Friday, June 9, 2017

Hidden Faces in the Dead


I've been listening to a lot of Sinatra lately.

It's odd how distant one feels from their last life; looking in through the shattered, smokey windowpanes, a ghost hovering beyond anyone's reach. Odd how easy it is to look in, yet how repelling the sights become. A draw to... nothing.

It's almost jarring. I wasn't a fool; or was I? I never thought I were cheating myself; although, thought may not have been my main priority. There is no connection to what I see through the windowpanes any longer; the man's path is no longer one I can relate to, in that I had done so myself. It is no longer a sense of failure - now, perhaps, a sense of pity, in that the reflection captured in this time capsule was so eagerly fragile and whimsically frail. A colorful, lightly painted eggshell, glimmering in the soft sunlight; knowing full well it's ability to be destroyed with the smallest of winds.

And, yes, this remembrance is nothing more than a spirit in and of itself.

Laying alone in these wee, small hours of the morning... It makes one pine for anything. Something. God only knows what - but Holy, is that unknown reward.

The shaking, harmless armature of a human has - as expected - crumpled, and died. From his carcass emerged a decidedly more upbeat, proud, and even imposing figure. As I lay in the moonlit drink, I know this is a certainty... and, a warm one, at that. But now, where will he go? How will he get there? And above all - how blessed is he to, at last, fulfill the dream of self-awareness of which he never knew he harbored?

And - how blessed, perhaps, shall this new expanse of a world become?

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Back on the Images; Gone


Things feel like a ticking timer. A slope on down to the end of the slide; the drop-off.

It's a little sad, honestly. These lessons, which I slowly cope with. As much as I hold them firmly to my heart, I also see their hurt. I see how they can corrode me. And have. Not necessarily for the worse, but certainly in an ... unfamiliar way. It's a cold new galaxy of self discovery.

Letting go of a sickly happiness sitting dead in your face - loyally, comfortably - is a decision I ponder. How common is it, truthfully? Am I an outlier in my disregard for the attainable joys in life? With all good reason to argue otherwise - reason that truthfully outweighs any other emotion - I still feel an ethereal regret. Missing not the growing pains nor the mindless electricity; missing the lights in life. 

Maybe they are due to return upon the change of my life just as dead ahead. Maybe it's all waiting on my own evolution, shedding the now in the face of opportunity. Maybe getting away from the rut of life will provide a new cement of uniquely self fulfilling happiness. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Smiles


I wonder if growing, as a person, is really the same across all boards. There are obviously lessons to be learned which we all must face; most, for our own sake. As well as certain trials and tribulations; emotional control, image comprehension, such forth.

But, there comes a corner at which I no longer feel as if I am "growing" along the same path as others. To speak bluntly - and perhaps, a touch immaturely - Many are carrying their lessons in a flighty, light fashion. Going down the road with nary a second of introversion; a standstill which I reach constantly.

I wonder what it's like to be at such ironic peace with the world. To think the precise way you were told to, to play an actor in the drama that some define as reality.

As I become less human - less accustomed to the glossy, scripted, unabashedly false beaming lights and observing cameras of the daytime Television world - I feel as if I turn another route and grow in my own right. The more I shed these unrealistic, often moreso limiting than inspiring tendencies; of loneliness, of external contemplation; the more I find peace.

Perhaps there is a religious draw to distancing one's self from man. Maybe it's the inescapable desire for some undefinable uniqueness. Maybe it'd be best to be the star of the program, rather than the leery shadow phasing into the wall.

But maybe it's thoughts like that which are keeping me back.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Review - NECA Shin Godzilla (2016)


After 2014's Godzilla revitalization, the massive monster has been back at the forefront of big-name creature features, just like the good ole' days. NECA, known for their work with countless pop culture licenses (including Friday the Thirteenth, Gremlins, Aliens and more), have become a major name in the modern Godzilla merchandise scene; producing eight unique incarnations of the beast in their 'Classics' line alone, along with various knick knacks and one-off items.

Following the American theatrical release of 2016's Shin Godzilla, NECA took the logical step of unveiling their own model of the film's brand new design; a twisted, strikingly dark take on Godzilla unlike any interpretation previously seen. Currently hitting retailers, he'll cost you around $20.

Sculpt - 4/5

 

ShinGoji is a design almost explicitly crafted to be difficult to simplify; jagged, deformed, even unabashedly ugly in some considerations. NECA's sculpt has managed to capture this offbeat look very well; no doubt thanks to previous experience with similarly mutilated characters, such as Freddy Kruger. Covered from scraggly head to protruding toe in folds, tears, cuts, lumps, and an encyclopedia of scar-like afflictions, Shin looks immediately stunning for the sheer variety of textures and details (yes, such as growing spines, extra toes and jutting teeth) adorning the figure. Easily NECA's most impressive work, intricacy wise, since their coveted Godzilla 2014 figure.

However, that is not to say the sculpt is entirely accurate. There are some missteps; with varying degrees of importance, when it comes to the overall inflection of the sculpt itself. The dorsal spines grow far too large, the tail seems a tad short, and there's something going on with the length of the face; all arguably minor issues, but ones that can change how the design leaves an impact.

Articulation - 5/5

 

This can be a tough category to define, especially as - in my reviewing opinion - it can be entirely swayed by the nature of a toy line, or company. I consider S.H. Monsterarts within their own realm, NECA within it's own, and so forth.

Considering NECA's usual pattern of Godzilla articulation, Shin not only meets the standard, but manages to step above expectations. With 20 points, you can really pose him however you'd like, while keeping a 'natural' flow to the sculpt. This can be extremely hard to achieve, particularly with a design as reality-based as this. Each joint has a great range of motion, none feeling at all restricted. I particularly adore the extremely tiny points within the scrawny arms, as well as the interestingly engineered jaw; a strive for accuracy that could have easily been ignored, but makes the figure all the more quality.

My only qualm is with the tail. Made entirely of a light rubber, it doesn't seem to fit into the joint at the base of the tail; falling out very, very easily. This can be solved by, of course, standing it correctly on any surface, but it's flimsy.

Paint - 5/5

 

Shin's paint has been a recurring issue for companies, unsure of how to manage his mix of deep blacks and bloody, vein-esque reds. Some companies have tried a base color of red with a black wash, such as SHMA... and have received terrible results. Others have decided instead to mold the entire toy in black, with minimal red applications, such as Bandai... acceptable, but cheap. NECA is luckily among the few who have recreated the tough look to a tee. Covered in red highlights, never missing or overflowing any particular spots, as well as accentuating aspects such as the tail's tip or the spine's surfaces. Again, similar detail work with past figures surely played into perfecting this.

The dirty colors of tooth and nail, the grimy inner mouth, the minuscule - yet centered! - pupils - all look excellent. There's hardly any way to ask for more.

Fun Factor - 4.5/5 

This Godzilla isn't exactly one that you'd find drop kicking Chainsaw Chickens, or death-kissing evil spiders; he's stiff, he's uncomfortable, and he's as unearthly as a creature such as himself ought to be. There are many poses available to create, but admittedly, few fit the character quite as well as a relatively static stance or one pulled straight from the film. Regardless, as a figure, there's a lot one can do, and he looks consistently on model while contorting every which way. Some joints are a bit less sightly than others, and he does have some weight distribution issues thanks to the look itself, but overall I'd say he's fine for play as well as creative posing.

Overall - 4.5/5

 

Though off in some aspects - distorted features being the key issue - NECA's Shin is easily the best articulated offering of the design to date. Excellent paint, fun articulation, and (bar some qualms) a striking sculpt; he even rivals the 2014 figure, only being beaten by some accuracy points. I'd choose this as the 'must-have' ShinGoji toy; he's cheap, he's widely available, and he'll look just as impressive next to your Bandai vinyls as he will your SHMAs. Not perfect, but very impressive work.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

4/27/17


 It's been a busy time; but, then again, I'm not sure most blogs are quite as active as mine has been thus far. Last month in particular has now become the lowpoint of activity on Wastelnd - shifting focuses, experiments, and so on are to blame.

It's 7:13 as I write this, early in the PM's AM. I'm very groggy from a quasi-nap I was previously lost in; zoned out to a coma like state to a drearily Lo Fi instrumental playlist. 

I think if I had to rewrite A Warm Welcome, my description of myself would be wildly different. That anecdote in and of itself fits who I feel I now am; An existential cloud floating above, distant and impossible to grasp. For better or for worse. 

But, as it stands, I've never been more happy to have a warmth in my throat, a tinge to my sight, and a gust in my mind. I've regained myself. This beautiful feeling; last accompanied by splitting headaches and a horribly expansive aching; has regained it's staticy, golden glow. Like the national anthem stuttering through a bog of distortion, echoing into the black of night.

I don't try to find a solution. If there is one, I'd rather not have it. This lonely prison of my all-too aware self has some riches in the dust. And, frankly put - I have yet to find an endearment able to challenge the gifts which I already have. Lonely, undeniably - or perhaps, focused. Longing, although considerably prideful. A ghost on the ethereal fence at all times.

I remember once more my tired state. A passing beauty, not unlike the sins of life. I sit alone; free of mind. Free of any metallic eyeballs devouring my every slight; Free to the eyes of comradery watching closely, as always. The only life which I derive from. I don't feel much anymore besides the slogging muck of melancholy; but it's as warm a coat as I need.

Time has been flying lately, though I'm not sure why.

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Post About April Without a Good Title



April's been one hell of a month - to go to show it, this post's about fourteen, fifteen days late. Good thing this entire blog exists only on my schedules (and comfortably so).

March proved a bit less hectic than I had assumed in my last Monthly post; The month was oddly self contained - despite all the various things that did happen, there was a black cloud overarching it all. Hell, really, it's been depressingly fogging the air for far too long around here. But, in retrospect, I suppose that was a natural disaster I really ought to have avoided - the key beam of clean sunlight which has broken the smog was hardly one I couldn't have enacted sooner, with some determination.

That insignificant flip of a switch has managed to make April somehow new. Realizing the broad reaches of the world - all literally at my fingertips - has helped redefine myself, yet again. My very first post continues to show it's age, almost to the point of embarrassment. Finding happiness in self-pride, in the things I am capable of and should be doing, is so much more fulfilling than drifting on a moodless river of emptiness. Learning to be an individual, one fully in control of my own life, what is in it, and how it effects me, is the most I've gained on a mental level in a long while.

I'm feeling genuinely upbeat for the first time in too long. It's elevating feeling that classic mix of responsibility, push and lighthearted fun after what felt like a deathly hangover. It's hard to express this feeling without the tinge of unprofessional escapism, but to put it bluntly, I can't wait to keep along this newly discovered path. I might be a heartbreaker. But I'm more happy to stay sea sick.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Bubblegum



Writing for Wastelnd is the most cathartic feeling I've had in years. I think a listening ear is something I've overemphasized - simply melding my moods with vocabulary, rather than any summation of colors, words, lines, songs, or so many examples of what else, feels incredibly natural.

The blog was intended more as an outlet to spurt out less personal ideas, such as rebuttals to arguments I've deconstructed, or my own mini-essays on entertainment topics. A blog that'd mainly serve as a host, which I'd link to necessary audiences.

The artistic journal it has become is really something of a dream come true; I've always wanted a long running history of my thoughts, and, almost to a tee, here it is. It's quiet, it's individual, and it's not something I feel a huge pressure to do. As previously stated, pattering away at the keyboard while I simply pour thoughts along the screen is as soothing as a hot bath. It's rather sobering, as well; I don't think I've left, nor entered the site with a strong emotional fire. Any sparks are doused rather quickly by the foamy bubbles of meandering freedom which such an aimless medium provides.

No real purpose to this ditty of gratitude, but here's to a new favorite hobby keeping me up all through the night. It's the best time of the day.


Good

 
I don't think I have an outward online persona, or if I want one. It's such a 'modern' facade; to make an impression based purely on a handful of images. I'm certainly happy with myself - self confidence has never been something I've lacked, which luckily pits me a bit ahead of the game when it comes to decision making and longterm intentions - but when it comes to a digital calling card, I prefer an artistic face - it represents me far better than a particularly attractive photo. I'd rather use the desaturated vector of myself from this very site as a one-note collection of 'me' than a photograph. Why blather about in reality when we have an entire vast digital world which can make our personalities so much more diverse?

This is something I've always toyed with... bouncing between an eccentric impact radiating from an electric homepage, to one that hardly existed at all. I think it's all about influence; I've never felt the need to project myself on the internet without a guiding hand. Perhaps because I take no interest in present-day phenomena, or perhaps because, again, I can sort of preemptively see the dishonesty of it all. The times which I have had a strong foundation of posts and the like were certainly fun, in a mindless sort of way, but I also feel as if something about pouring all of yourself into a medium purely intended to flaunt is fraudulent. Maybe even a little bit distasteful.

Even this blog is intended to be snugly packed in a dark corner of the net... I think an analytical following might limit what, as well as when I'd be willing to express. I'm familiar with the itch a consistent creator gets when they haven't envisioned a new piece in even the shortest of time, and the less of it I get, the better. My accounts on forums and the like are brief, avoiding a lot of specifics about myself besides perhaps a name or age here and there. I'm not even too sure what to do with my currently steady flow of art - as it is, I totally appreciate recognition, and I'd like to make the hobby something more boastable if for no other reason than to have but another small glimmer of pride, but the warmth of holding my creations tightly rather than treat them as golden eggs is comfortable.

I wonder what it's like to not have so many thoughts - or at least, to have fewer that go against the grain. Then again, I know I've been in that mind before; but it wasn't as neatly spotless and upbeat as one would imagine. It's a room pumped to the brim with Laughing Gas, dulling the mind and sharpening the smile. It has solid black concrete walls, shoddily build furnishings, and deeply melancholy overtones - but the sensations are so entrancing, one sees and just as quickly forgets. I guess that speaks for itself, doesn't it? "Ignorance is Bliss"  is really something of a stupid phrase. That pillbottle is lined with annotations that imply it'll eventually leave a worse impact than a present boost. It's always fun feeling a new rush, but don't go in without a gasmask... you'll still get a few small whiffs of the enticing odors, and you'll also be more protected than ever.


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Talkstatic - - A


If you've got a choice, and it's mulled and dulled; you know it's a no. And, if still you feel it could be a steal, wait 'till your eyes dry by the lights of the sky.

Dawn and Dusk are my closest advisors; they've yet to prove me wrong.

Existential interference does not apply.

Ridley's Kemp



Another journal style entry; always unspecific, but hopefully alluding enough to apply to most psyches.

I'm a bit full of myself. I have no issue admitting it; it's a trait of mine. I'm not too terribly vain, besides my outward implications - I enjoy the flashing lights of life. The natures, which I so often have rambled on about, are absolutely not below me. Although I cannot deny my desires for the world, I'd settle with little were a spirit filling the void me instead. I'm imperfect; but I have a voice pestering the back of my skull. His whispers are faint, but I seem to understand the gist; perhaps this is merely the shedding skin of adolescence. Put frankly, beyond all motives with which I still must consider, I'd far rather peer into the eyes of nothingness than those aching to peer likewise into mine.

Wandering alone on the chilled sidewalks is a peace I've yet to equate. Watching the airplanes far above glide smoothly past each star, displacing the tinge of burning leaves in their inky ripples as I stalk about hundreds of feet below... it is a loneliness that I hold far more vehemently than any love.

Recognizing myself as my own born soul, rather than an amalgamation of traits I long ago hoped would promote myself as a familiarity, is a goal which I've procrastinated for years. As new beginnings are continually rolled out before me, though, I finally have found a proper time but take my introspection more personally. The nostalgic emptiness with which I have fallen so hard for is found, presently, within my own self. And, as is my own belief, the self encapsulates all that is, was, and can be. Perhaps my aforementioned pride is less a product of instability, more one of thought.

The rain falling, dashing through steam and splashing on the asphalt; it is beautiful. The thoughts that drip from an old faucet... wonderful. And though one day I do hope to find a concurrent being with which these peaces may exist, in the meantime, I peacefully levitate above an apocalypse of crashing waters. Ones of my own blissful disregard, and ones that will soothe in the far distances of a shadow. Self.


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Surrey Hills



Yesterday, I suddenly became inflicted with a nasty stomach virus; with a harsh fever-migraine combo to boot. Aches, pains - further literal impact than anything has had on me in quite some while. As someone who is often a touch sleepless and groggy, feeling the unbridled downpour of difficulty that is a legitimate sickness comes as a bit of a smack in the face. It really reminds you just where you stand, in more than one sense.

Late into the night, surrounded musically by a melancholic drift as the credits rolled from yet another animated feature stuttering across the empty television screen, I found myself equally half awake. Still drowned in the mental blur of a long, draining day, but far more aware than at any previous point. I was stuck in the cage that is the dead of the night, as I all too often am; though having the shackles of a worn skeleton and torn build made the moon all the more cold.

Oversaturated in my yearn for tranquility - a feeling I'd have cited as a prime example of melodrama in previous accounts of nausea - I immediately grabbed hold of a contrast to the peacefully strained holding area I seemed to be in. Writing frantically among what had become an empty black, I poetically devised what was to be my most brief, yet possibly most encompassing piece of anecdotal reflection yet; a summary of the existential thoughts I have drawn myself back to.

Knowing we all face the evils within us. Each smiling, innocent face; harboring the disease. Sin controlling each and every momentary thought, being the hand that pushes us off the cliff we precariously balance upon. Twisting our wind-up gears, aiming us to pitter patter into the depths of hell.

Where are we; in that our worst nightmare is our popular nature. Who put the chemicals in the food chain.

Rather than an assertion or realization, it is a fallacious question with an answer both too complex and too indefinite to properly explain. A literal interpretation rather than any sort of building expose.



The following day, crawling a touch late to the beaming starlight, I can't help but feel a small touch of chagrin. Festering in a cave of spiraling mysticism, a creature forcibly locked away from the world for fear of it's unbridled oddness. So vehemently clutching it's fears, hatreds, and inhumane sensibilities, it becomes a schizophrenic shell containing naught but condensed explosions of instability. Who rolled the stone before his cavern, none do tell; whether the peoples of the village saw his vain eccentricity, or whether he himself saw their colorless superficiality. Walking into the fields of an entirely forgotten, and thus fundamentally new world; something some may dream of. Something only one who has faced a trial of observational introspection may observe; skin-covered eyeballs, blood-coated mouth and grossly gooey skin shimmering uncharacteristically majestically in the glow.

I feel chagrin in that trial. Still rubbing my cheek from a violently abrupt slap, I become the polar opposite of what I may have been. A child realizing his err; but coping, and understanding. Realizing precisely what he did wrong - while still aware that upfront punishment is among the few ways he'd have ever learned. A regret for ever having to tumble in so many ways. Yet, rather than trample further, I begin to see another ray of hope beyond the blinding revelations with which the burning sun has unscathed. Fault is as much in our nature as is the ungodly hand of Sin. It is what catches us from the precipice, and pulls us on to the next range. The landing is not easy; neither is the ride, nor the leave. But it is the sole assistance we have in recuperating from the evil we perform, and witness.

In what is perhaps the finale of my loosely continual slog of non-specifically pragmatic criticisms of nature, reality, and the demons that haunt whatever we may call our world, I feel a spiritual gust empowering me to end on a note properly alternative. Not one to solve each investigation - far more encompassing. Far less thematically impure. One that reflects rather than destroys.

There is darkness in us; we float within it as does a soulless rowboat among a graveyard of grimy seaweeds. It darts about, as do the flies - latching to the poor sailor's tangy skin, extracting his deeply intoxicated blood with nary a ponder concerning his well being. For this indifference is their temperament, as it is ours. But as he is tortured little by little, the sailor manages to heave forth. He has little strength, but sees the shore. He has come so far; the death and destruction he dove from now undoubtedly corpse-filled relics beyond the deepest reaches of the ocean. He rows on - rowing, rowing, rowing - beheading the weeds, displacing the flies. It is not an act of ignorance, for he is quite aware of his dishonorable survival; but one of enlightenment. As he eventually slides across the sands of an undisclosed Valhalla, he stares back to what was. No longer is there suffering, but merely the distorted visages of the marshes he struggled past. Their odorous clouds carry strong, but the issue was passed. He may have little - or, perhaps, the treasure itself. He may not know where to wander - or, very well, he could be the explorer destined to forever inhabit these forgotten ruins. He is anew. He shall never face a struggle as treacherous, for it is dead and decomposed. His spirit - free of the constant drunkard delusion that was his tortured self - enters the gates, of which he so long dreamed.

Better to float on. Better to smile. Better to hold on to the soul that has helped you here; and keep growing.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Cold Blood Toothpick


It's late.

I don't know much anymore. Yet I know all. After sacrificing the depths of my consciousness for the glitter, alcohol and ash covered linoleum of human amenities, I find it hard to reattach the cranium that was knocked clean from my neck. It strains to reach the spacey, ethereal place I once inhabited. Hard to rid of the gluttonous fat that came packaged alongside the vacuum-sealed human.

Being the only one in your head. The sole voice you'll ever hear, rambling within that strange, indefinite concept we apply to the hunk of fleshy meat that rests in our skulls. The little creator of the universe. Oddly, considering it's rather regal position, it strives to become one with the characters it has envisioned. Trying to rid itself of the duties that come alongside said role; wanting to understand the twisted world that it's own psyche has violently smeared across the canvas of so-called reality. Yet, despite it's ventures to grasp the hallucinations it provides itself, it knows this feat is purely impossible. It knows the gash of blotchy red paint in which it travels - gazing at it wistfully, adoring it's supposed beauty with glossy eyes - has been specifically crafted to challenge, confuse, and horrify the poor soul who traverses it.

Sadistic. Constructive.

Being that voice - that adventurous little entity -  places one in the lone spotlight of an empty theater. Thrown in the Colosseum, pit unfairly against monstrous demons. As they snarl their frothing teeth, their arrows aim dead at your heart; eyes filled with the terrible static screams of those within, forms shifting and morphing endlessly as they adapt to your each and every tactical thought. These are the creatures in our heads. These are the painters of our realities. These are the deities who carefully observe, and rightfully torture; Angels with dirty faces.

It's practically morning.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

One Man's Trash is Usually Treasure



In many critical circles, the argument is made that modern animated children's programming has become far too neutered; ignoring quality for income, relevance, and quantity. Rather than entertain via more expansive attributes such as engaging plots or palpable characters, it is said that the vast majority of shows dive instead into a pool of dumbed-down simplicity.

Though beginning with more openly subversive content often cited as being first seen in The Simpsons, relatively new series such as Adventure Time, Gravity Falls and Steven Universe are among the key examples used to describe the contrast between more the artistically aware and the corporate-minded; each show presents itself in an unrealistic fashion appropriate for a commonplace animation, yet holds it's own weight by having legitimate depth. - with multifaceted writing and a focus on creativity over typically market friendly concepts. Simply put, not unlike the classics of similar mediums, there is a quite obvious soul to each show.

The argument itself can be summed up with the following anecdote; "Shows produced for children should not treat the audience as mindless". Children are smarter than we often imply, and thus, it can be beneficial to expose them to more broadly existential topics such as introspection, fear, or even the very critical thinking that has pushed this topic to the forefront. Surely not every cartoon must be Shakespearean - some slight levity is fair, as a cornerstone of the genre - but there must be a sense of purpose overall.

To this, I disagree entirely.

Kids are smart - but they are not geniuses. It is wise to stimulate their developing minds - but absolutely not necessary, within this circumstance. Entertainment is produced for one core purpose; to entertain. Children may feel far more dramatically vast emotions while enthralled in the dramatic pits of The Secret of Nimh, but they will feel a quite similar rush with the bubblegum fun of Despicable Me. They almost certainly will see a difference in scope, but they will also easily identify an entertainment value that is perhaps lost in the midst of storytelling.

As more adult themes are piled onto a concept that is recognizably childish, I find that two reactions occur. One appeals to the aware mind; as a juxtaposition between safety and harsh reality, we feel an unfamiliar impact in what we have been conditioned to see as upbeat. The second, however, is the more important in it's detrimental qualities; it becomes distant to the young viewer. In aforementioned example Nimh, this is hardly an issue; as the film itself was geared toward the critical viewer who would naturally have the means to understand it's levity. It uses it's juxtaposition for an understandable reaction, setting itself in a distinguishable atmosphere. However, with likewise aforementioned modern televised examples, a show that is explicitly geared toward a simple audience takes fault in overwhelming them with dramatics.

Art has an unwritten fairness; even in cases in which there is a juxtaposition, there is also an unspoken focus for which it is totally designed. A setting in which it shall exist - even if that setting is one that intends to shock, or create uncomfortableness. Breaking this norm is not an offense, as often creates rather impressive works via challenging the frames with which it has given itself. However, it is an entity that a creator must be aware of. By introducing parallel attributes to a work, you must consider the entire piece. Will a cartoon glove match the wrist within a  photorealistic portrait? Will an upbeat keyboard riff blend amongst the troughs of shredding guitars? Is there a purpose to this change - or will it instead be an inconsistency?

Children do not see this challenging world of artistic conceptualization. They see intriguing visuals, enjoyable tones, and welcoming writing. Children may recognize the differences in quality between certain programs, but their enjoyment of said programs absolutely does not correlate. It is a somewhat foreign mindset, but not one that is totally beyond comprehension. Above all, this audience wants to be enthralled. There is a place for the so-called stupid, the absentminded; it appeals to an equally underdeveloped audience. Is it truly wrong to pump out media that is altogether little more than cheap jokes and colorful imagery if that is exactly what there is loud demand for? Perhaps these productions are not of no worth - they simply are designed for a very specific set of eyes. 

So, no, children's shows should not consistently be designed as artistic masterpieces. It's simply illogical, directing focus on aspects often too unusual or too uninteresting to the target. Focus on entertainment trumps all; a point that can be applied, and seen in countless forms of media today. To be blunt -there's a reason schlock has survived unscathed, while the challenging has consistently morphed and collapsed upon itself. There is an equal place for more 'quality' shows, of course - but they are not the so-called forerunners of a new age of enlightened children's animation.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Immediate Thoughts - Kong - Skull Island



Fresh from the theaters, thoughts racing and popcorn breath fuming - if you're looking for a beautifully written entry, stray away. The following are my very opinionated, unprofessionally immediate thoughts on the above film. For the sake of spitting arguments rather than writing a full review, I'm writing in a tone pointed directly toward those who have likewise seen the film, and have a familiarity with the genre.

King Kong; the biggest American monster this side of anyone in-office. Arguably the father of modern movie monsters, he's a household name to rival the greats - Alien, Predator, and of course, the one, the only, Godzilla. Legendary and Toho struck creative gold with 2014's hit GODZILLA, kick starting an all-new era of international big-budget monster madness; leading films such as Power Rangers, Colossal, and Shin Godzilla to the forefront. Old man Kong couldn't miss the party - and, already seeing dollar signs at the thought of a certain monster mash, Legendary sent him a formal invitation.

With Kong - Skull Island, the gigantic gorilla has smashed back into star-studded Hollywood glory with a burning vengeance; gone are the rubber suits, the intricate models. No more Empire State scaling, or T-Rex clobbering. Feeling fresh for the first time in many a film, KSI brings us an excitingly lively take on the familiar monster.

As the second installment to the Legendary 'MonsterVerse', comparisons are inevitable to it's predecessor. Where GODZILLA failed, KSI succeeded. In many ways, the film feels as if it were a direct sequel to GODZILLA - minus the necessary titular beast, of course. Each character, though a bit upfront and typical, was recognizable; we knew the cast, and we could feel for them appropriately. Being centered on commonplace film tropes isn't always a negative attribute of a character - because we could identify them based on persona and appearance. they effortlessly held our attention, and even managed some very strong moments. There's spectacle galore -  no half baked artistry to constantly pull away from the testosteronefest here. The battles are huge, and look just as incredible as they ought to. Even some dashes of lighthearted, comic book-esque imagery and comedy are sprinkled into the mix, painting an excellently colorful image.

The best way to bluntly describe the movie is as a modern 'Showa' film; upbeat, a bit cartoony, but perfect for some popcorn thrills. There is an inarguable weight to the story and all aspects involved, but it is kept alive by a steady stream of humor and simplicity that can tastefully counter even the darkest of moments. It's candy - there's not a whole lot behind the curtain, but there's just enough character to it all to make that irrelevant.

However, something did feel a bit hollow about the film - not enough drive for the monsters to clash, not enough development and settling time for the large story. Some characters were perhaps a bit underused compared to their importance, and things felt very fast-paced. I've yet to decide if this adds to the eccentric tone, or takes away from a greater experience.

Upon further viewings, I hope to make a full review - I'm a bit of a Kaiju freak, obviously. But, based on one viewing alone, I'm happy to say KSI is certainly among the most fun modern monster flicks I've seen in recent years.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Countryfied, Electrified, Genuine Country Dragon - The History of Tex Critter's Pizza Jamboree


Since The Walt Disney Company produced the first ever audio-animatronic character, Abraham Lincoln, automated beings have been a staple of the modern entertainment industry. Used in theme parks, films, and much more, this interesting form of technology has grown both more advanced and more widespread with an incredible pace.

Smoking, abrasive, inner-city rat turned children's icon!
One of the key players in the medium's popularization came in the form of  the Pizza Time Theater restaurants (now known as Chuck E. Cheese's). Backed by electronics powerhouse Atari, this chain of eateries combined arcades, pizza parlors, and small-scale amusement parks into one exciting package.

Immediately, entrepreneurs saw the genius of the concept; leading to the creation of imitators such as Showbiz Pizza Place, Circus World PizzaMajor Magic's All-Star Pizza Revue, Bullwinkle's Restaurant, and too many others to possibly list. Thanks to a mix of nostalgia and appreciation for each storefront's unique creativity, a fan following has recently sprung up, celebrating the retro fun of these locales.

Within this fanbase, one smaller-name entertainment center has newly popped back into relevance; Tex Critter's Pizza Jamboree. Collectors have acquired original animatronics from the stores, and fans have swooned over their cutesy designs. However, beyond this admiration, there seems to be a loss concerning information about the pizza parlor. With the help of the Retro Pizza Zone forums, fandom superstar CavitySam, fellow fan Masterpj555, and a trusty search engine, I've compiled all I could find into covering the rise and fall of Tex.


Tex Critter's was a joint production between Castle Entertainment Inc. and AVG Technologies, not unlike the well-known pairing of Corporate Showbiz Pizza and Creative Engineering. Castle, though seemingly having mostly disappeared to time, was a highly ambitious family fun center company, owning various mini-golf locations, arcades, and more. AVG's previous and future works spanned anything from other Pizza centers (such as the aforementioned Circus World Pizza and Bullwinkle's Restaurant), to full-on amusement park dark rides, to feature films.

The Tex cast - Skeeter the Rattlesnake, Country Cal, Foxy Roxy, and of course, Tex - was designed by Disney Imagineers Larry Nikolai and Rolly Crump, giving the crew a traditional cartoon feel. Each character, to varying degrees, served as a homage to the genre of Country music; deliberately distinguishing the show from similar electronic cabaret acts of the time, which focused moreso upon familiar or generally upbeat tunes rather than one consistent music choice.

Tex's was also one of the first entertainment centers to limit it's guests to families only, avoiding the grimy hangout atmosphere found in similar places.

Another unique feature of the stores was it's variety of entertainment. Though retaining the common arcade theme, Tex's also featured Televisions playing then-hip channels such as MTV, a small-scale
theater featuring 3-D films, computers running fun programs, and even an occasional special spotlight on local events (playing recordings of parades, ceremonies, and more of the such on screens through the store). Castle was impressively ambitious, and though little is known whether or not these features were implemented into each location, it's undeniable that they certainly put this chain far
above the comparatively simple ventures of competitors.

Unfortunately, there seems to be very few records of what the real stores looked like. There is one image of an outdoor sign, but no known shots showing the interior of any location. We do, however, know of some memorabilia, such as a member's card from a Puerto Rico location, official Tex shirts, and a full Tex mascot costume.

Even the animatronic band itself was high-tech considering it's mass-market production. Compared to the often simplistic quality of figures in other pizza parlors, it's easy to see that AVG was many steps ahead of these lesser forces. Each character clocked in at about 300 pounds, and eight feet tall. The 'Bots were specifically designed to last, using airplane parts to ensure they'd last as long as possible. Their face 'masks' were glued to an inner skull, and held snugly via buttons (unlike masks such as those used by Showbiz Pizza, which were loosely slipped onto the bare mechanism). They could even be remotely controlled via joysticks, allowing the characters to specifically look at things. As seen in this very rare footage, the Tex show was practically Disney-quality, with smooth, natural movements.


Estimated to be AVG's most produced animatronic show, it is believed 20+ locations existed. Oddly, AVG's website only mentions the Castle Park location, with no indication of the actual food chain in which the figures were used. I have a theory that the first Tex show was test-ran in the park, as it was also owned by CE, and upon it's success, the project was pushed further.

Castle Park was a popular attraction in El Paso, Texas, covering CE's various professions (including, of course, a state-of-the-art arcade facility and a large mini-golf area). It is believed that the above footage originates from this location.

1984, however, proved to be a fatal year for all of CE's outlets. The Tex chain, Castle Park, and a handful of other attractions owned by the company closed, indicating that CE had totally folded this very year. Sources claim that the closure of at least Tex was due to poor money management (presumably caused by the complexity of the stores themselves). A lifetime of only two years, it isn't surprising that CE's impact on the entertainment industry was minimal, at best.

By the time of Castle Park's closing, Tex and company were purchased and moved to similar (though not CE owned) attraction Castle/Magic Landing, which opened that year. The locale displayed their set in a familiar location - the pizza parlor. As CE no longer existed, there was no other Tex advertising nor merchandise around the park, isolating the trio. CL existed until 1988, when it closed due to both a lack of funds and a variety of controversies.

The majority of Tex animatronics were sold off in auctions and the such, or perhaps dismantled in hopes of scrap money. Many still exist, albeit in highly decomposed forms - though few have seen as much wear and tear as those given to Landing.

The park itself, rather than immediately leveled or sold apart, was entirely abandoned. Resting from 1988 to roughly 2008-9, the contents quickly grew eerily decrepit, forgotten by those who once perhaps adored them.

Tex and the gang, twenty-three years old in the accompanying picture, were sadly not spared. They spent seventeen of those years in disregard, and many more afterward. Melting, broken, and soulless, it's a sad sight to see the characters once so full of life now in this terrible (yet, perhaps even more morbidly, recognizable) condition. Even sadder, Landing's corpse was finally levelled in 2013, presumably taking what may have been the first complete Tex stage with it. A work of art, lost to history.

Luckily, it is believed most of the in-store Tex sets were sold off via auction (along with the rest of each location's assets). Designed for years of use, many are still popping up in the oddest of places (and oddest of conditions) to this day.

One such example is a set that, according to often-retold anecdote, was purchased from a closed Tex location  by a high school and used to teach students programming. An alternate version of this tale claims the trio was used for a play, by the same school. The characters were largely incomplete (missing their faces, skins, clothes, and various other pieces), leaving their inner shells and mechanics bare. The fiberglass shells were directly painted upon. Albeit non-official, this is the only known retrofit (or reworking) of Tex Critter animatronics. The characters were renamed "Sammy", "Miss Kitty", and "Uncle Frank", presumably to match their new context. Oddly, Skeeter the Rattlesnake is missing from the set.

As previously mentioned, fans have discovered their own sets, as well. Among others, CavitySam (right) and Masterpj555 (left) have uncovered sets, both in varying states of completion. Though currently in naturally weathered  conditions, both owners are working diligently to refurbish the crew to fully finished, fully functional states - a difficult, but impressive task. The animatronic community has taken a large interest in their progress, thus leading to a small revival in Tex Critter's relevance, with fan art, speculation, and general excitement clouding around the forgotten characters and their background.

Masterpj555 has taken it upon himself to begin clearing this fog, locating and contacting names behind Tex. One successful lead was artist Larry Nikolai, who upon learning of the renewed interest, has began recounting his experience with the project on his FaceBook page. Posts so far have revealed the manufacturing of the animatronics, the design process, and even his original maquette (used to visually conceptualize the stage layout, seen as this article's header).

Yes, despite Tex's long-ignored past, it seems he and his friends do have a future. New information is speedily reaching those invested, discoveries are springing up left and right, and new fans of the show certainly prove it's charm beyond it's limited exposure. The Tex Critter story - despite it's trials and tribulations - has yet to end. New information is old; which naturally means the various questions can, and hopefully, will be answered.

As information is still being uprooted, naturally, there will be periodic updates. I plan to add to the history through new articles. Though I intend to preserve this one as-is, any conflicting updates will be resolved.

With that, here's to the new life that been been breathed into Skeeter, Cal, Tex and Roxy.





March On


Another month goes by - with notably less posts than the first month, which unsurprisingly was a peak period in my activity here on Wastelnd. Various personal and technical setbacks have led me to accidentally ignoring this blog, but as things are at once back in order, I hope to slowly but surely regain the fiery pace I had blazed.

I intentionally have changed focus in my writings; leaning more to the personal, unabashed intentions I had initially scoped for this site. Naturally, not everything ought to be written - if not for my own comfort, than for the fact that they simply couldn't be expressed with any proper techniques - however, I am quite happy with the atmosphere these posts have dipped into, giving more of a soul to what will often tend to be a rather eccentric little 'time capsule'.

On that note; I find it very interesting to read back even to A Warm Welcome and reconsider opinions I had strongly expressed, as little as three months ago.  In fact, many of the points I make to describe myself I can now soundly rebuttal as faults which have set up previous 'failures' rather directly. Makes one revel in how their own mind has expanded beyond the confines it had once been contained in (... not unlike a pickle jar, perhaps), very much for the better - narcissistic, but not untrue. There's certainly some indescribable psychological advantage to laying one's self down on digital paper every so often.

Focusing on the present, March is, as seemingly always - at least, for me -, an exciting, busy month. Besides my own birthday on the 30th, I have a handful of neat events and goals laying ahead that I very much look forward to. Continuing preparations and work for my new DeviantArt page, pursuing new avenues of  individual life, jotting a series of literary ideas that may turn out longer than the Good Book itself, and adapting to a changing atmosphere both in and out of my own spirit is keeping things as electric as ever. I'm just glad to finally be long past the shock, and rolling straight into through the spark.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Sky


Mornings. Cold, sudden, and all-around a tumble down an especially jagged mountainside.

The thoughts come yet again with each passing one. They have no actual weight, besides the distress of hearing them once more. Knowing full well I am above them, yet still aching from having to read through them once more.

Considering that I am not bothered by the issues beyond a mere state of annoyance, I have a strong suspicion that they are but one of the many attempts by my former self to leech any newfound consciousness out of my skull, spitting it out like gummy chewing tobacco on the concrete. It's a single remnant of who I became; an unrealistic, unmoral dreamer, set with his sights not for the stars... but for everyone else's.

At the risk of narcissism; a criticism I've never felt truly held water, especially considering the human traits of individuality; I must say, it can be dark at the top. When one feels as though they have severed an irradiated, disgusting extra limb, one also feels the sting from the slice. They have removed the cancerous extremity, but they can't help but reminisce on the oh-so fun days of being a deformed mutant.

Yearning for the days of old, when disease had your fate sealed with a kiss. For when your constant therapies were truly only in support of the sickness, perpetuating it further. The depressing nostalgia of seeing that illness fester within you, batting at your unwilling flesh with each opportunity... ignoring it's pain, hoping perhaps one day it'd simply float off. And, of course, the longing to imagine one's self, now clean and healthy, as simply another dying patient.

We miss being dead when we have risen. We miss the limb, because we have decided to let ourselves believe it was a natural being. As it lays upon the sterile medical floor, rotting, oozing, we wince at it's true form. Without our giving blood, it reveals it's true self. Purple, bruised... only a matter of seconds, and it has morphed into the limb of a person long dead. Perhaps we were the one thing keeping this parasite palatable.

As it shrivels and shrinks before our offput eyes, we must accept that the extremity we once had was no more than the grotesque corpse we now see writhing. It's significance to us was masked by a veil of ignorant acceptance, making us desperate to love it's presence - for our own sake. Now that we are free, however, our blood recirculates once more; for the first time in far too long, it crosses our entire being, no longer being siphoned into the louse we once carried. As it grows crusted to the linoleum, we turn and walk from it; it's sizzling and popping fading into the void as we nonchalantly return to the lobby, and into the sunlit day.

The sting fades as the air of the clean, bright world paints a layer of warm honey over it. Our ghosts pass on to another, as we breathe in the springtime mists. The horrific death we have just witnessed is no more than a mere inconvenience, now; as we rev the engine and push the gas, the wind in our hair shakes free the shamefully imbecilic tendencies of our old selves.

No boogeyman can suction the darkness back into your mind as you zoom past 60; No demon can grab your wrist and leave you scalded. You are the holy driver; and now, it's time to high-tail it to the next destination.

And, as you reach your airport, receive your ticket, and hit the skies, you shall never see the twisted world far behind and beneath you again. The sky's the limit, and you've only just began your flight.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Some Of Us Will Never Sleep Again


I sometimes feel as though I am no longer. My thoughts are so thick, so abundant; constantly a blur clouding what I once preferred to accept as a clear, upfront reality.

The subversive mumblings of higher control - my life itself being nothing more than a means to develop my own end - haunt me. Questioning why my illusionary choice of ignorance continues to pander to me. Wondering, when will my mind revert to the state it once inhabited... yet, unabashedly sure that none of these questions are worth their advertised weight. They are mere ghastly spirits, dragging me down to the depths with their dark intents.

I rise from a figurative dead as did the resurrected man in 80's horror flick Hellraiser. Stitch by stitch, I resew what ought to be, and snip away and the fringe. It is not a mere costume to hide what I have devolved into - it is a naturally given rebirth.

My thoughts are the single exit to the neverending hallway of evolution. An image of a proud, enviable individual; an image I am fully aware is not out of my perception. Focusing my eyes as the literal, truthful cameras that they pair with my mind to become, I will proudly carry on as I once did, soul in tow. Parading toward a future fit only to my desires, waving the dazzling flags of my own concerns, talents and beliefs above my head as crowns.

The mindless world seems to have an intent beyond my understanding. A certain knack for grabbing innocent minds, and warping them to the twisted, gullible, and simply pitiable creatures that form our major society. It is a machine designed to keep the existential gears in some sort of motion; designed not to oil the machine, but instead to corrode it. To chip away at it's inner workings, until the very structure collapses into itself - awakening to the sad realization of what it's done.

However, this is not the machine of us all. This cannot happen to the machine that governs our universe, no matter how brutishly hard it is pushed and tampered with. Many fall to the warm, yet cold grips of fate; sealing their own Earthly beings in a tomb, and surely endangering their eternal selves/

Some of us do not sleep. We never sleep. We hold ourselves with the hardest, strongest fists imaginable; through each element, through each pitfall. Should we fumble, we are caught before we crack. And as we are polished and dusted off, we somehow manage to shine even moreso than before.

As I diverge, I reemerge. And proudly so.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Tommy Pickles


The end of the day is always one of my least favorite times.

It's when I reflect on what I've done with my past waking hours; when you finally count your income, and recount your stocks.

In the most literal sense, a recount of the day; waking relatively early for a brisk walk around the park to the upbeat, enjoyably sugarcoated rock bonanzas of Blur's more poppy tunes - B.L.U.R.E.M.I., We've Got A File On You, Charmless Man, and a handful more of the like - followed briskly by inquiring various locales about job opportunities, finally knocking out some self-improving exercises (yes, despite my track record of reclusive calmness, I'm finally pitting myself into the world of physical improvement), and later absentmindedly sitting back to the various programs I've put off for far too long.

Yes, in short form, today has been far more lively than I often would assert; more often than not, my recent past has been spent dwelling near entirely robotically behind the tainted, aimless screens of what the newest generation may call the 'other world'. In a dramatic tone, I was an Everyday Robot...

Everyday robots just touch thumbs
Swimmin’ in lingo they become
Stricken in a status sea
One more vacancy

A vacant, obsessive brain in a jar. Pickled among distilled souls, seeing only the oversaturated, overabundant realities of others. Setting aside any, if not all strands of intellect in favor of simplistic laughs, or undermining settlements. A mind willing to embrace it's vacancy simply because, surely, this emptiness is what defines sociality; what defines the very concept of emotion, by pure relation. 

Amongst all my oversimplified relations, my blinding faiths, my neutering approaches, surely there must be a 'heart' to accepting oh-so-very less? There is a core, there's got to be... 

Surely, I am the one on the journey. I am the one discovering the truths in ignorance. The very institution of reality, of clear-cut understanding, is the very obstacle in my path to enlightened appreciation for the world around me, Surely, that world is not encapsulating me; not jamming my own spirit amongst a vat of sour, though sometimes nice with perhaps a meat or tangy dish, vegetables. 

Alas, I was wrong. Such a pity, reflecting on what was surely an accidental trip into a figurative pit. I was kidnapped and brainwashed by a cartoonish duo of dastardly capabilities - force fed the evil propaganda of an oppressive force, and thoroughly dumped onto the grimy, yet enigmatically - and intrusively - and illusionary - welcoming streets. I was a Hitler youth, proudly flaunting my genuine Aryan infant, blissfully ignorant of- - - err, no, no, totally unaware of - the implications of my works. 

Though the back of my mind continues knocking rather rudely, reminding me of how well I knew said implications, I do find that explaining it in such a way has a nice, glossy ring to it. A tale of woe, an infant dropped from the cradle and into the crosswalk. 

However, as I shut the door, dim the lights, and lay quietly amongst the warmth of a candle and the eyes of the stars, I must admit to myself. As I prefer to always commend my actions as understandable, and entirely aware, I unfortunately did make that trip. I fell behind my own speeding bullet train, a few hundred feet away from Tokyo, and only a few inches away from the warm, cuddly, disgustingly radioactive and horrifically corrosive toes of the Smog Monster. What upsets me is that, though I proudly embraced this fearful foot of foreboding fate (and, as I back off from the comparative writing style), I always had inklings of doubt. Knowledge of my actions. Understandings, that - perhaps - though I did choose to dive into the jar, perhaps I really ought to swim back for air rather than drift even deeper. 

Unfortunately, I made the oddly out-of-character choice to not only sink heavier than a cement block, but to embrace each and every moment. Replace my internal being with the soaked entities surrounding me. Become one... with the gherkins.

Cutting ahead many paces, I now have washed myself thoroughly, applied a good variety of obnoxious perfumes, and seem to be all-clear of any noticeably pickle or Kaiju related stains. I am the diver, once again, perhaps now packing his large Adidas bags and planning the rest of his night. Wondering why he chose to swim in what may have been the world's largest pickle jar, now quite aware that removing all-encompassing hues of green is hardly as easy as one may have thought.

What I've learned from this Suess-esque experience is simple. Don't do the absurd just for the hell of it. Don't choose strictly on your inclination. Don't always trust yourself with what you're sure may have been a blast for others... because, unsurprisingly, those who prefer to be pickled will have quite the time in a jar.

I don't even especially like pickles, by the way - they're usually very nasty, unless just the right kind. This is not a strange play on my own hunger. How about we call it an abstract projection, instead?

As I sum up my day; my recurring thoughts, as has turned out; I see that nothing, however, in quite in our hands. My dive was planned, my slip was pushed. I have returned, but I have not proven unscathed by my experiences. However, I do not bleed. I only understand.

Knowing that I am no longer in the pool feels comforting. Anything I find myself feeling nostalgic for, or, really, feeling any emotion for, can be sufficiently countered by the honesty of... you're missing stagnant veggies. Anything you'll miss from a jar of stench, surely can be found in a similar, yet far better place.

Looking in the mirror nearby, as I lay thoughtfully, I see my own face in the amber lights surrounding me. Tired from my swim, eager for tomorrow. This face I am bound to shall forever look me back as I rest from another long chapter of my life. The beacon the drove me back to the surface of the bog.

Thus, there is no concern to return. Now I must begin again, with my face - and mind - in tow. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Februrary 'Foughts


One month of life - that's pretty good, considering this blog itself really came to be without any exact directive. It's really more of a means to putting articles and features out into the world, which would otherwise be lost to the obscurity of forums or comment chains. It's essentially a variety bag of whatever I feel I want to write; in the long-run, hopefully a way to practice this skill to advance to even further heights.

Wastelnd's 'birth' was a result of a very thoughtful, introspective time; my late-December trip to New York, during which I managed to find many personally intriguing thoughts and opinions. If I had to cite one upfront inspiration, cartoonist John Kricfalusi's blog seemed to catch my personal eye with it's honest statements and focus on personal interest. I distinctly remember truly, honestly considering a blog of sorts after flipping through some of Kricfalusi's more (appropriately, and fairly) one-sided posts. Simply for the novelty of it all - whether one must be controversial, or not, to simply release words into the endless ether of the Net has a lonely, yet paradoxically comfortable effect.

Since, the focus of this blog itself has grown far more in an alternate direction; reviews, pop culture, the like. Which, of course, I do highly enjoy - however, with each month I hope to set a new goal, whether encouraging, or totally unique. I hope to dig to the root of that inspiration and bring forth more personally, thoughtfully driven posts - hopefully ones with even artistic merit, a pastime of mine coming back into the forefront as I currently scurry away on another digital art creation. As my own self seems to face highly different and impactful events in my everyday life, this unbiased, unabashed outlet grows all the more desirable.

But, let's be totally honest; Come Hell or an empty wallet, I'd ever be able to cast aside my beloved, warming obsession with flicks and toys.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Review - S.H. MonsterArts Godzilla 1954


Bandai's S.H. MonsterArts line has become the frontrunner in highly accurate, incredibly articulated and notably collector-centric figures covering a variety of old and new movie monsters.

The series' main focus seems to be on Japanese Kaiju characters, including Godzilla, Mothra and Gamera. On a quest to cover each and every incarnation of many beloved creatures, Bandai has finally made it's way to cover the rendition that started it all; ShodaiGoji, from 1954's Gojira.

Released in August of 2016 to coincide with the release of Shin Godzilla, fans were elated at the reveal of such a monumental version of the beloved beast. Costing roughly $70 (and, as of this writing, even less, thanks to a wide release), it's hard not to be drawn toward the true Kong of the Monsters.

Sculpt - 5/5


Being the first actual Kaiju suit, ShodaiGoji is quite rough around the edges; with dead eyes, a streamlined build and limited flexibility. At times, the film even used a quite different puppet, causing some inconsistency concerning Godzilla's true 'look' in the film. SHMA's figure has been modelled after the actual suit rather than the puppet, appropriately going for the more refined and popular of the two choices. 

As is practically always, Bandai has struck gold with an incredibly screen-accurate sculpt, down to even the most intricate of choppy textures and natural folds. From the head's strong browline, the jagged dorsal spines, the protruding chest, and even quite hard to notice details such as the stocky tail or large ears, the figure absolutely parallels the original being to a tee. Here's an album of images to compare the figure to.

Being noticeably thinner and smaller than future Godzillas, this figure is about 6.5" tall, but has a much less demanding presence than other characters of the scale. However, being an antiquated version of the character, this fits rather well, and definitely doesn't look out of place. 

Articulation - 4/5


As is usual with the line, this figure is chock full of movements. With about 31 in all, there's some really good range available in the toy; whether you prefer his film-accurate upright stance, or a slightly more dynamic pose, the excellently planned articulation is easily the most striking attribute overall.
However, it should be noted that, while all the typical articulation is there, it isn't nearly as useful as on similar figures. For example, there is a midsection ball joint, but it doesn't exactly allow for much beyond a crunch. Another example is in the arms, which are likewise on a ball joint at the shoulder, but cannot move out to a significant degree. Though not surprising considering the limitations of the design, it's worth acknowledging that despite the sheer number of joints, not everything is incredibly 'free'. 

Paint - 4/5


It's difficult to identify precisely how ShodaiGoji ought to be painted; as, naturally, he is extremely obscured by smoke, shadow and general aged film in most source materials. Despite this, Bandai has covered the bases rather well.

Using a monotone color scheme to reflect the original movie, everything looks both nicely 'blurred', and excellent at defining the bumpy ridges of throughout sculpt. Small sprays and washes cover the scales and highlight features such as the heavy knees and vertical chest bone really well, giving dimension to what could've been a very bland toy. The cleaner work on the face is especially nice; as previously seen on SHMA's SokogekiGoji, the glassy eyes look really neat.

A bit more could be asked, such as further/stronger highlights, spray on the hands' claws (though they were unpainted on the real suit), and better alignment of the pupils, but what's there is definitely good. Definitely not among the most incredible or attractive of the series work, but fitting for the character.

Fun Factor - 4/5


SHMA's offering is easily the best articulated ShodaiGoji on the market, with great details and nicely done movability, The monster's design seems to limit how much range one can really get, however, thus meaning he isn't quite as 'elastic' as Godzillas from the same series. No accessories is a big downside, too; especially once this guy hits the aftermarket. He's a cool figure, but perhaps not the most shining model of Bandai's achievements. 

Overall - 4/5


There's a fair amount of things to love in the very first version of Japan's favorite nuclear dinosaur; a spot-on sculpt, pretty nicely done articulation, and traditionally well done detail work. There's certainly room for improvement - and, the complete lack of accessories makes even the lowest of prices seem a little unfair. All things considered, though, longtime SHMA, Action Figure, and Horror fans in general won't be disappointed. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Song Analysis - Hallelujah Money (Gorillaz)


Experimental, artistic, unique; all adjectives applicable to animated English troupe Gorillaz, admired for their often seamless integration of creative imagery with interesting musical ventures.

Leading directly to the upcoming release of a new album, 2017 release Hallelujah Money has created a sort of rift between audiences. Though the practice is not uncommon for band's creator Damon Albarn, many find it's political focus and unusual musical stylings either off-putting, or at the very least, unimpressive.

Though perceived as a forerunner to the certain reveal of further tracks, Money is immediately striking in its odd beat patterns and use of vocals, seemingly directly avoiding any traces of Gorillaz' previous Pop appeal. Trip-hop heavy and upfrontly poetic, there is an odd clash between the strong topical intent driving the lyricism and the spacy, somewhat dub influenced instrumental. 

Drearily singing the praise of legal tender, artist Benjamin Clementine leads the dark, drippy lullaby with a melodramatic flavour, paralleling the booming voices of past influential peoples. His plain, non-cryptic metaphors and sparkling foretellings paint the image of a man proudly reciting his long mulled-over words in the face of a pliable society. Impeccable in his grasp on persuasion, yet somehow ingenuous in his choice of such buzzwords.

This falsity is solidified  as we hear him sing the praise of a foreign influence; money. It is what fuels his pride, what pushes him to pander to such low levels. His inflection is now far more honest, perhaps parallelling the hymns recited religiously in the Church. A soulful praise of a higher entity, yet one for a creature implicitly capable of corruption and evil.

Clementine's character knows to serve and honor his god with his entire being, yet does not seem to acknowledge it's dangerous intents. It is arguable whether he knows; or, if he instead prefers to revel in it's benefits. Even in the face of an apocalypse, he clutches desperately to this deity which has fueled him with a spiritual power. Grasping it with all his might, shielding himself from outside influence to further perpetuate his devotion. Blinding himself to the truths of greed, twisting them into boast-worthy praises. 

Among this, an angelic, otherworldly echo parades about the politician's ongoing pledges, drawing a hypothetic fear from these carefully crafted words. Lead vocalist Albarn has shrouded himself in the guise of two characters; that of cartoon frontman 2-D, and that of an omnipresent being able to analyze the true intent behind Benjamin's covenants. 

He asks the world a subconscious series of questions, juxtapositioning calm delivery with menacing implication, If the world has joined hands with a demented creature intent on serving a palpable supreme being, how long is it truly until our further human emotions and natural attributes are torn from us? Will we, likewise, sacrifice morality in the name of benefit? Though we may be human, will we remain the same?

These questions seem to be ignored; 2-D's doomsaying predictions quelled in the name of acceptance. As this chorus of fear comes to a close, Clementine's demonic praise of the material is converted from a singular, uncomfortable chant, to an anthem howling proudly among a cacophony of distortion. Minds being melded, modern existence seemingly mashed upon itself upon this new praise of what was once seen as evil; convincing word proving mightier than thought.

The choice of a unpowerful, rather soothing vocals and music seems to drown the highly enigmatic lyrics beneath a sea of uninterest. Rather than a strike, Gorillaz has offered what many describe as a yawn; one of suppressed truths, one of revealed consciousness. Yet, this is a consciousness impacted by numbness - whether caused by persuasion, or sheer terror. One only intended as a small dip into a very difficult, rough series of image-heavy thoughts; yet, one that may stand firmly as one of the groups' strongest songs.