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The Case For: Micronauts

The Case For: Micronauts

I am old, which is not a shocking revelation to regular readers of this blog.  (Oh, while I’m thinking about it, let me give a quick shout out to all the Romanian spammers that have been visiting the comments pages!  What up, ya’ll?  Ever notice that your clever spam never actually makes it through?  Here’s a hint, if it’s written in Romanian (or maybe it’s just WingDings?), I will probably catch on that it’s Viagra spam, not a laudatory comment on the sharp content provided here free of charge.  I do enjoy cleaning up the 25 times per day you drop those love notes.  Thanks!)  Anyhoo, back to my being old – most of the CGI-laden nostalgia-fests of recent vintage have been outside my wheelhouse.

I was about 27 when Transformers and GI Joe were popular toys (actually there were some sweet two foot tall GI Joes in the early 70s with sideburns and dog tags that were fantasmal) and cartoons, and thus to me Transformers and GI Joe were just opportunities to see computer images and explosions (and Megan Fox).  No thanks (unless I’m stuck on a plane).  But this is real news to someone of my era: JJ Abrams (Star Trek, a very shitty Superman script) is planning a Micronauts movie. That is fucking awesome!  Well, actually it would be extremely awesome if it was a Micronauts movie.  Will it be based on the sweet-assed late 1970s toys, or the sweet-assed late 1970s Marvel comics?  And, if you are less than half an octagenarian, what the hell are Micronauts/Micronauts anyways?

They were some sweet-assed Japanese toys called Micromen that were relaunched in the US in 1977 under the more sophisticated Micronauts label.  While most dolls – ahem, action figures – of the time were articulated only by having a head that could swivel a full 12 degrees in either direction, Micronauts had bendable arms, legs and a cadre of weapons that could choke a three year old (unfortunately).  They had little guys (Time Traveler, Space Glider, Acroyear) that were far superior to their Star Wars counterparts to come.  Then there were bigger figures that had magnetic interchangeable parts (the dastardly Baron Karza, his white good guy counterpart Force Commander) – these fuckers could become centaurs if you bought their steeds too!  (The seeds of A-Rod’s centaur fixation?)  There were also assorted robots of sizes large and small (Biotron, Microtron), spaceships that could be reconfigured into about 30 other kinds of spaceships (Battle Cruiser – I had this, it was fucking retarded awesome), and an large tube transportation system that promised to turn your living room into a bank deposit window (Rocket Tubes – sadly I got this tremendous gift for X-Mas 1978 and could never get the fucking things to work!  That is right up there with Roger Craig’s fumble in the 1991 NFC Championship Game on my “biggest disappointments” list).

Notice the heavy amount of projectiles?  Pretty fantastic
Notice the heavy amount of projectiles? That's great news if you're a kid that doesn't put everything in your mouth

Back in 1979, before all this interweb hype and just before the era of “cartoons-as-discrete-infomercials” the best way for a toy to get some word-of-mouth was by introducing a comic book to provide a lush backstory (just in case kids’ imaginations were too Charlies Angels-addled to come up with their own).  As with ROM: Spaceknight (a lame toy paired with a pretty lame comic), Marvel comics was there to provide service, and the seminal original Micronauts storyline was born.  Issues #1-12 told the basic story of how the good guy prince was exiled and returned to find the old chief scientist had become a universe-conquering psychopath who had killed his parents and essentially society However, paired with a rag-tag band of misfit robots, centaurs, body banks, hot chicks, bugs, cocker spaniels, Enigma Forces, Captain Universes, etc. the rebel group was able to….you get the picture.  Sure, it sounds a little derivative, and the bad guys have some similarities, but Micronauts actually pre-date Star Wars.  Not the Micronauts comics, of course, they may have borrowed from the somewhat-successful SW canon a tiny bit.

Baron Karza, the bad guy, was pretty fucking bad.  He really had no soft edges; he wanted to be immortal and didn’t see any real problem in using poor people to provide body parts to prolong the life of non-poor people.  He also wanted to control the Microverse (see what they did there?) and kill all the Micronauts.  He wasn’t pleasant, had poor hygiene, and rocked a goatee.  Fucking hated that guy.

Somewhat intimidating
Surprisingly cool to hang with at house parties, knows some pretty ribald jokes

Later artists decided Karza’s image needed a little softening….

Drill bit arms make you look a little thinner, good call
Drill bit epaulets make you look a little thinner

….did I mention he could become a centaur at a whim?

Pulling an A-Rod
Pulling an A-Rod

Even the toy version of Karza had some real gravitas.

Suck on that flexibility, ROM
Suck on that flexibility, ROM

After working with this level of carnage creating deathbots, please excuse me for not getting misty-eyed recalling a Transformer that could turn into a fucking tape recorder.  (Sweet, a tape recorder.  The other one can become a semi, but this one can become a tape recorder?  That’s killer.)  Fuck all those Transformers, I will take some Micronauts – just look at the fucking heat Karza is packing up there!  Big rockets on back?  Check.  Rocket in your gut?  Check?  Fists that double as rockets and you can shoot off?  Check.  Ability to trade your lower body with that of a horse?  Check.

The fucking Micronauts were a little ahead of their time and kids from my era were maybe a little too stupid to fully appreciate their awesomeness.  (Like choking to death on the missiles – that nipped that pretty much in the bud.  Later versions included non-shooting missiles.  Not cool, dude.)  Toys that wasted potential, perhaps?  And the one saving grace for Transformers, the hotness of Megan Fox?  The Marvel comics guys weren’t stupid, they went outside the toy line to create the female lead, Marionette (Princess Mari, had to secretly be a Princess, of course).

No silicon involved here []
Real and spectacular

Will I go see this Micronauts movie if it actually gets made?  Yes, yes I will.  (Particularly if Marisa Miller plays Marionette.)  One huuuuuuuuuuuuggggggggggggggeeeeeee potential downside?  Apparently Marvel Comics retains the rights to some of the characters (like Mari) that were created just for the books.  If they can get those licensing rights, and essentially just tell the story from issues 1-12, the movie will be unreal.  It is the best comic arc that I can recall ever reading and will translate well to the big screen.  Fingers crossed.

(Disclaimer:  I read that stuff over thirty years ago; I recently tried to read some of the original Iron Man comics in Tales of Suspense reprints, and they were unimaginably horrid.  So maybe my tastes have changed in thirty years.  I hope not, cause that shit was the coolest way back when.)

They Came From Inner Space,


The Case For: Spencer Pratt

The Case For: Spencer Pratt

The attractive gentleman pictured above is Spencer Pratt.  I certainly hope that those of you reading these words have no idea who this kid is – God knows I wish I didn’t.  But I have no control over what goes into/out of our (her) DVR, so I’m sometimes subjected to the inanities of shit like The Hills while I’m trying to catch up on the latest posts.  What is The Hills, you might ask?  I’m not really certain, as I can assure you I don’t pay that much attention – there’s a lot of blank-staring, mouth-breathing and white-boy-slang-appropriating going on, as far as I can tell, and not much else.

One thing is for absolute certain though – Spencer, and to an extent his talented wife Heidi (nee Montag), is absolutely hated because of the show.  I avow, aver and whatever else is appropriate that I have never knowingly/willingly tuned in, but through sheer televised osmosis (and the brilliant The Soup) I am aware that somehow there was some feud between Speidi (tabloid monikers rule) and Lauren Conrad (the star of the show who is also a vacant starer/mouth breather).  I believe Speidi-planted allegations that Lauren starred in an amateur sex tape may have started the feud (since when has that been bad for a career in celeb/reality world?).  Since then there has apparently been a lot of acrimony and stuff – you can tell because the silences in the show get awkwarder, the stares vacanter and the breathing mouthier.  And Spencer has really embraced the role of villain, generally stirring up a lot of shit and showing little remorse (including punching some dude for something or other in a bar at some point).  He talks, acts and looks like the epitome of douchebag – actually he goes up a notch, to full-fledged twat.  (Not to plug it again but The Soup brilliantly skewered one recent highlight where Spencer and an idiotic head-bobbing moron friend discussed their plans for the night in 1990 NWA-speak)  Why would I write an extensive, informative, well-thought, reader-friendly, grammatically-correct post to defend this Twat with a Capital T?

Because I think he’s in on the joke.  He’s playing the villain for the Q-rating only, trying to keep his celebrity up while he can.  He’s making money appearing on garbage like I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! and reprising his role as “The Dickmunch”.  Clearly he doesn’t buy into all the bullshit he espouses and it’s (mostly?) an act to keep in the public eye for as long as possible.  Positive NPV move.  The guy has no real talents – he’s his wifes manager, and by all accounts, her music career isn’t going anywhere (new bolt-ons notwithstanding).  What else does he have to offer?  Given his strong identification with the urban world, he can maybe do some duets with Joaquin Phoenix or something, but  that seems unlikely.

It’s a brilliant strategy, really – he’s evolved the Omarosa approach to celebrity.  “I’m a dick, keep your eyes on me because I may do something dickish”.  I swore to myself that I wouldn’t do any research for this post beyond the retardities that I’ve endured with that dreck on in the background, but the kid says some pretty humorous stuff.  On the reality show I’m a Celebrity (and the networks have really taken liberties with the word “celebrity” – a Deal or No Deal model and an anonymous ex-wrestler qualify?), Spencer’s diatribe to “NBC network executive” where he says “we’re megacelebrities and we’re stuck out here with these nobodies” cannot possibly be legitimate.  But I applaud the efforts, and I appreciate that NBC also embraced the couple for the sake of ratings – I like Lou Diamond Phillips as much as the next guy (his wife bailed on him for Melissa Etheridge, for Christ’s sake!), but the casual idiot watching summer tripe such as this is much more familar with Heidi and Spencer.  And apparently the ratings dropped like 20% once Spencer and Heidi departed.  (Full disclosure: This fucking show is on in the background as I’m typing this likely Pulitzer-worthy post).

So I nod my head to you, Spencer Pratt; I would do the exact same fucking act if I were in your shoes.  Just consider maybe shaving and cutting down on the open-mouthedness a bit.

Speidi's better quarter?
Speidi's better quarter?

Chilly17, still wasting potential

The Case for: Funyuns

The Case for: Funyuns






I may take some flack for this post, but I’ve recently reconnected with a childhood love.  Something so delicious, so special, yet so misunderstood – like the “ugly” girl with glasses in a high school comedy (before she puts on a slutty dress, ditches the glasses and wears her hair down).  I’m talking, of course, about the delicious snack food pictured above: Funyuns.  Funyuns get little respect these days, despite a well-established history of satiating little kids and stoners through five different decades (introduced 1969).  They’ve even been immortalized by the Onion (no relation).  And yet, Funyuns are rarely mentioned in the same breath as Doritos, Cheetos or other flavored snack chips (Funyuns sit more on the Bugles tier of the chip hierarchy).   Funyuns have sadly never worn the sluttly dress of public approval.

I however, have always recognized their greatness.  When I was a kid, sometimes I’d be able to finagle a bag into the week’s groceries.  Then I would set about mentally rationing them so they’d last seven days.  They usually lasted 1.5 days – Funyuns just went too perfectly with huge glasses of Pepsi during Atari 2600 marathons.  In my teens, Funyuns and Mountain Dew were two cornerstones of my food pyramid (the rest of the pyramid was comprised solely of the various permutations of the Taco Bell menu, leading to a pyramidal body shape).   

There is some irony here because, as even slight acquaintances of mine know, I friggin hate onions.  I would like to remove them from the universe.  I cannot stand the sight, the texture.  Blugh.  I would like to see all the world’s onions smashed into a fine powder.  Good riddance.  That’s a lot of powder, though – why don’t we mix it up with some corn meal and fry it in ring shapes?

Ha-ha!  See, the geniuses at Frito Lay have fooled the average consumer into believing these are actually fried onions.  They are circular like onion rings (well, in theory – by the time you open the bag they are generally only 10 million c-shaped Funyun fragments in the bag.  A still-intact Funyun is a rare snack food artifact), but they are actually just some onion powder-infused dough fried up like o-rings.  Read the fine print: “Onion Flavored Rings.”  That’s brilliant marketing.

I find Funyuns to be best paired with a turkey + American cheese wrap (you know, in a tortilla).  Add a nice Merlot and you’re all set.  Side benefit: Funyuns pack fewer calories than peer snack foods, so the deliciousness/calories ratio is off the charts.  Also, the “Funyun powder” residue can be used to chalk youth soccer fields, crime scenes, etc.

Although Funyuns are rarely seen as anything but punch-lines in pot-related comedies, there have been a couple of spinoffs – the true mark of a great product.  Like Twix, there’s a wasabi flavored variant (seems a better fit here):




And there’s a Flamin’ Hot offshoot:



Sadly, I haven’t been able to try either of the sequels yet.  But I will purchase on sight.  If the Flamin’ Hots are anywhere near as delish as the FH Cheetos then they are probably a perfect complement to a double bottle of Yellow Tail Shiraz.

The cons of Funyuns?  I can really only think of one: damn they hurt the roof of your mouth!  I thought Scoops were bad!  But it’s the kind of pain that’s worth it, and I think in 2-3 weeks I will have a full upper palate again.

So get off your high horse and grab a bag of Funyuns….I guarantee enjoyment, with only a modicum of damage to the the roof of your mouth.

Well done, Frito Lay, well done….