Sunday, December 18, 2011

Build...A Bear!!!

Friends, fiends, creatures of the night. As I transcribe this latest terrible tome from the realm of the Claymation Werewolf, I walk amongst…humans. Driven by the bite in the air of the approach of winter…gloomy skies, cold wind and of course Creepmas! Unfortunately I have ended up at a marketplace of sorts…what is known in common parlance as an outdoor shopping mall. Though this might not be my usual “haunt” I look at it with a sense of optimism entirely inappropriate for my personality. I might at the very least enjoy myself…feel the spirit in the air, see the shops decked out in their Creepmas best and visit Yankee Candle. Of course I might even… pick something up for…dinner, possibly a clerk at Yankee Candle! They always smell so good!

Everything has seemed pretty run of the mill so far; the candle store is selling “festive scented candles”, the gourmet market is selling “festive snacks”, the lingerie store is selling “festive g-strings”. You know the kind of thing I’m talking about. It’s enough to make any self respecting monster give up hope in the cattle…I mean, give up hope in humanity! But then I spot it from across the quaint cobblestone street of this “shopping village”. Something that brings a chill to my blood and invigorates my hope in human horror. There hastily scrawled on a sign are the words Build-A-Bear Workshop!! Could it be? Has humanity at long last embraced the forgotten craft of mad science? Immediately my dark heart is filled with dreams I thought long forgotten! Dreams of genetic splicing! And crimes against nature!

Like any good roving reporter I felt it was my duty to investigate (Plus building bears? That’s just awesome). So I made my way across the street to the facility in question and to my delight there was an enormous line! To make things better…most of the would-be scientists were children. Children ready to twist the elements of nature to their own insane visions! Who says there is no hope for the future of humanity? When I finally got into the building I see some adults and several children standing dutifully in line clutching what appear to be the empty dead husks of animals waiting for life to be unnaturally breathed into them! And yes! Behind them are entire racks of limp and lifeless animal shells of not only bears but dogs, cats and several other creatures. There are even articles of clothing, shoes and accessories though all of that seems a little bit…excessive.

All of this looks great but as I walk into the facilities I witness the apex…nay…the very nerve center of this operation. A massive tank swirling with muscle tissue, organs and in general all the innards that you could want to fill out your average lifeless husk. The body is crudely fastened to the machine and is filled with the gruesome stew… after the “stuffing” is complete each customer is allowed to activate a living heart and place it into the monster. The monster then comes gloriously to life and is immediately caged and taken away by its new master!

Awash with pride and curiosity I soon found my place in line. Ready to create my own bear. Prepared to take a step into a world that was finally ready for my unique views on science, on death and on ultimate power. I am now only moments away and I realize how every great villain has felt when they stood on the precipice of a culture that was finally willing to move forward. To the dark and wonderful future that it was capable of! It is INDEED a Merry Creepmas!

Upon further examination the bears are in fact material for making custom plush animals and are not the twisted results of man’s quest to meddle in a world they should have never trespassed on. It’s just a novelty shop for kids…I apologize.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Help The Manchines of Eternia this Christmas!

First posted on December 14th, 2011 on The Retroist Retro Blog and Podcast - CW post link

Citizens of Toontown, fellow Retrotarians. I come to you today during this Christmas season with a personal plea. Recently one of my many connections in the Retro Pop Culture world re-introduced me to some wonderful characters. Characters that stood in the spotlight for one brief moment. Who shared the stage with some of the most influential actors in the history of cartoon entertainment.

The Manchines co-starred in the He-man and She-Ra Christmas special and were received with incredible fan-fair. Flush with the excitement of success, the offers started to roll in, and it seemed like the future opened wide. Unfortunately, dreams don’t always come true and their careers took a sharp downward turn. They landed a few endorsement deals, a few knock-off direct to dvd foreign produced cartoons but even that slowly began to fade. All the while they continued to hope for that starring role in an animated series of their own. They always held on to that dream and friends, that is where I hope that one of you can help.

As many children of the 80’s will agree, The He-Man and She-Ra Christmas special is largely, plodding and predicable holiday fair. Really, just another way for Adam and Adora to cash a paycheck …That is, until about halfway through the special when something happens. It’s just one of those little moments of movie magic that changed the history of cinema. It was, the introduction of the Manchines. The Manchines were unlike anything that existed in 80’s animation! They were cute! They were colorful! They were a group of individuals each of who had a distinct personality and special skill to contribute! They uh…they were part man…part machine… The Manchines weren’t just a totally original idea in the world of animation, they had real heart! And they even came with their own enemies; the giant and evil and stiffly-moving Monstroids! These metal giants could transform from uh…transform from robot to vehicle. Anyway, the Monstroids were bad, I mean these guys threatened and attacked Hordak. Hordak! And he was already a bad guy so the Monstroids were like super secret mega zord ultra hyper bad guys! They were like BAD guys!

So the Manchines are everywhere in this movie! Out in front saving the day, working behind the scenes moving and shaking, wheeling and dealing, kicking it…uh…kicking it old school… There are so many amazing characters, where can I begin! There is Cutter (not in the emo/goth way) who has lobster claws for hands that can turn into buzz saws and cut probably anything. There is Zipper “Dr Huxtable” Davis who is the adorable (and not at all hideous and unfortunate monster) robot body fused to a scooter go-kart type vehicle. I have a tendency to OCCASIONALLY make up the odd fact in this blog and I’m not entirely sure what the names of the rest of the crew are so I might take a few liberties with reality for a while.

So Thermostatie, Golf Teela, and Hubbie Capp charge in to battle to defend their friends and kick some ‘way bigger and more powerful than them’ butt! What follows is a confusing collage of robot violence! PisTom uses his head and his powerful thrusting action to smash a Monstroid to pieces! Then Blendergrip and Wenchie-Poo cause one of the most terrible Monstroid (Cobra BigBoots) to fall to his doom! I want to take a second to talk about this scene. More specifically I want to talk about the sad sad case of Wenchie-Poo. Now, Old Wenchie plays a huge role in killing this specific Monstroid but he does it by having Blendergrip unwind the cable in his chest and they use it to trip the Goliath. Now, this is all well and good but it is very difficult to picture another situation in which Wenchie-Poo could be very useful in battle. Wenchie has a spool of metal cable in his chest, some kind of weird handle thing coming out of the back of his head and a wide sturdy base. That’s it. No feet, no weapons, no apparent method of locomotion, just a cable coming out of his chest. These little guys really need your help people!

As the Manchines are basically slapping the Monstroids around, the Wonder twins (She-Ra and He-Man) even get into the act! They begin systematically tearing the Monstroids apart. Including once sweet move where He-Man tangled up one of the Monstroid’s arms, let’s call him TentaArms and the robot monster starts emitting sparks and then blows up.

At the end of the fight, the mighty Monstroids are reduced to a mangled pile of scrap metal. In this scene, The Masters of the Universe, gains the distinction of being the only animated Christmas special in which the heroes slaughter an entire race of beings.

With a resume like that, you might wonder how these courageous warriors could possibly be out of work but it's true. It was obvious at the time that STUDIONAME had every intention of giving these characters their own show, to fully capitalize on the entertainment and merchandising powerhouses they would surely become. Unfortunately, due to a contract dispute between the studio brass and the Masters of the Universe actors, He-Man, Man At Arms and all the rest went on strike. Not wanting to make waves in the industry that opened its arms to them, the Manchines walked out in sympathy. The studio came down hard eventually hiring the scab actors that would help in the production of The New Adventures of He-Man, and bringing about the end of the Classic MOTU characters’ careers. Sadly one of the casualties of this labor strife was the contract of the Manchines. Their dreams of stardom gone before they ever began.
But those dreams don’t have to be over, kind Retro Readers! Through some of my associates in the ranks of the Decepticons, I was able to secure 8 Manchines a job on the set of Transformers Prime. Today they happily serve as emergency pit crew to help repair the damaged Decepticons (and to a lesser extent, the Autobots) in between scenes to help the show transform and roll out with minimum delays. But why stop there? There are virtually hundreds of hard working, bright and nicely polished Manchines out there ready to do their best for Show-Biz! They could do great in the video game industry as retro console systems…they could be spare parts for KITT (HubbyCapp, and PisTom would be especially good for this kind of work…Michael) I could even send a crate of them to The Haunted Projectionist! I’m sure a couple of them are lights or maybe an old movie projector, I’m positive there was at least one popcorn machine in there somewhere.

So please help to spread the word and let’s get these robot creatures some work. Their time to shine is long overdue and these character deserve a TV show! Once they are working in every corner of the entertainment industry people will have to take notice. They will see the hidden gem that has been waiting all this time! They will finally give credit where credit is due, and for once in this cold and bitter world nice guys will finally finish first!…or the Manchines will kill us. They’ll kill us all.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Gravedale High, Your Tax Dollars At Work.

First posted on December 7th, 2011 on The Retroist Retro Blog and Podcast - CW post link
Look, I know nobody likes to hear about politics. Especially zombie, mummy and gill-man politics. I am also well aware that The Retroist is not the proper platform for an essay of this nature. As everyone knows, this site is supposed to be about…um…well okay, to be fair I don’t actually have any idea what this site is supposed to be about but I’m sure it’s NOT supposed to be about public funding for a school full of witches, ghouls and monsters. That being said this is my editorial article about public funding for a school full of witches, ghouls and monsters.

In a recent, and hard-fought, school levy battle; the correct side (ours) unfortunately suffered a minor setback, by which I mean we were crushingly defeated. We were shamefully unable to prevent the initiation of a 150% property tax increase. Despite calls for common sense and an argument few could ever see fault with.

Just in case you may not have seen our 24/7 political ads (and why anyone would ignore political ads, is beyond me) let me tell you the facts. Founded in 1990, Gravedale High immediately became a bastion of corruption. Through undercover investigations, we were able to find out some pretty interesting facts about this “center of education.” I hardly know where to begin; the school is perched on a rocky ledge in a town almost entirely made up of cemetaries! The school ground features a vast pond filled not only with toxic waste but with enormous, vile sea-creatures.

Art By: Bonnie Slashfiend

The lockers are nothing but recycled coffins, and most of the students are re-animated corpses! The school uses the local cemetery to pad their enrolment to garner more state funding, and when the population starts to lower from transfers or local torch wielding mobs, the biology teacher just ducks down into the laboratory and knocks out another 20 or so “student bodies.” Bondage equipment has been spotted in the teacher’s lounge.

If that weren’t enough, witnesses have seen evidence of vampire gang violence, gargoyle bullying and overeating among the student’s mummy demographic. The single only example the school can point to as “academic achievement” is Reggie Moonshroud, an extremely intelligent werewolf who, although he made it to the National Science Fair, he also brutally devoured 4 other contestants and 2 judges. If we need to invest more money into a program like this, then I fear for society.

Photo from Cartoon Photo Collection

After a lengthy ad campaign describing in incredible detail the amount of improvements this ghoul school would make with the increased revenue, what did the community end up getting as a return on their investment? Gravedale High invested your hard earned money into a new teacher. ONE new teacher. Well of course as all of you know this was no ordinary educator but a celebrity hired with the sole intent of getting corporate sponsorship so that the school board could fatten their wallets even more. This teacher was Mr. Rick Moranis; multi-national treasure and star of “Strange Brew” Number three on Turner Classic Movies Top 100 Films of all time, a cinematic masterpiece which lives stronger today than ever, in the consciousness of Mr and Mrs America (also Canada.)

During the election season I was accused of inherent bias against GraveDale, just because I happened to be the superintendent of rival high school. The fact is that Galaxy High is by far the superior school. The Galaxy High facilities boast the most highly advanced scientific equipment this side of Jupiter, the power, water, and garbage disposal all run 100% on green technology! Our newly improved Zuggle Ball team is hoping to go to Solar Systems this year! Our Shop Class and AV departments have all the droids you’re looking for and our Xenomorph breeding programs have won us several biology awards. With all of these achievements we should be a shoe-in for funding. Unfortunately, due to a technicality we don’t actually qualify for government grants or tax revenue. Because of a small oversight we only enrolled two students from our school district. In fact we only choose two students from earth, but in our defense, one of them is a jock and we should definitely earn some kind of credit for our rehabilitation of him.

Despite everything our school has had to endure living in the cold dark shadow of Gravedale High we have persevered. And if I had to be honest I guess their school isn’t so bad, they do try their best, and I guess they can’t help being dead. Besides, don’t we all have a soft spot in our heart for monsters? And speaking of hearts I long for the day when the sickly skinned, iron-fisted fox, Headmistress Crone will finally take notice of me. We could join our hearts, lives and schools in an everlasting union. With the powers of monsters and aliens combined who knows what we could accomplish! Of course Galaxy High will get top billing on the sign… Galaxy High! Galaxy High! Galaxy High!