Monday, November 30, 2009

To stop me you have to catch me influenza OR: It's hard to stay preoccupied with 1985 when you're dying in 2009

The last three weeks have been incredibly miserable and I am just now feeling better after coming down with some sort of hellacious lung catastrophe that was either the flu or divine lung-based karmic retribution for all the terrible things I've ever said about the online Voltron fandom or that one thing I wrote about Incredible Change-Bots one time. My lungs and gut felt like they were 30 pound garbage bags loaded with broken shards of mirror. Then with sudden explosive force, various toxic vapors and shard debris would escape from my body from different orifices simultaneously, giving new meaning to the term 'glass gas'. During the few minutes I wasn't coughing or farting to death my lungs were so congested my voice sounded like Megatron ate a volcano or Doctor Claw had a baby with Godzilla. Being able to talk like a Predator with lung cancer was pretty cool and it got me wondering if Frank Welker is really talented or if he's just built a career by having the world's longest and most profitable respiratory infection.


Perhaps the worst side effect of my latest bout with super Naganosis was on my attitude. Everything I previously liked doing or found joy in seemed especially pointless. It made me feel like one of those guys who think writing internet diaries about toy robots from 25 years ago is a big waste of time (aka a normal, well-adjusted, emotionally mature person). I would sit down at the computer to write something and I just couldn't get in that frame of mind where old toy robots newspaper ads were interesting or something somebody said about Tranzor-Z would piss me off. It sucked because there have been some legitimately amazing things happening in the field of toy robots archaeology recently that I'd normally be writing dissertations on and I couldn't care enough to blog about any of it. This happens whenever I get sick. I get glimpses into what it's like to live in a world where old toy robots provide no distraction or comfort. Knowing that being sick may have cured my robotardation I went to Wal-Mart to see if I would be tempted to buy the Revenge of the Fallen movie shortly after it came out, which is what all the cool neurotypicals were doing about three weeks ago. I remember feeling insignificant in the presence of the super shiny Wal-Mart exclusive IMAX edition Revenge of the Fallen 2 disc BluRay (which incredibly cost only 20 bucks) and boy was I tempted. Yet despite my sickness-induced mainstream frame of mind (and the shiny box) I didn't get it, so I guess that means I still don't get it. It reminded me of how the American Lung Association's slogan is "When you can't breathe nothing else matters" except I was thinking we should all be grateful because when you can't breathe Michael Bay blows for you.


During the last three weeks of lung hell (that I have self-diagnosed as most likely pneumonia, swine flu, a respiratory infection or maybe even a combination of all three) I chose not to see the doctor, instead relying on the alternative therapies of eating countless bowls of Frosted Flakes and downloading lots and lots of podcasts. Suffering through the physical part was miserable but losing interest in everything I enjoyed doing was most worrisome so I listened to those podcasts like they were an IV force feeding me intravenous injections of toy robots pointlessness to keep my fandom alive. When I get sick my attitude is the first thing to go but thankfully when I get better it's the first thing to come back. Last night I was at Wal-Mart again and I saw another one of their tempting toy robot related exclusives, a gigantic version of Powerglide the Transformer on the shelf and I picked it up and walked around the store with it as I marveled at how amazing it looked. Back in '85 this guy was tiny but now he's all gigantic with lights and sounds and the box is so so shiny. I'd just finished listening to a podcast that had a great interview with David Wise, the guy who wrote the G1 cartoon episode "The Girl who Loved Powerglide". So the red A-10 guy was on my mind and I would've really liked to have bought it because I'm "The Guy who Loved Powerglide as Long as He didn't Cost a Lot". Of course I put it back because 30 bucks and 25 years later is too much too late*, but realizing I was interested in anything robot at all gave me a good feeling about my recovery. The end result of these last two trips to Wal-Mart may seem the same but they're not. The difference between the sick me being a disinterested Geewunner closet robot hater douchebag not buying new toy robots stuff and the healthy me being a disinterested Geewunner closet robot hater douchebag not buying new toy robots stuff is that when I'm healthy I feel like telling the internet how much of a douchebag I am.

NEXT TIME ON DISINTERESTED ROBOPLASTIC DOUCHEBAGALYPSE: A return to discussion about the medicinal benefits of toy robots and cereals from 25 years ago that did not come in shiny boxes but may or may not have had mascots voiced by Frank Welker's profitable lung infection.

* also because everytime I buy something at Wal-Mart I can usually find a better deal for it online at Wal-Mart

Monday, November 16, 2009

Saturday Superday!

There was a book fair down in Miami over the weekend where I got to meet the extremely prolific podcaster/comic creator Jerzy Drozd and see two funny guys from the Daily Show talk about their new books. I love Jerzy's animation centric Saturday Supercast and Art&Story EXTREME podcasts. Plus he's been to a couple of Botcons so there were jokes to be made and stories to tell. It's crazy how the internet makes it possible to know so much and have so much in common with a total stranger. I took a couple pictures and you can see them in the Miami Book Fair set at FlickrMacrocrania.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

One time the Post Exchange made a mistake and sold me Beast Wars Megatron the big purple Tyrannosaurus for $9.99 (and other stories from Fort Hood)

I was 21 when I joined the Air Force in late 1995 and right after basic training my first duty station was Fort Hood, Texas. I was there from mid 1996 to mid 1998. It was my first real job, my first experience living away from home and my first real time on my own as an adult. It was at Fort Hood that I first learned how to use a computer and I'd spend hours at the post library internet room going to sites like ActionFigureTimes and with Netscape Navigator. I remember hitting up the local Blockbuster in Killeen and ordering the first eight volumes of Streamline Pictures' VHS "Robotech Perfect Collection:Macross" one at a time. I never saw the Japanese versions of Robotech before so those tapes were a big event in my history of robotardation. Since I didn't have a VCR it was in the Fort Hood library VCR room where I first saw The Super Dimension Fortress Macross uncut, subtitled and in glorious Japanese (or at least the first 16 episodes of it). I went to my first anime convention at the Fort Hood Sportsdome-I think it was called DefCon II in '97 or '98-and I remember seeing one table with the most awesome Robotech poster I'd ever seen. Antarctic Press was doing their Robotech Comics around that time and I remember going comics shops just outside the post in Killeen to pick those up. There was one comic shop in nearby Copperas Cove where I would buy loose Transformers and talk about toys with the store owner who was an ex-Army warrant officer that got medically discharged when his helicopter crashed. I thought hell, Rick Hunter crashed his spacerobot jetfighter all the time even starting in the first episode and he never got hurt bad enough to be discharged. But that's the difference between reality and Robotech. If Robotech was real it would be the story of Rick Hunter jumping into a spacerobot jetfighter in the first 10 minutes, crashing, then running a comic shop on the SDF-1 for the next 35 episodes.

Most of all I remember that early morning in '96 when I was at the post hospital waiting for the bus to San Antonio. On my days off I would hitch a ride on these buses that left at like 6 in the morning from Fort Hood to the hospital at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. They were supposed to be the shuttles used to transfer patients to Lackland but if they had room they'd take anyone else, and they always had room. I remember that day I was in the lobby and half awake on the couch waiting for the bus when I turned on the television in the waiting area. It was during a commercial break but when the show that was ending got back the credits began to roll and this crazy bongo music was playing and the screen had wild animals turning into robots and some guys growling "BEAST WARS" and at the very end the Transformers logo flashed. I couldn't believe they brought back Transformers. I knew the toys were in the stores because I was a Target stockboy before I joined the military but I wasn't at all into them. But seeing Transformers had a new show with original episodes that were not a rehashing of G1 was incredible to me. Just before I got orders to Korea I remember watching the cliffhanger ending to Beast Wars Season 2 on my birthday in 1998 in my apartment in Killeen. Man I was pissed off about going to Korea-not because the little army camp I was going to was a speed bump on Kim Jong-il's South Korean invasion route and I'd be dead in minutes if the north attacked-but mostly because I wouldn't get to see the start of Beast Wars season 3.

So Fort Hood has a lot of memories for me. I'm thinking about them now as I read about the young men and women stationed there about the same age as I was back in 1996 but whose lives were cut short last week. My thoughts are with the families.

Monday, November 02, 2009

SoFlo Car Show-I've been spending most my life living in a mechaphiliac's paradise

This past Sunday was the very last day of the week long South Florida International Auto Show. I read about it in the local paper the day before it started and I wanted to go when they said the Corvette Stingray from Transformers Revenge of the Fallen would be there but I kept putting it off. Then my 15 year old nephew R.J. came over and I finally found motivation because he is everything I used to be-young, energetic and excited about today's toy robot Camaros and their transforming Corvette cohorts. I have updated Flickr Macrocrania with a new set of pictures called "SFIAS 2009" that we took while at the show.

So we walk in and right off the bat there's a robot. I guess Ford did not want to be outdone by the Transformer cars in the Chevrolet displays so they had an animatronic robot that would talk to people. Apparently instead of cars they are trying to build Terminators to go back in time to get your mom to buy a Ford. It was pretty impressive except that the robot couldn't walk and his voice sounded exactly like Stevan from Microsexuals.

As we got closer to the Chevrolet section there was a display of all the Indianapolis 500 Camaro pace cars! I stopped paying attention to Camaros in 1993 so all I remembered were the '67, '69, '82 and '93 pacers. They also had a 2009 pace car and a Pepsi 500 pace car. It was pretty cool to see them all in one place. I'd only ever seen one or two at car shows and dealerships before so to see them all in one place was incredibly cool.

Had I known that a 2010 Transformers edition Camaro would be there I would have gone during the week. Although R.J. is too young to drive I told him this is his car. This really is the Bumblebee of his generation. Trying to get a picture with this car proved nearly impossible with all the people swarming around it but R.J. had crazy Moses-like powers and whenever he stood in front of a car the sea of people would part around him. We couldn't get any good shots of me with Bumblebee because whenever I tried standing near it I'd get overrun like a paralyzed guy being attacked by zombies.

Sideswipe was a totally different story. What's funny is that while the Transformers edition Camaro was just an approximation of the car used in the film, this concept Stingray was one of the 'vettes used in Transformers Revenge of the Fallen. People didn't seem to know or care, though. Everyone around the Camaro was explaining to each other how it was the one from the Transformers movie (I guess having "Transformers" written on the hood helped) but talk around the Corvette was about how great it looked without Transformery mentions. Ditto for the 2010 Jaguar XKR that looked a lot like Alternators Ravage. There were probably more real life Transformers alt modes there (didn't they do a movie Cliffjumper?) but I wasn't knowledgeable enough on the new stuff to know which ones they were. It is as if they were robots in disguise.


Sunday, November 01, 2009

THE EMPIRE STRIKES A TUNE: Star Wars in concert (and out of focus)

I'm the kind of dad that doesn't care if his 2-year-old son plays house with dolls or kisses teddy bears or wears pink sparkly Dora the Explorer dresses. I'm not dumb enough to believe that stuff will turn a little boy into a girl, but I do think engaging in girly activities should be done in moderation and it helps if little boys also do manly stuff to offset any exposure to excessive girlyness just in case. If there's even the slightest link of causality between cell phones and brain cancer then scientists need to study the possibility that teddy bears and girly clothes emit feminine rays that fry the boy parts of a brain. Until this phenomena is studied more in-depther I will be countering the fem rays as best I can by making sure my son also engages in more boy appropriate activities like playing house with 12 inch Star Wars "action figures", kissing plastic Godzillas and wearing Transformers dresses.


Unfortunately direct interaction with GoBots and Transformers won't undo fem ray damage as it is my experience that playing with toy robot Volkswagens and their transforming Lamborghini cohorts only turns people into raving asexual mechaphiliacs. So when my wife took us all to Disney Princesses on Ice last month for her birthday I felt a great imbalance in the Force and I knew what we had to do. The near lethal dosage of fem we got from watching skating princesses and teddy bears in September could only be countered by ditching mommy and going to see Star Wars in Concert the night before Halloween. George Lucas knows that if you absolutely positively must have princesses and teddy bears in your story, they need to be either mostly naked and chained to big turd colored gangster frogs or bloodthirsty Stormtrooper eating cannibals with primitive but deadly wooden weapons.



I was dropping off some cardboard boxes at a trailer park last month when I left my camera on top of my truck and then drove off. It's been lost since then and that's the last memory I have of it so I figure some kid at the trailer park got an early Christmas present with a 1 gig SD card full of pictures of me posing with people
dressed up in cardboard robot costumes and old toy robots newspaper ads. It was a crappy little red camera that I got for 100 bucks at Toys R Us in Rapid City, South Dakota, but it was of much historical value because it took over when my first camera died from taking tens of thousands of pictures of old toy robots newspaper ads for the Vintage Space Toaster Palace. (I've already finished the emotional mourning process for my camera so I'll be pissed if it's actually under my bed.) This mattered at Star Wars in concert because I could have snuck my little red camera in to get pictures but since I lost it I had to borrow my wife's Stormtrooper bazooka looking camera and when the lady at the door saw that hulking monster hanging from my neck she wouldn't let me in. Even though everyone else was sneaking in little cameras and taking all sorts of pictures with iPhones and cell phones I had to go back and leave Camerus Maximus in the truck. That sucked and really pissed me off but I did get some crappy shots with my cell phone of the various props and costumes they had on display (and by "various" I mean one picture of a Yoda puppet and 20 pictures of the Darth Vader costume). You might think after 30 years of seeing people dressing up as Stormtroopers everywhere they go any Star Wars costume display has had its wow factor diminished but the reason these empty suits are cool and why I wanted pictures with them is because they don't have crazy weirdos inside.


Although I couldn't take a good camera in, this monumentally significant event in the history of mankind is preserved for the ages in the same way as equally important extraterrestrial contact is documented-with grainy cell phone pictures and crappy bootleg YouTube videos. It's a shame. The renegade picture and video takers
do so at great risk to their seating assignments because the security is very serious about the no filming or photography rule. The YouTube video I've found here does a good job of capturing the Star Warsy excitement and craziness I felt and saw when I was there. Essentially Star Wars in Concert is Anthony Daniels reciting an abridged Cliffs Notes version of the Star Wars saga in between accompanying musical numbers performed by the orchestra under a giant LED screen that plays Star Wars money shot montages while giant green lasers dance and pulsate to the music. It's the six Star Wars movies distilled down to two hours of their loudest most exciting music with laser beams and lots of giant explosions. It gives me hope that maybe what Michael Bay has done is some sort of Transformers concert footage and later on we'll get the six movies that makes the current Transformers franchise make sense.


There's one part where Anthony Daniels spazzes out a bit and starts talking and walking around jerkily like C-3P0 (which is captured on the YouTube clip here but from a different city than where I saw it). The audience went totally crazy over it but I just felt embarrassed for the guy. Then I realized he's probably a millionaire from acting like an effeminate wussy robot. His were not the most embarrassing actions, though. The most terrifying and cringe inducing moments of all came when Mr. Daniels did some casual name dropping of Star Wars characters during his narration and the crowd went wild just because he said "Han Solo" or "Millenium Falcon". This behavior is also captured on the YouTube and strangely enough it happened exactly like that at my location, too, almost as if on cue. It reminded me
of whenever the studio audience would freak out when Mr. Furley walked onto the set of Three's Company like Don Knotts was Jesus. It seemed really fake at times and I wondered how much of the audience were paid Lucasfilm employees (or droids) whose extreme passion was as rehearsed as the rest of the show. Luckily one guy booed when Daniels said "Luke Skywalker" so I knew at least he and I were humans.


I don't think I can recommend paying for the seats on the floor closest to the stage. We were six rows back and the crane cameras they used to project images of the orchestra onto the big screen kept getting in my way, along with the gigantic head of the guy sitting in front of me. It was like sitting behind Chewbacca. It would be best to get seats anywhere but the floor because you can see more that way and are also less likely to get tazed by the IG-88 camera nazis when you record video to make you famous on YouTube. Even though the sound was from an orchestra playing right in front of me it was still only about as loud as a good movie theater. There's really no benefit to being so close unless you want that R2-D2's eye view up Anthony Daniels' nose. I didn't pay $30 for the concert program or $35 for any of the shirts because while they were nice, I thought the price was a bit much. I still think overall it was a good time and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes hearing Star Wars music and seeing authentic Star Wars costumes or just for anyone who has been forced to go see anything with ice skating Cinderellas.

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Evil King Macrocranios was voted king by the evil peoples of the Kingdom of Macrocrania. They listen to Iron Maiden all day and try to take pictures of ghosts with their webcams.