Saturday, September 29, 2012
Friday, September 21, 2012
In Tex Avery’s 1949 classic “The House of Tomorrow” audiences were treated to the image of a beautiful model. A lovely, blonde figure, posing politely of the TV marked for the father of the house.
Born in 1927 as Gladys Helen Nevins, a native of Grand Isle, Nebraska, Helen was once a glamorous model, often contracted for work with the MGM studio. Helen appeared in all kinds of promotional material, all kinds of ads and the like, but the modeling industry then (as it is now) was rather cutthroat. As soon as Ms. Hild was of a certain age, she was unceremoniously ousted from this line of work.
Did that end her career? Of course not. Helen was a strong woman. This was just the beginning.
Back in the 40’s and 50’s, a model who was ousted from modeling, often found a home in professional wrestling. There, a still relatively young lady could find work as a valet, and many a former model back then found herself as a “Slave Girl” to a random wild man in the ring.
Helen was much more than a “Slave Girl” and she was eager to show it.
Here’s a scene taken from an Owensboro, KY newspaper, the scene is from a match held on August 9th, 1957, the first women’s match held in Seattle in 11 years at that time. Her opponent? WWE Hall of Famer and future 28 year Women’s Champion ~ The Fabulous Moolah:
Sunday, September 16, 2012
Monday, September 10, 2012
Someday when I have children, I’m going to let them watch nothing but my old VHS and DVD collection. That’s right. My future children will be more accustomed to Ghostbusters and Power Rangers than anything on a Viacom station.
On occasion, I’ve left on a pre-school program called Yo Gabba Gabba. It’s a mindless show that isn’t so bad when you’re selecting a DVD. They routinely hold live shows, but most of their fans are in my age group. After reading this, you might understand why. The show has been featured on E! Network’s “The Soup” and the characters have been popular enough to find their way into adult commercials for cars and credit cards.
On paper, it’s a simple show. It’s about a man (DJ Lance Rock) who daily brings his action figures to life, in a diagram of the seasons. This is one of Nick Jr’s educational shows. I want you to hang onto that word, we’ll be visiting it again shortly. The Gabba gang have to learn valuable life lessons amid playtime, exercising and dancing.
And while the concept of staying active is shoved down Junior’s throat faster and with more fury than a PMSing Jillian Michaels DVD, this is the first program I’ve seen that tells kids it’s ok to eat food once in a while. I applaud them for that. I’m so sick of seeing parents starving their kids into an early grave, just to make them look runway ready. News flash moms and dads, lunch for a growing child is NOT a carrot stick, dry toast and a glass of water. Carbohydrates and a full piece of chicken won’t make your little Tammy or Chris morbidly obese. So it’s nice that Muno and Brobee are able to enjoy a chicken leg without dealing with any teasing. And that’s food for thought that puts a yummy in my tummy.
But there are a few issues I have with some of it, and I’m curious to see if there are any parents out there that might have the same questions I do.
For starters, in this internet heavy age, where the average parent is letting his or her kid play with tablets, laptops and smart phones before they’re old enough for pre-school, is it okay to have more (let’s say) mature acts make guest appearances?
Maybe it’s silly, but I just don’t think that most of these celebrities need to be on children’s programming. I’m sure you all got sick of it quick a while back, when there was controversy over Katy Perry being on Sesame Street. And while it’s not fair to blame her for what happened (I actually point a finger at the costume designer, script team and director, who thought that a kiddy version of Hot & Cold was somehow appropriate) it does make me question who keeps deciding to add these people to the shows.
Think about it. Think really hard. It’s Friday afternoon and Yo Gabba Gabba is on. You’ve just finished shoving the latest “Your Baby can READ” book down Junior’s throat and now it’s time to DANCE. Plex introduces us to our new Dancey-Dance friend, who shyly appears out from behind a motorcycle. It’s Jack Black, and you have already handed Junior a tablet with internet access. If Junior can figure out how to spell “Google” then it’s likely he can find Jack Black’s Master Exploder, which while is an epic song, is not Gabba friendly. And if you think those parental locks are worth the time and frustration of setting up, think again. YouTube and Google are just two out of thousands of websites that have blasted right through every parental lock imaginable. Now if Junior is “baby can read” smart enough to Google Jack Black, then he’s also smart enough to start asking a ton of questions while blasting Tenacious D’s Beelzeboss. I highly recommend that you listen to that one before you have to explain to Junior how this guy wound up with the Gabba Gang.
Another celebrity that has been seen on Yo Gabba Gabba is Paul Williams. Now for those who don’t know, Williams wrote a ton of songs in the 1970’s and has even been featured in an episode of Dexter’s Laboratory. I’ll just let the video speak for itself:
Trippy enough?? Yeah it’s no wonder most of the viewers are above the age of 20.
Aiding this idea are the main characters themselves.
Foofa is a disarmingly nice bubble monster, but some people have called her some less than charming names. I once heard a teenager at a store calling her “pink turd with a flower”.
Plex is a robot, who serves as a semi-educational, parental figure to the monsters. (Keep hanging onto that E word for me.)
Toodee is a hyper active half cat, half dragon monster who is supremely aggressive. In some episodes she can be seen pushing Brobee into doing things he doesn’t want to.
Brobee is manic depressive. Everything hurts his feelings and many episodes revolve around making him feel like the world isn’t out to get him. He’s so negative! I’m not really sure if I’m comfortable with the idea of kids seeing this character go from happy to sobbing over the slightest things.
… And then there’s Muno.
If you’re a fan of Mike Mozart, you already know about Muno. Even if you see the above picture, you can see what all the fuss is about. And no, it isn’t because Muno has a nasty habit of biting people, knocking things over and being a more manic cross between Toodee and Brobee:
It’s about his design.
Muno… looks like… an adult toy.
And he gets it honestly. Take a look at Muno’s mom, dad, sister and brother.
Generally, you expect to see characters like these on one of those late-night “Shop Erotic” programs. Not on Nick Jr.
And Muno isn’t alone. You see, like most television shows, the Gabba Gang often find recurring characters in the form of distant friends. Muno has one such friend, a bizarre monster named Gooble:
Now, I understand that Gooble’s creator swears that he is based on an earlier drawing for The Aquabats, and the charming story of his accidental birth can be read here: http://brobee.blogspot.com/2008/10/goobles-origin.html but speaking aesthetically as an artist myself, I’m afraid I must be blunt. There’s no nice, PC way to say this either.
Gooble is a leaking prophylactic.
Gooble occasionally appears on Yo Gabba Gabba, sobbing uncontrollably. Plex stated in one episode that nobody ever knows why Gooble cries, just that he does. All the time. He is always sad. It may be because his character was originally a ghost named Obakemon, (Ghost man, by the way, this is one letter off from a Digimon name) who was sad because well… he’s dead. Nothing quite says “kid friendly” like the wandering corpse of a leaking condom. And just where are standards and practices??
Yo Gabba Gabba is an “educational” program that teaches kids to accept people for their differences. It teaches about staying healthy and active and it’s supposed to be educational in other areas too. Skip ahead to 1:36 of this video, for an educational scene:
Now here is where I’m flustered. This is supposed to be an educational show, and yet Plex has just said something that the common school book would disagree with.
“All the stars are really just planets and suns”
For those of you without a kindergarten education, suns and stars are THE SAME THING. Our sun is a star. It’s a great, big, honkin’ ball of gas on fire. When planets surround a certain star, we call it a sun, but nothing actually changes about it. It’s still a STAR. To tell kids that there are no actual stars is scientifically unsound. Again, who is watching this? When you have an educational program, you’re supposed to check your facts before the episode goes to air. It’s a fairly simple practice that for a pre-school show, should take no time at all. And this should have been an easy episode to write.
With all of the ideas that the writing team has, it might not be a good idea to make this an educational show for toddlers anymore. Instead, it might be a wise idea for Nickelodeon to capitalize on the 20+ year old audience they already have by making another series of Yo Gabba Gabba, just for adults.
Sunday, September 9, 2012
Saturday, September 1, 2012
Some time ago, I was told that in order to make it in life, you have to make an investment in yourself. It’s okay once in a while to purchase things that will make your working life easier, even if it means going against the “traditional” methods. I was told this first by my mother, as she was telling me I don’t need to feel guilty over the price of a tablet I now use every week, and again by a friend who was cursing about another friend, whose career has pretty much stalled due to some ill choices he has made. I didn’t quite understand the importance of investing in yourself, until recently.
Part of the web work I now do includes cropping and editing photos of wrestlers. Usually, this is extremely easy work that takes no time at all. Just crop the photo down to a good size, and up it goes. There are plenty of wrestlers on the Indy scene who take pride in their work, and are a joy to watch.
… And then… There are some who really need more schooling.
There’s a man who I’ve known for several years. I’m withholding his actual ring name, because I don’t feel like dealing with the drama. So for the sake of this story, I’m re-naming him “Punishing Pete”. It’s nowhere near his real or ring name, but it is similar in some ways to what he named himself. (Actually this might be a better name overall.)
Now Punishing Pete used to be just “Peter”, a WWE fanboy who spent five years sitting next to me or on me at every single ROH show I ever went to, and would bitch and moan and complain that ROH will never be WWE. He’d go on about it for hours, and if I moved to another seat, he’d follow. It got to the point where other wrestlers would have to step in and ask him to leave me alone and let me watch the fights.
I travelled up to Milwaukee in 2010 for another show (I have another blog about this half written on the PC. It’s an excellent and fun tale I will tell one day) and while I was there, I spotted Pete.
“What are YOU doing here?? ME??! What are YOOOUUUU doing here!?!?!” is how the conversation started.
“I’M here because I was asked to be. What the HELL are YOU doing here??” I snapped at Pete.
“I’M a WRESTLER. Duuuuuu~uuuh!!” Snapped Pete back at me.
“WHAT?? Since when??”
Right away I started flagging down every wrestler I could, asking where he came from and who told him he could wrestle. And while Pete did not wrestle on this card, I was told that he had been in training for five whole years, and that his trainer was listed as “I dunno, some guy down the road who works at Wal*Mart, who was once a high school legit wrestler, but quit back in the 70’s because of a knee injury or something like that”. Note how this story lacks a name? Yeah, it’s always a great start to an epic career when the wrestler’s origins begin with training in “some guy’s” basement. That is also NOT a joke.
The next time I saw Pete was a month later. He was allowed an opening card match against a veteran who was much smaller, had fantastic charisma, and openly JOBBED Pete. Pete did not realize that the older wrestler was throwing the match on purpose, just to get a rise out of the crowd. Pete would smack him, and the elder wrestler would cross his eyes, stick out his tongue and yell “Oooooh OWCH that TOTALLY smarts!!” like a dad playing victim to a toddler’s punches. There was even a spot where Pete was losing a fight to himself, and the elder just stood to the side of Pete, yelling “Oh ouch oof ow take it easy, no stop ouch.” Pete never realized that he was indeed wrestling a t-shirt.
After the show, there was an after party. Pete flexed his girth at me. I say girth because he’s at a level where I can’t say he’s muscular, but I can’t say he’s chubby either. Anyway. Pete flexes his girth at me, and says “HA! I bet you think I’m real hot now, huh? Bet you think I look sexy. I’m a reeeeal wrestler now, I bet you’re pretty impressed. Bet you respect me NOW, huh?”
Have you ever seen one of those cartoons, where there’s a school bully who’s been left back a year, and once people find out he’s actually done something alright, he starts boasting about how big he is, but everyone still treats him like the pink elephant in the room? Yeah, let’s imagine that cartoon character, as (true story) The Iron Sheik is two chairs behind him, laughing loudly “what FAKING BOOLSHEET” as Pete is talking. Did I mention that I adore the Iron Sheik? I do.
This past winter, I saw Pete and the elder in a series of photos. The elder wrestler has long since given up on Pete, and has spent the last two years beating the ever loving hell out of him every chance he gets. This amuses me, since the elder wrestler is about 5’4. Punishing Pete is 6’2 and double the elder’s weight.
I recently saw a few more photos of Pete, and I had to crop them for a site I work on. If you see the photo I’ve posted, you’ll only see Pete from the neck up, and I’ve Photoshopped him so he looks as menacing as his bio says he is. I recently got praise for the photo from another wrestler, who told me this looks professional. I can’t begin to tell you how much that means to me… since this was a several hour job.
Remember earlier when I said that you need to invest in yourself? Well Pete never got that memo.
You see, Punishing Pete… does not have ring gear. Like, at all.
In the (now) 7 years he’s been a wrestler, Pete has never once purchased ring gear. Ever. His persona is that he’s a menacing punisher. A perpetrator of pain, at least that’s the tagline his new promoter has given him. So imagine Judge Dredd, minus the helmet, and that’s Pete’s persona.
Pete does not dress like Judge Dredd.
Pete does not dress like The Punisher.
Wanna know what Pete wears to the ring?
It ain’t ring gear.
It ain’t a singlet.
And it damn sure ain’t spandex.
Punishing Pete comes to the ring in a Slayer wife-beater, khaki shorts and flip flops.
… THAT’S RIGHT!! I said FLIP-FLOPS!!!
It has come to my attention that Pete refuses to take pride in what he does. He does not invest in himself, so how can he expect other people to invest in him??
Let me ask you, if you were a wrestling fan, sitting front row at a show, and a man named Punishing Pete came down the ring in dirty, used flip-flops, would YOU take him seriously?
This is not even a comedic heel. This is no Repo Man or Santino Marella. This guy is supposed to be one of those serious, Razor Ramon types… and he’s out in flip-flops!
What’s sadder? He’s one of the main event heels. Pete was in a four way for a title. He went up against one cowboy wrestler (name withheld out of respect), one dude who was wearing a lime green singlet (400 lbs. and no cup or underwear) and another wrestler, who was 4’10 and about 250 lbs.
Of the four, the cowboy wrestler took pride in himself and invested in his gimmick. A sight for sore eyes, he had a gimmick that made sense, hair that had been freshly washed, and a body that screams “I see the gym no less than two times a week”. He reminded me of Bob Orton Jr in Shawn Michaels’s body, and he wrestles like a champion. I’ll be blogging about this dude and his lady another time, and I won’t be shocked at all should he wind up on your televisions screens one of these days. Again, he invested in himself.
The other three??
Now I don’t ever want to be one of those shallow types, so for three weeks, I tried really hard to put this out of my mind, and convince myself that there was nothing wrong with the match. I tried to tell myself that there was nothing wrong with the way the other two looked. And I tried super hard to keep this up…
Until I saw another wrestler post that he was tired of seeing people climb into the ring and take absolutely zero pride in how they look. The sentiment being “for the love of humanity PLEASE buy some ring gear and hit the gym” which let me know who he was probably talking about.
Like I said, Pete never invested in himself, though he’ll gladly bitch and complain for an hour about how the business has treated him, and how to make it in the business, and how WWE is business, and all anybody cares about is business, and business business business. Guess what his favorite word is?
So he’s invested in what he thinks is “the business”.
Guess who hasn’t invested in Pete?
The WWE business.
You know, the company Pete is all about joining someday. “THE” business, if you ask him.
And that doesn’t surprise me at all. Punishing Pete you see has NEVER even sent them a tape. Like at all.
The last time I saw him (hanging around a bar at an after party, bitching about how this guy and that dude will never make it to WWE) I asked him point blank:
“Alright wise-ass. Since you’re all about WWE, why don’t ‘cha send them a tape, head out to developmental and JOIN them? WHY are you even here?”
The Iron Sheik was still sitting two chairs behind him. I’m wondering if he heard Pete, because I do remember hearing his loud, bellowing laughter, and I remember a few people sitting with him pointing in my direction and looking for Adam Pearce.
Pete looks at me like I’m an idiot, and says “DUH! I don’t NEED to send THEM a tape. They’re the WWE! They watch everybody. All I need to do is keep hanging around some of these areas, and wait. Just wait, princess. In another year or so, I’ll definitely be in developmental.”
This was in 2010. Guess who’s not in developmental?
Now I’m sad to say that Punishing Pete’s story isn’t new. There are a few other people, who do not want to take pride in themselves. I wouldn’t know that, except I’ve seen many a Facebook post from actual wrestlers, begging a few of their own Punishing Petes to either see a gym or seek employment outside the squared circle.
So many people do not want to set foot inside of a gym, lift weights, develop a persona, purchase ring gear or even do something with their hair. And yet these are the SAME Punishing Petes who so desperately want to wind up high on the PWI 500. (As they post on their Facebooks.)
So for the other Punishing Pete’s in the world, here’s a diagram I’ve made up of starter looks, totally suitable for the ring.
Try them out for yourself!
Please click on the photo to see all of the details.