I've heard before from ex-Disney employees that working at the most magical place in the world isn't really that magical after awhile. Similarly, I've heard that being an animator on children's programs can become absolutely tedious at times... so much so that, from time to time, they've been known to engage in some sort of form of... amusing themselves.

In short they turn to sex.

There's plenty of urban myths about the appearance of indecent materials in various cartoons, with varying levels of truth. Off the top of my head we've got:

1. Naked Woman in The Rescuers - Totally true, although the I can't blame the animators - it was actually someone bored in post production that put an actual porn shot in one of the windows they fly by.
2. Dildo + Horny Minister in Little Mermaid - No, the minister's not really excited about the wedding, it's just his knee (although in some shots...) and it wasn't a disgruntled artist who threw a dildo in the Little Mermaid's poster, he was just really tired and apparently didn't notice (although one wonders what he was thinking about when he was drawing this poster...)
3. SEX in Lion King - Debatable. Some say it's supposed to mean SFX (for special effects), others claim that it's distinctly an E. I don't think there's clear proof of either really

But you know we can't lay all the blame at Disney. This sort of thing happens all the time I imagine, and most of the time it probably falls through the cracks and no one notices.

In fact, I know of one that I have yet to see anyone point out. Something I discovered in high school on a beloved VHS from my childhood. Something so simple, I almost admire it for it's ingenious use. Even if it is completely perverted.

I'm talking about a scene from the Super Mario Brothers Super Show.

This may appear to be just an awful fight scene from an awful cartoon set to an awful cover of Michael Jackson's Bad. And indeed that's all I thought it was when I pulled out the tape late one night looking to amuse myself and my friends in our high school days. But upon watching it, my future wife noticed something, something I had never seen before. Have you watched the clip? Have you seen it?

Allow me to demonstrate what I'm talking about

Throughout this sequence, Mario's buddies are stomping on Koopa Troopas while he fights King Koopa with a gold plumber's snake (At no point is Mario ever shown to do anything resembling actual plumbing. So you cannot blame me if one of the careers I threw in my About Me book was plumbing. I was 6 and all I knew about plumbing involved stomping koopas. Seriously).

As each male member stomps on a troopa, their eyes are x'd over they're left looking rather frowny. As you would be too if you were stomped upon by a badly dressed italian or a walking mushroom.

Well, all except one.

Because see, one of these dudes is stomped on by the Princess. And, she, well. She has a big dress. And as you can see here, well, this troopa is basically engulfed by the thing as he's stomped upon. And when he comes out, what does he have?

A huge smile.

Animators are perverts. Case closed.

Posted by Kevin on 3:57 PM

Coming home from my parents house today, having failed miserably to fix their super-infected work computer, I had the strange urge to turn on the old PS2, fire up some original Guitar Hero, and see if I could play that one song in expert that I never could finish (Answer: Yes I can). It was a bit weird going back to the original source of what has become the most expensive genre of my gaming habit. In a lot of ways, it simply doesn't hold up to what's gone and replaced it, but at the same time I was struck by how much fun it still is. The essence of what made that first game so much fun still holds true for all the games it has spawned, which at current tally makes for a grand total of 11 different games (12 if we count the 360 version of Guitar Hero 2 as separate), with four others officially announced as in development to be released this year.

That's a lot of games, and certainly one could make an argument for oversaturation. Personally I think I own all of them cept two: Guitar Hero Rock the 80s, cause it was mostly covers, only had 30 songs but cost 50 bucks, and was released as PS2 only at a point where that was just a dumb business decision. Oh, and Guitar Hero: Metallica, cause that just came out and, uh, I don't know. The difficulty would be incredibly punishing and I'm not sure I see Colure wanting to scream like James Hetfield. Would probably be like that time Avril Lavigne performed a cover of Fuel.

At current count I believe there are two plastic drumsets two USBs microphones, and a whopping seven plastic guitars sprawled across our apartment, meaning I own more fake instruments than actual ones. I think it's safe to say that I love these games, and after doing some thinking, I've found 5 good reasons why.

1) Because Rhythm Games are Cool - I like music, I like games. The combination is pretty natural. But throw in a fake plastic instrument? Now you're really talking. I mean, it's one thing to interact with music via a controller, but instead of pressing buttons... wouldn't you rather hit stuff? Or rock out? You can't rock out with a controller. That's like one step removed from trying to rock a keytar. Better to go with something that looks like a legitimate instrument. To quote Steven Tyler, “Fake it 'til you make it!”

2) Fosters Interest in Music – I really can't think of a better way to get kids to have an interest in playing real instruments. I've heard before that some people are afraid that this'll replace the need some kids have to pick up a real guitar and learn it, but I think that's completely bull. If anything this game just fosters the desire for you to have a real band. Plus it can be a great teaching method, not for guitar so much, but for drums and singing. Especially drums. Do you know how many painful hours I could have avoided trying to teach friends how to play the drums if I had had Rock Band growing up? Some of them might have actually been legitimate successes for Christ's sake!

3) It's Easier then Getting the Band Back Together –A lot of us had bands in high school, and maybe into college. Maybe you're still friends with them and it's a fun idea to get them all together again and do a little playing. But let's be honest: Equipment's a huge pain to luge around, no one remembers the same songs, the microphone's broke, your singer's still a primadonna, and truth be told you probably weren't that great to begin with. But throw on Rock Band and you can all come together without all the hassles and recrimination – or even replace out members if your old group is a little too hard to recruit/would be violating restraining orders to see.

4) Best use of Downloadable Content to Date – Maybe not Guitar Hero so much (which prefers to release millions of games), but Rock Band has seriously used downloadable content better than any other game yet. Both games have transcended from being just fun distractions to full on platforms, providing you with tons of options for how you'd like to customize your experience, while at the same time giving musicians barrels upon barrels of money. It's a great system for everyone involved, and as a result I've spent much more time playing Rock Band 1 & 2 than any other game like it. I've also spent a ton of money, but honestly? Totally worth every cent.

5) Because it Makes You Feel like a Rock Star - Looks, let's face facts: Most people have jobs which are fairly boring the majority of the time. You might like it alright, but come on now; Everyone wants a chance to feel like a rock star. And these games let you do it, without even having any musical ability. One of the reasons I rebelled against Guitar Hero 3 so much was because it included “boss battles” - which to me is antithetical to the whole point of these games. You want less reminders that you're playing a video game, not more game clichés. And for the most part, especially in the latest Rock Band, they've really embraced that concept of being an avenue to living out a musical fantasy. In other words, it's a hell of a lot better then jumping around your garage doing air guitar.

I could easily write a lot more than 5 reasons why I think these games are so awesome, but honestly? I think I'd rather just go play some Rock Band and get myself psyched up for the LEGO version coming out later this year...

Posted by Kevin on 6:26 PM

This is the sort of thing you wish you could do as an adult, but can't because you're afraid of getting arrested. And then you'd have to spend the rest of your life explaining to potential employers why you terrorized a grocery store in a Pac-Man costume. Which is a difficult position to recover from in an interview.

But man, if only youtube had really been out there when I was in high school. We even had a Film Club for Christ's sake! We could have done an assortment of wonderfully terrible things with no repurcussions. Instead? We tried to make some sort of awful fantasy film that still haunts me at night.

On a side note, this video kind of reminds me of this bonus game I have for the Gamecube called Pac-Man Vs. It was one of those games where you had to have Game Boy Advances hooked up to the system (which was a bit of a cost impediment) but the idea was cool. Basically, the game was multiplayer Pac-Man, with three players controlling Ghosts and one player controlling Pac-Man. If you ate Pac-Man, you became him, and thus the goal was to score the most points while having to rotate between working as a team to working competitively.

I think we played it a total of one time ever.

Posted by Kevin on 1:16 PM

I have a love of commercials from the 80s. Early 90s had some good stuff too, but any other era... I don't know. I enjoy them from a historical context, the same way I enjoy reading an old newspaper, but it's not the same. I genuinely love commercials from the decade I was born, which means that Youtube has been not only a lifesaver, but a lifedevourer. Thanks to people holding onto their recorded Miami Vice VHS tapes for decades, I have lost hundreds of hours watching commercials for products that are no longer relevant and are often times completely laughable in today's society.

No other commercial... indeed, no other product represents my love of the 80s better than the McDLT.

I am pretty sure this is the greatest moment in commercial advertising.

What we have here is the perfect storm of TV ad genius/absuridty: a pre-George Jason Alexander (talent), with a company of McDonalds Performers in a smörgåsbord of 80s fashion (now unfashionable), singing and dancing (now seriously unfashionable) about the McDLT (just a hamburger with lettuce and tomato), a burger that keeps your cold garnishes separate from your hot hamburger (seriously just a hamburger with lettuce and tomato) by using a very eco-friendly styrofoam box with a brilliantly engineered dual-compartment design.

I have watched it probably close to 100 times within my life and it still makes me giggle like a school girl.

But look at it! All you need to know about the 80s is right there. Should alien anthropologists discover this video, with no other knowledge about our society, they could quickly determine that this was a time when...
  1. Fashion was at an inbetween stage, with forces of conservativism in very similar, dour suits (yuppies) battling against a more asymetrical fashion with a colorful array of pastels and bad color schemes (general youth)
  2. People were very loose with the use of song and dance, using to effectively to glorify and sell something as mundane as a cheap meal
  3. Society had reached a point of decadence where they were happily sold things they had no conceivable need for, such as a food item where the meat was served "hot hot" while maintaining the lettuce at a temperature of "cool cool."
That is the 80s! And I guess that's why I love old commercials: when it comes right down to it, they're really just tiny little time capsules, giving you a brief look into the daily lives of a bygone era in a way that no other medium can really convey.

Posted by Kevin on 11:17 AM

I received my first unemployment compensation last Thursday, making me officially part of what I was raised to believe was "the problem." I definitely come from a fiscally conservative family, and I'm honestly surprised there isn't some sort of framed picture of Ronald Reagan in the house.[1] The natural prescription for people fixing their economic problems wasn't government assistance, but their own bootstraps. Now, that's not exactly my viewpoint these days, but I can't say theirs has changed a whole lot.

So you know times are bad when the first thing my dad did after I lost my job was advise me to file for unemployment. Which he then followed by wistfully wishing he too could file for unemployment.[2] Yeah. I think that, more then anything else, scared me a bit about this whole situation. I pretty much had to accept that, at that moment, the truth is that I might be out of a job for awhile.

We're ending week 4, and the interview count is at 3, thanks to an out-of-the-blue interview request yesterday. The application count is something at 50+; I can't say for sure because I didn't really keep track of all the jobs I applied for the first week I was unemployed. I can probably count the rejection letters on one hand; most people you just never hear from. But to be fair, most of them are just fake craigslist postings designed to redirect you to other job sites in an effort to drum up traffic and increase their own revenue.

What, you mean J. Howard isn't real? K. Phillips isn't holding a position for me? T. Miller isn't really a representative for the wonderfully generically named Human Resources Company?

No, I'm afraid they're all part of the dark underbelly of job sites - the scammers. Honestly the ones who want you information just to flood you in spam really isn't the worst of it. The thing that I have a hard time with are the people out to get your social security number while promising some sort of great opportunity.

Once, I applied for a "company" that wanted me to provide my name, social and address for a "optional" tax evaluation record. When I declined (on account of needing the social), it went to a different screen that instead just wanted my social in order to submit the application. Right.

Internet scamming is part of life, but honestly some of this stuff really upsets me. People's lives are bad enough without a job - the last thing they need is for someone to take that opportunity to engage in a little exploitation and identity theft. I realize that the golden rule of internet safety is to "Be careful." And it applies just as much when you're looking for a job as it does for any other internet activity. But honestly I'm not sure you can blame people for being a little desperate when they're filling out these forms, and sometimes thinking with their hearts as opposed to their heads.

Either way, I'm being careful. I might miss out on a job or two, afraid for it to be a scam, but that's okay. At least I won't have to worry about giving my information out to someone only too eager to use "K. Caulfield" as the new representative of the Human Resources Company.

  1. There is a framed picture + quote of Theodore Roosevelt though, so take from that what you will. There's certainly a valid argument that he is the most badass President of all time. Personally I think my dad just likes that big stick quote.
  2. Yeah we're not sure that you can when you own your company, which is unfortunate.

Posted by Kevin on 1:21 PM

I maintain that if a game is undeniably fun, then your plot can be incredibly basic. Honestly, so many games nowadays are ruined by striving to have some sort of meaningful storytelling when all the game is really about is punching bad guys. Sometimes hitting bad guys is really enough, and any sort of attempt to weave some grand insight into the dark nature of man's inhumanity against man (or worse, some sort of life is worth living despite the harshness so don't give up! message) comes across pretty bleh. At the very least it's distracting, but at the worst it can completely ruin an otherwise perfectly fine game.

The point I'm trying to get to is that some game developers could learn something from Bad Dudes.

Bad Dudes is a classic Arcade beat-em up that was ported to the NES like any other classic Arcade Beat-em up. It's entire plot consists of two sentences showcased at the beginning of your adventure.

"The president has been kidnapped by ninjas. Are you a bad enough dude to rescue the president?"

That's it. There's never any talk about where these ninjas came from. How they got past Secret Service. What their ultimate endgame is. There's no character development for the Bad Dudes. I have no idea how they became Bad Dudes and why we as a country would trust such Bad Dudes to save our President. I've never known, but I didn't care then and I really don't care now.

I know all I need to. President's been kidnapped. Ninjas are involved. If I'm going to rescue him, I'm going to have to be one hell of a bad dude.

I'm not saying that I'm against games having stories; hell my greatest gaming experience is still the first time I played through Final Fantasy 7 and realizing games could actually pull off legitimate stories. My point is simply that not all games need to have grand plots, that sometimes less is more, and that it can be very easy to explain away things to the point of destruction.

I mean, would a heavier plot have made Bad Dude's ending any sweeter?

I seriously doubt it.

In short, more of this, less of that.

Posted by Kevin on 12:08 PM