Tuesday, August 18, 2015

I'm falling behind!

So recently my brother Nathaniel started his own blog. He's been posting like crazy and it makes me feel like I'm neglecting my own. Not to mention the fact that my other brother Michael started posting a bit more regularly to his own blog. So, for the last few weeks I've been thinking about what I want to talk to y'all about and I've decided that I want to tell the world to just CHILL OUT ALREADY!

Lemme explain. Over the last couple of months or so, I've noticed that people in society tend to get really worked up over some things that, in the grand scheme of things, don't matter. Or we get worked up and angry over things that we don't fully understand. Or we get worked up because one person says or does something that we personally disagree with and we make that into a bigger deal than it is. Why do we do that? What is it that makes us get so angry about these stupid things? Seriously, I don't know, can somebody tell me?

Anyway, a good example is found in Cecil the Lion. For those of you who don't know, a few weeks back an American Dentist paid a large amount of money to go trophy hunt lions in Zimbabwe. When he got there the guides he had hired illegally baited a lion to come out of a wildlife preserve and the dentist shot the lion. The lion was wearing a tracking collar and had apparently been named Cecil. When the internet found out about this, people were angry. Some people focused on trophy hunting in general, saying it was barbaric and cold-blooded. Some people vilified the dentist, forcing him to close his practice due to death threats. People suddenly had this connection to a lion they almost certainly had never heard about until they read the story.

Now I understand that some people have issues with hunting. They find it inhumane to kill animals for sport. I personally, having lived in Utah and Wyoming most of my life, find hunting to be a fine hobby when done legally and safely. But I don't mind the opponents of hunting being mad about this. What I mind is the disproportionate reaction. The loudest part of the internet seems to have decided that this dentist is the equivalent of Jack the Ripper. They've sent death threats, vandalized his house, forced him out of work, all because of a lion. This is not what we should do with people that disagree with us.

I am a person who has a set group of beliefs, just like anyone else. And, like anyone else, my beliefs may be in direct opposition to those of other people. An example, and this might sound radical, I am not as super excited as the rest of the world about the Supreme Court's ruling on gay marriage. The reasons I am not happy about it is because, first of all, I feel that the method took away a lot of the democratic power of the people to choose the manner in which they are governed, and secondly, I feel that the government shouldn't be in the business of marriage anyway. My views may conflict with those of my friends and family, but that doesn't mean that my friends or family members are terrible people. Nor should my views make me a terrible person in their eyes.

What I'm trying to say is that sometimes people disagree with us. That doesn't mean those people are bad. Too often in the world today we treat things a black and white. We have Democrats vs Republicans, science vs religion, cats vs dogs. There's no real reason why these things can't exist together, at the same time, helping each other, building each other up. But in our minds we see ourselves and our views as absolutely right and anyone who disagrees is not only wrong, but dangerous.

Debates should not be about trying to bring someone to your side. Debates should be about both presenting your view and learning about your opponents. So here's what I suggest: next time you see someone who disagrees with you on something, try to learn why they feel the way they do, whether it's between chocolate and vanilla, buying and renting, or Capitalism and Socialism. Instead of calling each other names, let's understand each other better. Maybe our views will shift and maybe they won't but I think it's still important to learn about what makes other people think the way they do.

In short, don't hate, don't fight, don't argue. Learn.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Yes, everyone, I'm divorced, here's a few things that hurt to see and hear.

Disclaimer: Some of the things I talk about in this post are not things that I want people to stop doing and it will be obvious what those are. I just want people to know what the world looks like from the divorced point of view.

As some people may know, I am recently divorced. As in, only a few months in. Or out? Anyway, over the last couple of months, I've been compiling an informal, mental list of a few of the things that being divorced makes you look at differently. Things people say, things people do, ways people try to help, etc. I've decided that I'm gonna talk about a few of these things and how they make me feel. This is not meant to be for all divorced people out there, this is just my experience. So, with that said: Onward, into my BRAIN!!!!!

1. "I/We saw it coming"

Before the divorce was finalized I was visiting with a relative of mine and they brought this little gem into the conversation. I understand that to this person it seemed like the kind of line that would comfort me, but in reality, it pissed me off. I felt as if they were saying, "I can't believe you deluded yourself into thinking your marriage was working for so long, I mean WE all saw it coming, why didn't you?" Again, I know it was said with the best of intentions, but that didn't mean it didn't hurt. And while we're on the subject of best intentions. . .

2. "You deserve someone who treats you right"

A few weeks ago, my sister got married (no hard feelings by the way, the guy's awesome and they're great together, I'm happy for them). At the reception, which I invited a friend (female) to, a relative said to my friend, "He deserves someone who treats him right." While I understand the desire to, perhaps, look out for me, I have made a decision not to be bitter toward my ex-wife. I am hurt by the choice she made and I am not happy about it, but I don't want to hear that she, "didn't treat me right." Unless you're absolutely sure that abuse of some type was part of the relationship, this one may not be a very good one to say to your divorced friends.

3. Wedding Season

 Ah, Summer. It's warm, school is out, couples are getting married, isn't it beautiful. Apparently, most weddings happen in the summer months, which is understandable. The difficult part for me about that is that, for some weird reason, most anniversaries happen in the summer months too. I don't know how this was before Facebook, but I've noticed that people feel the need to put up some post on their anniversary saying how great it is to be married to their best friend. Every time I see a post like that I think, "look at that, another happy couple, great for them, wish that was me." Doesn't help that my own anniversary is at the end of July. I wonder how that's gonna feel. . . huh?

4. Baby Announcements

This one is the one that tipped the scales on me writing this blog post. My wife and I tried having kids and, for whatever reason, kept having miscarriages instead. Babies have, for the past 5 years been a bit of a tough thing for me, but even more so now, I think. I understand that you as a couple are excited about your upcoming bundle of joy, but I hope you don't mind if I see your post, get a pang of sadness and move on to something happier, like a cat video.

5. Any questions about my dating life.

I understand people are concerned about me. I get that. I also understand that I'm not getting any younger. But what people who ask if I'm dating don't understand is that it's none of their business if I'm dating someone. I'm a grown man who can take care of himself. In case anybody reading this is curious, yes, I have gone on dates and yes, there have been girls I've seen on more than one occasion. But I'm not looking to get married again right now. If you're concerned with my lack of a serious girlfriend, remember, I got married once before, I can probably do it again if I want to.

I don't mean to offend any of my friends or family members with this post, I just feel like a lot of the people I know don't know many people who are divorced and don't know how to act around them. So here's a tip, there's a lot more to me than my ex-wife, talk to me about those things. Hopefully this helps you talk to me or any other divorced acquaintances you may have.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

I'm not putting this one on facebook

So, usually when I update my blog I put a link on Facebook, but today's post is little too private for that, and yet, I feel the need to just talk to somebody and my computer screen is the best option I have right now.

So first, I've been under a lot of stress lately. I've had issues with money, school, work, and my relationships. So let's go through each one and just vent about why I'm frustrated right now.

First, Money. Recently I bought a house and I was doing well on making the payments, last month, however, November, I had an issue and was unable to get the money put together. December isn't looking to good either right now. In the past I've asked my mom for help but she's seemed under stress because of their own financial situation and I felt bad asking her for money. It's my own fault. But now I've got back utility bills, a month late mortgage payment and no idea how I'm going to pay it.

Second, school. This is somewhat related to money but in the past I haven't done super awesome in school. I'm two-thirds of the way to my degree and this semester I was unable to get financial aid. I now have to pay for this semester by myself and I have to pay for it before I can go back to school. As I mentioned above, I don't have enough money to pay for the things I need right now. I can't afford to pay for a semester of school.

Third, work. Work overall is okay except for a small incident that happened back in August and in which I did everything I should have done and everything I was told to do and yet I'm just now having to deal with the lies other people told and the choices that were made for me. I won't go into detail but I'm sick of being told what to say and do.

Finally, and this is the big one relationships. As I'm sure you know, I am married, however what most of you don't know is that my wife has been talking seriously about getting a divorce for the past three months. She's stopped sleeping in the same bed as me, she's pulling away and I don't know what to do. I'm trying to be respectful of what she wants but it hurts and I don't want it. I don't know what to do right now. She's always been my best friend and now she's trying to break that. We get in fights because I don't want to let go and she says that I need to. I just don't know what to do in this situation.

I have friends but I hate to tell them about these kinds of things, so I put it out to the internet, I have two followers here and I'm pretty sure my mom is one of them, so maybe they'll see this. Anyway it just feels a little cathartic to get it out and put it out there. Maybe someone can give me some advice, because, as I've said multiple times. . . I don't know what to do. . .

Monday, October 13, 2014

HRRP: Part 6

Okay, so I took a week off, but there was a reason. Basically, the next bits of content were mostly old menus and stuff in the museum. I decided to not grade those but instead move on to the next toon. From now on I will only review toons. Any menus or games will come after I finish going through the cartoons, ok? OK! So let's get back on the wagon with. . .

In Search of the Yellow Dello

In this cartoon we first see Coach Z, Homestar, and Pom Pom on the athletic field doing. . . sports, apparently. . . Anyway, Homestar apparently looks sad and Coach Z asks him what's up. Homestar says he doesn't understaaaaaaand the ladies. He tells Coach Z that it's Marzipan's birthday and he doesn't know what to get her. Coach Z tells him to get her something really special, i.e. "Don't just get her a flower. Get her some rare flower from the tallest mountain! That way she knows how much she means to yahs!"

Homestar sits on a rock and thinks for apparently several days and then, suddenly, he "has" the solution! He's going to get Marzipan the Yellow Dello, "the most rare and beautiful bird in this entire cartoon." It's a yellow bird with a long neck, small wings, and some fine gams (is it offensive to call them gams? If it is let me know).

Homestar enlists the help of Pom Pom and Strong Sad in going to northeastern Potamia to find the Yellow Dello. The traveled very far and encountered many dangerous, but they made it to the mountain. After the get to the mountain, we cut to Strong Bad telling Marzipan that a) Homestar is getting her the Yellow Dello and b) Strong Bad is getting her absolutely nothing. Homestar seems quite excited for her birthday present.

Next we see the trio at the bottom of the mountain with the Yellow Dello in a bag. They then go home to get ready for the party. Marzipan arrives at the party and they greet her with a large roasted bird and a hearty happy birthday. Marzipan assumes the roasted bird is the Yellow Dello, killed, stuffed and dressed for a delicious dinner, and is outraged, she screams, slaps Homestar and storms off. The Yellow Dello then pops out of the present in the house and says, "Gee, whaddya think her problem was?" We end with Homestar again lamenting that he doesn't understaaaaaand the ladies.

So, this is the old version of this cartoon, it has limited dialog and sound effects and the drawings are kinda weird, although in the DVD Commentary, Matt Chapman says that for the storyboards he drew he had the weird drawings and Mike basically just said, "Yeah, do it exactly like that." I think the weird drawings and odd animation stuff works well humor-wise. The story is pretty simple, but so are most stories on the website. We do get a little intro to Coach Z's accent, although it isn't as pronounced yet. Also, this is the first toon in which both Coach Z and Strong Sad speak. Also, if you'll notice, this is apparently before the involvement of Missy Palmer, the voice of Marzipan, as the only sound she makes appears to be a stock scream. I give this toon a B+.

The Reddest Radish

This cartoon takes place on the day of the Reddest Radish Competition and opens on Marzipan working in her radish garden. The Cheat throws a forged note from Homestar at Marzipan's. . . feet?. . . telling her that Homestar is sick. Marzipan then rushes to Homestar's house to check up on him. After she leaves, The Cheat, Strong Mad, and Strong Bad jump out from behind the bush and steal the radish that Marzipan left behind so they can win the competition.

Marzipan arrives at Homestar's house and knocks on the door with her head (which I find odd, seeing as how she slapped Homestar and left a hand print in the last cartoon, but, like we'll do many many times, let's ignore continuity). Homestar doesn't answer because, as we see in the next cut, he's waiting for her at the competition. Pom Pom suggests that he kick a can to make himself feel better that Marzipan isn't there. The can hits the wagon that Strong Bad and Gang are using to transport the stolen radish. (Also to be clear, Marzipan has left Homestar's place at this point). The radish flies into the air and Strong Bad, Strong Mad, The Cheat, Pom Pom, and Homestar start fighting over it in a cartoon fight cloud. Homestar ends up winning and shows Marzipan the radish up on stage. Marzipan informs Homestar that the stolen radish was not, in fact, her entrant into the contest. Instead she pulls a much larger and much redder radish from off screen and handily wins the contest.

This is another with a non-orthodox animation style, portraying the characters as paper cutouts and colored with crayon. None of the mouths move and the entire toon is played as if it were filmed in front of a live audience, with laughs and cheers and boos added at appropriate (and sometimes inappropriate) points. The canned laughter actually adds to the humor of the toon, poking fun at sitcoms with canned laughter. This toon is also the introduction of Missy Palmer as the voice of Marzipan. Overall, I give the toon a B.

Okay guys, apparently no one has been reading this, but I'm gonna keep doing it, for my own fun! But if you are reading, please agree with me, or disagree! I don't care, tell me why I'm wrong!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

HRRP: Part 5

Alright folks, this is gonna cover a lot of ground tonight. No time to chat, let's go!

She Loves Me!

This is the first Homestar Runner "game" although that word may be pushing it. In the game you learn that, first, Homestar is thinking about Marzipan. He decides to pick a flower and see if she loves him or not. You are then asked to pick the petals off the flower and see if she loves him or not. It will always end with her loving him not. BUT WAIT! A new petal grows right after the last one is picked! AW, she loves him!

Game isn't the best term for this because you can't really do anything to change the outcome, but it is pretty much the first time that The Brothers Chaps have made something that was purely meant to be interactive. Also, this is the first time that we get to hear the name of Marzipan (you'll remember she first appeared in Marshmallow's Last Stand). In the end, the game isn't that fancy but in terms of overall significance, it's strong. I give it a B.

Kick the Can

This is actually 15 different toons all put together on one page. You play each one by clicking on a reel that sits on the floor around a projection screen. The toons all start the same, There's a title card introducing The Homestar Runner (Old-timey version) in a "cartoon" for kids. It then shows The Homestar Runner kicking a can forward, stopping, and then some weird ending. A few examples of endings: his head pops off, he kicks the can into his torso, his head falls back down upside down into his torso and ends with a new face and the caption "gosh!" Another ending has him kicking the can into his mouth and him spitting fire afterwards. To see them all go watch them.

This cartoon does a few interesting things, it creates the first variation of a main character, Old-Timey The Homestar Runner. It also really plays on the bizarre, surreal humor that will become the driving force in the website. Honsetly, there were some moments when I chuckled a little at the endings. All that was done without voice acting, purely visual. I think that this cartoon deserves the grade of A.

Main Pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6

I'm gonna get these main pages out of the way all at once. Basically every main page is the same. It has a series of buttons going down the left side labelled, in order, "'toons," "games," "characters," "downloads," "store," and "email." When you mouse over any of these buttons Homestar says the word on the button and an animation related to the main page's theme plays.

Main page 1's theme is Homestar on the moon, it shows things such as a nuclear explosion on earth, an astronaut waving from his rocket, and constellations of Strong Bad and Marzipan.

Main page 2's theme is Homestar in the Alps, It features Homestar in lederhosen and has animations such as a man playing an Alphorn saying "Riiicolaaaa," an Eagle pulling a fish from a river, and a quick Christmas tree decoration.

Main page 3's theme is Homestar on the beach. Animations included are a steam boat going by, a monkey throwing coconuts, and the first appearance of the "Wear a bikini!" banner, pulled by an airplane.

Main page 4's theme is Homestar in a bowling alley. There's a bowler getting a strike, a bowler getting a split and then picking up the spare, and a bowling ball falling from the sky and making a hole in the lane.

Main page 5's theme is Homestar working in a diner. It features a hamburger flipping, Homestar's hat getting flipped around, and a diner working speaking illegibly while a plate of food is held up (Upon consulting the Hrwiki I have learned that the worker says "Quarter-cheese-plate-scattered-smothered-covered.").

Finally Main page 6's theme is Homestar in heaven. It features a harp, fighter jets, and Strong Bad walking on clouds and falling through them yelling "Holy Craaaaaap!"

The thing about the main pages is that they can be mildly humorous, but they aren't generally meant to be the main attraction. However, I did learn that if you time it right, on main page six you can make it look as if the devil is taking Strong Bad out of heaven. Anyway on that note, I give each page, respectively, grades of: C, C+, B, B, B-, B+.

That's all I'm going to do tonight, but tune back in tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

HRRP: Part 4

Hey everyone! Tonight we're doing another multiple content night! Let's begin!

Old Intro

This one's pretty simple. It starts with an image of Homestar, the first two sentences from the original book, ("Everyone loves the Homestar Runner. He is a terrific athlete.") appear on either side of him. There are fireworks, arrow, a zoom in on Homestar's eye and then an image of him looking out from a star with the H*R logo and Enter written underneath. You can click on the Logo and Homestar will say "Hello!"

Pretty bland stuff on this one. Not particularly funny, except for the page title (That's Mike going 'Beeoo!') and maybe the way Homestar says "Hello." However, we're early on and this is the very first intro page to the website. And good job to Mike for the Firework sounds. I give this a D+.

If I Ran the Camera

This one's . . . different. It doesn't actually have any Homestar Runner characters but it was a secret page on the site until 2003 when the Brothers Chaps removed it. Anyway, the toon is a flash slide show that tells the story of Astrid Renee, who is the niece of the Brothers Chaps, of what it would be like if she made movies. It's told in the style of Dr. Seuss books, mimicking his signature rhyming style, a few pieces of art, and made up place names. In the poem, Astrid hires her Grandpa Chapman to do basically everything in making the movie and remembers to thank him when she thanks the academy.

It definitely loses points for having no connection to Homestar, but it shows that the Brothers Chaps really started doing this kind of thing for fun. In a recent interview, Matt Chapman said that they just started using Flash to make stupid animations and they put them on the Internet for their friends and family to see. This is evidently one of those early pieces that they used to show their family. In any case, on pretty much the adorableness of it alone, I give it a B-.

The King of Town (Old Version)

This will be the last one tonight. I promise. Anyway, this one introduces us at first to, of all people, The King of Town!

The King of Town is apparently a good ruler who rules over Town very nicely. But alas! His sheep are missing and he fears a dragon has eaten them. He calls Homestar Runner and Pom Pom to help him find out where his sheep have gone. Homestar and Pom Pom question the King's servants: The Blacksmith, the Poopsmith, and the Chef. The Chef knows exactly what happened to the sheep!

Homestar and Pom Pom, using a magical chalkboard explain to the King that the sheep were not eaten by a dragon. This relieves the King, until he is told that the sheep were, in fact, eaten. The King is wondering who could have done such a thing and Homestar essentially tells the King that the sheep were inside him the whole time. . . literally. We all have a laugh!

This toon gives voice to The King of Town and establishes him as a glutton with a terrible memory of what exactly he's eaten. It also, oddly, makes Homestar quite intelligent, in terms of current Homestar. The joke is a little obvious but there are a few little funny moments, like the introduction and naming of the Poopsmith, and the magical chalkboard. All in all, a decent cartoon, but not the best. C.

Well, everyone, that's it for tonight, see you tomorrow!

Monday, October 6, 2014

HRRP: Part 3

So, here we are at part three of my new daily installment of my reviews and summations of as many Homestar Runner pieces of entertainment as possible. Today we're gonna make a big jump and review four cartoons, so let's get started with:

First Flash

So this cartoon, at 7 seconds long doesn't have much, just Pom Pom bouncing around. On the one hand, it has no story, no jokes, and doesn't introduce any characters, however, it is the beginning of The Brothers Chaps' foray into flash animation. For that point alone it avoids the F, but only barely. I give it a D.


Second Flash

This is the second flash cartoon the Brothers made and it's almost as bland as the first. It is simply Homestar, sans-hat, walking in a field in front of a teleset hiding behind a tree. Also at seven seconds long, it has no story, only movement. However, I found the TV behind the tree slightly humorous, so I give this a D+.


Pom Pom, Too

Now we're getting to the real stuff! So this cartoon starts with an image of a pill, although it apparently isn't a pill, it's the "Isle of Pom." This island is where the Poms live, one of which we have met before: Pom Pom.

We are informed that Pom Pom is the best Pom. And the cartoon then explains to us the reasons why he is the best. He loves his parents, he's patriotic, he feeds his dog every day, he treats his neighbors with respect and he doesn't play with matches. We then are informed that "we all love Pom-Pom, too."

This cartoon has a few more things going for it. First we get a little background on one of the characters, Pom Pom. We also get to hear the voice of a Pom Pom, which is little more than bubbling. The artwork isn't the best, in my opinion, but this is early, so I don't place too much emphasis on that. Anyway, considering this is the first story, I would like to call this the first cartoon. I would also like to give it a C.


Marshmallow's Last Stand

This one is the first full length cartoon and the first to use voice acting. We start with a disclaimer about the fact that the cartoon was taken off the site because the characters have changed so much since it was made.

The cartoon starts in a marshmallow shop called Marshmallow's Last Stand. Homestar and Pom Pom are seated and enjoying a couple of giant marshmallows. Homestar uses clever trickery to steal Pom Pom's marshmallow. Suddenly, to the sound of squeedly guitars, appears our protagonists, The Brothers Strong, Strong Mad and Strong Bad. Strong Bad says that they are the greatest tag team wrestlers in the world and Homestar is. . .unimpressed. Strong Bad challenges Homestar and Pom Pom to a tag-team match and Homestar says no. Finally an exasperated Strong Bad steals the star of of Homestar's shirt (presumably re-naming him Home). This gets under Home's skin and he and Pom Pom agree to the wrestling match.

At the arena we are treated to the obligatory introduction of the wrestlers. The match begins and Home and Strong Bad fight. Home kick Strong Bad down a few times after which Strong Bad tags in his enormous brother. Strong Mad simply grabs Home by the legs and knocks him around a bit, finally throwing him out of the ring. Pom Pom, in an effort to protect his friend, hops into the ring and right onto Strong Mad's fist. Strong Mad, wearing Pom Pom like a boxing glove, beats him on the ring a few times until Pom Pom falls down. Strong Mad then attempts to jump off the ropes onto Pom Pom but is bounced into space by Pom Pom's bounciness.

We come back to Home and Strong Bad in the ring. Home eventually knock Strong Bad out of the ring and Strong Bad reaches under the ring, pulling out a bomb. He jumps back in an throws the bomb down Home's throat, and punches him in the gut a few times. Suddenly, Home mentions that he ate too many marshmallows and turns an ugly green color. He pukes all over Strong Bad's face and the bomb comes back up, sticking to the side of Strong Bad's face. Strong Bad runs around the ring until his head explodes.

Home and Pom Pom are declared the winners and Home asks for his star back. Strong Bad rage-rips up the star. Home is pissed now! He does a flying kick to Strong Bad's exploded face and takes one of the stars flying above Strong Bad's head. THE END!

So this toon, although being a shadow of what is to come, brings a lot of good things together. First, as I stated before, this is the first cartoon to use voice acting, giving voices to two more characters, Homestar and Strong Bad. We also get to see the first appearance of a few more characters, namely, the King of Town, The Poopsmith, and Marzipan. This means that, of the twelve main characters, we have now seen at least an image of all but Homsar. Finally we can kind of see the beginning of the Easter egg trend, not that there's anything to click on, but if you pay enough attention you can see some goofy jokes, like the picture in the marshmallow stand, or the sign that The Poopsmith holds up. This cartoon is where we really start to see what the Brothers Chaps are capable of and what they are going to do. Although the characters and as fleshed out as they will be, in terms of a pilot episode, this is good. I give it a B+

So that's it for tonight, it's been a long one! Hopefully you'll be back tomorrow for part 4!