Friday, July 29, 2011

Doctor Who: Life Imitating Art?

Yep, it's yet another Doctor Who related post. The staff here at Bob Canada's Blogworld lives and breathes Doctor Who, in case you couldn't tell.

In the 2006 Doctor Who episode entitled Fear Her, the Doctor (played by David Tennant) and Rose travel to London in the year 2012. There they encounter a super-powered little girl named Chloe Webber who's made all the other children in her neighborhood disappear. The Doctor realizes that if she's not stopped, Chloe will become powerful enough to make everyone in the world vanish.

Admittedly Fear Her wasn't the show's finest moment, but there was one part that stood out. At the end of the episode the runner carrying the Olympic Torch falters, so the Doctor picks up the torch and completes his run, lighting the Olympic Flame and kicking off the 2012 Olympic Games.

There's now an online movement to convince the Olympic Commission to let David Tennant (no doubt dressed as the Doctor) actually light the Olympic Flame for real! I honestly don't see it happening, but wouldn't that be cool? A scene from a TV show about a time traveler coming true five years later. Life imitating art and all that.

If you're interested, there's an online petition here. Who knows, if enough people sign it, maybe we can make this happen for real!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I'm A Grown Man And I Bought This: Big Mystery Japanese Robots

Last week KW Monster and I went to the annual Fright Night Film Fest in Louisville. Among the things I bought there were these two large Japanese robot figures.

I love Japanese robot toys, but due to the exchange rate they're normally prohibitively expensive. That's why these two, priced at $20 each, caught my eye. $20 is a darn good price for any kind of Japanese toy, especially ones these large. I decided to buy the silver one, and as I was paying for it the dealer told me I could have it AND the black one for $25. Apparently he was tired of lugging them around to various shows. Sold! Wotta deal!

Each figure is nicely detailed and textured. The silver one is slightly shorter than the other one, and is painted to look like it's made of some sort of pitted metal.

 The black one is a little taller and is painted to look like it has an cast iron texture.

Judging from the box they're from some sort of live action TV show, like the Power Rangers or whatever they're called in Japan. The back of the boxes show many other figures in the line.

They're made out of a soft, almost rubber-like plastic, so they're much lighter than they look. The boxes proudly tout both figures' amazing articulation, but it honestly doesn't amount to much. The joints are all the circular type that Japanese figures so often have. So instead of a knee joint that bends like a hinge, you get a knee joint that spins like a doorknob. Pretty useless, as articulation goes. I don't mind though, as they're display pieces.

As I said, they're quite large. Here they are with a can of Coke Zero (which is much better than Diet Coke) for scale (sorry, I don't have a wiener dog to use for comparison).

I have no idea who they are or what TV show or movie they're from, as I can't read Japanese. Perhaps a fluent and helpful reader could fill me in? All I know is that I thought they looked cool, and they were cheap, and now they're mine!

Things You Should Know About Me: Grunny

I was in the first grade of grammar school when I learned that "grunny" was not a real word.

Lots of homes have so-called "family words;" made-up words that have meaning to a particular group of people but no one else. In our family we had the word "grunny" which meant, well... poop. Why we didn't just say poop, I have no idea. Maybe I, as a toddler, came up with it. Maybe my mom invented it, as a nice way to refer to doody. Who can say? The precise etymology of grunny is lost in the mists of time.

Grunny was a versatile word that could be used as both noun and verb. It was used to describe feces of course, as in "Hey, there's grunny on the floor!" It could also be used to describe the act of defecating, as in "I have to grunny." There was even a past tense of grunny, as in, "I grunnied twice yesterday." One could even use it as an epithet, as in, "You're a big grunny head!" Yes, grunny was quite a word alright.

I wasn't the only one who used the word; my parents and even my grandparents said it was well, so I quite naturally assumed that grunny was a bona fide word in the English language. As a toddler with little or no access to the outside world, I had no idea it existed only in my family.

Then came the fateful year I entered first grade and the public school system. That's when I found out the terrible truth.

I was an average kid in school; I wasn't the most popular, nor was I hated or shunned like some poor souls in my class. I was just sort of there. We were having recess indoors that day, due to inclement weather. I was playing with the kids in my class when I realized I had to go to the restroom. I said, "I'll be right back, I have to grunny!" Cue the "needle scratching a record" sound effect, as the kids all stared at me. Finally one of them said, "What did you say?" I told them again that I had to grunny. As soon as I said it the second time, the horrible realization descended upon me, like a suffocating dry cleaner bag, the kind marked, "This is NOT a toy". Cold and pitiless realization filled my soul as I realized there was no grunny. It was a made up word for babies, foisted upon me by my parents, who, though they were miles away, probably sensed what was happening that very minute and were laughing and cackling away at my humiliation.

Of course the other kid immediately started shouting, "Hey guys, get this! Canada just said he had to grunny!" The news spread like wildfire throughout the classroom and the derisive laughter got louder and louder. I stood there motionless, the way Charlie Brown stands amidst a background of upper case "HA HA HAs." I didn't know what to do. Should I swing my fists to stop the laughter? I was an only child until age seven and the only kid in our entire neighborhood; I didn't know from fighting. Should I run? To where? We weren't allowed to leave the classroom without permission. I could have ran and hid in the art supply cabinet, but that would have probably resulted in further humiliation as the other kids locked me inside. Should I curl up like an armadillo and let the taunts bounce from my scaly hide as my mind receded into a happier place? No, I needed to keep my eye on this bunch, as they were prone to administering wedgies. I ended up halfheartedly making a rather unconvincing argument that grunny was indeed a real word, in spite of my new found knowledge that it definitely was not.

Eventually the commotion attracted the teacher's attention and she came over to find out what the ruckus was all about. When the other kids told her, she tried, most likely out of pity, to take my side and tell the other kids that many families make up their own words and there was nothing wrong with that. I wasn't reassured though, as her mask of calm authority cracked just enough to see that she was trying to stifle a braying donkey laugh. "I see," I thought as my little eyes narrowed and I shot her a steely glance, which she caught as she turned away, abashed. "I cannot even rely on the authority figures for protection. I am alone in this urban jungle."

For the rest of the day our lessons were punctuated with the sound of nearby classmates telling each other that by George they thought they had to grunny, or was that grunny they smelled wafting through the air? It was an interminable afternoon.

Dinner at our house that night was strained, with a side dish of tension. I ate perfunctorily, calmly picking at my food, waiting for my mother to ask the question she asked every evening: "Did anything interesting happen at school today?"

"Oh, the usual," I replied, in a cold and emotionless monotone. "We learned some spelling words. A few historical dates. An art project."

"T-that's nice," said my mother, unsettled by the soullessness in my voice. "Anything else?" she asked.

"No, nothing," I said, seemingly putting an end to the topic. "Oh, there was one thing," I said, the same way Columbo toyed with his suspects. "I learned something today that might interest you. Did you know that GRUNNY IS NOT A WORD!!?!?!????

"W-what?" stammered my mother. "Of c-course it is! Don't be silly."

"Oh, don't pretend," I hissed. "You knew it was a made up word for babies, but you never told me. You let me waltz saying it all these years because you thought it was cute. You could have at least told me the truth before I started school and blurted it out in front of the entire class!"

My father, his attention momentarily diverted from the evening news on TV, eyed me and asked, "You said it at school? HAW HAW! What a little dope!"

"Thank you for that analysis, Father," I said coldly. "What other fake words have you taught me, hmm? Please tell me before I go to school and embarrass myself again.
Is 'doorknob' a real word? What about 'sandal?" 'Butterscotch?' 'Repossess?' 'Spoonerism?' 'Tincture?' Is this even English I'm speaking?"

"All right, shut yer yap," said my father. "I'm tryin' to hear the TV."

"Of course, father," I answered. "In fact, may I be excused? I have to go to the bathroom and... what do you call it? I can't quite think of the word... 'Gunny? Grubby?' Gosh, if only there were a word for what I have to do."

I gave my parents the silent treatment for the rest of the night and sat brooding in my room. Eventually my classmates forgot about the "Grunny Incident," and my humiliation became a distant memory. But from then on I took anything my parents told me with a large grain of salt.

Friday, July 22, 2011

TARDIS Word Cloud

I've been working on this for a long time, whenever I had a few spare minutes: An image of the TARDIS made entirely out of Doctor Who episode titles.

I used as many episode titles as I could squeeze in, but there wasn't enough room to use them all, so your favorite title may not be in there. I kept track of the ones I used, so hopefully none of them are in there twice. If anyone sees any duplicates, let me know. 

Note that I didn't use one of those fancy word tag programs; this was all laid out entirely by hand. Actually it was kind of relaxing, in a zen-like way. Sort of like putting together a jigsaw puzzle.

The "Title TARDIS" is actually the second one I did. For the first version I made a TARDIS shape out of the names of the Doctor's enemies. I like this version, but after a while I started wondering why I was doing it. The Doctor is a hero, so why was I building his TARDIS out of villain names? It didn't make much sense to me.

I guess you could argue that these are all the foes he's vanquished, but it bugged me enough that I decided to start over from scratch and go the title route.

Not sure what I'm going to do with it. If there's enough interest, I might offer it as a t-shirt design. Here's what it would look like on a shirt.
This is a vector drawing, drawn all in InDesign.


I saw this local article online a few days ago.

Meth Fixins? That makes it sound like they're making something nice. "Fixins" is what you say when you're making something fun and delightful: "Hey kids, I've got all the fixins to make homemade ice cream!" "Fixins" are are part of Colonel Sanders' special recipe.

If nothing else, this is cold hard proof that the local paper got rid of all their editors some time ago. No newspaper editor in his right mind would let a headline like that go to press. There's no such word in the dictionary. Well, not in Webster's, that is. Maybe in the Official Redneck and Hillbilly Dictionary of Southern Indiana and Outlying Regions 2011.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Dumb Alien

Is "mouth breather" considered an insult if you don't have a nose?

He gives the term "navel gazing" new meaning! Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, I'm here all week!

This is a vector drawing, drawn all in InDesign.
Here's the original sketch. Note that his right hand's in that same sort of "pardon me" gesture that I use way too much when I can't think of something for a character to do with their hands. So I ended up just having both hands at his sides. He looks dumber that way.

That title's pretty lame, but my brain's tired this week.

Monday, July 11, 2011

That'll Do Summer, That'll Do

Seriously, Earth? I'd expect this kind of thing if I lived in Arizona, but I'm north of the Mason-Dixon line.

Maybe if I switch it in Celsius I'll feel cooler.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Marketing 101

Imagine you run a company that makes plastic model kits. You produce a model of the original starship Enterprise from TV’s Star Trek. The kit sells very well, making a lot of money for your company. So far so good.

Eventually though, everyone who wants the kit buys it and sales slow to a standstill. Now what? The obvious answer would be to make a model kit of another ship from the show. However, the injection molds used to make the kits are very expensive, so you're reluctant to go that route.

You've still got the molds from the original Enterprise model sitting in your warehouse. It would be great if you could get some more use out of those molds. You can’t just re-release the kit so soon though because everyone already has it. How can you get consumers to buy the same kit again and get more mileage out of those expensive molds?

Answer: You re-release the kit, but this time you use glow in the dark plastic and say it’s a special version of the Enterprise, from the episode The Tholian Web.*

Note that this is an actual real-life product, not something I made up.

Genius! You’ve now created a brand new product using the materials you have at hand!

You've given the Trekkies a reason to buy the same kit of the Enterprise that they already own (and you know they'll buy it, because it says Star Trek on the box and therefore they must possess it). Plus you didn’t have to spend money on another set of expensive molds, you just reused the same ones you already had!

This is a classic example of marketing-- getting people to re-buy something they already have by changing it slightly (to be fair, they did also include two of the small Tholian ships in this new kit to complete the display). Just like in the Simpsons episode where Wayon Smithers wants the new version of the Malibu Stacy doll because, "it comes with a hat."

But hey, why stop there? I can think of a lot more ways to get the fans to buy the same Enterprise kit yet again.

Here's a special version of the Enterprise from the episode Who Mourns For Adonais? In this episode the crew meets an all powerful being who claims to be the Greek god Apollo. He traps the ship by holding it in place with a force field shaped like a giant ghostly hand.

Just include the same old Enterprise model, throw in a green transparent plastic hand that snaps onto the saucer, and voila! Trekkies would kill one another to own this kit!

Ingredients: 1 Enterprise model plus 1 lump of blue modeling clay and you can recreate the scenes of the ship trying to stop a giant asteroid from destroying the Indian planet!

You don't even have to make molds for the asteroid. Let the consumer sculpt their own out the clay provided, as part of the fun!

From the episode where an alien witch shrank the Enterprise and turned it into a piece of jewelry, threatening to hold it over a candle flame and fry everyone inside. All you'd need here is the same old ship model and a cheap metal chain.

This one admittedly might be a little too expensive to actually produce. In this episode an alien named Balok faces off against the Enterprise with his enormous mile-wide spaceship. You'd need to include a couple of thousand ping pong balls that could be assembled into the alien ship, and up the price of the kit a few hundred dollars, but hey, you're guaranteed a few sales from the die-hard fans!

This one would be a little more practical-- it's from the episode in which the Enterprise faces the giant space amoeba. Use the same ship model and just throw in a surplus breast implant full of colored water and oil.

For this kit all you'd need to do would be add a transparent window in the dome at the top of the saucer section of the ship and include a tiny bridge, complete with teeny crew. Instant Enterprise variation!

This would be the cheapest rerelease of all. This is the episode in which the Enterprise is thrown backwards in time to Earth in the 1960s, and is spotted in the atmosphere by a fighter jet. All you have to do here is just say it's from the episode. No modifications needed!

* It's been a long time since I've seen the episode, but if I recall correctly it wasn't the Enterprise that was doing the glowing, it was its sister ship the Defiant. So why doesn't the box say it's the Defiant?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Herschel Shellman, Undersea Elder

Herschel's one of the Elders of the Gillman Tribe of Atlantis. Likes to sit near the thermal vents on the ocean floor and have a nice schvitz. Can often be found shuffling through the undersea City Hall saying, "Oy, it feels like sinking again this place is!"

Drawn in Photoshop on the graphic tablet.

Here's the digital sketch I did of Herschel. I had to make his arms ridiculously long so that he could hold his staff out away from his head. The fish wasn't in the sketch and was an afterthought. To be honest I just stuck him in there to fill up space!

Things You Should Know About Me: Spaghetti

I know this is hard to believe, but I never ate spaghetti until I was in college. 
When I was growing up my dad was strictly a meat and potatoes man. Every meal my mother ever cooked for our family was some variation of meat and potatoes. Spaghetti was neither of those, so serving it was out of the question. Italian food was also considered a little too "exotic" for our house.

I knew of spaghetti's existence of course. I'd hear my friends talking about having it for dinner, and I'd see people eating it on TV. I just never had the opportunity to try it for myself. My school served it occasionally for lunch, but I always brown-bagged it. I was always curious as to what it tasted like and I wanted to try it, but when you're a kid with no money of your own, you eat what you're served and like it.

Finally one day when I was in college I decided I'd waited long enough to try it, so I went to the grocery store and bought some spaghetti and a jar of sauce, brought it home and cooked it up. My parents, upon seeing me eating a heaping bowl of pasta, reacted as if their son had turned into one of those "long haired hippies" they'd heard about. There were many worried glances and whispered exchanges between my parents that night; they were sure that college was filling their little boy's head with all sorts of radical ideas. You'd have thought I'd brought home a bag of marijuana and fired it up in the kitchen. They just couldn't understand why their son was bringing this strange and foreign substance into their home.

In the years since my bold culinary experiment my parents have tried spaghetti. They eventually found themselves in a situation where it was being served and they had no choice but to eat it. They now tolerate it when they have to.

By the way, when I finally tried spaghetti, I thought it was just OK. Didn't hate it, but didn't love it either. It wasn't the spaghetti's fault, it's just that when something's built up in your mind for twenty years, there's no way the reality can live up to your expectations.

On a similar note, I was in college before I ever tasted rice as well.

Things I Learned From The Movies #1

You can safely fall from any height as long as you land like this:

A hundred feet or a thousand, as long as you land on one foot and one knee with one hand on the ground and the other thrust jauntily behind you, you'll be just fine.
Related Posts with Thumbnails
Site Meter