Posts Tagged ‘Top 11’

Top 11 Conan O’Brien Recurring Comedy Bits

August 22, 2022

11. Pale Force

This sketch was created by standup comedian Jim Gaffigan who had many appearances on the show. The writing was done by Jim Gaffigan and Paul Noth. The art, animation, and music for the cartoon were done by Paul Noth. All of the voice acting was done by Jim Gaffigan. Jim Gaffigan would show up on one of Conan’s shows and do a standup routine. He would then introduce a segment of the cartoon. The cartoon depicts Jim and Conan as superheroes who use their pale skin to fight crime. Inevitably, Gaffigan is depicted as a lantern-jawed, brave ladies’ man. Conan is depicted as a frail effeminate scaredy cat with a high-pitched voice who often pisses his pants. Their main villain was Eartha Kitt who was known as Lady Bronze on the show. (Again, Gaffigan did all the voices). The episode would end and Conan would be laughing incredulously, complaining about how he is depicted. 

10. The Walker Texas Ranger Lever

This was a very simple bit developed by Conan and his staff. The idea was that NBC had acquired Universal back in 2004 and thus had acquired the rights to Walker Texas Ranger. This gave Conan the ability to show clips of the show “royalty free”. The show had apparently been a lowkey hit at one point but it was definitely goofy. Every time Conan pulled a lever, an out-of-context clip of Walker Texas Ranger would play. The staff did a really great job at picking the strangest clips. Conan would gleefully pull the lever when he felt the show was slowing down. It could have been any show but using clips from a production company known for putting out campy material was a great choice. Also, Chuck Norris’ career was on the decline and action movies were making a cultural shift. Conan’s maniacal face as he pulled the lever was often the best part.

9. Frankenstein Wastes a Minute of Our Time

These sketches were most likely written by Brian Stack although most of the writing was dealing with logistics. It could be that this sketch was also inspired by NBC’s acquisition of Universal which includes their version of the Frankenstein story. Brian Stack portrayed Frankenstein who would randomly interrupt Conan in an excited state. Frankenstein never talked but he would gleefully beckon for the cameraman to follow him. Conan would give the go-ahead and would narrate the action as the camera followed Frankenstein. Frankenstein would travel backstage of the studio and eventually arrive at something really interesting. He would then ignore it and direct the camera to something mundane, excitedly celebrating it. Conan would always be very curious at the start but would berate the monster when he realized that, once again, the big galoot had wasted their time. I also feel like the title was designed to annoy pedants who often “um actually” about the monster’s name.

8. Mick Ferguson, The Guy Who’s Awfully Proud of his Bullet Proof Legs

This sketch premise was written by staff writer Brian McCann during the Late Night days. Brian McCann played the titular Mick Ferguson. The premise was that vaudevillian singer/dancer Mick Ferguson would come out to do a routine about his bullet-proof legs. Inevitably, somebody would somehow shoot him in the heart. He would return several times, each time tasking Conan with making sure he does not get shot. Conan does not do a good job at this mostly because Conan does not seem to care very much. The fun of this sketch is in the variations. The sketch tends to get stranger and stranger as every safeguard fails. These were definitely born out of the years when Conan was left unattended as the network did not seem to actually watch his show.

7. Andy Richter is Crazy

These sketches were most likely written by Andy Richter himself as Andy was an integral part of the writing staff during his tenure on all three shows. It was important to both Andy and Conan that Andy was more than just Conan’s sidekick. Over the years, Andy created a complex and interesting character and that character was insane. His reactions to Conan’s monologues often spiraled into sketches where Andy could show exactly who he is. No two sketches were the same but the recurring glimpses into Andy’s world were always fascinating. A lot of the humor came from how surreal and absurd the sketches were coupled with Richter playing it straight.

6. Artie Kendall the Ghost Crooner

This sketch premise was written by staff writer/performer Brian Stack. Brian Stack performs the character of Artie Kendall. The premise was inspired by the history of the studio where Late Night With Conan O’Brien was filmed. The same studios were used to record and broadcast NBC radio long before there was television. They were also apparently inspired by rumors that radio and film legend Bob Hope had a dark side that he never showed in public. The sketch always begins as Artie Kendall’s voice is heard before he materializes near Conan’s desk. Artie is the ghost of a crooner from the thirties. Conan is amazed and excited to have a piece of history show up and encourages Artie to sing. Artie starts singing short songs that espouse his sexism, racism, and/or classism. After each song, Conan talks about how terrible the lyrics were, getting angrier after each song. This causes Artie to utter a remark about Conan’s “hot Irish temper” and then he sings a song full of the worst Irish stereotypes. This finally causes Conan to shout at him to go. The humor comes from the audacity of Artie’s lyrics coupled with Conan’s outrage and the audience betraying Conan by cheering Artie’s songs.

5. Andy’s Little Sister Stacy

This sketch premise was originally written by staff writer Brian Stack. (It was apparently his first sketch for the show). Amy Poehler plays Andy’s sister Stacy who interacts with Andy Richter and Conan O’Brien. The premise was that Stacy would make an impromptu visit to the show and would somehow make herself known out in the audience. Andy would acknowledge his sister and Conan would welcome her to the show. During her visit, Andy would usually mention her crush on Conan. Conan would be flattered but comment that he was too old for her, already had a girlfriend, liked her as a friend, and so on. Stacy would lose her mind with anger that Conan would not acknowledge her love for him in long fiery speeches. She would also roast her brother for exposing her feelings in the first place. Poehler was so great as this character and a lot of the humor came from the awkwardness from Stacy and Conan. 

4. Paul Rudd Shows A Clip From His Work

Paul Rudd has been a guest on Conan’s various shows since 2004 when he was promoting the final season of Friends on which Rudd was a guest star. For all intents and purposes, this bit was conceived by Paul Rudd without Conan’s involvement. That is how they have chosen to portray it and that is how I wish to see it. The premise is very simple. Paul Rudd shows up for his interview on the show and everything goes fine. He and Conan seemed to have chemistry from the very start. When it comes time for Rudd to offer up a clip of his latest project, he cues the clip. Instead of his latest project, the same clip from the ET ripoff/McDonald’s commercial Mac and Me plays every time. This has happened on every appearance Rudd has made on all three of Conan’s shows and it never gets old. He is just so good at making the viewer believe that he is finally going to actually introduce a real clip. Especially as he got involved with huge companies like Disney. He even did it on Conan’s podcast recently. The clip is also really funny out of context.

3. Butterscotch the Clown

This sketch premise was written by Conan writer/performer Andrés du Bouchet. Andrés performs the character of Butterscotch. The premise is based on a real-life news story that came out around the release of IT Chapters 1 and 2 (2017, 2019). Clowns were protesting the movies because they were high-profile blockbusters giving real clowns bad press. In the spirit of fairness and equal representation, Conan offers to let Butterscotch plead his case to the people of the world on behalf of all clowns. Butterscotch has a bouncy demeanor and is very happy to prove that clowns should be loved and not feared. Except, something is off about the clown from the very start. Everything he does is just a bit too strange. His attempts to assuage the fears of children and parents come off as stereotypical signs of a child predator. He lets weird things slip and is generally unnerving. Conan is frustrated and keeps trying to steer Butterscotch in the right direction but ultimately admits each time that Butterscotch is creepy. The humor here for me is the mix of horror and comedy and the surreal props that Butterscotch trots out. 

2. Conan The Boss

The premises for these sketches are probably mostly written by Conan O’Brien but seem to largely be improvised. The sketches star Conan himself along with actual members of Conan’s staff. The premises for each sketch probably arose from interactions among the staff. In real life, Conan O’Brien has been the boss on three different shows. He is such a good boss that a lot of  people who worked for him followed him from show to show. Many even moved from NYC to Burbank to continue to work for him. In these sketches, Conan usually sets out to do something good for his employees but inadvertently reveals how out of touch he is with his own staff. He comes off as a bully with a heart of gold and an over-inflated sense of importance. A benevolent patron who must deal with his unruly subjects. A lot of the humor comes from Conan’s badgering of his employees until they say something strange and then he pounces on them, ramping up the confusion. The humor for me comes from the absurd dialogue and the knowledge that these are really Conan’s actual staff and not actors.

There are also two notable subsets of this:

Sona Movsesian

Conan’s actual personal assistant since 2009, Sona talks back to Conan like few people can. Her attitude and forthrightness are great to watch.

Jordan Schlansky

A staff member of Conan’s since 1998, he has the innate ability to keep a straight face through just about anything. Encounters with Jordan capitalize on his nerdy obsessions and his cryptic behavior.

1. WikiBear

This sketch premise was written by staff writer/performer Brian Stack. Brian Stack performs the character of WikiBear in all sketches and the sketches ended when he left the show. The premise is that new toys had come out at the 2014 New York Toy Fair. The sketch is actually based on a real toy introduced at that year’s toy fair. WikiBear is a stuffed bear connected to the Internet that can answer questions for kids. In each sketch, Conan turns on WikiBear and tests his abilities. WikiBear is incessantly cheerful and happy to provide accurate facts. Conan asks him about innocuous facts that children might be interested in. After WikiBear rattles off the information, he segues into a much darker subject much to Conan’s shock and horror. The humor for me is the cheerful manner used to discuss dark subjects. Also, WikiBear’s commentary on the flaws of society like “Never Trust a Cop” and “The Wealthy Are Above Morality.”

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Top 11 Fictional Objects From Television

July 18, 2022

The rules that I imposed on myself are thus:

1. The object has to be useful in my ordinary life

2. One object per show

3. The object is not part of an architecture

4. No time travel. Too dangerous.

11. Gills of Hamachi

(First Appearance: Xiaolin Showdown S02E14)

The magical objects in the animated show Xiaolin Showdown are called Shen Gong Wu and are part of a struggle to protect the world from them falling into the wrong hands. The Xiaolin monks constantly face off with the wealthy and evil Jack Spicer, Chase Young, and the witch Wuya. for control of these magical items. The Shen Gong Wu grant the user fantastic and strange abilities, most of which can be used in battle or the titular showdowns. Most of these would be useless to me in my everyday life, but the one that sounds awesome to me is the Gills of Hamachi. As one would expect, they grant the user the ability to breathe underwater. I love to swim and the idea of being able to stay underwater indefinitely is attractive. The only downside is that the gills must be deactivated when surfacing or you will suffocate.

10. Kamilla Hwang’s Camera 

(First Appearance: The Flash S06E10)

I like photography and, if I had more time, I would work on my digital art and video editing more. What would help with that? A camera. In the Arrowverse, Cisco Ramon is one of the most legendary scientists and the foremost tech guru. His girlfriend Kamilla is a professional photographer and Cisco gifted her with this high-tech camera. Cisco did not invent it but picked it up during a walkabout to figure out where he was going in his life. The technology of the camera is supposed to be bleeding edge. While we do not get to see all of its capabilities, it is advanced enough to detect an extradimensional clone. I would probably not want to hunt alien invaders but it has to be better than any camera we have available in the real world.

9. Personal Shield Emitter

(First Appearance: Stargate: Atlantis S01E03)

The world is a dangerous place. It would be nice to have something to help protect myself. The device was invented by The Ancients, a mysterious race of beings who ruled over Atlantis long before it was discovered by Stargate Command. The device is fairly simple to use. It is a palm-sized device that activates through thought, turning on in an instant to protect the wearer. As the name suggests, it projects a force field around the user and will only shut off when the energy is depleted or the wearer wills it. It would certainly help when walking around traffic and even while driving myself.

8. Honjo Masamune

(First Appearance: Warehouse 13 S01E07)

The artifacts of the titular Warehouse 13 are imbued with special abilities and properties based on their history and their connection to the people around them. The agents of the Warehouse are meant to collect the objects considered dangerous and store them in the Warehouse, away from the world. In the continuity of the show, Gorō Nyūdō Masamune forged this sword during the Edo period (similar to the history of a real sword which is a national treasure of Japan). The care that the legendary swordmaker put into making the blade resulted in an edge so sharp that it can bend light, rendering the user invisible. As somebody with social anxiety, the ability to walk around invisible sounds like a relief. Plus, I would have a cool sword to hang on my wall.

7. Sonic Screwdriver 

(Version First Appearance: Doctor Who 2005 S01E01)

The technology of Doctor Who has traditionally looked very simple because there was not a very high budget for science fiction at the BBC in the sixties. I’ve always loved that simplicity when it comes to the devices used by The Doctor. This one has been used in some form since the very first Doctor but the technology has improved over time. Each iteration had increased capabilities but nothing too crazy. The version that appeared in the hands of the ninth Doctor and was later held by the tenth Doctor has a lot of fun uses. First and foremost is the screwdriver’s ability to pick locks. It can also lock a door from a distance. It can project sound and light, detonate mines, and act as a portable x-ray. It sounds like a great utility tool to have. 

6. Bag of Holding

(First Appearance: The Magicians S04E07)

The world of The Magicians is one where incredible and strange magic is lingering just beyond the veil of the observation of normal human beings. This mostly comes from the human world coming into contact with magical worlds beyond our mundane world, similar to The Chronicles of Narnia. However, most of this magic is incredibly dangerous which is reiterated many times on the show. So picking something to take from this show was enticing but dangerous. This item works the same way that the Dungeons and Dragons item works. It is a portable bag that is much bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. It can hold way more than the bag should hold and one can access the huge inventory in the bag by thinking about the object they want to pull out. This would greatly help in organizing my life and make for an epic go bag.

5. Federation Communications Badge 

(Version First Appearance: Star Trek Voyager S01E01)

The Federation is kind of like the Space UN but with way more power and its own military which is the primary focus of the television shows. They have developed their own proprietary technology throughout their history which constantly gets better. A lot of their really neat technology is larger than an object or item (ex: transporters, holosuites). That is why I chose the communications badge and specifically the version that first showed up in Voyager. I would not use it primarily for communication purposes but if I could, I would. The world of Star Trek has an invention known as the Universal Translator which enables the communication between different races in the universe. It also can use linguistics to decipher unknown languages. By the time of Voyager, this system has been made so compact that it fits in a tiny comm badge.

4. The Batmobile 

(Version First Appearance: Batwoman S02E1)

The reason that I thought to do this list. In the Arrowverse, Batman has been missing from Gotham for years and, by season 2, we are presented with a new Batwoman. In the show, Batwoman adapts a lot of Batman’s classic gear and also newer technology to fight crime. One of the first things she grabs is the Batmobile. The Batmobile has had a lot of different versions over the years, ranging from the cool to the very cool. This is the most lowkey version that I have seen. The car is black on black with zero highlights and no visible bat symbol. It looks like it was built to blend somewhat into traffic, unlike its more ostentatious cousins. It is still heavily armored, bulletproof, and a high-performance vehicle. One of the most attractive features is the most subtle drive assist programming that helps the driver correct human error. It was so subtle that Batwoman drove it for months without noticing it.

3. Legion Flight Ring

(First Appearance: Supergirl S03E10)

The Legion of Superheroes is a massive team of superheroes that operates throughout the universe, made up of aliens from many worlds. All of the members of The Legion have different powers. Some can fly and others cannot. To facilitate teamwork tactics and travel, members are given a flight ring. What looks like a simple piece of jewelry actually allows the user the ability to fly through force of will. The user flies in the direction that they think of. The rings work through advanced anti-gravity metallurgy but also allow the user to fly in the atmosphere and in space. The utility of this is pretty easy to see. I could choose to fly to work instead of drive and I could travel quickly at a moment’s notice.

2. Senzu Bean Plant  

(First Appearance: Dragon Ball Red Ribbon Army Arc)

The only living object on this list. Son Goku and his friends met a lot of weird characters and saw a lot of strange things as they searched the world for the Dragon Balls. One of the craziest parts of any Goku story is all of the weird training he went through to get superhumanly strong. One of his teachers was Korin, a giant cat who lived in a giant tower and dared Goku to catch him and made him reclimb the tower. Korin eventually became friends with Goku and the Z fighters and offered them access to his crop of Senzu Beans. The beans are known to instantly heal a person from grievous injury and fatigue and provide a body with nutrients for up to ten days. A great thing to have around in case I get hurt or need a quick shot of healthy food.

1. The Anywhere Key 

(First Appearance: Locke and Key S01E01)

The Locke family forged mysterious keys made of whispering iron, a metal fashioned from the remnants of demons. Each key has a different ability, some of them more dangerous than others. There are a lot of cool keys but many of them feel way too dangerous to me in multiple ways. One of the keys with no known downside is the Anywhere Key. It is a simple metal key. When you approach a door, the key will automatically fit in whatever lock is attached to it. You turn the key while thinking of where you want to go. When you open the door and walk through it, you will emerge from a door in the location you wanted to go. It has no known limitations on distance or location. All you need is two doors, one at the departure point and one at the arrival point. You also have to have seen the door you’re going to. This means an instant commute, instant visit to friends/family, and makes it very easy to move.

Top 11 Obscure TV Shows That Only I Might Remember Pt. 2

June 27, 2022

6. Moonlight (9/07 – 5/08)

When this show came out, I was already two years into working in New Jersey with very little money and not much access to television. This was before there were streaming services, of course. I wouldn’t have had the money for a streaming service anyway. I actually bought episodes of this show with Pepsi points of all things. This show is about a vampiric private investigator who struggles to help humanity more than he helps it. I was drawn to the show because of Jason Dohring who was a regular on this show and had been a featured actor on my favorite show Veronica Mars. The show approached vampirism in interesting ways. Their unique lore feels closer to something you would see in Vampire The Masquerade with vampires getting some extra non-traditional powers. For example, Dohring’s character was older than the main character but the main character’s actor was older than Dohring. The main character was played by Alex O’Laughlin who is charismatic and was an easy character to follow. The mysteries that O’Laughlin tackled were also interesting. It often involved undead politics and also human/vampire interactions. The show only made it one season, laid low by the writers’ strike of that time.

5. Freakzoid! (6/95 – 6/97)

I thought a while about including this on the list because my friends and I talk about this series all the time. I watched it religiously because it ran concurrently with Animaniacs, a much more remembered cartoon from the time. Freakazoid was about a young teen Dexter Douglas who accidentally gets zapped into cyberspace and gains the ability to turn into the Freakazoid, a hero basically made of the Internet. However, they often tossed that origin aside if it did not further the plot. Freakazoid is played by Paul Rugg and is an often childish but well-meaning hero. He is highly distractible and is not always on the ball but comes through in a pinch. He usually pals around with a middle-aged cop named Cosgrove (voiced by Ed Asner). His rogue’s gallery is just as silly as he is and so are all of the other heroes he encounters. The episode’s rough plot is just an excuse for gag after gag kind of like movies like Airplane! or Police Squad. While every episode has a Freakzoid story, it also has a few shorts about other heroes. The show lasted years but only 24 episodes.

4. Dead Like Me (6/03 – 10/04)

I only caught this show because a friend of mine lent me his DVDs well after it was on the air. He knew the offbeat stuff that I was into and raved about the show and I agreed to check it out. I was immediately hooked. This show follows George Lass, a young woman on the verge of getting her life together when she is hit by debris from a destroyed space station and killed. Instead of moving on, she is tapped to become a grim reaper and tasked with taking people’s souls before they die of misadventure. Ellen Muth plays the lead and she is snarky and relatable as somebody caught in a day job even after death. Her boss is the gruff but likable Rube played by Mandy Patinkin. They are joined by a British drug addict, a meter maid, and an ex-actress in a misfit squad of reapers. The show also follows George’s family as they mourn her and try to figure out how to move on. The show made it two seasons and had a movie sans Mandy Patinkin who was apparently difficult to work with.

3. The Unusuals (4/09 – 6/09)

I am not even sure how I managed to watch this show as it was not on for long. As well as I can remember, I probably watched this directly on ABC’s website as the start of on-demand viewing. I tried it on a whim having seen a thumbnail and I immediately latched on. This show is about the New York City police precinct that always has to handle the weird stuff. Not supernatural but just erratic, absurd behavior. The show stars Amber Tamblyn who plays a young cop from a rich family who becomes a detective. She is great as the audience’s surrogate as the newbie who needs things explained to her but she is very clever in her own right.  Her partner is played by Jeremy Renner, a hardened yet empathetic cop trying to root out corruption in the force. Harold Perrineau and Adam Goldberg play a hysterical odd couple pair of partners who oscillate between bickering and having each other’s backs. The rest of the cast are also oddballs. Each episode has several cases being run at once, each one strange and comical. The show only made it ten episodes. 

2. Terriers (9/10 – 12/10)

I only recently started and finished watching this show this year so it is the show on this list freshest in my mind. It had been on my list for quite a while because of the advertisements that I saw. The show is about two private detectives, former cop Hank and former criminal Britt who struggle to make ends meet. Hank is played by Donal Logue, one of my favorite actors, and is a recovering alcoholic trying to do his best. Britt is a former thief and is eager to walk the straight and narrow as long as his bills keep getting paid. The show’s strength is in the chemistry between these two tight friends. We also get to know the interesting characters in their orbit. The show is really good at creating standalone episodes that also further long plot arcs and was actually pretty brilliant at putting things together. Logue’s acting in particular is so good. The show does not pull any punches when it comes to darkness but it has a lot of comedy as well. The show’s one season lasted only a few months.

1. Life (9/07 – 4/09)

This was another show that was introduced to me by my only friend up in New Jersey. I had no idea it existed and probably would never have known about it without his help. It just has such a generic title that I may never have given it a second glance. The show is about a cop who gets framed for murder but is exonerated by DNA years later. As part of a settlement with the city, he gets his badge back plus millions of dollars. Damien Lewis plays this cop, Detective Crews, who has become very zen in order to survive being a cop in prison. He acts offbeat and very un-cop like which creates both incredible dramatic moments and comedic ones. His partner is Reese, played by Sarah Shahi who comes across as hard but is secretly compassionate and really good at her job. The show also has great characters played by Donal Logue, Adam Arkin, Brent Sexton, Brooke Langton, and Robin Weigert. The series has a really great at laying out a big mystery while also having episodes that worked great on their own. This remains in my top five favorite shows. It only made it two seasons.

Top 11 Obscure TV Shows That Only I Might Remember Pt. 1

June 13, 2022

11. Happy Hour (4/99 – 7/99)

This is the show that sparked this list. I was unsure if the show actually existed until I found episodes on YouTube. I had mistakenly misremembered the title of this show as Viva Variety which is a completely different show. This is a variety show but it is also a game show in the style of Whose Line Is It Anyway. One of the things that I correctly remembered is that the show is hosted by Ahmet and Dweezil Zappa, the sons of the famous musician and funny lunatic Frank Zappa. The two are wonderfully weird but they definitely walk that line between being entertaining and being annoying. I can see both opinions as valid. The two sing and keep the show moving kind of like emcees. Celebrity guests are divided into teams who compete against each other. They perform karaoke as a group and answer trivia questions in themed games. The atmosphere was wild and chaotic and felt like it was just people hanging out in a barely controlled jovial frenzy. I really liked the show but it was gone after three months.

10. Defiance (4/13 – 8/15)

This was a bit of a crazy show. Part of what made the show so wild is that it seemed to be an experiment that has not been repeated on the same scale. The idea is that this television show would come out concurrently with an MMORPG set in the same setting with all of the show’s characters as NPCs. So you had to have a television studio working very closely with a video game studio to try and make sure that the lore and visuals were consistent. The show takes place in a future settlement of Defiance which was formerly St. Louis, Missouri after aliens arrived and terraformed the Earth. Humans live in a tense harmony with several other species all of whom have their own cultures, traditions, and hang-ups. The worldbuilding is really great and the character designs of the various races and creatures were a breath of fresh air, similar to shows like Farscape. The real strength of the show for me was the strong character work from all of the actors as they come into conflict with each other while trying to survive. Tony Curran was the clear standout on the show. The show made it three seasons but the companion game existed in some form until 2021 when the servers shut down.

9. KaBlam! (8/96 – 1/00)

This was a show that I remembered strongly but did not remember where I saw it. I mistakenly thought that it had been on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim instead of primetime Nickelodeon. The latter actually makes more sense as there was nothing in the show truly objectionable for kids. The show was a cartoon variety show which had a theme based on a comic book. It was hosted by comic book characters Henry and June. They would snark at each other and introduce each cartoon. The main cartoon that I tuned in for was a stop-action show using action figures called Action League Now! which followed a group of misfit heroes fighting a villainous city mayor. My other favorite was Prometheus and Bob which had no dialogue and involved the slapstick shenanigans of an alien trying to teach a human caveman about more advanced concepts. There was also a show about odd-couple roommates called Sniz and Fondue, another stop motion show called Life With Loopy which was a funny slice of life about a goofy family, and finally The Offbeats about a group of school misfits trying to succeed against the popular kids. There were plenty of other cartoons that popped up here and there but those were the main ones. It introduced a lot of animators to the industry and had a subversive humor to it.

8. Beakman’s World (9/92 – 1/98)

The Sharks to Bill Nye’s Jets, Beakman’s World was a show that taught science to kids in a comedic way. This show was born out of a weekly newspaper feature that ran alongside the comics in a lot of papers. In the newspaper, Beakman and Jax would teach kids some simple science in a brief yet understandable way. The show starred Paul Zaloom as the titular scientist who answered letters from fans and did more in-depth explanations of scientific principles and systems. He was joined each season by various female assistants and his “lab rat” Lester. The female assistants (Josie, Liza, and Phoebe) were excitable and often acted more as co-hosts. Lester was a grown man dressed in a tattered rat costume and whether he was a rat or a man was left ambiguous. He was mainly there to spout ignorant things for Beakman to correct. The show was very frenetic, rapidly moving from bit to bit but still keeping the science coherent and funny. I watched this show a lot during my childhood but never Bill Nye until a lot later.

7. M.A.N.T.I.S. (8/94 – 3/95)

This show is criminally neglected as it was probably too far ahead of its time. It was a show about a Black scientist who is shot and paralyzed by a police sniper during a riot as he was trying to save a child in danger. During his attempts to sue the police department, he uncovers evidence of widespread corruption and an agenda against Black communities. Sounds familiar, He used his scientific know-how and funds from his company to create an exoskeleton that allowed him not only to walk again but the ability to fight crime as well. Fittingly, the suit is outfitted with tranquilizing darts. Unfortunately, they quickly turned away from the police corruption storyline immediately after the pilot. Still, the show was entertaining and was paired with The Flash in the CBS lineup. The star Carl Lumbly was so good at bringing life to this man of science who wanted to protect his friends and his community. Fun fact, it was one of Sam Raimi’s many TV projects. It only made it one full season.

Top 11 Cities I Want to Visit

March 2, 2020

11. Amsterdam

Firstly, I do not smoke pot but I am open to the idea in a place where it is safe and legal. With that out of the way, I am mostly focused on my love of the artist Vincent Van Gogh. I identify with Van Gogh because of his history of mental illness. I also really love the style of his paintings. Beyond that, Amsterdam is just supposed to a neat place with architecture, art, and culture worth seeing.

10. Cape Town

From my research, Cape Town seems to be the best bang for your buck when it comes to museums dedicated to African art and culture. This is an area that is not explored as much in my country so I would love to go there and see it without it being filtered through the American lens. It also seems like a great city to visit and I would love to experience South Africa firsthand. I do not have a lot of familiarity with African culture except the bits and pieces that flow to our country. I know people who have visited Africa so I know that it is safe and that they have a lot to offer.

9. Moscow

There is so much history tied into this city that it would have been hard not to put it on this list. People are so scared of Russia lately and have been for many decades. Still, it is a country with a unique and interesting history. Russian architecture and art is different from a lot of stuff that I have seen. Mostly, I am interested in exploring the history of the relationship between the USA and Russia (formerly the USSR). The Cold War is such a crazy time in history that I have been fascinated with. I read a book by CIA Agent Antiono Mendez about his time in Moscow both during and after the cold war (among other stories). It is always portrayed as almost another planet so I would want to see what it is actually like.

8. Luxor

I am really talking about one thing above all others and that is the Valley of Kings. The carvings have fascinated me since I first saw photos and drawings. I would love to be in the famous valley and just take it in. There are plenty of other landmarks and plenty of interesting ruins and repositories of history. Egyptian history and mythology have been of interest to me since I was a kid.

7. Las Vegas

The glitz and glamour of Las Vegas is something I have really only seen on television or in movies. The town is legendary for entertainment and I feel like just the atmosphere and design is something that I would love to take in. Each casino is themed like they were created in a weird adult Disney park. I do not really drink or gamble so I would just love to explore. It is also a very distracting city so it would be great to be in a place that I could feel like nobody was paying attention to me. Specifically, I would love to see Penn and Teller operate at the Rio which is where they try out new acts for the first time in front of a crowd.

6. Edinburgh

I definitely have Scottish blood in me and I would love to travel to connect to that. Like many cities on this list, Scotland has structures that are ancient especially compared to what is in the United States. I would love to just stroll around and look at all of the buildings. There are also so many museums in the city. Of particular interest is the Writer’s Museum dedicated to the writers of Scotland but there are so many there. Also, I would go during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival which is a legendary event to watch new comedy and obscure acts.

5. Dublin

I have been enamored of Ireland since I embraced my role as a writer. I love writing and Ireland was home to so many soulful writers. I would love to explore that history as much as I could. I also would love to explore Irish and Gaelic mythology. A lot of folklore about fairies comes from Ireland so exploring that firsthand would be great. Dublin seems to be the heart of it all and that is where I want to be. Walk the streets of Dublin and see all of the architecture and poke into museums to see history and art. A lot of people visit Dublin to drink but, as I have said, I don’t really do that.

4. Rome

Again, the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to Roman art and history. There are so many museums and landmarks in Rome that I could spend months there and not be finished exploring. The whole city is just chock full of history that I have been into since I was a preteen. The legendary pantheon of Rome and Greece is something that always comes back into my mind and imagination. I would love to see artifacts in person and in the intended context. I am somewhat interested in structures of the Catholic Church as a lot of it is quite beautiful. However, I would not go to Vatican City because I disagree with their authority and their hold on the world.

3. New Orleans

The Big Easy is the closest thing that the US has to a mythical city, a legendary place where the legends are true. I just want to soak up the culture and history and just be there. Also, I am a fan of the hotter jazz that comes out of New Orleans and I would love to sit and write at some clubs and listen to music. I do not like parties but I would kind of be interested in attending the greatest party in the USA and perhaps the world.

2. Los Angeles

One word: Hollywood. Since I saw my first movie, I was obsessed with visiting Hollywood and seeing as much as I can. I would take every backlot tour that I could. I would visit filming locations and get into as much as possible. Hollywood is just somewhere I want to be. Also, just outside is Disneyland. While I have been to Disney World, I have never been to the original and that is something I would love to experience. So much history started at Disneyland and Disney Studios. It is not possible but I would also love to visit the Magic Castle which is open only to those who are invited and really only to magicians.

1. Tokyo

Japan is just so different from the country that I have grown up in that I want to explore the culture and atmosphere. I consume anime, manga, martial arts films, pro-wrestling, and so much of Japanese culture that I would love to see it for myself. Tokyo is supposed to be an absolutely amazing place. I would love to visit Korakuen Hall, where so many great matches have occurred. The ancient temples and castles are there to be explored. Finally, there are two Disney parks there (Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea). Both of them were created in conjunction with local creative teams to make something that works for tourists and Japanese citizens. Tokyo DisneySea is supposed to be the greatest Disney park in the world.

Top 11 Favorite Horror Movies

November 2, 2019

I have done one of these Top 11 lists before but I have watched more movies since and I kind of did not take the last time seriously. I have talked about all of these movies previously so I will be brief. This time, to help me feel this list out, I used three categories to judge each movie. The first is “Enjoyment during the first watch”, the second is “Rewatchability”, and the last is the “Spookiness level”. All three are my personal feelings and are rated on a 1 – 5 scale.


11. Friday the 13th VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
E: 4 – R: 5 – S: 1

This movie is not really scary at all to me because it is so silly, as the franchise got crazier as it went on. Still, I love sitting back and watching this one. It is my go-to Jason movie. A lot of Jason’s unspoken magical powers really awaken in this movie. His movie editing-based powers. This movie is basically Jason attacking a whole bunch of high school kids on a boat cruise that somehow goes from Crystal Lake to Manhattan? Sort of? Just don’t think about it.


10. Train to Busan
E: 4 – R: 3 – S: 3

Watching this movie energized me as it is an interesting take on zombie movies with plenty of dark comedy, scares, and heart-breaking drama. It is definitely full of dread and I enjoyed it heartily but I hesitate to rewatch it because it has a lot of pathos. This movie is about people on a passenger train in Korea when they start to notice an infection spreading. If that is not scary enough, the main character is an elementary school-aged girl.


9. Terrifier
E: 4 – R: 2 – S: 5

This was another movie that surprised me as it was immediately unnerving and never let up. I do not want to give anything special away from this one. However, the plot is a couple of young ladies who are stalked by a demented clown named Art. It is not one I want to rewatch as I feel like I took it all in on the first pass.


8. Halloween 3: Season of the Witch
E: 4 – R: 3 – S: 3

This movie is an anomaly which is why it probably caught me off guard. This was the first and only Halloween franchise movie without Micahel Myers. It is really spooky, full of plenty of gross-out moments and also horrible terror and dread. The story here is that an evil businessman is going to use the holiday of Halloween itself to exact his revenge on the world and bring about a brand new age.


7. Us
E: 5 – R: 4 – S: 3

This one is still fresh in my mind and I absolutely adore it for its character design and the ideas behind it. You have probably seen the trailers, it is about a family that meets their doppelgangers and all hell breaks loose. I enjoyed it from bell to bell and I really do want to watch it again to see if I can catch more details. It radiates with dread.


6. The Thing (1982)
E: 4 – R: 3 – S: 5

This movie is infinitely rewatchable because of the interesting characters and the tense interactions between them. It was an interesting idea when the first movie in 1951 first explored it but John Carpenter took it to the next level. Kurt Russel and Keith David are really great but the stars of the show are the awesome special effects and the unique setting.


5. Get Out
E: 4 – R: 4 – S: 4

The movie that took the world by storm, there was no doubt that this movie would be somewhere on this list. The smart writing, interesting characters, and terrifying concept make this one that I could watch over and over. Still, I am breathing hard by the end of it. Jordan Peele is doing awesome.


4. Cabin in the Woods
E: 5 – R: 5 – S: 3

This one is a movie that I also really do not want to spoil a bit. Basically, it is a take on the usual tropes of horror movies while still churning out a scary movie. The movie is full of scares but it is the sharp comedy mixed in that makes me want to rewatch it.


3. The Shining
E: 4 – R: 5 – S: 4

A true American classic, the Shining is the pinacle of Stephen King movies. This movie is full of Stanley Kubrick’s ridiculous amounts of detail to the point that he almost made a whole new story. His dream-like imagery is something to behold. It is a terrifying story that feels like it could really happen. A writer brings his family along with him as he operates as the caretaker of a hotel during its offseason.


2. Evil Dead 2
E: 5 – R: 5 – S: 3

Speaking of comedy mixed with horror, Sam Raimi was somehow inspired by Three Stooges shorts to mix that with a classic-style horror movie. The movie’s gruesome effects and pulse-pounding visuals really kept my blood up. However, it is the endlessly charismatic Bruce Campbell who makes me keep coming back to the franchise.


1 . A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors
E: 5 – R: 5 – S: 4

I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Freddy Krueger movies as the dream imagery really lends itself to absolutely terrifying moments. There are times that one of them will randomly flash into my mind’s eye and a chill will travel down my spine. I love Freddy so much. Teens inside of a mental hospital have to deal with the legendary dream demon.

Top 11 Favorite Disney Villains Pt. 2

November 3, 2018

We now return you to regularly scheduled programming.

Top 11


5 Ursula (The Little Mermaid 1989)

Ursula was a sea witch who lived near the kingdom of Atlantica somewhere under the sea. From the looks of it, she lived on the outskirts of the kingdom where few people dared to go. She lived among the bottom feeders and decay of the ocean. She lived there because she had been banished by King Triton, the ruler of Atlantica. Her crimes are unexplained but, based on her actions during the plot of the film, she probably deserved her banishment. Even so, she has plotted her revenge against Triton for a long time. She is a practicer of magic and, like Dr. Faciler above, has great power to make magical bargains with merfolk. She is akin to a crossroads demon. Through the power of the bargain, she has been able to punish merfolk who were foolish enough to leave Atlantica to visit her. She makes magical bargains with these poor unfortunate souls and when they cannot hold up their end of the bargain, she is able to transform them into helpless sea polyps. Eventually, she targets Triton’s youngest daughter Ariel who wishes to connect with the human world. She agrees to transform Ariel into a human in order to pursue Prince Eric but she stacks the deck in her favor by taking Ariel’s voice in the bargain. Without the gift of speech, Ariel finds it more difficult to make a true connection with the object of her affection. When Ariel comes close to beating the odds, Ursula uses her magic to hypnotize Eric to win the wager. She then uses Ariel as a bargaining chip in order to take Triton’s power. Now having succeeded in her revenge, she remains petty and tries to kill Eric and Ariel and that leads to her getting killed in the tussle. If she had simply gone back to the sea and consolidated her power, she could have easily killed Ariel, Eric, and the rest of both royal families.


4 Jafar (Aladdin 1992)

Jafar was the Royal Vizier of Agrabah, a Middle Eastern-flavored land ruled over by a Sultan. In many Muslim countries, the Vizier is a high-ranking political advisor and Jafar had somehow made sure to ascend to this position. He was the Sultan’s most important adviser and he wielded great political power acting often as the Sultan’s voice. Based on what we know of the Sultan from the film, Jafar may have been the most direct cause of the disparity between economic classes in Agrabah. While it is not completely his fault, he has an obvious disdain for the working class and the poor and probably never did anything to help. He uses the country’s rules to help him manipulate the Sultan into making decisions favorable to Jafar’s plans of domination and power. His magic seems to be derived mostly from researching and obtaining enchanted objects. Eventually, his goal becomes to find the legendary Cave of Wonders where he will find a genie who will grant his wishes for the power to achieve his goals of domination. When that plan initially fails, he becomes desperate and tries to force marriage on the Sultan’s daughter, Jasmine, in order to inherit the power he wants. He uses mind control and manipulation to try to achieve that. Eventually, he successfully obtains his wishes and becomes a powerful sorcerer and seems to have more ready access to magic. He uses that to punish those he felt wronged him, damage the city, and even tries to enslave the mind of Jasmine. He tries to kill her when that does not work but he is felled at the last minute by his own hubris. Jafar always desired power and used the rules to manipulate those around him but, in the end, he was captured by somebody else’s rules.


3 Hans Westergaard (Frozen 2013)

Hans was born as the thirteenth son of the king of the Southern Isles. His family would often mistreat him and he always felt that he got lost in the shuffle when it came to the royal family. As one would expect, he was bullied by his older brothers and he felt neglected by his parents. As a result, he grew bitter and desperate for some sort of path to power so he could finally be above his brothers. The problem was that he was so low in the line of succession that he would never become king of the Southern Isles. He decided to try and marry the newly crowned queen of Arendelle, Elsa, in order to escape his position. When Elsa proved to be inaccessible, he targeted her naive younger sister Anna. He used her desperation for human contact and her storybook outlook of love to manipulate her into agreeing to marry him the first day they met. He planned to use this love as an open door to become the heir to the throne of Arendelle. His marriage proposal caused friction between the sisters and caused the Queen to curse the land into eternal winter. He used that crisis to further ingratiate himself to the citizens of Arendelle by leading relief efforts. He allowed the Duke of Weselton to drum up anti-Elsa sentiment which led to an assassination attempt on the fugitive Queen. He later decided to let Anna die, blame it on Elsa, and then execute Elsa for the crime and also to bring back summer. That plan ultimately fails as the sisters are able to reunite and refute his claims of marrying Anna and he is defeated and captured. He is sent back to his former life to be punished by his father and his brothers. In the end, he tried to escape a bad situation the wrong way and he made it worse.


2 Mother Gothel (Tangled 2010)

Gothel was a witch living alone in the wilderness when she observed a single drop of sunlight fall to the Earth. She tracked the point of impact and found a flower infused with its magic and she found that being near the flower had healing properties and stopped the aging process. She hid the flower’s existence and used its magic for hundreds of years to stay young and healthy. Eventually, the kingdom of Corona came into existence nearby and she avoided it. When the Queen of that kingdom grew deathly ill, Gothel was powerless when guards found the legendary flower and it was used to heal the Queen. The flower’s magic passed on to the Queen’s daughter, Rapunzel, and her hair gained the healing properties. Gothel decided to kidnap the baby and raise her in her tower in the wilderness in order to maintain that healing magic for herself. So, first she kept the flower a secret so that only she had access and then she kidnapped a child for the same reason. She positioned herself as Rapunzel’s mother in order to control her but never loved the child. She constantly ground Rapunzel down with passive-aggressive and sarcastic behavior and kept her isolated and ignorant. When Rapunzel convinced Flynn Rider to guide her away from the tower, Gothel was furious and desperate. She hired mercenaries to track the pair down, perfectly willing to let them harm Rapunzel and kill Flynn. Even at the end, she tried to manipulate her false daughter who was also her kidnapping victim into choosing to be re-imprisoned in exchange for Flynn’s life. She dies when Flynn does what she could never do and sacrifices the magic for somebody else’s happiness.


1 Oogie Boogie (The Nightmare Before Christmas 1993)

Obviously, the world of Halloween Town is different from ours and morality plays out a little differently. However, when it comes to Oogie Boogie, he is clearly on one side while the rest of the town is on the other side. The citizens of Halloween Town like to scare and disgust the humans of our world but none of them seem to actually want to harm anybody. Obviously, our world responds well to being scared on Halloween but not the rest of the year. However, Oogie has a different idea about Halloween and his kind of fear and desire for harm are not fun for anyone. Because of this, Oogie seems to have been banished and ostracized by the rest of Halloween Town except for his minions. He is constantly scheming to take over Halloween and he would probably make it a much darker holiday. It is obvious that he has taught his minions to be more violent than the other citizens as demonstrated in their song. If he was successful in his plans, it is sure that the world at large would suffer and humans might die. He is constantly kept in check by the presence of Jack Skellington, the only thing he seems to actually be afraid of himself. When Jack gets distracted by depression and Christmas, Oogie sees his opening and convinces his minions to give him Santa Claus. He tries to consume Santa Claus. Although it is unclear what this would have achieved, at the very least it would have at least magically damaged Christmas if not outright killing it. In the end, he was defeated (but not killed) because fear made him run from Jack and he was defeated by his carelessness.

Top 11 Favorite Disney Villains Pt. 1

September 22, 2018

Top 11

Obviously, I am adding a SPOILER WARNING here but for eleven movies that you should have seen by now. There are still a few Disney animated films that I have not seen but these are my favorite based on how important I think they are but mostly how much I enjoyed them. Some, like the Evil Queen and Malificent, have become more iconic to me in later materials but this is based solely on their appearances in Disney films.

11 Syndrome (The Incredibles 2004)

Syndrome did not start out as a villain. He used to just be Buddy Pine, a boy who was a huge fan of Mr. Incredible. He geeked out over his favorite superhero but his fandom started to become unhealthy when he started to take it farther. He tried to convince Mr. Incredible to accept him as a sidekick and in the process, endangers himself, others, and causes trouble for Mr. Incredible. As a result, Incredible gets frustrated and has Buddy taken away from the police and rejects him. As a result, Buddy grows resentful and bitter and changes into the super villain Syndrome. Since he could not become a hero, he decides to kill all heroes so that he can finally be the only hero. Whether intentionally or not, Syndrome represents the worst parts of fandom. First, he becomes such a fan that he tries to insert himself in Mr. Incredible’s life and career. He is rightly rejected because his sudden appearance causes complications. Second, he becomes bitter by being rejected instead of just going off and doing his own thing. He could have forged himself as an impressive hero and earned respect as Mr. Incredible’s peer eventually. Third, he grows to hate the thing he loved because it is not how he envisioned it. He is played with annoying perfection by Jason Lee as a sociopathic, toxic young man.


10 Ernesto de La Cruz (Coco 2017)

Ernesto was a famous musician in Mexico who became an Elvis-level celebrity, with elaborate stage shows, costumes, and backup singers. He died in a stage accident and he is still mourned and practically worshiped at least by the people of his hometown of St. Cecilia and probably the rest of Mexico. However, like a lot of celebrities, the public does not know the whole story. In truth, Ernesto does have a lot of talent for performing but had little imagination. He dreamed to become a celebrity for the fame and fortune and not at all for the love of music. Fortunately for him, he was able to convince his friend Hector to join him on the road to stardom. Hector was truly gifted and was able to write many beautiful and popular songs. When a homesick Hector wanted to go back home, Ernesto killed him and took his songbook for his own. This is especially despicable because, if Ernesto asked, Hector might have given him permission to play his songs as Hector had given up on being a star. In the afterlife, Ernesto remains a big celebrity but he still only plays the songs Hector wrote. When he meets Miguel, Hector’s great-great-grandson, he sees another Hector he can exploit. However, when Miguel proves as difficult as his ancestor, he tries to take him out too. Ernesto is arrogant and uncaring but deep inside he is also afraid of his secret getting out, desperate for fame, and jealous of men like Hector. He is willing to ruin or kill anybody who opposes him and thinks nothing of exploiting the people around him. He is played by Benjamin Bratt with Antonio Sol doing the singing. His performances makes him smarmy but it makes you believe that he could convince others to love him.


9 Scar (Lion King 1994)

Scar is the brother to Mufasa, the ruler of the Pride Lands which is an area around Pride Rock which is somewhere in the African wilderness. They both belong to a pride of lions who have passed down the title of ‘king’ from father to son for generations. In the event that his brother were to die, he would become king but that was changed when Mufasa and He observed the birth and early childhood of his brother’s son Simba with obvious displeasure. Scar always wanted to be king and resented that his brother became the monarch of the area. He was forced to resort to the lesser role of adviser to the king. This is a role he is obviously not satisfied with. He befriends some of the scavengers of the land and stages a coup by murdering his brother and convincing his nephew that it was his fault. In Simba’s absence, Scar rules over the Pride Lands as a cruel dictator instead of the benevolent monarch that his brother was. Scar is largely based on Claudius from the play Hamlet who envied his brother’s life and killed him and took it over. Scar is much like any bad bureaucrat who believes they know what is best but do not actually have any good ideas. Scar and his cronies over hunt the Pride Lands and the environment suffers and a once thriving area suffers. Scar holds no illusions that he is what the Pride Lands need. He is gleeful about being cruel to get what he wants and uses fear to control his subjects. Jeremy Irons is really good at being unapologetically evil and slimy which became kind of a theme for his career around that time.

8 Gaston (Beauty and the Beast 1991)

Gaston is the most handsome alpha male in the small town where the heroine Belle lives with her father. It is never explicitly mentioned but he is a town hunter who provides meat for the town. As a result, he seems to be idle often and he also seems to be independently wealthy as well. He is accompanied by his assistant LeFou who he treats horribly. However, he seems to treat everybody in town pretty horribly.  Gaston gets it into his head that he is the town’s most eligible bachelor, an idea that is reinforced as many women in town pursue him and flirt with him. As the most eligible bachelor, he believes that he deserves Belle as his wife. To get this clear, he believes that he <deserves> Belle as an award for being the most handsome and the strongest guy in town like she is some award. When Belle repeatedly turns him down, he cannot accept it and remains in denial as if it was some sort of game she is playing. Instead, she is not interested because Gaston is a pig and has no chemistry with her because she is a dreamer and an intellectual and he is shallow. When Gaston finds out that Belle might be falling for somebody else, somebody ‘unattractive’, he flips out and lets toxic masculinity completely take over. He tries to blackmail her into marrying him but when that does not work, he decides to kill her potential suitor. When he is defeated in combat, he is granted mercy but he still refuses to believe that he has lost his chance at Belle and attacks only to be accidentally killed by the man he was trying to kill. He is the patriarchy made flesh and he dies, still raging about not being the winner for the first time in his life. He would have lived if he had just accepted that one girl in town did not want to kiss him.


7 Judge Frollo (The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1996)

Frollo is a judge and minister of justice in Paris, France. He presides over the Palace of Justice and he uses them to both keep the peace and further his personal agenda. Like a lot of the most misguided religious people, Frollo is prejudiced. He believes in a ‘natural order’ but that natural order involves Christianity and nothing else. If you are not Christian, then you are guilty in the eyes of Judge Claude Frollo. Specifically, he has a vendetta against gypsies because they are heathens in his eyes. They flaunt their non-Christian lifestyle and seem to make a mockery of society. In the beginning of the movie, he accidentally kills a gypsy woman and is shamed into adopting her baby. However, her baby grows up with a hunchback and a disfigured face so Frollo treats him like an abomination. Years later and his goal has become to discover the Court of Miracles, the Gypsy sanctuary, and destroy it and murder them all. Yes, this is a Disney film. When a Gypsy girl, Esmerelda, defies him in the middle of the city, it enrages him and his twisted mind fixates on her. He hates what she is but he finds that he also lusts after her and racism and bullshit guilt clash in his head. He pursues her across the city terrorizing, torturing, or murdering anybody who he thinks might be hiding her. When he is questioned by his captain of the guard, he sentences him to death for insubordination. When Esmerelda refuses to sleep with him, he tries to kill her too. When all of this fails, he tries to kill the young man who is supposed to be his son. He only dies because his religious mania makes him see the face of Satan which frightens him into death by falling. He is an unstable man who got further destabilized and twisted by his religion and it ultimately killed him.


6 Dr. Facilier (The Princess and the Frog 2009)

Dr. Facilier is a fortune teller and general voodoo practitioner for hire (also known as a bokor) on the streets of New Orleans. Bokor are usually supposed to serve the loa (or voodoo spirits) with ‘both hands’ meaning they work for good and for evil. However, Facilier apparently was somehow connected with dark loa who are much more proficient in dark magic. So, Facilier became accustomed to being in control of dark powers through his ‘friends from the other side’. Of course, he also seems to be indebted to these loa and trusting in them ultimately proves to be his undoing. While these dark powers may have influenced him into a wicked life, it seems that he did not start off so good anyway. He mentions being descended from royalty but he has obviously fallen on hard times as he tries to swindle tourists and locals on the streets of New Orleans. He has formed a grudge against the wealthy of the Big Easy and actively works against them, seeming to believe he is owed wealth and power. This is a direct contrast with Tiana who works hard for everything she has and is not looking for handouts. He built an infamous reputation around town and is left with the desperate and the ignorant to prey on. He shows that he is very willing to curse or kill to get what he wants and what he wants is to rule New Orleans. Facilier cannot grant himself boons through his magic and so he manipulates others by giving them gifts whether they want them or not. He does not care who gets hurt as long as he satisfies his own desires and pays his debt to his dark masters.

Top 11 Favorite 90s Characters

February 17, 2018

Top 11


11. Bob (ReBoot)

When I played my first video game on the Atari, I was hooked. Even though the games of my youth were next to impossible, I loved trying each and every game I could get my hands on. Computers were also becoming more and more of a thing as I entered my teen years. I spent a lot of time playing computer games and video games with my friends and we bonded over them. So when Reboot first premiered, I was instantly in love. The show is about the programs that live inside a computer city called Mainframe. The show’s main hero is Bob who is a guardian. Being a guardian means that Bob would enter the games the user played and would “reboot” himself as an enemy character and try to beat the user at the game. If he succeeded, he protected Mainframe and if he failed, that section of Mainframe was destroyed. So it set up most gamers as unintentional villains opposed by guardians like Bob. Bob was always level-headed and did not let fear override his thoughts as he could not afford to get distracted. Bob also had a multitool that could transform into a lot of gadgets he might need to save the day both in the games and out of them. Even with the danger, I envied Bob’s life of basically living in video games.


10. Freakazoid

As I was growing up, my sense of humor started to evolve and animation started to move beyond the laugh track humor of past cartoons. Instead of corny humor of shows like The Flintstones or He-Man, family shows started to really figure out humor. Just because you are putting out a PG product, does not mean that your humor has to insult even its youngest audience members. The makers of Freakazoid obviously embraced a lot of different types of humor. Most of all, they seemed to embrace smarter forms of humor like Monty Python or Bugs Bunny. Combining the silly and the surreal was what that sort of humor was about. Dexter Douglas is a young nerdy teen (like I was!) who got zapped by his home computer and was transported into the Internet. Let’s pause there because I would have loved to be able to be zapped into the Internet. That would have been a geek’s dream. The experience turned Dexter into Freakazoid, a manic but enthusiastic superhero. Freakazoid is always out for a good time but, like Bugs Bunny, he often has to take care of villains just to get back to the fun. Freakazoid was also the defender of Washington, DC which is close enough to my hometown for me to get a little excited. This show had the same humor as The Animaniacs (more on that later) with low humor blended with high humor. Freakazoid was impossible not to root for too.


9. Mega Man

I was an early adopter when it came to video games even though I have always been kind of in the middle of the pack when it comes to skill. Still, I have always loved the aesthetics that video game developers come up with. Even a lot of the worst games at least look interesting. When I was young, I immediately glommed onto Mega Man 2. It was an incredibly difficult game but I loved the franchise’s idea of having elemental-themed enemies with a high degree of character. The show combines the concepts from the video games with anime. Rock is a robot who gets redesigned for battle and uses an energy blaster to fight evil robots. He also had an onboard computer feature that could copy his enemy’s abilities when he touched them which was similar enough to the games. I just remember Mega Man being so cool and confident and I liked the idea of not being stuck with one power but being able to use your enemies’ powers against them. The cartoon was short lived but it included a lot of stuff from the franchise and Mega Man eventually teamed up with his future counterpart Mega Man X as well. What kid didn’t want to be a robot with a robot dog?


8. Xena: Warrior Princess

Before I discovered the Evil Dead franchise, I discovered something else that Sam Raimi and his gang produced. That something was Hercules: The Legendary Journeys but, while it was a good show, Hercules was kind of a bland show compared to its spinoff. Xena was supposed to be a one-off character on Hercules, a brutal female villain for Hercules to contend with. At the end of her turn on Hercules, the audiences loved her so the decision was made for her to reform and to start her own legendary journey to right wrongs. Basically, she was fighting the patriarchy before most people were even using that term. She was also one of the first lesbian characters on television and even gawky preteen me understood that subtext. Xena was a total badass and she never met a situation she couldn’t fight, intimidate, or trick her way out of. She was also funny in the same way that Batman was funny which is funny without trying to be. She also fought a lot of the mythology that I had fallen in love with after reading The Oddysey, The Iliad, and other Greek/Roman tales. She also is one of three characters to get stuck in a Groundhog Day-esque scenario that ended up funny and interesting. (The other two are Sam Winchester and Phil Connors himself, of course). I also often have a soft spot for tough people who secretly have a heart of gold.


7. The Blue Ranger (Billy Cranston)

Power Rangers was a show that I was a huge fan of. I had no idea at all that it was edited from footage from a similar Japanese show. However, Saban was able to turn that into an unstoppable franchise that became its own animal. For me, Power Rangers was something I watched before leaving for school at one point. I remember being really interested in the idea of normal teenage kids becoming superheroes. It also scratched the same itch that magical girl shows would later also scratch. Billy, in particular, was my favorite because he had abilities beyond being a Power Ranger. He was yet another example of blue characters being the smart ones. He was an inventor who came up with a lot of the extra gadgets the original Rangers used and a lot of those gadgets continued into later series. He was also the awkward one, a little insecure about being among other people. When it came to actual Power Ranger powers, he was on par with everybody else. Episodes focusing on him often dealt with more real issues like rescuing a new girlfriend, phobias, or science.


6. Gambit (Remy Lebeau)

When I was a kid, I hated the Boy Scouts of America. I was briefly part of the Indian Guides (now thankfully called Y-Guides) and the Scouts were our rivals. Even today, I do not put much faith in the organization. But when I was a kid, I was kind of averse to “boy scout” characters like Superman and especially Cyclops. I much preferred to see more subversive characters like Wolverine, Rogue, and especially Gambit. Gambit was a thief from New Orleans who had the mutant power to replace an object’s kinetic energy with explosive energy. Anything he touched basically turned into a grenade. He did not wear a team uniform and instead wore a custom costume with a big trench coat. This was at a time when I was very tired of wearing uniforms for sports. While Gambit did not get nearly enough time on the animated series during the nineties, they meted out just enough of him to keep people wanting more. On top of that, I always wished I had his confidence growing up.


5. Darkwing Duck

This was officially my first experience with the combination of Disney and superheroes which would end up often being a very satisfying combination. Drake Mallard is a duck living in the DuckTales universe and he dresses up and fights crime as Darkwing Duck. He is basically Batman, James Bond, and The Green Hornet combined into one hero. He is a serious hero but the show was both a serious superhero show and a parody superhero show. The character of Darkwing Duck is a superhero who fell in love with being a detective and fighting crime. However, he also had a huge ego and tended to be rather clumsy at times. He often only saved the day when he managed to get serious and get out of his own way. He fought alongside Disney-fied versions of popular superheroes and fought Disney-fied versions of popular comic book villains and James Bond-esque villains. Unlike annoying heroes like Inspector Gadget, the humor did not come from him being incompetent but from Darkwing’s quips and physical humor. The character was also a good father to a little girl he had adopted who often helped to fight crime along with DW and his sidekick Launchpad (from DuckTales). As the show continued, Darkwing’s history was added to and there was a lot of great world-building.


4. Yakko Warner

The Animaniacs was a cartoon variety show that focused on a whole cast of zany Warner Brothers style characters updated for the nineties. The main focus of the show was the Warner Brothers and their sister Dot. They were cartoons deemed too zany and disruptive and were sealed in the water tower on the Warner Brothers lot. At the beginning of the series, they finally made their escape and the studio spent the entire series trying to acclimate them to polite society with no success. The kids were not evil, though. They were rambunctious and sarcastic but, like Bugs Bunny, they really only caused malicious chaos when somebody crossed the line and upset them. Their revenge was out of proportion but justified. Out of the three, Yakko Warner was my favorite. His form of comedy was mostly wordplay. He employed puns, sarcasm, and just good old-fashioned tricks with words. He was basically a cartoon form of Groucho Marx. He always seemed to be the smartest guy in the room and he leveraged that to make mean or rude people pay for their behavior. He also sang quite a few of the show’s most memorable songs including the highly educational Yakko’s World and Yakko’s Universe. Like Groucho, he usually ended up as the leader of his siblings and their spokesman. Inside my head, the words always flowed like Yakko but outside, especially as a kid, I was never as glib.


3. Sailor Mercury (Ami)

When I was sitting on my bed, watching episodes of Sailor Moon from Cartoon Network’s line up, I always loved Sailor Mercury the most. She never had the coolest power but in retrospect, her abilities usually gave the Scouts a tactical advantage such as fog or freezing the enemy. I mean, Sailor Jupiter obviously had the coolest powers. However, Ami was present from the fifth episode and it is a good thing that she was. She is by far the smartest of all of the Scouts and was the only Scout to be granted a magical supercomputer. There is only one episode of the original anime when she pulls out her Mercury Goggles which was basically a VR overlay visor for scanning things. That blew my mind because the combination of technology and magic was amazing. I identified with Ami because she was the “smart one” and my teachers kept claiming I was intelligent. I was also interested in the emerging technology of computers just as Ami was. Also, I was probably drawn to Ami because she was the shy and timid one and that was how I felt as well.


2. Spider-Man

In the middle of the decade, Marvel finally got its crap together and started to put out really good animation. Spider-Man is a character who I have always loved. His origins are as a nerdy and shy high schooler who got to magically transform into a superhero after being bitten by a radioactive spider. As a kid, I dreamed of finding my own radioactive spider (figuratively, of course). He also got to work for a newspaper in a sort of creative job all while studying cool science in college. That cool science enhanced his gear with gadgets but his main deal was his brain, his strength, and his speed. The cartoon in the 90s was great. It really captured a lot of what I loved about reading Spider-Man comics and it included pretty much his entire rogue’s gallery. They really captured both Peter’s internal monologue and the quips that Spider-man uses to disarm his foes mid-battle. The show also explored a lot of the angst that a young superhero felt while also trying to juggle a career, school, and a girlfriend. The show and the comics made me feel at the time that I could be Spider-Man which is one of the main strengths of the character. Anybody can be under that mask as long as they have radioactive spider blood too.


1. Batman

When I was a little kid, reruns of the 1966 Batman show came on and, while I enjoyed it, I never really engaged with it. It was better than I Dream of Jeannie reruns because it had superheroes even though Adam West was never really super. My relationship with Batman drastically improved when Bruce Timm and Warner Brothers released Batman: The Animated Series. B:TAS was everything that I wanted Batman to be and it became the bar by which I measured future Batman stories. The Animated Series was an amazing mix of both light and dark. I welcomed the darkness which was so sorely lacking from the campy Adam West series. I realized that Adam West was never really Batman. This was Batman. Kevin Conroy’s strong voice matched the shadowy, adventurous character on screen. His voice could be scary, brave, warm, vulnerable, and even funny at times without losing the character of Batman. The writing made it clear that Batman was not perfect but he lived in a world that believed he was. He put the weight of the world on his shoulders and then still saved the day the best way he knew how.

Top 11 Favorite Anime Series

April 24, 2017

Top 11

I have read a few top lists for anime series (and movies) and there are some of the usual suspects and some that I have not seen yet. My top list may not be the most thoughtfully crafted, profound creations but I enjoyed them. A lot of these were also my gateway into the genre of anime and will be fondly remembered forever for that reason.


11 Record of Lodoss War

I did not see this one on any of the lists. I add this here because it combined anime with high fantasy. It is something that is Dungeons and Dragons-inspired. It is based on a bunch of Japanese fantasy novels but the look of it was definitely Western fantasy. It follows the hero Parn, the son of a dishonored knight who is trying to bring honor back to his family’s name. He is accompanied by his love, the high elf Deedlit, his mentor Slayn, Ghim, Etoh, and Woodchuck. The series eventually shifts to cover characters related to the first cast. It is basically a D&D party adventuring. The characters were always interesting and the adventure was fun to follow.


10 Lupin the 3rd

I love heist movies or heist shows (see Italian Job, Oceans 11, Leverage, The Sting, etc.). The twists and turns of the plans of legitimately skilled criminals are fun to watch. That is what Lupin the 3rd is about. Lupin is an infamous master thief who is descended from a family of master thieves. He pursues thievery with great joy and a flair for the dramatic. Of course, nothing goes right a hundred percent of the time so he is backed up by his crew of Goemon, Jigen, and Zenigata. All of them provide specialized skills to win the day. The art style was also really smooth and just had this international style. The show is mostly madcap capers with plenty of action and comedy.


9 Trigun

Cowboys. Who doesn’t love cowboys? Trigun was a great series about Vash the Stampede, also known as the Humanoid Typhoon. Wanted posters across the land bear the face of this more human than human gunfighter but he is actually a really nice guy. He constantly tries to protect people without blowing his cover. He is pursued by two agents named Millie and Meryl who are partners tasked with documenting the damage Vash inadvertently causes by combatting the bad guys. They and others get sucked into the combat, helping Vash save the day. The show has great artwork and stylistic, well-animated gun fights and combat in general. There is a lot of classic Wild West imagery thrown in with great science fiction technology. This show can get very dramatic but it has a lot of comic moments to lighten the mood.


8 Gurren Lagann

This was a later find for me thanks to a tip from Ross O’Donovan. I like this show because of the unbridled sense of optimism you get from it. No matter what the obstacles are, the characters find some crazy way to overcome it. It is famous for the line “Don’t believe in yourself. Believe in me! Believe in the Kamina that believes in you!” A line used to instill confidence in a character who constantly suffers from anxiety and low self-esteem. The show is full of all sorts of craziness with action, drama, and plenty of wacky comedy. It is about two young guys who emerge from an underground city in a post-apocalyptic land and recover two battle mechs. They team up with a rebellious faction to fight off the monsters and villains that plague the dangerous terrain around them. While things often look hopeless, they are a shining light in the darkness. It is pretty inspiring and sometimes very funny.


7 Naruto

This is kind of the anime I hear people refer to the most. Naruto follows a ninja student who is trying his hardest to be the best person he can be. Naruto was cursed to contain a demon beast inside of himself and he battles that with the help of his friends. The show also follows Naruto’s graduating class at the academy who are all interesting characters. The supporting cast is huge and there are so many characters I identify with and cheer on. Each ninja has their own signature set of powers and abilities that they use to fight with like manipulating the elements, cloning themselves, mind merging with a dog and changing shape among many, many powers. The show constantly surprises me with how dramatic it can be considering half of the characters are happy go lucky goofballs. The thing is, most of the characters are young and they act like you would expect young people to act. The animation is generally super bright and fluid which makes for excellent action scenes.


6 Mobile Fighter G Gundam

When I grew up playing a lot of video games, one of the biggest things in the arcades was fighting games. One of the most iconic fighting games of all time would have to be Street Fighter II where all the fighters represented their countries of origin. That is the feeling I got from watching G Gundam. The show is about a world where futuristic societies in orbit around Earth hold giant robot battles to settle political differences instead of fighting wars. The main protagonist is the representative from Neo-Japan but there are other main protagonists from Neo-America, Neo-France, Neo-China and Neo-Russia. Most episodes are about matches between the giant Gundam mechs who each have their own style of fighting and weaponry which often represent their country somehow. While I like earlier and later Gundam series, this one was so optimistic and energetic and was such a breath of fresh air.


5 One Piece

This one has the potential to be controversial not because this series is not popular but because I first fell in love with it during the 4Kids dub days. Luckily, they kept the same voice cast when the even better Funimation dub started up. Anyway, this is is a story about a young man with magical stretchy Mr. Fantastic powers who has a dream to be King of the Pirates. His goal is to recover a treasure in the most dangerous part of the ocean that will allow him to inherit the power and wealth of the famous Jolly Roger. Along the way, he forms a crew of misfits and underdogs who become a formidable team together. The action scenes are so fun as there are super-powered fistfights, sword fights, gun fights and so much more. The show is also pretty surreal with all kinds of animal people, altered humans and so many other creatures and all of it adds to the action and comedy of the show.


4 Fullmetal Alchemist

This show came when I was just about ready to get back into anime during college. It really resonated with me because it is about two brothers hanging together no matter what and that is how I feel about my brothers. The show is about a world where humans have discovered real workable alchemy and use it as a system of magic in combat. The animation is fluid and beautiful, especially during action sequences where the characters are using alchemy to battle one another. The show is about the conflict between the military, the people and the monsters somewhere in between the two. The Elric brothers stick together through thick and thin as dogs of the military, investigating threats to the nation and eventually uncovering something much bigger. The show is probably the darkest one on this list as the brothers deal with death, resurrection, atrocities, genocide and other grotesque things done by heroes and villains alike.


3 Cowboy Bebop

From the first notes of the show’s theme song, the show has a great jazz feel to it. The animation has mostly muted, softer colors and deep beautiful shadows. The show takes place in a science fiction world but it definitely has both a film noir and a wild west feel to it. The show is about three bounty hunters who do not always get along or work together and yet they share a ship together. Spike is a well-dressed, slick adventurer. Jet is a muscle-bound, older tracker. Faye is a charmer and a con artist. Along the way, they are joined by a girl genius named Ed and her hyper-intelligent dog Ein. The show is inspired by Lupin the 3rd but they took it even farther in feel and execution. There is a great central plot thread but they approached each episode as if it was a movie and it shows. Each episode is pretty much a self-contained story about these characters with a clear story arc. The show has a lot of light, funny moments but it also has a lot of poetic, darker moments.


Sailor Moon

I talked about this show yesterday but it bears repeating that this was such a great show. After I wrote yesterday’s post (which is actually more about me than the show), I watched the show again. Serena is told by a talking cat that she is the legendary Sailor Moon, guardian of love and justice. She is joined by a whole team of Sailor Scouts mostly made up of her school friends. Together, they battle against the evil denizens of the Negaverse who want to hurt the citizens of Earth. The characters are so memorable to me and remind me of a lot of people I have known over the years. I have worked in a lot of female-dominated work environments in the past. It was also the first television show I watched that had gay characters in it which is amazing. Also, there is a male character who aids the female protagonist not by fighting her battles for her but by helping her remember who she is and how powerful she can be.


Seven Deadly Sins

This is a show I discovered last year and I am desperately waiting for Season 3. Season 2 was only four episodes long and the cliffhanger was awesome. Anyway, this show is about a group of seven legendary knights who were the best squad in the military service of a country called Leonis. They are the titular Seven Deadly Sins and they have been framed for crimes of treason and are actively being hunted. At the same time, they catch wind of a great danger to the nation and ride off to the rescue. There is so much to explore with this show and the best part is that I get to explore it with characters I would love to hang out with. The action scenes are some of the best I have seen, animated or not. The show just sparks my imagination in ways that few shows do. The show is not for children as there is plenty of gore and risque behavior but nothing feels gratuitous and, so far, there is always a happy ending right around the corner. The finale of the first season was also the first time I teared up in a while and also the first time I cheered at the screen at moments. It probably makes number one on this list because it is still ongoing and I desperately want more so badly.


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