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Arcade in the Sky Blog: December 2009

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Magfest 09

Leaving for Magfest! It's time for a great new years eve party and lots of games!
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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Down with Fraggle Rock

As some of you may know, I've recently gotten Netflix, and I've been going back on my list of shoulda-seen flicks. While going through my list I came across the boxed sets of Fraggle Rock. I decided to watch the first episode again this past fateful Saturday morning, and before I knew it, I had to watch all 96 episodes.

To understand the fascination, I need to take you back to my childhood. Before I was into cartoons, or anime, or comics, or D&D, there was the Muppet Show. I remember learning the days of the week and how to tell time, just so I could know when that show was coming on. But there was another show from Jim Henson, but it was only available on HBO. None of my friends or family had this mystical channel, save my Aunt. Everytime I would come to visit, she'd have a few new episodes saved on VHS, and these were the greatest treats I could ever have. The Muppet Show was great, but it had a lot of filler with pop songs and talkback with the special guest star, most of whom I was too young to know. Fraggle Rock took place in its own world, with all the characters and humor self contained. In fact, people from any generation could pick up the show today and it would be just as relevant and magical.

Though each episode was only 25 minutes, it packed a ton of content. The sets and lighting were always busy and intricate. There were always original songs to sing, and the stories and themes were always layered. There's be a wrap around story with Doc and his dog Sprocket, the main story and a vignette of "Uncle Traveling Matt" all of which would be linked in some anecdotal way.

The brilliance of the show was its construction. The show had world layered on top of worlds, and the premise was based on the relationship between those worlds, not a specific plot or character. Because of this, you could enter the show at any episode and still receive the core message of understanding and tolerance that the show was preaching. Unlike some modern shows (I'm looking at you, Dora) they don't bash you over the head with a lesson, they just show you these fantastic worlds interacting, then let you draw your own conclusions. The fraggles are mysterious creatures that live in the walls, and see our world as "outer space", they live alongside doozers whom are just as small to fraggles as they are to humans. On top of that, there the race of Giant Gorgs, whom see themselves as the centers of-and rulers of- the universe. The fraggles are no bigger than mice to them, and get treated like so many pests. The relationship between them is the ultimate allegory. It could be a stand in for race, class, nationality, or creed. Each group is egocentric, and doesn't truly realize how they depend on the others, and in turn are depended on by them.

This is one of the most satisfying shows I've ever seen. During the course of the series, all possibilities and angles are dealt with, and there is a very satisfying final episode that always bring me to tears. Anyone who has Netflix needs to see this whole show NOW, and if you don't have Netflix, go grab the boxed sets!
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Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Princess and The Frog

I'm a very laid back fellow who rarely 'anticipates' movies. I just let movies fill into the theaters at their own pace, and if I have time to see them, all the better. But growing up with Disney's Golden Age with flicks like Beauty and the Beast, I couldn't help but anticipate their first hand-drawn animated movie in years.

I must, however, start by stating what this is really all about; having a black princess. The 'Disney Princess' like is a major cash cow for the company, and they love to play out the different types of princess' they have, the red-head in Ariel, the brunette in Snow White, the Asian in Mulan etc. IF ONLY they had made a movie with a black princess back in the golden age! Think of all the extra appeal the Disney Princess line would have now! And they had actually made a movie set in Africa during this time! They must REALLY be kicking themselves.

And so, here we are back at the drawing board making a new animated feature and its about a black princess. I had a lot of trepidation about this going in, but I was happy to find that this is one of the best movies Disney has ever made.

Without going into spoiler territory, I will say that the plot and pacing of the film is excellent. The fact that John Lasseter is executive producer probably helped. The fact that the Pixar Story Team got a special note of thanks at the end of the credits probably didn't hurt either. Having the same writing/directing pair from The Little Mermaid is probably what made all the difference.

What makes this movie so good is the content. It has a lot of great stuff in it, visuals, music, ideas and relationships, and it never slows down for a second. I'm going to see this multiple times in the theater and buy it on DVD as soon as humanly possible.

NOW, I will go int Spoiler Territory:

I'd like to go over some of my favorite parts of the movie, just to give testament of how wide its breadth is.

1. Race relations. Setting the movie in New Orleans give a perfect excuse to have a black protagonist, yet they don't get bogged down in animosity. Tianna has a rich white girl for a friend-an annoying one at that-but they don't go as far as making her a villain, which would be the easy route.

2. Journey to Oz. The characters take a funloving journey and meet oddball friends, but they don't have to wipe them from existence when its over.

3. They kill a character. For a family film, this takes balls.

4. John Goodman has a cameo.

5. Good music. Its OK to break into song in this world, but they feel never the need to take it more than a verse or two, just to sell a soundtrack album.

6. The Prince. Disney princes have been tragically wooden. With the exception of the Beast, they have had no characterization, leaving the princesses also hollow by association. Here the prince is along for the whole ride.

I could go on, but I've got a ton to do today. I hope everyone sees this film!
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Friday, December 4, 2009

Little Punk People

I'd like to take a few minutes to talk about my friend Daniella. She's been a co-worker of mine at this insurance company for many years, and like myself, her passions lie outside of selling insurance and in the creative sphere.

She make all sorts of custom apparel and crafts, and is a lovely painter. She's started her own online shop with many Google dreams and Youtube wishes. I want the best for her, so if everyone could check it out, I'd be very happy.

Little Punk People
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