Thought that I heard you laughing/Thought that I heard you sing…

So I’m browsing the threads over at the Comics Curmudgeon the other day, and ran across a poster with the handle ‘Wally Ballou’. This provoked a mild little ripple of mirth from a few others…along with comments on how unexpected it was that people were getting the reference, as they’d’ve thought it ‘too old’ for the audience.

Erm. Given what I’ve been able to gather about the average age of the ‘Mudgeons, also further observations elsewhere…this gave me reason for a rather lengthy pause. Apparently I’m not just the only dedicated Bob & Ray fan online, I may be the only Bob & Ray fan anywhere under 45.

Realising you’re this unique on the World Wide Web is, as you can imagine, a deeply bemusing experience. Still, it’s rather a pleasantly knowing one, as compared to…perhaps that one person on TVTropes who keeps adding Jem & the Holograms examples. I’m sorry, love, but there it is. On this side, brilliant, groundbreaking comedy; on the other, the ’80’s version of Hannah Montana.

…About that. Not Hannah, so much as High School Musical. Owing to media saturation around the third edition I have finally figured out what all the hype is about, and I gotta tell you, gang, no offense, but as far as I can tell the reason I hadn’t picked up on it before was because there’s nothing there to pick up. Something like cotton candy on a hot day at the Ex – one swipe, a shrug, and it’s on to the next bright shiny distraction.

Well, maybe not that cheap. I mean, the part where friend[info]shing_ posts hot pictures of shiny wet topless Zac, that I get OK. Not my taste, but I can sincerely appreciate the effort. It’s just that…hell, Jem had the computer gimmick, y’know? And Hannah M. has at least the occasional amusingly surreal Dolly Parton cameo. Maybe the ep I watched was the anomaly, but for one glorious moment Dolly was there. Vicki Lawrence, too. And the ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ guy.

HSM, on the other hand, is…just…there’s no there there at all, except inasmuch as its leads are pretty. Yes, historically this has been justification for quite a lot of pop-culture, but this…this is like a running compilation of all the moments that the teen dream media machine itself considers cliche. Realising that the current craze sweeping the post-millennial nation is based around an episode plot used by every single 80’s sitcom I ever watched (and a healthy few of the 70’s ones, too) is the second most deeply bemusing thing I have encountered this week.

(Especially the ‘Sharpay’ business. I’ve been trying to figure out what seems so wrong about it for awhile now, and it just hit me: A Shar-pei is a dog breed, people. A notoriously goofy-looking dog breed. Yeah, i know that’s the gag, it’s just that…vide Dave Barry…it’s a really stupid gag. I can just about see proud [if slightly dense] new parents gazing down at their little red wrinkly bundle of joy and saying “Awww, doesn’t widdle snookums wook just wike a widdle shar-pei doggers!” But a screenwriter naming their blond bombshell rich-bitch nemesis? Not so much.)

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Heart of iron

Overheard at a crosswalk the other day, while waiting with a couple other women: “What’s Iron Man about, anyway?” “I dunno…but it sounds sooooo cool!”

I submit to you, Gentle Readership, that the above is the classic definition of the perfect summer blockbuster.

This may be a case of preaching to the converted, since the film took in $100mil over this past weekend and I’ve only just downloaded the trailers, but on the off chance you’re still pondering…yeah, this one’ll live up to the hype. They got it right – and possibly only in the world of comic book movies is there so vast a gap between the simple statement and the execution thereof.

It helps that the story of Tony Stark is to begin with one of the most fun, and likely not coincidentally least angsty, sagas in the Marvel pantheon. The story is simple: billionaire playboy industrialist has an epiphany after an assault that leaves him with a dicky heart, stops making weapons and instead designs a reallyreally cool suit of armour that allows him to fly and shoot repulsor blasts and oh yeah, fight crime as….dun-dun-DUUUUUUNNNNIron Man! Yay!

Short version: It’s Batman with less brooding and more…well, more honkin’ cool red-and-gold flying armour, is basically what’s going on here. Did I mention the repulsor blasts?

Seriously, once I saw the armour I knew everything was going to be OK. Actually, I had a strong suspicion long before that, when I first heard that Robert Downey Jr had been signed on as the lead. Want a handle on the movie, even shorter version? That would be it. Downey openly admits he begged for this role.
Besides, as a co-worker who’s squarely in the favoured demographic pointed out to me this morning after seeing it last night, your Eric Banas and ‘Jean-Luc Picards’ are all very well, but to make a real movie, you need real actors. (Of course, she then spent the afternoon googling pictures of that same R. Downey, so make of that what you will.)

Everything’s in place for a supremely rewarding comic book experience – and don’t laugh at that until you’ve tried it. There’s only a rare few media moguls out there who still understand that superheroes are one of mankind’s most fundamental ways of rewarding ourselves.

Rat-a-ta-take that, Shrek

I’ve never been particularly into the Shrek franchise. This is kind of unusual for me in re: clever, hip media; I enjoy a good bandwagon jump as much as the next Net nerd, and have the 25 MST3K videos to prove it. Plus, Eddie Murphy, who as Mushu in Mulan is directly responsible for #2 on my all-time Sidekicks So Good I Bought the Movie list (after Robin Williams in Aladdin) and my sister, who loves the ogre movies, is forever telling me it’s the exact same character, like, really, she swears.

Somehow, though, I’ve been immune to Murphy’s equine charms, and everything else about the animation breakthrough of the millennium. Have always felt vaguely perturbed about that…until last night, when we foregathered around the Ratatouille DVD. Ten – no, five – hell, thirty freaking seconds into that movie, and I was not only vindicated in full but sailing along in full revelatory mode. More