Sunday, December 02, 2012

Domestic Dilemma

I'm fending for myself tonight. My amazing girlfriend is on a business trip to The Big Easy. She's enjoying a well deserved break in a Jazz bar while I forage for sustenance in the fridge. I'm arguably a grown up; I've survived many, many years prior to meeting and tricking her into caring for me -- but suddenly I find myself, like the wounded seal or home-raised tiger, daunted by feeding myself. It's not really that I can't hunt for food. I still know how to order a pizza; it's more that I've been spoiled. Hard to go back to my feral ways. She'll be back in a few days -- thankfully, I have enough belly fat to survive.
One of the many features in our House of Havoc developed for GP Toys.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Miss Switch

Available at Amazon :

Barbara Brooks Wallace is older than you. She has written more books than you. She has won more writing awards than you. But don't feel bad: you can still be apart of her amazing life by reading her latest book.

We have published her most recent novel in her classic children's series, Miss Switch. Available now at Amazon:

Miss Switch The Vile Villains 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Teething Terminator

Let us adore the toddling phase of our future overlords. Cuddle your iPhone, cradle your iPad and help your Roomba over the threshold. For soon, all too soon, like all children, they will roll their cameras at us, speak to us indecipherable gibberish, and leave the refrigerator door wide open.

Cambridge University to open 'Terminator Centre' to study threat to humans from artificial intelligence. via @MailOnline

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hard Choice

If ever given the choice between a rock and a hard place, I'd take the rock. Seems to me a rock can be pretty useful in securing a softer place.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

When Push Comes to Shrug

Such was the case for Gummi Bar
Sometimes I push too hard. I force my will on the unwilling: the inappropriate joke, the disinterested blonde, the bad idea, the dos manos burrito -- all too big for my britches.

Sometimes I shrug too easily. I falter instead of fight; the risky opportunity, the perfect flirt, the crazy idea,  the ambitions of whimsy -- all so daunting when I'm weary.

Always, when push comes to shrug, my regret far outweighs my shame.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Comfort in Faith, Fables and Fabric Whiteners

The miracle of life, love and chocolate is no more diminished by those who corrupt faith for selfish sanctimonious showboating than that of my mocking of a spurious Catholic relic; so here goes. 
Proof of the Divine is no more elusive than my dirty laundry hamper. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Hugging Hurts

Sometimes we need a hug, a friend or sympathetic ear. But mostly we need a swift kick in the rear. Raised by hippies, Sesame Street and Care Bears, we've grown fond of our feelings, our demand for fair, our overly developed sense of sharing. Perhaps the pendulum should swing back just a little so our children can cuddle a friend who's more believable than make believe.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Peace of Mind in Troubling Times

I'm the worst when it comes to planning, but this looming End of the World thing has spurred me to action. For a single dollar, I have purchased insurance and peace of mind. If the world ends on December 21, I'll be financially secure -- can you say the same? While continents crumble and the seas boil over, I'll be sitting pretty with a big payday. Of course, should the world not end, I'll be scrounging the couch for lunch money.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

In this time of thanks and giving, surrounded by loved ones, food and comfort, my problems are small and my blessings are large -- a luxury I know most of the world does not share. And while I can rationalize my blessings as God's will, I can't help but feel survivor's remorse. It becomes cruel to view privilege and opportunity as a lifeboat, room only for a lucky few. This Thanksgiving I offer a simple toast: "We're going to need a bigger boat."

Friday, November 09, 2012

In My Day

My childhood was fraught with previously unperceived dangers. Only with hindsight can I clearly see the rusty nails, the overly affectionate coach and wildly inappropriate entertainment. It's a wonder I survived. Or perhaps it is a trick of my matured mind. Was I protected by my innocence, a shield from sinister forces that so clearly haunt my memories? Or have I given life to bogus boogie men to more easily claim my superior survival skills? Either way, kids today have it way too easy!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The Power of Heroes

I once tied a towel around my neck and stood in the second story window of my parent's house. I was going to save the world, but first someone had to save me. It wasn't going to be my older brother; he was cheering me on. My father was busy building bridges and my mother was scrambling to keep up with my little brother. No, my hero was the shirtless grumpy old man across the street that simply yelled at me to get my stupid butt back inside. I never thanked him for saving my life that day; in fact, I'm pretty sure I egged his house later that year.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

A Climate For Change

In a world of pasteurized politicians, where style over substance is heralded and facts are fodder for fear, I stand resolute in my resignation of party politics and embrace the Barbie for President movement.  Join me.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Turtles From An Alien World?

I still remember getting direction from Playmates Toys about writing the origin story for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It was 1987 and my notes from the development meeting were lean and mean: "We gotta keep it simple, but wacky and weird." I poured over the Eastman and Laird comics, the scant licensing material that was evolving out of Mirage Studios, then repaired to a pizzeria in Pasadena for inspiration. My soon-to-be writing partner, John Besmehn, puzzled along with me. Since this was all about parody, I opted for the classic evolution story. Everyone always gets hung up on how everything came to be the way it is (which is, incidentally, one of the biggest mistakes of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, but I digress).
It all had to be told in four basic panels on the back of the blister card:
1) A teenaged boy's pet turtles accidentally fall into a sewer, coincidentally right next to Splinter, a penniless ninja sensei.
2) Shredder, the notorious enemy of the outcast sensei, in an act designed to kill, pours toxic ooze on Splinter -- and the turtles.
3) Splinter and the Turtles, however, mutate, assuming the traits of whomever they were with most recently. Splinter becomes a rat; the Turtles become teen ninjas.
4) Now the Turtles, guided by Splinter, go out to fight crime, Shredder, and his evil Foot Clan.
The wacky copy went through many revisions, mostly getting honed and tightened so it would fit with the graphics -- all within the upper third of a blister card. This was the original, first-time-ever- seen-in-the-mass-market, backstory for the Ninja Turtles, totally driven by the toy development, which barring a few role-playing games, was the first major licensed product, based on the underground comic books. It should be noted, too, that Playmates Toys, underwrote the original animated mini-series that started the ooze flowing. And ad agency guru, Jerry Sachs, coined the term, Green Against Brick, as the foundation for the tone and flavor of the entertainment property. In other words, Playmates Toys development was driving home many entertainment points.
Now, jump ahead to 2012 and Michael Bay's remarks about the new film he's slated to produce. He slipped in the words "alien race" when he spoke of his vision for the new film at a Nickelodeon summit. Whoa, dude! Suddenly over 25 years of storytelling purity are flushed back into the sewers? "These turtles are from an alien race, and they are going to be tough, edgy, funny and completely loveable," said Bay, who was a mere 22 year-old college grad when the Ninja Turtles burst onto the scene and became a billion dollar phenomenon. Though fans are having a meltdown over this news and denouncing Bay as Satan, truthfully, I'm more distressed at the use of the word 'lovable' than the words 'alien race.'
Once you take into account that the Retro-Mutagen Ooze is a substance created by the Utrom -- yes, an ALIEN race -- it's not that farfetched to call the Ninja Turtles aliens, too. That pink entity at the top of this article is an Utrom. Looks pretty other-worldly to me. This is sourced back to the original Mirage Comics. So Michael Bay, surprise!, is not creating anything new by calling the Turtles aliens. There are plenty of backstories in the animated series, too, where the Turtles encounter aliens -- the Neutrinos, for instance. Turns out the Turtles are quite at home in outer space. Krang is, himself, from the Utrom race.
And in the toy realm, because they are parody-based action heroes, the Turtles also crossed-over with the Star Trek license and became parodied characters, like Spock -- or Star Trek Don as he was called (who I believe is, even by Vulcan-standards, at least half-alien). Over the years, too, there was Space Cadet Raph, Space Hoppin' Mike, Leo, Don and Raph, the four-part Turtles in Space animation, Alien Invasion, The Battle Nexus, and on and on.
But let's murder to dissect and examine the word alien:
1) A foreigner, especially one who is not a naturalized citizen of the country where they are living.
2) A hypothetical or fictional being from another world.
It can surely be agreed and considered inarguable that the Turtles are not naturalized citizens. (But perhaps after 30 years, their application for citizenship should have been approved.)
Fictional beings? There can be no doubt. From another world? Well, partially born of this Earth, partially influenced by a substance from another world, mix that up with sewer muck, and I think you can make a case for calling the Ninja Turtles aliens.
But there's one final component that would really drive the point of parody home. Renaming the property, Teenage Mutant Ninja Alien Turtles. The more, the merrier. The title was originated as over-the-top -- and adding the word 'Alien' certainly pushes it out even further, eh?
Here's the simple sewer truth: the Turtles have been -- and will continue to be -- all about parody. That means everything is fair game -- even being part-alien, from another planet.
Finally, do you really want to argue with the genius behind Transformers 4?

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Just Lucky, I Guess

Yes. That is Carol Channing: Reigning Queen of Broadway. And yes. That is Bruce Vallanch: Reigning -- well -- he's just one of the most spontaneously funny writers and unique personalities around.
Christmas was very special this year -- even more than it usually is -- because my daughter got to perform with both of them as part of a fundraiser for the Dr. Carol Channing & Harry Kullijian Foundation for the Arts, designed to bring critical awareness and support for the arts in our public schools. The spectacle was directed by David Green of Musical Theatre University. Beyond the song and dance from the kids that night, both Carol and her husband, Harry, delivered impassioned presentations on how necessary the arts are to our society. It was a message of great hope, but a call to arms for all of us to make the arts a thriving part of our kids' development and education.
January 31, 2012 is Carol's 91st birthday. Many of the same MTU students were with Carol last year when she celebrated her 90th birthday -- and they sang her "Happy Birthday" following one of their amazing shows. This year, Carol doesn't have Harry, her childhood sweetheart whom she married 70 years later, by her side. Sadly he passed away the day before his 92nd birthday, a mere week after the Christmas Show. He was, in many ways, more vibrant than anyone else on stage that night.
Harry, like Carol, thrived on life. She miraculously left the hospital where she was recovering from a leg infection just to do the show. She argued with her doctor that she had to be there, front and center, for the audience -- but mostly for the kids. Harry joked backstage during rehearsals, "We told the doctor, haven't you heard: 'The show must go on!'" For the record, Carol never missed a performance during her run in Hello, Dolly!
Though Harry's not here anymore, his sharp and fiery passion continue to light the way. The legacy of their foundation also blazes, thanks to David Green, who is also the Executive Director. And Carol's still got showstoppers to perform! After the slick performances and the standing ovations, the venue booked Carol and the kids for next year. last thing: there was no curtain on the stage.

Carol & Blythe, Christmas 2011