Friday, December 29, 2017

Review - X-Plius USA Godzilla 2001


Sokogekigoji, the design of Godzilla from 2001's Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (Phew), has been a fan-favorite from day one - sparking a marketing response not rivaled within the franchise until monster mash Godzilla: Final Wars. However, bar a poor attempt by Bandai Creations, the design has yet to see a proper addition to the 6-inch Movie Monster Series toy line.

X-Plus USA's 6-inch figure seems to fit the role well - not only matching in scale, but in overall design. Though not quite near the high bar set by X-Plus' Japanese counterpart, it's a forgotten figure worth examining.

I've also reviewed versions of this Godzilla by NECA and S.H. MonsterArts!

Sculpt - 4/5


Godzilla 2001 seems to be a design one either hits, or misses - with a more expressive face and naturally flowing body than almost any other Godzilla suit, capturing the monster so as to please every fan can be a large challenge. For reference, here's a small gallery of images detailing the actual suit.

X-Plus' figure does more right than it does wrong. Though soft thanks to the use of rotocast vinyl, the details are very screen accurate, and pretty to look at - from the varying shapes of his scales, to the folds and bulges accentuating his muscles. The angle of his glare is accented well by his heavy, long neck - giving the static figure a sense of energy, without going too far.

The issues come from the structure of the sculpt. Sokogeki was a hefty guy, and though the figure retains his potbelly, his legs (and ankles, in particular) are a bit too thin, throwing off the look. The size of his eyes and accompanying brows is a touch exaggerated  - almost resembling some of the more frog-like classic designs. From the front view, he looks cartoonishly happy, rather than imposingly scary.

Paint - 4/5


Godzillas aren't especially hard to nail in the paint category - though washes and additional paintwork can bring out the hidden details in a figure, they aren't needed to match the character's onscreen counterpart. X-Plus was smart, and took the tried-and-true easy route - sprayed spines and claws, painted teeth and eyes, done. Compare this to NECA's technicolor oddity - sometimes less is all you need.

Everything looks fine, especially if you're expecting something comparable to the aforementioned MMS figures. It's no high-class X-Plus, but it's serviceable. The spines look very nice, and there's actually a bit of a spotty wash to the inside of the mouth - giving it a cool pink-and-red mix, adding some depth where one may not expect to find it. The painted gums are a bit thick, covering more of the teeth than I think they ought to - however, the fact the gums are painted at all is a neat aspect of the figure.

Fun Factor - 3/5


MMS figures aren't the pinnacle of play, usually only boasting about four points of articulation, but they're neat for display - and either way, what's there works fine for the characters concerned. Though this figure has no articulation, he's not very boring, either - he's far from fragile, and though that impediment will limit some use, it's to be expected with the type of figure X-Plus makes.

Overall - 4/5


I can't say this is the best representation of the character out there, but it fills a gap in my collection really nicely. I do wish the face in particular looked better, but as a fan of the design, the positive aspects stand out more to my eye.  He's far from the upper echelons one might expect from an X-Plus related name, but comfortable among his MMS cousins. Is it a figure any fan should actively seek out? Not really - he is imperfect, and if you want a figure of this design, there's far better options in roughly the same price range. Still, it's a perfectly standard figure that I can't find enough fault or value in to recommend too strongly either way.

My final verdict - If you need a nice, properly scaled G'01, this is a good choice. It fills a need. If you like the design and want a memento of it, look elsewhere.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Marvin's Pizza Time Players


Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum - a visually stunning collection of Arcade booths, Automatic machines, and Sideshow oddities - has been home to a cast of original Pizza Time Players for some time. Being a fan of animatronic history, I made my way out to the Museum to give them a look myself - as well as to pick up a cool hoodie.

Though once home to a complete set of characters - including a couple extra, who wouldn'tt have normally been included with this lineup - as well as some neat signage, Marvin's now only displays Helen Henny, Mr. Munch, Jasper T. Jowls, Madame Oink, an Applause Board, and two versions of The Warblettes - one colorful, the other crow-like. What happened to the missing few isn't immediately clear, though I've read they were sold off.

Unverified sources claim that these figures moved in the Museum, meaning they may still be in functioning condition. I very much doubt that being true, however - the logistics behind it don't seem very realistic. The characters are elevated high above a row of large, heavy pinball machines, leaving no easy way of access to the mechanics which ought to be below the half-bodied characters. Though it's not impossible, it also doesn't seem anywhere near practical.


Out of the main four, Oink inarguably looks the best. Helen, Jasper and Munch have seen better days, looking rather slack and broken (Helen in particular is missing a jaw) - yet, seeing them at all is a bit of a thrill. The colorful Warblettes are dirty, and though the eyes on the other pair are wonky (the lighting makes it look as though they are missing a few, but in person they're only missing the black pupils), their black fur saves them from appearing as aged. The Applause Board looks nice, as far as I can tell - I'd love to hang that up.

Though these characters show their age, Marvin's is a perfect resting place for the bunch - the grimy, colorful Arcade below their perch surely paralleling that of a classic Pizza Time Theater store. These characters are a part of history, in their own small way - seeing them in person was quite the experience!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Turn A Deaf Ear To The Cellular Phone

I turned my phone off for the first time in far too long tonight.

Not a lot has changed for me, mentally, in a long time. If I were to go into my feelings at this moment, it'd really be nothing more than a broken record. The dilemma of the introvert-minded doomed to have the personality of an extrovert.

I've decided that the most obvious recurring issue is my continual faith in people - thinking that they, somehow, can and will solve my problems. Hoping to depend on and confide in them - when, in blunt reality, most could likely care less.

MF DOOM's track "Deep Fried Frenz" - though a bit more sharp edged than any of my experiences - illustrates this lyrically. DOOM rants angrily as he reads a seemingly never ending flow of charges against his past acquaintances; most of whom decided to use his association for an ulterior, egocentric or somehow likewise self-centered reason. He warns the listener to toughen up before they, too, face the dilemma of a trusting hand held by a manipulative claw.

The concept of motivated friendship resonates with me personally - a sort of icon at my current school, people want to know me. There seems to be a certain unspoken credit in associating with me; having the ability to say I have given them the time of day, perhaps. Yet, beyond this badge, few look further.

In becoming someone who is fairly universally known, I've also lost - further - connection. An issue I've had for the longest of time. I search for a reason within myself pretty often; maybe I'm imposing. Maybe my personality doesn't exactly shine through as I'd like to hope. Maybe my impressions are as dislike what I perceive as possible - who's to say? Maybe there's not much else to see. Maybe whatever else there is has become to personally self-centered, on my own end, to amount to much else.

But, then, I realize; there's two doors. The door of conformity, and the door of singularity. One involves heavily treacherous surgery, ludicrous pandering, and a few botched brain operations. The other - well, it's a simple turn of the knob. Sometimes the challenge isn't the right choice.

DOOM suggests a state of strong, cold, yet intelligent and happy separateness. He doesn't want or need "frenz" - he's the villain on his own dime.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Magnetic Resonance Image


My personality isn't one to be tied specifically to one long-term association - I grow tired of the same old faster than I can truly appreciate it. At least, when we're talking about people.

Sometimes I wish I had a greater capacity for enjoying the present; when I do find the ability, I never forget it. Summer sunsets through half-open blinds; starry lights guiding the way through a midnight stroll; chilly air making the morning crisp. Snapshots of life I can phase into with nary an issue - recalling every thought and feeling as if I were there again.

Other times, though I see just how tough that can be; you don't appreciate what you have 'till it's gone. On the same coin, you only remember the great, and awful times - nothing in-between. All that important contextual infrastructure falls to dust, to the point of terrible oversimplification. You'll miss what you liked, not what you had.

My cynicism has saved me countless times, yet it's also limiting. Ignorance is bliss, so awareness must be - likewise - the complete opposite. At least you end up better - but, as the saying goes, at what cost?

A very reasonable one, if you ask me. But, hell, maybe you shouldn't ask me.

I prefer to live by the idea that "You don't know what you have until you acknowledge it". Until you recognize the inner peace you feel at a given moment, you are forever beneath the smog of monotony. You'll come to realize this inner peace asks for nothing but that very recognition - simply being remembered is all it needs to sputter back to life.

Peace is not perfect - not ideal - hardly a diamond in the rough. It's a state of mind; a choice to be happy, even when you aren't. A march forward, spirit in tow, and heart in the breeze.

Live in the now - even if the now is then, or when.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Find


Let's use layman's terms - after all, it's much more accessible. I tend to be the "flirty" type; whether that means I'm a conversationalist, or I simply can't shut up, isn't quite for me to say. Still, I seem to have a good effect on bringing out a life in others - connecting to people, somehow past even the most significant social barriers.

At the dead of night - that is, midnight, an unusually early time for me to feel drowsy enough to begin introspectively bantering to my creepy little blog - I realize just how easy carrying a positive social presence has become for me. It may be narcissistic to state this so plainly, but hell - it is what it is. There's no use in dancing around it, especially when reflecting upon it's benefits.

Too often, people are far more willing to boast of their sadness - it's humble, it's "real", it's more face-to-face. I've been sad before; I've separated myself from everything, in a search for something. There's nothing more real than knowing you've created happiness.

There's such a beauty in the enthralled light that fills someone's eyes as you encourage them through agreement, or support them in back-and-forth dialogue; their glimmering expression, their joy in carrying you alongside them in conversation. The feeling of recognition as you, yourself, become seen as more than a face - you are a friend. The definition of 'love' falls on deaf ears to most of the modern populace; no doubt thanks to endless exaggeration. Love is simply the small light illuminating the room, whether it be from fire, or a spark - the connection between anyone, anywhere, who find a desire to exist around another. Love demands - love hurts - and in that, love is something we can have for anyone.

As much as it feels hypocritical to say, knowing my own personal past, I'm a people person. I love people. At the end of the day, I'm most glad about the good times I've given others - though it may leave me feeling a bit personally drained, I can find warmth and solace in that, somehow, I've impacted a time in somebody's life. I've cemented a snapshot into another's photobook. I've became a memory - perhaps one they're recalling in just the same satisfaction.

Being the life of the crowd - even if I only find myself pertaining to one, two peoples - is my constant goal. I've known what it's like to be vehemently upset by the world around me; So why not savor even the smallest spotlight? Why not reflect upon those who need a bit of sunshine, as well?

Perhaps it's the writer in me, looking at life as an episodic world constantly influencing itself. Perhaps I'm reading too deeply into my own social skills - it's not too hard to be a colorful person. Either way, I don't care; and my reasoning is simple. I've yet to find a poison more addictive than the smiles you can bring to the world.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Held Against Your Will


It's interesting to consider how important fate is within our lives; how intertwined every minute aspect of our daily being will inevitably become.

Had you asked me a number of months ago, I'd have assured you I would have rather been anywhere than where I was - both on a literal level, as well as a mental and existential one. I felt tattered, and all-around baseless; to the point where social interaction grew painfully unappealing, filled with nothing but disdain.  I wanted a solid escape from the singular, droning hell that was my own mind.

Ask me now; I've found it. Perhaps it's the tinge of my presently delirious mind, but I've finally found a solid state of self that neither toes the line between awkwardly antisocial, callously airheaded, nor ethereally unintelligible. I've found a state that feels, above all, happy. Through baggy eyes, cloudy thoughts, and aching bones, I'm in a greyish world of peace. It's as imperfect as I've always wanted.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Happy Birthday to MidLife - Art Discussion #1 and #53


As of yesterday, October Thirteenth, my multifaceted project MidLife officially became one year old - at least, concerning it's production as an actual long-term project. Fitting day, isn't it?

The concept has existed, in various forms, for roughly five years; morphing through tons of art styles, plot lines, contributors, inspirations, and everything in between, culminating into this final 'version'. Of course, that's not counting individual characters, or vague themes - some of which can be traced back to illustrations lining early grade school assignments, or train-of-thought stories hatched in fresh Crayola. Someday I hope to detail the complete evolution of the concept, but much preparation still needs to be done before this is possible; particularly when it comes to rounding up old hard drives and long-forgotten sketchbooks.

I unwittingly began the final project with the following image - a simple group photo that effectively communicated MidLife's four main characters; Dev, Spence, Vienna and Popobawa. An artist's greatest critic is always themselves; looking back on this initial sketch, I can see quite a few traces of a 'bubbly' art style I tried for a short period of time, which I grew to strongly dislike shortly after abandoning it for a more comfortable angular flow - too many oddly sloped faces, overly expressive eyes, so on and so forth. Still, a sketch is a sketch - and, if only for my own sake, I enjoy documenting MidLife's 'art history'.


In the final image, I naturally made some adjustments; fixing Dev's mid-speech expression to a sort of grin, rounding out his initially flat torso, redrawing Vienna to bear a more subtle expression, giving Spence a less segmented neck, so on. The finished product has stood my own personal test of time; uncommon, as - once again - I'm quite self-critical. I suppose I've made a conscious effort to make MidLife's art somewhat homogeneous - following hypothetical 'models' to carry a fairly consistent look through the entire series, bar experimental images which intend to bend the rules.


To commemorate MidLife's first year, I created a new photo; combining unmodified sketches (hence the lack of any pre-production comparison picture) with photography, thus taking ongoing trends from the series (combining cartoon visuals with surreal backgrounds, building from rough pencils, a focus on street art, so forth) to a literal level.

Bare-bones MidLife - a single individual's dreamy project, made for himself, by himself. Simple drawings vandalizing the barren walls of reality; painting a convoluted, yet ongoing life with their oddly invigorating spirit. Easily removed by a coat of fresh paint - unprofessional in it's creation. Yet, to the fitting eye, it is perhaps something more.

At least, that's how I see it. Somebody's gotta stare at this spooky junk.


Within this picture are some references to MidLife's own history; for example, Spence's "Soak" shirt comes from a very old image of an early Vienna, seen sporting an almost totally different design. Dev's baseball uniform is something of a callback to the eighth image in the series - where we can only see his white eye. In this image, likewise, we can only see it's black opposite. Spence showing only his damaged eye obviously parallels the aforementioned first image; here, he's aiming a baseball, while there, he's callously laughing - always the ruffian.

MidLife has currently shifted toward a focus on literature; the past year has centered almost entirely on visual art, so I feel it's time to dive in and begin carving some writing into the ether. As of this time, I'm working on the second part of the story's introduction, "Born into Death".

As I develop this unique side of the project, I more and more realize that I truly do create MidLife out of nothing more than a personal need - the need to share a sense of creativity, whether or not it is seen or even appreciated. To express myself as desired, regardless of drawbacks such as relevance or demand, is all I find myself asking for - and, hey, that's exactly what I'm doing, isn't it?

Here's to another year of digging my own grave - right alongside Dev, Spence, Vienna, Popobawa, and all those other sick freaks of unholy creation.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Review - TerrorVision


TerrorVision is one of the weirdest movies I’ve ever seen.

After installing a janky new satellite, a family of caricatures accidentally tune in to a rogue interstellar beast; seeping through the TV itself as it lusts for death. After taking down every adult - ranging from a psychotically war-headed Grandfather, to an exaggeratedly suave Greek swinger - the children manage to communicate with it, bringing to life their own version of E.T. However, the monster quickly remembers his lack of temperament, returning to his killing spree; leaving the remaining brother and sister to take him down with a ridiculous artillery of heavy weaponry... including a midnight TV schlock-star.

If that made as much sense as the rambles of your drug-addict neighbor, welcome to the dimly-lit, neon-painted, sexually insane world of TerrorVision; the epitome of 80’s splatter horror.

Films such as Ship of Monsters take their imaginative flair in stride, bringing forth a cartoony world full of goofy surprises. Others, such as Little Monsters, revel in grime, distorting all suburban values. TerrorVision lacks the respect to stay even remotely as grounded as these similar features - what begins as a Burtonesque parody of family ends as a non-sequitur, rendering half the film delightfully pointless. Not only will it offend you, it’ll twist you, turn you, and spit you right back out in a gory pile of slimy guts. If the worst of Elm Street crossed paths with Bad Taste, even it’s terrible lovechild would be disgusted by TerrorVision.

Every single aspect is kicked past 11, beating you over the head like a manic axe-murderer. Not a single character is likeable; let alone realistic. Every death is as gross as possible. Exposition levels out to absolutely hilarious simplicity - in nothing but admiration, it may as well be ad-libbed. Every expectation is tossed out the window and blown up by a barrel full of grenades, spurting greenish blood across the makeup-coated faces of each screaming cast member. It's stupid, it's amazing, it's awful, and you can't look away. Even when you really, really want to - especially when the film's vile star of a monster is onscreen, resembling a burnt Pizza the Hutt mixed with a Critter; grody.

TerrorVision is a clear love-letter to the ditzy monster films of old; even featuring stock footage from Robot Monster and The Giant Claw narrated by Medusa - a clear parody of hosts such as Svengoolie or Elvira. It takes everything an impressionable mind obsessed over from the genre, and blows it up past inflation - exploding in a cacophony of tubular cheese. The entire picture seems to have somehow been written by it's mindlessly dumb characters, specifically punk teens O.D. and Suzy - both of which are beautifully retro.

I want to frame this movie, hang it on my wall, and bow to it each sunrise. It's so insane - so unfathomably reckless - that it deserves all praises.


5/5

Review - Ship of Monsters



Venus needs Dads, as two women are sent across the galaxy to collect any & all species of male - desperate to repopulate their decimated species. After collecting an oddball gallery of interstellar rouges (A Martian prince with a gargantuan brain, an insect-like venomous beast, a Cyclops straight out of Homer's Odyssey, a ghastly animated skeleton, and a helpful robot), they find themselves crash landing on an unknown planet - Earth. There, they discover their greatest catch yet - a giddy Spanish man delighted to inform the pair about the foreign concept of love. Through song, of course. As evil intents unveil and lusts build, the monsters reign loose upon a small Mexican village... leaving only the powers of dance & destruction to save the planet.

Ship of Monsters is everything you'd want it to be, and more. It's a musical - a horror - a sci-fi - a western - a romance - an Ultraman episode - a goofy sitcom - a Disney-esque fantasy. With an endearing charm, it manages to tie every aspect together in a neat, colorful package; a slice of cheese that ends up being far better than it deserves to be.

In a childish fashion, Ship refrains from the drab staleness of exposition; far more excited to lead us head-first into a comic book adventure. One minute, we'll watch our male lead (played by famed comedian Eulalio González) joke among a crowd of heckling drunken cowboys, telling goofy tales of quick-draw bandits and amazing gunslinger feats; the next, we'll be face-to-face with a crowd of oddballs, steepling their rubber claws as they formulate a plan to overrun our world and escape their imminent death. In between, we'll have learned what it is to find the one - with a dash of spicy humor, of course.

For many a horror fan, the crew of weird aliens will be a great delight; from the team of tight-suited space women (one of which had won the 1960 Miss Mexico Pageant), to the rubber suit menagerie that serve them. Though the effects on these characters aren't anything to marvel over (although, by comparison to the creature suits' reappearances in unrelated film Santo & Blue Demon Vs. The Monsters, they aren't half bad), the designs are groovy enough to remain at least interesting. I especially love Zok, a skeletal dog-man puppet who seems to constantly be laughing the same deep giggles as your typical grim grinning ghost.

Because it never takes itself too seriously, we, as an audience, never expect it to. We accept the film's whimsical reality because, in it's simplicity, we don't need the nitty-gritty details - just as the film does, we really just want to see more zany antics. The plot is loose and sometimes nowhere near logical, the effects are laughably unimpressive, and the comedy is usually only as good as the occasional one-liner ("You're aliens?! I thought you were just white girls.") - but I'll be damned if the whole isn't a load of fun regardless. The movie never asks for thought, and thus, it's not necessary to analyze; simply to plow down the popcorn and join the wild ride. How can you say no to a film whose climax is a sensual dance between a twisted Vampire and a frightened Gaucho?

As much as I hesitate to simplify, Ship is nothing but pure fun.


5/5

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Review - The Corpse Vanishes


A bustling reporter follows a series of mysterious kidnappings, occurring to brides who inexplicably die mere seconds before their marriage. Following a small trail of clues, she discovers a prime pair of suspects; An odd woman, and her renowned husband. The strange crimes have a strange purpose - one not even deduction can unravel. Death, deceit, and betrayal come together in an unholy battle for life itself.

Famed horror icon, Bela Lugosi, stars among a crowd of relative no-names (besides poverty row mainstay, Angelo Rossitto) ; a trend during his downward spiral. To the popular eye, his name is about all that matters of this film - and, to be fair, they aren't missing much.

Vanishes stays consistently interesting, taking many twists and turns throughout it's admittedly upfront plot. It's about as close to a silver-screen haunted house as you can get - it may be fun, but in the end, most of it's tricks were rather by-the-numbers. Almost every of-the-era trope seems to be checked; the mad doctor, the Igor, the reporters, the hypnotist, so on and so forth. Many times, I was even reminded of other films, which managed to make use of elements glazed over here in much more engaging fashions. This is not to say the film is bland - as, again, it remains enjoyable. Simply, that it has very little to offer.

However, besides predictability, there were some prominent issues. The tone seemed a bit inconsistent, bobbing between House on Haunted Hill spooks and Ghidorah, The Three Headed Monster sleuths... neither offering enough of their respective traits to fill my appetite. It attempts to mix perky skepticism with horrific imagination, yet fails in that neither interact as compatibly as possible - as soon as it dips it's toes in mystery, it seems to strike out of the water before making any true plunge into ambiguity. In fact, many times, my own imagination seemed to trump what the film purveyed; specifically concerning turns of events which one would very much assume to be somehow subverted, or at least imaginatively played with. Events within the story went painfully smoothly. A prime example is when our leads undeniably discover the mad scientist's secret, within his very presence, yet land in no peril whatsoever. No eerie hauntings, no terrible chases, nothing - at least Lugosi's creepy charm keeps things alive.

I like Vanishes well enough - it's something of a 'best-of' for a selection of classic horror ideas. Still, besides that charm, there's not much there; no especially interesting characters, no thought-provoking concepts... hell, hardly any frights. I suppose my biggest complaint is also my biggest laud... I wanted more, as there was clearly more to give.


2.5/3

The Irma Chronicles - My Struggle


Hurricanes don't phase me anymore. "Didn't" would be the more proper word to use in the above sentence, though, I suppose it remains true in the aftermath of Irma.

I first heard of the storm a week before it hit; a friend briefly alluded to it's arrival, unsure of whether or not it would impact our area. Myself, used to the constant 'threats' reigned upon Florida, assured them otherwise - it'd be just like last year's flop of a disaster. A tree strewn, some pits flooded, no more damage than a particularly rainy night. 'Serious' was the last word that came to mind, as I imagined the onslaught.

I suppose it can be simplified as a "Boy Who Cried Wolf" situation. The danger is as imposing as ever, but the repeated promises of it make the anticipation more annoying that dreadful. However, at the end of said tale, the Boy learns not to dull a valid threat... And, likewise, the people find their livestock torn to shreds.

"Shreds" doesn't quite describe the outside world; frankly, my predictions were mostly correct. Many trees have fallen, power has disappeared to the area, and floods - while small - are common. Resturaunts and basic amenities remain closed, as cars hopelessly search the salty emptiness for a living McDonald's or Dunkin Donuts - only to be dissuaded by the unbelievably long lines cluttering through entire parking lots. On the radio, Drew Barabalo yammers humorously amongst a league of hosts, begging callers to report available gas stations... Preferably, with appetizing varieties of snacks.

Currently, I write against the glow of my quickly draining phone - one of the few light sources in the pitch black abyss of a house. The grimy heat is thick, the tension is headache-inducing, and the hassle is larger than the sacrifice. It's certainly no catastrophe... But I'll be damned if it's not an annoyance. Call that luck, ungratefulness, or a first-world problem. I, however, simply wish I could call up a Pizza.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Artist


It's strange who you naturally become.

I'm self-absorbed; sometimes hot headed; usually a little brash. People I've never met think I'm older than I am. People I have, admittedly, probably think otherwise. Something about the air changes who I am. In a distant setting, I'm subdued; colorless. Upfront, logical. In another, I'm erratic. Unrealistic. It's hard to determine which is better - and, moreso, which is the truth. Glimpsing into a parallel world - seeing the lives of others, uncensored - is a challenge. My high horse is inescapable. And, unsurprisingly, it's a padded prison. A prison, but one I can manage a certain peace within. I have too many faces - too many that never truly make themselves apparent. Too many that are too strong, in their rare emergence.

Being separate seems natural - and, yet, I'm far from it. No matter how hard I may convince myself, I am one with everything around me. It's far from a negative connotation; in fact, it's precisely what has brightened my spirit. It's precisely what makes up my honest, face-to-face world. It's what divides me, emotionally, from the hopelessly introverted. It's the smiling fire that can manage a beating heart.

Still, something in me - the sputtering, distorted radio tuning in to long abandoned stations of thought - is isolated. Alone in the rain of Bill Evans; the silent tranquility standing alone, ghosting between the smokey bar and the cold cellar. Always an image.

It's why I'm an artist.

Again, as I delve back into a static state of midnight emptiness, I'm happy. The jazz ties you to reality - your reality. Faults fall into the sandy drums, imperfections into the murky bass. What remains is how you choose to lead the anomalous path of your Earthly life. Whether you've found happiness, or not. Whether you can find your own Heaven.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Thoughts on Social Media, and Brainwashing


It's grown increasingly apparent to me that the internet is the heart of current mainstream society; within all "modern" generations, the internet is vital. I've been asked and potentially even been required many times this week alone to provide an active social media; FaceBook, Instagram, SnapChat. Whether it be to interact with the masses, or to properly 'follow' School events.

However, I actively do not use social media. I have a FaceBook; I also have had an Instagram, SnapChat, and countless other sources of digital social interaction in the past. But really... who doesn't? It's a necessity, as sick as that is.

So why don't I use anything?

Because it is specifically designed to encourage conformity, lack of general thought, and an ever-declining mass intelligence. Think about it. Entertainment-based technology has evolved specifically to enhance distraction - or, as producers would word it, immersion.

  • The book relied heavily on the reader's unique mind, thus inspiring inquisitive thought. On one hand, to the creator, this could potentially neuter translation of a concept... in other words, the intrusion of free cognitive awareness made translating a forced concept - whether it be an image, or an ideal - neigh impossible. 
  • This was followed by the radio; a fast-paced alternative, eliminating the thought and enhancing the need for utmost focus on the words being said. A mechanical god telling it's prophecies through the airwaves.
  • Next came the television. No longer was any inkling of imagination applied to entertainment - follow the images, hear the words, stay still. Focus on what it said, register it, and accept it.
  • But that wasn't enough; it may have been able to encapsulate the mind, but it was not totally immersive. The Internet, however, was. It's a totally fictitious world, almost perfectly built for obsession and self-relatability. 
  • This new world needed to stick - not be trapped in a monitor. So it became a modern smartphone. A haunt tied to your soul at all times, an inescapable aspect of modern life, as it is portrayed. No longer is one able to resist the falsified world that is the Internet. A mobile distraction.
  • And soon, virtual reality will literally provide a better alternative to our God-given perception. The end all be all means of taking over the mind.

Book, to radio, to TV, to Internet, to Phone, to now VR --- taking us away from any semblance or awareness by giving us a more pretty alternative.

And it's not just escapism. It has melded the minds of society without fail. As a very common example, note how centralized relationships are to the modern hivemind - and, likewise, note their constant focus within the false worlds. Every single modern TV channel aimed at children places a centralized focus on something sexual, usually guised as comedic, playful relationships. 'Love' is an achievement that must be studied, followed, and won; devoid of legitimate social value, as is all interaction within the media focused society. Another hopeless dream for the entranced human to follow - more on that later.

Why is this constantly being portrayed as a normal part of life? Is this a simple aspect of honest storytelling? Sure. Is it communicating a forced message to easily influenced minds? Sure. However... does it need to be a simple aspect of honest storytelling? Absolutely not - and the only reason it is seen as such is because of years of media-based influence. Humanity, while social, is never defined - by my religion's standards - as centralized on these interactions. It can even be argued that those without them have more religious success; and while neither choice is without it's shame within scriptures, neither is also end-all be-all defined as 'key'. The godlike media has decided and forced this upon our psyche instead. There is no artistic integrity. There is unspoken agendas. Even within entertainment aimed almost squarely at those who avoid mental submission - it's there. Because the media is not something that will be destroyed by it's own product. It toes the line of revelation so as to make believers appear all the more unbelievable.

It applies to us all. Waste your day learning useless information, or performing similarly useless tasks; run home to the sugar that is your form of escapism. You accept this as your personal Heaven. It's your goal for the day. Your goal is to finish life, and get back to the false world. Back to the distraction. It gives you dreams - become this, gain that. Do this to get that. A capitalist-influenced model of life that almost always traces back to supporting the endless cycle of money and neutered intelligence through very simple brainwashing.

Social interaction becomes nothing more than a constantly nodding lineup of bobble-heads. Agree with this, or you'll be seen as a bigotry-fueled psychopath. Join the club, or you're missing out. I've been there. I've been a knick-knack on the shelf.

Behind every Social Media zombie, there is a deeply rooted sadness. Somewhere, a subconscious need for acknowledgement. Perhaps to please a crowd. Perhaps to 'prove' something. Perhaps to become someone. It's a sadness encouraged by the aforementioned hopeless dreams - if you can't manage this, the least you can do is manage that. On a large scale, it becomes pathetic - a way to imitate the glamourous life of a celebrity... of the images flaunted on the screens. Is it truly self expression when it's for an ulterior audience? Where is the true, unexaggerated line between expression, embellishment, and compliance?

Friday, August 25, 2017

Is Wastelnd too Dramatic?


Reading back on various posts, It's apparent to me that some carry an air of melodrama... whether that be my wordy writing style, or the 'broad' strokes within most of my thought-centric posts, is debatable.

I'm more of a creative writer, despite the consistency I've had maintaining this blog; Though I am currently working on carrying over this dedication into the imaginative setting with which I'm more accustomed (as evidenced by the addition of a "Coming Soon" poster along what is currently the left sidebar), It's naturally leaked into these writings. What is a colorful simile within the world of fiction becomes an exaggerated rant when concerning a reality based reflection. Though it may seem discrediting, it isn't too far fetched to call some of my Wastelnd writings embellished; 'repainted', so to speak, to express emotions in an oversaturated, honest fashion. I've always believed art is more about the influence of a work than the content... likewise, when I'm feeling particularly critical, a blog post is going to aim it's best at making the reader feel that way, too.

However, It's also worth noting - well, yes, this is a blog. Really a design-heavy journal, more than anything. Wastelnd's former months were mostly very complicated, difficult times for me, for reasons probably very apparent in the content of their personally focused posts. In fact, this and the previous month have really been the best in consideration tomy total sense of optimism; although I obviously still face issues here and there, more worldly concerns have fallen out of focus to the point where I'm comfortable with 'reality' anew. My concerns grow less thought based, and more action based.

Many of these posts are nothing more than reflections, ones written without a lot of concern for impact. Seeing as I essentially babble into my own void, tone is not always in mind - concerning this blog specifically.

Are some past posts a bit overbaked in their dramatic tones? I'd say so - although, I'm my biggest critic. Still, they hold their initial ulterior purpose just as well, and stand as developmental writings regardless of what I now consider them. It comes with a long-term creation; you must be able to look back and accept the flaws. Accept the awkwardness. Hell - maybe even acknowledge that something you once thought you did wrong, wasn't so bad after all. I've realized this with my art - I'm realizing it with my writing - and maybe I've subconsciously realized it in my life.

Thoughts on Thoughts


People don't want relationships anymore.

People tend to be more interested in the "goal", rather than the path. There is no path - when everyone has one single post in their head, there's no point in meandering along an indefinite road. Why bother?

People would rather have the light of day, unbroken, than the acknowledgement of reality. Even in the smallest way; recognizing aspects of the world, trying to see depth in a person who doesn't seem to imply any whatsoever. Putting faith in a critical point of view.

In some twisted regard, that' what societies feel to be missing. In that we give up our negative, more judgemental thought, we likewise and inadvertently maim the coinciding thoughts that lead to analysis. We accept everything, to the point of glossing over the ridges that are the very foundation of decision making. Everything is a smooth slope to one aforementioned goal - no bumps, no blemishes, nothing to catch your psyche. Nothing to raise a moral flag.

Is this consistently a bad aspect of reality? No, not at all - levity has it's place. In fact, I'd argue mass 'lightness' is far more effective than mass awareness. It simplifies - and in that regard, not every situation carries an underlying weight. Even ones which seem to carry some type of intent can hypothetically be nothing more than another skit in the ongoing playbook of life. However, a mentally ingrained sense of sight has been lost... A compass, whether it be moral or even logical. It stems from this widespread softness - this widespread pastel hue, no sharp lines or violent consideration accepted. If everything falls onto the same empty plain, nothing has any value. Nothing has any draw. There will come the day when anything once seen as mentally impactful will become... well, nothing, in and of itself.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Review - Medicom Daft Punk (Thomas Bangalter & Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo)


Daft Punk - Thomas Bangalter (clad with a Gort-esque silver helmet) and Guy-Manuel de Homem Christo (wearing a faceless golden helmet), respectively) - really need no introduction; a pair of Grammy-award winning future-funk-meets-house masterminds, popular for their mysterious public identities and favor of overtly 'electronic' tropes.

2013's release Random Access Memories lessened the techno, and upped the groove; creating a musical love letter to the nostalgic tunes that inspired the very basis of their genre. Donning flashy tuxedos and donning a more 'regal' attitude within their robotic disguises, Daft Punk evolved to match their music; as such, longtime Daft Punk merchandiser Medicom released updated versions of the duo in their notable Real Action Heroes line. selling for roughly $200~ each on most aftermarkets, they're a tough pair to grab - nothing less for pop's most elusive icons.

As both figures are essentially the same, I will be reviewing them under one collective rating.

Sculpt - 5/5


Unsurprisingly, Medicom has perfectly recreated DP's 2013 wardrobes. Both sci-fi helmets are photo accurate, adorned with very specific details such as Thomas' hidden vents (located beneath the visor) or the various small contraptions within Guy's "ears". Even their smooth 'necks' are true to form, representing the underlying black mesh worn by the pair. Their clothes fit very nicely, and are properly to scale - features such as the necklace's chain and the miniature sequins are roughly the correct size, and look very good in relation to the entire figure.

The one gripe some may have is that, unlike Bandai's FiguArts renditions, these helmets feature a solid black "glass" - no underlying screens are visible. Though this was an admittedly interesting choice on Bandai's part, it isn't accurate to the real-life costumes (both the ones Bandai represented, nor these). The only versions of the helmets to sport screens were the original Discovery-era editions. It's a fictitious detail that's neat to see, but definitely not necessary.

Articulation - 5/5


Again as per RAH tradition, the articulation on both figures is very good. Every joint is nice and stiff, with no hindrance whatsoever from the outer clothing. Most joints seem to be a either pin-disc or ball, and (with some finagling) can really achieve any practical pose one could desire. Though most will likely leave the pair in a neutral stance, it's very possible to recreate more eccentric poses seen in some photos. 

Accessories - 4/5


DP aren't usually seen sporting a multitude of accessory-worthy objects, so what has been provided serves it's small purpose well. Both come with two extra pairs of hands (one set spread open, the other clenched into a fist), as well as adjustable stands. These figures have pretty good centers of gravity, making the stands not entirely needed, but having them available is useful. More colorful bonuses such would have really added weight to this category; perhaps a small-scale RAM Record, or any handful of props from their music videos. 

Paint - 5/5


DP's personas are very design conscious, with a very simplistic style that can adapt to any musical setting. The single tones of these designs are recreated to a tee - each surface color is consistent across every piece, the metallic shine is beautifully reflective, and their match silver boots shimmer in a realistic way. The very small black portions on both necklaces is cleanly applied, without even the slightest inclination of slop - it's almost as if the real jewelery was shrunk onto these figures. Even the underlying bodies are a solid black, representing the aforementioned mesh.

  

Fun Factor - 5/5


For adult-oriented figures, these seem to be far from fragile; every point of articulation is appropriately tough, and though care should be taken with the very intricate clothing, the biggest issue one could potentially face is an uneven tie or wrinkled pant leg. Thought these two aren't for play, they're also very capable of repeated manipulation.


Overall - 5/5


Really, anything less than a 5/5 would be surprising concerning figures of this quality. These are prime examples of how artistically impressive high-end collectibles can be; so meticulously designed, they could easily be mistaken for the real deal. Though they've always fetched a high price, it isn't hard to see where the money goes - these two have a demanding presence on any shelf, by the sheer striking nature of their lifelike sculpts alone. 


Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Record Player in the Basement


The Summer of 2017 flew by like an airplane - but, looking back, it's the best Summer I think I've ever had.

It was dark; gritty, quiet, self-contained. It was light; the cold nighttime fog, the dew of grass. It was everything - yet it hardly made a sound.

Already, it returns to me as a dusty photobook. Laying awake at the dead of the night, dozing off to the lonesome croons of Frank Sinatra. Scurrying about, crookedly setting up photographs for an abstract art project. The thoughtful space within the dry northern heat. Staring into the grey summer calm, attending a small outdoor Church service. Wandering the pitch black neighborhood streets, focused only on the music in my head, the road beneath my feet, and the thoughts sliding about like feathers in a gust.

It was the Summer I needed. The Summer of a new human being. A more pure, aware, and religious one; one I've always wanted to be.

And what's more; I don't intend for it to end.

Goodbye, The Great Movie Ride


Disney parks tend to have a "heart"; whether it be an international variety of fantastic Castles, the highly intricate Tree of Life, visual marvel Spaceship Earth, or any other central attraction. Many of these contain accompanying large-scale shows, often held within the structure itself - must sees for parkgoers visiting the respective icon.

At Disney's Hollywood Studios (once known as Disney-MGM Studios), a beautiful reproduction of the famous Grauman's Chinese Theatre followed suit with a wonderful tribute to not only the park's respective film-focused theme, but to the colorful history of the art itself - with The Great Movie Ride. Guests were taken on a tour through classic movie highlights, featuring scenes from Footlight Parade, Singin' in the Rain, Mary Poppins, The Public Enemy, A Fistful of Dollars, The Searchers, Alien, Raiders of the Lost Arc, Tarzan the Ape Man, Casablanca, and The Wizard of Oz recreated using Audio Animatronic technology... with countless other classics making cameos as stock footage during the introduction, main show and finale.

Being no stranger to the vast universe of film, I've always loved this ride especially. Seeing such marvel and honest respect paid to the undisputed movie classics - in such a visually impressive way - was nothing short of candy. Each segment felt truly dedicated to it's subject, presenting a miniature "ride" devoted to each movie; who could forget the striking image of Mary Poppins floating whimsically next to chimney sweep Bert, joined by the silhouettes of his fellow giddy workmen? The eerie, smoke-coated streets of the Gangster genres? The thrillingly dark mechanical hell of The Nostromo? Disney's Imagineers went above and beyond with each 'room' - making you not only want to dive into the source material once more, but effectively letting you experience the world behind the screen for even the shortest amount of time.

My final ride was one to remember - the cast members truly pulled out every stop, shooting for the magical last hurrah worthy of the films it parades. They even managed to give my group the rare "Cowboy Scene" - To elaborate, rides are 'taken over' by either a rogue Cowboy, or Gangster, from each respective genre's zone. Likely because of the pyrotechnics involved in the Cowboy scene, the ride typically uses only the Gangster plot. This great touch of acknowledgement for the attractions fans and history was a really warm moment, embracing the 'end'.

Removing this show, in my opinion, will prove to be a major gash in Disney's Theme Park record. It communicates the point of Hollywood Studios better than perhaps any other aspect of the location; celebrating the sparkle of a happy night at movies, thriving in that wistful Disney charm.

However, it, too, is now a classic - locked in the world it was able to let us enter. It's a fitting end for the living museum of film... now forever in the movies.

Roll the credits - here's to The Great Movie Ride.

Click here to view an Imgur album of the pictures I took during my final ride!