Like many single children my age, my first exposure to the X-Men was Fox's 1990s cartoon. I was immensely proud of myself for having caught every single episode of the first season. I also loved the theme to death. No other music, save the Lambada -- a topic for another post -- had inspired such raw emotion in my eight-year-old self. If you can't recall, or have never heard it, here you go:
When the series was sent to Japan, the intro was re-done in an anime style and set to a rock soundtrack. The result is surprisingly awesome:
There was also a second, slightly more ponderous opening. There's still a bunch of action, but check out that (comparatively) long shot of Logan, Scott and Jean. Even though the triangle themes made it over into the cartoon from the comic, I don't think anything like that would've made it into the opening of a kids' TV show:
In 2011, a 12-part X-Men anime series was released as part of the Marvel Anime project. Free of the constraint of having to resemble American source material, this is one is pure Japanese:
In 1945, Salvador Dali began a project with Disney that, mainly due to a lack of interest on Disney's behalf, would not be completed until 2003. Titled Destino, it's quite literally a romp through Dali's style and imagery with all of Disney's fluidity and grace.
The word "trippy" is thrown around a lot, usually to describe things that are even the slightest bit off-kilter. However, Cyriak's latest video, "Baa," is trippy, includes many visual concepts one traditionally associates with a genuine hallucinogenic experience. Enjoy.
So, with Family Guy, you have to take the good with the bad in order to appreciate the humor. The "good" in this case being a pitch-perfect parody of Street Fighter II and the "bad" being that one of the characters involved is an Asian laundromat owner named "Mr. Washee Washee" (complicating that further, that name was used as a "make-the-audience-feel-ignorant" joke, so it's just cans of worms all the way down.) So let's all just enjoy this for what it is before Fox takes it down off YouTube for copyright infringement and this post becomes entirely irrelevant:
So just on a lark, I decided to search YouTube for chiptune covers of Smiths songs and came up with something considerably better than I had imagined:
This is a cover by Leeni, a Seattle-based vocalist/chiptune composer and it is a lot better than it has any right to be. Although that may very well be my own love for minimalism and this particular style of female vocals. Either way, Leeni (whose official site autoplays loud, loud music) looks like a great upcoming musician, sounding more than a little like a back-to-basics Freezepop ca. their first album. Plus, she makes at least some of her music on an actual GameBoy, and props to that.
Here's another one of her videos, titled "Headphones on Your Heart" and I think I like it even more than the Smiths cover. It is a collaboration with Olympia artist/animator James Franzen. He even set a a sequel to this video to another of Leeni's songs here.
I don't usually like posting ads, but Superbrothers Sword and Sworcery EP seems to be a wonderful piece of work. Movement in pixel art is always an issue -- do you go with old-school grid snapping or anachronistic smoothness? -- and this game seems it has a new grip on how to handle this problem. Not only that, but this is some of the most original pixel art I've seen. Take a look, for instance, at that gorgeous and yet almost completely abstracted deer at 0:30.
Hopefully I'll either have an iOS device sometime in the future or the game will come out for PC, as it looks like it will be a great game. Plus, Capy (make sure to scroll all the way down) are involved, and their game Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes is my absolute favorite Nintendo DS game.
I have been absolutely obsessed with Law and Order: Criminal Intent. One night, a few weeks ago, my girlfriend suggested we watch some actual television -- most of our viewing is via Hulu or Netflix -- and we caught an episode of Criminal Intent. I was hooked immediately. While I'm fond of mysteries and crime fiction, I never got into the franchise before. What got me was that unlike vanilla Law and Order, CI doesn't feature the courtroom scenes which, in my opinion , detract from the pace of the plot. SVU, meanwhile, isn't really an option as I actively avoid reading/watching anything involving rape and sex crimes. But this show hit all the right notes.
Detective Robert Goren's character is what really got me involved. His investigative and interrogation styles are a perfect sweet spot between old-school, Holmsian detection and aggressive Chandlerian interrogation. Goren sees patterns, makes deductive connections, and uses all those other detective skills I feel has been lost in modern mystery dramas -- replaced, at least in part, by unrealistic technology. When faced with an individual, he unbalances, annoys and lies to them in order to get them to slip up, to tear a hole in their own cover story. He also regularly violates the rules which former-cop P.I.s in noir fiction usually attribute to making them leave the force and go into business for themselves. Goren comes off almost as a family-friendly, less sociopathic prelude of Hammett's Continental Op.
Anyway, this post isn't going to be about gushing over Criminal Intent. Rather, it's about set design minutia, a topic which I've previously revealed to be an interest. For instance, in Season 1, Episode 2: "Art", there's the blink-and-you'll-miss-it Crass poster (for some reason disguised as one for a band called "Pocket.") Appropriately enough, it's on an art student's dorm-room wall.:
Next, in Season 2, Episode 22: "Zoonotic", a man appears wearing a Vash the Stampede shirt, from the anime series Trigun. These sorts of shirts, although worn much looser and untucked, were rather popular around this time this episode was filmed. It was always strange seeing kids walk around school wearing shirts with characters from anime they've never watched and video games they've never played. The knock-off ones were even better, featuring near approximations -- just near enough to be uninfringing -- of said characters. (As an aside, the actor on the righthand side is James Urbaniak who, among other roles voices Dr. Venture on The Venture Bros.):
Finally, from Season 4, Episode 12: "Collective", is a Bruce Timm framed painting (?) of Two-Face, as he appeared in Batman: The Animated Series. The scene takes place in, from what I could tell, is an actual collectibles store, so it may not have been a conscious choice to put the object there. However, the brief shot was intentional, so I can only imagine it was a momentary thumbs-up to Timm:
This is all I could find in the first few seasons, or at least all that really stuck out at me. I went through Netflix's entire Instant Watch CI archive, so once I get my hands on some more, I may follow this up.
Considering my love for both the action movies this is spoofs -- hell, I just watched Timecop the other night -- and the era of The Simpsons it is culled from, there's no way I could not post this. I am also really surprised how a few years changes my perception of the scenes from "hey, that's pretty cool" to "damn, that is a lot of blood for a prime-time TV show." I think as I get older and more aware of things like network television standards (rather than assuming that everything I see is, and always has been, status quo) I can appreciate what The Simpsons did for television all the more.
Today I took the final exam and submitted my last paper for my English seminar course. Now, I have a single paper left on Nazis, and my final full semester is over. Why Nazis? because the only other option is to write about the Bush administration. If I attempt to do the latter, I will end up handing in a semi-coherent conspiracy theory piece that may as well be a corkboard with "HALIBURTON," "SOUTH OSSETIA," and "DICK CHENEY'S ROBOT HEART" connected by string wrapped around pins.
So, here's "Der Fuehrer's Face," a Donald Duck cartoon from 1943. I originally heard about its existence when I was eleven or twelve, from my mom's boyfriend, who heard about it on Howard Stern. Considering that I had grown up in the sanitized Cartoon Network era, after their purge of anything remotely "offensive" from their collection of classic animation, I refused to believe in it. I wouldn't encounter the wide world of pitch-black Holocaust jokes until high school and my complete disbelief was further supported by growing up a European Jew from Leningrad and taught that there is nothing funny about Hitler, ever. When a friend of mine tracked this down and showed it to me, around age sixteen or so, it blew my mind. It didn't feel like something anyone at Disney would ever have the balls to make, and yet here it was! Donald Duck the Nazi, just like mom's boyfriend said!
As with all of Disney's output during that period, it's a wonderful piece of music and animation regardless of the subject matter. While not particularly witty -- wartime propaganda rarely is -- it is rather funny. The conformity and uniformity of the Nazi regime tends to breed lazy satire, but this is quite the opposite; the animators imaginations are clearly firing on all cylinders and they thankfully set out to make a good cartoon as much as a piece of propaganda. Unfortunately, this is also a cartoon to which I must give the "product of its times" racism-pass and I'd rather go no further into that territory lest I end up turning the blog post into a dissertation on race and politics and then offhandedly mention Glenn Beck and have it turn from dissertation into that whole conspiracy-pinboard situation I am trying to avoid in the first place.
If you're in your mid-20s right now, you probably remember the 1990s Jim Lee-design-inspired X-Men animated series, which ran from 1992-1997. If you're younger, you probably grew up with either X-Men: Evolution or the very-recent Wolverine and the X-Men. However, there is one series that predates all of these.
It was a failed pilot from 1989 called Pryde of the X-Men. I still remember sitting on my mother's boyfriend's couch, ten years old and confused as hell as to what I was watching and why it looked absolutely nothing like the TV series I caught, by hook or by crook, every Saturday morning.
Fortunately, someone uploaded the entire pilot to YouTube. For some reason, they saw it fit to give Wolverine has an Australian accent. Meanwhile, if the character designs seem familiar, that is because they were used by Konami for their 1992 X-Men video game, which has just seen a re-release on XBLA.