invite you to watch the following clip with the sound off:
video
That is how I first saw it.
See, at the office where BFF Beth used to work as a receptionist, there was always a TV tuned to that station in the lobby with the sound off. When I came to bug her at work after class, it was usually during the time that Sid the Science Kid was on. There are no words for the terror that crept over my soul when I saw these toothless, malformed abominations bouncing around the screen like hyperactive gremlins with jaundice.

That was all I needed to see to know that this monstrosity should not be. And I hadn't even seen Sid's father yet...
...The bell-bottomed Raggedy Andy off to the left there... His head looks like a mask a serial killer would wear.

Then I found out it was made by Jim Henson Studios...
Wait... seriously?

...
...
...


WHAT IN THE WIDE WIDE WORLD OF JIM, GEORGE, AND BOWIE ARE YOU GUYS PLAYING AT?!? YOU MAKE MUPPETS!! MUPPETS DO NOT TRANSFER TO ANIMATION!! EVER!
No... it's okay, guys. Don't cry. I'm not angry at you... Just... go to your room and think about what you've done for a while.

Yes, that is almost undoubtedly what happened here. You can tell by the hair and the noses. The folks over at Henson Studios felt like they were getting left behind and decided to delve into animation like everybody else. Problem being, they've done nothing but muppets for so long that they have no concept of how to design anything different. The results are just as disastrous as one might expect. muppets are only cute in their original form. They've dabbled in animation before with things like Muppet Babies, and it was weird, but not creepy. Muppets animated in 3D are nothing BUT creepy. They look too much like the puppets that the studio is so fantastic at creating, but they also move by themselves, and you can see their feet. The effect we get is something akin to if aliens who wanted to infiltrate human society were trying to piece together disguises by watching episodes of Sesame Street. Muppets are weird looking, but we're willing to accept that because they're funny and we know there are people underneath them controlling their movements. Seeing them in full body, stringless motion just seems to trigger something in the human brain that says "I am no longer okay with this."

Okay, got that over with. Now go back and turn the sound on. Go ahead, I'll wait here...

...So, did you ever notice how muppets are funny, but whenever something that's not a muppet tries to act like one, it's really really annoying? Yeah. That.

Anyway, I'm sure it's a very well thought out and educational show, because I trust Jim Henson Studios (after all, they are still running their little Muppet show YouTube page, and the awesome is vast and never-ending,) but if they want to pull me away from crying in the corner for long enough to actually find out, they're going to have to turn it back into a puppet show. Until then, I will vehemently hold my position that Sid the Science kid needs to be scourged with fire.

Burn them! Burn them all! Get them before they get us!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Little Einsteins

Of the many shows I have been made aware of while sitting around in my sister's living room, there are a couple that I have  significantly more knowledge of. Sometimes it's because the show's time slot coincides with when I'm visiting Sister every day, but more often it's because it has, for whatever reason, earned an honored place on Zackary's list of "favorites," and so is played with greater frequency during his quiet time (otherwise known as his "Zacky watches TV for about two hours so Mommy can pass out on the couch" time.) Among the more unfortunate of these favorites is Little Einsteins.

Please don't get me wrong, this is a show that I really want to like. It's all about trying to expose kids to the world of music and fine art, which is an idea I can totally get behind. It's important for kids to experience culture, but dragging a kid to an art museum or symphony for a dose of it is a nightmare in hi-def for both parent and child. I think we ALL remember whining, fidgeting, and dragging our feet every time our parents made us go on a cultural outing  (heck, I remember being told constantly to sit up straight and get my feet off the pew by my exasperated father when my parents dragged me to a choir concert back in the day…"the day"  in question being sometime last month.) Little Einsteins was invented to recreate the cultural experience sans the hellfire. So yes, I'm pretty sold on the show's concept. And also the theme song. The theme song is awesome. And they have a rocket that is alive just like the Magic Schoolbus. That's just rad. Should be a solid show, yes?
…Do I even need to answer that question at this point? Of course not; as usual, the show manages to fall just short of the mark in its application.

    Perhaps I'm being harsh. Little Einsteins makes the mark, it's just weird. Not to mention the "no duh" factor that unintentionally makes the characters look like idiots.

    So basically these four kids, Annie, June, Quincy, and Leo live in a world of randomly placed instruments and sentient… everything… And not like in Pee Wee's playhouse or Blue's Clues where everything can talk; it's all just alive, and the four kids are the only ones who actually speak. Despite this, the kids still seem to understand the (usually very odd) desires of things like butterflies and trains, and they go to great lengths to help them reach said desires. Note that the object (or creature) in question usually isn't ever shown informing the kids of the problem, instead, one of the kids will just sort of come out and make a really bizarre assumption like "we need to help the train find his lost balloon!"  Then they will jump into their rocketship and go to do that thing that they're going to go do… In the most convoluted, roundabout, and stupid way possible. Though it's a fifty-fifty chance that they'll actually take the rocket… In any situation where the power of speed or flight could be of use to them, they seem to forget they have a rocket at all. "Of course we can't use our high-speed flying machine to help this fashionable scarf get to his sister's soccer game on time! Instead we're going to walk slowly with him the whole way and get lost in the trombone forest!"

    Now, each of the kids has a singular defining characteristic, aside from their appearance, that makes them an apparently useful member of the team. June dances, Quincy plays every instrument ever, Annie sings, and Leo… conducts? I guess… Anyway, these talents DO seem to come in handy in solving the bewildering set of problems these kids face, but I can't help but notice that not all of the kids are actually GOOD at the "skill" they claim to possess. I'm going to leave Leo alone because I actually have no idea what he does, so I don't know if he's any good at it. Annie, however, the alleged "singer" of the group, has absolutely no sense of pitch or rhythm. In fact, she's the only one of the four who CAN'T carry a tune. The others have perfectly lovely voices. The show likes to ignore this, of course, and leaves most of the singing to Annie. The result is that most of the songs in the show (set to the tunes of classical music pieces,) end up as awkward stumbling messes. I don't know about you, but I think that this could be easily fixed by getting a little girl who can actually sing to voice Annie, cause I'm pretty sure that the point of using the classical music tunes in the first place is completely lost if the viewers can't actually hear the tune.

A couple more points and then I'll leave it alone:
There are a lot of famous paintings that are integrated into the world of the show. This is all well and good when it's just a landscape or something, and it actually looks pretty cool. The painting should not, however, be allowed to be part of the animation in any way. Reason for this being that when the subjects of paintings such as, say "Old Man With a Pipe" by Van Gogh move on hinges like they were animated by a 5th grader in Flash and play random classical music when they open their mouths like they swallowed a record player, it is really really weird.
You can only imagine...

Continuing on that note, perhaps I'm just missing the deep meaning woven intricately through the themes of Little Einsteins, but I've noticed that the plot of the episodes somehow manages to dance off without me a LOT. In one particular example, the episode began with one of the girls reading a fairy tale about a golden goose and a giant to the other kids. Then I tuned out for a second, and when I looked back up they were suddenly going off to save the golden goose -- the one from the fairy tale that began "once upon a time" that they were just reading from a storybook -- from the giant, played, confusingly, by the man from the painting I mentioned above. Maybe the plot made sense after that, but all I remember is the painting giant swinging his arms and stomping like an angry old hick, and yelling Beethoven's 5th (since he apparently speaks fluent… orchestra.) I'm not really sure what he was yelling about, but if I were to make an educated guess, I'd say he wanted them to get off his lawn. His cloud lawn. Like I said, I got lost after the first three minutes, so I couldn't tell you. In fact, MOST of the episodes I've seen have taken off on a magical mystery tour and left me behind like that. This is a problem that probably needs to be fixed… Maaaybe try to invite the viewers along on you plot journey before you take off, guys.

Wait, what?

I will put an end to my rant now, because I tend to lose the will to live when my diatribes about shows intended for 5 year olds run too long. I will say that, for what it is, Little Einsteins is okay. It sort of accomplishes what it set out to, albeit strangely and off-key, and at least the writers try to educate kids instead of throwing their hands in the air and saying "Y'know what? Kids are idiots. Let's just paste some new characters and oboes over an episode of Dora and call it a day."
There IS actual visible effort in this show, however misguided, so I think that we can at least be thankful for that.
And also for the theme song. Cause seriously, dudes, it rocks.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Special Agent Oso

On my personal list of kids' shows that I can not, for my life, give a good answer as to why they exist, I'm pretty sure that Special Agent Oso is right up there near the top. Rare is the show that has a "no duh" factor that can even come close to comparing. I'll explain, shall I?

Like all of the shows I've covered so far, I've seen very few episodes of this one. I'm told my nephew loves it, and calls it "Specially Oso," but I personally haven't seen a whole lot of it. What I have observed from the little I've seen of it is that it's about a panda (I think) who goes around on special missions from… someone… and teaches kids to do… things… And while I doubt the likelihood of any organization or government hiring a bear to fly around the world and help kids learn to do mundane things, what really gets to me is the "three special steps" that he and his terrifying floating head A.I. give to the kids. I think It will be better for me to show you than to try and explain:
video
Can you spot a problem with this? I mean, besides the fact that Oso's little helper A.I. is definitely going to eat your skin while you are sleeping… Notice the "special steps?" Didja see how they were "1) Watch the thing 2) Practice the thing 3) Do the thing?" Yeah… that… Uuuummmmm, how do I put this? Uh… guys? Kids aren't that stupid. They really don't need a bear or his creepy talking head to explain this sort of thing to them. If you really want to help, you gotta give better specifics, otherwise, just buzz off and let the little morons figure it out themselves. And this is not the only example of the special steps being crash-courses in blinding stupidity. Most of the ones I've seen are like that. Look them up if you don't believe me.


Also, if I may just comment briefly on the little satellite camera thing they've got rigged up: does that seem a little... suspect... to you? Like, really? Who was the guy who rigged up a satellite to zero in on kids with "problems" and then hired a bear to go and "fix" them? Not so much the bear that worries me, mostly just the satellite camera... Who taught it to zero in on kids like that? It may just be a result of my brain's high exposure to the internet, but I think I've got a pretty good idea who Oso's employer is.

Pedobear: Official (satirical) mascot of pedophilia in the internet age

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Dirtgirlworld

So... Dirtgirlworld... Sweet mother of Lincoln, Dirtgirlworld...
video
Good. Gravy.
For the record, I have no idea what this show is about; frankly, I don't care. One commercial for it on Sprout told me all I needed to know.
You may or may not be familiar with the concept of the Uncanny Valley. This woman explains it far better than I ever could, but basically, in terms of something's resemblance to a human, there is a line of progression between complete abstraction and total realism. Along that line, there comes a point where something is getting close to being human, but not quite close enough. That is the point where it starts to become uncomfortable, and it will continue to be that way until it reaches complete realism again(this being the reason why the movie Mars Needs Moms didn't do very well. The animation went too far along that line to where it was unappealing to viewers.) To put it more simply, between a completely cartoonified version of a human and an actual human, there rests a range of creepy that cannot be circumnavigated. Cartoons are okay, real people are okay, but beware the valley.

That being said: AAAAAUUUUGGGGG!!!! SWEET MERCY, WHAT IS THAT THING?!? GAW!! THE EYES! THE HUMAN EYES! AND THE MOUTHS!! AND THE FACE WORM!! MERCIFUL DIONYSUS, THE FACE WORM!! KILL IT! KIIIILLLL IIIIITTT!! BURN THEM ALL!

... Okay, Dirtgirlworld... I know you're trying to be all unique and stuff with your animation but... the real facial features... Stop having real facial features. Not only is your idea made of pure liquid nightmares, it also makes your characters' facial expressions look inexplicably suggestive. I feel like they're trying to molest me every time they smile or wink or look playfully off to one side. And tell the dude who is being the eyes and mouth for the guy to stop blinking so much. It makes him look twitchy and makes me feel like he's up to something even more than I already did.

Also, just so you know, the face worm... I paused the video because I saw it and I wasn't sure, but now I know... The face worm has a face on both ends.
Enjoy your nightmares.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Jake and the Neverland Pirates

Jake and the Neverland Pirates is a relatively new show on the Disney channel.

It is a tale of high-seas adventure, mystery, and really not a lot of piracy...
As the title would suggest, the story takes place in Neverland (of Peter Pan fame,) and follows Jake -- the archetypal prepubescent roguish hero -- and his friends -- goofy fat kid, token chick, and obligatory parrot sidekick.

Together they explore Neverland, solve problems, collect gold dubloons, and face off against the nefarious Captain Hook and his sidekick Mr. Smee who are always up to no good.

This show is boring, plain and simple. In spite of its potentially awesome setup, it ends up being just like every other kids' show out there. Even so, there is one thing that sticks out and makes this show both bewildering and hilarious. Aside from the distinct absence of Peter Pan despite the story taking place in Neverland, and the fact that Jake's little band has never once done anything remotely piratical, I have never seen a show that operates so unabashedly on video game logic. You see, one of the aims of the heroes is to collect gold doubloons, but they never actively seek for doubloons. Instead, the doubloons appear as a reward whenever they complete a task or solve a problem. After a problem is solved, the doubloons will appear out of nowhere and spin in midair as someone, usually the girl, announces "We did it! And we got three gold doubloons!" Not even kidding. All that's missing is the Final Fantasy triumph music.
No explanation is ever given for this bewildering reward system; it's not an element that transfers from video games to cartoons very gracefully. One has to wonder if it's always been like this in Neverland. Does everyone get rewards for solving puzzles? Still, as confusing as I find it, I can't help but be amused and delighted by the metagame nonsense that is the Neverland reward system.

Another thing that I've noticed is that this show falls prey to the distressing trend of starring ten-year-old characters who look like sexy teenagers. This may or may not have any worrisome implications, I really don't know, but I figured I'd just point out that that Jake looks like a Jonas brother, and I am almost positive that his sultry-eyed little vixen of a girlfriend, Izzy, grew to be the pirate Isabella from Dragon Age (who is as slutty as her open tunic and lack of pants would suggest.)


To the show's credit, they actually found some pretty good voice actors to do the voices of Captain Hook and Mr. Smee. Not perfect, but they do a pretty good job of imitating the original Disney movie without making me cringe. However, I can't help but feel that poor Captain Hook has suffered a blow to his dignity (which is saying something, considering that he barely had any dignity in the movie.) I mean, in Peter Pan, Hook actually did some decently piratey things, including kidnapping, deception, and shooting a man in the middle of his cadenza (ain't good form, y'know...) In the show, however, he seems to have been reduced to following three kids around to steal their beach balls and ruin their picnics. Since he's one of my favorite Disney villains, I have to feel sorry for the man. Perhaps I underestimated the psychological effects of being made to publicly declare yourself a codfish. Peter Pan may have been even more of a sadist than I thought.

Also, in the few episodes I saw of this show, I noticed that the writers maaay have been trying to get away with a few things. I first became aware of this after Jake and his buddies managed to thwart Captain Hook yet again. As they gleefully flew away (with the help of pixie dust, and no, I do NOT know where Izzy got it,) leaving Hook adrift in a small boat, Jake called out something along the lines of "Well, captain, looks like you need to learn to steer your dinghy!" To which Hook incredulously replied "... Steer my... dinghy?" Now, I usually try to keep these posts classy, but just try to tell me that wasn't intentional. I can understand writers getting bored working on this sort of show and trying to slip stuff in for fun, but dang! The Animaniacs couldn't even have gotten that past the censors! Class act, dudes.

I could go on, but I should probably quit while I'm ahead. It suffices to say that, in spite of its dull and bewildering execution, Jake and the Neverland pirates is probably my favorite of the weird and terrible shows on the Disney channel. It's stupid, but it's got some pretty art and also Captain Hook. It's hard for me to hate. Particularly since the creators were kind enough to NOT include anything terrifying in the character designs or the animation.
The same cannot be said for our next show...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Jungle Junction

Alright, dear readers, school is over now, and now my little operation here should start to pick up again. Fear not.

That said, most of my ideas in the past while have all been based around a singular theme: Childrens' programming. See, I spend a lot of time at my sister's house, with her and her two little boys. This creates ample opportunity for me to experience the strange and confusing world of modern childrens' programming that I would not have otherwise been exposed to. Most of these shows contain some element or another that leaves me with my head tilted to one side and my mouth hanging open in bewilderment -- I'm pretty sure my face is going to freeze that way soon. At any rate, because of all of the new things I have seen while watching the Disney channel with my nephews, I have decided to dedicate my posts for the next month or so to the wonders of kids' shows. Keep in mind that most of the things I will discuss, I haven't watched extensively. These will mostly be my impressions based on a random episode, or even just a clip that I catch here and there while doing homework or folding laundry on my sister's couch. That being said, here's a whole series of me thinking way too hard about daytime childrens' programming:

So there is this show on the Disney channel called "Jungle Junction"
Jungle Junction is about animals.
British animals.
With wheels.

Aside from wondering a few things like "Why is there a pig in the jungle?" and "What is that raccoon pikachu rabbit thing supposed to be?" the main question that this show brings to my mind is "WHY do the animals have wheels?!?"

From the few episodes I've seen of this show, I've been able to determine that there is absolutely NO reason for them to have wheels. The problems they encounter are things like needing to bake a cake for a party or locate somebody's lost something-or-other... In other words: problems that are in no way related to them being animals with wheels. Since the wheels are never explained, they become something of a distraction -- an elephant in the room, so to speak (an elephant with wheels, no less.) I literally could not tell you anything else about the show because the couple times I've watched it, I've been far too worried about the unexplained wheels to notice anything else...Maybe it's a good show, maybe it's painfully stupid, I honestly have no idea.

To the lovely people who created this show: It's great and all that you came up with a concept that has never been done before, but I think you accidentally forgot to have it make any sense ... Just thought I should let you know cause that would be really embarrassing if it went out on the air like that and-- oh... wait... Never mind. Sorry dudes. I'll just... yeah, uh... I'll just let myself out, shall I?
...Oh, but before I go, will you do me a favor and tell me WHY THE ANIMALS HAVE WHEELS!!! Seriously guys, you gotta help me out! I need to understand! I'm going crazy here! Please! Just help me to understand! Why? Why?! WHYYY?!? D:

... that is all.