The Extreme Craze

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Something from a bygone era I don’t exactly miss is the extreme sports craze. I’m sure if you were born before or grew up during the 2000’s you probably remember it. It was inescapable. It was everywhere, and for a kid like me who had absolutely no interest in sports whatsoever, it was annoying. To this day, I still can’t look at the word “extreme” in any context without groaning.

I’ll spare you my opinions on shows and characters created as a result of this craze (I’m looking at you, Rocket Power), and focus more on what it did to characters who had the misfortune of being around while it was popular.

One particular bit of it I remember vividly is the shoehorning of cartoon characters into this craze, Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Snoopy, and even Spongebob Squarepants, and the respective supporting casts of each. They’d stick these classic characters made for the purpose of being comedic on t-shirts and juice-boxes striking badass poses, making determined scowl-smile faces, wearing ridiculous amounts of safety gear and trendy sports clothing, looking cool while slamming dunks and skateboarding.
Hell, they even had a photo going around with Kermit the Frog, Gonzo and Animal as extreme skateboarders at some point. It was ludicrous.

Now while out-of-character, it was at least a little believable that Mickey, Snoopy and Bugs would be good at extreme sports, despite the fact that it looked ridiculous and you knew they would never actually do any. (As far as I recall, Bugs and Snoopy never did beyond merchandise, Mickey wasn’t that lucky. I remember the juice-boxes got animated commercials.) It was believable because they’re already good at everything, sports included, and Mickey has little to no personality to speak of, so he can do whatever the hell he wants.
Kermit wasn’t believable in that role to me at all since I can’t shake the notion of a humble, old-fashioned 30-something year old whenever I look at him, so it just looks stupid no matter what.

Sure, Donald and Daffy would probably make sense as well, given their competitive natures. Goofy had a ton of sports related cartoons even before the craze, so sure, why not? Taz only exists to be a “cool” character anymore anyway, so fine, throw him in there too. Same with Animal. Gonzo is known for his love of wacky stunts, so fuck it, give him some knee pads and a scooter.

But what really gave me pause is when they would do it with the Spongebob Squarepants characters. They’d give Spongebob, a character deliberately designed to look like a dork, a skateboard, knee pads, and a badass expression, grinding with ease. They were trying to make Spongebob look cool.
See, this isn’t the weird effect you get from looking at a 60 year old character trying to look trendy, like when your mom starts calling all your friends “dude” in hopes it’ll make her seem cool. Spongebob was new then. This isn’t the Steve Urkel “looks like a nerd but is actually a totally rockin’ individual” kind of cool. Spongebob was a flat out awkward dork in-universe. This wasn’t just out of character, this betrayed the very purpose and essence of the character itself.
Now before you say “But Spongebob canonically likes extreme sports!” Yes. That is true. But the joke is he’s TERRIBLE at them. He gets the shit beaten out of him just trying to keep up with Sandy. I couldn’t take all those shirts with Spongebob slamming dunks and jumping ramps seriously because I, as a huge fan of the show (back when it was good), knew that was something Spongebob could never do, even if he tried. And he would. It would result in him humorously falling flat on his pourous yellow ass. But nope. There he is, giving that stupid scowl-smile that every other cartoon character on a t-shirt had back then.

But hey, it still made a little sense, like before, Spongebob would try these sports out, bad at them as he was. Patrick doing it made a little sense too. Then we get into full on suspension of belief when they had Squidward do it too. Fucking Squidward! Squidward is hanging ten with Spongebob and Patrick. Has this craze gotten so far out of hand that they’re trying to make Squidward of all characters, Squidward, the snotty, art-obsessed, middle aged bastard neighbor, look extreme? What, were you afraid no one would buy the t-shirt if Sandy was on it, so you had no other choice but to put in Squidward? It wasn’t enough to just have Spongebob and Patrick? Was Squidward an absolute goddamn necessity?
I can’t find a picture, but I couldn’t make this up if I tried. They had t-shirts with Squidward skateboarding, playing basketball, rollerblading and playing hockey. Squidward.

I’m incredibly glad that as an adult who shops for cartoon merchandise in the adult sections for that sort of thing, I don’t have to see characters from the 40’s scowl-smiling on roller-blades anymore. I’m not entirely sure if those sorts of merchandise are still around, as uncommon as they are now. I think Phineas and Ferb has dabbled with it early on in it’s history, but stopped in favor of just slapping guitars on every single character.

I suppose I should also be thankful that the extreme craze didn’t go as far as it could have. We could have gotten extreme skateboarding Pikachu, after all. Actually, I bet that exists somewhere. They did have a habit of shoving him on a surfboard all the time.

Art Musing #1

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The worst habit an artist can get into is being so concerned with pleasing others, they never put aside time to please themselves. They become afraid to try new things they want to try or to go public with new ideas because they’re afraid their following won’t like it and limit themselves to the same stuff they’re known for.

The way I see it, the only person you really need to please is yourself.

Maleificent Review *SPOILERS*

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I’m curious to know if the filmmakers behind “Maleficent” even watched “Sleeping Beauty” beforehand, or if they just caught a YouTube clip of Maleficent cursing the baby Aurora and decided “Yep, we could totally write a superhero movie about this chick.”

I mean, it wasn’t unbearable, but after 70 years of “Maleficent is the biggest baddest bad guy ever”, now you’re trying to convince me she’s a hero?

The one and only part where Maleficent, who the trailers made out to be a big badass force of evil, does anything remotely villainous was cursing Aurora, which was taken nearly scene for scene from the original movie. But other than that, that’s about it. There’s not a trace of the evil witch, who for nearly a century has been regarded as one of the scariest villains in cinema, available beyond a sarcastic nature and some pranks.

Even the climax felt very “superhero-ish”, and she loses her cape, making Maleficent look like she’s wearing a spandex suit, which in turn made her resemble Catwoman.
It got to the point where I wouldn’t have been surprised if, after the credits, Nick Fury came up to her and invited her into the Avengers.

Also, and spoiler alert here, she doesn’t even turn into a dragon. Her raven sidekick does. What the hell was THAT?

It also bugged me how the Three Faries, when in fairy form, looked like they came out of Shrek.

Lameplay Theater Patreon

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Alan Solivan, who you may remember as Mr. OMA from Fireball20Xl, the man behind “The Rogues Gallery”, “Author Space”, and “The Fallout Shelter”, former artist of “Fetch Quest” and “Samurai Pizza Cats: COLD”, and a very good friend of mine, has fallen upon some hard financial times.

Since he’s nose deep in commission orders, so many that he can’t do an art drive, he’s instead decided to put his recently resurrected Lets Play channel “Lameplay Theater” to good use, and started up a Patreon for it.

Lameplay Theater has no shortage of episodes and games to watch, with games new and old, from “Ducktales” to the “Batman Arkham” series, and he’s been kicking the Lets Play ball around long before Arin and Jon/Dan ever did.
Whether he’s fumbling with the jumps in “Ice Climber”, or doing a improv-heavy pro-wrestling commentator act with a buddy of his in his “One Piece: Pirate Warriors” playthroughs, I can guarantee that this guy will provide hours of entertainment, high quality gameplay footage, and will actually read the fucking hint boxes.

So please, help the guy out. If you have five dollars to spare, he’ll personally thank you in a monthly video.

15 bucks and he’ll give you a playlist of upcoming episodes

25 bucks and you can pick out what game he’ll play next.

30 bucks? Commentate with him on a Lameplay

50 bucks and you can be co-commentator for an entire playthrough!

So help this guy out, if you can, HERE

And do enjoy his large stable of playthroughs at his YouTube channel, HERE

What’s in a Name

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I think made up names for fictional characters has ruined what I can consider an actual name for an actual person.

I’ve already named a character of mine “Litchi” after the BlazBlu character thinking it was a real name, but apparently, it isn’t. I even looked it up. Though I suppose with names like Matchu and Jamjars, “Litchi” doesn’t seem too out of place, right?

It’s kind of funny for me to think about when someone takes a word like “Crash” or “Knuckles” or “Goofy” with normal every day meaning, and applies them to a character who becomes incredibly popular, and suddenly it’s not a word anymore. It’s a name. Like, take Sonic for instance. “Sonic” used to be a word, but is now primarily used to describe a speedy cobalt blue Hedgehog. Can you imagine, like, 20 or 30 years from now , when the DeviantART fan-character generators are having kids, suddenly there will be a barrage of kids named Sonic?

“Oh, you’ll have to take that to Sonic from accounting”
“If you want I can get my friend Sonic to detail your car for like 20 bucks”
“To his son, Sonic, he leaves 4,000 dollars out of his fortune”
“My name is Professor Sonic Johnson, welcome to AP Calculus.”

Meanwhile, we have real names that at one point were perfectly respectable that got ruined by a fictional character. Like Mario, Luke, Donald, Sylvester, Kermit, Homer, Marge, you name it. You’ll never meet a guy named Ash again in your life all thanks to the fact no parent wants to be the asshole who supposedly named their kid after the Pokemon Trainer and risk letting the poor bastard get picked on. It’s truly hilarious. If my comic ever hits it off, I’m gonna feel bad for anyone named Amber.

Then you got people DELIBERATELY naming kids after the most ridiculous possible characters. How many times has “Man Names Newborn Child Optimus Prime” come up in the news? How many years from now do you think we’ll be seeing children in our schools named “Twilight Sparkle” or “Fluttershy”?

Names are truly important, it’s practically a person’s identity in a couple of sounds that they’ll carry with them for the rest of their life. And yet you can name your offspring whatever the hell you want. There are no laws about that sort of thing. Wanna name your kid “Pthsintoghitink”? Go right ahead, dude!

Stop holding events in Gotham City.

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Seriously, why are so many events, concerts, parties, contests, meet and greets, conventions, business meetings, charity dinners and award shows held in Gotham? You’d think after the first couple times they’d learn, but no.

Yes, Gotham is a large city, so naturally, it’d be considered a good place to have an event, but the issue is, see, Gotham is a large city infested with criminals, mobsters, psychos and supervillains unlike the world has ever seen. Like, literally, Gotham is portrayed as the most crime infested slimepit in the world.

Every single time and event like this is held, inevitably, someone’s going to ruin it. Whether it be one of the supervillains straight outta Arkham, or somebody in attendance ticked off a mafia don, this party is going the fuck down.

Art show at the museum? Oops, looks like The Joker’s come, drawn mustaches on all the priceless paintings, smashed the centuries-old statues and fed the ancient dinosaur bones to his Hyenas!

County Fair? Oh shoot, Poison Ivy just showed up and sprayed all the produce with a toxin that brings them to life and gives them a taste for people!

Politician visiting? Whoopsie daisy, Two Face is here and he just kidnapped the guy and is flipping coins to see if he should shoot him or not!

Medical Science Fair? Oh poop, Mr. Freeze is there freezing shit up because someone there might have invented something that could cure his cryogenically frozen wife!

Actor at a convention? Uh oh, He apparently worked on something with Clayface back when he was human, so that’s enough of a reason for Clayface to want to kill him!

Seriously, next time a band offers to play in Gotham, send them somewhere else. Fuck, Metropolis is probably a dozen times safer and it’s regularly attacked by demigods.

Really, I think it’s gotten to the point where you might as well not run a business at ALL in Gotham. Literally every kind of establishment or career could lead to becoming an accessory in an evil plot or attempted murder. I’m talking beyond banks and jewelry stores. Florists and Farmers Markets are out. Probably shouldn’t run a bar or a casino. God help you if you’re a comedian or birthday clown. There’s an incredibly well done fan-comic making the rounds around Tumblr about how much it would suck to be a tailor in Gotham City. Not to mention Gotham’s warehouses tend to have a habit of blowing up.

Really, with the reputation it has, why does anything happen in Gotham at all anymore? For that matter, why does anyone even live there anymore? Sure, we got Batman, but that’s only because you can’t even go to the liquor store without the fucking Penguin showing up and starting a gunfight or even go to the movies without the goddamn Scarecrow spraying fear gas everywhere.

I mean, at LEAST hold the events and have your stores open during the day. For some reason, nothing ever happens in Gotham during the day. Only at night. Go figure.

Smashed Bros

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Well, I’m certainly looking forward to the Smash Bros centric Nintendo Direct today.

Not sure what to expect. Maybe 2 newcomers? Some gameplay footage? Modes? A release date? Finally fixing Sonic’s crappy moveset?

All I know is I HOPE I can catch it, since I have tutoring a half hour after it’s supposed to begin in my time zone.