Saturday Morning Cartoon memories

It’s been a few years since the major networks ceased doing their Saturday Morning Cartoons blocks on TV. As a child in the 80’s and into the 90’s the whole ritual of getting up early on Saturday morning and being glued to the TV wasn’t just something we did, it was pretty much all we did.

Everyone has different memories of the Saturday Morning cartoons. For me it was often fighting my three sisters for control over what we watched next. Fortunately we did have 2 TV sets, although the smaller one was in black and white and was mostly used for video games, it still caused many fights that often ended with someone getting hurt. My oldest sister is 3 years my senior so she always wanted to watch stuff like Soul Train and in later years MTV. My immediately younger sister was barely a year and a half younger than I was so she typically had similar tastes in cartoons as I did, except she had this weird obsession with puppets so he gravitated towards stuff like Eureka’s Castle, Fraggle Rock and things of the like. I could get her into Pound Puppies, Snorks and Muppet Babies just fine, but she protested watching Super Mario Bros. Super Show, Transformers, G.I. Joe or even Scooby Doo. I never could figure out what she didn’t like about Scooby and friends. Then there was my baby sister. She had no say, all she wanted to watch was Rugrats and Nicktoons, didn’t matter what day of the week. When they moved Doug and Recess and all that Nickelodeon crap over to my network TV slots I sort of moved on and let her have it.

Of course not all the cartoons we watched aired first on Saturday mornings. Often times they were re-runs of syndicated shows and shows that ran earlier in the week. To that end we never really knew what we were going to get. My earliest memories were watching the Heroic Autobots battle the Evil Decepticons for control of the world’s energy sources. You could argue that watching this show about robots running out of energy contributed to my interest in alternative energy sources, but let’s not give too much credit to the animators of a Japanese cartoon. Save some of the blame for Captain Planet and his Planeteers that would come much later.

Another thing I liked to do during the week was record episodes of cartoons, commercials, and other shows that interested me and play them back on the weekend. I didn’t do this often but it was something I would dabble in. Normally I would end up erasing one of my sisters’ boy band concert videos so when they found out I taped over their boy crush for a bunch of random commercials and crap they would usually go ballistic. Most of my memories were fighting my sisters over what to watch more than enjoying the actual program. Because of this what we typically did was landed on one channel, watched it until commercials then flipped as fast as we could to the next and so on and so forth. This meant we were only getting bits and pieces of each show, but it was better than sitting through an entire episode of that lame New Kids on the Block cartoon that, in my opinion, never should have existed. Those brief moments in between when I got a glimpse of M.A.S.K., or C.O.P.S (why did so many cartoons back then use acronyms?), that’s when I would get excited.

I did eventually get crafty in my ability to turn my sisters on each other. I found ways to get the baby to play with her toys while I would get my younger sister and older sister fighting over a hair brush or article of clothing or something sisters cared about then I would sit on the floor way too close to the tube and claim it for my own. Once my parents would see I was firmly engrossed in a show if one of my sisters tried to change the channel they would get scolded with a firm “You weren’t even watching it, he was let him finish his show.” This strategy worked more often than not. I can’t be sure if they ever caught on because the oldest sister moved on to chasing boys and the youngest sister was easy to manipulate leaving the one opponent, the middle child. Even at the tender age of 8 I quickly learned how to negotiate with the middle child. I would usually agree let me watch this show and the next one and you can have it after that while I play Super Mario Bros. Since I tended to hog the Nintendo and always force my sister to be Luigi, it was easy for me to casually hint that she could play as Mario while I watched my shows. Then all I had to do was enjoy my programs while she romped through the Mushroom Kingdom with player 1 controller in hand for a change. This strategy didn’t always work as my parents were slow to increase our catalog of Nintendo games and my sister was quick to lose interest in the three games we did own for the longest time.

Manipulating my sisters was only half the battle. I also had to find crafty ways to get my parents out of the house in order to prolong the part where dad would kick me out of the house to play outside while he napped on the couch with the TV tuned to some fishing show or NASCAR or whatever else it was adults watched to fall asleep. Normally by the time the parents told us to play outside I would casually, sometimes sneakily, make my way into whichever side room had the video games and try to get in as many rounds of Atari or Nintendo as I could. We still had both systems well into the 90’s so this usually worked out until my parents just decided to give me my own TV set and I ended up winning the war for the TV after all was said and done.

For me it was mostly fought on Saturday mornings. Everyone remembers those blocks. I didn’t have much preference either. I would sit through an episode of the Alf or Teen Wolf cartoon, flip it over to an episode of Care Bears or even sit through an episode of Rainbow Brite if that’s what it took to keep the cartoons going and the old westerns my parents enjoyed off the TV. The battle continued Monday through Friday as I would get up at 5 in the morning, turn the TV to a minimum volume and sit through episodes of The Odd Couple, Perfect Strangers, Mork and Mindy, even Kate and Allie, just so I could stake my claim to the TV set before school.

I had a set list of shows I couldn’t miss. Transformers was TOP priority. It didn’t matter if it was Saturday morning, before school, after school or a random tape I rented from the video store, if there was a chance I could get my buddy Optimus Prime on the TV set I was going to do whatever it took. Priority number 2 was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I would also watch this regularly whenever it aired as well as rent tapes from the video store. Priority 3 was X-Men the Animated series. This came alter but once I discovered it this show became a must watch. Fortunately for me both of my younger sisters developed an equally strong interest in X-Men characters (they each also collected the comics and trading cards as did I) so it was much easier to get them to call a truce when that show came on. Then down the list the priority was, shows with robots, shows with magic, shows with mutants, shows with cute girls that had purple or pink hair (yeah I was weird sue me) then at the bottom of the list was shows with talking animals. This, of course, only applied to cartoons.

Live-action shows was much different. I prioritized shows with a cute girl I crushed on, Saved by the Bell it was Kelly, Sabrina the Teenage Witch/Clarissa Explains it All it was, you guessed, the awesome Melissa Joan Heart, and okay well there wasn’t a cute girl on Boy Meets World, I just found that show funny as hell. And in case you are wondering, it was the red head with glasses on any show that had a red head with glasses. Or any girl with glasses. For some reason I was into chicks with glasses… Okay moving on…

By the time the 90’s rolled around I was shifting into more live-action stuff like Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Super Human Samurai Cyber Squad, and CGI animated shows like Reboot and Beast Wars. I only gave Beast Wars casually passing as I was a die-hard TRUKK NOT MONKEE type. Still I eventually came around and became more interested in that show. The 90’s also saw my tastes briefly shift to anime. I got into Sailor Moon, Ronin Warriors, Dragon Ball Z, The Slayers, Patlabor, and even Digimon for a while. By the time my anime watching friends were getting into Powerpuff Girls I had snapped out of it and the anime spell was broken. I haven’t hardly looked back either. I do remember though, the Saturday Anime block that came on the Sci-Fi channel. We didn’t have cable when we were very young, so we didn’t have the Sci-Fi channel (as it was called back then) until mid-95. By that time I was pretty much over the Saturday Morning cartoon craze.

Those are some of my memories, please comment your thoughts, memories and stories plus favorite cartoons from the 80s and 90s, anime excluded if you can.

My thoughts on the Civil War crisis affecting our country

I want to preface this by saying I personally am a white, Republican, college educated, Southern Baptist, who voted for our current president for various reasons. I, in no way shape or form, support the removal of Civil War monuments, statues, or historical markers that honor the soldiers who fought and died for their country and what they believed in. As far as I am concerned, white, black, slave owner or not, Christian or otherwise, they were PATRIOTS fighting to defend their families and their homeland from what they considered an invading army. Those men are heroes and need to be honored and remembered. The battles that took place need to be marked so people can remember what that conflict did to our nation.

HOWEVER: The generals, the statesmen, the Confederate leaders, are not heroes who served their country. They were traitors to the United States, they led a rebellion against their country, in violation of the Constitution they previously swore to protect. The instant they broke their word they became liars. God throws Liars in the pit of hell. A man is only as good as his word, when a man swears allegiance to the Flag of the United States, swears an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, then turns around and violates the clause of the Constitution that expressly forbids the individual states from entering into treaties, they not only become liars and traitors, they are no longer worthy of the respect of their fellow countrymen.

It is different than the British Patriots who determined they were no longer being represented by a distant government. Washington was not distant to the south, D.C. sits on Virginia soil. The reason monuments to the CONFEDERATES and the CONFEDERACY need to come down is they are symbols of, rebellion, treason, unpatriotic, and to some racist. The racist issue is at the center of the debate. To me, I don’t care about that. I won’t get into the details but as a REPUBLICAN, the party that led the Union (not the North it was NEVER just North versus South. There were FOUR slave owning southern states that fought on the side of the United States, there were ZERO free northern states that fought on the side of the Confederacy.)

I want to explain why people in my position are appalled these monuments even exist in this day and age. First, those who claim it’s jumping the bandwagon or following the mob, you are wrong. Many people, myself included, grew up in parts of the country where the civil war had no impact, I am from Idaho and Nevada we learned about it but there are no monuments to it, no traces of its lineage. So for us, we ASSUMED the issue was settled 150 years ago and the nation healed in the interim. I had no IDEA there even were confederate monuments still in this country.

For me personally I see that as an attack on the UNITED STATES, not an attack on white people, or a symbol of slavery or racism, just a memorial honoring a TRAITOR to the UNITED STATES. I am an AMERICAN first, a resident of whichever state I reside second, and a Republican all the way throughout (Although our current president is giving me doubts). The reason *I* am in favor of removing all statues that HONOR the traitors, the generals, the statesmen, the LEADERS of the rebellion, is because the Union won. We remained UNITED and the soldiers who fight today, even those who hail from former, FORMER, Confederate states, they join the U.S Army to serve their country, the United STATES of America. The Confederacy ceased to exist.

I am appalled because I honestly had no clue these monuments to REBELS even existed, let alone on PUBLIC property. Here is my take. In the instance where the VOTERS of a district decide to remove these statues from public land, so be it the VOTERS decide. Not terrorists like Anonymous or some other organization, not Black Lives Matter, not even the Democratic Party.

Likewise, if the VOTERS in Charlottesville VIRGINIA decide to remove a statue, it would be UN-AMERICAN for anyone who is NOT from Charlottesville Virginia, to interfere with local politics, no matter which side they proclaim to support. That is where WE as Americans need to stand united and draw a line. If the voters in a DISTANT state far from where you live want to remove a statue, it is NONE OF YOUR DAMN BUSINESS. Stop calling people liberals, snowflakes or idiots when you don’t understand what is actually going on. Some of the people who are crying out are liberals, some are overly sensitive and easily offended, but you have NO RIGHT to tell people to “get over it” or that they HAVE to feel, as in their emotions, have to be the same as yours. THAT IS UNAMERICAN.

If you disagree fine do so in a CIVIL and ADULT manner. Not name calling, not making false accusation or assumptions, and for God’s sake, white or black, if you are a CHRISTIAN, AMERICAN, REPUBLICAN, then stop pretending that you actually care about the Confederacy unless 1, YOU HAVE ANCESTORS THAT ACTUALLY FOUGHT IN THE CONFLICT, and 2, (and this is where you need to shut up) actually ARE secretly racist. That’s it, everyone else should be disgusted these statues to TRAITORS exist. I am not telling you how to feel, I am telling you how *I* feel and explaining it with grown up words. Please try to do the same.

Getting to know famed video game collector The Immortal John Hancock

When I started getting really into video games I went all in. At the height of my collection I had hundreds of games spanning dozens of consoles. I couldn’t begin to list all of the games I had, but I can tell you the systems I had games for. When I sold off my collection to help pay for college I had an Atari 2600, 5200, Sega Master System, NES, SNES, Genesis, Sega CD, 32X, Saturn, Dreamcast, PS1, PS2, N64, Game Cube, Game Boy, GBA, DS, DS Lite and even a Sega Nomad.
Well none of that amounts to much compared to a “super collector” that goes by the name: The Immortal John Hancock. A middle-aged family man, Hancock hosts a Youtube channel where he talks about his massive collection. How massive is his collection? For starters it was large enough to be featured in a January 2004 article in the Tips N Tricks magazine. Hancock’s collection consists of 26 complete sets. That is, he owns every single retail game released for 26 different systems. Still not impressed? The man has been collecting since the 1970’s.
How does a person find the time to collect all that stuff? It didn’t happen all at once.
“My mother was a collector. I used to go to flea markets with her as a kid. I began collecting carts, comics and figures. The collection evolved into games which I found much more satisfying.” he said.
His first game console he had as a kid was a Radio Shack TV scoreboard. He described it as basically a Pong clone.
As someone who also had a Radio Shack pong system myself as a kid, I find it refreshing to know many of us can still go back to our roots. In fact one of my only 2 true retro consoles remaining is a Sears Super Pong. My other retro console that sits in a box, a dusty old Intellivision 2 with Intellivoice Voice Synthesis Module. What’s interesting about Mr. Hancock is he started by seeking out unique Pong systems.
“I always have had a fondness for collecting pong consoles.  Mostly due to them being forgotten by others.  I just picked them up along the way due to being very affordable.” he said.
As a family man he enjoys sharing his collection with his wife and kids.
“My game collecting is something that I can share with my kids.  I always try to remember balance.   More strengthens my bond with my kids.” he said.
He also enjoys the support of his wife in his endeavor.
“My wife does not collect but she supports my hobby and I return the favor by not having it affect our relationship in a negative way.”
he added.
So what games do his kids enjoy? Well probably the same ones we all did when we were kids.
He said, “My kids love Nintendo and playing on games like Smash Bros or Mario Kart on the Wii U.  ARMS on the Switch is also a favorite.  Hard to say if they like video games the way I like them, but I can see them carrying on the mantle of at least playing video games with others.”
In recent years he has stated one of his goals is to some day see his games in a museum. Preservation has become more of a focus of his in the last 10 years. He is currently building a new game room onto his house to showcase his collection to his Youtube followers. His internet fame has begun to get him and his wife noticed. He said he gets noticed more at shows or conventions, and it hasn’t had any negative impact on his life to date.
A no regrets kind of guy, he has stated he doesn’t give much thought to his legacy after he is gone. He prefers to just do his best to be as good a person as he can.
“[I] ry to do my best as a human being whatever I do each and every day.   Teaching, talking, and interacting with others each day gives an opportunity to make a difference.” he said.
Speaking of teaching, aside from being a public figure on Youtube, he is also a school teacher. We all had that one school teacher that stood out for us. For me, when I was in grade school I had a teacher that would keep me after school to teach me BASIC programming on the classroom’s Apple II computer. At the end of the school year, I was able to demonstrate my programming ability to the class by showing off the program I had written. It was a monochrome bit map recreation of the Death Star from Star Wars. It was programmed line by line. It sort was sort of animated but not much. To me it was just really cool to have a teacher that recognized my potential outside of the classroom to give me that opportunity. Mr. Hancock has demonstrated that himself by using his video games to teach his students.
“I offer my kids experiences playing classic gaming at the end of the year. This last year my students got to play the original Oregon Trail.” he said.
He also shared he gives considerable thought to his students who has also impacted his own life.
His true goal is preservation. He wants to tell the story of gaming history and keep an objective outlook on the early days of video games. He shares his collection through his own channel, The Immortal John Hancock, and with his friend MetalJesusRocks, who helped launch his channel, and his friend Drunken Master Paul, also on Youtube, who helped give him the nickname that has become a part of his branding.
As I look back on the games I gave up in order to fund my college education I find solace knowing there are people out there that aren’t chasing down the rare games just to horde them, you have people like The Immortal John Hancock, and others, actively trying to preserve video game history. I can’t even begin to imaging ever building my collection back up to where it was so I can at least tell people about this interesting man whose videos often remind me of all the fun I had chasing down those rare video games. Maybe someday I will get back into it, for now I will gladly keep an eye on my subscription feed for a new video from The Immortal John Hancock. You can find John Hancock on Twitter and Facebook.

Youtube channel update

Alright so I keep saying I am going to be launching the Youtube channel soon. I been saying this for a while. Today I got one step closer. I verified the website with my channel so that the branding is now tied together. I am still working on nailing down exactly the types of content I want to produce. I am thinking for the time being I might just start as a typical vlogger until I come up with something more involved. I actually have multiple channels associated with my account so I might try to upload different content to different ones. I haven’t decided yet. But I do know I am getting closer. I also experimented with using my phone as a video camera. I wasn’t 100 percent satisfied with the quality but the process was simple enough I might consider using it again. This is just a general site update post nothing much to see.

A look at internet shopping: buying groceries from Amazon?

It was probably 2000 or 2001. I was watching an episode of smart guy and they found they had some toy or something that was worth a whole lot of money on eBay and the two kids went crazy selling a bunch of stuff on eBay. This was the first time I ever considered buying anything online so I went to ebay.com and decided to check it out and see what they had. I signed up for an account and started buying stuff on eBay mostly toys and collectibles from my childhood at this point. Go back then being that I wasn’t fully an adult I didn’t have a credit card or a bank account and I still live with my parents I had money since I had a job, but I didn’t have any way to pay for stuff. What I did was I had to buy money orders and mail them to people. That made shopping online a hassle. Pretty soon eBay would take that option away and replace everything with PayPal, a smart move I thought. Now I shop on Amazon all the time.

Last night I did something I had never done before. I filled up a box of Amazon pantry and I ordered groceries through the internet to have them delivered to my door. I know people who would laugh at the idea of buying groceries online. I was probably one of them for the longest time. But once I started shopping around I realize  they were selling a lot of the same foods I buy when I go to the dollar store, only they had a lot more variety and their prices were just as fair.

It’s no secret I’m one of those people that hates leaving the house. But my motivation this week for buying my groceries online wasn’t because I didn’t want to go anywhere. It was actually quite simple. My bank account is empty so I had to use my Amazon Prime card to shop online. They just happened to have groceries.

When I look at our social media world I realize that most of my friends are people that I know through the internet. A lot of them are just avatars with usernames that I know through discussion boards or video games. I can honestly say I am thoroughly connected to the web. I don’t have cable. All of my entertainment comes through my PlayStation. I get all my movies, TV shows and video games through my PlayStation.  I get all my comic books on my phone. I have a tablet I can get comic books and movies on. I create web videos. I have a podcast. I run this blog. I do pretty much everything in my world online. Yet I still feel like I’m connected. I’m enjoying life and getting things done.

Being able to buy food from the internet then having it delivered to your house it’s a little different than actually going to the local supermarket. I’m kind of leery about ordering a box of food to have it delivered to my doorstep, especially when I don’t want people to steal my food. I know I would be paranoid if I just left it sitting out there waiting for me to come pick it up could probably walk away.

I’ve already transitioned to a point where I do most of my shopping online. When I started out I was using eBay. I was only buying things through the internet  that I couldn’t buy locally easily. Things like Transformers collectibles, rare comic books, hard to find video games, stuff like that. As I got more and more used to it I bought all my college books online once I realized it was cheaper than buying them from a bookstore. I’ve slowly started buying all my comic books online. Once I discovered Netflix my transition to doing everything on the internet was almost complete. I still had cable for a while but I started using it less and less. In some ways I kind of see this as a milestone. Moving forward I am getting closer and closer to a time where I don’t buy anything locally and this is kind of a conflict for me.

For the longest time I believed in shopping locally because I was under the impression that if you shop locally you create local jobs. I believed that until I went to college and started studying business. I started realizing that if Walmart can come to town they might put four or five shops out of business. But those four or five shops don’t employ anybody. They’re usually just four or five entrepreneurs who employ themselves and maybe one or two part times. So when Walmart brings in 200 jobs I don’t see that as a bad thing. One of my economics professors also pointed out that if you can save money shopping online or shopping at Walmart, that gives you more money to spend elsewhere in the community on the businesses that you wouldn’t have otherwise patronized. For example there’s a custom furniture shop in town. If you have to spend all your money on groceries, clothing and household items,  you don’t have any left over to buy custom furniture. You just buy random junk from the thrift store or yard sales or whatever you can get your hands on.

That money doesn’t go into the hands of anybody and there’s certainly no tax benefit from it. But if you can save a considerable or even significant amount of money by shifting your purchases to online or even shopping at places like Walmart you can free up money in your budget to be able to spend it on what that specialty shop you’re still giving your money to local business and entrepreneurs while  still putting money back into the tax pool.

Now I’m going to be honest. There are a lot of things I couldn’t buy off of Amazon. They didn’t sell dairy products. There wasn’t any frozen foods. They certainly didn’t sell any meats. Well, except for canned meats.

One thing I did notice they had an abundance of are those complete meals. It’s basically a whole meal  like a meatloaf or some type of dinner that has a meat and the potato underneath. I buy these from the dollar store anyways. They sit in my cupboard until I’m ready to microwave them. These are also pretty good meals.  The best part is Amazon had a pretty good assortment of canned foods and box dinners too. Again stuff that I already am buying from the dollar store.

I realized if I can spend the same money, or even less, and have it delivered to my door I don’t see the downside to me buying a box of groceries off of Amazon pantry. Especially if I can just put it on my Amazon credit card. I even noticed that you can clip coupons during the transaction.

What if I want a gallon of milk or a carton of eggs? I’ll still have to go to the grocery store. but I think I can probably fill my cupboards and do without some of that stuff. I can also save money by not buying ingredients for meals. This way I won’t be trying to cook something that I’ll just mess up, eat a little bit then throw away. I guess when you get down to it if you’re already not a big fan of going out in public, while being on a very tight budget, you start to get creative. I think shopping Amazon Pantry is another way to just be more reliant upon the internet. For better or for worse, this is the world we live in.

The Spiders Lair Podcast Episode 7

In this episode I discuss the Child’s Play/Chucky film series following a marathon viewing over the weekend. I take a look at comic book characters I personally discovered through playing a video game featuring that character while taking a look at the comic book games released for the Sega Genesis, Super NES and NES consoles. I talk about Big Brother in the framework of Game Theory and how it reminds me of the online forum game mafia/werewolf in some ways. All of this and more on the latest episode of The Spiders Lair podcast.

My comic book memories: X-Men

A couple of days ago I went onto Amazon to purchase some Dawn comics. For those that don’t know Dawn is a character created by Joseph Michael Linsner in the late 1980’s. I discovered Dawn in my early pre-teen years when I was just starting to really get into comic books. Before I could commit to buying any more issues or trade paperbacks I had to dig out my comic vault to see what I had to make sure I wasn’t buying something I already bought previously. I started going through my X-Men graphic novels and TPB’s and realized I didn’t have all of the ones I thought I did. I also confirmed I didn’t have any of the Dawn TPB’s so I was good to order them on Amazon.

How I got into X-Men is a little more interesting than how I discovered Dawn. I always preferred comics with more of a mythology feel or fantasy/swords and sorcery stuff. I enjoyed Conan, and the D&D comics especially. That is how I found myself getting into X-Men. My first experience with Marvel’s famous mutants was not even through comic books. Since I was mostly into indie comics, horror comics, and less mainstream stuff I didn’t see a lot of advertisements for X-Men or other mainstream stuff. If I did, I ignored it or dismissed it as a bunch of spandex wearing clowns. My first exposure was walking into a video arcade and playing the 6-player behemoth X-Men arcade machine. I had no clue who these characters were. Since I discovered TMNT through an arcade game I decided to check out X-Men since I really loved the Ninja Turtles at that time. Turns out the Ninja Turtles were mutants, and the X-Men were also mutants so I thought cool I can get into this. Even if I didn’t really know what a ‘mutant’ was at that time.

I didn’t really pick up any X-Men comics right away though. Instead my next exposure came from renting the abysmal NES game. Now I had rented my share of terrible games on the NES but this was by far one of my least favorite. I couldn’t believe this was how they ported that awesome 6-player game to the NES. I didn’t discover until years later the weren’t even connected outside of the name.

From here I was in 3rd grade and I had a teacher that new I was into reading fantasy and science fiction stuff so she lent me a few of her issues of X-Men comics. They were all mostly current stuff from the late 80’s. Nothing special but I had no idea what was even going on. They were about 3 unconnected issues that had totally different characters in each one. The only character that I recognized from the video game was the guy in the yellow and brown jump suit with the claws. My first impression was I hated that guy. I learned his name was Wolverine and I thought, what a stupid name. His power is he has claws, yawn. Oh he has unbreakable claws, so what.

I didn’t give X-Men another serious thought until the animated series came on Fox a couple of years later. I watched a few episodes and it was entertaining, but I still didn’t know much about the characters, and I still couldn’t stand that blasted Wolverine who just happened to basically be the star of the show. By this time i was really heavy into the Conan the Adventurer cartoon and the new Aladdin animated series. Like I said I was more into horror and fantasy stuff than actual sci-fi. Well I saw a commercial for the Phoenix Saga mini series of X-Men cartoons coming soon. There was a Phoenix character on Conan so that connected the mutants to the mythology stuff I was more into. I was also getting really heavy into Dungeons and Dragons right about this same time.

Finally I gave the cartoon a second chance. I had seen a few random episodes here and there. While the action was always good, the characters didn’t really mean much to me as I had no connection to them. So when I started watching the Phoenix Saga and Dark Phoenix Saga unfold as a dramatic event over several weeks, I became hooked. Suddenly I picked out the characters I did care for and wanted to follow them. I immediately ran out and began buying all the Cyclops and Jean Grey stuff I could. I fell in love with that couple and wanted to get everything I could. By this time I was also getting into collecting trading cards so I had picked up a few sets of Marvel Universe series cards. There were always X-Men characters within those sets so I started reading the backs of the cards, trying to learn more about the lore of these characters. By this time I was really getting fascinated with the Cyclops character and Marvel Girl especially. I started buying X-Men trading cards, action figures, that super fantastic Sega Genesis game and it’s pretty amazing sequel, too. By the mid-1990’s I had gone from not caring or knowing much about the X-Men to being completely dedicated. Before long I was less excited for Conan and found myself looking forward to X-Men episodes even more. As the series dragged on my disdain for Wolverine continued so I quickly lost interest again as the characters I liked took a backseat to his temper-tantrums.

Then it all culminated with me picking up the Wedding of Cyclops and Phoenix issue. Seeing Scott and Jean get hitched was the perfect end to the fairy tale. The mess that was the Spider-clone saga had completely turned me away from Spidey comics by this time. I had sat through the majority of the Age of Apocalypse with intense interest and curiosity. Then just as things were starting to ‘recover’ they started they whole Onslought stuff and I finally lost interest in the comics for good. I kept paying attention to the characters through buying action figures, picking up back issues of the comics that were void of Logan as much as possible. Then they dropped the bombshell of a movie on the world. Wow, for the first time I didn’t care for the Cyclops character and was actually rooting for Logan. Part of this was the movie made Logan a much more likeable character than the whiny little bitch he was in the comics. He was still a selfish asshole in the movies sure, but not as bad as he was in the comics.

This allowed me to warm up to the character so I went back and tried to get into the Wolverine comics too. Needless to say the movies altered my perception of the characters quite a bit. Before long I was stating to lose interest in the characters and their mythos entirely. Still, every once in a while I go back and remember what it was I liked about them in the first place. At one time I was collecting everything X-Men related from New Mutants comics to Cable and Deadpool spin off stuff. Eventually the movies would start to really spend too much time focusing on Logan again, giving him solo movie after solo movie while continuing to treat my beloved Scott and Jean like second, or even third class characters.  Today I have a pretty decent X-Men comics collection I can go back to and revisit. I have all but one of the films and that’s just because I just haven’t been looking for a copy. All in all I discovered I really loved the X-Men and I am very glad I took the time to get to know them.

Dusted off the old Nintendo Wii today

As one of the few people who stood in line on launch day I can say that the Wii’s massive popularity was no surprise to me. I often look back on the console with mixed feelings. A little over a year ago I picked up two Wii’s at a flea market and haven’t done a whole lot with either of them since. Today as I was playing some Minecraft I was starting to remember how fondly I loved the good old GameCube. I was thinking to myself how much I wish I had the money to go out and buy a GameCube and pick up a copy of Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life to go back in time and play a game I enjoyed tremendously over a decade ago.

Well turns out I had forgotten that I bought a copy of the game a while back and it suddenly hit me, I had a Wii, I had a GameCube controller and sure enough I pulled my copy of The Legend of Zelda Collector’s Disc off the shelf and inside the case was my little while GameCube memory card. I dusted off the Wii, hooked it up, configured the Wii remote, threw in my copy of Harvest Moon and what do you know my old save from all those years ago was still in tact. I loaded it up and picked up my farm life right where I left off, little baby Mark showing me his toy car while wife, Nami, was in the kitchen apparently mulling over “life on the farm.”

Harvest Moon isn’t even an exclusive to the GameCube, yet it remains one of my fondest games for it. I remember putting endless hours into this game when it was brand new. I haven’t put that many hours into a game since discovering Minecrat, which I mostly play as a Harvest Moon substitute anyways. I didn’t spend a lot of time before I booted the Wii memory manager up just to see what other game saves remained in tact. I must have cleaned house at some point as most of my favorite games were gone. Still there were plenty of saves ranging from Metroid Prime, dozens of retro collections, Smash Bros. Melee, even my Robotech Battle Cry save was still there.

It wasn’t quite the same as hooking up the quaint little purple lunch box I fell in love with over a decade and a half ago. However, there was still a little of that GameCube charm left in the dusty old Wii. I always tell people the GameCube wasn’t a failure, it was Nintendo’s BEST SELLING console of all time, when you factor in the motion controlled redesign that Nintendo slipped into people’s homes through the back door. While most people who picked up a Wii were probably getting it for Wii Sports, Wii Fit and any number of waggle-wand casual fluff, some, like myself, picked it up as a full on replacement for our beloved, underappreciated little ‘Cube that could.

I don’t currently have hardly any games for the GameCube. I do expect I will be picking up a few just for old times sake in the near future. As I look at my small game collection I see five GameCube discs on the shelf. That wouldn’t be quite so bad if I didn’t have twice as many Wii games. The real reason I haven’t bothered trying to get back into GameCube collecting is the same reason I got out of Sega Saturn collecting. The units didn’t sell well enough to reach mass market saturation. That makes the games harder to find in good condition, which makes them more expensive all the time. Still, there is a very strong possibility I might talk myself into seeking out a few choice titles here and there in the near future. I would be more than happy to trade away my dust old Wii for an actual true GameCube someday. After all, I have a Wii U which is basically a Wii with it’s backwards compatibility. In the meantime I think I am going to be spending more time digging into the handful of GameCube games I do have to see what new memories I can make as I try to reconnect with old memories.

I sometimes go back and forth between SNES and GameCube, trying to decide which is my favorite Nintendo console of all time. I don’t have anywhere close to the time, or money, to begin collecting Super NES games, so I might just have to settle for my second favorite for the time being and be okay with that. One of the reasons I do wish to own an original GameCube over just a Wii is the Game Boy Player. However, as those are also getting expensive I might pass on that for a while. Again, it’s not urgent that I acquire one since I have a Game Boy Advance and a Game Boy Color.

I miss the days when I had a GameCube with a collection of 60 or so games, a half dozen controllers and a good old Sony Trinitron CRT tube television set. For now I can get by with a Wii hooked up to my HDTV LCD TV playing GameCube games.

 

The 90’s French Fried Youth Culture

In 1995 Kevin Smith released a movie in theaters called Mallrats. The movie celebrated the 90’s consumer youth culture by spending the majority of the film following two homebodies just wander around their local mall looking for things to do in an attempt to forget about their lady troubles.

When I was a teenager we spent most of our free time shopping at the mall. Between visiting the record store (Sam Goody), to checking out the local hip-hop shop where we picked up our B-Boy gear, underground break dancing videos as well as those mix tapes that every b-boy had to jam to. There were two places I made it a point to visit no matter what each trip I made to the mall. The first, obviously, was the video arcade. If I had quarters to burn they were going into whichever flashing quarter munching hit of the day was. My second stop was the world-famous food court. You had to fuel up with some chili cheese fries and a big gulp of sugar-filled sludge before you could head out on your shopping spree.

One of my favorite moments in the film was when the two were arguing over what constitutes being a part of the food court. Fortunately, the experience of sitting in a dark lit video arcade munching those chili covered french fries dripping with melted cheese was not just a staple of the massive mall shopping. We also had a local video arcade that also did us the favor of clogging our youth arteries with greasy carbohydrate over load while preparing us for our later in life diabetes as we chugged all those overly sweetened carbonated beverages they sold. Some of my favorite memories were setting my chili fries on the side of a Mortal Kombat cabinet while I dumped quarter after quarter into that machine that stole all of my allowance for many years.

Going beyond the food court at the mall and the video arcade, I also discovered how my friends and I enjoyed tremendously hanging out at snack bars, the bowling alley, or even the skating rink, always immediately going straight to the guy selling the french fries covered in Obamacare bait. Good times. As I look back I wonder though, why were the teenagers of the 90’s drawn to dark, noisy places that served the sloppiest of foods. Sure you could get more than just fries, you could often get deep fried onion rings, giant sized soft pretzels, a plate of nacho chips covered in cheese and jalapenos and black olives, or if you were lazy and in a hurry just grab a ready  made slice of pepperoni pizza. The food was always junk, the games were always the same games we had at home on our Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis game consoles, and the music was the same playlist from every MTV Party To Go cd your older sibling gave you as a hand me down when they moved on to the grunge rock of the era.

One of the things that I reminisce fondly was sitting at a table with a few friends just chatting about the coolest new music video we watched, asking if they caught the latest Snick skit on All That or Kennan and Kel, or hell there were days when our entire conversation was just repeating our favorite Boy Meets World quotes to 2Pac beats.

When I try to brag about how great the 80’s were followed by how dull the 90’s became I often forget that despite the flat “who cares” attitude coming from the crybaby rock, or the lazy, no effort talent-less hacks sitting on a couch arguing over who banged who on MTV’s The Real World, I often forget it was the decade of my coming of age. The 90’s had some great entertainment, if you were over the age of 25 and had already gone off to college, started your career and were gearing up to get your family off the ground. But if you were a teenager, pre-teen or somewhere in-between, chances are your best, fondest memories of the era were the junk food you and your friends scarfed down as you desperately sought anything that was either creative, original, or more entertaining than 2 poorly animated social delinquents sitting on a couch riffing on bad hair metal music videos. I don’t look back on the decade with rose tinted glasses, I admittedly recognize the moments that I hold dear because I was a teenager or the friends I was with making those memories, yet I think when your fondest memories are the toxic waste we shoveled into our mouths just to have some sense of joy when the entire youth culture market was telling us how much life sucked and we just needed to deal with it.

That’s why I say, next time your in the mood to revisit the 90’s do it right. Pop open a bottle of ice cold Mountain Dew, rip open a bag of Doritos, pour some melted nacho cheese over the top, pop in the Mallrats DVD and let Jay and Silent Bob remind you what the decade really was, not the idealized fantasy we often pretend it was.

 

Enter the darkness, if you dare

This very website has often had trouble finding it’s voice. The primary author, however, has not. The slogan, To Organize Chaos, does little justice to what is actually intended. So here is a new layout of what to expect if you dare to venture into The Spiders Lair.

First, take a second to let that name sink in. At the very center of every spider-web (Spiders lair) is a blood-sucking monster. They hide in the darkness waiting to snag a bite of blood to enjoy. The savory taste of the salty fluid that keeps most biological creatures alive is the very substance every spider craves. Another popular blood sucking monster that lives in the dark is the vampire. If you read this blog, or know the author and his friends, you would come to realize vampires are often going to come up, one way or another. From Buffy to Dracula to Castlevania, vampires are a big part of the dark culture this site intends to cover.

Sure, as a gamer, I talk about video games, and so do my friends, but what really excites me, what really gets my blood going is talking about those things that hide in the shadows. The Christian lore teaches that the darkness is the enemy. The devil, the demons, the evil spirits all make their home in the darkest places, and that the darkest corners of a man’s soul are where the worst crimes imaginable take place. No matter which side of the war you fall, fighting for the light or slave to the dark master, know your enemy is something that comes to mind.

To some, studying the evil works of the Prince of Darkness himself is akin to opening a doorway to hell, or opening a door inviting evil into your home. To others, if we are instructed to fight a spiritual war, it’s a way of knowing your enemy so you know what you are dealing with. For others, it’s all innocent and just stories. Take for example, sitting around a campfire telling scary stories. Who hasn’t heard the tale of the escaped convict with a bloody hook told to all hormonal teenagers to scare them away from per-maritial sexual relations. Now, the Bible itself, the most revered weapon, the sword in the spiritual war, itself a book laced with graphic depictions of violence, kidnapping, rape, incest, and demon possession. If the Bible is to be taken literally and one follows logically that just reading stories of sinful acts is enough to “cause” a person to sin in their heart, then the reading the Bible itself would be a sin. No, the Bible tells stories of sinners who rebel against the Word of God as a precautionary tale. No different than the cautionary tales contained within the typical slasher film. Sure the movies are often laced with detailed illustrations of sexual acts, often bare breasted woman running amok as the serial killer slices their naked bodies to bloody rags. However, the bible itself contains detail stories of sexual acts that often result in the death, dismemberment or even damnation of the participants, the moral of the story is, if you don’t know what sin is, how are you to avoid it? Another way to look at it is, just hearing a story of how a particular crime occurred is not a sin, so neither is the reenactment of said acts via Hollywood movie magic. Even many who would condemn or judge a man who watches a horror movie would make no fuss about a person reading a classic novel or work of literature that also contains graphic scenes.

This is not intended to be a sermon, not everyone ascribes to the Christian ethic, even if the Gothic portrayal of Christianity is the basis for many horror movies.

Logic does not always matter to a person with a conviction. Thus I share this, the Bible does say judge not lest ye be judged, and leave that out there where it is. The rest of this website will be devoted entirely to covering those topics that spark the interest of the author, and hopefully, his readers. To quote Dr. Dre “Journey into the mind of a maniac, doomed to be a killer since I came out the nutsack.” In other words, enter the mind of a man who is not afraid to investigate the darker side of humanity, if you dare. The site is not going to glorify or glamorize violence, evil, or criminal activity, however, there are works of fiction and art, including movies and video games, that are covered and discussed that fall into those categories, either as tales of warning what not to do, or just as examples of how the dark forces operate as a way to better under stand the enemy within.

Here are some of the movies, video games, music, books, comic books, and board games that delve into the darkness that this site will cover.

Movies

  • A Nightmare on Elm Street
  • Friday the 13th
  • Hellraiser
  • Gremlins
  • Ghostbusters
  • Lord of the Rings
  • Star Wars
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Candyman
  • Sleepaway Camp
  • Children of the Corn
  • Child’s Play
  • Silent Night, Deadly Night
  • Prom Night
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
  • Last House on the Left
  • The Fifth Element

Books

  • Dracula
  • Frankenstein
  • Homer
  • Beowolf
  • To Kill A Mockingbird
  • Sword of Shannara
  • Stephen King thrillers

Music

  • Marilyn Manson
  • N.W.A
  • Dr. Dre
  • Ice Cube
  • Snoop Dogg
  • RBX
  • The Dogg Pound
  • Garbage
  • Metallica
  • Megadeth
  • Alice Cooper
  • Rob Zombie
  • KISS
  • 2Pac
  • Wu Tang Clan

Video Games

  • Mortal Kombat
  • Castlevania
  • Doom
  • Ghosts N Goblins
  • Haunted House
  • Legend of Zelda
  • Final Fantasy
  • Silent Hill
  • Resident Evil
  • Alone in the Dark
  • Nightmare Creatures
  • Altered Beast
  • Golden Axe
  • Might and Magic
  • Wizards and Warriors
  • Pokemon (Pocket Monsters)

Comic Books

  • Dawn
  • Cry For Dawn
  • X-Men
  • Justice League of America
  • The Avengers
  • Spider-Man
  • The Punisher
  • Daredevil
  • The Fantastic Four
  • Batman
  • Vengeance of Vampirella
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Mortal Kombat
  • Scooby Doo
  • Tales From the Crypt

Board Games/Card Games/Tabletop Games

  • Dungeons and Dragons
  • Advanced Dungeons and Dragons
  • Magic: The Gathering
  • Hunter: The Reckoning
  • Clue
  • Spellfire
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer

So there you have, if you wanted to know what direction this site is going, the best way to explain it is the intention is to explore the darker things of humanity, through the lens of media, and develop a sense of social commentary through this exploration. Enjoy, and beware what you discover.