NOTE: Premises, premises. I’m sure you know this one. I e-mail my buddy “Neelix.” I tell him what’s currently bugging me about culture, pop and the other kinds. Yadda yadda yadda. On with the show.
Before we begin our correspondence, I’d like to take a moment to complain about one of my other friends. You know who I’m talking about. Arlo. I mean, he is worse than you when it comes to responding to my e-mails. About two weeks ago, I knew that his semester at Augustana would be winding down, so I sent him an e-mail just asking him how it’s going. And, in his true fashion, he never responded. For all I know, he died and I missed the funeral or something. He has just ceased to exist to me. So, if you happen to run into Arlo, could you just get him to put a brief message in my guestbook or something, so I know he’s still alive? Thanks.
Anyway, on to my current obsession. I’m currently pouring over the multitude of facts that are available on the Internet about one of my favorite toys growing up, Masters Of The Universe. Of course, to many kids it was just known as He-Man. He-Man rocked! I’ll never forget the very first He-Man toys I got. For Christmas 1982, I got Skeletor, Faker (the evil robotic duplicate of He-Man), and Point Dread & the Talon Fighter. That was just so cool! But, my favorite memory of these toys has to be about a month later. I had come home from school. Mom had cleaned my room. And there, on top of my dresser, she had placed Point Dread, with the Talon Fighter on its perch. In the Talon Fighter was Skeletor at the controls, and Faker in the co-pilot’s seat. It just looked so much like that Golden Idol in the beginning of Raiders Of The Lost Ark. Very cool.
You know, more so than with G.I. Joe, Transformers, or M.A.S.K., it’s Masters Of The Universe where I remember exactly when and where I got each and every toy I had. My absolute favorite one has to be my seventh birthday. Or was it my eighth? But it was my birthday. That year, my birthday happened to fall on a Saturday, so I was naturally up before everyone else to watch my cartoons. I tiptoed out of my room, so as not to wake my brother. I tiptoed past my parents’ bedroom, so I wouldn’t wake them up. I tiptoed through the kitchen. I turned, entered the living room, and came face-to-face with…Castle Greyskull. I had spent so much energy into being quiet that seeing this was a complete shock. I yelped in terror, turned around, and did a tiptoe sprint back to my room where I hid under my covers. I stayed there for about half an hour. Then I heard some rustling from my parents’ room. I poked my head out the door, and saw that my Dad had gotten up. He motioned for me to follow him, and we walked hand-in-hand into the living room. I didn’t just get Castle Greyskull, I also got Battle Armor He-Man, Battle Armor Skeletor, and Mekaneck. And how’s this for a sequel? That Christmas, my uncles failed to talk to each other, so I didn’t get one, but two, Snake Mountains. One uncle took his back. He never got me a replacement gift, though.
I also remember that last Masters Of The Universe toys I got. My last vehicle was Blaster Hawk. My godmother gave that to me for Christmas 1987. Because the disks it shot flew so far, my mother decreed I could only play with it outside. That also ensured I lost the disks faster. The last figure I got was Snout Spout. Remember him? He was the guy with an elephant head, and he shot water out of his trunk. But anyway, my parents’ had returned from my Great Opa’s funeral in Regina. My siblings and I didn’t go because it was May, and my parents weren’t going to pull us out of school for a week. So, when they returned that Friday night, my brother got a Billy Idol tape, and I got Snout Spout. This would have been, what, 1987 as well.
But what distresses me the most is how my love of Masters Of The Universe ended. It was summer of 1988. My interests had fully turned towards Transformers and G.I. Joe, so I decided to sell all my Masters Of The Universe at a garage sale. It all sold. So now, I have none left. Since I simply outgrew my G.I. Joe and Transformers, all that stuff is still lying around. But I have no Masters Of The Universe for me to play with when I get nostalgic. I’ll probably wind up buying Skeletor for $95 on eBay or something like that.
Oh, and for the record, these were all my heroes: Battle Armor He-Man, Prince Adam, Mekaneck, Man-E-Faces, Moss Man, Roboto, and Snout Spout. My villains: Skeletor, Battle Armor Skeletor, Dragon Blaster Skeletor, Faker, and Spikor. I was always distressed at how my villains were outnumbered. But I digress. My birthday’s coming, so if you’ve got $95 to blow at eBay….
But let us turn our attention to something more grown up: Disney animated movies! My sister borrowed Peter Pan and The Jungle Book from one of her friends recently. As I was watching them, it dawned on me. One of the recurring themes in all Disney animated films is the loss of innocense. In Peter Pan, just take a look at Wendy. She willingly goes off to NeverNeverLand with Peter Pan because her father orders her to “grow up.” So, she runs off in a desperate bid to hang on to her youth, and thus innocense. But, at the end, she learns that we must all grow up, and thus willingly kills her innocense. Then, in The Jungle Book, it ends with Mowgli and that girl going off to live together in that village. So, that makes the entire movie one last innocent romp before Mowgli decides to grow up, and enter the human (i.e. adult) world. Loss of innocense all over again. Then, there’s Snow White. Accepting that apple caused her loss of innocense. The Lion King and the death of Simba’s father. The death of Bambi’s mom! Need I say more?
Actually, this analysis frightens me. Reading up on the film American Psycho, apparently the lead character (and the titular psycho) dissects brainless pop songs the way I just analyzed these Disney films. So, does this make me a Canadian Psycho? Like what someone wrote on a message board: “Should we be more worried about the grown men who rent 14 hours worth of porn, or 14 hours worth of Disney cartoons?”
One last thing before I go. I don’t know if you heard, by Bob Homme just died. He will forever be remembered by legions of Canadians as the Friendly Giant. He was 81, and suffering from a long bout of prostate cancer. Actually, there were a lot of interesting facts about him in the paper. Like that other Canadian icon, Mr. Dressup, he was an American. He started The Friendly Giant in 1953 as a radio show in his home state of Wisconsin. CBC brought it to Canada, and TV, in the late 1950’s, and it had a lengthy run until 1985, when CBC pulled the plug. For a long time, the show shared a sound-stage with that other Canadian institution, The National. Bob Homme was not just the show’s star, but the (only) writer, creator, and owner of the show. He would tape 3 shows a day. He even ad-libbed most episodes! Oh, and he got the Order of Canada in 1998.
Bob Homme also had a passion for jazz and swing music, and he spent his retirement years wandering the streets of his hometown of Grafton, Ontario with his clarinet, giving impromptu concerts at the inns and restaurants. So, from now on, look up! Look waaaaaaaaaaay up, because that’s where the Friendly Giant will forever be.
And that’s all! Time to return to my newest obsession: looking for an Intelevision emulator so I can play my favorite Intelevision game of all time: Utopia. Wish me luck!