Wednesday, April 29, 2020

This Post Will Knock Your Socks Off!

I have a problem. A serious problem. I mean, it's one thing to be a passionate Trekkie, or to know every word to Hamilton. But when you're spending hundreds of dollars on footwear, when you own over 400 pairs of socks, when you start considering how you're going to rearrange your bedroom so you a can find more storage for your socks? Those are signs that you've got a problem.

So step into my world for a moment, check out my collection, and see what delighteth my sole. (Get it? I said sole instead of soul. Get it?!)

Marvel
This is by far my largest collection.
It's fitting though, since the MCU is by far the best thing to happen to movies in recent history!
How awesome is Groot!? And Rocket! 
Spiderman. Deadpool. Tacos. Perfection.
How about that Eye of Agamotto, though!

DC Comics
If you really want to screw with a timeline, call on Flash.
Sigh, DC Comics. You'll never be Marvel.
But at least you've got Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman!
My family all wore my Batman socks when we went to see The Lego Batman Movie. It's what we do...
  
Star Wars
When you wear Star Wars socks, you feel like you're traveling on air. That's because you're a Skywalker! 😂

Whenever my kids' school has a Star Wars theme day (which seems to happen, like, three times a year now?), my kids fight over these two pairs of socks. 

Harry Potter
Yes, I have both Gryffindor socks and Slytherin socks.
I'm actually a Ravenclaw, but I identify as a Slytherin.
(At least I'm not a Hufflepuff!)
Aren't these the coolest socks? And yes, I have socks with ties on them, AND a tie with socks on it.
And yes, you may bow down to me now.

Disney
When I went to Disney World a few years ago, I made sure to wear a different pair of socks each day at the park. Sometimes more than one pair. Because I'm just that cool.
"What's this? What's this? There's color everywhere!"

Movies
Among my favorites here: E.T. (randomly given to me by a student), Ghostbusters (because slime), and Fight Club (because yay pink socks!) And did you notice that the Die Hard socks have non-slip "glass" pieces in the foot? Too cool.  

Television
Yes, they're in the order they premiered on TV.
And yes, my bestest buddy and I both own matching Golden Girls socks!
Still crying about Glenn...
I find it oddly appropriate that I have exactly six pairs of Friends socks.
And considering these were socks from my dearest friend, it's very fitting!

Cartoons
I think SpongeBob SquarePants has some of the best mix of highbrow and lowbrow humor out there. Besides Simpsons, of course!
And I especially love my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles socks because I was wearing them in an epic picture when I bought a car.
These are some of the cartoons that are appropriate for children: Transformers, Pokemon, Rugrats, CatDog... (Notice how Toothless has a mechanical tail fin!)
...and some cartoons that are maybe not so appropriate for children: Archer, South Park, Rick and Morty. Indeed, show me what you got!
Hanna-Barbera cartoons
Warner Bros. (How awesome is Space Jam?!)

Video Games
I wasn't a fan of the Sonic movie, but I sure love playing Sonic games!
I wear as many of these socks as I can on March 10. Why? Because MAR10 is MARIO day!
And My Personal Favorite...
Yes, that's me. And yes, my sister is a way cooler gift giver than your sister.

Okay, so there you have it. And I'm not ashamed to say that this is just a fraction of my sock collection! (Okay, yes, I'm kind of ashamed to say it...)

Monday, April 27, 2020

Pokemon Origins: It's About Time

After mentioning Pokemon Origins in a recent post I figured I should probably make a proper statement on it and stop beating around the bush.

Pokemon Origins is awesome.

Let's unpack that.

The Story


Pokemon Origins: Wolverine diverts from the Ash Ketchum story line to instead focus on Red, a 10 year old boy about to embark on his Pokemon journey. He chooses his first Pokemon, a Charmander and...

Well honestly if  you played Pokemon Red or Blue back in the day and didn't change your or your opponents names that's pretty much the story. As far as the series is concerned, there's only 151 Pokemon and you gotta catch em' all while remaining in the only region in the world, Kanto. The only divergence from the original games is the addition of mega evolution, introduced in Pokemon X and Y, but we'll get to that.

The Pokemon We Deserved

If you've watched any of the first season of the adventures of Ash Ketchum, world's worst Pokemon trainer, you may find that your nostalgia goggles are just not strong enough to remember why you spent a part of your childhood wearing Pikachu briefs. The show is dated for adults as the characters are just not that interesting, and their monster-of-the-week formula, or in this case pocket-monster-of-the-week, is, let's face it, a commercial for the toys. Agreed you do get the occasional gag with Psyduck or Team Rocket, and the show still has a few heartwarming moments to pull out of its sleeve, but in general as an adult it's just not that watchable.

For me the biggest reason for this is that the show pads itself out like it's trying to imitate Dragonball Z, with at least 7/10 episodes being filler. As it's been noted what was a 5 minute journey in the game took Ash well over 20 episodes with sleepovers to make the trip. Ash himself is a lot like Harry Potter, where nobody wants to actually be him they just want to live in his world and do what he does only competently.



Red on the other hand is a Pokemon trainer we can get behind. He's not perfect but his struggles make him all the more relatable as he tries to earn the title of Pokemon master. The show is only four episodes long which is as long as it needs to be. It tells the story while letting us see all the epic moments we imagined in our heads as we stared at our Gameboys going on our own journey.

The Verdict

Pokemon Origins: Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood is in my humble opinion the best piece of non-video game media to come out of this franchise. It tells us a story, gives us the grandeur we wanted. Check it out on Amazon Prime if you get the chance, believe me, you won't regret it.

-JOE

Friday, April 24, 2020

10 Shows to Binge With The Family

Have you already worn through everything you wanted to catch up on, but see the quarantine stretching out in front of you like the road to Mordor? Here's 10 shows you can binge watch right now with the family all across the streamingverse.


10: Gargoyles (Disney Plus)

Remember Gargoyles? It's Disney's answer to Batman: The Animated Series. This beloved show is back thanks to Disney Plus, and is just as enjoyable as it always was, with the bonus feature of not having to rush home from school to catch the next episode. The writing is stellar and features half the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation for some reason, so you know the acting is on point. Show your kids, let them see something amazing that has nothing to do with Fortnite.


9: The Andy Griffith Show (Amazon Prime)

I know I've already talked extensively about this show, but seriously you can't find a better show to binge with the family than The Andy Griffith Show. The jokes are still as relevant as they were when they were first written and the wholesome town of Mayberry is just what we all need in these uncertain times. Bonus points if you can convince your kids that the reason it's not in color is that color wasn't invented until the 50's (My father in law convinced his son that).


8: We Bare Bears (Hulu)

Never heard of this? Then you're welcome. This delightful show features three bear roommates, Ice Bear, Grizzly and Panda as they try to fit into the human world and fail spectacularly. The show has the kind of random sense of humor adults would remember from stuff like Homestar Runner from the ancient days of the internet, and is a delight for all ages.


7: Year Million (Disney Plus)

One of the exclusive treats on Disney Plus, this documentary follows a family living in the hypothetical year million, a time when technology is beyond our imagination. It offers some interesting food for thought on how technology can influence our lives. It's also really neat to see the entire solar system enveloped by a Dyson Sphere.


6: DC Super Hero Girls (Netflix)

A spin off from the online series, DC Super Hero Girls  follows a team of heroes as they navigate high school. The show's vibe is somewhere between the original Teen Titans series and Bugs Bunny, basically what Teen Titans Go should've been but never was. Check it out if your kids are fans of superheroes or strong female protagonists, or just want to watch something funny with heroes.


5: Pokemon: Origins (Amazon Prime)

Completely detached from the story of Ash Ketchum, this miniseries follows the plot of Pokemon Red and Blue, giving us the Pokemon story we always wanted. We see Red go from town to town collecting badges and and Pokemon the same way we did on our old Gameboys. It's the best Pokemon show to come out in years, and I'm including Detective Pikachu and Mewtwo Strikes Back: Remix.


4: Sailor Moon (Hulu)

The original Magical Girl anime, this show really doesn't get its just due. While it does follow a gaggle of school girls, Sailor Moon never gets inappropriate. The campiness of the show is enjoyable to adults and the action and humor appeals to kids of all ages. If you've never seen it now is the chance to give it a try.


3: Our Planet (Netflix)

Another documentary but this one focusing on the natural world we live in with stunning cinematography. It's one of those shows that you stop on while your flipping through the channels and immediately get sucked into learning about elephant migration patterns or the nocturnal party scene of the Mojave desert. It's a good one to snuggle up to and watch while the kids name the animals.


2: Tiny Toon Adventures (Hulu)

Another blast from the past is this classic out of Warner Brothers. A bunch of toons for the next generation (or... our generation...) this show always sparked joy in the hearts of the kids who watched it. Tiny Toon Adventures is just as good as it always was, and will be fun to introduce to the next generation... The one that you made...


1: Scooby Doo Mysteries Incorporated (Netflix)

A modern take on the classic Scooby Doo, this show is more a coherent series than a formula repeated episode after episode. With connecting stories, callbacks to the OG show and references to H.P. Lovecraft, Scooby Doo Mysteries Incorporated is the Scooby Doo we always wanted, and thankfully, completely devoid of Scrappy Doo.

-JOE

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

What Makes Wicked So Popular?

Wicked is the 5th longest running Broadway show in history, and is only about a year and a half from surpassing Cats (thank goodness!) to become the 4th. It's the second highest grossing musical ever (Phantom of the Opera is the prima donna there), and is one of only three musicals to make over a billion dollars. Talk about defying gravity! So what makes Wicked so popu-ler ... lar?

Prequel, and Sequels, and Reboots, Oh My!
There is a craze in storytelling for fandoms to be expanded upon with remakes and reimaginings. The Wizard of Oz is one of the most popular, well-known stories ever. So to reimagine the story from the witches' points of view is clever and interesting. It's a good hook. Wicked remains faithful to The Wizard of Oz, but still manages to tell a completely different story. It never detracts from the 1939 film, but adds depth and expands on the characters with some seriously empathizing development. It breathes fresh life into an already beloved property.

Too Late for Second Guessing?
I asked my fellow Ozian buddy what he liked about Wicked. Plain and simple, he said, "Things aren't always what they seem". Truly, Glinda isn't always good. Elphaba isn't always bad. And you should still pay no attention to that man behind the curtain, but maybe not for the reasons you think. Wicked plays with your expectations, and delivers them in great, unexpected ways. When we find out about the Tin Man's origin, it packs an emotional punch, but not as much as the Scarecrow's identity. Just wow. Eleka nahmen nahmen, indeed.

The Most Swankified Place in Town
The production value of Wicked is top notch. Everything on stage is rich and colorful and full of magic. The staging, the lighting. The set design and set dressings. The costumes, makeup, hair. The whole aesthetic of Wicked is quite powerful. How could anybody forget seeing Glinda making an entrance in her giant bubble. Or the vivid greens of the Emerald City. Or the bubblegum pink in "Popular". And really, there's nothing like watching Elphaba defying gravity for the first time, enchanted broomstick in hand, lifted by hydraulics amid moving lights, smoke, and wind effects.

Dancing Through Life
Stephen Schwartz is a musical genius. He is responsible for the catchy and moving music of Godspell, Pippin, Children of Eden, and The Prince of Egypt. In Wicked, he uses fantastic leitmotifs, catchy riffs, and earworms that just won't leave your head. When I sat down to come up with my favorite songs from Wicked, the conversation in my head went something like this: "Nothing beats 'Defying Gravity'. Though 'Popular' is really my favorite. Actually, I have a soft spot for the emotional 'No Good Deed'. But then that romantic song 'As Long As Your Mine' really speaks to me. Oh wait, there's also 'I'm Not That Girl', 'What Is This Feeling?', and 'For Good'. Oh, and 'The Wizard and I' is also just so..." You get the point.

Bonus points for the first seven notes from "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" being used for to create Elphaba’s “unlimited” theme! Okay, fine -- double bonus points for Elphaba's name being an homage to the author of The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum, since his initials kind of spell out "Elphaba".

Know the Slang You've Got to Know
Stephen Schwartz also wrote the lyrics to Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Enchanted. Man, he is prolific! Some of his best, most clever lyrics from Wicked include:
  • Let us rejoicify!
  • And since folks here to an absurd degree / Seem fixated on your verdigris / Would it be all right by you / If I de-greenify you?
  • I'll be so happy, I could melt!
  • There's a strange exhilaration / In such total detestation
  • Life is fraught-less / When you're thoughtless
  • Don't be offended by my frank analysis / Think of it as personality dialysis
  • She who's winsome, she wins him
  • Was I really seeking good / Or just seeking attention?
  • Who can say if I've been changed for the better? / But because I knew you / I have been changed for good

We've Found the Place Where We Belong!
I'm not green-skinned. I can't perform magic. And I'm not a witch. (Well, mostly not.) But I know what it feels like to be isolated and marginalized. I know what it's like to be an outcast because of my unprepossessing features. And I know what it's like to have a weird quirk that I've tried to suppress or hide, which ultimately helped me fly solo and fly free once I learned to trust my instincts, close my eyes and leap. In the end, Wicked is relatable to all ages.

Monday, April 20, 2020

The Office Workout


How are you holding up being at home all day? A lot of people are struggling with their fitness goals because they're stuck in the house. Sometimes all we can do is to just get moving for twenty minutes. As such, I wanted to do another workout, like I did with Harry Potter, just to get some movement into your day. So throw on an episode of The Office and let's get started.

  • Opening theme - Plank throughout
  • Michael says "That's what she said" - Push-ups 30 seconds
  • "Talking head" segment - Wall Sit throughout
  • Jim pulls a prank - Tricep dips 15 seconds
  • Pam answers the phone - Crunches 15 seconds
  • Jim looks at the camera - Squats 15 seconds
  • Michael bullies Toby - Calf raises 30 seconds
  • Party Planning Committee meets - Mountain climbers 15 seconds
  • Someone from Corporate appears - Jumping jacks 10 seconds
  • Michael makes you cringe - Leg raises 10 seconds

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