Saturday, May 31, 2008

Adventures in Agapeland: The Music Machine, chapters one through four

Because this is the kind of thing I do, I bought the book of The Music Machine on eBay. I mentioned before that I encountered it once, but that was at least ten years ago, so while I basically remembered the plot, I didn't really know the specifics. So here it is, The Music Machine by Samuel Wright, fifteen chapters, 142 pages, one illustration per chapter.

Chapter One - The Forest
The whole thing begins as a story-within-a-story as Stevie and Nancy implore their grandfather to tell them a story. So he pulls a book off the shelf and starts reading them a story about themselves. In this story, Stevie and Nancy are sitting on a hill, making up stories, when Nancy decides she wants to explore the nearby woods, so they both roll down the hill and end up not in Wiley Woods but someplace else entirely. This place is described in tons of detail, which is fine and all, but I know they're in Agapeland (and the kids at home do, too, since they specifically asked for a story about Agapeland), so I'd rather Mr. Wright cut to the chase. Anyway, Nancy wants to explore, but Stevie would rather stay where they are than get lost, but he goes along eventually. And they encounter birds and butterflies, but nobody else, and Stevie starts to hear music that Nancy can't, although she does hear it eventually. While they follow the music, Nancy concludes that the forest is enchanted, which is something she'll bring up about just about everything she encounters throughout the book, so I'm just mentioning it now. Finally they reach a clearing, which Nancy insists is a Royal Meadow, and they see something that they have no clue what it is. They don't get to find out, either, because we go straight to

Chapter Two - Mr. Pimms

In an entirely different forest, late in the afternoon, a bunch of short, ugly figures are sitting by a fire. Then a dapper young man in a top hat comes out of the woods and starts yelling at them for making a fire while the sun is still out. They are Boogwart, Snard, and Growdy, three Pudgians, and he is Mr. Pimms of the chapter title, apparently a human. The point of this chapter is to introduce this crew, since they will soon be setting the plot in motion. The Pudgians are not very smart and rather uncouth, but Mr. Pimms is by all appearances a gentleman, even dressed in an ascot, with a prized ring that he wears under his gloves. Which is what you would do if you wore gloves all the time, but I never thought about it before. He also has a pet rat named Oswald.
Their meeting is to discuss how to pull off a vaguely referred to "plan," which Mr. Pimms masterminded. He plies them with flattery, and the drink doesn't hurt, either. The chapter ends with them vaguely finalizing their plans, and going their separate ways.

Chapter Three - The Music Machine

I'd really rather not get back to the kids, but the story has to proceed, and it really can't until they find out what that thing they saw in the first chapter is, so here we are, back with Stevie and Nancy as they try to figure out just what this treasure chest with a smoke stack, buttons, and levers is all about. Nancy thinks it must make candy and Stevie gets mad her, convinced this is a machine for SCIENCE! And then Nancy starts pushing all the buttons but nothing happens, so Stevie's all "I will solve this with SCIENCE!" but he doesn't do any better than she did. Nothing they do works, and it's starting to get dark. So Stevie's all "I wanted to stay where we were, and now we're lost in an enchanted forest," to Nancy, and then they hear something coming, and it takes forever to get there. Long enough for Nancy to freak out three times and for them to hide behind the chest. And something touches Stevie's head...

Chapter Four - A Pleasant Surprise

The kids freak for another two paragraphs before finally they turn around see Mr. Conductor, who, like on the album, introduces himself at The Conductor. Also like on the album, he already knows Stevie and Nancy, and so they press him for answers about where they are and how they got there. He answers the obvious one (they're in Agapeland) but never actually tells them how they got there. Stevie's more interested in how they'll get back, but Mr. Conductor assures them that they'll go home when the time is right and nobody will ever know they were gone. How very C.S. Lewis. After finding out that Mr. Conductor (along with "many interesting people") lives in the forest, Nancy gets it in her head that he's some kind of prince, and Stevie finally connects that the thing that touched his head at the end of the last chapter is the same stick Mr. Conductor is holding. Mr. Conductor explains that it's a baton that he uses to conduct music, and the kids remember what lead to this whole encounter: the music they heard in the forest. So finally Mr. Conductor tells them that the contraptions is the Music Machine and it was what made the music they heard.
The narrator explains how the Music Machine is what brings life to Agapeland, and that without it, the land would die, but it's okay because nothing's ever happened to it. *cough cough* foreshadowing *cough cough* And Mr. Conductor tells them how to use the Music Machine, and to demonstrate he sticks an antique musical note (made out of what? It isn't specified) in the machine, and it makes the usual noises before playing its theme song. Mr. Conductor conducts during the song, but since it's a machine, does that really do any good? Also, the lyrics are part of the text. This happens anytime a song is mentioned, with the copyright information appearing at the bottom of the page.
After the song, Mr. Conductor invites the kids to put something in, but all they have is a piece of string, but Mr. Conductor puts it in anyway, all smug, and the String Song from the album plays. When the string comes out, Stevie puts it back in his pocket, thinking it might be useful someday. Foreshadowing? (I don't remember. Sorry.) So they spend the rest of the day putting things in the Music Machine, but eventually it gets dark. Mr. Conductor tells them he has a place for them to sleep, but first he has to polish the entire Music Machine, since Stevie and Nancy got their fingerprints all over it. While he does this, there's more foreshadowy talk about how important the Music Machine is, and Mr. Conductor tells them about an upcoming festival (in the season of Dosca *_*) where they get Sacred Writings that go in the Music Machine and create the music for another year. These documents MUST be put in by the seventh day of the festival, or else. Also, the documents come from Majesty, the king (and apparently creator) of all Agapeland.
Then there's a lot of going through Agapeland description that I'm skipping before they get to a clearing where Mr. Conductor has the kids plant a seed. He pours some water of the seed and BLAMMO! It grows into a huge tree with a house inside. Inside the house is their dinner, and while they eat Mr. Conductor warns them about that other place, the Anti-Agapeland, called Aire (Kingdom of the Air, eh? I'm not sure if that's clever or just blatant.) Then he tucks the kids into bed, promising to show them more of Agapeland tomorrow. But the narrator warns us that evil is afoot...

And that's about all I can take right now. I'll get the next few chapters up in a couple of days.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Disney Fairies Manga!?

During my trip a couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to get to a Japanese bookstore, and by sheer chance I peek at the children's book section. And what did I find there? Disney. Fairies. Manga. There were two volumes, based on the books "Vidia and the Fairy Crown" and "The Trouble with Tink" and I bought them both. They generally follow the plot of the books, but there are some differences. For one thing, "Vidia and the Fairy Crown" is listed as the first volume, and it has a scene at the beginning where Vidia gets the invitation and and crumples it up, calling it "trivial." And "The Trouble with Tink" includes a flashback for Tink of when Wendy came to Neverland.
Here are some scans I made. Some of them didn't come out very well, though. The artist has an interesting style (I'm not sure what her last name is, but her first name is Haruhi), and she tends to give the fairies fangs. Which makes an odd sort of sense, actually, but it's not the first thing I would have thought of.

Vidia and the Missing Royal Crown. (Vidia to Kieta Oukan)
The back cover
Inside Pic of Vidia (color)
Inside Pic of fairies swinging (color)
Vidia's page of exposition; she spies Tink and Rani (2 pages)
Tink gets mad at Vidia, Vidia says she's not coming to the party (2 pages)
Vidia gives her famous line about the crown
Florian shares her news about the missing crown
Depressed Vidia after the meeting
Prilla in front of Vidia (Very cute)
Prilla wants to help Vidia
Vidia accepts Prilla's help (sort of)
Upon realizing that nobody saw Aiden, Vidia takes off!
Everyone in shock after Aiden uses his drill (panel)
Vidia and Twire
Lympia remembers she never took the velvet bag out of the carrier
Prilla helps herself to a cupcake, Vidia questions Nora
Looking at the fake crowns (panel)
Dupe explains about the fake crowns
Vidia refuses to help
Vidia says the poem super quiet
Vidia has the real crown!
At the hearing
Everyone realizes that they were wrong about Vidia (2 pages)
Vidia smiles her 'thank you' to Prilla (2 pages)
Profiles of the fairies in the story (2 pages)
Four panel comics (2 pages, translated)
More four panel comics (2 pages, translated)

It's kind of odd, but when I read the books, I hear Vidia as sounding like an accentless Eva Gabor (it's all the "darlings" she throws around), but when I read the manga, she sounds like a combination of Chieko Honda and Kaori Mizuhashi.

Tinkerbell's Secret (Tinkaa*Beru no Himitsu)
Back cover
Inside pic of Tink (color)
Portrait of fairies with Queen Clarion (color)
Terence comes to visit Tink at work (2 pages)
Tink gets excited about the game of Tag
Terence tells Tink he's glad she came...but she's gone
Violet shows up for her pot (cropped)
Dulcie promises Strawberry Pie
Vidia's page of exposition
Prilla waves to Tink (panel)
Rani makes a huge fountain (particularly bad scan, panel)
Dinner with the Pots and Pans fairies (2 pages)
Flashback of Peter Pan and Wendy (2 pages)
Tink and Mother Dove (panel)
Peter and Terence (panel)
Tink says goodbye to Peter
Bonus comics (2 pages, translated)

About the bonus comics, I translated the title as "Small and Cute Fairy Diary," but the first word is actually more like "Tiny."
Of course, after I got all this scanned and edited, I found out that Tokyopop is releasing the manga this August. orz

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Moomin Comics

As promised, here are a few of the strips from the first two volumes of the Moomin comics:

This is the one I described in the earlier post, except I forgot that Sniff was the one peddling the elixir, not Moomin.

I kind of want to make a Pirates of the Caribbean reference, but I can't make it come out right. The pirates go one about the rum for a few more strips, if that tells you anything.

I just like the middle panel.

I also particularly like the little turn of phrases that occur from time to time, such as rich Aunt Jane describing herself as a "millionairess." And when questioned on her crush on Mr. Brisk, the Mymble responds, "He's a he-man...but I don't think he sees me as a she-miss."

You had to be there

Ah man, today's Dominic Deegan so makes me want to make an "Option Side" joke, but the only people who would get it are people who went to a KND board I don't go to any more. But I can't not make it, so I'm posting it here anyway. Thus, my commentary on this strip is "They should have known better than to go to the Option Side."

I guess I really should explain that. You see, on that board there was thread for adding your own captions to screenshots from the show, and a running joke started about a resort with a "Clothing Optional" side, which quickly got shortened to Option Side. This was apparently the only reason these characters went to the resort ^_~. And there you have it.

Also, I'm saddened that The Committee Song from Babar the Movie is only available in French and Finnish on Youtube. The comments on today's Skin Horse make me want to post the opening lyrics over there, but I can't remember them. If only I still had my old computer...I had all the lyrics written down there.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What I'm Reading - Moomin Comics!

There are Moomintroll comics! And you can get them in hardcover (if you're like me, they're at your local library)!
I don't know why I'm so excited about this. I mean, growing up, I only read one of the books (Finn Family Moomintroll), and I never saw the cartoons or anything. But from what I've read, the comics are very charming, with an interesting sense of humor. I'll scan a couple to show you what I mean when I have a chance, but I wanted to get this post out sooner rather than later.
I do end up sitting on a lot of posts because I want to add images, and I usually have to do some editing (especially with the screenshots).

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

What I Read - Tales of the City

I just finished Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin today, after renewing it twice. It was originally a newspaper serial in the 70's, so all the chapters are pretty short, like two and a half pages each. I decided to read it when I heard the guys from Avenue Q are making it into a musical; I'd never even heard of it before then.
That said, this book is VERY Seventies. Which is maybe why I had a hard time slogging through it, despite the short chapters. Still, I may have only been able to read it in bits and spurts, but I'm sure others wouldn't have this problem. The story is written in an interesting way, with characters weaving in and out of the story and the other characters' lives on a whim. This makes for great interconnectivity revelations, but occasionally left me thinking, "Who's this character again? Do I know them?" I mean, it's a little meaningless to have a chapter end with one character accusing the other with "I know about you and Lexy!" if you can't recall who Lexy is. And I can't blame that one on my on-and-off reading of the book, since I read the chapter where that character was introduced just one day before I read the chapter with the accusation.
Mainly, though, I could see exactly why someone (multiple someones, even) would think that this could be a musical. The characters are both recognizable and yet slightly larger than life. And again, all the drama that goes with the interconnectivity makes for great theater, musical or otherwise. In fact, it's already been a miniseries.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sushi Pack - So Says Who and Darkness and Spice

It's about time, right? Yeah, things have been crazy around here lately, but now I bring you the eps I've been promising for, what, a month? Yeah. First, an episode of pure Tako/Maguro shipping glee ^_^

So Says Who?
This ep starts right in the middle of the mission, with Tako and Maguro arguing as they hurtle through space in a box attached to an asteroid. Obviously some kind of sinister plot, but how did they get here from there, Mr. Shepard? Each accuses the other of causing the mess they're in, so maybe it's time for a flashback...
Earlier in the day, Maguro discovered Apex (a returning villian who actual appeared before?! No way! He was in World's Tastiest Heroes, by the way) was on the loose, thanks to her new crime detection software. Meanwhile, Tako discovered their rented DVDs were overdue! Ignoring him, Maguro issued orders like a pro, ready to pounce on Apex before he managed to commit any crimes.
Wait! Tako interrupts Maguro's flashback to correct her: it all started when the crime detection device he rigged up detected Apex, no thanks to Maguro's dedication to her star charts, which told her to reorganize her sock drawer, even though she doesn't wear socks. Tako organized the Pack and got ready to roll!
This time Maguro objects to Tako's characterization of her, but Tako points out that it doesn't matter, since they're stuck in space and all. If only they could signal the others back on Earth...
Which is just what the rest of the Pack is trying to do. Ben suggests activating the tracking devices, but since Tako and Maguro are outside of the 25,000 mile range, it's no good. Maguro predicts their imminent doom down to the second, and Tako once again tells her that if she'd followed his orders, they wouldn't need to know how soon they would meet their doom. Maguro insists that her orders were the ones to be followed, so Tako flashes back again...
Tako, Ikura, and Wasabi ran into Apex in a dark alley, and after a few quick quips, they attacked! In the end, Apex was nowhere to be found, but the alley was now very colorful. Who should happen to show up at that point in time but the mayor! Fortunately, he liked it, and took Tako back to City Hall to give him an award. Despite this high point, Maguro points out that Tako let Apex get away. Tako isn't phased by her accusations, but there's little they can do at that moment, anyway.
Back on Earth, Kani backtracks Tako and Maguro all the way to City Hall, and Ben goes to check with the Mayor for the real deal. On the asteriod, Maguro remembers finding residue from Apex's spaceship on the sidewalk (at night? I thought this all happened during the day), and using said residue to pinpoint his current location. She and Kani ran to the same alley that Tako had been in before, still very colorful. Ikura and Wasabi ran into her there, asking for leadership, but before she could give them any, the mayor showed up again. This time he pitched a fit about the mess, and took Maguro to City Hall to get cleaning supplies. The others continued to pursue Apex on Maguro's order.
But that's all either of them can remember. Once they got to City Hall, everything became a blur, and somehow they ended up on the asteroid. By that time, Kani's figured out that Tako and Maguro are in space, and Wharf City is going to be hit by an asteroid in just three minutes, according to Sophia Tucker, Roving Reporter. Tako and Maguro argue semantics, and Maguro tries to meditate. Down on the ground, the rest of the Pack turned the City Hall flag pole into an electromagnet, making a forcefield that can alter the asteroid's course(!), sending it to Wharf City's local hot springs and camping ground (closed for the season). Still, Ben panics about the asteroid's estimated level of devastation, but Kani reassures him that the asteroid will actually hit a geyser which just happens to erupt every 27 days at 11:07 on the dot, which apparently is right now. Sure enough, the geyser goes off, the asteroid hits it, and no devastation occurs.
The box holding Tako and Maguro goes flying off the asteroid and lands in front of the rest of the Pack; Wasabi does a happy dance. Kani gets them out right quick, and Tako and Maguro wonder just what happened, really? Ben checks the script and lets them know that they were both right and both wrong. Here's what really went down:
Apparently, Apex was planning revenge on the Sushi Pack. Kani discovered he was back in town with the Crime Detector that she made (that makes the most sense, really). Once they split up, Apex disguised himself as the Mayor (the real mayor being on vacation during all this) and shot Tako and Maguro into space. But he didn't plan on them hitting the asteroid, sending it off course, and sending them to their almost doom (which probably would have been all right with him, too). Maguro hypthesizes that the crash affected their memories, which is why there flashbacks were all messed up (if amusing). Tako adds that the crash was no excuse for how they treated each other, and goes on a quick spiel about respecting each other, even when they don't see eye-to-eye. Wasabi, meanwhile, agrees with him just a little too much, as if saying, "Yes! This is an aesop I can get behind 100 percent!!" Ending with the following quip:
Maguro: Tako, I like the way you think!
Tako: Me, too!

Ah yes, there's the narcissist we all know and love. But that doesn't hide the fact that Apex got away, as Wasabi points out. But Kani had one more trick up her sleeve: she managed to divert a stream of water from the geyser to Apex's exact location, thoroughly annoying him, and upping his danger of rusting. And that's that.

This episode is a lot of fun to watch, but not as much fun to summarize, really. There's a lot of back and forth between the dialogue on Earth and on the asteroid that I'm not doing justice to here, and the banter between Tako and Maguro has to be seen for yourself.

Darkness and Spice
Now this ep was fun to watch and fun to summarize. It's the first to focus on Uni, which is odd, but then again, as we learned in this episode, so is he. It turns out that he's the Sushi Pack's worst foe not because he's seemingly invincible, as his profile claims, but because he is certifiably insane (which is saying something on this show)!

Things start out quickly, with the mayor briefing the Pack on their latest mission. He tries to illustrate it with a photo, but produces one of himself instead of their intended target, Uni. What I love about this part is that the mayor makes it clear in no uncertain terms just how insane Uni is. The sea urchin, working alone for a change, has been robbing amusement parks, or more specifically, the guests inside, taking all the change he can find. Tako and the mayor narrow down the possible locations for his next heist to Looneyland.
Later, as the Pack preps for the mission, Wasabi reveals that he is deathly afraid of the dark, and he hugs a salt shaker to show his resolve to not go to Looneyland at night. Ikura gets the truth out of him: he's really afraid of the Headless Horseradish, a spectre that comes out at night and eats mustard ("Trippy," comments Ikura). Ikura isn't very sympathetic, but Tako uses calming words and nicknames ("Come on, Wasab," he says), and Maguro tries using dramatic poses to coax Wasabi into going, but this only results in him hugging the napkin canister and crying harder. Ben comes to the rescue and tells Wasabi about his *cough cough* "friend" who got freaked out after watching a movie called Vampire Bus and developed a fear of buses. So Ben rode the bus with his *cough cough* friend, and everything was okay after that. Moral: having someone to rely on makes facing your fears easier. Ikura apologizes and promises to smack up any horseradish they encounter, making Wasabi giggle.
By the time they hit the amusement park, it's already dark, even though the park's probably been open for hours. Wasabi is still pretty spooked, so Tako recommends focusing on the job at hand and watching out for Uni. Little do they know, Uni is right under their noses, masquerading as some dude's pocket. With change in hand, he shapshifts back into himself and takes it to his hideaway, where he outlines his plan to nobody: he'll use the change to play the carnival games and win enough stuffed animals to make a stuffed army, with himself as Colonel! Why not just steal the stuffed animals, we don't know. Maybe he likes the thrill of the games?
Uni continues his crime spree, morphing into roller coaster cars and snack stand counters, even a cash register drawer. With his constant shifting, the Pack can't get a handle on him. Ikura takes off on his own to try and do something, and Tako sends Kani to go after him. Kani refuses, calling Ikura "a cement-headed salmon." Lover's quarrel? Maguro goes instead, chastising Kani. Perhaps she knows what's going on? Meanwhile, Tako, Kani, and Wasabi heed the call of a recently robbed fairgoer, and chase after Uni. Tako proposes they split up, him and Wasabi in the back and Kani in the front, until Wasabi points out that the back is probably darker, so he goes with Kani instead.
On their own, Kani tells Wasabi a tale from her pre-sushi days, all about how she used to be afraid of oven mitts (which she calls oven mittens here) and how she had to face that fear, and thus Wasabi should face his, too. Wasabi, naturally, does not want to do this, but Kani forces him to go in a haunted house with her.
Meanwhile, Uni spots the Ferris Wheel and sees an easy way to get a lot of change fast, enough to promote himself to General. Although this is not how Ferris Wheels work in real life, Uni pushes a lever that makes it goes super-fast! (Now, I've operated a Ferris Wheel, so I can tell you, those things are not built for speed. At all.) Ikura and Maguro spy the wheel activity and split up: Maguro will try and help the people on the ride and Ikura will get the others so they can take down Uni once and for all. Back with the others, Wasabi is more scared than ever after his haunted house experience, and Tako chews out Kani for her lack of judgment. He extends this chewing out to blabbing to Ikura once he shows up, leaving Kani to stew on what she views as an unfair accusation.
Back at the Ferris Wheel, Uni revels in the change raining down on him and reveals more of his plan: with the stuffed animals he'll win from the carnival, he'll liberate more stuffed animals from all the toy stores in Wharf City! But for what purpose? We never actually find out. I guess when you're as deranged as Uni, you don't really need a reason. With the whole Pack assembled, Tako goes to try and slow down the Ferris Wheel while the other distract Uni. Maguro tries to reassure Wasabi with a stupid analogy about coins and fear, but it doesn't work. Kani tells the others that she'll take care of Wasabi; Maguro is skeptical, but what choice do they have?
Tako goes straight to the wheel's middle to slow it down, and Maguro and Ikura charge Uni. But Uni transforms into a screen and bounces back their attack, and Tako loses his grip on the wheel. While all that is going on, Kani apologizes to Wasabi for trying to cure him of his fear against his will, and goes on about fear for a little bit. The main point being that action is better than doing nothing. She even starts to tear up and apologizes again, but there's no time for that now! The rest of the Pack need help! She starts to go and asks Wasabi if he'll be okay by himself, but he decides to come with her and help.
They charge at Uni, but he turns into a bellows and blows them away, straight into the Ferris Wheel's main power. All the lights turn off, and Wasabi cowers in fear (I can attest to this, when the Ferris Wheel lights turn off for the night, it gets really dark, really fast). Kani tells him its okay, and goes after Uni again. This time he turns into a pincher himself and goes after Kani, crowing about how he'll soon be Admiral Uni, in charge of all stuffed animals. Since Kani hasn't been privy to his plans, this basically comes out of the blue, and she comments on the appropriateness of his chosen venue (called, after all, Looneyland). But he gets a grip on her and flips her out of the way. Wasabi freaks out, allowing Uni to sneak up on him and, shifting into a slingshot, fling him away. Landing in some kind of hole, Wasabi's flame lights up the night, giving him new resolve (why didn't he do that earlier? I mean, when you've got a flame on your head, why fear the dark?), and he helps Kani out of the hole she landed in, while filling her in on his plan of attack.
This time around, Wasabi attacks the coins directly, heating them up so Uni can't hold onto them. Meanwhile, Kani fiddles around with the Ferris Wheel controls until the ride comes to a stop, and Wasabi makes a fiery cage for Uni. The others show up (where were they, come to think of it?) and congratulate Wasabi and (at Wasabi's insistance) Kani. Kani assumes that her story helped Wasabi, but Tako bursts in with "Here's a story I never get tired of: We Are the Sushi Pack!" No, really. Just that fast and abrupt. They do the signature end of episode catchphrase and bam, the episode is over.

Okay, if Fat Wasabi is the cutest Wasabi, then Scared Wasabi is the second cutest, for real.
And all the Kani/Wasabi interaction was too cute, too. It's too bad Tako spent most of his time with Kani and Wasabi being mad, or it would have been a perfect triad of cuteness ^_^

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Sushi Pack Rankings - Wasabi

Ranking #5 - Wasabi

Last and least, Wasabi. Granted, there's nothing all that wrong with Wasabi, per se, but I'm just sick and tired of him. And here are the reasons why:
  • One, I really don't like characters that don't talk. Whether they just don't say anything, or they speak unintelligibly but the others understand him, there's something about those characters that rubs me the wrong way. Drives me nuts. It's probably because I work with the public on a daily basis, and let me tell you, people who don't talk to you when you talk to them are really creepy in real life.
  • Two, there are way too many episodes that focus on him! Out of the episodes that focus on one character learning a lesson (as opposed to the group or two or more characters), he's been the focus of the majority of them (six), even more than Tako!
  • Mind you, this wouldn't be so bad if his lessons were remotely interesting. But they almost always follow the same vein: Wasabi gets offended, and this negatively effects the mission of the day. Rarely is his own attitude brought up, it's always the other members of the team (or Ben) who are in the wrong. So, of the six episodes focusing on him, he's only really learned a lesson in one of them! (Maybe two, if you count having his dreams crushed in Sweet Tooth as a lesson.)
I will grant you that Wasabi is awfully cute, which I blame entirely on his huge eyes, which are meant to show that he's the youngest Pack member (I'm assuming, anyway). But cuteness can only carry a character so far...

Adventures in Care-a-lot Episode 10

At last, the long awaited Episode 10. The first part is very good, the second part, not so much.

This ep opens with a shot of Grizzle's lair underscored by organ music. That, right there, is win. Sadly, the organ music doesn't last, but we do get right down to Grizzle's latest plan. This time around, he's created a machine that will turn all of Care-a-lot into a replica of his "beautiful lair." But how to get it into Care-a-lot? Down in the land of the Care Bears, Oopsy's helping Grumpy work on something or other, with things predictably taking a turn for the worse, ending with the two of them making a break for it before being crushed by basically everything in Grumpy's garage. Funshine and Cheer are summoned by the destruction, and they try to find something Oopsy can do without ruining anything too much while Grumpy stews and fixes his garage.
Meanwhile, Grizzle tries to get ahead of the game by watching the latest episode of AiCal, and sees Funshine and Cheer giving Oopsy a job painting the fence just outside of town. This inspires him: what better way to get his machine into Care-a-lot than to use an actual Care Bear?
Oopsy, easily influenced, at first jumped at the chance to paint the fence since Funshine called it important, but covered in paint, he can't help but question the actual importance of the job. Grizzle plays on both of these points when he approaches Oopsy, saying he needs "an important bear for an important job." Oopsy instantly assumes Grizzle is up to no good, but Grizzle claims to have turned over a new leaf and has a gift to prove it. When Oopsy demands to know what kind of gift it is, Grizzle does some quick thinking and tells him it'll make Care-a-lot smell like flowers. Oopsy still isn't sold, so Grizzle makes him a deal: Oopsy can bring the machine to Care-a-lot personally to make sure it's perfectly fine. Oopsy still isn't sold, so Grizzle hooks him by saying he'll just find someone more important. Oopsy takes the bait, of course, and goes to get a Cloud Car.
Up in Grizzle's lair, Oopsy identifies Grizzle's "gift" by its scent, throwing Grizzle off for a moment, but he recovers. And it turns out that Oopsy really just smelled the paint, which he brought with him for some reason. He shows it to Grizzle and ends up dousing the machine. Oops. Back in Care-a-lot, Grumpy's garage is almost as good as new, so Cheer decides to go see how Oopsy's doing on the fence. Grumpy implores her to keep Oopsy over there are long as possible, but she's not having any of it. Back at the lair, Grizzle cleans off his machine and claims it's working perfectly, although I wonder how he can tell. Obviously, it isn't working, as it lets loose a gush of paint right on Grizzle. Oopsy gets inspired by this, and goes to get more paint to paint the machine. Grizzle protests, and Oopsy tries to stop, but slips on some paint, and accidently activates all of Grizzle's robots! They all go haywire, even UR-2, but the hammer-bot from Ice Creamed does actual damage to Grizzle's machine. Cut to commercial.
By the end of the commercial break, Grizzle and Oopsy have mostly cleaned up the resulting mess. Although he's stewing inside, Grizzle thanks a self-deprecating Oopsy for helping him discover and correct "design flaws" in his machine. Now it's ready to go to Care-a-Lot. Oopsy promises to be extra careful, and pulls this off by taking each step extra slowly and keeping an eye out before making a move. The slow going, or possibly the annoying sound effect of each step, frustrates Grizzle, and he tells Oopsy to get a move on, startling the Care Bear, and naturally ending with the machine in pieces. A few more adjustments and the machine is now drop-proof, if a little heavy. Oopsy takes off with it as Grizzle crows of his plan's imminent success.
Unfortunately, the machine is too heavy for Oopsy, so he goes to Grumpy's garage (Grumpy is conveniently absent) and borrows a handtruck (I think that's what they're called), making it easy to move the machine from place to place. Until it gets away from him and rolls downhill, of course. The machine falls off the handtruck and bounces around the town square a little before falling into the fountain and shorting out. Meanwhile, Grumpy, Funshine, and Cheer survey the fence Oopsy painted (ah, so that's why they weren't at the garage). Funshine thinks Oopsy did a good job, while Grumpy snarks on how the fence wasn't all that got painted. Despite a snarky Grumpy being the cutest Grumpy, Cheer quickly shuts down his attitude by pointing out that he wouldn't like hearing Oopsy say that about him, now would he? Grumpy admits she's right, and remarks that Oopsy did actually do a good job on the fence. This revelation is short lived as a new one crops up: Grizzle's footprint in some spilled paint! They quickly jump to the conclusion that Oopsy is with Grizzle, and Grumpy is the first to say they need to save him. Funshine calls him on this, since he's just wanted Oopsy out of the way this whole episode, so Grumpy explains that despite being Oopsy being Oopsy, he doesn't want to see him in trouble. So off they go to launch a rescue mission!
During all that, Oopsy brought the machine back to Grizzle, who is understandably exasperated by this time. But he fixes the machine yet again, making it waterproof, and sends Oopsy off once again. Back in Care-a-lot, Grumpy rallies the others to help Oopsy, unaware that Oopsy has already arrived with the machine. Grumpy greets him cheerfully, but does not hug him, and then asks about the machine. Oopsy explains that it's from Grizzle, and as he goes to turn it on, everyone else runs for cover. But in the process of making the machine waterproof, Grizzle inadvertantly blocked the on switch, and Oopsy can't get it to start working. The others are relieved, but curious as to why it would be waterproof in the first place. So Oopsy tells them about how he helped Grizzle find all the design flaws, and Grumpy tells him that he ended up saving Care-a-lot. Cheer points out that he did something important in the end (and Love-a-lot is looking at his butt for some reason). Grumpy congratulates Oopsy, apologizes for being impatient with him lately, and gives him a pat on the shoulder. He also mentions another important job...
The two take Grizzle's machine into the garage, but we don't get to see what goes down, although we do hear the sound of more destruction. But as Grumpy says, "That's just what I wanted to hear." Up in his lair, Grizzle continues watching the episode, getting antsy because he knows the episode's almost over, but nothing has happened to Care-a-lot yet. While he implores the TV, Grumpy and Oopsy show up bearing the results of the latest design flaw: a single spring which proceeds to bounce all around the lair, eluding Grizzle's grasp. And the episode is over.

Share and Share Alike
It's another fine day in Care-a-lot, and Oopsy leaps from his upside-down house to go help Share with her garden, even drawing a flower on his belly. But Share just barely stops him from crushing the flower of her Rootbear plant, which makes a drink that makes you float. I'd just like to point out that I don't like root beer. Not really relevant to the episode, but if I seem less than enthusiastic during this post, that's why. Also, apparently the plant only ripens once a year. So they go and invite the rest of the core five to share the floats with them later on (Grumpy makes a pun that is utterly lost on Share). Harmony happens to be with Cheer when Share invites her, so Harmony gets an invite, too. Share foreshadowingly tells them she'll have just enough for everyone she's invited. Just as she exits the scene, Love-a-lot shows up and hears about the floats, but gets disappointed when she hears there won't be enough for her. She starts to walk off, but Harmony tells her that one more probably won't make a difference.
Later, Share and Oopsy stick the root into a machine (hopefully, they washed it first) that makes the floats, and Share lets Oopsy have the first one. He goes floating off, and Share tells him it's okay to go outside, so I guess it's not that powerful after all (not like the Fizzy Lifting Drinks from Wonka's, y'know). Share's about to have a cup herself when Grumpy and Wingnut show up, and she gives up her cup. Later again, there's a montage of the rest of the core five floating around. Wingnut, being a robot, doesn't get a float, but Share's just about to have hers when Love-a-lot shows up. Although she doesn't remember inviting her, Share shares anyway, reasoning that she still has enough left.
But it's not just Love-a-lot who shows up uninvited. Enough bears show up to make Share wonder where they come from. Hate to break it to ya, honey, but you live in Care-a-lot. Word gets around. More and more bears partake of her floats, and soon she's down to just two cups. She tells Wingnut that she needs to be able to say no, but of course, she's incapable of turning down Surprise and Tenderheart. Upon realizing that it is all gone, she rants to Wingnut about how she waited a whole year for this and didn't get any. She goes out and takes out her anger on the floaters and then storms off. The others wonder what caused that, Harmony confesses that she was the one who invited all the other freeloaders. Oh, Harmony, don't be so hard on yourself. Word would have gotten out one way or another. You know Care Bears can't keep a secret. Still, she feels bad that Share feels bad, and so do the others, so they come up with a plan to cheer her up...
Up on the thinking cloud, Share sits in a snit. Harmony approaches her, but gets snitted at. She admits they were wrong to drink all the floats, but Share says she wanted to share (it's her namesake, after all), so maybe she's just being selfish. And there's a lot of lessony stuff that I really don't want to write up here. And then the others show up with balloons so she can float, too, and everything ends happily. Finally.

The downfall of the second episode, IMO is that it showcases a rather odd lesson. And, I hate to say it, but I didn't really care about Share's plight. Ah well. Interestingly enough, the first episode didn't really have an overarching lesson, which might be why I liked it better ^_~ Sure, it had a bit tacked in at the end, but the majority of it was just fun at Grizzle's expense (but not in a bad way).

Friday, May 16, 2008

Special on the road Edition! - The Little Mermaid

As I type this post (and the one before it), I'm sitting in an airport terminal, weathering a delay in my flight to see my fiancé on his home turf. Now, I love to travel, especially by plane, although a good car trip is fun, too. And I always try to have a new CD or two to listen to during the flight. Luckily for me, I hit the jackpot at my favorite library (which I hadn't been able to visit for a couple of monthe, which is probably why I was able to find so many CDs I hadn't seen there before), and I was able to check out a few OCRs that I'd been meaning to listen to. The only one I've gotten to listen to so far is the Broadway version of The Little Mermaid. And from what I've listened to so far, I like it, although I keep getting all misty-eyed from nostalgia. The movie came out right when I was starting to retain movies, and my younger sister fell in love with it so completely that my older sister can quote the entire movie word-for-word from how often she watched it.
Anyway, the real reason I'm posting this is due to Sherie Renee Scott, who plays Ursula. Now, the only other thing I really know her from is the musical of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (great show, btw. I love the songs, and the script is pretty funny, too), but her performance here is very different from what she did there (completely different characters, so it makes sense). But what really struck me is how much she reminded me of the Patti LaPone in Master Class parody from Forbidden Broadway Strikes Back! that it's uncanny. Since I'm nowhere near my CD collection, I can't confirm this, but I'm fairly certain that it was Christine Pedi who did that, but who knows? Plenty of theater folks have gotten their start in Forbidden Broadway (including Jason Alexander), so maybe Ms. Scott did, too. Time to seek out some interviews to see if she says what her inspiration for the part was, since it definitely was not Pat Carroll.

Making Flair

So, I'm addicted to Flair on Facebook. Not really surprising I guess. But I'm more obsessed with creating Flair and then watching the growth. I'm kind of amused that the piece of flair that's growing the most is a very simply strawberry design (secret: it's a design from a potholder). I'm a little surprised that the Homestar Runner one I made hasn't grown very quickly, but I'm not surprised that Bedtime rolling his eyes is in my top three fastest-growing flairs. That's one of the best images to come out of AiCal, seriously.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sushi Pack Rankings - Maguro

Rank #4 - Maguro
So, Maguro is fourth. It's not that I dislike Maguro, I just don't actually like that much about her. Why?
  • She's too perfect. Seriously, in all the episodes I've seen, she's always the one in the right. Especially when it comes to who to trust.
  • She isn't very interesting, really. It's like, she's so level-headed that she doesn't have any other personality than that.
  • She's never had to learn a lesson. Heck, even BEN learned a lesson. And I mean an individual lesson. Anytime there's been a lesson learned by her, almost all the others learn it, too, so that doesn't count.
Seriously, Tako learned not be bigheaded in "But is it Art?," Kani learned not to change for no reason in "Chemicals Made From Dirt," Ikura learned not to just rush into things in "Poached Salmon," and Wasabi, how many lessons has he learned by now? Okay, there was a lesson learned by Maguro in "Wharf City on the Half Shell," but I haven't seen that recently enough to remember what it was other than (probably) Compromise, plus that was a shared lesson with Kani, so again, it doesn't count.
Still, Maguro does get approximately 15 more points than anyone else just because she and Tako are so perfect for each other. That'll be another post, though.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sushi Pack Rankings - Ikura

Rank #3 - Ikura

I'm kind of on the fence about Ikura. I don't dislike him as a character, but he isn't exactly my favorite, either. Hence, I have things I like and dislike about him.

  • He usually gets a good line at least once an episode. And that "bears!" routine he does with Kani in Poached Salmon makes me laugh every time.
  • He's pretty straightforward, which is kind of refreshing when compared to the other characters.

  • He always seems to get the weirdest animation.
  • The fact that he's the dumb one kind of rubs me the wrong way.
That's all I can think of... Sorry, Ikura fans!

Another D&D joke?

(Click for full-sized Fanboys)
I don't play D&D, and I barely watched Seinfeld, but this still made me laugh, which is why I'm posting it here. Fanboys in general can be hit or miss, but I like it most of the time, so check it out.

Thursday, May 8, 2008


(Click for full-size Tsunami Channel parodies)

As a fan of Yu-Gi-Oh: the Abridged Series, I appreciate this very much. Helped me out of a funk for tonight, too.
Side story: My sisters and I play UNO a lot, and we'll joke around that whoever has to draw lots (and LOTS) of cards "doesn't believe in the heart of the cards." This mostly came from the fact that my younger sister hates Yu-Gi-Oh with a passion, and my older sister liked to watch the 4Kids dub to laugh at it. So lots of teasing ensued, of course, but it lead to some great in-jokes.

Edit: 100th post!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Sushi Pack Rankings - Kani

Sushi Pack Ranking #2 - Kani

I had no idea that Kani would somehow become my second favorite. At first she seemed like a character that I wouldn't like at all. But a few things made me change my mind:
  • Her insecurity. There's something kind of endearing about it. I mean, it would have been easy for the writers to just make her a dour girl who doesn't care about anything, but instead they gave her things to worry about, as well as things she really loves.
  • Speaking of her loves, that's another thing: her crownlust. Granted, it's only in two episodes, but it's a nice touch that I appreciate.
  • Another little thing I like about Kani is how she's the inventor of the group without us being beaten over the head with it. In other characters, this would be their entire characterization, or at least everything would branch from it. But with Kani, it's just something she does, and usually off-screen.
  • She is just so cute! I mean, with her little pincher pigtails and all that. Tako may be my favorite overall, but Kani is definitely my favorite in cuteness.
  • Part of her cuteness comes from when she has an outfit. Like that time she dressed up as a scientist in No Clowning Around, or the little outfits she wore in Chemicals Made From Dirt.
  • Her little wordplay. I didn't even notice this the first time around, but rewatching the episodes, I've definitely picked up on a few, like calling Mochi Mochiato an "ice cream scamwich" and using "sand-nabbit" as an expletive, plus a couple others I can't exactly remember right now.
  • Her voice. Chiara Zanni is perfect as Kani.
I don't really like how much Kani refers to herself as a crab or says "X makes me crabby!" or some variation of that. It gets old real fast. But she's so cute, I forgive her. (Or rather, I forgive the writers.)

My childhood: Agapeland

I was killing time in Walmart when I just happened to see it: a 2-CD set in a tin of The Music Machine and its sequel (not the third one, though) for just ten dollars. So I bought it. I want to say it's for the nostalgia value, but the thing is, I never listened to the Music Machine albums before. Oh, I was familiar with the set-up. I had almost all the Agapeland videos when I was a kid, and I had the cassettes of Nathaniel the Grublet and the Music Machine Club album (which is not the same, mind you), plus I'd seen the animated versions (The Music Machine and Benny's Biggest Battle) and had a couple of the Character Builder book and tape sets. In fact, what really made me buy the CD set was that it promised a bonus DVD with four of the Character Builder stories on it. This turned out to be a LIE. It was a completely different DVD from somebody else's childhood (The Amazing Book related. I was never into that series). I contacted the company about this, but they haven't gotten back to me. Also, the images used on the tin and CDs and booklet are from the animated version, which features characters that don't appear on the albums at all.

And because I seem to be incapable of taking in any media these days without getting the urge to write up a synopsis for it (with sprinklings of commentary), here are volumes one and two of The Music Machine.
Note: The discs from this set are in the opposite order. Disc One is actually Volume Two, and vice versa. But I'm going in chronological order. Just so you know.

The Music Machine: The Fruit of the Spirit (from 1977!)
The album starts off with a longish instrumental intro to the first song "A Land Called Love." The song, once it gets going, is pretty slow and lullaby-ish. I really wouldn't have started off with such a slow song, but it is rather pretty in the bridge. Once the song ends, Stevie and Nancy, the two kids synonymous with Agapeland, have their first appearance, wondering where the heck they are. They have no clue how they got there, but they like what they see. With a magical twinkle, Mr. Conductor arrives (note that he actually introduces himself as The Conductor), apparently out of nowhere. He already knows Stevie and Nancy, and tells them they're in Agapeland. He fences their questions on where Agapeland is and what he does ("I do a lot of things"), but fortunately, the kids are quickly distracted by the titular machine itself, leading to the titular introduction song, of course, which starts off with a bit of music I recognize from the trailer for the Agapeland Home Videos, so it's kind of weird to have it not continue as I remember it. The song itself is fairly uptempo, and it wins me over by the musicalizations in the second verse, although the middle section could be left out. I also remember the kazoo part at the end as being the ending of the Agapeland Home Video Trailer, so it's nice to finally know where that comes from.
Although he just explained in song, Mr. Conductor explains again: put something in the Music Machine and it'll play a song about it. To demonstrate, he puts in his whistle and the Music Machine starts making noise. Now, that middle section of the previous song mentioned the sounds that the Music Machine makes before starting a song as "whir whir chuka chuka bomp bomp psst." I thought that was just onomatopoeia, but no, the sounds the machine makes are actually a bunch of voices saying those words set to a high pitch and slightly mechanized. The song that comes out, "The Whistle Song" features both fifes and whistling, and lists all the things, animate and inanimate, that whistle, and posits that they're singing songs of praise. It's actually kind of jazzy, in a kids' chorus kind of way.
All the songs on the two albums are sung by either the kids' chorus, random soloists (both kids and adults), Mr. Conductor, or some combination thereof, by the way. After the song, Stevie notes that the whistle came back out of the machine, and Nancy wishes she had something to put in. Mr. Conductor tells her to smile into the machine's slot, and sure enough, a song about Smiles comes out. This is the most kiddy sounding of all the songs, really, and feels slightly offtune to me, but I think it's supposed to be, in a carousel wurlitzer style.
Nancy loved her song, but Stevie is quick to put something in himself: a piece of string, which inspires a madrigal about the things string can and can't do (fix a friendship, for example). Since the machine has suddenly turned educational, Mr. Conductor proposes that they put in a verse from the Bible to see what songs come out. He means Galatians 5:19-23, which is about the Fruit of the Spirit. Nancy misinterprets this as real fruit, so he lists a few off to clarify. And then the verse is put in, and the machine just about breaks down from the sound of it. The first song starts, and then there's a crash. Guess the machine really did break. No, wait, that's just part of the song. The first song is "Patience (Herbert the Snail)," which is the one everyone remembers, from what I've seen online. Probably because the chorus vocals are slowed way down, which kind of annoys me now, but I'm sure if I were a kid would be hilarious.
There's no break between the first and next song, "Gentleness" (which is the longest song, btw), one of the random soloists plus kids chorus songs. Very soft and gentle, naturally, although the examples of gentleness seem more like peace to me. After that song, Nancy declares she understands about the fruit thing now (although I don't really get how, since the songs haven't really been talking about applying them to your life or anything, just what each one is). And Stevie makes a terrible joke which everyone laughs at, but I'll forgive them, since the kids are just kids after all, and Mr. Conductor is obviously just pity-laughing. Mr. Conductor gets the machine going again, and there's a rousing number about Faith that I wish was longer, even though the lyrics are pretty much the same thing over and over.
The next song, "Joy" is all calypso and apparently sung by a teens' chorus (that's the nearest I can figure, anyway). There's a bit of a pointless interlude between this song and the next, "Peace," where a kid soloist sings of the things that bring peace in a child's life, which is immediately followed by a country-western song about Goodness that merely talks about random things that are good and expects this to show why we should be good. The next song, "Love," starts with a funky kind of intro before turning into a twangy duet. After this, the kids take a break to enumerate which Fruits there have been songs about (seven) and Mr. Conductor informs them that there are two more to go, so the machine gets going once more with a song about Self-Control. Now, in my youth, I did see the book that accompanied the record of this album, basically the lyrics with illustrations. The only one I remember was the pictures for this song, which freaked me out something terrible back then. Thinking on it now, I just feel bad for Stevie, since the illustrations (as I recall anyway) showed the bad things that happened to him from lack of self-control, even though the singer is a random adult. The last song, "Kindness," is one of the more interesting ones, as it plays out as a Caribbean lullaby, basically stating that kindness begets kindness. It's also the second-longest song, with more instrumentals than the others.
Once the last song is over, Mr. Conductor basically just sends Stevie and Nancy away, and they don't even protest! I mean, they mysteriously ended up in this amazing place and all they did was listen to some songs, and now they have to go without seeing hardly anything! Besides, don't the kids in that kind of situation (mysteriously in a strange place, I mean) usually say things like "Do we have to?" when it's time to leave? Anyway, they say their goodbyes and fade away (their voices do anyway), and Mr. Conductor states, "They'll be back." As a cynical adult, I'd like to imagine him saying this darkly, under his breath, almost a threat. Before we can consider the implications of his statement, a reprise of the titular introduction song starts up from the kazoo part, ending the album. The whole thing is a little over thirty minutes, by the way.
Songs that get stuck in my head: The Whistle Song, Music Machine, Patience (such an earworm!)
You can actually see the pages from the booklet that came with the record here, courtesy of the only Agapeland fansite.

The next album didn't come out until 1983, six years later. This one won a Grammy and a Dove award, which is pretty cool. I also like it a little better than the first album because it reveals that Mr. Conductor is kind of, well, adorkable, if you know what I mean. I probably won't do justice to this in the synopsis, because it's all in the little things.

The Music Machine: All About Love
Like the first album, this one starts with a slow song, "When Love Lives in Your Heart," but unlike the first album, after the first verse and chorus, Stevie and Nancy arrive, remarking on how they are somehow in Agapeland again, and they go off in search of the Music Machine to find out where the song is coming from. (BTW, the random adult soloist has an annoying way of singing.)
Stevie and Nancy easily spot Mr. Conductor working on the Music Machine. They want to help, but Mr. Conductor says he's just doing "a little work," prompting Nancy to ask what's wrong with the machine. Mr. Conductor tells her, "Well, nothing really," in a tone that indicates (to me) that something is wrong, and he's just covering up by saying he's giving it a tune-up. The Music Machine springs to life and plays a song about tune-ups of its own volition. Twangy guitars feature heavily here. By the end of the song, Mr. Conductor is ready to test the machine, but the kids want to be the ones to put something in. Stevie and Nancy confer, and decide to ask the Music Machine a question. Mr. Conductor has no objections, so they proceed: What's the most wonderful, spectacular, colossal, super, fantastic, stupendous thing in all Agapeland? While the Music Machine does its thing (you know, the whirs and all that), Stevie and Nancy hypothesize about what the answer will be, but the song that comes out ("The Greatest Thing of All") shoots down all their ideas quite specifically and instead says that the greatest thing is Love. Which makes sense, since that's what Agapeland is named for. This song is very fun-sounding with a driving backbeat.
Stevie wants to know why the answer was Love, so Mr. Conductor informs him that God Is Love. Suddenly, the Music Machine starts up on its own again, causing Mr. Conductor to proclaim, "I thought I fixed that!" which proves what I said earlier. This song ("Love Never Fails") is my favorite from this album, even though the lyrics are not the greatest. But the actual music gets me every time. It's kind of odd, but there's a lot of the things I love, like clarinets and oboes, plus the random adult soloist sounds good, which is a plus.
After the song, the Music Machine tries to play another song, but shuts down completely. Mr. Conductor insists it isn't broken, it just needs some "adjustments." So he tinkers a little and a song comes out ("Glad to be Me"), sung by a random kid soloist with a terrible twangy accent, all about how animals don't want to be like other animals, so we should be glad to be ourselves. The Music Machine keeps going, with a strange country western duet about things that go together (some choices are questionable, such as "Like a yankee and a doodle") to illustrate that "I Was Made For Love."
Stevie and Nancy take all these songs as signs that the Music Machine is good as new, and remark on how they're learning a lot about love, when suddenly strange noises come from all directions. And then there's a noticeable break where it must have been time to turn over the record. Mr. Conductor reveals that the sounds are Sloops, but when the kids ask what the heck Sloops are, he answers with a not very revealing song that mostly names a lot of random things that Sloops are made of (Stevie and Nancy's favorite things, apparently), and the most important part is love. While talking about the Sloops (colorful, carrying flowers), Stevie and Nancy start slipping into a twangy accent for no apparent reason. The Sloops introduce themselves: they all have names that start with B, although whether this is actually Bea (Stevie later asks why they all have the same first name) or B. (Mr. Conductor refers to them as the B family) isn't really clear. Most of their names are standard puns (Be Kind, Be Patient), but they do throw in a couple of nonstandard ones as well (Be Haves and Be Lieves). Nancy asks the Sloops to put something in the Music Machine, and B. Humble is the first to come up. With Mr. Conductor's permission, he puts in his flower, and a song about a Humble Bumblebee comes out, sung by another random kid soloist who is only partially comprehensible. The fast clip of the song doesn't help, either.
Stevie wonders if there are more Sloops out there, and Mr. Conductor tells him that there are indeed, but the ones they're with now are all reminders of what love is supposed to be like. To that end, he invites B. Faithful to put one of her flowers in the Music Machine. The "I Love You" song is another random kid soloist song, a prayer listing all the things she loves, especially God. Mr. Conductor starts to explain the song, but B. Patient interrupts him, asking "What about Herbert the snail?" Unable to elaborate, Mr. Conductor has to translate: do the kids remember Herbert the snail? To prove they do, Stevie and Nancy sing a snippet of the song from the previous album. Satisfied, Mr. Conductor calls forth a new song about Herbert ("Love Waits a Long, Long Time") and his mother (obviously a man doing a fake falsetto), which is catchy in its own, kinda smarmy, way.
With that song out of the way, the other Sloops crowd around Mr. Conductor, each wanting to put their flower in the slot. So Mr. Conductor suggests having everyone put their flowers in all at once, since the Music Machine is working again, just to see what'll happen. I get the feeling that this is how the Music Machine broke in the first place. The Sloops cheer, toss in their flowers, and from the sounds the machine makes, it nearly breaks again, and when a very twangy country western song comes out, I'm not so sure it didn't break. The song ("Everybody Needs a Lot of Love") states the things you can't do to love, but we still need it. It also includes the unfortunate couplet: "You can't mop it like a floor/Can't stop it like a door/You can't keep it like a horse in a stall," with the word "horse" drawn out so that it sounds like something else before the end kicks in. This song leads immediately into another, "I Love You, Lord Jesus," with the kids' chorus.
After those two songs, Stevie and Nancy once again remark that they've learned a lot about love, and Mr. Conductor reminds them not to forget, since it'll come in handy soon. But he refuses to explain what he means by this. Instead, he tells them it's time to go home, and distracts them with a reprise of "The Greatest Thing of All." During the song, Stevie and Nancy find themselves leaving Agapeland (I want to know exactly what's going on. Are they teleporting, being lifted in the air, or what?), and they wish everyone goodbye as a reprise of "When Love Lives in Your Heart" by an adult chorus (and the random adult soloist) swells and closes the album.
Songs that get stuck in my head: The Greatest Thing of All, Love Never Fails, I Was Made for Love, Everybody Needs a Lot of Love.

All in all, these albums are pretty cute, and the songs are very apt to get stuck in your head. Don't be too surprised if you see some other Agapeland-related stuff pop up here or on Youtube, now that my nostalgia's been piqued...
By the way, here's Love Never Fails.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Sushi Pack rankings - Tako

Just something I've been thinking about. Over the next week or so (probably), I'll be posting about each member of the Sushi Pack and why I feel the way I do about them.

Rank #1 - Tako

Could it be anyone else? If you've been paying attention, this should come as no surprise. But the reasons why may surprise you (or maybe not).
  • The British Accent. Now, I'm not one of those girls who falls over anything with a British Accent, but somehow Tako just wouldn't be as awesome without it. The best part is that it's a real British guy, not some VA faking it.
  • The eyepatch. I don't know why the eyepatch is so cool, since I definitely don't go for any other eyepatched characters. But the combined forces of the accent, eyepatch, and ego were what made me know that Tako would be my favorite Sushi Pack member from the very first episode.
  • The Many Headed Thinking Routine. Fricking, fricking awesome. My love for the many headed thinking routine is vast. I would love to see it more often, even just used for absolute tangents. Actually, that would be even better. Tako thinking about his favorite movie! Tako thinking about what to have for lunch!* Tako thinking about Maguro ^_~
  • His personality extremes. When he's low, the world is crashing down, when he's high (figuratively), things couldn't be better. When he's bummed, there's no getting him to do anything, but when he's happy he's up for anything.
  • He's an octopus, which is cool in and of itself, but also his name is tako, which makes me think of takoyaki, which is about the yummiest thing to come out of Japan ever. I wish I could find a place around here that had takoyaki.
  • The fact that he's the leader and not Ikura. From what I've noticed of these things, the action guy is usually the leader, not the thinker, y'know?
I will admit, one thing I don't like about Tako is the weird noises he makes when he's fighting. I could do without those, but I'll put up with them.

Maguro: What would you like for lunch, Tako?
Tako: Hm... *thinking* Indeed, what to have for lunch? A salad would be nice, but I'm craving something different... A chili dog with fries? I'm really in the mood for some pancakes, come to think of it. But breakfast is over! Could I possibly eat something normally served at breakfast for LUNCH? Oh, decisions!
Kani: How long has he been thinking about it?
Maguro: Eleven minutes. -_-
Wasabi: *It's a new record!*

Friday, May 2, 2008

Raggedy Ann updated

I stumbled on this a while ago, and then I was thinking about it again today but couldn't find it readily, so I'm making this post more for my own reference than anything else. This article talks a bit about how there's going to be a new Raggedy Ann cartoon coming either this Fall or Fall 2009 (it's not entirely clear). There's a picture of the updated Ann with a cat, but I'm more interested in seeing what Andy will look like ^_~ Of course, my liking Andy is mostly influenced by the movie, but the original books have their moments, too. Like in one story, he gets his smile half-washed off accidentally, and all the other dolls freak out about it. And he's just like, "Hey, I'm still smiling whether you can see it or not," but the other dolls keep on about it, so he gets annoyed. (But fortunately, this all happened on Christmas Eve, so St. Nick showed up and fixed all the little problems the dolls had, including Andy's smile, so there you go.)