Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Muppets Take Washington

Once again, I'm not one to go into politics, but I do love making geekish comments about it.

Wednesday's episode of The Daily Show had referred to Keith Olberman & Chris Matthews as "Statler & Waldorf," as well as possibly Joe Scarborough as "Sam The Eagle," and David
Schuster as"Beaker." I forget if these two were the ones Jon had mentioned, correct me if I'm wrong.

This got me thinking...what are the Muppet equivalents to other people in this Presidential Campaign?

Let's take all of the above examples being taken. There's also the fact that Brian Williams resembles Johnny Fiama. And if Frank Caliendo refers to John Madden and Pat Sommeral as "The Bert & Ernie of Football," that can only mean one thing:

Barack Obama is Kermit The Frog. It suddenly dawned on me, but it's the Muppet that fits him best. The only sane individual amongst a company of screwballs, articulate, is a born leader, and is beloved by millions. I've imagined that he would eventually say something like "Now that is change we can believe in, YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!" whilst flailing his arms while stepping aside to clear the stage for the Flying Zucchini Brothers.

So who is next?

Hillary Clinton is obviously Miss Piggy. Brash, enormous stage presence, always vying for Kermit's attention. Another beloved Muppet who would karate chop anyone who would get in her way.

In keeping with that theme, Bill Clinton would have to be Link Hogthrob. Self-proclaimed ladies man and hunk who wore ugly leisure suits even if they were en vogue in the late '70s. If you've ever seen Link in action, he was Clinton 30 years before he appeared on the scene.

Dennis Kucinich? Gonzo. Obvious.

Ron Paul? Crazy Harry. Another obvious solution.

Libertarian Candidate Bob Barr would be Lew Zealand. Same weird voice, physical build, and having complete out-there ideas like throwing fish like boomerangs.

Perennial wet rag Ralph Nader was a condundrum. It seemed that Gonzo would fit, but that's Kucinich. He's more like Grover to me.

Mike Huckabee would be Fozzie. Great sense of humor, but you wouldn't want him running the show.

Mitt Romney, who was John McCain's most likely running mate, is Guy Smiley. I believe Stephen Colbert covered this before, but I definitely see the resemblance. I suspect he'll be busting through walls and chanting about "AIR, AIR, AIR AIR!" during the Republican Convention.

Sarah Palin, McCain's actual running mate, is Annie Sue Pig. She was formally introduced in Season 3 of the Muppet Show to provide a slight foil to Miss Piggy. She was younger, talented, good looking, and naive. Simply the exact opposite of Miss Piggy, whom Annie Sue had sometimes inadvertently upstaged.

Speaking of Running Mates, Joe Biden is Scooter. Kermit's sidekick wasn't Fozzie or Gonzo, it was Scooter. The cheerful young Gopher who had powerful connections (in Scooter's case, his uncle owned the theater that the Muppet Show performed in)

As for John McCain himself? I pondered long and hard, but eventually realized that he's Rowlf the dog. Maybe it's because he's one of the oldest Muppets, and his spark is long gone since his voice had a wait and see attitude. But he still appears, albeit as a shell of his former self knowing his glory days will never return.

And here I thought McCain was going to choose a bag of rice as his VP.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Soundtracks For Summer: The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota

Part 9 in my "Soundtracks For Summer" series.

For part 9 in our series of songs that define "Summer," how about some travelling music?

Come on, it was only a matter of time before Weird Al Yankovic showed up during this series. Although there aren't a lot of his songs that are in a "Summery" mood, this one sure feel it. In fact, it's the last track on his 1989 "UHF" Soundtrack that had been released alongside the related movie during the summer of 1989. It was a perfect cap to that great album. In fact, at nearly 7 minutes, it was his longest song until "Albuerquerque" came along 10 years later on his "Running with Scissors" album. Also, if you ever wanted to know the success of UHF, compare its Summer 1989 release with Space Chimps opening the same day as The Dark Knight. You get the idea.

Sadly, out of all the Weird Al songs that have videos, this one does not, hence the pretty-good quality fan video that you have hopefully just watched.

Good old fashioned road trips are awesome. Just load up the car with whatnot and a map and/or Googlemaps and just head on out there into the great stretch that is America...or Canada. I haven't done one of these in a while, I really should do it.

Just the beat of the song is simply in tune with a tiny little ruckamuck car travelling down an Interstate or Thruway towards some out of the ordinary destination. In my case, it was usually the Upstate, NY region. Of course, I had to collect all of the brochures for all the local haunts, like Natural Stone Bridges & Caves, the Lake Placid Olympic Center, Whiteface Mountain, the Build-A-Bear Workshop in Burlington, and, of course, The Great Escape in Lake George.

I'm a sucker for roadside attractions, and all of the places that Weird Al rattled off simply make me excited in the lower regions of the pants area. Then again, I'm from Long Island, and there's not that many interesting sites to see aside from Golf Courses and that Big Duck. We don't even have Cracker Barrels, so seeing billboards for that one make me grab the KY. I'm a messy sightseer.

I've also never picked up a hitchhiker like Bernie, but I've had orgasmic reactions like Al had at the Twine Ball for other locations. Intercourse, Pennsylvania is such a letdown.

I'm still taking reader suggestions for "Soundtracks For Summer" entries. Although this time I'm looking for input on a certain song: "Walk The Dinosaur" by Was Not Was. If anyone out there has any memories of the song, or why it defines "Summer" for you, contact me at

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Best Torso in Football

My friend Tim and I were looking at the cover for Saturday's Newsday (the local paper on LI), and saw a picture of Brett Favre in full Jets attire playing the big game.

That got Tim to thinking...he looked like Woody Harrelson in that picture. Me?

Coming This Summer:

"Jet Favre: The Brett Favre Story"

Starring Woody Harrelson as Brett Favre, the Jet that wouldn't die!

With Frank Caliendo as John Madden.

John, what do you have to say about this upcoming project?

"Well, well, well, you see, when ya got a great movie over here and great actors over here and BOOM! there ya go with great actors acting in a great movie! I mean, I mean, it just doesn't get any better than that! The only way it could get any better is if ya got crappy actors acting great in a great movie. I mean, I mean, (haruubahf) hey, they're crappy actors! You can't possibly get any better with that kinda great acting!

Brett Farb, Brett Farb is the best part of this movie. If I didn't get distracted by Woody's athletes' foot with BOOM TOUGH-ACTIN' TINACTIN! like a great actor in this great movie, I coulda swore it was Brett Farb being a great actor in this great movie with great actors acting like great characters in this great movie about great football players playing great football. I mean, if you had Brett Farb acting, directing, and catering this great movie like Kraft Easy Mac Singles, you could not be able to spend all the money in the whole freakin' world to show off how great Brett Farb will be in this great movie about Brett Farb. I mean, I mean, when I was hearing that he was going to the Jets, like Action over here, and Maria dies but the Sharks live on, like Jaws. Jaws, what a great movie that was! With the bigger boat, and the mouth, and hey that's Roy Scheider doin' high-fives with Elvis and Bernie Mac in Heaven right now, challenging Ben Franklin to a ping-pong game. Hey, Forrest Gump played ping-pong, funny guy right there with the Shrimp and the guy who aint got no legs, Lieutenant Dan! He was always saying 'Life is like a box of Russel Stovers chocolates,' you never know if you're gonna bite into the coconut one, with the 'holy crap, it's so disgusting,' like when Jaws tried to eat up Roy Scheider like that.

This movie is gonna, gonna, gonna win ever Oscar imaginable. Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best supporting Actress, Brett Farb is gonna win em all! It's gonna win a Tony, and hey, I mean (haruubahf) it's not even on Broadway yet! That's how good that this great movie's gonna turn out with the great actors acting in this great football movie about Brett Farb playing great football!

And that's what it's all about!"

Thanks, John...(swig of whiskey)

Rated PG-13.

Soundtracks For Summer: Rock Lobster

Part 8 in my "Soundtracks For Summer" Series

Holy crap, we're near the end of August and I only have 7 Soundtracks For Summer entries?! I gotta get cracking!

If you have ever been on vacation and went to some "wacky" tourist destination, chances are that you've listened to the B-52s Rock Lobster at least 50 times.

This song is most famous for putting the B-52s on the map in the first place back in 1978, and I am not surprised at all.

It simply sounds like an awesome time at a beach. Yes, I'm quite sad that Summer's nearing its end, but I'm no fan of beaches either. If beaches were more attune to look like a B-52s video, there's a small chance that I might actually go out to one during the daytime.

I say this several times, but this song simply defines "summer" for me. Fun, wackiness, funk, hijinks, that awesome guitar, knowing that you don't have to do a damn thing for the next 3 1/2 months or so. So what if you're listening to this during the last week in August, where some folks are back in college? Fuck them for not going to where I go! September 3rd is when I resume my repugnant disgust at the educational world.

The B-52s would want it that way. My favorite parts of the song? The guitar for one, with a still-alive Ricky Wilson at the licks. I also love the part where Fred starts listing off animals, and the girls make their improvised sounds to go along with them. I learned what sound a Sea Robin makes thanks to this song.

I don't recall when or how I was first exposed to this song, but I am somewhat saddened that a generation of people's exposure was/will be from this:

You better fucking watch this because it took me forever to find it. Seriously, for every actual vid of this that's on Youtube, there's 50 of them where it's just a still picture over the music. I hate that so freaking much.

I haven't posted one of these in a while, but I'm still taking reader suggestions for "Soundtracks For Summer" entries. Although this time I'm looking for input on a certain song: "Walk The Dinosaur" by Was Not Was. If anyone out there has any memories of the song, or why it defines "Summer" for you, contact me at

Monday, August 18, 2008

Bongo Man

If anyone out there happens to be employed in any type of service industry (ie, food eatery, supermarket, retail), there comes a time when you encounter a few people who happen to frequent your establishment.

You then, of course, assign them a nickname in lieu of actually learning the name, or in several other cases, not bothering to remember it.

My CVS is no different. I happen to have several people that fall in nickname territory: The Thank You Lady, The Parliament Guy, The Cat Lady, The Cat Lady's OCD Sister, The Coupon Lady, The Coupon Queen (who happens to have one of her daughters working there), The Coupon King (there's more than one, as it turns out and not related to the other 2 Coupon Ladies), The Crackhead, The Old Diabetic Guy Who Always Buys Ice Cream, The Other Crackhead, and Michelle.

Today I am focusing on a man affectionately known by my associates as "Bongo Man."

Why "Bongo Man?" Well, he's an old man known to play his Bongoes in the street for no real reason whatsoever. He usually wanders in with them (fortunately, he doesn't play them indoors), along with a backpack, his cap, a surprisingly well-toned body, and his headphones.

(Artist's Rendering)

His headphones are of note because of the perhaps decades of having them over his ears, they have practically rendered him deaf, so nothing we say to him registers unless we hold the speaker phone in front of his face. I'm not saying that there's anything bad about deaf people, but I've since realized that the deaf would get insulted by this claim.

It seems that the Amish people are the only people left that we can make fun of. Seriously, how are they going to find out about this?

But back to my story. Usually his purchases are nothing ordinary, usually a pint of ice cream, some candy bars, and/or cigarettes. Not today. Well, besides all those things, he also bought a gallon of orange juice.

Not unusual until you see him in line drinking it right out of the carton.

Yes. It's one thing to drink a soda in the store, and another to drink the OJ at home at 3am in your undies like normal people, but in public? A CVS, no less. I don't care what Pathmark's policies are, but CVS is a civilized retail marketplace mart, mister!

So, he got to may, paid for his half consumed OJ, and decided to hang around the newspaper rack for a good 10 minutes afterwards like he usually does. I decided to put the carton in a plastic bag first to somewhat conceal that he's our lovable resident mental patient.

I sure wish I had a paper Crown Royal Bag on hand. And an actual camera. That would've been a blog for the ages.

A simple Orange Juice Chug becomes a Secret Screwdriver Binge at two-thirty in the afternoon in one fell swoop.

So here's to you, Bongo Man!
(Mr. Ramblin' Bongo Man!)

So, for my fellow buddies that work in these sort of places, are there any people that YOU have assigned such nicknames to?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Tropic Thunder & Stiller Stuff

So I saw Tropic Thunder last night.

I was a bit wary of going to see it, as it was directed, starred and partially written by Ben Stiller. That alone had gotten me scared, and the trailers were somewhat meh-ish. I was hoping to hear some good reviews from fellow movie going friends, but an urge to finally socialize had caused me to catch a 10:50 showing last night.

And you know what? This movie was much better than I thought it would be. Was it funny? Yes. Was it predictable? Somewhat. Just when I think I predicted when something would happen: BAM! Curve ball. But the ending I mostly saw coming, but still humorous.

Some of my friends wanted to see it mainly to see if Robert Downey Jr.'s recent string of awesomeness would continue. I shall let them know that, yes, he's one of the best parts of the movie. Sadly, most of his great lines were said in the trailers, but there are quite a few sequences where he kicks some major ass, along with seeing the trailer lines in their proper context.

Another great moment comes at the very beginning with a few fake movie trailers introducing the characters that you could almost swear that they were real. Seriously, the only reason that everyone realized that they were fake was because they were actually better than the 15 minutes of real trailers that came before the movie.

That's not to say that everyone else was bad. We also have Jack Black as Jeff Portnoy, a parody of Mike Meyers & Eddie Murphy who stars in similar movies where he plays every character, and they all fart. Yes, but he does get a few great moments in the movie, such as killing a bat for stealing his "Jelly Beans," an obligatory sequence in action/comedy movies where the fat character always freaks out, and a line during a war film-like slow motion sequence got one of the biggest laughs in the entire movie.

As the movie is a jab at Hollywood, expect several cameos from various celebrities that last about 30 seconds. There's no Chuck Norris cameo like in "Dodgeball," but a few of them are quite funny.

I also couldn't believe that there was such a firestorm over the running theme of making fun of the retarded. Before I saw the film, I thought that these people had become outraged over nothing (mostly over the funny "Full Retard" dialogue between Stiller & Robert Downey Jr.), but then after watching...there's a LOT more of it than that one dialogue. Then there's the fact that Robert Downey Jr. is essentially in black face for 99% of the movie, but I've yet to read about outcries over that. I must say that it was all funny, and if it's a crime to laugh at things that a "Politically Incorrect," then by all means arrest, jail, and execute me. These people should just lighten up. It's a movie. With Ben Stiller. That alone should say "Hey, don't get mad over some dumb crap!"

And then there's Ben Stiller. Ben, Ben, Ben, Ben. You surprised me, you were actually somewhat funny in this movie. Sure, Robert Downey Jr. outshines you both in character and as an actor in general, but you were enjoyable. I always believed that you always did better in ensemble casts, and this movie was no different. Actually, it kind of was, as you were actually not the weakest link. I actually cared about you, hoped that something good was going to happen to you, wondering what was going to come next.

Rarely have there been movies of yours where I actually felt that. This may have been the first one. To anyone who hasn't seen it: Don't watch Duplex. Ever. Ask for the $10 back that you would have spent on that movie that you should never see.

Here are a few Ben Stiller movies that I did like:

Zoolander. Actually funny, and even his partner Owen Wilson is okay. I still can't forget Will Ferrell as Mugatu. Sadly, I still think that this movie set off that slippery slope of other movies making incredibly stupid careers/sports funny, like "Blades of Glory," "Balls of Fury," "Talladega Nights," and this one:

Dodgeball. I liked Stiller as the villain. He's just the kind of person that you just want to see fail, and he delivers. "Fuckin' Chuck Norris!"

Mystery Men. Like I've said before, he does well in ensemble casts, and he did pretty well. Then again, I love superhero movies, especially out-there ones like this flick.

The Royal Tenenbaums. Not as much of a Ben Stiller movie as it is a movie that Ben Stiller happens to have a supporting role in. Of course, it IS a Wes Anderson movie that also stars Gene Hackman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Bill Murray, Luke Wilson, Alec Baldwin and Danny Glover. As such, he does a pretty good job, as does Stiller cohort Owen Wilson. Then again, Wes Anderson launched Owen's career, so it was expected that he showed up.

And that's all of them. Just these 5. If anyone else endured other Stiller movies, I feel your pain.

For Tropic Thunder, I rate it a B. I almost rated it B-, but then I realized that I thought of this at 1 in the morning, instead of now where I'm fully awake and rational.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The 5 Rings of Subparity

Has anyone been watching the Olympics? Me neither, but I managed to catch the opening ceremony. There's nothing quite like a Totalitarian Communist Nation successfully distracting the world from its atrocities with a massive highly artistic and synchronized spectacle. When you thought the ceremony wouldn't get more over the top, the last torch runner flies through the air and "runs" a lap around the rim of the stadium before lighting the torch.

But that's not what I wish to talk about today. Blog buddy DC recently posted an entry where the 5 mascots of the current Olympics are creeping the hell out of her.

The mascots in question:

I couldn't agree more. Not much as creepy as just plain Weird and suitable from the Chinese. If I know my Olympics, each panda bear thing represents each Olympic ring, with the red guy in the middle symbolizing the Olympic Flame. I don't trust the yellow one a single bit. The picture makes it look likes my favorite color, orange. Also, Beijing is attempting to convince me that it's symbolizing an Antelope. Hooray, Antelope. It's hiding something from me, I just know it. Possibly some sort of mysterious liquid to put in my Coca-cola.

You know that these mascots suck when I not only do not know their names, I won't even bother looking them up.

But then again, compared to Olympic mascots of the past, this warped Sentai team seem almost decent.

I'm sure everyone remembers Izzy, the bizarre mascot from the 1996 Atlanta Games. Unlike mascots of years past, Izzy was the first mascot to not resemble anything, being referred to as a "Whatisit." As his story goes, he was a being who lived in a world located inside the Olympic Torch and was able to shape shift as well.

Yeah. The reasons why anyone remembers Izzy at all besides being downright weird, it was because he starred in a one-shot cartoon titled "Izzy's Quest For Olympic Gold." It explained the back story of Izzy wishing to compete in the Earth Olympics, and must symbolically gain the 5 Olympic Rings in order to travel to Earth from his Torchworld. In short, it was awful, but sadly there's no Youtube evidence of this even occurring. It was all thanks to Wikipedia that reassured me that there was a special made to begin with and that I didn't imagine it. Because if I did, I wouldn't be here blogging, just locked up in an insane asylum.

Then again, either scenario would have amounted to the current state of affairs that you're reading right now.

For other folks, Izzy is remembered through the video game adaptation of said special: "Izzy's Quest For The Olympic Rings."

Some (or most) of you might be aware that Izzy was not the first Olympic Mascot to star in his own cartoon, nor was he the last. Check out this strange toon starring the Beijing mascots:

Lame, and a bit creepy, but it doesn't seem like it sucks. Perhaps it's a good thing that I can't speak Chinese. This is what would happen if the Japanese got a hold on these characters:

Kidding aside...when Nagano, Japan hosted the Winter Olympics back in 1998, we got these guys:

Meet the Snowlets. I can imagine either a 5 year old or a 35 year old Japanese animator came up with these guys. One of these things is not like the of these things is just a Batman Head with stick legs. Can you guess which one?

Speaking of the Winter Games, the first actual Olympics Mascot was for the Winter Edition:

Schuss, from the 1968 Grenoble games. A lollipop with skis seemed to be an ideal mascot for Winter Olympics. I've also just realized that he could be skiing through a uterus. Holy crap, no wonder why he was only an unofficial mascot. Clearly, it was all downhill from there.

Torino, what the hell were you people thinking? Such spawn of ice and snow shouldn't even exist outside of animation. If the Chinese Things & Snowlets didn't creep the hell out of you, these guys will.

It doesn't really help that they came 2 years after the 2004 Athens mascots. If Doug Funnie had taken a dip into acid and decided to become a sex toy, this would be the result.

At least Salt Lake City's mascots were lame & forgettable. I had completely forgotten who they were until I began my research.

What the hell was it about America's mascots being totally lame?

Here's the 1980 Lake Placid, NY mascot. The site of the "Miracle" hockey game. I've actually been to Lake Placid, and that bastard fits right in with the place.

I still can't believe that we waited until the 1984 L.A. Summer Games to roll out a Sam The Eagle mascot. Did they not realize that he would have been more appropriate 8 years earlier in 1976?

What's that, Canada? You say you have better mascots than the USA? Well, let's just see about that.

Speaking of 1976, Montreal's turn at the Summer Games were represented by this guy:

Amik, a beaver. Hmm...Beaver: Cool animal, Kickass houses, Canada's equivalent of the Eagle? Overall, a pretty decent mascot. Ok, you guys win this time.

Wait a sec, who do we have here?! Representing Calgary in 1988, they are Hidy and Howdy. The term "America, Jr." has not been more fitting than for these 2 Canadian mascots. They can't decide whether or not to be a little bit country, OR a little bit rock & roll. They would have been spared if they dressed as Mounties, but nope, had to be Cowboys. Or whatever it is that Don Cherry wears.

Also, I hear Vancouver is next in line to host the Winter Games in 2010. Let's check out their mascots, shall we?

Jibblies. That creature on the left is actually an "animal spirit" and it is actually the Paralympics mascot. It's the first time that the Olympic and Paralympic mascots are within the same continuity as each other.

You know what? I'm done writing for now, just get back to me in two years to see my take on these things. Just watch this video and prepare to not sleep again:

Friday, August 8, 2008

The 50 Greatest Animated Villains of All Time (Part 3)

So the readers have spoken, how about the 3rd installment of the 50 Greatest Animated Villains of All Time?

Here's Part 1
and Here's Part 2

I'll wait for you to catch up. Ok, let's get on with it already!

This time around, we're counting down #'s 30-21

I'm through playing around, we're finally getting to the true greats of Villainy. Let's get started, shall we?

#30: Dr. Claw - Inspector Gadget

Voiced by: Frank Welker

We start off Part 3 with Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget. The head of MAD, he was the plotter behind all of the evil plans on the show to take over the world and/or destroy Gadget. You know this guy was menacing when despite never committing any of his plans himself, the agents of MAD carried out his plots in fear of what he actually looked like behind that chair. All we ever saw of him was his right hand, his cat, and his deep, gravelly voice. It's that mystery factor that worked in his favor. As such, he was never caught. If Robot Chicken and a split-second freeze-frame gag in the Get Smart movie are any indication, he's still out there.

He also had the distinction of having the last line of every episode: "NEXT TIME GADGET...NEXT TIME..." I also can't leave out that howling screech that MAD Cat makes immediately afterwards. I think it was "RAAAWWWEEEAAARRRR!" I'm trying to prove that everything makes more sense in Italics. It seems that Dr. Claw had managed to get the last laugh when Don Adams passed away several years ago. I'm pretty sure his cat was long dead by then.

I always imagined that Dr. Claw was exactly how we saw him in the opening sequence: Simply his right hand, attached to nothing, and that it was MAD Cat doing all of the talking.

#29: General Grievous - Clone Wars

Voiced by: John DiMaggio, Richard MacGonagle

I'm not talking about that CGI'd Grievous that we saw in Revenge of The Sith, I'm talking about the kickass animated version that we saw in the 2-D animated Clone Wars series produced by Genndy Tartakovsky. One of the only downsides to that great series was that it was in the official Star Wars canon, meaning that his appearance in Revenge of The Sith was pretty much a letdown if you hadn't watched this show.

I'll fill in the background: For all those who wanted to see the Grievous as a ruthless Jedi Hunter who kicked all kinds of ass and kept his victim's light sabers as trophies, this was the place to be. There was one moment where, with his hands full, he grabs a blaster with one of his feet and then starts letting loose. He gained that awful wheeze when he fought Mace Windu, who used the force to crush his chest plates as a last-ditch effort to stop him from kidnapping Palapatine, which didn't work.

And now you know...The rest of the back story.

#28: Gargamel - The Smurfs

Voiced by: Paul Winchell.

Turning the 80's Nostalgia Machine™ back on, we have the villain of the Smurfs, Gargamel. Besides cats, carnivorous birds, and boots, Gargamel was the one thing that the Smurfs feared that would ruin their existence. Like many 80's villains, Gargamel never had a clear plan at what he would do to the Smurfs. In some episodes, he wanted to eat them, in others he wished to use them in a potion to create gold. Unable to find the village, his plans mostly involved using henchman like his cat Azrael to lure them out of hiding.

When it didn't work, he used his magic to create Smurfette to raise the question of how Smurfs reproduce. Do they all have sex with Smurfette and gives live birth or does she/they lay eggs? There are Smurflings too, but they were also created via magic. Furthermore, how were the original Smurfs created? Only they know the answer.

#27: Sideshow Bob - The Simpsons

Voiced by: Kelsey Grammer.

I'm a Simpsons fan (as if that surprised you), so there's obviously going to be a few Simpsons entries on this list. But fear not, their places are rightfully earned.

After Mr. Burns, Sideshow Bob is the series' most reoccurring villain, with 10 appearances, with 9 of them with the trademark speaking role. He started out as Krusty the Klown's sidekick, and would later frame him for robbery in order to take over his show to bring culture to children. After his plan was exposed by Bart and sent to jail, nearly every subsequent appearance involved him seeking his revenge.

His other crimes involved him attempting to murder Bart's Aunt Selma (which Homer approved of), rigging Springfield's mayoral election and using Bart as a brainwashed suicide bomber to kill Krusty. There were actually two (well, technically two and a half) episodes were Bob was NOT the villain, which include season 8's "Brother From a Different Series" (which involved his brother Cecil framing Bob for embezzlement and flooding Springfield with a shoddy dam) and season 14's "The Great Louse Detective" (where Bob helps solve the mystery of who was trying to murder Homer).

In several episodes, we also learn of his family and their intentions. Aside from the aforementioned brother Cecil (voiced by David Hyde Pierce), he also has a wife, Francesca, his son Gino, his father Robert Terwilliger Sr. (voiced by John Mahoney) and his mother Dame Judith Underdunk. In last season's "Funeral For a Fiend," they were all involved in an elaborate scheme to help Bob murder Bart once and for all. As expected, it failed and they all share a jail cell, with me hoping that they'll someday return.

#26: Magneto - X-Men

Voiced by: David Hemblin

Certainly with all the DC animated love, we can't leave out Marvel's representation with Magneto from X-Men. Especially the Magneto that appeared in the X-Men Animated Series in the 90's.

Magneto was the enemy of the X-Men, but in some circles (including his own mind), he was simply angry and bitter for the hatred and bigotry that he felt during the Holocaust and how the mutants of the world were receiving the same treatment. In a way, he is simply defending his fellow mutants with deadly force and the occasional war against the normals to have Mutants be the dominant race. But that doesn't stop the X-Men from stopping him and his allies from committing one of their "diabolical" acts.

In some way, he certainly didn't get stuck with a short straw when it came to mutant superpowers. Controlling magnetism, and in turn metallic objects, would be kind of cool. But you'd have all sorts of crap stuck to you and you'd have to learn how to control yourself from not doing that. I'd also like to imagine that you also wouldn't be able to use credit cards, although there have been plenty of times where I've wished to have been able to destroy the cards of a few belligerent retail customers.

#25: Cobra Commander - G.I. Joe

Voiced by: Chris Latta

Passing the halfway mark of the list is Cobra Commander from G.I. Joe. I seem to be having a theme with this section of the countdown with Leaders and Ultimate Villains, but it's mostly due to the reoccurring villains being more interesting and have called on these upper echelon villains to help them out and/or fight because they're so damn powerful.

Not so much the case with Cobra Commander. Although he is the leader of COBRA, the villainous organization that fights American Heroes G.I. Joe, he certainly holds as the best and most well-known villain of the series & toy collections. Unlike Dr. Claw, this leader was the one that got shit done. Not only would he plan his schemes, he would be right up on the front lines with his Trouble Bubble or COBRA Figure Command Vehicle™ to make sure that COBRA is the dominant faction at Toys R Us...I mean The World. Even if he was always the first to retreat, he looked menacing doing so. Sort of.

One of my favorite schemes of his was the absurdity of finding a chemical formula that would be able to ignite the world's oceans. Also, if Family Guy is any indication, he's also the head of the FCC. Good for him, I figured as much.

There's also his trademark raspy voice provided by the late Chris Latta that aids to his mysteriousness and infamy. Along with either his hood or helmet variant, you have no idea what is under that mass on top of his neck. I would suggest that it's probably a snake, but we already have Serpentor, who is in stores now.

In case you wanted to know what the Other Half of The Battle was besides Knowing, it's ass kicking with toys priced $9.99 or more.

#24: Darkseid - Super Friends, DCAU

Voiced by: Frank Welker (Super Friends), Micheal Ironside (DCAU)

This ultimate Superman villain has certainly had his share in the animated spotlight. He first appears in animated form during the 80's Super Friends series The Legendary Super Powers Show, where unlike the "Villain of The Day" that the Super Friends had previously faced, Darkseid was actually menacing and a serious threat to the universe. As such, the other villains of the show worked for him, lest they get vaporized or simply written off the toy line, as was the standard of 1980's cartoons.

Like in the comics, Darkseid was a New God who sought out the Anti-Life Equation, which would erase all free will in the universe and would allow Darkseid to have complete control over the thoughts and emotions of every living being. If anyone got in his way, he would use his Omega Effect, insanely powerful beams that shot out of his eyes that were able to vaporize anything, save for powerful beings like Superman. Hell, in an age where you can't really show violence on a kid's show, it was always amazing to see Darkseid and Superman bare knuckle each other on equal footing until Superman snaps and finally beats him into the ground.

When Bruce Timm was producing the Superman animated series in the 90's, he introduced Darkseid to give Superman a powerful adversary, and boy did he deliver. Like in previous stories, he sought to conquer the universe, find the Anti-Life equation, etc. until he was eventually killed along with Braniac. If any of you remember the finale of the Justice League series, you could imagine the "hell yeah" reaction I had when the sorceress Tala had not resurrected Braniac, but rather an enhanced Darkseid, bringing an absolute reaction of fear to Luthor's face.

You know you're a great villain when your mere presence scares other villains.

#23: Unicron - Transformers: The Movie

Voiced by: Orson Welles

Taking the #23 slot is Unicron, the planet eating monster from Transformers: The Movie. It helps that he was the size of a planet so he was able to satiate his demonic apetite by being able to easily destroy any planet in his wake. His primary target was Cybertron, the home of the Transformers. As later revealed in various Transformers back stories, Unicron is the Devil to Primus's God, as Primus is the true form of Cybertron and the creator of the Transformers. Don't believe me? Those horns and that booming Orson Welles voice (in his last performance) are a clear giveaway.

For what he's worth, he's the Transformers equivalent of Galactus, but can Galactus transform from a planet into a an even larger robot? I don't think so.

Unicron is also responsible for reformatting Megatron from a near-fatal state into Galvatron, a stronger and more insane version of himself who forcibly served as Unicron's Herald to destroy the Autobot Matrix of Leadership, which would eventually bring forth the end of the universe at Unicron's hands. As the story went, Unicron was obviously destroyed and only his head remained, but, of course, that didn't stop him.

Due to his immense size, it took almost 20 years to bring him to toy form when it was finally released in 2004. With a $50 price tag, it didn't disappoint, because it would have led to a minor Nerd uprising if it did.

#22: Bluto - Popeye

Voiced by: William Pennell, Gus Wickie, Billy Bletcher, Pinto Colvig, Jackson Beck

Going back to the classics, we come to Popeye's rival, Bluto. A classic archetype villain: Big, dumb, strong, and able to morph into a whistling wolf upon sighting the skinniest woman ever put on celluloid.

In most of Popeye's adventures, Bluto was usually a rival sailor who only fought the Sailor Man when Olive Oyl crossed their paths. He'd usually kidnap Olive to kiss her or play patty cake until Popeye intervened. The fights that they always managed to get into always manage to depress me in that we'll never see that type of cartoon violence ever again. There have been quite a few times where Popeye had punched someone so hard that they immediately turned into a tombstone.

They taught me that an implied violent death in a cartoon was funny, because it's not me.

#21: The Wicked Queen - Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs

Voiced by: Lucille La Vern

Once again exemplifying that there's no school like the old school, we end part 3 with The Wicked Queen from Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs. She's most notable of being the villain in the very first feature-lenght Disney film, and she certainly set the standard for every Disney Villainess that followed her. We'll see a few of them later in the countdown.

Lets see: Jealous of protagonist, usually female? Check. Transforms between beautiful and ugly? Check. Lured said protagonist into a trap that basically kills them? Check. Dies by falling off of a cliff or some other high altitude? Double check.

Taking a page from the fairy tale that the movie adapts from, one of the most noteworthy qualities about her that everyone remembers when she's in the Ugly Witch form. Hardly anyone remembers/recognizes her when she's just the Queen. She's actually pretty good-looking, but, like any other Stepmother, she becomes murderously jealous once it's revealed that her Stepdaughter is the fairest in all the land.

So it's come to this, the Top 20! Who made the list? Find out...eventually.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

DVD Review: Freakazoid Season 1

As I've foreshadowed in the past few entries: Yes, I have picked up the DVD of "Freakazoid Season 1." Yes, I have watched the whole thing. And yes, I shall review it right now.

To give a little history on Freakzoid: Back in 1995, the show was originally pitched as another Bruce Timm action show starring a psychotic superhero. In the case of tinkering actually helping the show, Steven Spielberg himself suggested that the series should be more comedic, and writer Tom Ruegger was brought on board. Along the way, he brought on Animaniacs crew members Paul Rugg & John McCann to help him out, and history was made.

Well, as they described in the DVD extra "The Original Freak," they only had about 8 months to put the whole show from concept to airtime. When a normal show is conceived, there's lots of discussion of stuff like "Writer's Bibles" and characters, and PLOTS. But there was just no time. It was all "see if this is funny and see if anyone agrees."

This gamble paid off and we got two seasons of one of the more bizarre kids shows in animation history. A superhero show that made almost no sense, but thanks to its wit, voice acting, writing, and love of stock footage, it managed to actually make some sense.

Emphasis on "some." After watching all 14 episodes, I actually found that the "weaker" episodes of the show were the ones that actually had a coherent plot to it. Those quotes (you can imagine me making those little finger quote things that Dr. Evil does when I said that) were used because they're still hilarious, slightly insane, and enjoyable.

For instance, it's not unusual to have Freakazoid simply walk of the set of an episode, mingle with all of the cast members on their break, and then walk back on and have the episode continue as if it didn't happen. It's also not uncommon to cut away to Paul Harvey (and we all know how much kids love references to Paul Harvey) to explain the back stories of various characters in lieu of actual storytelling. It's thanks to Tom Ruegger for coming up with the most outlandish names, such as Cave Guy's alias being Royce Mumphy. Bruce Timm deserves plenty of credit, as the crew had been given several sketches of characters and decided to create clever names & back stories that Bruce would probably never had been able to conceive in his wildest dreams.

A great example is, again, Cave Guy.

You get a drawing of a caveman and what do you do with him? Why, color him blue, make him highly intelligent with the voice of Thurston Howell III from Gilligan's Island while simultaneously acting primitively savage, that's what!

Then there's this guy:

Emmit Nervend. Like most of the other characters in the show, he came out of a random sketch. Someone saw him up on someone's wall and decided he'd be a good fit for the show. And so it was, as thanks to something called the "Pause Button," we can see how many times he appears in each episode, as well as all the gag credits telling us just how many times he appeared, among other things. About 10 episodes in, they stopped caring about counting how many times he appeared and let us to do our own damn looking. He's extremely hard to miss, though.

For more background details that I don't wish to list, just visit this post I did back in June.

Now, on to the episodes themselves.

On this set, we have 14 of the total 24 episodes that were produced for this show. There's actually 13 episodes (giving the 2nd season season 11 episodes), but for some reason we were given a patchwork Halloween episode that contains "The Cloud" in its first appearance and "Candle Jack" that was aired midway through the season. It's an odd inclusion but, hell, more Freakazoid. No one can argue with that one.

One of my favorite episodes on the entire set is the first, which contains the episodes "Dance of Doom" and "Handman." This episode served its purpose of any other first episode: It set the bar for the tone of the series and was merely a taste of what was to come.

"Handman" is what set the bar for the show's insanity. The cartoon is a story about one of Freakazoid's many sidekicks, this one being Handman. Handman is simply a face drawn on Freakazoid's right hand and talks via a terrible ventriloquist act. He actually manages to save Freakazoid from certain doom from The Lobe in his first appearance. And then Handman meets Handgirl (Freakazoid's Left Hand) and they make out with each other. And then they make out again. And then they get married and make out some more. Then we see their Honeymoon and they make out. And then they have sex with implied Frenching. And then we see Freakazoid's feet with faces drawn on them, and they fight. And then the credits roll. It seems so inane and nonsensical, but it's hilarious all the same. In the span of 6 minutes, at least 3 of those minutes are devoted to the hands making out.

The picture quality of the episodes looks like it was ripped right from 1995...meaning that there was no effort to clean it up whatsoever. I even caught one of those line grains a few times during one of the episodes. Supposedly, it's the same deal with the Tiny Toons release. Shame on you, WB.

As for the extras, there's quite a few. First of all, commentaries. I don't know about any of you, but I love commentaries on DVDs. It gives you that great "behind the scenes" feel with the cast & crew talking about their memories of creating the show and pointing out all of the obscure jokes that no one got until they turned 25. They make or break the DVD in my book, with a vast majority of the DVDs I own have some form of commentary track. Sadly, there are only commentaries on three episodes: The first (which has "Dance of Doom" and "Handman"), second ("Candle Jack" and Johnny Quest parody "Toby Danger"), and twelfth (which contains "Nerdator," one of the cartoons that "makes sense," as quoted by the commentators). I should be grateful that we managed to get commentary tracks in the first place, but I have been spoiled by the Simpsons, Futurama, and later Family Guy DVDs which have commentaries on every episode.

If there were any cons to this set, it would be for these two reasons only.

These tracks were also helpful with identifying whenever Paul Rugg (the voice of Freakazoid) improvised, like in this great moment from "Dance of Doom":

Everything past "Low Bridge" was all Paul. And then there's this little infamous moment from the end of the episode:

You can't write this stuff, people. "This is a happy place," indeed.

Now where was I? Oh yes, the extras.

There's an 11 minute documentary called "The Original Freak" that provides the back story to the series, as well as giving us more commentary on other season 1 episodes, like why the episode "The Wrath of Gutierrez" ends with Freakazoid, Cosgrove, and Roddy MacStew going to see "Congo" and arguing about whether or not they could tell the difference between a real monkey and some guy in a suit. It was that old standby "we saw the movie, and thought it would be funny to put in the show." So there. Also, in true Freakazoid fashion, halfway through the documentary, it's interrupted by Relax-o-Vision.

There's also a compilation of teaser ads for Freakazoid prior to its premiere called "Cruise Ship Ads." Because the crew did not have any footage completed to preview to the world, they instead parodied a Carnival Cruise line campaign at the time while explaining that they don't have any footage to show, so you should watch anyway.

Aside from the usual promos to other WB DVD releases, that's it for the extras. But it doesn't really matter, since it's a great set that I've literally waited years for.

For fans of the show, this is an absolute must to purchase so you can relive the greatness. I personally believe that the show is actually better than I thought it was, as I've actually gotten older and am now able to understand more of the jokes and parodies.

As for people who've never seen this show: Shame on you. You must. It's worth checking out and I guarantee you'll be hooked after the first episode. I said before that The Children have been missing a piece of their development by not being able to witness this show, but now you can complete the puzzle! I must say, this is a set worthy of your $20.

If this review goes over well, I may as well start reviewing some of the other discs in my collection in the future.

And speaking of the future, it looks as though you have spoken as a majority of my "fans" have voted that I continue my "50 Greatest Animated Villains of All Time" list.

Look for that one...soon. Why do I never set a concrete deadline? The great Douglas Adams said "I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise as they go by."

Saturday, August 2, 2008

August Blogging!

Happy August everybody! Eh, it means that there's a month left of Summer, and for others who go to "better" colleges than I do, it's even less than that.

But fear not, I want to make the most of this month! Summer's been pretty much a bust for me, but thankfully I have this blog, my friends, and of course, XE to save my sanity.

I've been in a little slump, post-wise. Sure, I have 5 entries currently on the back burner, but my problem is motivation. I usually work nights until 10, and after I come home in hardly in a blogging mood. Then there's the new addiction in my life: Super Mario Galaxy. It's awesome, the end.

First, I'd like to offer this preview of entries to come for August:

-a DVD review of Freakazoid Season 1
-a list of 5 (or 6) More Great Muppet Show Moments
-at least a few more Dennis entries
-At least 3 or 4 more Soundtracks For Summer entries
-and, of course, at least Part 3 of The 50 Greatest Animated Villains of All Time list.

Second...what do I do next? First off, the DVD review is the first of that list that I'll do (hopefully out by the end of the weekend). But...which of these will I do after that one? I have so many, I can't decide!

So, I'll leave it up to YOU and offer this poll:

Out of the above choices (besides the DVD Review), which of those would you like to see next? You must pick ONLY ONE!!

Let's set the deadline to...11:59 on Sunday, August 3rd? Sounds good. Until then, I'll try to find a professional-looking poll that I could post here without it showing up as a white box.