Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wonder Wednesday (a.k.a. MANic Makeup Day) 06-30-10

I toldja I was getting busy. Too busy to post a MANic Monday this week, at any rate. Seeing as today is my day off and I didn't have anything in particular to blog about, I decided to tie Wonder Wednesday into MANic Monday.
Today's feature is model/personal trainer/Real World cast member/super hero fetishist pin up, Scott Herman. Apparently, this was a Halloween costume. It looks like there's a mask, but he doesn't seem willing to cover up his pretty boy face. I'm not complaining!
The guy on the left is dressed as him. Ha ha! Looks like he liked this costume... a lot! Here are some non-Halloween pics...
Halloween, my ass. Costume fetish! Once again, not complaining. Here are some additional modeling shots. Enjoy!
The end!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tune In Tuesday 06-29-10

Fresh out, today, the new album by The Scissor Sisters, entitled Night Work. I haven't listened to it yet, except the single "Fire With Fire," which sounds like a big departure from their established sound. Not that I dislike it, it's just different. Check it out:

NOT available in stores or iTunes or ANYWHERE in the US, is the album by British supastar Cheryl Cole. I've been exposed to her music via dance remixes, but hadn't heard the "real" version of any of her songs, but after "Fight For This Love" was mixed into DJ Earworm's Summer music mix that I posted a couple weeks ago, I was curious, so I... obtained... the original mix of her single and I really like it! I hope they release her album here soon!

EDIT! Here's an awesome NINJAfied live performance of the song! (Or maybe it's SAMURAI-ified. Either way, AWESOME!)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Just Cause... Shrinky Dinks! 06-26-10

So, following up on Presto Magix and Colorforms, the next logical topic for toy-centric discussion is Shrinky Dinks. They were magical sheets of clear plastic with black and white, coloring book-esque images on them. You colored them with colored pencils, cut them out and then baked them in the oven, where they would shrink down to a tiny charm-sized piece. You could then flatten them out and place them in a stand to make a mini figurine. (It looked like a typical game piece for any licensed character board game from the 60s-80s.)
Like Colorforms, they came in a wide variety of licensed properties. I had this Spider-Man set. I had some problems with it. First of all fuck colored pencils. I HATE them. H-A-T-E! They're so pale and non-vibrant and lame. Hey, markers called and told you to suck it. (The plus to this is that when the Shrinky Dinks shrank the pale drab colored pencil would become concentrated and brighter, so that was at least a nice side-effect.) Also, the sets only came with like four colored pencils and, uh, there're more than four colors in the world. So you'd have to mix them, like use red and blue to make purple, which NEVER worked. It just turned out to be this red and blue muddled mess. It looked kinda like when my mom would wash like all the laundry on hot and throw a red shirt in and completely RUIN the entire load of laundry. Which she did like EVERY load of laundry. Never learned. I bet she still does it. Movin' right along...

Problem two, I didn't get why you had to bake them one at a time. What a waste of time! I just threw all mine in at once. The REASON you have to bake them one at a time is that you have to flatten them out afterward and you only have a few seconds to do this once you take it out of the oven, so I had one flat mini Spider-Man and a bunch of warped, contorted other heroes and bad guys. Fail.

Like I said, I think I only had the Spider-Man set, although maybe I had the He-Man set. I wouldn't have wanted the GI Joe set, because that would have just been too much green and the set probably didn't even come with a damn green pencil. So the whole army would've been a blue and yellow blob. I didn't know they MADE DC Super Heroes Shrinky Dinks, so I have to track that down at some point! I wonder if you buy an old set like this, if they still work.
Nowadays, Shrinky Dinks are more "crafty." You make them and then you're supposed to do stuff with them, not just make mini figurines. To my knowledge, they don't even make the licensed character sets anymore. But, you can buy blank Shrinky Dink "paper" and print whatever the hell you want on them, so you can make your own. (Hmmm, I wonder of you can print in color, because that eliminates that whole colored pencil unpleasantness.)
They still have some themed sets, like this horrible looking "I Love Horses" one. I so never understood girls and their fascination with horses. Hope that came with a brown pencil. Blaaaaah!

Also, now they sell a Shrinky Dinks oven, which is similar to an Easy Bake Oven, so you don't even have to use the real oven anymore. Hmm, I should start making my own!

Friday, June 25, 2010

WTFriday?! 06-25-10 Eye of the Cartoon Tiger

I didn't realize just how influential the music of Survivor was, but apparently EVERY 80s cartoon theme emulated their hairlicious sound. Looks like every kid in the 80s was rocking out with their... oh I can't even go there. Okay, FEEL the POWER of RAWK! Also, I MUST point out that most of these opening title sequences are a bazillion times better than than the shitty cartoons they led into. But of course kids are stupid and will watch anything.

Pole Position (Although the annoying cartoon characters BLAB all over the rawkin' theme song! SHUT UP, TOONS! So I can hear the TUNES!)

Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors (PS after this show came on, I tried to get away with calling myself "Jayce" but the rest of the world wasn't havin' it. Sigh! No nickname for me!):

M.A.S.K. (Which stood for Mobile Armored Strike... Kommand... oh, that's spelled wrong...):

I love the robot backup singer going "Ma-ma-ma-Mask!" He would of course go on to sing backup for Lady Gaga.

Oddly, as toy-riffic as this show seemed, there wasn't a Dinosaucers toy line! (Well, not in the US at any rate.) I totally LOVED Ichy the Ichthyosaurus (underwater dino) and Pteryx, the girl who was pink and had feathers!
Let's keep it rolling with The Bionic Six!:

Once again, my fave was the girl, Meg a.k.a. Rock-1!
Next up, Spiral Zone:

Uhhhhh... I BARELY recall this one, but it looks trauma-inducing! That villain at the beginning is terrifying! None of that Cobra Commander/Skeletor bumbling dumb shit villainy, this guy looks like he'd reach through the screen and cut your Coco Puffs-eatin' ass! AND WHAT'S UP WITH THE SCARY ZOMBIE CHILD?! Yikes! That's like anime territory... and not the cutesy Pokemon kind, the scary tentacle rape kind! (That'll ruin a day!)
Mighty Orbots:

Once again, BARELY remember this one, but I like the twin girl robots... you KNOW that's someone's biggest sexual fantasy, right?! And isn't there one robot who doesn't get named in the credits? They name the dumb one, the girls, the fat one... but then they show the group and there's a skinny flying robot that totally got dissed in the credits? Weird!
Next is Thundercat's bitches, Silver Hawks:

I gotta give props to Steelheart:
One of the first loud and proud dyke action heroines. Like Peppermint Patty in battle armor!

Defenders of the Earth, notable because it was a modern animated version of comic strip characters from the 1940s, Flash Gordon, The Phantom (who has the best description of them all, "The beasts call him BRUTHA!") and Mandrake the Magician, as well as Mandrake's assistant Lothar, thankfully bearing no resemblance to the RACIST AS FUCK SCARED IGNORANT BLACK SAVAGE from the original comic strips!

The older heroes were joined by their offspring, Flash Gordon's son Rick (who I had a total crush on, btw), The Phantom's telepathic daughter Jetta, Lothar's son L.J. (Lothar Junior... seriously) and Mandrake's... young Asian ward. Ahem.

Here is a special treat! Well, "treat." A music VIDEO version of the theme song to Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers:

No Guts, No Glory?! C'mon, it doesn't GET more 80s than that shit! I need that on my workout mix! (Ha ha, I don't work out! But if I did, that would be on there, right after "Eye of the Tiger" and before "Danger Zone.")

You think all these songs were by the same guy/band? I mean, they all sound the same.

GI Joe was probably my favorite show when it was on. It's theme song was NOT hairlicious. All together now, "GI Joe is the codename for America's daring, highly trained, special mission force. Its purpose: To defend human freedom from Cobra, a ruthless, terrorist organization determined to rule the world!" Those'll probably be my last words.

Like I said, NOT hair metallic. BUT in England, the show became Action Force and break out the power cords!

Cobra sounds much fancier when referred to as a "ruthless, terrorist organ-I-zation!"

Hasbro hoped to spin it's popular cartoons off into theatrical movies, but the first two, My Little Pony and Transformers BOMBED, so they scrapped that plan. There was a Jem movie in the planning stages which would have rocked, and GI Joe which was already made, but rather than spend the bucks needed to promote it as a theatrical movie, they just dumped it on TV and VHS. The movie was kind of stupid, involving a lost civilization of bug creatures. Yeah. Even so, the opening title sequence is the single best piece of animation EVER! They rocked up the regular cartoon theme song and came up with this glorious masterpiece:

OH MY GOD!!! That was so awesome! Watch it again! I'll wait...

...that three minute segment was so much better than the live action GI Joe movie!!! How badass is that part where Snake-Eyes grabs the Trouble Bubble, does that flip to knock the pilot out and then flips again into the pilot's seat?! SO AWESOME!!!!

Sigh... I had to go and mention Transformers: The Movie, didn't I. Well, I can't very well end this blog without... The Touch!

BEST! MOTIVATIONAL SPEECH!! EVER!!! The Touch was inexplicably covered by Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights:

You sir, are NO Stan Bush!

Well... I certainly think that's enough AWESOME to get you through the weekend. Cue heavy metal scream: Yeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Throwback Thursday 06-24-10 Ferosh Gay Pride Props Edition!

June is National Gay Pride Month... so of course Cincinnati's Gay Pride Weekend isn't until July. At least we have one. I'm pretty sure Mobile's Gay Pride festival is on Neverary Eleventy-Seventh. Anyway, in honor of Gay Pride, first of all, I'm gaying it up to some Kylie as I write this. Second, it's time to pay homage to some of the gay icons of my youth.
My earliest gay icons were these two pessimistic yellow bitches (is there some subtext there?), each paired with chipper, friendly partners... so that's why I'm always the "mean" one in the relationship.
C3PO minced and Mother Henned his "masters" proving firmly that gays are never the stars of anything, but they're the best supportive friends in the UNIVERSE!

Gays tended to be portrayed very poorly in older movies. I mean even C3PO got chopped to pieces and had to be schlepped around by Chewbacca... which frighteningly mirrors my entire 20s. Ahem. BUT, two sassy bitches rose up and threw off that negative image, by feroshing it up unapologetically! First was Lamar from Revenge of the Nerds:
You'll remember his dreadful rap at the talent show:

Revenge of the Nerds Song
"Clap your hands everybody! Everybody clap your hands!" Guess Eminem wasn't the first gay rapper after all. HEY-OOOOOO!!!
Also, who could ever forget his performance at the track and field tournament, where he utilized a special javelin that complimented his "limp-wristed throwing style"?

This picture really is worth a thousand words:However, the Queen Bee of terrible 80s gay movie stereotypes is, the TRUE STAR of the epic Mannequin saga, my hero (or heroine) Hollywoooooood!
FIERCE!Playing opposite two wooden dummies (wah waaaah!), Meshach Taylor CARRIED that movie as delicious, finger-snapping, sashaying Hollywood Montrose. "Hollywoooooood! Hollywoooood! Come and get me, Hollywoood!" "Look out Albert!" Snap! "Because Hollywood is on your case!"

"Bad Girl!" Then skip ahead to approx. 6:20. "Two things I love to do! That's fight and kiss men!" "Mine's bigger than yours is!"

I'm just including this clip for the awesomely terrible Starship song which kicks in at 2:50. Man, remember that Grace Slick was in Jefferson Airplane?!:

And how magnificent that Hollywooooood completely steals the wedding scene!
Meshach Taylor reprised the role of Hollywoooood in Mannequin Too: On The Move, once again, opposite two more dummies.
He then went on to play the ethnic Designing Woman.
Although the producers TRIED convincing us that he had a girlfriend on the show. Uh huh.
PROPS, Meshach Taylor! PROPS!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wonder Wednesday 06-23-10 Contest of Champions... Or Jason Gets SCHOOLED!

If there's one area where I don't consider it bragging to discuss my expertise, it's comics, especially those I grew up reading in the 70s and 80s. I know my shit. There's a magazine I loooove called Back Issue:#1, they published one of my letters once, so that's like the only time a piece of my writing has been printed outside of this joke of a blog. #2, it's strictly about comics from the Bronze Age, i.e. the 70s and 80s. Also, it's hard to call it a "magazine" because most magazines are pretty light and you can read the entire thing in like 30 minutes. It takes me days to get through a Back Issue because the articles are so in-depth and lengthy. The issues have themes, so occasionally there's a theme that I don't care for, so I end up not reading the whole thing, but it's been invaluable in providing me information on things that were sort of before my time, or that I may have a vague memory of.

But rarely, do I get SCHOOLED about a comic I actually read, and that happened this month! The subject was Marvel's first miniseries, 1982's Marvel Super Hero Contest of Champions, starring EVERY Marvel Super Hero: Every hero on earth is engulfed in a crimson glowing light and teleported to a huge facility in space.
The heroes spend the rest of issue #1 mingling, in a series of childhood cream dream panels. Three underwater heroes, The Sub-Mariner, Triton and Stingray confer, while the X-Men's bald, telepathic Prof. X consults with The Avenger's bald, telepathic Moondragon. In a scene that would probably never be repeated today, all the black super heroes including The Falcon, Luke Cage and Black Panther compare notes.
Reflecting politics of the time, The Shamrock, a newly-introduced heroine from Ireland, tensely shares a panel with Captain Britain. A similar scene occurs later in issue #2, between the Arabian Knight:
And the Israeli Sabra, who I think rocked the first Jew Fro in comics:More on these International delights later. Basically, the heroes have all been Shanghaied by The Grandmaster, a cosmic game-player who'd previously used The Avengers as his pawns and a mysterious female entity, completely concealed in a purple robe and hood, referred to only as The Unknown. Each cosmic being selects 12 heroes as their "champions."
The actual "Contest" begins in issue #2, where the heroes, divided into teams of three, are dispatched to Earth (which is in suspended animation) to locate four quarters of a golden sphere, hidden in four locations around the globe. In issue #2, each side scores one quarter of the golden sphere.
The game ends in a tie, in issue #3, with each side gaining two pieces of the sphere... except in the next panel, the caption reads: Grandmaster 3, Unknown 1. Whoopsee! Just go with it! The "Unknown" is revealed as none other than DEATH!
Death grants The Grandmaster their agreed-upon prize, the resurrection of his brother The Collector, another cosmic deity. BUT, trickery! One life cannot be restored without relenquishing another in its place, so just as The Collector returns to life, The Grandmaster is reduced to a pile of ashes! Wah-waaaaah!

Not the most involved storyline, but when you're getting hundreds of heroes in one comic, what does it matter to a kid?! Here's the me-getting-schooled part. Contest of Champions was originally supposed to be released in 1980 as a huge Treasury Edition comic called Marvel Super Heroes at the Summer Olympics! The space arena to which the heroes are teleported was actually the Olympic Dome constructed in Moscow for the 1980 Games. In the original artwork, the heroes are engulfed in the red glow, then vanish ONLY TO BE REPLACED by confused Olympic athletes!

Since 99% of Marvel's heroes are white New Yorkers, for this Olympic-themed book, they created several new heroes from various countries. From Israel, came the heroine Sabra, who could fire energy "quills." China's Collective Man, was actually FIVE mutant brothers who could combine into one super powerful body and could drawn on the strength of every person in China-- that's pretty damn strong! The terribly anachronistic Arabian Knight slung a mean scimitar and swooped around on a flying carpet and from Germany came the electrically-charged Blitzkrieg.
I think they were basically just throwing out random words that they knew in foreign languages. From France came, Le Peregrine. Australian aboriginal Talisman possessed mystical powers. Defensor from Argentina wore a suit of conquistador-style armor and carried a mighty shield. And finally, from Ireland came Shamrock, whose power was literally that she was super lucky!

Thank goodness for The X-Men! In 1978, the team had been revamped from a team of white, young Americans to an eclectic mix of heroes from around the globe:
Banshee from Ireland, Colossus from Russia, Nightcrawler from Germany, Storm from Africa, Sunfire from Japan, Thunderbird NATIVE American and Wolverine from Canada. It's funny that these heroes' powers and identities aren't reflective of their nations of origin, whereas the Contest of Champions characters' are very much so. Not only that, but the Contest heroes tended simply to reflect existing heroes' powers. Blitzkrieg super charges the air with his electricity to create a wind storm, emulating Storm's abilities. Le Peregrine, whose only power was flight, reflected both The Angel and The Falcon. Captain America already had that shield thing on lockdown, decades before Defensor. (As revealed in the article, though, Defensor was created instead of a cat character The Ocelot, because there were already MANY animal-based heroes in existence.) Even Shamrock's luck powers could be traced back to Scarlet Witch's probability-controlling hexes.

A few other International characters were drawn from existing comics.
Iron Man, in particular had a rogue's gallery with several Soviet characters, The Crimson Dynamo, Titanium Man, The Black Widow, and siblings Darkstar and Vanguard. To Iron Man and his American readers, they were villains (it was the Cold War) but to the Russians, they were HEROES and most of them eventually banded together as Russia's answer to The Avengers, The Soviet Super Soldiers:
In England, Marvel published a series starring Captain Britain:
The character made his American debut in Marvel Team-Up, joining forces with Spider-Man, just shortly before the creation of the Olympics special.
And from the pages of the X-Men, and from Wolverine's mysterious past, came the all-Canadian team Alpha Flight, led by the super-suit wearing Vindicator and including the massive Sasquatch, the mystical Shaman, ethereal Snowbird, super fast twins Aurora and Northstar, the first dwarf super hero, Puck and alien aquatic Marina. They were, not-coincidentally, co-created by Canadian writer/illustrator John Byrne, who'd soared to stardom drawing The X-Men.

Then, in the real world, the USSR invaded Afghanistan, so America BOYCOTTED the 1980 Olympics. With this development, it made no sense to publish a tie-in comic for the American audience, so the special was scrapped!

In the ensuing years, a few of the International heroes created for the book surfaced in other Marvel titles, most notably The Incredible Hulk. Eventually, Marvel decided to venture into the realm of comic book miniseries. These would allow them to delve deeper into the lives of some of their heroes who'd never headlined their own series and were only known as supporting characters and members of teams. Hercules, Hawkeye and Wolverine were slated to receive three-issue minis, but to kick the format off with a bang, Marvel revisited the aborted Olympics comic.

Since several years had passed, a lot of the existing pages had to be tweaked or completely redrawn. The Olympic Dome had to be altered into a space coliseum. This time, when the heroes vanished, they were not replaced by the confused Olympic athletes. And certain characters had to be removed entirely because they'd either retired or died, including Black Goliath, Ghost Rider and Phoenix. The most significant was Ms. Marvel, who'd lost her powers and left the Earth. Originally, Ms. Marvel was part of The Grandmaster's team of heroes. She-Hulk was drawn over Ms. Marvel's form in her scenes.
Interestingly, the She-Hulk cannot fly, whereas Ms. Marvel could, so strangely, most of She-Hulk's scenes involve her soaring through the air, with it being explained that she was LEAPING the whole time.

Despite the screw-up in scoring, the series was a lot of fun and gave fans a once-in-a-lifetime event where EVERY super hero, major and minor appeared in one series. (Not every hero is depicted "on camera" but they're in the crowd somewhere!) Marvel even printed in the back of every issue, a complete alphabetical listing of all its living heroes, complete with alter ego and description of their powers, implying that every one of them was SOMEWHERE in that crowd! And for me, it was a snapshot of Marvel at its damn-near perfect point in history, featuring appearances by both Spider-Woman (chatting with Spider-Man at one point) and (Disco) Dazzler (who, when she is teleported to the dome, was onstage performing, causing one concert-goer to remark, "What a great finale!").

But I had never heard about the series' true origins, so I my mind was wonderfully blown by this article, complete with some of the original, unaltered artwork! Fascinating!