Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Tale of the Purple Pieman

First posted on November 30th, 2011 on The Retroist Retro Blog and Podcast - CW post link

I hate kids. They get in your yard, they know more about technology than we do and they form terrible gangs that harass innocent people in a non-stop attempt to bring strong local businesses crashing to the ground. This last scenario happened to a friend of mine. He was a man. A Pie Man. A Peculiar Pieman, a purple one. This, gentle reader, is his story.

Peter Pieman (Peculiar, Purple) and I went to college together. The year was 1974 and the whole world seemed to be opening up for us. Me, an evil villain bent on world domination. Peter, a wide eyed dreamer with a love for baking and dance (occasionally at the same time!). Those were some of the best days of my life. I would be distraught over the recent failure (or possibly escape) of my latest experiment and there Peter would be. With a wide smile and an even wider mustache. He would always be ready with a song and a quick jig or…if I was lucky…a pie. If you have never heard of The Purple Pieman’s pies than you have never known the full majestic glory of the pie. It was as if he was born to be a pieman! They were delicious! A light flakey crust, in flavors that ranged from berry, to….well, okay it was mostly just berry but they were fantastic.

After graduation we both grabbed our dreams by the tail feathers and road them all the way to fame and fortune. I became a ruthless maniac, driven by equal parts thirst for power and hatred of humanity. He, however, went on to run one of the most successful organic bakeries in the world. It was known as the Pie Tin Palace and it was an incredible feat of engineering. Made up almost entirely of bake wear and bake wear accessories. He set up shop and was soon the talk of the town. Everyone wanted his baked goods and soon his small organic co-op farm that supplied the free-range berries that filled his delicious baked goods could not keep up with the demand. Though he could no longer get the supply he needed from the old farm he still wanted all natural fruit and so he did, what generations of pastry chefs had done before him. He trained a murder of crows to fly around the countryside, gathering berries and delivering them to his wholesome, happy kitchen.

The plan went perfectly and soon he was getting all of the berries he could ever want. His “berry birds” were constantly streaming in with a steady supply of the juicy morsels. His pies were selling better than ever. He started living the lifestyle he had always dreamed of. He was seen on the town with stars of film and music. He contributed thousands of dollars to charity and was constantly “making it rain” at local nightclubs. Life was peachy. Unfortunately, it didn’t stay that way for long, trouble was on its way. Small, fruity, multi-colored trouble.

It started off small. Some came back with empty baskets, some never came back at all. Production started to be affected but the ever resilient Pieman carried on. Then one day his trusted assistant Captain Cackle returned with a message. The Shortcake gang was in control of Berry Meadow, and if he wanted fruit, he was gonna have to pay. Pieman, ever a believer that nature belonged to all of us, he set up a meeting with the Fruit Kid Gang. Peter arrived with the na├»ve idea that the group’s leader Strawberry Shortcake would listen to reason. The negotiations fell apart quickly. Pete envisioned a world where they could all share the wonderful bounty of nature. The berries could be for all of them…for him and his pies…for them and whatever berry related racket they had going on. The Fruit Kids had never planned on compromise. They wanted money. End of story.

After Pieman left in disgust, Strawberry Shortcake released a statement to the press. "Gosh! All we want is money and he can pick all the berries he wants! We want it ever so much! And if we don’t get it, that nasty old Pieman is going to be berry, berry sorry!"

From that point on, the mood surrounding Sweety Tart Valley was tense. The Fruit Kids Gang had begun an aggressive negative ad campaign accusing him of over harvesting and depleting natural resources. Pieman, who was a lifelong conservationist was horrified, and anyone who knew him realized immediately how ridiculous the accusations were. Sadly, while Peter Pieman was a strong business man, he knew nothing about the game of politics. In an effort to improve his public image, he hired someone he believed to be a powerful PR representative named Sour Grapes. He brought Grapes into the business as a full partner and she got to work immediately. Unfortunately she turned out to be a lunatic with almost no grasp on reality.

Sour Grapes waged an all out war against the Fruit Gang, referring to them as Berry Brats. She began to undertake raids on Sweety Tart Valley. She began to expand the business far beyond the quaint bakery that Purple Pieman had always dreamed of. The aggressive berry-kin harvesting program looked especially bad in the public spotlight although most people had to admit, that it resulted in an amazing perfume line.

During the turmoil, I paid a visit to my old friend and he was a shadow of his former self. I asked him what had happened and he said he didn’t know. He supposed he would have to close up shop. “Everything is happening too fast and I’m in way over my head. I wanted that terrible woman to let the public know what I was really all about, and she’s made things worse! Now I look like a villain in some kind of cartoon! It’s over. It’s all over. Yah tah tah tah tah-tah tah tah tah! Cha!”

It was at that moment while I watched my old college friend simultaneously sob and dance a jig that I got an idea, and it was such a great idea that I actually broke the fourth wall and smiled at the camera…It was an evil smile. What Peter the Peculiar Purple Pieman needed was a backbone. He needed to become the villain everyone thought he was. I spent years getting my masters degree in villainy and there was no reason that it should only benefit me! They say those who can’t do, teach. Well I’m proud to say that I can do both. So, I let the lessons begin.

It was easier than I ever imagined. I started with the basics, using lessons taught to me by my old Professor Palpatine, I began to fuel his hate. To stoke the fires of revenge and aggression that already simmered within him. He took to it immediately and before I knew it, he was ready for Secret Lair building! It was a no-brainer. Since my friend was the Peculiar Purple Pieman of Porcupine Peak, he should probably move to Porcupine Peak! He began to build his mountain top fortress. One of the most intimidating pie bakeries on earth. A pie bakery from which one could rule the world with an iron oven mitt! After he created his lair, he set out on the satisfying work of crushing all who would oppose him. He was a natural villain. He controlled the elements, he ruined the plans of his enemies and he began to lead his team of Berry Birds as if they were flying Monkeys. Sure, there were some drawbacks> He still constantly caved-in to the increasingly crazy ideas of Sour Grapes (seriously, that woman was annoying).

These days, he wages a non-stop war. A war against those berry brats. A war against the public…against princesses, even against the sun! But through it all, he has survived. Not only that, he’s has made me proud, and I am very glad to have him among my circle of evil villainous friends; not to mention a valuable member of my evil, villainous bowling team!

The Pieman’s story is an inspiring one. It shows us what we can do with a dream, some great pie recipes and a giant wicked fortress, made entirely of bake wear and precariously perched on perilous Porcupine Peak! It also shows us all how to deal with snot-nosed bratty kids who try to mess with our stuff. Now, if I can just figure out how to keep those horrible neighbor kids out of my yard! Yah tah tah tah tah-tah tah tah tah! Cha!

By the way, if you happen to know anyone that would be interested in joining my evil villainous bowling team, please let me know! We need two people (David Xanatos and Juggernaut are both good guys again this month.) We are called “The Wicked Wolfpack” and we meet at the Thunder Lan, bowling alley and secret laboratory!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Button…For Corduroy

First posted on November 23th, 2011 on The Retroist Retro Blog and Podcast - CW post link

And used for a LoEB post~

We all remember the heartwarming book “Corduroy” by Don Freeman. This tale of an adorable Bear’s quest to replace the missing button on his overalls.

This journey eventual ends with him finding something much more valuable; a new home (spoiler alert!). His plush adventures were an inspiration to all of us and at the same time, helped contribute to our generation’s crushing sense of guilt whenever we, for any reason, separate ourselves from our childhood toys.

Yes, we all know the story but what you may not know is that in 1989, that story was almost sullied forever. And by sullied, I mean made more awesome than any of us could possibly imagine.

Illustration by the Illustrious Sean Hartter

A young, aspiring director and destroyer of treasured memories named Michael Bay was taking Hollywood by storm! Or, at least that’s what he hoped to do. Up until then, he had only done day work, directing Super-Dave Osbourne shorts and Toonces the Driving Cat skits on Saturday Night Live. While he displayed an almost supernatural gift for absurd scenes of unnecessary destruction, he wanted more. Michael was sure that all he needed was one good project, something to really sink his teeth into.

A film that could really show the awesome magnitude of exploding cars that he was capable of. On August 12th while vacationing with family, he ducked into a quaint used book shop. There among its adorably dusty shelves he saw it…his dream project. A small but beautifully illustrated children’s book called “Corduroy.” At first glance the precious book might not have seemed like prime action film material but Bay had a plan. He had a vision. AND he had a pitch!

The film pitch has long been an honored tradition that very few have ever done as well as Michael Bay. Of all the pitches he ever made, his Corduroy pitch reached almost legendary status. To this very day, directors and producers alike described the pitch with barely contained delight and why wouldn’t they? Just in case you’ve never heard its contents…folks say it went a little something like this.

The story opens in the home of a Navy Seal named Roy “Corduroy” Ross. He is standing at his front door in full uniform, packed and ready to go.

He is stern looking and very physically imposing. He is also a large Bear. His beautiful wife and adorable daughter stand, holding back tears and trying to prolong the moment until his departure. He steps forward to his wife and says “You take care of yourself, Sara”. She sadly smiles and gives a playful salute; “Yes Sir”. He salutes back with a serious look and says “At ease!” They stare at each other then both break out into laughter. As the laughter begin to subside he leans in and passionately kisses his wife and then they embrace…”You come back to me safe.” she whispers.

“I promise.”

Finally it is time to say goodbye to his daughter. This is visibly difficult for him but he drops to his knees, pulls her into a hug and kisses her forehead. “Be good, my tough little soldier”

“I will. I love you, Daddy.”

“And I love you.”

He finally stands and turns to go, taking one last look at the family he has to leave behind, then he turns and bravely marches down the front walk. Halfway to the car he is brought to a halt by a yell from his daughter.

“Daddy Wait!”

His little girl rushes up to meet him, hugs him again and then hands him something. “Take this with you Daddy, so you won’t forget about me!”

He takes it and chuckles, “Baby…how could I ever forget about you?” He looks at the object in his paw and realizes it’s a button. A pink and blue button that says World’s Best Daddy! Smiling, he attaches the button to his uniform, smiles at his family and giving a little wave he climbs into his jeep and drives away.

The scene fades to black and then back up as we are now in the hold of a large airplane. The scene is darkly lit and loud. Seals in combat uniforms sit in a row against the wall. A large graying Bear named General Zummi Gumitski, shouts orders over the roar of the plane. The soldiers will be dropped behind enemy lines to take out a manufacturing depot responsible for the vast majority of all of the weapons and explosives that have been smuggled to the frontlines of the war. Recently the tides of battle have begun to shift in favor of the Bulls and this weapons depot has played a large part in that. The seven soldiers being sent must kill the guards, collect the files with locations of the remaining supply lines and destroy the facility. All of this must be done before a large convoy of Bull soldiers arrives to collect supplies for their journey to the front lines. The Bear soldiers collected are the best in the world and if any Bears can accomplish this nearly impossible task…it is them.

As the debriefing continues the camera pans down the line across the brave Bears willing to risk life and limb for the good of Bear Country. As we pass over the soldiers we see Yo Gi, Bradley PoohBear, Harris (Hair) Bear, Foster (Fozzie) Wakanson, Barry Louis (Balloo) and Garrison (Grumpy) Gloomstien. Finally we come to rest on our star, Corduroy with the look of a survivor in his eyes. Black camo paint across his face and a bright pink and blue button pinned to his chest! When the plane comes into position the Bears line up at the open door and one by one jumped without hesitation into the night air.

After landing and regrouping the soldiers set out on their mission. At this point in the film we are given a chance to get to know our central characters better. There is playful ribbing between the Bears as they let off steam in preparation for battle. This would be a great point in the movie for really witty action movie-type dialogue. Questioning each others Bearlyness. We really need to capture the hearts of our viewers in this scene, really make the movie going public care about these characters so we need to capture all of the powerful charisma and personality shown by legendary actors like Jean Claude Van Damme and Steven Segal!

As the Bear jamboree makes its way across the desert, the elite team playfully makes jokes and talk about their personal lives in inappropriately elaborate detail; almost as if they were in some sort of movie, rather than a serious and important military mission. Finally, they arrive at the weapons depot and the carnage begins. First two guards get silently killed by the cool ‘sneak up behind them and twist their heads around’ thing. Another guard gets the survival knife thrown into the back (classic!). Eleven more guards fire from atop the security wall and are all shot with machine gun, falling off one by one. Three of them do the Wilhelm Scream. After getting past the perimeter defense force they begin to Bear crawl on their stomachs into the heart of the base. Unfortunately not all the team members cared as much about stealth. Ever the maverick hothead; PoohBear suddenly charged forward, machine gun blazing. The silly old Bear took out nine soldiers before being brought down.

Unfortunately he also gave away any element of surprise the team might have had. Now the team had to fight in earnest. They fought their way to the center of the facilities and Corduroy secured the information they needed. All they had left to do was escape. Leaving a bloody trail of Bull behind them, the team stormed through to the exit. They crashed through the gate and walked away from the compound. Without stopping, Fozee threw a grenade over his shoulder and into the compound. In true, bad@#$ fashion, none of the Bears looked back as an explosion ripped through the blackness of the night behind them. They arrived at the designated evacuation spot. And Corduroy stopped dead in his tracks. As the rest of the team filed into the BlackBear Hellicopter, Corduroy just stood there looking down. His button. The button from his daughter was gone. It must have fell off in the fight. What to any Bear else may have seemed like the most trivial thing in the world became incredibly important. He had to have that button. He had to go back.

As the team filed into the copter he made his way back, ignoring the calls from his friends. With the enemy caravan soon to arrive and no other choice the team and the rescue copter left. And Corduroy Ross turned his back on safety and ran toward certain death. Corduroy arrived back at the sight of the battle at the same time as the enemy. He stared down at the Bulls in tanks trucks and all manor of military vehicles. As the enemy soldiers shouting at him in incomprehensible Bull-speak; Corduroy smiled, stepped into the light of the fire and shouted. “Gentlemen, I have come here to find my button and kick some @#$, and I don’t see my button anywhere!” Then he threw a grenade underneath the lead truck and as the soldiers scrambled from the impending explosion, Corduroy took cover. He fired shot after shot into the advancing Bulls as he continued to try to find the precious reminder of his daughter.

While the burning ruins of the base filled with Bull, Corduroy backed against a wall and fought with everything he was worth. The Bulls fired, hitting Corduroy in the shoulder but screaming he stood and fired into the crowd and soon the odds began to even. Corduroy poured rifle and machine gun fire into the waves of Bulls that poured from every doorway. Cars exploded, helicopters fell from the sky. A proud desert submarine fired its payload of sand torpedoes before crashing into the side of the depot. By the end of the main battle only a handful of Bulls stood between Corduroy and freedom. Grabbing the shoulder-mounted bazooka from a fallen Bull soldier, he destroyed the final group of Bulls and began to make his way beyond the rubble. Through exhaustion and blood loss he collapsed against an overturned tank and fell into a deep sleep. He slept through the night by the flickering light of the distant fires.

As the dawn broke Corduroy finally woke up filthy and bleeding but alive. He began to assess the situation. Looking across the desert and then beginning to inspect his wounds and equipment when suddenly something caught his eye. Something pink in the cuff of his pant leg. Bending down he retrieved the button that he thought was lost. It had been caught on his pants the entire time. As he began to walk into the desert, to freedom and to home, he started to laugh.

“Well, son of a b#$%#” the Bear said.

Be sure to check out the fantastic piece on Life with the Fandom! imagining a Brave Star film, by Michael Bay!
Christopher Tupa (League of Extraordinary Bloggers Champion) does it again!
Dex @ AEIOU finally finds a way for Bay to bug America (in a good way!)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Moss, Man

First posted on November 16th, 2011 on The Retroist Retro Blog and Podcast - CW post link

Every once in a while, the normally stark life of a retro pop culture blogger has its perks. Sometimes you need to step away from the minutes upon minutes of research that go into good cartoon journalism. It’s great to let my fur down every once in a while and spend some quality time with the fictional characters I write about. Now, normally when I go off on these little jaunts I’m ready to party down; go out drinking Meade, Grog and other renaissance festivaly sounding beverages with Link and Zelda, sit in raw sewage eating pizza with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the list goes on an on. However a wolf can only take so much of that wild lifestyle before they begin to feel burned out. There are some occasions when my (much less often used) more dignified side surfaces. It was on one of these occasions recently that I found myself on a journey across Eternia, on the way to the royal palace.

I rode my souped-up cherry red 1967 Attack Track across the beautiful countryside. It was a glorious day/night and I had an amazing view of the moons all 3 or…4 or however the hell many moons they had now. As I approached the majestic towers of the castle, I saw something I had never seen before around the palace yards. It was a sight that chilled my spine and turned my stomach. It brought an unbelievable sense of fear and revulsion. What I saw…was poor people. Or, at least they appeared to be poor…but as I began to draw closer to the castle, the true magnitude of the terrible situation that I found myself in, came in to focus. The drums, the banners and signs, the chanting and singing…there was no doubt about it, we were dealing with protestors. Yes hipsters, hippies and various other riff-raff had taken up position around the castle gates with one singular purpose; to bother classy people.

Like any self respecting citizen I quickly made my way through the unwashed hoards of peasants. I shrugged past the man-spiders and the dancing topless warrior women being sure to hold my breath and not make eye contact and suddenly I saw him. An old friend among the heathens! The noble spy and pine scented bog warrior, Moss Man!

I couldn’t believe my eyes, a master of the universe in a drum circle! A DRUM CIRCLE! How could this have happened? I had to find out, so I approached my fuzzy green friend. It took a bit to get him to hear me above the noise and even longer to get my dazed friend to recognize me. When I had finally gained most of his attention I asked what on earth he was doing there among the rabble. Was this one of his spy missions? He chuckled and replied “No man I’m not spying! These,” he gestured toward a half mosquito-half human and a Viking jamming on acoustic guitars, “are my people.”

“Your people?” I said incredulously, “These hairy weirdos? You belong among gladiators! You were a titan! You used to compete in mortal battle with the forces of Skeletor! Or at the very least you hung out with people who did!”

“I aint fightin Skeletor no more man, I aint fightin nobody…‘cept of course for the man! See we gotta stay vigilant! Those fatcats with their fat-battle cats up in their ivory towers. They want nothing more than to keep the common man-beast down! It’s ALL corrupt, man. The government takes the money, they spend it all on their Orko magic and they funnel the money to their war machine cronies at Man-at-arms-Iburton. And they make weapons man, Vehicles of destruction. Sure they don’t really work half the time and just serve as plot devices for their comedic action misadventures! But that money could be used for peace! Our group leader Ralph Evilseed says that just 20% of our national wealth could be used to grow enough plants that vegetation could take over the kingdom! Take it over for peace, man! We got demands! And we will continue to occupy Eternia until we get some attention. My buddy Jake Stratos flew up and dropped it into one of their “royal windows!” It was written on EterniHemp. Real paper! Paper from the Earth!…er…from the Eternia.”

I asked what types of demands they had…what they wanted..

“Well, you know man…stuff! We demand no more war! Bring that money home cause we gotta get social programs for social stuff. Education for everybody! We gotta learn, man” He then leaned uncomfortable close to me, grabbed me by both shoulders and looked me in the eyes, “We…gotta…learn. And the clothes, man! They cut the common man’s snake-themed clothing allowance by almost 75 percent! Now that is a lot of percent…Too much percent!” The crowd began to chant…”Too much percent! Too much percent!”

“Now as for me” he continued “I usually just wear armored briefs, but the snake clothes are like super important to some people”

I could not believe what I was hearing…it all seemed like a cruel joke. “What about the thrill of battle?” I asked “The feeling that you’ve won the day? The moral at the end of the episode”

He waived a hand. “No, man. All that battling the forces of evil, that is for the birds, man. There are so much better ways to feel like you’ve won the day…and after a while all those problems just seem to…you know, go up in SMOKE” I stood confused staring blankly at him. He may as well have been speaking a different language. He went on; “You know man” He put two fingers together and raised them to his lips mining someone smoking. I shook my head still not anywhere near understanding.

“Plants? Smoking? You know…Moss! The Moss, Man!” Tired of trying to figure it out I did what I do best. Pretend to understand things that people say to me! “Ah yes the uh…moss who could forget that…very good!”

“See, man after the royalty checks for He-Man started to run out, I fell on some really hard times. For a while me and Beast Man had a practical joke show. People always thought we looked alike and we would show up places dressed like each other…it did okay but it started to wear thin, really fast and then when Beast Man mauled that guy it was over. From there it was a steady downward spiral; I couldn’t get any work and I went to a really dark place…I went to the Snake Pit.”

The Snake Pit was a strip club on the south side of Eternia…a bad neighborhood…I really felt bad for my old friend. Those people don’t even tip!

“I made what little money I could to feed my algae habit but it was never enough and then one day while I was walking home in the rain with my hands plunged in to the pockets of my denim jacket.”

I interrupted…saying that I thought he said that he only wore armored briefs…

“Dude! Will you let me finish the story! AAAAnyway…I had hit rock bottom and I was lost in thought but suddenly something started breaking through my fog; a beat. This amazing drum beat. And then I saw them…some really great looking guys playing away on some 10 gallon plastic pickle tubs! They smiled at me and waived and I sat down and joined them…we got to talking…and then later we talked all night at this great coffee shop and they started to tell me about The Movement and it was like something was woken up inside of me, man! This was what I needed. This is the REAL fight I had been waiting for my entire life! I hit the ground running, making signs, going to rallies and really making a difference! We’ve already got a whole bunch of stuff for some poor kids somewhere! Poor kids, man! And the environment’s getting cleaned…I mean sure we kinda threw a bunch of crap on the ground here but believe me man it’s getting cleaned other places! I feel like I can take over the world man. I don’t have to just blend in with trees and smell like a car air freshener anymore. These people love me for me. I can be all the moss covered swamp beast I CAN be! I’m more mature than I…I uh…ummm excuse me bro, I see a circle forming over there and I feel an urge to go Pass the Dutchie on the Left Hand Side if you know what I mean haha!”

I still didn’t have any idea what he meant but as I spent some time in the palace later I really started to think…maybe I was to quick to judge this group. Maybe they were right and they should have more power…they should get the things they felt entitled to…after all when it came right down to it weren’t we all equal? Didn’t we all want the same things out of life…Happiness? Free stuff? And the freedom to do whatever it was those hippies wanted to do with moss? I think we are all the same and should learn to treat each other that way! Once I was done considering this I contacted the Palace police who roughed the protesters up, threw them in the back of a police hover-wagon and took them far out of our sight.

After all, equal is equal but Eternia has one of the most beautiful palace gardens in the galaxy and they don’t need a bunch of filthy hooligans trampling it.

Freaking Hippies.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

New to the site - Banners!

Greetings from Phishbon3s!

I just got done making 7 banners for this site for the boss. More to come as I make them. The link is located on the left side of this page, below the archives links.

Until next time, ride free citizens!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

***Various clanging sounds***

Sorry Coo-Coo Cola cult members.... Some of the links are broken....


Should have everything back up in... a.... moment....