Sunday, January 30, 2011


Have you ever noticed those weird little children that for God knows what reason wave and say "Hi" in a vacant voice?

I can't help but wonder where they pick up that habit. I do know that kids will often learn some social ritual or merely some silly sound they can make and repeatedly test it- not something I recall ever doing myself, but it's a possibility.
I assume that they assume that the automatic and mandatory response is to wave and say "Hi" back, having some inkling of the concept of a greeting. Of course, anyone who gets beyond this phase knows that isn't so.

This is why I make it a priority to never encourage this behavior by responding, so I try to ignore them. I always took the "don't talk to strangers" bit seriously, and I still do.

But what do they expect to achieve from doing this? I know most don't rationalize or think about their reasons and/or motivations to do certain things, but those reasons and motivations still exist in everyone. The kid perhaps doesn't know what he/she really wants, but does it anyway for whatever subconscious reason.

Perhaps I'm overanalyzing this, but it sort of creeps me out.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Loss or denial of faith is counterintuitive

When most people see someone breaking their own rules or doctrines, why do they almost always conclude that these rules are false?

In particular, I've seen people hate Christians because they've met only hypocritical ones. For some reason, they assume that the very concept of Christianity is evil, despite the fact that it's all about peace and love and stuff. I don't think they actually know what Christ's message is- they just see that these bad Christians are saying non-Christians are evil and then go and commit adultery or something.
Or maybe it's just a knee-jerk reaction to Christians telling them what to do- which you know, is a horrendous crime to humanity (sarcasm).
Of course, this sometimes intense hatred makes these critics no better than the bad Christians. Perhaps their reasoning is "I may be hateful, but at least I'm honest about it".

It's very sad, really. These sort of people never seem happy.

Whatever train of thought it is, it's a path of logic that doesn't add up. They're putting two and two together, but these twos aren't twos that should be together- and frankly, it's a conclusion I can't comprehend, because it's a conclusion I can't possibly come to.
It's like they're putting two and π together.

In the end, I can't help but wonder what their concept of good is supposed to be. Is it really something other than peace and love?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Getting a buzz

Lately I've been getting high on sweetened, flavored coffee. Over the past month I've been drinking peppermint and gingerbread flavored coffee (stocking stuffers from Christmas), and adding brown sugar to it.
The weird thing is that it makes me feel sleepy. And I experience a high. It's not always a good high- if I don't make myself relax, I start getting tense for some reason.

If I get this much of a reaction from caffeine and sugar, I can't imagine what would happen if I did pot or something like that. Maybe fall over unconscious.

Monday, January 17, 2011

"I can't even draw a straight line..."

The next time you say this to an artist you admire, just remember that I, an actual artist, told you this:

Straight lines are hard.

Most professional artists use rulers if they want a straight line. In fact, it's far easier (and far more useful) to draw curved lines.

That's what you should focus on if you're an aspiring artist.

"Dat double-crossin'..."

Have you ever noticed that the Popeye cartoons often misuse the phrase "double-cross"? Usually it's when Popeye takes back Olive Oyl from Bluto, causing Bluto to grumble about how Popeye "double-crossed" him.

I always got the impression that the phrase referred to when a criminal (or just someone mean) crosses another once, and then twice. But every source I can find about the phrase online seems to say that it simply refers to when a criminal betrays another criminal, therefore "crossing the crossers".
Bluto still isn't using the phrase correctly either way- neither of them are criminals (usually), and Popeye certainly never betrays him, unless you consider the two to be friends, and stealing a fickle and unfaithful girlfriend away from a brutish rival to be betrayal. Sure, Bluto was certainly being "crossed", but...

Maybe a lot of people in the 1930s thought of the word "double" as a means of emphasizing "cross", like "double dare". That would make sense, but it would be nice if it were explained somehow. I've seen this seeming misusage in some Hal Roach comedies too, like Laurel and Hardy and "Our Gang" (aka The Little Rascals).

A thought on Disneyland ghosts

In an older post here, I wrote about how there don't seem to be any ghosts dating from after the 1950s.
But after reading up on ghost stories about Disneyland, I can safely say that I was wrong about that- most of the attractions that are haunted were built after the 1950s. This includes The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, and especially Space Mountain.

But so far I haven't heard of any other such places. But once you think about it, Disneyland seems like a real hotspot for paranormal activity, doesn't it?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Artifacts of our Childhood: The Pagemaster

If there's any way to get kids interested in classic books, it's to tell them that they have cool stories in a cartoon. I don't mean that a cartoon should say "books r kewl" as a bland, general statement- because that never works- I mean they should say that they have something in them that makes them worth opening up. In other words, tell kids what's actually in them.
In other other words, tell them why they should read them.

Kids don't like direct commands, no matter how much you have your backward-cap-wearing cartoon character spouts words like "awesome" and "wicked". They need to be tricked into doing something.
"Watch SWAT Kats on Cartoon Network- it has explosions."
"Really? Awesome!"

Of course, most things we trick kids into believing- dreams come true, good always wins, work together- don't usually fully register until many, many years later, when they start actually believing things. From my experience, this would be about when they're nineteen years old. If they're lucky. Sometimes they're told to NOT believe things at around thirteen, and that can stick if that message is given to them persistently.

For me, The Pagemaster only gave me an inkling of the concept that classic English literature is cool. (Pirates! Ghosts! Dragons!) So around thirteen, I read relatively easy books like Treasure Island, Journey to the Center of the Earth, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. But only recently have I delved deeper on my own accord, which is more due to my mom's homeschooling- where I familiarized myself with Homer and Dante- than the movie alone.
The whole "curl up with a good book" attitude, where books are "magical" and "awesome" because they "take you on a journey of imagination", is still slightly confusing to me, and only recently have I come to sort of understand it. I don't like such flowery language, but I get that it's inspiring and a good way to spend free time.

The Pagemaster is one of the many second-or-third-tier (mostly) animated features that I suspect many nostalgic children of the '90s remember fondly. The film is also ripe with voice actors that were all over the era, but of course I didn't recognize them at the time- except Whoopi Goldberg for some reason. I don't know why.
Christopher Lloyd was already introduced to me through Roger Rabbit. I recall seeing Star Trek: The New Generation with Patrick Stewart when I was a kid, but he's a little hard to recognize with a pirate voice. Of course, Jim Cummings and Frank Welker- whose voices are impossible to avoid hearing- are there also. I knew who Spock was, but Leonard Nimoy was not somebody I would've been familiar with.

Oddly enough, the only other book I've read that features in this film besides Treasure Island is Alice in Wonderland (which is only briefly referred to). I don't think A Christmas Carol counts.
I also have serious doubts that The Curious Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde would really be well understood by anybody in their childhood or even teen years.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Horror bubblegum

You've probably never heard of this genre. But believe me, bubblegum songs with horror-themed lyrics do exist, and there is in fact one group that specialized in it.

It all began during bubblegum's heyday: 1968. The obscure bubblegum/psych-pop group October Country released their sole self-titled album in '68, which included the song "My Girlfriend is a Witch", a somewhat surf-y and appropriately dissonant song about the strange behavior of a young man's girlfriend, including flying on a broom.

The next year, the series Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? premiered, and although none of the songs sung by Danny Jannsen have horror lyrics, there would be an association with bubblegum and chases through haunted houses.

Also in 1969, the Hanna-Barbera creation The Cattanooga Cats released their only album, which- because the songwriter(s) of October Country did the songs- included a version of "My Girlfriend is a Witch".

Beginning in 1970, Filmation came out with the series Groovie Goolies, which was a spinoff of Sabrina the Teenage Witch. About two-thirds of their songs had horror-themed lyrics, with few straight songs in between, making them the only pure horror bubblegum group.

Closely related is the music of The Chan Clan, as part of the series The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan starting in 1972. The association of bubblegum and teenage mystery-solving is made stronger here, because the songs use detective work and espionage as metaphors for love and relationships. The vocals were in fact sung by Ron Dante, best known for his work for The Archies.

The genre more or less ends there, but it is survived by the horror punk genre, which likely had its beginnings with The Ramones songs "Chainsaw" and "I Don't Wanna Go Down in the Basement" (who, mind you, loved the 1910 Fruitgum Company). The most obvious link between horror bubblegum and horror punk is the band The Groovie Ghoulies, who named themselves after The Groovie Goolies.

Horror bubblegum had one last gasp in the Johnny Bravo episode "Bravo Dooby Doo" from 1997, where Johnny meets Scooby and the gang. In contrast to the original series, the song that plays during the chase scene is actually horror-themed, called "Happy Haunted Sunshine House". The middle also shows a clear Beach Boys influence.

As we can see, it's inescapable to say how closely related pop punk and bubblegum are, even when they're singing about zombies. I don't who The Misfits listened to, but I don't see any reason that they shouldn't have known about The Groovie Goolies.