Nerd’s Eye View Of No Two Minds About Two-Face

Few would argue the point that in the halls of storied comic book rogues galleries none compare to the compelling psychological and murderous wonder of Batman’s crew of villainous foes. The Caped Crusader’s homicidal and maniacal opponents have proven time and again that if anyone can keep the worlds smartest, richest, most formidable man on his toes, they can. They are so malevolent, and often so contemptuous of human life, society, and law that they are in fact rarely put into regular inmate circulation at Blackgate Prison, or any other of DC’s fictional “regular” prisons but are instead admitted to the infamous and appropriately gothic Arkham Asylum.

Arkham is a mental hospital for the criminally insane that is located just outside of Gotham City and it houses the lion’s share of Batman’s foes. Of the foes committed within there is one who I wish to expound upon in this article—a villain, so called, that in another life actually helped to incarcerate many of his fellow in-mates; none other than former Gotham City District Attorney Harvey Dent aka Two-Face.

Two-Face has always had incredible potential to be a complicated, complex, and thoroughly enjoyable character. Before being scarred by acid in a dramatic mob-related court room assassination attempt, Dent was a promising young district attorney aligned with both Police Commissioner Jim Gordon and The Batman in a trinity force that—at least in Loeb and Sale’s The Long Halloween—was committed to taking down the mob in Gotham (and the costumed loonies as well). A brave and bold force of justice with a brilliance in him Dent was then emotionally and mentally unhinged when he was disfigured on half of his face (and body, presumably).

At this point Two-Face’s depiction becomes somewhat befuddled. Classically, Two-Face’s modus operandi has been an obsession with the number two—supposedly having to do with the dual visage he bears as his disfigurement. This is where the characterization starts to fall apart. A brilliant lawyer who was charismatic enough to be elected to the position of district attorney in a city as large as Gotham would most likely not have a breakdown of this sort. While this specific and most recognizable flair fits into Golden Age sensibilities of comic book villains, and characters in general a modern approach (as I will provide) will show a direction that in my formidable estimation would be best suited for the DCnU.

The Golden and Silver Age (and to some extend the so-called Modern Age) deal heavily with the idea that Two-Face’s schemes revolve around this plot point of his obsession with the number two. He might use a .22 caliber pistol, or rob the Twin Pines Mall, or steal 22 million dollars as 22:22 military time from the 2nd national bank in Timbuktu. I recall in the story arc A Lonely Place of Dying by Wolfman and Perez (the story arc that introduces Tim Drake) there is a scene where Batman is scheming to lure Two-Face to a prize and Two-Face is scheming to lure Batman to is doom. The scene is overtly aware of the over-use of the silly Two-Face gimmick as Batman is trying to come up with different traps involving two while Dent is trying to come up with inventive new ones.  Eventually Bruce Wayne puts a 22 million prize up while Two-Face kidnaps twins in two ploys that have them both going in opposite directions. The damn thing acknowledges itself.

There is even some support of this in his usage of a two-faced (or double-sided) coin with one side scarred in his decision making process but I don’t feel that this is the kind of obsession a man with the history and intellect of Harvey Dent would have—even when heeding the awesome transformative might of insanity and breakdown.

What I would propose, and indeed what I would write myself, would be the character of Harvey Dent becoming morally polarized. Instead of obsessing over duos and plurals I would see the character perseverate upon duality and plurality. A talented man well versed in law now jaded with an easily manipulated system Harvey Dent, Two-Face, would lose the ability to see moral ambiguity forsaking any shades of grey and becoming a force of his own brand of justice. I see Two-Face not as a lawman turned bank robber but rather as the deputized establishment gone renegade. Two-Face the Vigilante, Two-Face the Punisher; not Two-Face the coin flipping pun, not Two-Face the plot gag.

Close examination of television and movie depictions of the character reveal this potential as well. My first encounters with the character come from the Batman: The Animated Series cartoon of the early 90’s. This was a capable and confident Two-Face; a man who did justice to his own history insofar as his competence as a criminal and an intellect. He was, for lack of a better term, a boss. He came on strong, bold, with a clear plan and expectation for what it is that he wished to accomplish—certainly many of his decisions hinged on the flip of a coin but, without taking anything away from that particular idiosyncratic trait, remember this was also a children’s cartoon. The Paul Dini/Bruce Timm Two-Face is a strong character that, at least in the onset of the series, is not so terribly over the top (given the medium) that he could be discounted as a serious threat.

On the other hand, there is the Two-Face as portrayed by Tommy Lee Jones in Batman Forever. My god. What a terrible movie. Joel Shitmaker certainly had the crap gods smiling upon him when they churned out this waste of my dime (actually my father’s dime). Without getting too much into the awful decisions made all around in this movie I will attempt to discuss the Two-Face contained within. Harvey Dent so-called as portrayed Tommy Lee Jones was somehow an exponentially more cartoonish figure than the Dini/Timm version could have ever hoped to be. On an acid trip. In Oz. With Rip Taylor as your guide. Somehow they managed to take every over the top, ridiculous, and downright nonsensical piece of the character and exponentially amplify it to the level of ultimate retardation. I’m not even going to waste our time (yours as the reader and mine as the writer) giving a multitude of examples—suffice it to say that the character is so thoroughly one-dimensional and oafishly portrayed and written that he is defeated by a bag of half dollars thrown in the air. The end. That’s all folks. If my memory serves Batman doesn’t even bother to punch him afterwards. This is a brilliant man? I think not.

Now, as much as I find Batman Forever to be a blight upon humanity, from its Broadway Gay lighting schemes to Jim Carrey playing the Joker in a Riddler costume, The Dark Knight is its polar opposite. I won’t delve too deeply into recap or critique on this movie either but the portrayed of Harvey Dent/Two Face by Aaron Eckhart in this movie is leagues better, parsecs better, than what we’ve got going on with Jones. First, the emphasis on the characterization of the man Harvey Dent throughout the greater part of the movie really drives home the point that the heart of Two-Face is the lawyer, the district attorney, the man. The Dark Knight probably does this to a fault, because by the time Dent becomes Two-Face (in an alternate-yet-similar origin story) it seems forced and rushed because its towards the end of the movie. Even so, this Two-Face is driven by justice—not law mind you—and this is tempered and infused with chance upon mortality. Dent seeks out corrupt cops and mobsters alike and gives them one coin flip to decide their fate.

This approach is already encroaching on the Two-Face I would like to read, or would write myself.  A man whose life is about justice; before being disfigured law and after a deranged or personal sense of right and wrong—but not about robbing the second national bank on February 2nd. There was some hinting at this kind of a Two-Face in the One Year Later event following DC’s 52 but it was quickly abandoned and forgotten. There was a quick amnesia surrounding the entire diea that Two-Face was actually operating as a hero in Gotham while Batman was gone for a year, and as if he had lost a bet to the Bat, Dent resumed his villainous ways upon Batman’s return.

(note: The Riddler has been operating as “reformed” detective for hire as something of a con-man for a while now and I think it adds something to his character. Again, why would he self-defeat by leaving clues and robbing banks? It is also interesting to note that both of these characters were poorly portrayed in Shitmaker’s first Batman debacle)

The Two-Face that needs to arrive is not a cartoonish oaf with a ridiculous obsession over the number 2 but instead a stone cold killer with his own sense of justice. One who finds himself closely aligned Batman in almost every way…except one: his willingness to kill because of his utter lack of faith or even contempt for the system. This Two-Face would be at odds with the Caped Crusader much in the way that Catwoman is (minus the sexual tension—probably) and being erstwhile allies in the protection of their city. Interestingly enough this would have him operating in a moral grey area that his own mental damage doesn’t allow him to recognize in the actions of others.

  This post was originally published at Brandon Melendez’s Nerd’s Eye View
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Written by: Brandon Melendez

 

 

 

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The Toast | House at the End of the Street

When I sat down to watch House at the End of the Street, I had somehow convinced myself it was a remake (as are most films in this genre). To my surprise, it wasn’t, but I went into this movie with very low expectations (as I try to do with most new films in this genre).  Surprising me even further was that I didn’t hate this movie, but before you go further thinking this is a raving review let me explain.

House at the End of the Street is about a single mother named Dr. Sarah Cassidy (Elisabeth Shue) and her daughter, Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence) who move to a small town for a fresh start. Elissa learns that the neighboring house next to them was the site of a double murder. Fortunately, this film offered some great realty advice: if you’re looking for a cheap house to buy or rent, maybe look for one that’s near a crime scene. When Sarah tells Elissa that is the only reason they can afford to rent, Elissa seems a little taken aback but seems reassured when her mother tells her the house is empty. Or is it?

After attending a party at another neighbors house, they learn that the son of the murdered couple, Ryan Jacobson (Max Thieriot), is actually still living in the house and that the daughter, Carrie Ann, who committed the murders, was never found and was presumed dead… and there’s that little urban legend that she’s still living in the woods.  They also learn that their neighbors are kind of jerks. Instead of sympathy for the guy for losing his parents, they’re mad at him for staying in the house because it’s dragging down the home values. Lovely neighborhood they’re living in. It’s at this party that Elissa meets Tyler (Nolan Gerard Funk) and where the story really starts to take off.

After attending a party with Tyler and learning he’s not much better than his parents, Elissa runs out and starts to walk home when a car pulls up beside her and asks if she needs a ride. It’s Ryan Jacobson. She tries to lie to him about where she lives, but he saw her move in. After refusing one more time, it starts to rain and she suddenly changes her mind and gets in the car.

After her car ride with Ryan, she starts to drop her guard about him and begins getting to know him. She sees him as a kind, gentle, damaged soul and wants to be close to him, but her mother is quick to be on the defensive (typical mother) and make the “no being together alone while I’m not home” rule.

Maybe Elissa should have followed that rule because she’ll learn pretty quickly that Ryan may not be who he says he is. It’s true that everyone has secrets, but some people have really dark and messed up secrets.

I wouldn’t classify this as a horror film, but rather a suspenseful thriller, only without the suspense. Some parts of this movie were really predictable and though it began to pick up towards the end, the fact that you saw the whole thing coming kind of takes away from it. I enjoyed it, but I’ll never watch it again. Check it out if you’re curious enough, otherwise, I heard Frankenweenie came out on DVD this week…

 

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Written by: Katie Sperduti

 

 

The Toast | Rocky Horror Picture Show

I would love to tell you the full story behind my discovery of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but I can’t. All I can remember about it is my mom allowing me to watch it with her around Halloween when I was in fifth grade. Maybe the small details don’t really matter because from that day on, it became one of my favorite musicals of all time.

It was probably pretty hard for someone in fifth grade to understand all the characters and all the sexual references in the cult classic, and the more I think about it, I don’t think I ever really questioned why Dr. Frank-N-Furter(Tim Curry), a man, was dressed in women’s underwear and wearing make up, or how the servants Riff-Raff (Richard O’Brien) and Magenta (Patricia Quinn) had sex through their elbows, I was just hypnotized by the whole film. I’m also convinced Tim Curry looks and walks better in heels than I do. To this day, I’m still captivated by the film and every year I try to get my friends to throw me a Rocky Horror Picture Show birthday party (and every year I fail). Someday, everyone will do the “Time Warp” with me.

If you are unfamiliar with the plot, let me give you a quick run down. A criminologist narrates the film (Charles Gray), with his most entertaining scene being when he teaches the viewer how to do the “Time Warp.”  The criminologist tells the story about “two normal, ordinary healthy kids,” from Denton, Ohio in 1974. After attending a friends wedding, lovers Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (Susan Sarandon) become engaged (through a musical number!) and decide to visit their old teacher Dr. Scott (Johnathan Adams) and give him the news since the two met in class. On the way home during a horrible rainstorm, the car breaks down and Brad and Janet see a light on in a nearby house and head towards it. They don’t realize that they’re about to walk into a whole different world; a world of transvestite aliens, sex, murder and Meatloaf (yes, the singer).

After asking the good doctor for some help with their car, Brad and Janet are told that they’ve arrived on the night that the doctor will reveal his creation, Rocky (Peter Hinwood). After Rocky comes into the world, all hell breaks loose, complete with musical dance numbers and prompts for the audience to participate with the movie. This has always been my favorite part and I vow to attend a midnight showing someday so I can join in the fun.  How does one participate in this movie? I’ll give you a few examples. During the rainstorm when Brad and Janet are walking towards the castle of  Dr. Frank-N-Furter, audience members use squirt guns and newspapers to symbolize the rain and the newspaper Janet is holding over her head to keep dry, or the viewers throw toilet paper (preferably the Scott brand) when Brad yells “GREAT SCOTT!”

My favorite character of the movie was a groupie of Dr. Frank-N-Furter named Columbia (Nell Campbell) who wore (what I always thought was) a glamorous gold tuxedo costume, beautiful make-up and tap danced like a champ. She was also in love with Eddie (Meatloaf) who sang my favorite song in the movie (“Hot Patootie”).

This summary may be quite vague, but if I were to describe every small detail of the movie, from the eccentric, colorful, dancing Translyvanians to the strange and crazed antics of  Dr. Frank-N-Furter, it would pretty much ruin the whole film for you. My suggestion? Get together a group of friends, gather up the props and enjoy the show.

 

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Written by: Katie Sperduti

 

 

The Toast | Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness

While looking for music to review this week, I noticed one of my favorite albums had been re-issued back in December. It was an instant nostalgic moment for me because the double disc Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness was one of the first albums I ever bought. I also remember having a poster of The Smashing Pumpkins from their “Tonight, Tonight” video that really freaked out my best friend and that always strangely amused me.

I also remember being about 10 years old and was anxious to discover music on my own instead of only listening to what my parents or brother were pushing on me. How does a 10-year-old stumble upon The Smashing Pumpkins? By watching music videos on MTV (It’s true! They used to play videos!) and being captivated by the theatrics of the “Tonight, Tonight” video. The orchestra, the Titanic meets Aliens story line to the video and, most memorably, Billy Corgan himself. I was immediately drawn to that voice and to this day I still cannot find the right words to describe his sound. And then those haunting last words, “Believe in me as I believe in you,” still gives me chills.

I convinced my dad to take me to the music store where my aunt worked so that I could get this album. I remember the strange looks I got after picking it out, but I didn’t care. I remember being stunned to see a double disc CD case (ah how naive I was) and the excitement I felt to finally have it. Little did I know that this album would be one of the reasons I fell in love with music.

I may not have fully understood all the content of that album at my young age, but it would be an album that I would continue to listen to as I grew up. Those awkward and angst filled teen years had “Bullet with Butterfly Wings” as a soundtrack. “Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage,” what angry teenager couldn’t relate to that? The driving guitars, the pounding drums, that song was full of all that bitter emotion that allowed me to have an escape from the outside world. The album also had a softer side for me.

I met someone who also loved The Smashing Pumpkins as much as I did and some of the songs on Mellon Collie became even more meaningful. There’s a song on the second disc called “Beautiful” that he said reminded him of me. “Beautiful, you’re beautiful, as beautiful as the sun. Wonderful, you’re wonderful, as wonderful as they come.” It may sound cheesy, but for a young girl it was exactly the right thing to say. The song was a sweet and soft like a lullaby. It’s almost shocking to hear Corgan sing a song like this after hearing some of his anger in other tracks.

Later on, that same boy would take me to prom and play “By Starlight” for me in the limo. I think it was in that limo that I felt my first inkling of real love, and I was able to feel it with my favorite album in the background. It was a simple song, really not a lot to it. Corgan sings with a prominent drum, and the strumming of a guitar in the background for the majority of the song. When the track builds up, the guitars have a distorted sound that sounds like it belongs in a dream; very light and whimsical. How can something so simple mean so much?

The re-issue is a two-disc set of 64 bonus tracks that includes previously unreleased songs, demos and alternate versions of songs. It also different mixes of songs that were featured on the original album and a DVD of concert footage of two different shows playing songs from the album.
What does my review have to do with the reissue? Nothing at all, but I really enjoyed the trip down memory lane that it sparked. I liked the reissue, but nothing will compare to the original and the memories I have made with it.

 

 

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Written by: Katie Sperduti

 

 

 

The Toast | Frankenweenie

I have been dying to see Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie since I first saw a preview back in October of last year. I never had the chance to see it in theaters, but it’s finally released on DVD and I didn’t wait another second to watch it. This movie is not at all what I expected, and that’s both good and bad. I loved this movie but it also devastated me to watch it.

The picture you see is of my dogs Ren and Lucy. I confess, I am a dog lady and like any pet owner, I love my dogs like they are family.  Victor Frankenstein (no not that one) is on the same level with me on this subject. Victor (voiced by Charlie Tahan) and his dog Sparky are inseparable, so much so that his parents (voiced by Martin Short and Catherine O’Hara) are a bit concerned that he isn’t making any real friends.

When the new teacher Mr. Rzykruski (voiced by Martin Landau) announces the annual science fair, Victor quickly asks his dad to sign the permission slip so he can get to work. His father explains that if he wants to do the science fair he has to give another activity a try, so baseball is chosen. Victor isn’t exactly the athletic type but he gives it a shot to make his dad happy. In an adorable scene, Sparky runs past Victor before he can hit the ball and catches it in his mouth and, in order to keep the game moving, Victor is forced to tie Sparky up. He’s about to strike out when on his last swing he hits a home run. Like most dogs, Sparky broke his leash and ran after a ball that he probably assumed was meant for him to fetch.

This may or may not be a SPOILER, but Sparky gets hit by a car while chasing after the ball and dies. This is the first (and not the last) instance of me losing it and crying my eyes out.  Heartbroken over the loss of his friend, Victor gets an idea from his teacher about how to bring Sparky back. He conducts an experiment, much like the one that was performed in the classic tale of Frankenstein, and brings his dog back to life. It’s a miracle (and I cried again. I know, I’m a wimp).

Bringing your dead dog back to life isn’t exactly something you want to broadcast right away; people might take it the wrong way. Sparky is forced to hide in the attic until Victor can come up with a plan, but Sparky manages to escape and gets spotted by a classmate named Edgar (voiced by Atticus Shaffer). In order for Edgar to keep his secret, Victor must show him how he brought Sparky back but if Victor expected him to keep a secret, he thought wrong. Edgar’s inability to keep a secret may just be the end of him and the rest of the town.

The movie also features Winona Ryder as Elsa Van Helsing, a neighbor of Victor who happens to have a dog named Persephone that sparks (no pun intended) the interest of Victor’s dog.

Without giving too much away, I have to say I must have cried through 95% of that movie, but still really enjoyed it. I think being a dog lover and owner played to my empathetic side about losing something you love (and that loves you) unconditionally. Being a Tim Burton film also gave Frankenweenie a little dark humor and some edge, which I enjoyed. The soundtrack was also a plus for me.  Dog lovers be warned: if you are as attached as me or Victor to your dog, you may shed some tears, too.

 

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Written by: Katie Sperduti

Nerd’s Eye View: The Slow and Painful Death of Saturday Morning Cartoons

(Note: This post was originally published at Brandon Melendez’s Nerd’s Eye View in December 2010. Since then a few good Saturday Morning Cartoons have popped up, but the case outlined here still applies)

Recently I’ve found myself being even more nostalgic than usual. By recently I mean in the past 9 months or so—the time that has passed since my son was born. As a nerd, I try to stay fairly aware of the children’s fads of the times—cartoons, toys, video games of all sorts, comic books: the things that generally nerds of my caliber refuse to give up. As such I have looked upon, with horror, the state of cartoons in this day and age. I have noticed that with the advent of Cartoon Network and other twenty four hour cartoon fair the quality of new cartoons has dropped drastically. This is a view I hold in complete abstraction from my views on music, movies, and general television not being as good as they used to be respectively.

I have a theory that, by and large, cartoons have diminished in quality because—as an art form—they can afford to.  “Hold the phone,” you might say to me “what the hell are you talking about?” Allow me to explain. You see, when I was a child there was a thing called “Saturday Morning Cartoons” and it was just about the only place you could get brand new cartoon episodes and series. There were a few exceptions—the syndicated Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon (not to be confused with the SatAM version) and the Disney Afternoon are notable ones. By and large, however, there was little to be had in the new cartoon department during the week and at best you might get some reruns of Saturday Morning favorites between 2 and 4 in the afternoon before reruns of Charles in Charge or Growing Pains would come on.  Honestly while syndicated afternoon cartoons were appreciable and provide memorable characters for shows like Duck Tales and Gargoylesthese shows couldn’t hold a candle to the splendid glory of Saturday Mornings. Once cartoons lost their special spot on Saturday mornings due to the advent of twenty four hour cartoon channels the bar started to fall significantly in the realm of quality causing a slow and painful death for the institution known as Saturday Morning Cartoons.

In my day, Saturday Morning Cartoons were the shit. Speaking from my perspective as a  survivor of the pre-cable, rabbit ear age, Saturday mornings were super special because, not only wasn’t there any school but all my favorite TV shows would be on until the Soul Train rolled in. All the major channels were running cartoons, so choices always had to be made. Tough choices. NBC, ABC, and CBS went hard against each other- there was a time the call came down toSuper MarioThe Real Ghostbusters, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles—let me tell you I had an easier time picking out my son’s name than choosing among those shows. Eventually local networks got in the mix and so the WB 11 and Fox 5 adding shows like Animaniacs and The Tickto the list of choices. It was pretty rough.

There was even something of a war for supremacy among the networks over the best Saturday morning line up. I remember when ABC revamped their morning shows in the mid to late 90’s to the “One Saturday Morning” format. ABC was offering a mix of shows like the SatAm version of Sonic the Hedgehog (by and far a better cartoon than its weekday morning counterpart), Reboot, and more sitcom-like show’s like Disney’s Doug and Pepper AnnThis was around the time Fox Kids started trying to rebrand itself and WB Kids! was pushing a DC Comics oriented line up. CBS and NBC lost out, at least as far as I was concerned. NBC specifically had dropped cartoons altogether after flops like MacCaulay Culkin’s Wish Kid washed out and interest was lost in sponsored fair like Super Mario World and Captain N: The Game Master.

All of that is gone now. While the money grab for merchandising continues it seems that the best cartoons to be found are shown at night or during the afternoons and that these cartoons are more often than not properties from some crossover area such as movies or comic books. That, in and of itself, is not so terrible—after all merchandising has brought us G.I. JoeTransformersMasters of the UniverseThe Real Ghostbusters, and many more money grab style cartoons of greatness. The problem is that shows of the Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh or Beybladefranchises have very little heart. Sure Playmates made an action figure out of every extra character or prop they could manage from the Ninja Turtles show but the cartoon itself had some worth to it out side of the industry it became. The same could be said for any of the shows of my youth—including imports like Voltron.

The problem is really in sustainability (which granted Pokemon, now on the air in one form or the other for maybe its 14th or 15th season is prettysustainable). Even merchandised shows are planned to run for maybe a year or two (see Spectacular Spider-Man, Iron Man Armored Adventures, Wolverine and the X-Men, TMNT, the

They're tiny, they're toony. They're all a little looney. Get it?

newer Transformers, and whatever drivel CBS is putting out) and then not run any more. Or maybe they aren’t planned to run short but just can’t capture the attention of today’s youth because of the flooding in the market; which effectively explains the success of Pokemon—there’s very little story and lots to buy into. Kids are more impressed with the stuff than the lead in. Merchandized shows have become little more than commercials—quite a feat I assure you because the cartoons of my childhood were pretty good at stealing my parent’s money—especially Ninja Turtles, X-Men, and Ghostbusters. Shows that seem to have some shelf life are ones that run, ironically, in the mornings and afternoons—like Camp LazloTotal Drama Island, and Flapjack.

‘Nuff Said

It could just be that I am an old codger, but there seems to be a dying breed of cartoons that are aimed at both adults and children, that have a degree of sustainability, and don’t resort to out and out bathroom humor (I’m no prude but…come on!) or wildly incomprehensible stories. Cartoons likeTiny Toons Adventures and Muppet Babies that can bridge generations in both content and character interest are hard to come by—even in the face of a relentless wave of nostalgic relaunches of old franchises.

Recently a friend of mine, one Mrs. Jodie Milmore, did a solid favor to my son and sent him his very own Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles—the whole original series. In watching the series…for the benefit of the 9 month old…I have found many similarities to the cartoons I am now lambasting with my old-manitude but have found many high points that are lacking in newer fare. Reverence of its irreverence is one of them. TMNT Classic nods to parents often about the absurdity of its nature and breaks the 4th wall often to make side comments while not detracting from the half-baked science of  “mutagen ooze” or “reversing the polarity” of any device to fix a problem. (Note: not all technologies deal in “polarities” and if they do they may not make said device function to the opposite of its intended use) It does not use any recycled animation that I have been able to observe, and the toys seem dictated by the stories and not vice-a-versa. These claims cannot be made by shows such as Pokemon, or Yu-Gi-Oh in-so-far as I can tell.

When compared to the somewhat more action packed and seriously toned TMNT the original’s plots are silly, its characters make no sense (even as archetypes), and it is not really tied into the origin or spirit of the original Eastman and Laird comic series. In many ways one might argue that it is a watered down version that panders to its audience with an over abundance of pizzas. The newer show has a fun but more action oriented tone and a catch phrase that would have been taboo in my childhood, but harmless nonetheless. TMNT Classic had the turtles shouting “Turtle Power!” into battle while TMNT has them exclaiming “What the shell?!?” at appropriate junctures. These two catch phrases sort of capture the essence of the difference. The comparisons are delved into more deeply in the made for TV movie “Turtles Forever” in which the two show’s turtle clans team up in a cross-dimensional adventure. I’ll refer you to it, as a fan of both shows, as a worthwhile expression of the nod towards self-aware silliness I mentioned before.

This still leaves other Saturday morning fare. There is usually some kind of Sonic the Hedgehog series out that is really not that good, and a slew of Japanese imports that, in my opinion, have been imported solely for the reason that they are Japanese or have a marketing potential in toy stores. In short, the current state of Saturday morning cartoons can be distilled to a simple point—they aren’t memorable. Most of the cartoons my son is going to grow up with are going to very forgettable; there is no war for supremacy in making the hard choice in a limited time slot so networks can afford to put out whatever drek they want. Throw enough shit against the wall and eventually something will stick, if the show fails they made their money back in selling the advertising space anyway.

This is glaringly obvious to anybody who cares to think about it long enough—the ideas aren’t there anymore. Think about it. Why are there so many reboots of old shows? Because they know that they made money on that idea once and nostalgic old mid-twenties codgers like me are more willing to shell out the cash for something that they are already familiar with than a piece of shit show that’s gonna be cancelled next month. Unfortunately, the reboots get cancelled quickly too. When I was a kid they had reboots and revisionings as well.Flintstone KidsA Pup Named Scooby DooMuppet Babies, Alvin and The Chipmunks, Tom and Jerry KidsTiny Toon Adventures,

The Bedrock Flintstone Kids!

Popeye and Son, Mighty Mouse (a lot of them just took older cartoons and made them into younger childlike and 80′s awesome versions or added a slew of new characters or sitcom elements) so I’m not asserting that this is a new phenomenon. Sometimes there were shows like Punky BrewsterAlf, Ed Grimly,  The Addams FamilyThe Real Ghostbuters, G.I. Joe (by the way the Sgt. Slaughter WWF crossover idea remains brilliant to this day–cross promotion baby!), or any Marvel or DC property that were just cartoon versions of another entity. I’m just saying that most of these shows had some longevity to them–some did disappear rather quickly because they should have never been made ,but it seems that the balance in this matter has shifted to the crap side. So now I have to raise the weird kid, the kid who knows all about the 30 year old cartoons and hates the new stuff, the kid that is gonna have crazy old school pop culture knowledge and always feel outside of his generation because most of the new cartoons suck. But then again maybe my parents generation felt the same way, maybe its like music and the generation rift is often too wide to over come. I don’t know. But hopefully after these messages quality will be right back.

The Toast | The Truth About Love

I’ve been hearing a lot about the new Pink album since it came out in back in September. I have never really been a Pink fan, I’ve always thought she was trying way too hard to not be like her fellow female pop stars. Not to mention her first single “Blow me (one last kiss),” a “cleverly” titled kiss-off (no pun intended) song didn’t really rock my world.

It wasn’t until after the tragedies at Sandy Hook Elementary when my favorite morning show played a touching song by her called “Beam me up” that I thought I should give the album a shot.

“Beam me up” is a tender ballad about missing a loved one who is no longer around. When Pink recorded this song, I doubt she knew her song would be incorporated with such a tragic and horrific event, but with lyrics like “Could you beam me up, Give me a minute, I don’t know what I’d say in it Probably just stare, happy just to be there holding your face,” I can kind of understand why the radio could see a connection. I wish she would record more songs like this, not just for the emotional value to the song, but she actually showcases her voice. Surprise, she can sing, and quite well at that.

Her second single, “Try,” was an improvement from the first single, but not by much. Another song about love gone wrong but Pink makes sure to tell you (over and over) that you’ve got to keep trying even if you’ve been burned a million times. One thing I didn’t like about the song was how shrill her voice sounds. It’s almost painful. Once again, I like the message of the song and the honesty she’s trying to put into it, but there’s still something that doesn’t strike with me. It’s not a horrible song, but there is also not anything super memorable or notable about it.

While doing a little research on the album, I discovered that she co-wrote a song on the album called “Just Give Me A Reason” with Fun. frontman Nate Ruess. I am a huge fan of Ruess’ former band The Format and, I’ll admit it, Fun. is kind of growing on me, so I was curious to hear the song right off the bat. Hands down, this is the best track on the album. Not only did Ruess co-write the song, he sings on the track, too. Ruess has a distinctive and unique voice that added a lot to the song. What was also great about the track was that it was so simple. In my head, I can picture Ruess telling Pink to just chill out and sing. If he actually did, it was sound advice because I said before, she can actually sing when she’s not trying to growl, scream or make that shrilly high pitched noise that she does on most songs. I really enjoyed their two distinct voices coming together in harmony. I wish more of her songs were like this.

All in all, I didn’t love the album, but I didn’t hate it either. Going into the album not being a huge fan of her’s probably didn’t help, but she did win some points with me on some of her songs. Maybe a couple more listens will allow me to form a solid opinion. Until then, listen for yourself.

 

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Written by: Katie Sperduti