Midnight Ramblings VII

Chaos in Print

NOTE: OK, I’m sure you all know by now, but just for the new ones. Every once in a while, I e-mail my buddy “Neelix” to let him know what about pop culture is currently bugging me. I decided to leave him alone, and start submitting our correspondence as columns. Enjoy!

Hey Neelix!

So, how you doing today? It’s just been another lazy Saturday morning for me. Saw the usual assortment of cartoons, with one exception. I thought I’d tune in for the premiere of the latest incarnation of Power Rangers, entitled Power Rangers: Lightspeed Rescue. Now, I know that I said a few ramblings back that I had pretty much lost interest in Power Rangers. But hey, I was curious to see the latest spin on these pop culture icons. The new premise is as follows.

Centuries ago, the world was rampant with a band of demons led by the evil Diabolico. A sorcerer was finally able to create a spell and imprison Diabolico and his minions. Years past, and recently some unwitting travelers freed these evil forces, and they once again seek to conquer the Earth. But the city of Mariner Bay was built on their holy ground. So, before they go out to conquer the Earth, they seek to destroy Mariner Bay and rebuild their temples. Is there no hope for the Earth? These people cried out for a hero.

Enter the government. They had known about Diabolico for some time, and had been building weapons and technology to battle his forces if he was ever freed. The government went out and recruited the operatives who would battle these forces: a firefighter, a paramedic, a stunt pilot, an extreme sports athlete, and a marine biologist. These five have been endowed with new morphers, and as the Lightspeed Power Rangers are off to save the world from the forces of evil!

Actually, I’m quite impressed. This new incarnation gives the Power Rangers something they’ve never had before: last names. I also find it interesting that these Rangers are funded by the government. If I were to draw and X-Men analogy, it would be like the original Rangers were the X-Men, and these new guys are X-Factor. And there’s a new city to protect! Originally, the Rangers were defenders of Angel Grove. Then, when Power Rangers: Lost Galaxy premiered, the Rangers became defenders of space colony Terra Venture. And now, Mariner Bay. I’m not going to get too excited, though. I’ll probably keep watching it until the mysterious sixth ranger is introduced.

That’s become the Power Rangers formula. About a month into the new series, a “mysterious sixth ranger” is introduced. For the original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, it was the Green Ranger, later to become the White Ranger. For Zeo, it was the Gold Ranger. For Turbo, it was the Phantom Ranger. For In Space, it was the Silver Ranger. And most recently, it was the Magna Defender for Lost Galaxy. I could give origin stories on all of them, but I won’t. We don’t know who it will be for Lightspeed Rescue, but apparently at Toy Fair 2000 in New York a “Titanium Ranger” action figure was unveiled.

One last thing before I quit rambling about Power Rangers. I just have to mention the Psycho Rangers. The Psycho Rangers were something I’d always wanted to see in the Power Rangers universe. Before, there were always “evil twin” plot lines done for episodes, but the Psycho Rangers were the first time we ever saw a full-blown group of evil Rangers, with their own suits, Zords, the whole deal. To continue with X-Men analogies, the Psycho Rangers would be the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. They were originally introduced in Power Rangers In Space, where they were there for a 10-episode story arc before the Space Rangers defeated them. They were resurrected by a magic spell in Power Rangers: Lost Galaxy, where the combined efforts of the Galaxy Rangers and the Space Rangers defeated them once and for all. The Psycho Rangers were just some of the best villains ever introduced on that show.

But enough of Power Rangers! I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but did you hear about this? Jim Varney died at the age of 50. He had succumbed to a 2-year long battle with Lung Cancer. Varney, of course, will forever be remembered as Ernest P. Worrell, the star of about a zillion TV commercials and all those Ernest Goes To… movies. Actually, in the late 80’s, he also had his own TV show, Hey Vern, It’s Ernest!, one of those Pee-wee’s Playhouse kinds of show. I’m going to miss him. He was also the voice of Slinky Dog in the Toy Story films. And who can forget Varney’s contributions to The Simpsons? He did the voice of Cooter, a carnival worker on one of the funniest episodes of that show. And, in a few episodes, the Simpsons went to see the films Ernest Needs A Kidney and Ernest Goes Someplace Cheap. Over at Ain’t It Cool News, they revealed that there are also two straight-to-video Ernest movies that have yet to be released. Ain’t It Cool News titled their article about his death “Ernest Goes To Heaven,” which seemed strangely appropriate. You know, back at college, an Ernest movie marathon was one of the ideas I had to promote my show.

In one of those weird twists of fate, the earliest conscious memory I have of a movie trailer is seeing the teaser for Ernest Goes To Camp. I was watching one of those Disney animated films at Christmas time, and the whole teaser had that Christmas theme. We saw a Christmas tree, and we hear someone humming Jingle Bells. The camera pans to a gift under the tree. We see a hand reach over and take the lid off of a gift and we see…the face of Ernest! Then, he goes into his speil: “Hey Vern! It’s your ol’ buddy Ernest, and I just wanted to tell you I’ve got my very first movie coming out soon!” He then continued on, telling us all about the film and throwing in the trademark “KnowhatImean?” Then, the teaser ends with Vern slamming the lid to the gift back on Ernest’s face, and the words appear on screen: Ernest Goes To Camp. This Spring.

I’ve got to pass along something I just read in my latest issue of “Batman: The Animated Newsletter.” Could it be that there is a lost episode of Batman: The Animated Series? To see this episode, you have to cast your minds back to 1995. Remember the Sega CD video game system? It was nothing more than a CD-ROM drive for the Sega Genesis. Anyway, for the Sega CD they released a game called The Adventures of Batman & Robin, a video game based on the Batman cartoon. What makes this game a “lost episode” is that the plot was written by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, the head writers of the Batman cartoon, and 17 minutes of original Batman animation is included! And this is good animation, at least as good as the episodes, with all the original voices from the show! It would be really neat to see.

Something else about the newsletter I feel compelled to pass along. They review the latest issue of Superman Adventures, the comic based on Superman: The Animated Series. The issue they review is #41, and the final issue for head writer Mark Millar. For his last issue, he decided to do something spectacular. So, what he did, was fill the issue with 22, 1-page long short stories! This I’ve got to see. I might pick it up next time I’m in Comic King.

And I’m just about rambled out for now! Until next time!


Game Boy Galleria

Chaos in Print

Hey all! This is something that I’ve been wanting to do for a while now. I just noticed on my calendar that we are nearing the 10th anniversary of my first major purchase: my Nintendo Game Boy. I was working as a paperboy, and I had saved up my money for a good six months. Then, over Spring Break in the seventh grade, I bought it at the Woolco in Red Deer. I had an aunt who worked there, and she used her 15% employee discount to help me get a good deal. I really splurged that weekend. I bought the Game Boy, the rechargeable battery pack/wall adaptor, and the game Super Mario Land. I don’t play it that much anymore. I only do like I’ve done very recently: dig it out and play when I get really bored. So, if you don’t mind, I would like to dedicate this column to doing mini-reviews of all my Game Boy games. I’ll be using my patented Nib rating system, which is what I use for my movie reviews.

One final note: I was originally going to include scans of all the labels for my Game Boy games, but ultimately I didn’t want to fill my server space with 300k of single-use images. That, and I just got lazy.
Continue reading Game Boy Galleria

I’m A Travelin’ Man

Chaos in Print

It seems like everyone in my life has done some traveling as of late. There’s my sister, who spent the summer backpacking in Europe. There’s Streiff, who returned to his native Newfoundland by rail back in December. And then there’s Chuck, who spent New Years in New Orleans. All this time, I have been in my parents’ basement; landlocked, as it were. Like all these people, my heart yearns to travel; to boldly go where I’ve never gone before.

That’s what I’ve come to admire about a lot of anime. A common theme is that of the journey. While still very new to the anime world, a lot of what I’ve seen has involved people on quests. Not even quests, just traveling. Even something as mainstream as Pokémon. We’ve got Ash, who’s on his “pokémon journey.” What’s really unique about that show is how they travel. We don’t see Ash, Pikachu and Misty on a bus, or in a car. They are walking. They are out to savor every moment of the journey. It’s always been said that getting there is half the fun. So, what about those journeys where you don’t get anywhere? But I’m starting to stray off topic.

The fact is just about everyone I know has gone on a journey of some kind or another. So, I would like to lay out for you the definitive list of everywhere I’d like to travel:

Glendon, Alberta – What is the draw of this little tiny town? Why am I drawn to this place in the middle of nowhere? Simple. It is home to the world’s largest pyrogy on a fork. Ever since it was unveiled in the early 90’s, I’ve known I wanted to go there and see the pyrogy. Hell, if I had a little more money during these unemployed days, I’d go off on a road trip to see it. Drive all the way there, see the pyrogy, spend a night at the Pyrogy Motel, and come home the next morning. Yes, sir. The world’s largest pyrogy.

Toronto – I don’t know why, but the capital of Ontario has always had this strange pull on me. I just want to go there. If nothing, to see the view from the top of the CN Tower. I’m sure there’s more to do there, but that’s the main reason. That, and there’s Speaker’s Corner, where I could tell MuchMusic to bite my shiny metal ass in person.

New York City – Because if I can make it there, I can make it anywhere. But seriously. There’s a deep-rooted reason why I want to go. This goes all the way back to high school. There was this guy I knew. 85% of the time, he made fun of me. The other 15%, he tolerated me. This happened during that 15%. He was going on about how he never wanted to go anywhere. And I said “Oh really? There’s no where you want to see?” And he said “Well, where do you want to go?” The first place that popped into my head was New York, so I blurted that out. To this, he replied “Are you nuts? Haven’t you read anything about New York? You’ll get the crap kicked out of you! You’ll get mugged! And Mark, since you are such a wuss, you’d probably get raped and killed in an alley.” That’s honestly what he said. So, I’ve got to go to New York if simply to say “Screw you!” I always wonder if he was showing genuine concern for me, or if he was projecting his own fears upon myself.

The Olympics – Being a guy who doesn’t like sports in general, you might find this one odd. But you have to admit, the Olympics is more about the experience than the sports. I’d probably want to go to a Winter Olympics, because it has more sports I tolerate (hockey, ski jump, bobsled). Who knows? If the fates smile upon our country, I may not even have to leave Canada. I’ve been reading that Toronto is one of the finalists to host the summer games in 2008, and Vancouver is one of the finalists to host the winter games in 2010.

BotCon – Oh, come on, who doesn’t want to go to the annual Transformers convention? It’s held in a different American city every year. I think this year it’s being held in the capital of Iowa.

The Gathering – Oh, come on, who doesn’t want to go the biannual Gargoyles  convention? It used to be in New York (because that’s where the show takes place), but I think this year it’s in Dallas, Texas.

The Star Wars World Tour – About the only trip I’ve put any thought into. We’d start in London, England, home to the Pinewood and Leavesden Studios. Most of A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back was filmed at Pinewood, and most of Phantom Menace was filmed at Leavesden. From here, it’s up north to Norway. A glacier there doubled for Hoth. Then it’d be down south to Italy. The Naboo palace in Phantom Menace is a real palace in Italy. Farther south we’d go to Tunisia, which has always doubled for Tatooine. Time for a really long flight, as we head to Sydney, Australia. The newly opened Sydney Fox Studios is going to be the studio where most of Episode II and Episode III is to be filmed. Finally, we’d end in California, where Death Valley doubled for the Sarlac Pit, one of their nation parks was the forests of Endor, and, if possible, a trip to George Lucas’ fabled Skywalker Ranch, which is home to ILM.

Germany – Because I have relatives there, and pretty much everyone else in my family has already been.

Bungee Jumping – OK, this isn’t a trip per se. But it’s something I’ve always wanted to try, and it seemed appropriate to stick it on this list. Some day, when I have the money, I’ll head to that tower in the World Waterpark, drop my $60, and do it. I wonder if they still give you a free T-shirt.

And now, the big one:

My County By Rail – Rail travel has always had a certain mystique for me, and I’ve always wanted to see Canada, my homeland. We live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and I haven’t really seen that much. I’ve covered just about every square millimeter of Alberta, been as far east as Regina, and as far west as the Okanagan Valley. Everything else is unseen by my eyes. So, here’s the plan. I get a CanRail pass so I can travel by train as much as possible. Problem is, Via Rail really doesn’t cover that much of the country anymore. I can’t go through Banff, Calgary, and Regina. Newfoundland has no coverage whatsoever! So, I’d also get a Greyhound Bus Pass, and take the bus where the train doesn’t go. With transportation covered, I’d borrow my sister’s huge traveling backpack, hop on the Via in Edmonton, and just go where the road takes me.

Well, there you have it. To end, I’d like to quote the book The Lord of the Rings. Of course, it’s been a while since I’ve read it, so I’m really paraphrasing. Anyway, in it Bilbo turns to Frodo and says “The road is like a river. And every country road, city street, and pathway are its tributaries. It is very easy to get swept away.”

The Man In The Mirror

Chaos in Print

Lately, I’ve taken a few blows to my self-image, and it’s starting to make me wonder about how other people perceive me. For example, my sister still talks of her trip to Europe this past summer, and is a strong proponent of how everyone should do it. Whenever she tells me that I should do it, she always quick to point out how every hostel in Europe has Internet access. This has led me to believe that my sister perceives me as being some kind of Internet addict who will only go some place where he can plug in. Then there’s my mother. We were watching TV the other night, and one of those promos made up completely of clips from episodes of TV shows came on. My mother turned to me and said “You know, I bet that you could name every episode that those clips came from.” This led me to believe that my mother perceives me as being some kind of television addict who will watch anything that’s on, simply because it is. Another example is the postcard the L sent me from New Orleans. See, the New Orleans custom at street parties is that if you give a young woman some beads, she is to expose her breasts. This custom came as a complete shock to L, and on her postcard she wrote of the multitudes of exposed breasts she saw. She ended it with the simple words “Wish you could have been there (tee hee).” So, this has led me to believe that L perceives me as being some kind of sex-obsessed pervert. But the biggest blow came just the other day.

MuchMusic recently announced the winners of the VJ Search. And, as my spider-sense predicted, I was not among them. It was no surprise that I wasn’t selected, but it hurt nonetheless. I mean, did you see who did win? There was some guy standing there naked screaming about how much he wanted to do it, and some woman standing in a record store droning on in a monotone about how much she new about reggae. I was way more creative than that. Who else showed off their interviewing skills by doing a hard-hitting interview with the Decepticon warrior Cyclonus? Who else showed off their superior public speaking skills by preaching on a soapbox to an empty street? Who else showed off their impressive collection of Star Wars action figures? Only me. But a monotone voice talking about reggae is right up their alley. This once again reminded me of my tempestuous relationship with MuchMusic. No matter how many times I’ve written, e-mailed, and attempted to call that 1-800 number, my requests for “Weird Al” Yankovic are continuously rebuffed. It as though the heads of MuchMusic convened long ago and said “OK, this guy, Mark Cappis? He is a geek. And since we are the committee that decides what is cool and what is not, he is not.”

What is it about me that gives off these uncool vibes? Why am I perceived to be some kind of troll unfit to be paraded on even the slimiest of sideshows? When did I move from becoming the knight in shining armor to the hideous ogre that must be slain? Let’s look exactly at why MuchMusic would not have chosen me.

Number one: the lack of Spice Girls/Backstreet Boys good looks. I’m about ten pounds overweight, dark haired, dark eyed, and wear glasses. Not TV friendly. Number two: my style tends to revolve around shirts with trendy logos and faces of celebrities. I tend to gravitate towards T-shirts with the emblem of Superman, the visage of Darth Maul, and the cartoon likenesses of Pinky and the Brain. Number three: eclectic musical tastes. I own CDs of pop, rock, country, alternative, classical, and stuff that defies categorization. So I can’t be pinned down as the “the rock guy” or “the reggae guy.” Number four: I use the computer too much. So what if I got through college by doing the majority of my research on the Internet rather than in the library? Yup, let’s face it, I’m a geek. Who in their right mind would put me on the air? How about the station manager at my college radio station, where I had the #1 show for 4 years running?

What is it about the geek image that the general public finds so unattractive? Well, let’s look at famous geeks. There’s Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, and John Lasetter. They are all leaders in their field and world renowned, but they’ll never be mistaken for the Backstreet Boys. Then there’s Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, who have transcended the geek image to become two of the most powerful men in the universe. So would I rather be among this company, or that of Rachel Perry, Rick Campanelli, and Ed the Sock? I think the answer is clear.

The way I see it, I could be on TV raving about the latest one hit wonder, or I can continue adding to my collection of an artist who has continuously put out for the last 17 years: “Weird Al” Yankovic. I can continue listening to The Tractors, John Williams, Smash Mouth, and Aqua, or be subjected to the latest promotional album from Boy Group #127. I could jet all over the world, hobnobbing with celebrities, or I could continue to indulge in the delights of the city of Edmonton. I could wear logos that mean something, continue telling people to watch the film The Iron Giant, and debate the deeper meanings of Ranma 1/2, or I could scratch my head and ask “What the hell is Ranma 1/2?” I could be me, I could be the personification of a big business shill. But the sad thing is, they don’t put me on TV.

The only geeks we’ve ever seen on TV are Saved By The Bell‘s Screech and Steve Urkel. Geeks can be cool! Hell, I am cool! Coolness is not so much as what MuchMusic says but a state of mind. And someday, the entire TV industry is going to wake up to that. But until that day, I will continue being me. So what if my sister thinks I’m an Internet addict? She’s thankful for the personalized tech support. So what if my mom thinks I’m a TV addict? One can learn quite a bit from the Discovery Channel. So what is some view me as a sex-obsessed pervert? I’m a virgin! I tend to view a sex-obsession as optimism. And MuchMusic can bite my shiny metal ass.