Oct 18, 2007

Three Movies That Defined My Generation

A recent thread at the mothership convinced me to write this, so here goes:

I'm young (29), but some things make me feel like an old-ass man, especially a lot of shows and movies that have come out as of late.

But if I had to choose three movies that defines MY generation . . . that's kind of tough, especially since I have to pick just three. I know it's a magic number, but it's kind of limited, you know?

I guess I'll start with Ferris Bueller's Day Off. I was a little kid when this movie initially came out in theaters, but as a young teen, this movie spoke to me like no other movie had before at the time. A recent conversation a lot of us mods had in the super extra secret room we have around here really made me appreciate the movie even more. The protagonist wasn't a label, that is, he wasn't a nerd, a geek, a jock, a preppy, a goth, a class clown, a slacker, a drama student, et. al. He was simply Ferris, a guy who pretty much has his life together, or at least had the semblance to realize what life is supposed to be. He doesn't worry, he doesn't panic. He's not trying to get laid or find a girlfriend because, well, he already has a girlfriend. He knew that if you took life too seriously, you'll spend all your time worrying. Good advice, and something that stuck to me to this day.

Another movie that I felt defined my generation is Clerks. Dante is literally stuck in hell, or in this case, a convenience store and has problems from the word go. He has to work a shift on his day off and has to deal with strange customers ranging from an anti-smoking advocate and a guy searching for the perfect dozen of eggs to a pot-smoking duo and a guy "walking the lizard" and dying in a bathroom, a girlfriend who loves him but confesses something that makes him uncomfortable, an ex-girlfriend who recently broke up with her boyfriend, and his best friend Randall, who goes out of his way to distract Dante from the day at hand. In essence, it's kind of the reverse of Ferris Bueller's Day Off. A "Dante Hicks' Day In" if you will. Considering Kevin Smith was a fan of those John Hughes films, I wouldn't be surprised if he had even considered that title. The message in this film is essentially the same as in Ferris, only you see what happens when people, in this case Dante, worry.

If you ever get the chance, watch both films back to back one day, and you'll see what I mean.

I think the final film that defines my generation is The Matrix. This film is pretty much the one that connects my generation to the 21st century, presenting something that is true today: we're all connected to computers, and the lives we presently live on the internet is only an illusion. Anybody that makes a presence on the internet, whether it's forums, websites, blogs and vlogs, and other forms of the new medium could attest and adhere to that general message. It also had the message that we shouldn't truly depend on our connection to computers all the time because the machine could one day turn its back on us. Okay, that's out there, but still, people still don't completely trust their computers.

What three movies defined your generation? No, I'm not asking what are your three favorite movies, but rather which ones defined you and your generation.

Oct 17, 2007

Someone Please Explain This To Me

G4 (you know, the channel that killed TechTV a couple of years ago that has nearly zero viewers) has acquired broadcast rights to two of the 21st century's most iconic series so far, ABC's Lost and NBC's Heroes. The Comcast-owned network has rights to strip Heroes and Lost daily in a few years, but Heroes premieres in a few weeks on the channel.

Cartoon Network, which is one of the most watched channels on cable (currently number seven) is investing funds in developing new live-action properties as well as spending money to acquire older shows.

Comcast is giving G4 a ton of money, which allows them to make eye-opening purchases like that. Time Warner gives Cartoon Network a very limited amount of money, since they do generate ad revenue on their own, which is used for proudctions and on their own third-party acquisitions.

I'm not saying I wanted Heroes or Lost to air on Cartoon Network (because I really don't), but the deal does show that Comcast is willing to provide funds to acquire something that would definitely bring in the audiences while Time Warner seems to be moving in the opposite direction. Now, someone please explain something to me. Does Comcast like their network more or does Time Warner like their network less? Is it that Comcast feels more confident about the direction of G4 than Time Warner feels about Cartoon Network or does Time Warner believe in tough love and that they have to survive on their own?

Is Comcast that much better or is this just another reason why Time Warner is still THE MOST POORLY RAN ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY ON THE PLANET?

Oct 9, 2007

Six Things I Miss About Cable

I haven't had cable for six months now, but strangely, I'm not missing it. No extra-high bill for limited programming choices. No clatter of talking heads talking about nothing. And best of all, no dents in my walls from the idiotic changes at . . . you know where.

However, in the light of tonight's season premiere of The Boondocks on Adult Swim tonight, I feel that I need to talk about the things I do miss about cable, in no particular order:

- Adult Swim: Well, there's a stretch. Adult animation with humor and action. Uncut Family Guy (compared to the abomination in syndication right now, ugh), Venture Brothers, Robot Chicken, The Boondocks, Frisky Dingo, and others made my week complete.

- Doctor Who on Sci-Fi and Torchwood on BBC America: I missed the entire third season of the Doctor's adventures through time and dimensions and the first season of the raunchier, darker spinoff on BBC America.

- USA Network's original programs: Monk, Psych, The 4400, and The Dead Zone. I missed them all.

- Good Eats: The best cooking show on television. Period.

- BBC America: I actually heard a rumor that, including Torchwood, BBC America has actually gotten better in recent years. I haven't had digital cable since June 2006, so I couldn't witness the metamorphosis first hand. But from what I read, whoa!

- Avatar: Nick's best show just started Book Three a couple of weeks ago, and considering the saga last season was, I'm missing this series most of all.

That's all I miss. Fortunately, I could find those shows on DVD in the coming months. Yeah, it'll cost more, but hey, no commercials nor interrupting graphics during the series.

Oct 8, 2007

Still A Champion (Despite The Actions of a Cheater)



State champion.

National champion.

Hall of famer.

Olympic gold metalist.

Until last week, LaTasha Colander was all of these. She won a gold metal in the 4X400 Meter Relay at the Sydney Olympics of 2000. And she was fast. She was always fast as long as I knew her. We weren't friends in the traditional sense. We had common friends at Wilson High, but we rarely came across each other in the halls. She was a year ahead of me as well. But my school and my city was proud of her and her efforts. In 2000, the city gave here a homecoming parade to celebrate her Olympic victory. My then three-year old cousin even posed with her and wore the gold metal around his neck (I would have shared this photo with you, but some bastard stole my photography portfolio, which included the photo AND the negatives, that semester). It was a proud moment for Woodrow Wilson High School (where Perry Ellis held his first ever fashion show and where Missy Elliott first performed) and a grander moment for Portsmouth, VA, which had began its transformation into a world-class city.

Last week's announcement from Marion Jones stating she had used steroids during the Sydney games came as a shock to a lot of people. The International Olympic Committee's decision to strip her of her metals also came as no surprise. However, one of those metals that was stripped from her was the one she won for the 4X400 M Relay.

The one that Tasha won.

Needless to say, this decision has been frustrating to me, not just because I know Tasha, but because the actions of one will affect two other deserving athletes as well. My love for Marion Jones wasn't tarnished from last week's announcement. No, that occurred during the Athens games in 2004 when I felt she purposely dropped the baton in the 4X400 M relay. Tasha was a part of that team as well.

I don't know if she'll compete next year in China, which is a shame. After a stellar high-school and collegiate career, Latasha Colander has done what so many had dreamed of. It's unfair that the act of one will cost others their metals as well. Regardless, she'll still be a champion to me.

Oct 7, 2007

Coming Soon To Thoughtnami - Near Daily Updates?

I'm not really sure.

I don't even know what kind of site Thoughtnami is supposed to be. I know it's a freer locale where I could be myself, but I think there needs to be something else here.

Maybe not.

However, I want to bring something to Thoughtnami, but I don't know what. I'm thinking I could try a monthly podcast or something here, or maybe a comic strip.

Maybe I'll just post more updates a day. I mean, for one whole week, I actually posted something here, but that's probably because I was so frustrated that a very terrible company is taking over a block that was the last broadcast bastion of a once legendary animation studio.

Maybe there's a reason for this newfound . . . opinion-making state of mind. Fun times.

Oct 6, 2007

It's Hot

It was unbearably hot today. Almost sticky hot. Remainder of the week likely to be just as hot.

Today's weather got me to thinking . . . isn't Christmas and the holiday season just a mere two months away? I know it is because, it is October, and stores are already stocking Christmas products in the stores. Lights, stockings, wrapping paper, garland, wreaths. They're in stores right now. Thought that people were supposed to be "declaring a war on Christmas." At least, that's what I heard from egotistical, smug folks on talk radio.

Something I urge you not to do. Listen to talk radio.

Speaking of people talking and yet saying nothing, why do people with webpages still post under pseudonyms? Are they ashamed of who they are or are they just afraid to reveal themselves? I know I was guilty of hiding behind a comic book character's name for a number of years online, at least on forums. Of course, nowadays, I post freely. I'm proud of what I write, for the most part. And I refuse to hide myself anymore. If you're afraid to reveal yourself, why bother even writing? Do you think people will think less of you if you say who you are?

Or do they hide because they could just write blatant lies and libel about others?

I know this guy who keeps on referring to me as the antichrist and the people I associate myself with as evil folks who ruined animation, wants to take over Cartoon Network, uncreative, don't know anybody in the animation industry, and just not to be trusted. I can't speak for my friends (though I can say my friend Brian doesn't work for Nickelodeon), but I can speak for myself. I'm not in any power to ruin anything. I want nothing to do with Cartoon Network or any other network or company for that matter. I'm creative, but I've been doing things offline (I've been doing commissions for design work and paintings; right now, I'm sketching for a painting of the Rapture for this church). My online comic work will be revealed in full in the spring. I know plenty of people in the industry, both the creative side and the business side and have their e-mail addresses in my address book (my real world one, not a digital book), and people know of me and my work (check out some comments around these pages sometimes. I think I could be trusted. People trust me.

I haven't hid behind an anonymous name in my writings for years. I don't need to. I think any real professional would do likewise. Unless you're afraid.

If people like me, they like me. If they don't, they don't. They say if you're hated though, people are somewhat envious of you. If you're not hated, then you're not doing scat.

In the meantime, I'm going to grab something to drink. It's still hot.

Oct 5, 2007

To The CW: Sucker!

Remember that Looney Tunes cartoon with a mouse tormenting this cat throughout it, and the mouse kept on calling the cat "Sucker!"? Well, I'm going to reenact a scene, sort of.

Playing the role of the cat, The CW Television Network, who handed over control to their lucrative Saturday morning block to a competitor, 4Kids Entertainment, who is, again for the uninitiated, THE WORST ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY ON THE PLANET.

And playing the role of the mouse, moi.

Say, "cat," have you seen the latest ratings reports? Yeah, I know, ratings are a generally a joke, but this week, the joke's on you.

Presenting, this weekend's ratings for ages 6 - 11.

Kids' WB vs. 4KidsTV

8 AM (all times Eastern):
KWB: Tom and Jerry Tales 1.4/7
4KT: Adrenaline Project 0.4/4

8:30 AM:
KWB: Tom and Jerry Tales 1.8/8
4KT: Yu-Gi-Oh! GX 0.7/3

9 AM:
KWB: Skunk Fu! 1.6/7
4KT: Chaotic 1.2/5

9:30 AM:
KWB: Shaggy and Scooby-Doo Get A Clue - 1.6/7
4KT: Fast Forward - 1.3/6

10 AM:
KWB: Eon Kid - 1.6/7
4KT: Fast Forward - 1.5/6

10:30 AM:
KWB: Johnny Test - 1.5/7
4KT: Dinosaur King - 1.6/7

11 AM:
KWB: Legion of Super Heroes - 1.7/9
4KT: Viva Pinata - 1.1/5

11:30 AM:
KWB: The Batman - 1.3/7
4KT: Sonic X - 1.1/5

As you can see, in direct competition, Kids' WB beats 4KidsTV 7-1, with their highest rated show being Tom and Jerry Tales. Yes, their highest rated show comes on at 8:30 AM. And number two's Legion of Super Heroes.

Oh, but none of that matters. Even though Kids' WB regularly beats 4KidsTV week after week, they pretty much threw in the towel declaring 4KidsTV the winner.


Oct 4, 2007

Breaking Down Warner's "Quote" Talking About the Death of Kids' WB

As you've probably heard by now, 4Kids Entertainment, again, The WORST ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY IN THE WORLD, is now going to control 2/5 of Saturday morning programming on broadcast television after The CW handed them control of their Saturday morning block currently housed by Kids' WB. 4Kids is managing all aspects of both The CW and Fox in the 2008-09 season.

Now, Bruce Rosenblum, president of Warner Bros. Television, gave a statement yesterday to Variety Magazine essentially spinning the story of his division's apparent laziness and lack of confidence. He didn't say so much, but I broke down what he said for those that refuse to pay attention.

His words are quoted. My translations aren't.

"Clearly, this was an issue that we examined closely with our partners at CBS."

The same CBS Paramount Television that has access to a library of characters, including classic properties like TerryToons and television properties that could have been adapted to animated form easily like Star Trek, to develop new series for the CW's Saturday morning block, but didn't.

"We fully believe it makes the most business sense for The CW in this broadcast marketplace."

Yes, by handing over control of our lucrative, successful programming block, which has more viewers than our own primetime lineup, to our competitors, who've we've been beating for almost a decade in both the Fox Kids and 4KidsTV incarnations, we're making perfect sense with our decision to shut it down.

"That being said, Warner Bros. has a long, successful track record in the animation business and we absolutely intend to stay true to our heritage by producing world-class animated entertainment for the children's market be it for cable, direct-to-DVD, broadband, wireless and platforms of the future."

Because broadcast television is an albatross and a fool's game. Never mind the fact that there are still television viewers with no access to broadband, DVD, or cable television. They don't have money anyway, so why bother with them? Never mind the fact that within two years, we could have launched a stand-alone Kids' WB digital broadcast channel given the vast, untapped digital spectrum that's just around the corner. Does this mean we're going to give Cartoon Network the time of day now? Hell no. Don't be ridiculous. They're going in a more live-action direction and we have no need to partner with them now. That means we have to make shows, and our arms hurt.

"This is an important business that touches many of the Warner Bros. divisions and we have confidence that Lisa Judson and her team at Warner Bros. Animation will continue to build towards future opportunities."

Yes, by removing one of the few outlets where Warner Bros. Animation can be found, and the last broadcast television outlet at that, we have the utmost confidence in Ms. Judson and Warner Bros. Animation. Now, don't let the door hit you where the dog should have bit you.

Oct 3, 2007

Could Kids' WB's Death Be Cartoon Network's Rebirth?

I'm sure you've heard by now that 4Kids Entertainment, the WORST COMPANY IN THE WORLD (not to be confused with the MOST POORLY RAN ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY IN THE WORLD, which is still Time Warner), has a new knotch in its belt. Starting in the fall of 2008, 4Kids will program the Saturday morning block on The CW.

That's right, Kids' WB is about to go the way of Fox Kids, literally. And they're going to continue to program Fox's Saturday morning block at the same time which begs the question whether this is legal.

But something popped in my head a few moments ago, so excuse me if it's not totally coherent:

What if Time Warner is about to turn Cartoon Network into Kids' WB?

I mean, the Kids' WB name and brand, like the Cartoon Network name and brand, are valuable assets to Time Warner, and since the KWB name isn't going to be used on the Saturday morning block on The CW after next season, they, meaning the idiots at Time Warner, might attach the name to Cartoon Network, which is currently undergoing an identity crisis.

It wouldn't totally surprise me if that's indeed what they're doing. By "starting over," Kids' WB would be a 17-hour a day network dedicated to children's programming rather than just a five-hour weekly block. And at this rate, they wouldn't have to change a thing. Everything is intact, except the name. Everything, from Foster's and Billy and Mandy to Toonami and Adult Swim (which would continue untouched), will remain.

Now, that might be where the whole rumor of Cartoon Network shutting down may have started. Perhaps they, meaning the creators, knew in advance of the Kids' WB/4Kids deal and knew everything behind it. In essence, "Cartoon Network" would be shut down in favor of "Kids' WB" in the channel space. It'd likely remain as is (complete with Toonami on Saturday nights and Adult Swim after 11 PM Mondays through Saturdays and after 10 PM on Sundays [which makes sense in a way, Kids from 6 AM to 11 PM and Adult from 11 PM to 6 AM]).

The Cartoon Network name wouldn't go away either. It could live on either in Boomerang's space or a new network altogether. With Boomerang currently becoming a pseudo-Cartoon Network 2 in the first place, I think Boomerang (the brand) would become a casualty for now while Cartoon Network could be reborn as a 24-hour animation channel without the need to "compete" with Nick and Disney. Boomerang could be reborn later on as a true classic-animation network, but for now, Boomerang could become the new Cartoon Network, a 24-hour outlet with nothing but animation.

I'd be pissed, but I wouldn't be surprised. It almost makes sense. Then again Time Warner is still the Most Poorly Ran Entertainment Company in the World and hasn't made sense in almost a decade.

Oct 1, 2007

The Spirit of Cartoon Network Lives In Canada

Remember what Cartoon Network and Boomerang promos used to look like before they got stupid? I found out where the spirit that guided Cartoon Network for nine of its 15 years went to.

It's in Canada.

Today, ironically 15 years after ol' checkerboard launched, Teletoon launched their own classic animation station, Teletoon RETRO.

Oh, and here's the promo:

As you can see, it's very much like Cartoon Network pre-Time-Warner. Cheap but fun. And boy, is that fun. It launched at 6 PM today, and I wish it much luck in the future. Wish I could see it.

Pissing On The Birthday Cake: CN Turns 15

It's hard to believe it's been 15 years since Droopy pushed the Acme dynamite plunger launching the world's first all-animation channel called Cartoon Network. Twenty-four hours of cartoons was a radical concept back in 1992. Fifteen years later, it seems to be an even more radical concept since there are only a handful of all-animation channels on the air worldwide. Cartoon Network isn't one of them anymore. Since 2005, Cartoon Network has been pushing an agenda of live-action to gain viewers. The network that has been the exclusive home of Looney Tunes and the home of Dexter's Laboratory, The Powerpuff Girls, Toonami, Adult Swim, Samurai Jack, Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends, and other cartoons is now the home of live-action properties like Out of Jimmy's Head and Goosebumps, not to mention older movies with very little connection to animation.

I remember my first time looking at Cartoon Network. I remember my last time looking at Cartoon Network. So, forgive me for giving you guys a "Lucky thought" of sorts.

I have the first hour of Cartoon Network on videotape. I also have a stand-alone VCR that I could watch said tape on, and I didn't have to search the ruins of the old Earth to find one either, unlike Spike and Jet on the "Speak Like A Child" episode of Cowboy Bebop. When I looked at the tape today, and I don't even remember myself laughing out loud like that to anything on the air today. Pure comedy gold from Freleng, Clampett, and Avery. Those names sound alien to today's audiences, but they're the icons of my youth here in the Seven Cities. I looked at that hour of video tape that I recorded on TBS back in 1992 with much enjoyment. This was the first hour of Cartoon Network. I knew that I was looking at something historical. Cartoons from the best studios in America, all day long at my disposal. I wouldn't actually get Cartoon Network until three years later around Memorial Day weekend in 1995.

Since that day, I've seen the network evolve and grow. I watched the first generation of What A Cartoons! when they were brand new on a Sunday night. I watched Cartoon Theater when it was still under the management of Mr. Spim. I remember when Super Adventures evolved into Afternoon Adventures and Power Zone before transforming itself into Toonami. I remember when a prop comedian actually did a decent job at network continuity before they handed the reigns to a great comedian who died way too soon. I remember Toonapalooza, Hootnanny, Mystery Inc., Super Chunk, It Came From The Vault, 70s Super Explosion, and Boomerang. The block, not the network. I remember when Chris Rock played an insect sidekick to Bobcat Gothwait. I remember when they actually advertised something rated TV-PG in the daytime that was a cartoon. I also remember a time when you actually looked at Cartoon Network and didn't see one kid in a classroom environment for almost an entire day.

About five years ago, back when Cartoon Network quietly turned 10, the change began. Sure, they still showed cartoons, but a shift was taking place though, at the time, many didn't pay attention. Cartoon Network's new overboss at Turner was Jamie Kellner. For those that had been under a rock, Mr. Kellner was also the co-creator and the head of The WB Television Network, home of Kids' WB. Kellner brought The WB into the Turner fold where he virtually united Kids' WB with Cartoon Network. The results, needless to say, weren't pretty. The two were seen as one unit now and often presented programming together. Toonami, Cartoon Network's action block, was now the uniform name of the Kids' WB weekday afternoon block with very little change from what was present there a year before. As a result of that rebranding, Cartoon Network moved their Toonami block an hour later to 5 PM. That disasterous collaboration lasted almost a year. Also under that new Turner order was the mandate to make Cartoon Network more "kid-friendly" to viewers and advertisers. In 2002, many shows aimed towards older viewers, specifically the Looney Tunes, MGM shorts, and Popeye shorts as well as the historical shows like Toonheads and The Tex Avery Show, were moved exclusively to Boomerang making room for more kid-oriented programming, specifically more of the whole "Hey, kids like school, so let's make shows with kids in school!" genre.

A year later, Cartoon Network revamped its Cartoon Cartoon Fridays lineup into Cartoon Network Fridays, a weekly show hosted by live-action hosts and musical guests. Tommy, Nzinga, and Tara. I remember talking to my friend Jon, telling him in an "American Photojournalist" kind of way, that Fridays was just the beginning of the end. He laughed it off thinking I was being a little paranoid.

Cue to the last time I watched Cartoon Network. It was April of 2007. It had been over two years since Cartoon Network began to air live-action movies that had nothing to do with animation. The cartoons airing on the network, aside from a handful, have become formulaic and insulting to viewers. Of course, I was no longer the target audience for the network anymore. They want Nickelodeon and Disney Channel viewers to leave that channel to come to Cartoon Network. And they're doing that with programming that just screams of desperation and looks like also-rans that never made it to Nick or Disney. When Cartoon Network announced plans for a handful of live-action properties, including Fried Dynamite, a live-action Ben 10 movie, and the airings of several older properties, including Goosebumps, which will air in a 20-hour marathon in October, I had enough. The Cartoon Network I admired back in 1992, heck, in 2002, had died.

In April, I let go of cable and, in essence, Cartoon Network.

Fifteen years ago, a great network was born. A network that had one agenda, one purpose, and one mission: to be the home of the best cartoons on the planet, and sure enough, over the years, they've done just that. That was Cartoon Network. Everybody that made Cartoon Network is pretty much gone with the exception of Mike Lazzo, but he's at Adult Swim now. And Cartoon Network goes out of its way to say that Adult Swim is a separate network disconnected from Cartoon Network other than sharing channel space.

Today's Cartoon Network is nothing like it was back in 1992, and that's good AND bad. The good is that they've become a more diversified home for foreign and third-party acquisitions as well as being home to blocks not afraid to experiment like Toonami and Adult Swim. The bad is that they're abandoning their core mission more and more each week with the addition of more live-action programming, and that's a shame.

Now, here's something I won't say at the Zone because, well, I promised to be good there. I respect and have nothing but love for Toon Zone, but I don't want to create any bad blood between TZ and CN. After all, I'm expendable. I don't the mothership to get in any trouble for anything I say there.

I want to see Cartoon Network make it to its 20th anniversary because I still believe they're capable of some good. I want to believe that they're not completely idiotic at Techwood Drive. Recent decisions have proven otherwise. I mean, just when I thought they couldn't get stupid, they manage to impress me with the lengths of stupidity they're achieving. There has actually been some rumblings within the animation industry saying that Cartoon Network will be gone within two or three years. I think the rumors are nonsense, but if CN does go the way of the Dodo and The WB, well, I think they really need clean house at the network. Not just one or two high-profile people, but rather a bloodbath. A cleansing that will purge every idiotic exec in charge of not only Cartoon Network, but Turner Broadcasting as well because they have done a piss-poor job these last five years.

"But Jeff, Toonami and Adult Swim are still doing fine, so get off your high horse."

They're doing okay, but Toonami and Adult Swim are pretty much seen by the network as one-show-ponies. Take Naruto and Family Guy from both blocks, and CN wouldn't give a damn about the future of those blocks. Hell, Naruto is already sticking out like a diamond in mud on the primetime lineup and Family Guy is in heavy rotation on TBS as well as its recent syndication launch. Both blocks need to strengthen their lineups in the worse kind of way or else Techwood will begin purging the branding from the network. Toonami is more vulnerable now than ever since they still don't use the block's name on-air anymore, which is sad.

In the meantime, happy birthday Cartoon Network. I wish you all the best. Seriously, you're so much more than what you present yourself as. I just want you to become better.