Dec 22, 2009

The Story of The Four Networks

Once upon a time, there were four networks.

One was an orphaned network that struggled a bit when they were growing up trying to find an identity. He didn't like his name, Nimby. He spent the sixties trying to find out who he is, started wearing colorful clothes that people didn't get at first, hung out with spacemen, and ended up found in the haze of the hippie counterculture. He felt good, but he realized they had to grow up, so, they did some soul-searching, figuring out what's out there. Seeing what works and what doesn't. He found himself back in the counterculture again, though they limited their parties to Saturday nights. After a few rough spots, he cleaned himself up, was proud as a peacock, and now called himself Pete. During the booming 80s, he hung out with a lot of rich folks with kids, taxi drivers, doctors, students, families, cops, barkeeps, mercenaries, lawyers, and judges. At the turn of the decade, they shied away from those people and lived a single life while making long-term friends with cops and lawyers in New York and doctors in Chicago throughout the dot-com years.

When the bubble burst, the good times kind of ended for Pete. He finds himself working for a huge universal corporation stuck in an office writing a list of things they want, looking at the past a little too hard, and looking for a hero, though across the hall, he finds one in a bright-eyed TV producer. At that moment, Pete realized he could go to community college and look for a new start without relying on old friends. In the middle of refining himself, Pete decided to hook up with younger chick named Cassie, who came from newer money but was a lot more shady than the people Pete grew up around. Love has blinded ol' Pete and this courtship is about to be tested. Either Cassie's a true match or, as many of Pete's friends fear, a black widow.

Another is a distant cousin of Pete. They used to be close until they moved apart. He struggled to find a place, got made friends with a superhero and later found friends in Milwaukee, angels and single young adults in Los Angeles, and cops in New York, before striking it rich like their distant cousin did in the 80s by hanging out with moonlighters and family dynasties. Lets call him Abe. Around this time, he dated a mousy chick named Diz off and on for the latter half of that decade and vicariously through the families they met, especially a pair of families in Illinois (one was headed by a brash waitress and the other tends to be visited a lot by this scrawny nerdy kid) and this one family in San Francisco.

Abe ended up marrying Diz after SHE proposed, and they had a rough patch for a while. They found advice and friendship from crude cops, more families, and an office worker in Cleveland, but they still weren't happy. Fortunately, they looked to a millionaire for some help and confidence while they got lost in new thoughts and finding friends on a strange suburban street. some brothers, sisters, bachelors, and bachelorettes they knew, a smart yet whiny doctor out of Seattle, a slightly older, smarter doctor who had the good sense to leave that place, and others while trying not to wipe out their good fortunes so soon.

The third network defies a stigma. Her given name is Columbia, but everybody calls her Tiffany, because she's a sophisticated lady. At least that's the way she presented herself. She hung out mostly in urban/suburban locales early one, particularly with a red-head married to a bandleader and a brunette married to a comedy writer. For a while, she embraced her rural roots and acted a little silly. Tiffany looked at the changing world around her with an open eye and became more socially conscious in the era of women's liberation and the civil rights era. She still retained some of her rural roots, but it was somewhat balanced around this time. Like Abe, she also found herself surrounded by family dynasties in the 80s and more liberated women that decade as well. Like Pete, she found herself a little burned out in the much of 90s.

She married a well-known business man who died soon after and married someone she was "familiar" with back in her period of self-discovery. Her new husband liked music, movies, and kids while she was still set in her ways a little. They changed each other and adopted a son of a mountain man. Tiffany realized she was a survivor after her second marriage fell apart, though she did get a nice piece of a rock when the dust settles. She got back to her youthful ways but she discovered her attraction to guys who worked in forensics.

Finally, there's a younger network named Phoebe, largely uncertain about who they want to be. At first, she wanted to be just like the other three networks. This foxy lady decided that to make an impression, she had to be different. Her friends were married with children, sang duets, did impressions, and other things. They were quite entertaining, but they didn't impress folks. At least she found comfort in a colorful family of five who were a lot more animated than her other friends, a relationship Phoebe enjoys to this day. She embraced the sweet life of Beverly Hills, crime stories, sci-fi, and her urban roots until she discovered a love for football.

Once football overtook her life, a lot more people noticed Phoebe. She became a cover model of excellence. Unfortunately, she no longer felt the need to embrace her urban roots and shook that part of her loose once people began paying attention to her. She experimented from time to time and found herself trying to make it big. She wanted to be a star by any means necessary. She hung out with lawyers, federal investigators, the pretty people, half-cat freedom fighters, conspiracy theorists, mercenaries in browncoats, special agents, forensic anthropologists, prisoners, cops, and blank slates. Phoebe sang, danced, tried to find love, got greedy, be smarter than grade schoolers, and entertain everybody. She re-embraced her California roots for a while, but she was really scared to try something new and different. But at least she's still more animated than her fellow networks, especially finding a New Englander named Seth particularly funny and still hanging out with that family of five she met over twenty years ago.

There are others, but their stories are either boring or convoluted and not worth mentioning. So, I won't. Truth be told, the four networks have been around what seems like forever and try hard to remain relevant to today's audiences. Some have adapted to new technologies. Some have put all their bets behind their smaller cable siblings. They've been around forever, but as we prepare to enter the second decade of the 21st century, one will wonder if there will be four left standing by the end of that decade.

Dec 17, 2009

My Problem With Fantasy Schedules

As far back as I can remember, I've always seen fantasy threads on message boards. Of course, the places have changed, and message boards became chatrooms and later forums. Of course, if you put a thread on Twitter, you'd probably be laughed out of the way.

But fantasy threads involving how you'd program a network have been around for as long as there's been an internet. Well, as long as the thing we call the internet has been around as a public medium, which is roughly about 20 years in addition to the advent of cable television and its myriad of programming options. They're fun. It could also get a newcomer fame and friends on forum, not to mention pad their post counts, and they're usually of more substance than a two word response or my unfavorite response, "this." Has there been a lazier response to anything?

I don't dislike fantasy schedules per se, but in the end, my problem with them is that they tend to offer false hope, a hope for something that could never happen because show contracts ran out, they don't have rights to certain shows, or, as always the case, the executives at the networks are perpetually stuck on stupid and couldn't program their way out of a wet paper bag.

Don't believe me?

Okay, I'll provide you with an example of why I have a problem with fantasy schedules using everybody's favorite tabula rasa, Cartoon Network. The reason that people make fantasy schedules about Cartoon Network is because their lineup is less than impressive and lacking in real substance. You make a great lineup, you look at it with pride, you post it, people give you kudos and praise for coming up with a great lineup, and then you're back to disappointment because the schedule is not only not a reality, but you're despondent, depressed, and creating a new schedule because you can make it better.

Now, here's a sample of a Cartoon Network fantasy schedule. Not much thought about it, but hey, it's better than what they've got. Also, take in mind this is just a weekday lineup:

Weekdays (all times Eastern/Pacific)

6:00AM Storm Hawks
6:30AM Transformers: Animated
7:00AM Pokemon
7:30AM Gormiti
8:00AM Bakugan
8:30AM Chaotic
9:00AM The Mr. Men Show
9:30AM The Garfield Show

10 AM - 2 PM: The Boomerang Block

10:00AM The Flintstones
10:30AM Yogi and Huck (a new package of classic Hanna-Barbera shorts, M - Th)/The Jetsons (F)
11:00AM Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? (M - Th)/Scooby-Doo, Mystery Inc. (F)
11:30AM Boomerang Sampler: Those Meddling Kids (M)/The Pink Panther (T)/Top Cat (W)/The Smurfs (Th)/The Banana Splits (a mix of shorts, classic clips, and new Banana Splits segments) (F)
12:00PM Tom and Jerry
12:30PM The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show
1:00PM Looney Tunes (1 hr.)

2 - 5 PM: Cartoon Network's Last Bell (A three-hour block of comedic cartoons; classics hold up the first 90 minutes, recent shows the latter 90 minutes)
2:00PM Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends
2:30PM The Powerpuff Girls
3:00PM Dexter's Laboratory
3:30PM Johnny Test
4:00PM Chowder (M, Th)/Random Show (W)/Flapjack (T, F)
4:30PM 6Teen (M)/Stoked (T)/Total Drama (W)/Sidekick (Th)/Adventure Time (F)

5 - 7 PM: Action (No fancy brand name, but you know you're in a different environment just by looking at it. Plus, it's on in the afternoon, which is always a good thing).

5:00PM Yu-Gi-Oh 5Ds (M - Th)/Samurai Jack (F)
5:30PM Pokemon (M - Th)/Batman: The Brave and the Bold (F)
6:00PM Teen Titans (M - Th)/Sym-Bionic Titan (F)
6:30PM Ben 10 (M - Th)/Generator Rex (F)

7 - 9 PM: Cartoon Network Prime (a different theme each night: Monday - The Standards, Tuesday: Made in Canada, Wednesday: Night of Heroes, Har Har Tharsdays, Fridays: You Are Here)

7:00PM The Bugs Bunny Show (M - W)/Cartoon Cartoons (Th, 1 hr.)/Action Title TBD (F)
7:30PM Scooby-Doo (M - W)/Action Title TBD (F)
8:00PM Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends (M)/6Teen (T)/Horrobots (W)/Flapjack (Th))/Batman: The Brave and the Bold (F)
8:30PM Powerpuff Girls (M)/Stoked (T)/Generator Rex (W)/Random Show (Th)/Sym-Bionic Titan (F)
9:00PM Scooby-Doo: Mystery Inc. (M)/Total Drama (T)/Sidekick (W)/Adventure Time (Th)/Star Wars: The Clone Wars (F)
9:30PM The Flintstones (M)/Johnny Test (T)/League of Super Evil (W)/Chowder (Th)/Ben 10: Alien Force (F)

See, and that's the problem I have with fantasy schedules. That's a very realistic lineup Cartoon Network could adapt right now. But they won't. And once I sat back and looked at what I made, I know I could make it better. Maybe I will one day, but right now, I won't.

Dec 9, 2009

Another Tale From Another World

It wasn't supposed to be this easy.

A year ago, they were just kids. Without purpose. Without hope. Looking for answers to questions that plagued their minds. Looking to belong to something bigger than themselves. Five kids who I've helped mold into the best chance this lost land has to offer.

For one year, I've trained them to become warriors. I've taught them how to fight without fighting, but I also didn't want them to get their rears handed over to them either. The big one's like my son. He came to me because I knew his father. I fought and trained alongside him in a previous life. I won't bore you with the details now, that's for another time. He is the most balanced of the quintet, shows precision with weapons and bare hands. The blonde is quick, even-tempered. She's a little headstrung, but lately, she holds herself back. She's not afraid, but nowadays, she knows there's consequences for her actions. Shame she's just learning that now.

Of course, I think she's too emotionally involved with that damnable troublemaker. Unkempt, vulgar, and arrogant. But I'd be damned if he wasn't the best student I've ever trained. He has this strange power about him that strikes me as a curiosity and an anomaly. I'm glad he's on our side, and I hope he stays that way. The twins are another story.

One, they're not really twins, not in the traditional sense. The girl was born a year later than the boy, who's about the same age as the blonde and the troublemaker. They have the talent, they have the ability to be taught, but they're distracted by something. They've been orphaned for years and being nomads across this land of ours. When they came to me, they've showed that they belonged here. But I can tell that they're scared of something, even when they show precision in their swordfights.

Tonight, they worked around their differences and infiltrated one of the hideouts of the Gunjin Shi, the group responsible for much of the destruction of our land. The people are afraid to confront them. My students are not. They made their first nighttime attack tonight. 250 armored warriors armed with swords, bos, chains . . . if it wasn't nailed down, they used it as a weapon. This would be seen by others as a suicide mission and I'd probably be assailed by child services. But I had confidence in my students. I knew they could handle those soldiers.

I never expected them to take out an entire army of armed warriors without harm to themselves. It wasn't supposed to be that easy. Perhaps they are ready.

To be continued in 2010.

Dec 8, 2009

Characters Welcome . . . Unless They're Animated

I like USA.

I do.

If the wags get their way and NBC goes cable through its new majority owner Comcast, I shall miss USA because I don't see them keeping a cable-only NBC and USA, unless they become like Time Warner's TBS and TNT networks, but better. But that's not what I'm writing this article about.

The tagline of USA for the past four or five years is "Characters Welcome." It's a catchy tagline, especially when they showcase folks of all walks of life. Of course on air, the characters that are present at seemingly all hours are detectives. There are detectives that are behind the badge. There are detectives that are freelancers, albeit with a few personality quirks. There are detectives that are fake psychics. There are detectives who work for the government. There are medical detectives who find out what's killing you from the inside. There are medical detectives who discover who and what killed you from the outside. There are detectives who are cops. There are detectives who are crooks.

There are plenty of characters on USA. However, most of them are detectives. Those that aren't are either warriors of the squared circle (that's wrestlers, cats and kittens) or those found in movies. Characters are wanted at USA, but for some reason, there hasn't been any animated characters on the network in a long, long time, and at this rate, they're in no rush to correct that.

The last time animation was on USA on a regular basis was in 1998. Sailor Moon was on weekday mornings as was Gargoyles. Duckman ended in 1997 and actually got away with a lot of stuff shows like The Simpsons could never do and was actually a precursor to the prime-time animation era to come with shows like South Park, Family Guy, and the whole fratboy mentality Adult Swim has captured and made their own.

Now I'm not in no way suggesting that USA brings back Duckman or Sailor Moon. Those shows are in the history books. But in an effort to be different, USA should invest in original animated productions. I think USA could be a network that would actually take a chance on something that hasn't seriously been considered on cable television or broadcast - an hour-long dramatic animated series (and before you say otherwise, yes, I'm familiar with Invasion America, Dreamworks' dramatic series. It aired for an hour, but they were two separate episodes rather than a continuous hour-long episode). There are many types of stories that could be explored in animation. Even detective/crime stories USA tends to be behind in droves.

I mean, if FX could have an animated series on its roster (Archer, from the folks behind Frisky Dingo and Sealab 2021, officially debuts in January only on FX, so check it out, boosh!), why can't USA? It'd be kind of cool if at least this once, animated characters were welcome at USA again.

Nov 26, 2009

I've Been Thinking

The following would be considered a rambling discussion by critics, so be warned. I use a lot of words that could make your head hurt if you can't handle it. Reader discretion is strongly advised to those that can't handle it.

I've been thinking. Is television, as my generation and the generations before mine knew it, coming to an end? I know we're in a new digital era where those without special sets or converters to watch television over the airwaves can't watch without the use of cable/satellite/fiber-optic services. That not what I'm talking about. I guess you've all heard that NBC Universal, or at least most of the company, may become part of the Comcast family in a matter of months, provided they could get a deal straightened out and overcome trade obstacles. There are also strong rumors that the NBC television network may end up becoming a cable-only outlet somewhere down the line as a result of the, opening up the possibility that the other three major broadcast channels could also go in that direction.

If that's the way television is headed, that we're going to have to pay to watch it, then that kind of sucks. I mean, unless something like Sezmi takes off where consumers pay a severely lower fee for services, television may belong to cable companies, which could now be counted on one hand. And that will, unfortunately, include broadcast over-the-air channels as well.

There is comfort in knowing that if I don't have cable services I can watch shows on television. It's a comfort that a lot of people, especially those addicted to cable television, don't appreciate until the time when the cable goes out because of storms, service outages, or when the cable system terminates the service for financial reasons. But if a broadcast network becomes cable-only, what would become of those affiliates that would be no more? Will they embrace a new syndication model that should have happened the moment that The WB and UPN merged but didn't thanks to Fox's hastily-assembled My Network TV venture or will they crumble and wither away or become nothing more than an infomercial outlet that nobody will watch? I'm afraid it'll be the latter.

That's a question nobody's asking in light of the possible Comcast-NBC merger. Either that, or the question isn't being asked loud enough. But it is a question that I've been thinking about lately. I just don't want to see free television go away, and I feel Comcast's handling of NBC may be the first step in the complete destruction of broadcast and free television.

Oh, you say you have internet "television?" Well, who do you think own the broadband lines?

Read more about the subject at a better site than mine.

Oct 6, 2009

Zero Dollars and No Sense

I've been writing on the internet for close to 12 years, either on Usenet, message boards, or my sites (and sites of my friends). You want to know how much money I've made for my articles over these dozen years?


That's zero dollars and no sense. In fact, I'm actually in the red by about $40. That's how much I paid for three years of my domain renewal and ICANN fees. Why am I telling you all of this?

Well, apparently the Federal Trade Commission said that effective on December 1, all bloggers/writers must disclose whether they're getting compensation (either monetary or products). I don't get any money from anybody. I did receive DVDs and books back when I was reviewing, but they were only 10% of what I reviewed. The other 90% I spent money on and reviewed of my own expense. I don't get review material anymore, and considering how expensive they are, I have to wait a long time before they become affordable. Again, I don't make an income from my sites.

I don't get anything for free these days. I've never gotten anything that was over $20 to make. No computers (I wish I had gotten a computer or any kind of electronic device). No televisions. Nothing valuable. Just a poor man and his words, which can cut like a brand new razor blade and hurt just the same if you're not careful.

That said, I'm glad I got that out of the way.

I haven't been updating Thoughtnami nor The X Bridge for a while because I'm actually looking for a job. I find myself a little dejected at times because there's nothing here for me. I've got a college diploma, and I can't do anything with it. It's depressing. It makes no sense at all. Also, when you spend a lot of time writing opinions that are mostly negative, it wears you out. I hate what Cartoon Network has become. I hate that the Japanese animation industry hasn't made a real, original hit with lasting power in over three years. I hate the fact that idiots are in control of the destinies of many.

But if I dwell on that negative feeling, it drains me. I'm sick of being sick. So, I'm stuck on creative mode. I'm being constructive rather than destructive. Does it mean I won't be writing a lot of commentaries? Probably. You'll see the occasional "rant and ramble" from yours truly. But it will probably be infrequently and when I want to. But right now, I don't want to. I've done that. I want to be creative and positive.

And I need to make sense out of all of this. Oh, and I need to make cents and dollars on the other side of the monitor.

Sep 19, 2009

52 Weeks Later

Fifty-two weeks ago tonight, the final broadcast of Toonami aired on Cartoon Network. While I am a little saddened that the block is no longer on the air, I would like to make the following statement:

The world did not end.

Sure, there are folks walking around with a dazed look on their faces, wide-eyed, and still convinced that Toonami will return and return sooner rather than later. Never mind the fact that in its final months, the four-hour block was cut down to a late-primetime lineup with one show airing the much-loathed filler episodes and reruns from the network. Cartoon Network and Viz had a falling out of some kind, which somehow affected the kid-friendly Shonen Jump titles that aired on the block, including Funimation's One Piece.

So, what exactly happened in the 52 weeks between the end of Toonami and tonight?

ADV Films went out of business. Disney bought Marvel. Toon Disney became Disney XD and the new home of Spectacular Spider-Man and soon Naruto Shippuden. Disney bought Marvel Entertainment. DC Comics released many great DTV titles as well as reorganized themselves as DC Entertainment, which in hindsight amounts to a whole lot of nothing. Americans moved into the digital television era, though households with cable barely notice nor acknowledge the fact that television is clearer and some outlets actually expanded their programming choices while other networks continue to be lazy. CNReal was heavily promoted over their animated titles and largely crashed and burned, though they're still trying to make it work despite the fact that in July, Cartoon Network had its lowest ratings since May 1998. And yet, they announced they're picking up a pair of action titles that have no clear date for their premieres.

The only things some folks got from that little blurb are the facts that ADV Films is no more and Naruto's coming to Disney XD. Those folks that only noticed that are likely the ones who are missing Toonami the most. They're the ones who aren't enjoying the fact that Cartoon Network has a lot of original action programming (most of it American-made) on the lineup and in the works. They're the ones who are livid that Chaotic and Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's are on the lineup while One Piece and any new Japanese title aren't. They're more or less interested in the latest from Japan, though, truth be told, Japan isn't cranking out quality hits these days. There hasn't been anything truly revolutionary or genre-changing from Japan in three years.

I will tell you what I do miss about Toonami. The atmosphere. The uniqueness of the block that is was not like anything else on television, let alone Cartoon Network. I don't feel that when I watch its successor block You Are Here. Yes, I know I am there, but why? It looks a lot like the rest of the Cartoon Network lineup, but it isn't anything looking forward to aside from just the series on the block. The cynical folks who never really liked Toonami always pointed out that the shows are bigger than how they're presented. They might be right in some cases, but, to that argument, would people appreciate Adult Swim if it was presented with Cartoon Network Noods? Would the shows of Har Har Tharsdays be as funny if they didn't have that branding? Would the shows of Toonami still attract attention without being surrounded by the Toonami branding?

I can't answer that (actually, I can, but that'll be another thread for another time), but I do know there is a void in the universe where Toonami once was. It's not as big a part of my universe as it used to be, but I still miss it. I know it won't return. Wish others finally realized that.

Aug 11, 2009

Is The Nightmare Over? Answer: No, Just Stalled

Previously on Thoughtnami, I talked about how moronic Cartoon Network has become in recent months, especially when it comes to the even more moronic CNReal experiment which has been proven to be a critical failure and the reason the network's ratings have tumbled 29% in primetime, where they're no longer in the top 10, let alone the top 20 in cable networks. This was a few weeks ago. Since that jaw-shattering announcement, Cartoon Network did some soul searching and actually brought some old favorites back to the lineup in marathon form. Ratings bumped up a lot, and they're still doing that.

But you have to wonder what brought that moment of clarity at Cartoon Network. I'm sure something along these lines was said within Techwood in some variation or another:

"Viewers don't like the fact that we crammed ripoffs of Ghost Hunters, Survivorman, Junkyard Wars, and Cash Cab down their collective throats at every open slot we had."

"Those repeats of Slamball didn't help matters much either. I mean for God's sake, we didn't even bother muting whenever the anchors said 'You're watching Slamball on Versus.'"

"Oh come on, they're good. I mean who doesn't like Son of the Mask?"

"Everybody doesn't like Son of the Mask, which is why we got it so cheap from Burbank. The question is what DO kids like?"

"Hey, didn't we have a whole lot of shows kids liked back in the day? This one show with ghosts and demons?"

"The Othersiders?"

"No, no, it had fake ghosts and demons."

"The Othersiders?"

"Dammit, it wasn't The Othersiders! It's this show with kids looking for them. We used to air it a lot."

"Are you sure it's not The Othersiders?"

"Yes, I'm sure it's not The Othersiders. They had a dog scared of everything."

"Courage? I remember we used to air a show called Courage the Scaredy Dog."

"Courage the Cowardly Dog. It's not that. We still air that, kind of. It's a bigger dog. Scooby-Doo! That's it!"

"Aren't we making a movie about that character?"

"Yeah, so let's bring it back."

"But . . . it's so . . . old! It's from the 70s or something. Kids thought Secret Saturdays were from the 70s. That's why we moved it to 8:30 on Saturday mornings."

"That's why? That's stupid. Who are these kids that said that?"

"The same ones who said The Othersiders was the bomb."

"Thought we had a policy against using the word 'bomb' when we refer to anything we do here. Heaven knows we don't need another Boston Invasion. But yeah, put Scooby-Doo back on."

"Kids liked another scary kids show too, Billy and Mandy."

"Put that one back on too! How about something with teen characters. Kids like teen characters. TDI, TDA, 6Teen, and Stoked are doing pretty good."

"How about Class of the Titans?"

"You mean Clash of the Titans, right? Burbank's remaking that movie. Maybe we can run the original one day."

"No I think he means Teen Titans. That show with Robin, the alien girl, the robot brother, the green animal boy, and the goth chick. Loved that one!"

"Actually, I was talking about this show from Canada called Class of the Ti---"

"Alright, we'll bring that back too! Now we need a show with kids being kids. Kids love shows about the kids next door."

"How about Kids Next Door? We actually made that one."

"I remember that one. How about Ed, Edd, and Eddy? That's a good one too."

"Bring them both back."

"Didn't we make a final movie starring that sho--"

"And bring back Tom and Jerry too. I don't know why, but kids like that cat and mouse team chasing each other around."

"How about Dexter's Laboratory?"

"What's that?"

"A show about siblings having fun with experiments. One of their parents is a neat freak, the other is rarely there and works a lot."

"I know that show. That's Johnny Test. That's on every day."

"No, that's Dexter's Lab. Red-headed scientist. Blonde troublemaker."

"Yeah, Johnny Test. We could increase airings of that show too!"

"Hey, what about the Powerpuff Girls?"

"The Powderwhat Whonow?"

"Powerpuff Girls. Big hit for us back in the day. Brought in girls and boys."

"Sorry, before my time. But we could test a few of those episodes one day."

"Excellent. So, we have a plan?"

"Yeah, let's do it! Say, these shows seem interesting."

"They're cartoons. We used to air a lot of them back in the good ol' days."

"You know, they ought to make a network that airs nothing but cartoons."

So, I have to ask, is the nightmare over? Has the madness been eradicated at Cartoon Network returning common sense to the channel? Hardly. They're still pushing the ill-fated live-action agenda with a pair of new shows a week from Wednesday, but at least the live-action smeg is largely concentrated to one slot. And if they become big at any moment, then the madness begins again. They're terminators, and if they have an agenda to put live-action on the Cartoon Network lineup even if there's overwhelming opposition to it, they're going to air them on Cartoon Network. Too bad the entertainment industry awards incompetence rather than punishes it.

Electric Hatred (or If You're Not Hated, You Aren't Doing It Right)

Over on my real site, I talked about how individuals could buy 4Kids Entertainment (who very briefly said that a sale of some kind is in the works this week). Obviously, it hit a nerve with some people. Not because I had made a few suggestions of who should buy it, but rather, heaven forbid, I gave an opinion. Not a negative, evil opinion, but an opinion. It's kind of funny really because when I write, I kind of do it for my amusement.

Yes, I appreciate the readers, the attention, and the admiration of those that found a connection with my words, even if it's for a brief second. But I do what I do because I like to do it. I'm not trying to create any strife or discord, and I don't pollute it with hateful, narrowminded, malicious, and often times libelous statements like this guy does. Every so often I see this one guy's site (I won't link to it because it's terrible), this one insignificant, moronic, insipid little guy that hasn't done anything with their life but get their jollies from hating my very existence, write, if you want to call his scrawlings writing, articles to pretty much libel me and everything I stand for. At least I used to think that's why this boil did it. Now, I think it's because he gets satisfaction and pleasure just from disagreeing with me on anything I write. I say I loathe 4Kids, he loves them. I say I like Cartoon Network (which I don't, at least not these days), he'll say he hates them and anyone who talks positively about them. I say the sky is blue, he'll say it's a lighter shade of purple.

It's a little petty and a little sad as well. I know I've probably given him fodder for tomorrow's rant of the day, but I've realized something. This little maroon that hates my very existence needs me to inspire him to hate. In essence, he's not a bad guy, just misguided, misinformed, self-hating, and lacking focus. I try to befriend him, but I've learned that you can't guide a guy like that. When I'm not around, he tends to ramble on about leaving, and when I come back, so does he. The timing is almost impeccable.

And laughable. I don't and can't hate him, but I do know that he has issues. But still, it reminds me of a song I heard Shelley Duvall sang in live-action version of Popeye. It's a good song, and I just saw a pretty damned good video set to images of The Joker and Harley Quinn. I don't think he like me like Harley loves her puddin', but often times. But I wonder. Just kidding. He's a good sport, and I wish him luck in whatever he's doing over there. Just don't drag me down with ya.

In the meantime, enjoy!

Aug 7, 2009

How John Hughes Changed My Life

To say that I was shocked to hear about yesterday's death of legendary film writer, producer, and director John Hughes would be a massive understatement. Much of my entire childhood was spent watching his movies on cable and that new-fangled thing called VCRs, and the non-conformist, trend-ignoring, path-unfollowing person you see before you (well, the person whose words you're currently reading) was solidified by those lessons learned from those movies. Loved them all. The Breakfast Club. Sixteen Candles. Weird Science. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Uncle Buck. The Great Outdoors. Vacation. Christmas Vacation. Home Alone. Curly Sue.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off. I think above everything Mr. Hughes ever put his creative input on, it's that movie that pretty much set the standard for the way I want to live my life. I've realized that, in reality, I'm actually more like Cameron, and even today, I'm still like that. I always wanted to be Ferris, and I guess in the end, I ended up being a little of both.

I was a little kid when this movie initially came out in theaters, but when it came on cable, I watched it, even eventually getting it on VHS, one of the first real tapes I remember getting. As a young teen, this movie spoke to me like no other movie had before at the time. The protagonist of the film (Ferris Bueller) 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.

On the flipside, you had Cameron, Ferris's best friend who constantly worried about every little thing and scared to come out of his bed, let alone doing things like impersonate a friend's father to get her out of school and borrowing his father's car to go on a day-long adventure. Ferris pushed Cameron, even though Cameron didn't want him to, and in the end, he learned from his best friend that if you took life too seriously, you'll spend all your time worrying.

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

Good advice, and something that stuck to me to this day.

So, Mr. Hughes, danke schön, thank you for all the joy and pain, and thank you for making films that made me realize I'm not odd, strange, and unusual, but rather normal. Thank you.

Jul 1, 2009

Hypothetically Speaking . . .

Hypothetically speaking, you own a channel. A channel whose primary focus was to air one particular medium at all hours of the day.

Let's call this medium "balloons." The medium also makes up your channel's first name.

Now these "balloons" are initially built up of stuff you already have in your possession, and then you begin to make your own stuff. It's mostly "balloons," but you do experiment with another kind of programming called "needles," often mixing them up with the "balloons," but "needles" weren't dominant on the channel.

Again, hypothetically speaking, fans of "balloons" and creators of "balloons" grew to love the "balloon channel." They started showing "balloons" from all over the world. Some viewers liked the "balloons" that came from Japan.

Now, 13 years had passed, and management noticed that while older viewers were still watching "balloons," kids were looking at "needles" on other channels, so, the management wanted to add more "needles" to their lineup full of "balloons." Now, anybody with half a brain would tell you "balloons" and "needles" don't mix, and even though everybody and their mother told them that, the management kept on putting in more "needles."

"Balloons" came and quickly went over time, and a lot of them got, let's hypothetically call it "popped." But those that remained had a pretty decent audience, though it wasn't large enough for the management. So, every so often, they aired as many "needles" as they could squeeze in., even creating their own "needles." Viewers grew irritated because they felt the "needles" caused many of their favorite shows to be "popped," a fact that's not all that false.

But, just as the "Balloon Channel" launched their first original "needle" creation, a metalworkers' strike occurred, virtually shutting down an entire industry. Of course, the metalworkers' strike didn't affect production of "balloons" (though the leader of the metalworkers worked on a few high-profile "balloon" projects on another channel). Needless to say, "Balloon Channel" refocused more on "balloons" than "needles," including a really, really big "balloon" based on a popular movie franchise and a smaller "balloon" that became the channel's biggest show of the year.

So, hypothetically speaking, after the successful year full of "balloons," what do they do? Add and aggressively promote the hell out of "needles." "Needles" that wouldn't be affected for the most part from any future strikes (instead of metal, they're made of a synthetic material). Yeah, they said more "balloons" would be headed to the network, but the "needles" would get heavy airplay. Even some of the small, yet popular "balloons" feel their creations will eventually get "popped." "Balloon" fans are furious over the decision to add more "needles" and less "balloons."

Hypothetically speaking, the showcases for the four major "needles" premiere with heavy fanfare, much to the dismay of "balloon" lovers and fans. Of course, nobody watched these "needles" (because if they did, "Balloon Channel" would be shouting to the heavens about its success) and the block is largely seen as a failure by its critics. They even hire one of the performers of their "needles"to comprise a song shouting that "Balloon Channel" is "More Than Just Balloons," as if "balloons" were beneath them or something. Now, hypothetically speaking, there is heavy rumors that "Balloon Channel" will change its name because they feel viewers aren't enjoying "needles" because they're on a network called "Balloon Channel." Plus, it'll give them justification to lessen their dependence on "balloons" and add more "needles."

It would be seen a desperate, moronic, suicidal, and idiotic move that not only the "balloon" community (the fans as well as the creator of "balloons") would be loudly protesting but also one entire entertainment industry would be laughing at. To get rid of a nearly 20-year old brand, a valuable world-renowned brand like "Balloon Channel" and remold itself into a network that also shows "needles" without the stigma of being connected to just "balloons" is stupid and self-destructive, and, hypothetically speaking, everyone who even suggested the change should be fired. Everyone. And the fans of "Balloon Channel" will find themselves angry and a little sad that their channel is gone, even though the name will likely be placed on their earlier spinoff channel, "Yo-Yo."

I'll end on that note and let you "enjoy" this video from Cartoon Network. They originally removed it for some reason but the artist behind it kindly put it on his own YouTube page.

Cartoon Network. Wonder what they're up to these days. Besides, you know, removing videos.

Jun 16, 2009

CN Real . . . ly Stupid.

adj. 1. not artificial, fraudulent, or illusory: GENUINE. 2. of or relating to practical or everyday activities 3. occurring or existing in actuality.

We're hours away from Cartoon Network's umpteenth pandering of Nickelodeon and The Disney Channel's usual audience while ignoring the successes of the past year with the exception of Total Drama Island and Clone Wars. Cartoon Network is still showing animation, but lately, it seems that animation is being pushed aside as are the small yet loyal fans of the network in favor of identity-changing programming and a persona that sheds everything that is genuinely Cartoon Network. In short, while Cartoon Network is getting Real, Cartoon Network isn't keeping it real.

Let me explain.

On Wednesday, Cartoon Network is launching a new live-action block of programming they're calling CN Real. They're airing a teen version of Sci Fi's Ghost Hunters called The Othersiders and a teen version of Discovery's Survivorman called Survive This. On Saturday, they're airing a teen version of Discovery's Cash Cab called BrainRush and a teen version of The Science Channel's Junkyard Wars called Destroy Build Destroy. Coming soon is a teen version of Discovery's Mythbusters called Dude, What Would Happen and a teen version of the various viral clips shows called Bobb'e Says. Six live-action shows will be coming down the pike in the forthcoming months, and it seems to be taking over the landscape of the network, which is disappointing because, well, they're not cartoons.

For some odd reason since 2005, Cartoon Network has been hellbent on adding more live-action to their lineup. In 2006, they premiered their first original live-action film, Re-Animated which spun off their first original 30-minute live-action series, Out of Jimmy's Head, a terrible show who's fate was determined by the Writers Guild Strike of '07. The strike caused the series to be delayed since it came under WGA jurisdiction, and that delay led to its cancellation. It wasn't missed especially since many critics and viewers saw it as a disappointment, and it's cancellation didn't cause anyone to shed many tears. 2008 was a rebuilding year of sorts for Cartoon Network, learning from their mistakes of the past year and rekindle their love affair with animation.

They learned to make strike-proof shows, and 2009 will be the first year these non-scripted projects commence. One of the shows, Survive This, is Canadian-made. The Othersiders, Dude What Would Happen, and Destroy Build Destroy aren't scripted while Brain Rush and Bobb'e Says barely qualify under the WGA because of the format of the series. The actual scripted live-action projects had been in the works for over a year, but I'll talk about them later.

What I'm talking about is the whole format of CN Real. I understand the live-action connotations the word "Real" has, but the use kind of baffles me. See, if the live-action block is called CN Real, does that mean the animated programs qualify as CN Fake? Seriously, when was the last time Cartoon Network promoted the hell out of their properties that they have an ownership stake in (i.e. shows owned by the network and sibling companies, NOT third-party shows like Clone Wars or Total Drama Island) the way they're doing with the CN Real shows? I think the last time Cartoon Network advertised the way they did for CN Real was for The Powerpuff Girls, a series that celebrated its 10th anniversary last year (while the anniversary was last year, they actually celebrated it this year), and it wasn't even as vast and far-reaching as what Cartoon Network are doing with CN Real.

The whole sense of the the word Real in CN Real just confounds me because the whole concept is anything BUT real. It's an artificial attempt to get the eyeballs of the diehard Nickelodeon and Disney Channel fans. And here's the thing. Despite everything Cartoon Network does, they're STILL going to be diehard Nickelodeon and Disney Channel fans, though for some odd reason, Nickelodeon's throwing Cartoon Network a bone by giving up primetime in July. So, in essence, it'll be largely the match Cartoon Network feared . . . CN vs. Disney. And Disney will probably embarrass Cartoon Network largely because many of the Nick viewers will migrate to Disney Channel because they will target that market more than Cartoon Network.

The biggest fear that the small yet loyal fanbase of Cartoon Network has is that the CN Real shows will be a success. But what constitutes as a success in Cartoon Network's eyes? Will it to beat Disney and/or Nickelodeon? Will it be to do better than they did a year ago while failing to acknowledge what aired in the slot (more often than not, it was a repeat on Wednesday and Saturday nights [quick note before the first press release comes out: the 8 PM E/P hour wasn't Toonami last year, so if folks tell you CN Real beat Toonami, it's a lie because Toonami wasn't in CN Real's slot]). They'll probably use the latter to justify and qualify the shows as successes which is a shame.

In the end, CN Real isn't the end of Cartoon Network nor the beginning of the end, but it is a move in a very idiotic direction. What's more moronic is that people are laying down and accepting the live-action direction of Cartoon Network as an obvious direction they should have taken a long time ago. No. Cartoon Network is not Nickelodeon, and they will never get Nickelodeon's audience, no matter how hard they try. Cartoon Network is not The Disney Channel, and they will never get The Disney Channel's audience no matter how hard they try. Cartoon Network is Cartoon Network. Not CN. They don't have to go the MTV route and ignore their roots.

Now, they have learned that advertising is key in promoting something, as if it was a new invention. It'd be nice if they do it with their animated fare, particularly the ones not made by Lucasfilms and Fresh TV.

In the meantime, CN Real will still air. Cartoon Network will still continue to lose their identity and add more live-action mess and fewer cartoons. And life goes on. Hopefully they'll learn the error of their ways, but somehow, I doubt it. Learning from mistakes isn't one of the lessons learned from the shows on CN Real.

Jun 11, 2009

An Appropriate Cartoon For Tomorrow's Milestone

In case you've been living in a cave for the past few years, tomorrow (June 12) marks the day the United States enters the digital television age. Television as we have known it since forever will change. If you have cable or satellite, you won't notice the change. If you rely on antennas (antennae?), well, I hope you have either a digital-ready set or a digital converter box to watch the new crystal clear era of television.

I have to admit that aside from my PBS and ION affiliates, I'm not getting the additional channels as promised by the ads. Universal Sports, RTN, ThisTV, and Funimation sound pretty sweet. Then again, as the following short from Tex Avery will show you, the television of tomorrow was supposed to have many changes, though Tex and company were right on the money on a few of the predictions.

Enjoy this MGM classic, The TV of Tomorrow:

Postscript: I'm not infringing on the copyrights of Turner Entertainment, owners of this short, but considering they aren't airing it in any capacity in the US nor planning on releasing it to the DVD market any time soon, I'm presenting this short under Fair Use guidelines under US Code Title 17
§ 107 , showcasing an historical commentary on the state of the then-new television industry for critical and educational purposes. Now, watch the cartoon.

Jun 8, 2009

Quick Waves #1

Over the next few weeks, I'm presenting Quick Waves, where I talk about a few spurts of thought that come to mind that I would talk about at length, but since I'm in the middle of totally revamping The X Bridge (it's not just a facelift, cats and kittens), I could only write small bytes. Here comes something:

- How come I didn't know that Elmore Leonard wrote a CHILDREN'S book? The guy behind Out of Sight, Rum Punch, Get Shorty, 52 Pickup, 3:10 To Yuma, and countless novels wrote A Coyote's In The House, a great story about a ravenous yet slick coyote named Antwan and a pampered, retired German shepherd actor named Buddy, who decide to switch lives. A pretty damned good book at any age (and probably the first published instance of the correct use of the word "bitch," a female canine), so pick it up. And this seems like something that could easily translate to animation. The old Disney, before they got preoccupied with teen sexpots and computer animated pablum from The Almighty Lamp, would have really snatched up for adaptation as an animated film. Nowadays, they'd probably take it and make it into one of those live-action talking animal fests ala Beverly Hills Chihuahua or G-Force, and that's something we don't need. Speaking of G-Force . . .

- Hey, Disney. About that G-Force movie . . . no. Just . . . no. The name alone evokes memories in my generation of another franchise which, coincidentally, is also in development as a major motion picture (an animated one at that with a script from noted animation scribe Paul Dini). I'm sure there were folks at Disney familiar with the name and its association with another property. Then again, they claimed that they didn't know about a story about a young lion cub who grows up to become the king of the savanna when they created their story about a young lion cub who grows up to become the king of the savanna.

- Strange realization. The plot of Spy Kids and The Incredibles are very, very similar. Both parents used to live alternative lives (spies and superheroes) and pretty much live seemingly normal suburban lives rarely expressing their past lives to their children, a girl and her younger brother. The father secretly goes on missions and finds himself missing (in Spy Kids, the mother also participates and gets kidnapped as well). The kids (along with their mother in The Incredibles) go on a mission largely unprepared for what awaits them and learn to work together rather than against each other. In the end, they are all reunited and realize that families that work together are stronger than anything the world throws at them. Yeah, it's probably a coincidence, and I'm not accusing the Almighty Lamp of swiping anything from Spy Kids (though Spy Kids had been written back in the mid-90s and in production beginning in 1999). It just happens to be a happy coincidence. Plus, a lot of the early reviews pretty much called The Incredibles "Spy Kids mixed with the Fantastic Four."

- A lot of graduations are happening now, so to those of the class of 2009, congratulations . . . now, find your place in the world and enjoy this life. Never stop learning because new things happen every day, and you're not as smart as you think. Don't let people tell you you can't or it's impossible, because you can and it is possible. Understand there will be moments of doubt and fear, but also understand that too will pass. Eat a slice of pie at least once a week, the world's most perfect dessert. Take and heed the advice of those that came before you and then give it back to those that will come after you. Create something everyday. Relax, but don't be lazy. Work, but don't extend yourself too much. Chew gum, preferably bubble gum. Love this life, it's the only one you've got. Don't fall into trends; they're not forever. Last, but not least, never forget who you are, where you came from, and the people who created half of what you've become; you're on a path to completing and presenting yourself to the world.

The rest of you guys and gals should heed that advice as well.

Jun 7, 2009

Defending The Red-Haired Man

Have you heard that there's a new host of The Tonight Show on NBC? Like our current president, he served as a head of a prestigious Harvard University group (he was the president of the Harvard Lampoon, one of only three to serve in the role twice). He's a former comedy writer for Saturday Night Live and The Simpsons and a two-time Emmy winner and three-time host. He's freakishly tall like his favorite president, kind of looks like the current president of Finland, and made a grown man say "Buddy Boy" and "Jub-Jub" during the World Series.

Did I mention he hosted his own late-night talk show for 15 and a half years?

Conan O'Brien has only been host of The Tonight Show for a week, but he's doing pretty well in the slot. The fans of Late Night With Conan O'Brien loved the revamped Tonight Show, but many of the show's critics are complaining that his show is nothing more than Late Night with a bigger shinier set and that he's unworthy to sit in the seat formerly occupied by Jay Leno.

I'm sorry. Unworthy? I think that Mr. O'Brien is more than worthy of hosting NBC's marquee late-night franchise. He has over 20 years of industry experience prior to moving to his current slot. Yeah, he wasn't a stand-up comic, but then again, neither was the guy who preceded Leno.

What? I'm not saying anything that isn't true. Johnny Carson was a comedy writer and sketch comedy performer before he honed his hosting skills on various game shows before ascending to the role of a lifetime. I think a lot of these critics of Mr. O'Brien have selective memory because they largely forgotten what kind of show The Tonight Show was before Jay Leno, which had a lot of sketch comedy segments and memorable characters like Carnac the Magnificent, Floyd R. Turbo American, and Art Fern.

And I just realized I've aged myself and alienated readers under the age of 24.

But yeah, Jay Leno's Tonight Show was a much more political show than his predecessor's show and relied on less sketches and more on man-on-the-street segments. That's not to say it's was a bad show because, let's face it, it wasn't. However, if The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien was going to be the same show as The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, and if a lot of people expected that it would be, well, disappointment is going to be an emotion a lot of Leno fans are going to be experiencing for a good while now.

The thing is, well, people aren't going to like Conan's brand of humor. And here's another observation. People didn't like Leno's brand of humor either. A comparative statement is water is wet. The reason Conan took over Late Night 15 and a half years ago wasn't because he was just like David Letterman, because he's not. The reason Conan took over The Tonight Show wasn't because he was just like Jay Leno (and, for the record, Jay Leno didn't have to leave The Tonight Show; he chose to; Conan could have been gone and about $40 million richer and on a new outlet). They liked him because he's himself, not a carbon copy of Carson or Leno.

Otherwise, what would be the point?

Conan's not from "retro Hollywood." You know, that so-called glamorous period that existed on television between the end of the Eisenhower presidency and the beginning of the Reagan presidency. An era between the premiere of I Love Lucy and the Who Shot J.R. episode of Dallas. Television was still a virgin period and largely untested. Jay Leno represents the last link to the "retro Hollywood" era of television, and I think that's why a lot of people are so hellbent on criticizing every nuance of what Conan's doing on his . I know Conan respects the past, but he also realizes his viewers are younger and expect a lot more from him.

I'm not saying everybody has to like Conan. People had ill feelings towards the guy for many other reasons, but give him a chance on The Tonight Show. He's pretty good at it.

May 25, 2009

Five. Five Dollar. Five Dollar Redesigns

Washington. Lincoln. FDR. Reagan. Franklin.

If I had my way, those faces would be on the faces of the banknotes of the United States. The first President. The President who fought to keep the nation together. The President who brought hope to the hopeless. The President who thawed the Cold War. One of the major architects of this great nation. I blame the Dollar ReDeSign Project for inspiring me to do these redesigns in the first place.

May 18, 2009

So, Was The Dimerger Worth It?

In case you haven't heard, CBS Corporation is not only dropping the Paramount name from their television division name (now they're CBS Television Studios), but they're also launching a new film studio, CBS Films. This isn't CBS's first foray into original film production (they were one of the "stars" in Tri-Star Pictures, with Columbia Pictures and HBO being the other two). The whole purging of the Paramount culture at CBS shouldn't be so surprising, especially since folks at Paramount Pictures' parent company are doing likewise with the CBS culture after announcing plans to launch a premium cable network called Epix that's basically housing Paramount, Lionsgate, and MGM films. Of course Showtime, the CBS-owned premium network that had exclusive access to those films, weren't thrilled, and its future could be in doubt.

But here's the thing.

Viacom and CBS Corporation are separate corporations, and yet, they're still owned by Sumner Redstone's National Amusements and are treated like two spoiled children with their own toys not willing to share them and doted on by their parents. Viacom and CBS both believe that "Dad" likes the other one better than them. The whole reason why Viacom and CBS were divided in the first place was because one unit was supposed to be a broadcast production/premium cable unit and the other theatrical production/basic cable unit. Of course, that fact that CBS is making theatrical productions and Viacom is making a premium cable channel kind of invalidates the whole reason for the dimerger. In the end, was splitting up Viacom 1.0 worth it?

No, it was moronic at best, foolish at worst and only created to make people think they were two different companies. They are, of course, two grown children doing their own thing yet living in homes owned by their parents, who collects rents and other monies they make in life. The reason why CBS and Viacom 2.0 are seen as rivals is because their parent company is making them act like rivals, even though they don't need to. Viacom wouldn't need to create a premium network if Showtime's parent CBS were still in the family. CBS would need to create a movie studio if Paramount's parent Viacom were still in the family. Who's stopping CBS from creating a cable music channel that, I don't know, actually shows music or even launching a KEWL-themed children's entertainment cable network with a company like Cookie Jar? Who's stopping Viacom from buying 49% of Sirius XM Radio?

At this rate, I could actually see those happening. Of course, National Amusements will own both of whatever they create anyway, so it really doesn't matter. It's one large company acting like they're two, and the public has completely bought it.

May 9, 2009

A Look To July

Aloha, and happy May.

It's been a while since I've posted anything on Thoughtnami. I've been kind of busy remodeling my regular site, The X Bridge, but dammit if lightning didn't put the last couple of weeks on lockdown for me. Lightning and my computers don't have a good history together, so instead of taking a chance on working with the elements, I unplug them all. It stormed pretty much every night for the past week. Needless to say, plans have been slow to the boil as my grandma used to say.

I posted something on my site despite the delay, but it's not what I wanted. I'm actually working on a new layout for the site, but at this rate, it probably won't be ready until July. Didn't really feel comfortable with the previous layout, and the temporary layout currently on the site is a little wonky (though it looks alright on my home browser [which is Firefox]). To the left is what I want my site to look like and what I'm hoping it will look like come July. It'll take time, and it is a work in progress. Hopefully, I can execute it very well.

I really haven't had anything to say. My mind's been largely focused on reworking the site, creating content for THAT rather than writing here, which is kind of sad. I'm going to have to rectify that in the coming days. Of course, I'm not really the young angry animation fan I used to be. I mellowed out over the last couple of months and realized that if you spend your life worrying, you'll never get through it.

Anyway, enjoy the day, and I'll be back here in a couple of days. Maybe something will piss me off between now and then.

Apr 24, 2009

Kung Pao Radio?

In the "Either This Is Really Cool or REALLY Racist" department, MAX-FM, the rock station formerly known as WCMS (the country's first country music station), reformatted itself yesterday as Kung Pao FM, airing what they're dubbing "classic Chinese music," though it's mostly sitar music. You can listen to it right here if you like. I'll admit, the music is soothing and zen like, but the joke's going to end soon. BEER's coming . . . I'm thinking May Day, next Friday (considering the current Chinese rebranding and the worker's party ties to May 1, it would be ever so convenient), and will become a classic rock station, though to be honest, I'm fond of the one we've got here already (you cannot hate a station that plays The Beatles, Queen, Earth Wind and Fire, ELO, Stevie Wonder, CCR, Prince, and The Rolling Stones back to back with no ads).

But I'll play along.

POSTSCRIPT: Four days into the change, they shifted to an adult contemporary hits format, HOT 100.5 FM. This too is temporary since they're playing 3000 songs in a row without commercial interruptions. What a strange channel.

Apr 13, 2009

Like-Minded and Awesome By Default

About a decade ago, I met my friend Jon over the internet. We're like-minded individuals and worked together on many occasions, essentially molding our combined talents as well as finding other like-minded individuals like Mark, Brady, Ryan, Tyler, and Cody, to create the Toonami Inner Circle Alliance. Jon's contributions to the Circle were the Toonami Directory, Toonami Radio (which transformed into Hub Radio Networks and evolved into Toon Radio), and Moltar's Hub, a fun hangout for other like-minded individuals.

Well, Jon and other like-minded individuals created a website to essentially entertain, enlighten, and educate folks on the things we love, like, and loathe in this world. This site is Awesome By Default. Truth in naming, my friends. And Jon offered me a chance to contribute an article on the site. You think I'm going to say no?

So, here's my first article for Awesome By Default. It's a commentary of sorts about the live-action agenda Cartoon Network is hellbent on enforcing to the kids of America from Cartoon Network Fridays to CN Real. And while you're at it, check out the rest of the site. Fun stuff.

Don't worry. I'll still be here as well as The X Bridge. I'm just having fun everywhere I go.

Mar 16, 2009

Co To Za Syfy? (Polish: What Is This Crap?)

I'm not fond of cherrypicking nor, as Jon Stewart so eloquently said the other day, turdmining anything. I don't want to snark or get bitter over anything. Everybody that knows me says I'm a pretty good guy. Most days, I'm happy, free to be me, and enjoy life. Other days, I'm a little ticked, and I unleash hell on those that I feel have made it a point to make my day miserable.

This is one of those days.

Recently-minted president of SciFi Channel, Dave Howe, just held an upfront earlier this morning. They celebrated the fact that the network had its best year ratingswise ever (they're in 13th place in ad-supported networks and in the top 10 with viewers 18-49 and 25-56, so Cartoon Network, stop whining, you're still doing well despite not having Nick and Disney-sized numbers). They spent time talking about their new series Warehouse 13 (essentially Eureka in South Dakota) and hinted about their new endeavor that will translated to a subscription-based MMORPG and a television series.

But nobody's talking about that.

What they're focused on is the new direction of the network. Or should I say the new name of SciFi, a brand that has been around for almost two decades and succeeded.

The name of the network, launching alongside the premiere of Warehouse 13, will become Syfy on July 7.

Yes, they've changed the name from SciFi to a homophone. Almost as bad as the concept of CN Real. Almost. Their lame reasoning for the renaming is as idiotic as the name itself. Take it away television historian Tim Brooks:

“The name Sci Fi has been associated with geeks and dysfunctional, antisocial boys in their basements with video games and stuff like that, as opposed to the general public and the female audience in particular ... We spent a lot of time in the ’90s trying to distance the network from science fiction, which is largely why it’s called Sci Fi ... It’s somewhat cooler and better than the name ‘Science Fiction.’ But even the name Sci Fi is limiting.”

And just like that, one of the architects of Sci-Fi Channel marginalized and stereotyped the viewers of science-fiction. Fans of SciFi, this is how the network views you. Continue Dave Howe-the-hell-did-you-get-this-job:

“When we tested this new name, the thing that we got back from our 18-to-34 techno-savvy crowd, which is quite a lot of our audience, is actually this is how you’d text it ... It made us feel much cooler, much more cutting-edge, much more hip, which was kind of bang-on what we wanted to achieve communication-wise"

As a member of the 18-34 techno-savvy crowd, I've never text Sci-Fi as Syfy. Ever. I don't know anybody who has ever referred to Sci-Fi as Syfy unless they were talking about the website Syfy Portal, which recently changed its name a few weeks ago. They're too lazy to type the letters "c" and "i," even though CBS doesn't have that problem at all. While it may make you feel cooler, cutting edge, and hipper, Mr. Howe, but it makes you, your network's parent company, and anyone who has or will associate with your network look moronic, out-of-step, oblivious to, ignorant of, and dismissive of their viewers, past and present, and anyone that enjoys the genre as a whole.

A genre, I may add, is the CORE REASON YOUR NETWORK EXISTS!

They may find the name SciFi limiting, but guess what? That's what you are. When the network began, it embraced science fiction in all its forms, including horror, paranormal activities, and tech-based shows which showed that science-fiction is eerily close to reality. But somehow, the network lost focus. I think it was the time Bonnie Hammer arrived. Now, Dave Howe is in charge, and he's proving to be more inept than his predecessor, even though they both thought long and hard about the name change not really.

Look, it's all about capitalizing on the SciFi brand, and they felt that SciFi was limiting and Syfy will sell useless pieces of plastic. Sci Fi couldn't air non-science-fiction shows without impunity and scorn from fans of sci-fi. SyFy can, and maybe that's the true reasoning behind the name change. Cartoon Network must be taking notes.

SyFy wants us to "Imagine Greater." The fact is I can imagine a greater SciFi, one not ravaged by cheesy C-Movies every weekend, not lacking in quality original programming and acquisitions, and not mired with daily barrages of marathons instead of a strong linear lineup and unashamed of being labeled a sci-fi channel. They want the "Imagine Greater" tagline to be "a call to action." Instead, the tagline and the idiotic name change has become "a call to action" to get rid of executives who believe SyFy is a suitable replacement for SciFi and marginalizes the audience that watches it as do-nothing slackers who are stuck in one position and will lap up anything they give us.

I hope Dave Howe fails. Then, maybe Cartoon Network learn a thing about shifting directions for short-term success.

Mar 12, 2009

200 Posts! Oh, and There's A Dragon Ball Movie Coming Soon

I never expected my 200th post here at Thoughtnami would be talking about the live-action Dragon Ball movie. I also never expected to have 200 posts here in the first place because, let's face it. I have a web site, The X Bridge. It has been around for over a decade, and as much as I love that domain, I'm a little more comfortable here because it's more freeflowing and less constricted. While THAT site is currently up, it's evolving into something a bit more creative. I have over 500 pages of articles and such accumulated there, and a I'm changing it into more of a creative outlet, but I can't reveal anything until it happens, so updates there are sporadic to say the least. In the meantime, I'm posting here, where the living is easy, and I can write when I want and about whatever I want and not worry about getting my hosts in trouble. So, for all of you readers who've checked out Thoughtnami in the nearly five years and 200 posts, I thank you all.

Now, back to the subject at hand.

Did you know there's a live-action Dragon Ball movie coming out next month? You did? I guess you're the ones who check out the anime forums and such. If you're not, this is probably news to you. Fox, the film's producer and distributor, already released the bombariffic Chun-Li movie with limited ads and a disastrous box office take. And now, they're about to release a major live-action version with zero buzz about it.

If this was five years ago, perhaps there would be high-profile buzz about the film. After all, it's based on one of the 21st century's biggest imports to this country, bigger than nearly everything that has come since, including Naruto and One Piece. Yeah, the Naruto fans would put my head on a pike for suggesting that, but I don't recall that series inspiring a kids' meal at a major burger chain nor releasing videos exclusively to said chain. Dragon Ball Z, between 2000 and 2004, was the biggest thing in pop culture to a generation of viewers, and now Fox will release a live-action adaptation of those characters.

Of course, it's five years too late, and it's not really an adaptation, but, rather, a generic story with teenage martial artists with the names of the Dragon Ball core cast attached to them. Maybe Fox realizes this isn't going to be a monstrous success. It was supposed to be out last summer, but for some odd reason, they got scared off by wooden toy-looking Jedi, which didn't do too well either. Maybe they realized that they should have stayed true to the source (who am I kidding? NOTHING stays true to the source of the thing they're trying to capitalize on, especially if it's something based on a property many people are familiar with based on comics, games, cartoons, or toys). It'll probably be #1 or a mid-grade #2 on its opening weekend, but the cume will drop because it will be universally loathed.

It's already universally loathed, and it hasn't opened in the US yet (though, not so strangely, the American film is playing in Japan). Maybe the buzz will happen in a couple of weeks, close enough for the opening weekend. But if it fails big time, who's going to be blamed? If it succeeds, are they going to make more?

Dilemmas. Dilemmas.

Mar 9, 2009

So, What's A Better Idea Than TV Everywhere?

Previously, I stated that Time-Warner's upcoming TV Everywhere service is a bad idea. It is seemingly a one-sided idea that wants to implement a pay-per-click model on programming usually found on sites owned by the companies that are typically ad-supported. The whole thing with this plan is that you can watch cable programming and you will have to pay for it. Technically, this means that if you're already paying for cable television and broadband services (because, let's face it, this won't be for dial-up users), you'll have to pay to watch the shows you're already paying for on television if you want to watch it on your computer. And portable media isn't even included in this TV Everywhere (thus making the name "Everywhere" less than accurate), so folks with cell phones and the latest piece of Apple-branded plastic are going to look elsewhere. It's an all-around terrible plan.

So what would I do?

For starters, I'd work outside the box by looking at the world around me and ignoring the cable subscriber model altogether. I feel the cable industry is as large as the telephone industry used to be with no real choice in services and an almost monopolistic hold over the consumer. Instead of dealing with a cable company, perhaps the studios could adapt a monthly "pay-as-you-go" plan not unlike cell phone companies who present many variants of "Go" plans. Create a service that doesn't rely on being a cable consumer largely paying for channels you don't want but rather a selection of the best of the best cable has to offer.

Ala carte done right.

At $20 per month. Consumers could buy refillable/subscription cards at retail stores not unlike Go Phone refill cards.

What exactly are they refilling? What could hold ala carte done right? A digital descrambler/converter with a built-in hard drive that can house a weekly selection of shows from the best of cable. It's cable without the hang-up of relying on the network model. It's also a cross between a digital converter and a DVR, allowing you to record up to 180 hours of television, including local digital channels.

Think it's impossible?

The model already exists in the UK.

This is Top Up TV. It's been in the UK for much of the decade and a pretty successful model for the most part. Combined with the already stellar Freeview digital television service, Top Up TV combines the best of cable with the digital revolution. It's also a reason why the digital transition in the UK was better managed than the transition in the US, which is horrendous, mismanaged, and manipulated largely by the broadcast industry that benefits the most from it.

Yeah, a $250-$300 box is a bit much for some folks, but considering TiVo is roughly the same price, it's likely not a big deterrent as one would expect. Plus, I'd think TiVo would want to be a part of this endeavor.

Now, here's where the "everywhere" component comes in. This service model is not limited to just television. Enrollment in this service brings your programming choices everywhere you are, including your broadband computer and your mobile devices at your command and no additional charge. With room for growth and actual development of new services over time, this could potentially be a game-changer, not only for the television industry, but rather for the way media works.

But if they want to do TV Everywhere and limit themselves to just pay-per-click access on Hulu, YouTube, and MySpace like they want, then who am I to get in their way?

TV Everywhere Is A Bad Idea

Despite what the media tries to tell you, television isn't afraid of the internet.

They're not.

The thing is folks who pretty much own television are ABANDONING it at a spiraling rate. They're abandoning over-the-air television, which is why the broadcast networks have no plans for the digital spectrum they're being awarded.

The whole TV Everywhere is a moronic one at best. Yeah, they could put shows on something like Hulu or YouTube, but people with dial-up access (they're still around, you know) aren't going to watch those programs on those services. They're going to watch them on TELEVISION!

The people who are going to sit down and watch those cable shows on the internet are likely going to have broadband, which means that 9/10 of them are already subscribed to a cable/satellite/fiber-optics service in the first place, meaning whatever profit they hope to make will be a minute profit at best, unless the plan is for the users to prove that they're a cable subscriber and then pay-per-click afterwards if they are. And the consumer market won't sit for that.

When cable consumers have access to tech like video-on-demand and DVR, the need for pay-per-click cable programs online seems not only redundant but borderline idiotic, which is probably no surprise considering that Time Warner, the most poorly-ran entertainment company on the planet, is behind the TV Everywhere endeavor.

Time Warner needs the internet revenue it lost once America On-Line lost its relevance at the turn of the century thanks to wider broadband, and freer endeavors like in2TV, The WB, and Kids' WB aren't really bringing in the money it wants from ads alone. Of course, it would help to actually advertise that they exist across the traditional broadcast outlets. Obviously another Turner edict, "Work like hell and advertise," is one lost of the idiot class lining their pockets at the company greed built and arrogance destroyed.

I Miss Entertainment on Broadcast TV

Whatever happened to entertainment?

It's not like the world isn't bombarded by an endless 24-hour news cycle. It is. NBC, Fox, and CNN all dominate the national news scene in this country, and the fact that some digital networks are dedicating themselves to news is kind of irksome. The broadcast networks have really dropped the ball on subchannel development in the new digital order because they've completely abandoned entertainment.

Despite what Fox News, CNBC, and Headline News tell you, news is not entertainment. It's news. The major broadcast networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox) are owned by Disney, NBC Universal, CBS Paramount, and News Corp, monolithic entertainment companies with a vast library of shows, movies, and specials for all ages.

The thing isn't that they can't create outlets airing those shows but rather they won't. Why won't they? The television industry is cheap. Even before the depression started, the television industry is powered by cheap, overpaid individuals with no talent who don't want to pay folks with talent, whether it be writers, artists, or actors. They've embraced the internet and cable television so they wouldn't have to give residuals to those who created the products the shows' owners get paid for.

The digital television agenda seems to be awarding the television industry for something they didn't do. Older programs are disappearing from the airwaves, replaced by more modern fare, which is disheartening because not everything modern is good and not everything old is bad. A profit could be made from airing programs, plus it could actually rejuvenate the broadcast television market (something the whole digital television movement should accentuate often and always).

The government ads are promoting new channels, but broadcast networks outside the top 25 markets (with the exception of public broadcasting, ION, and affiliates owned by the big four networks) aren't really pushing the idea beyond one channel. And the broadcast industry continues to be defined by news rather than entertainment. Because it's cheaper? Because it's an outlet to showcase their political and social viewpoints? Because they want a reason to keep their news divisions and remain relevant?

I'd rather see classic comedies and dramas than 24-hours of news. And I know I'm not the only one.

Feb 24, 2009

Six For The Swim

I get it now.

Adult Swim is going in a different direction than a lot of fans would want it. Just because they're going into that direction doesn't mean they should be going in the direction headfirst, blindfolded, and falling in the direction of jagged glass shards and rusted nails.

I do wish that Adult Swim wasn't the only avenue for the shows "we" want. Despite all their valiant moves to prove otherwise in recent years, they're still a part of Cartoon Network and are still largely handcuffed by the management of Cartoon Network, Turner, and Time Warner who largely sees Adult Swim as a diversion from their core mission of remaining third in the kid-vid market.

If I was a prospective media company with pocket change to spend like, say, NBC Universal, I'd create a 24-hour Adult Swim-like channel with animation, sitcoms, movies, etc. (reruns of Late Night with Conan O'Brien and SNL would be a killer app for the channel, especially since we'll never see them again otherwise)

But given they're going in a largely different direction in accordance with the largely different direction the mothership is taking, Adult Swim is becoming largely a comedic outlet and recently discovered an Anglophillic vibe about them, especially with recent pickups like Garth Marenghi's Darkplace, Look Around You, and The Mighty Boosh.

I know, I know some folks would rather see Japanese animated titles populate the block's lineup. I know I would rather see Bleach or Code Geiss than Assy McGee, Xavier: Renegade Angel, or Delocated, but since they want to go comedy/Britannia, then maybe they should consider these pick-ups. And The Simpsons is one of those shows I don't want to see on Adult Swim, but, that's another thread:

Duckman (CBS Paramount Television, 1994-1998, 70 Episodes, Animated):
Everett Peck's private dick/family man was Adult Swim before Adult Swim, and while the series was recently neutered in its most recent broadcast on Comedy Central almost five years ago, its uncut original form pushed the envelope. For those who've never seen it, it's if Quagmire was a detective.

Bromwell High (Hat Trick/Studio B, 2005, 13 Episodes, Animated):
Three troublemaking teenage girls attending a poorly mismanaged high school. Remember when South Park was South Park in that golden age before Trey and Matt became arrogant, smug sons of bastards thinking they're better than everybody? That's Bromwell in a nutshell. Not many people saw its BBC America run, which is a pity.

Sons of Butcher (S&S Productions, 2006-2007, 26 Episodes, Animated Hybrid):
The mothership has embraced Canadian animation, so why can't Adult Swim? This Detour-based series about wanna-be rockers has a huge following in the Great White North. Seriously, when the show was unceremoniously dropped by Teletoon, fans of the show sent meat in protest of the channel's decision. Raw, uncooked meat. Just saw a sampling of the series on You Tube, and the eight-minute piece of a 22-minute series blew away nearly every original production the block premiered in the last two years. Plus, come on . . . I want to see a Dethclock/Butcher band-off marathon one random night.

Sledge Hammer!(Starz Media, 1986-1988, 41 Episodes, Live-Action):
You will believe a man can love a gun. Okay, it's live-action, but it's 41 episodes of GOOD live-action. It's a brilliant satire about a cop who was a cross between Get Smart's Agent 86 and Dirty Harry busting bad guys with explosive results. Why Family Guy hasn't parodied it yet, I'll never know.

The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. (Warner Bros., 1993-1994, 27-28 Episodes, Live-Action):
Like Outlaw Star and Cowboy Bebop? Action, adventure, all things strange and unusual, and, most importantly, Bruce Campbell in his OTHER iconic role. Yeah, it's an hour-long series, but hey, if Adult Swim wants to air live-action, they have to get this show, especially to ease the geek quota.

The Goodies (BBC, 1970-1980; 67 episodes [one's missing]/ITV,6 episodes, Live-Action):
The group that inspired The Mighty Boosh had their own multi-episode series that is one of the UK's most popular and infamous comedy shows. Seriously, one episode of the series caused a guy to literally die laughing. They're not the Pythons, but they're mighty damned close.

Feb 22, 2009

The Litte Trash-Sifting Robot Won The Oscar

Now that Wall-E won every animated best picture award it was nominated for (save the Annies), for the love of God, can we please, please, PLEASE stop talking about it? I swear, it's bad enough people treat it like it was the only animated movie that came out last year, but I don't think it deserved to win EVERY animated award out there for film.

Still, congratulations Andrew Stanton and PIXAR on making a fine film. Not the greatest film ever made, mind you, but a fine film nonetheless.

By the way, I did write the exact same thing about Ratatouille last year and will probably write the same thing for Up next year.

Feb 15, 2009

Know Where Your Towel Is

In this world, you have to know one thing:

Always know where your towel is.

Why yes, I have become a Douglas Adams fan as of late. Those three and a half months without a real computer helped me catch up on a lot of things offline. Aside from the personal things that still depresses me, I've been reading a lot. The Bible (the KJV and SJV), Crimson, the Hitchhiker Trilogy (which is actually five books, not unlike the Jersey Trilogy of Kevin Smith that began with Clerks and ended with the sixth movie, Clerks 2), and a few others.

That whole conversation between Arthur and Ford before the Earth got destroyed was a strange one, but it resonated with me. A towel is, more or less, everything. It's protection. It's a weapon. It could be used for communication. It keeps you dry. It's everything.

I've figured out that in this life, you've got to know who to trust and who you can't. I know I could trust my family because they're there for me in good times and bad and will never let me go. I know I can trust my friends at Toon Zone. Not the posters, per se, but those that I've gotten to know over the years within the administration and moderation. I also have a small circle of friends outside the Zone that I also trust, mostly bloggers, musicians, and long time friends from the olden days when the internet was young and so were we. It still confounds me that I'm a 13-year veteran of the internet.

I've encountered real players in and around the industry. Some are really good guys. Most, however, are arrogant bastards that just want to pick your brain for ideas because they're unimaginative cretins. Learned that from first-hand experience a couple of years back. I can't trust a network executive or anyone with actual power because, even in casual conversation, they're fishing for ideas. This one exec I knew and thought I could trust pretty much gave me the cold shoulder. He works at some Mickey Mouse organization working on some channel. Any way, that's beyond the point. This guy was like a brother, and I thought he'd have my back, but I've learned that I only have to watch my own back.

Big Media is a dangerous thing. It crushes competition, creates laziness and unoriginality, and celebrates incompetence while discouraging creativity. The reason why the unions within the industry aren't happy is because they want their fair share for the work that they do while those in power that don't do anything at all continue to benefit from the works of the artists, actors, and writers. And yet, they don't want to pay anybody anything for repeated use of their talent in any medium and have manipulated the rest of us into thinking that the talent was in the wrong for "demanding more." That's probably why I embrace the creative side of production rather than the executive side. They actually do things.

This is a pointless post, but in the period between the time I lost my computer and the time my aunt gave me a new one, I realized who I can count on and trust.

I knew where my towel was.

Feb 12, 2009

Does Anybody Read Binary?


September Ninth, Twenty O'Nine. I've been working on it for a while, and the first teaser will be on the main site on a very significant date to long-time readers of The X Bridge. This year, I'll be more creative in that endeavor, and not just complaining.

This project is phase one. Phase two is fun as well.

Question Entertainment CEOs

It's fun to watch banking CEOs squirm in their chairs while being bombarded with questions. I'd love to see what would happen if the Big Media types were in the same situation.

Here's what I'd ask my "friend" Jeff Bewkes of Time Warner:

Where the hell did the $24 billion go in the last quarter? And don't say it all went into a lawsuit, which was largely dismissed and cost $300 million. Where did it go?

What's the point of having an animation studio if they're not producing any series for television and you sit on the library, not even airing them on the TWO animation networks currently owned by the company (and don't get me started by the idiotic decision to drop Kids' WB on-air)? Not counting the Cartoon Network-produced animated productions and the DC Comics adaptations (including Batman: The Brave and the Bold, which is both), there are zero productions coming out of Warner Bros. Animation on television. Are you even aware that the original Looney Tunes shorts aired 13 hours on Cartoon Network in 2009? That's more than 2003-2008 COMBINED, and no, movie compilations don't count.

How is it that you're responsible for many of the ill-fated decisions of the company in the last four years (including the CW merger, the virtual shutdown of New Line and Warner Animation, the actual shutdown of Picturehouse and Warner Independent, and the practice of NOT allowing analogous units to work together), and yet, you still have a job and constantly being promoted?

Now for all of those other entertainment execs:

Why is off-network syndication largely limited to cable television while daily broadcast syndication is a lifeless husk dominated by court shows? Law and Order SVU could have been syndicated daily for years now, and yet, USA had them for half the decade (it's just coming to daily syndication in September).

If there's really no money in broadband distribution, then why are you so hellbent on putting everything online?

Why aren't Fox, NBC, ABC, and CBS developing digital subchannels for their affiliates, especially considering all four networks have massive libraries of programming? As I talked about on my other site, the major broadcast networks could create at least a second channel that could showcase their libraries or offer second chances of shows seen on the regular channel. I'd really like to know what NBC will do with their Leno and O'Brien library of repeats, each thousands of episodes strong. Hell, I'd strip SNL nightly on those channels.

Why are niche networks diverting from their original purposes to become "everything for everybody?" There is no reason Extreme Makeover: Home Edition needs to be on TV Land and CMT, What I Like About You needs to be on ABC Family and The N, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air needs to be on ABC Family, The N, Nick At Nite, and BET, Home Improvement on TBS and Nick At Nite, and there's definitely no reason live-action movies and series need to be on Cartoon Network. If every channel airs everything, save one or two originals, then it's nothing more than broadcast television . . . and I could get that for free . . . for now.