Monday, February 28, 2011

Short-Lived, But Not Short on Promise

As a long-time Batman fan, mostly of the animated series from the early 1990’s, I find myself, nowadays looking for something to replace it.  Cartoon Network has various choices, but something about the animation and story-telling does nothing for me.  I was either late or early to work, I’m not sure which when I stumbled upon the Hub channel and saw Batman Beyond on. Granted, I know this show has long since stopped running, but it was a refreshing take on something that was so pivotal to the success of the early Batman cartoon.

If I can take you back down memory lane, the original Batman cartoon featured superb voice acting and engrossing story-telling.  The cartoon chronicled Batman through the middle part of his career and allowed the viewer to watch him train a protégé as well as watch that same protégé grow up and move on.

In the next iteration of Batman, Batman Beyond, the viewer is taken into the future where Bruce Wayne no longer dons the cap and cowl, having realised that his body has betrayed him, in a manner of speaking, and he can’t trust himself to defend the night as he did before.  As circumstances develop, Bruce has a run-in with the person who will become the next Batman, Terry McGinnis.  Terry loses his father and steals the bat suite from Batman, before proving that he is after the same cause that Bruce has been.  It takes some time, but the friendship develops.

Without going into more detail, this cartoon captures everything that is great about Batman and brings it into the next century.  The stories are written by the same pairing who did the acclaimed cartoon series from the 1990’s, and the look and feel, as well as voices, all match.

What makes this cartoon stand out from other cartoons is that it isn’t cartoon-y.  While we can all enjoy some morality with The Simpsons or even SpongeBob, both have the bright colours and child-like quality that separate them from anything for adults.  It is these Batman cartoons that are so different from anything else out there.  Even the modernised versions of Justice League don’t capture what has really become a mainstay with cartoons related to Batman: realism.

The Batman cartoons are real.  If he gets hit, exploded, shot at, he gets hurt.  Not like Superman who bullets bounce off of or Green Lantern who can make a shield appears out of nowhere.  Batman has gadgets, sure, but even those don’t have the Acme feel to them.

I’m rambling about this cartoon, the sequel more than the original, because it takes real life situations and doesn’t trivialise them, things happen, life happens.  And while we all may say we don’t want to deal with reality, sometimes it is nice to watch something and have it mimic reality in its own way. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Is it time yet? I think I hear the fat lady singing...

Yet again we see Tiger in the news and not in a good light either.  Haven’t we really had enough?  I mean, how many times does it take to learn the same lesson?  I think arrogance and stupidity go hand-and-hand here and he is the prime example of this.

In most sporting arenas, spitting on the floor is okay if you’re outdoors or on ice.  But there is supposed to be something dignified about golf, something refined.  Not only does Tiger bring in his laundry list of illicit lovers last year, but now he’s spitting like this is a football field.  Then he offers a meaningless apology via twitter.

This all leads back to my belief about class.  Modern players, for the most part, are classless.  They’re sore losers and proud of it.  The best example if that is LeBron James, whom I respect as a player, and Peyton Manning, who I love to hate.  Both have a tendency, after big losses to hang their heads in shame and shuffle off the field.  This isn’t acceptable.  Man up!  What kind of example are you showing kids that are growing up and idolizing you?  That it is okay to be a bad sport?  Isn’t there a great commercial out there about sportsmanship?  Maybe someone should show this to these so-called superstars.

It is one thing to be a talented person, but to be a great person, you need to have class and act responsibly.  In both my cases, James and Manning, they are better than most with off-field actions, but Tiger’s issues surpass anything anyone could do.

Isn’t it time, America, to say enough is enough?  Let us all move on with our lives.  Golf is pretty bloody boring, maybe it is time we throw the whole sport out the window and call it a day.  If the acceptance and continued fraternization with Tiger is any indication, Golf doesn’t hold themselves to a higher standard, so it is incumbent upon us to be unaffected by his actions.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Crazy Conservatives

I’ll start this off my assuring everyone I did not splurge on anything.  But I think I controlled myself since I know there are credit card bills coming. 

I am an avid gamer, as some of you may know, and read this article on Gamespot.  It talks about a video game that Fox new is slamming.  Oh yes, the always even-keeled and open-minded Fox news.  What a joke.  These people make stuff up and you can see some really creative editing in the article.  Though, as someone else pointed out, by clicking the link, you’re doing exactly what Fox news wants you to, generate traffic to their site, so do try to refrain from digging further, if you can.

Basically, Fox says that the game could be permanently harmful to children if they play it.  Well, guess what, there’s this thing called parents and maybe they should tell their children not to play it, if it’s so bad.  Or maybe the retailers should do some control.  When I go to Best Buy or Toys R Us, I always get carded.  And despite what I might think, I am sure I look like I’m well over eighteen.

This is such garbage.  If you don’t want kids to be exposed to something, they there needs to be a control for that.  The answer is not always censorship.  Gamespot goes so far as to prove, with statistics, that the claims made by the article are utterly untrue.  I’d argue that there is a negligible connexion between violence in video games and actual violence.  I’d argue that parents do more damage when they act badly in front of a child than when they see it on something else.  I think it is a far reach to say using a bad word and then doing something awful are at all linked.  It is completely ludicrous.

When I was a kid, I loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Did I run around wearing a bandana and fighting crime?  No, not so much.  I did take karate classes and learn the art, a bit, but I didn’t go off the deep end.  Why?  Because my parents had controls in place, since I was a kid, that it would not be tolerated.

I think all these conservative types need to get with it and open their minds instead of their mouths.  Get of your @$$ and do some parenting.  Yes, there shouldn’t be any need to play games like the one described, but it is a person’s God given right to play/buy it and who are any of us to put controls on other’s rights.  Man, I wish I’d read this before doing my blog post over at Gamespot today…ah well, maybe tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Turn that Frown Upside-Down

When I get down, my usual upswing is to spend money.  I have to get something tangible, like season tickets to a local team, which I’ve done twice now, or find something online I think I need.  Lately, and looking over my financials, I’ve realised this isn’t the appropriate way to go.

I spend a lot of time thinking about gaming, thank you Gamespot.  I’ve gone so far as to create an account and update the blog related to it on a regular basis.  Blogging can also be addicting, in case you didn’t know.  But video games are really starting to become my escape from the world.  The only downside is I have too many scary games in the queue and can’t play those at night, I get scared.

I do get a thrill when I make money.  I spend a good amount of time on ebay and have been selling things decently.  With my newly acquired Washington Nationals tickets, I anticipate some solid sales.  They had a buy two get two free deal for tickets, so I got four seats for the price of two.  Moving them could be an issue, but I think I’ve worked out a solid price structure: $45 for two, or $80 for four.  This way I am more likely to sell the four seats together, since it’s less money.  The other key to these seats is that they are a lot less expensive than the Washington Capitals tickets I have.  The retail on those is close to $350 for the pair, granted, they are VIP seats, but still.

This is the sort of thing that excites me.  I have work, real work, that I could be doing, but I find myself wholly uninterested.  I may have started off on the wrong foot here, but I need to right the ship, sooner rather than later.  I continue that expedition on another blog.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Across the River

I consider myself an avid traveller, but of late, the idea of flying makes me uninterested.  I don’t think I suffer from depression, but I just can’t force myself to think about making flight plans, getting assaulted by security or taking travel sizes of things only to other places.

It isn’t like I have never had a good time travelling.  The last real trip I took was a vacation to Florida to Harry Potter World.  While it was cool, the relaxing part of the vacation was great.  I sat next to the pool, read a book and didn’t worry about things.  Of course, I brought my work laptop, at the time, and did work when I got bored.

I think I have a disconnect issue.  I used to with my old job.  Since I’ve changed jobs, I try not to think about work after hours.  I don’t feel the compulsion or feel and desire to give back.  But this post isn’t about my new job, though I could drone on about it for hours.

No, this is about travel.  Have I become one of ‘those’ people?  Have I become afraid to fly?  Afraid to leave the US of A?  I hope not!  I remember going to all sorts of cool places as a kid, most notably India and Russia, but the most fun was London, which is still a great spot.  I have fond memories of Prague as well, bitter cold, but a great landscape and history.  Travelling truly should be the life-blood of all.  Children should be brought up to want to go places and do things.  Not just go visit some random mouse in Orlando.

There are such amazing things to see and do out there.  I know my next trip, most likely, will be to Arizona to see my sister, but I should really aim to make a trip, once a year, to someplace.  I know I love to video game; good Lord I could do that for an extended period of time.  But I think it’s important to disconnect, from everything.  Just take a moment, step back, and assess life, assess if I’m any closer to my goals, as yet undetermined.  Maybe that’s not entirely true, but I know I do want to have the most toys in the end.

I haven’t been abroad in a good long time; maybe I can plan a trip to see a friend in the Middle East.  I wonder if my passport is still valid.  I think for another couple years.  Wow, that was a lot of pointless rambling…but that is the title of the blog.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Memory Lane

I haven’t watched a good cartoon in a long time.  I am an avid Family Guy fan, but I’m not sure that counts.  When I say cartoon, I mean a classic Scooby Doo or the now ‘retired’ PowerPuff Girls or Dexter’s Laboratory.  Those were great cartoons.  They had heart, lessons to be learned and at least one character to identify with.

When I was little, I could hardly go a day without watching/reading something Scooby Doo related.  Recently, I purchased a Mystery Machine box set of DVD’s, but its in the queue, way at the end too…but I do have the complete PowerPuff Girls Series and I am waiting it out for the Dexter’s Lab one.  I recently came across a discussion on Amazon about how greedy companies like Disney are. The reason we haven’t seen the next volumes for Chip and Dale or Ducktales is because they didn’t see enough sales on the previous sets.  I realise there has to be a cost benefit analysis, but as one of my other favourite cartoons finally made it to DVD, Pirates of the Dark Water, I wonder why they can’t use a Field of Dreams approach to things.  If you make it, people will buy it.

Honestly though, even in limited release, the people who want it will grab it, and the people who miss it, will pay anything to get it once it’s no longer available.  It’s really a win-win scenario, I think.

I am also a big Snoopy fan, if you don’t know me, this might be big news, but I do think I have the largest Met Life Snoopy collection this side of the world.  But I have noticed quite a few great Snoopy specials haven’t made it to DVD.  Most notable of those, one that made me cry even when I was a kid was Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown.  This cartoon had everything in it.  Good kids, bad kids and a great story that was about the whole Peanuts crew, not just my beloved Snoopy.  This movie is a heart-warming sort of story about doing the right thing, working together and being selfless. 

I feel like there aren’t cartoons like this out anymore.  Now it’s special effects and weak stories that rule the day.  Family Guy is great for its current events sort of humour, but really brings little else to the table.  If you want a wholesome cartoon, then you have to watch Boomerang for something of value.  For now, I guess I’ll have to get my cartoon fix from DVD’s.