Friday, October 31, 2008

Adventures in Care-a-Lot Episode 19

I have this one and the next one all set up, so you'll see episode 20 up within a day or two.  The first ep this time around was all kinds of cute (and makes me think that Trueheart needs a paramour, seriously), but the second one bugged me to no end (no pun intended, though).

Harmony: Unplugged
What better way to kick off a Harmony episode than with a song?  Accordingly, Harmony and Trueheart just happen to be walking around Care Square, and Trueheart spurs Harmony on to sing about all the friends they meet.  That includes Share in the candy shop (where Trueheart explains about the 'singing about the bears we meet' thing, and Love-a-lot doles out some praise that Harmony modestly dismisses), and Funshine and Cheer, who are playing a pong-like game of Belly Ball.  Later, Trueheart has an inspired idea: Harmony should give a concert of all the songs she sang that day for all of Care-a-lot!  Harmony likes the idea, since she apparently got a lot of ego-stroking during her tour of Care-a-lot.  Trueheart adds to this by sucking up to her a bit, and gets the honor of being Harmony's manager for her trouble.  A little later, the two brainstorm ideas for the concert, and Harmony sings an uninspired song about Trueheart, but Trueheart says it was good anyway, and continues to suck up to her as Harmony declares herself the best singer in Care-a-lot (just wait until Heartsong Bear shows up, honey).
The next day (or maybe later the same day), Trueheart and Harmony are handing out flyers for "Care-a-lot Concert Time" and Harmony's ego continues to grow, as she claims to be the only one singing, even though Trueheart thought she'd be a back-up singer, and what about all those birds that have been hanging around Harmony lately?  Still, Harmony insists that since she's the main attraction, she should get her name in the title of the concert, and what does she need back-up singers for?  As Harmony skips out on flyer duty, Trueheart starts to see the damage all her sucking up has done, but is powerless to stop it.
In preparation for the concert, Harmony gets a new wardrobe, including an Elvis-style cape.  She tests it out by flinging it dramatically at the (imagined) crowd, and then orders Trueheart to pick it up.  Trueheart complies for reasons that probably have to do with her being the manager, but still feels a bit spineless to me.  Harmony also demands water, and retires to her trailer.  Tenderheart can't help commenting on the change in Harmony, and tells Trueheart that if she doesn't like it, she should say something.  Trueheart tells him that she doesn't want to upset Harmony before the concert, since everyone's looking forward to it and all.  Later, she runs into Cheer on her way to Harmony's dressing room with her latest demands (including only green gummy bears).  Cheer commends Trueheart on her commitment to friendship, but Trueheart is starting to think she's just being used by Harmony, as she displays the mile-long list of demands Harmony wrote.  Cheer confides in her that she knows some bears have decided not to go to the concert because of Harmony's new conceited nature, and Trueheart can't blame them, since Harmony changed all the songs to be about herself instead of others (not to mention very loud).  Cheer also tells her to tell Harmony how she feels, and by now, Trueheart is more receptive to the idea.
Trueheart approaches Harmony as she rehearses and pours her heart out about being left out of the concert and only fulfilling Harmony's impolite demands, but Harmony is having none of it
stating that it's her right as the star of the show to be pampered. Trueheart tries to put her talent in perspective by reminding her that it's just her character trait to be a singer, like it's Grumpy's to fix things, and Oopsy's to continually fall down without actually getting hurt (seriously, she says that).  Harmony sees her point, but is distracted by cupcakes, and nearly misses Trueheart telling her about the bears who won't be coming to her concert.  Harmony claims the others are just jealous, and Trueheart tells her, no, it's because she's gotten a big head.  Harmony flips out at this and kicks Trueheart out, but Trueheart's all "You can't fire me, I quit!" and the two go separate ways.
The night of the concert arrives, and the only one in the audience is Trueheart.  She explains to Harmony that she tried to get the others to come, but they were so turned off by Harmony's ego that they declined.  Trueheart also reminds Harmony that she tried to warn her, and Harmony finally sees the results of her ego-tripping.  She spouts out the typical "I've learned my lesson" stuff, and denounces her cape.  She wonders if she can be forgiven (and I'm with Trueheart's expression there.  The situation does not call for that level of dramatics), but Trueheart forgives her, which is a start.  Harmony wishes she could get everyone to come to concert so she could apologize all at once; Trueheart puts her mind to the task and comes up with a plan!
Later on, with everyone gathered at those picnic tables, Trueheart gives Harmony a short introduction, and then Harmony rips off Oopsy's song from Oopsy Does It as her apology song.  But everyone forgives her anyway, although Wingnut is visually aroused by her song, strangely enough.

King of the Gobblebugs
This episode begins at night, with Grumpy chasing Grizzle in his garage for some reason.  Somehow Grumpy flips Grizzle into a barrel of sticky glue and chatises Grizzle for trying to steal his tools.  What?  Turns out this was all just a story Grumpy was telling to the others around a campfire.  Oopsy proclaims it the best story yet, and so 
Cheer tells him to tell a story, too.  Unable to think of anything, 
he tells the others about the ladybug he saw the other day.  From the bears' lackluster reaction, he realizes that they weren't looking for true stories (and Grumpy's story was obviously not true, c'mon), so he adds to the story, telling how the ladybug was really a huge gobblebug (the titular king).  At the end of his story, Grumpy declares it time to go home (but I thought they were camping?  There's a tent in the background and everything), so they do.  This was the first sign of the stupidity of this episode, which, up to this point, I had assumed would be about all the bears telling campfire stories.  Not so, unfortunately.
The next day, Funshine organizes everyone into a mob to go find the king gobblebug, and there's the obligatory shout-out to the original gobblebug episode.  Wait, they thought Oopsy's story was true?  When they were pratically begging him to embellish his story?  Oy, oy.  Just as everyone leaves, Oopsy finally gets out of bed, but only Wingnut is around, and he missed the crowd gathering, too, so he has no idea what's going on.  Oopsy knows he's "late, but not that late," which I think is a reference to "the late Dentarthurdent," but I'm not sure.  At any rate, the two of them decide to go search in the opposite direction of where everyone else went.
Over in Rainshine Meadows (where Oopsy claimed to have seen the gobblebug), everyone searches high and low, but to no avail.  Grumpy hypothesizes that the gobblebug has already left, despite the fact that nothing is, y'know, eaten.  As the other bears imagine the places it could have gone, Cheer realizes that Oopsy is nowhere to be found, and goes to look for him while the others continue searching for the gobblebug.  
Cheer flies on her rainbow over Care Square until she finds Oopsy, and Share shows up out of nowhere.  She tells Oopsy how worried she's been (for all of three minutes 9_9), causing Oopsy much confusion.  Share clears up his confusion by mentioning the king gobblebug, and smothers Oopsy in a hug.  Oopsy does not see fit to clear up the confusion, instead trying to persuade the two girls that the gobblebug has probably flown off to greener pastures, but the girls are persistant.  Share gets Oopsy to give a better description of what the bug looks like, and his made-up description sounds fishy to Cheer.  Oopsy tries to cover by saying he didn't get a good look after he 'frightened it off with his mighty roar,' but Cheer's skeptical look is strong enough to get the truth out of him.  Oopsy admits to just wanting to tell a good story (which, again, the others practically demanded), and Share chastises him for making everyone worry and waste all that time and energy looking for the bug.  Still, what's done is done, and the fastest way to get the truth to everyone is to split up.
Oopsy goes to find Grumpy first (get the worst reaction out the way first, eh?), and doesn't consider that he'd be anywhere but his garage.  There's an offscreen crash and Oopsy ends up in the barrel of glue from Grumpy's earlier story.  There is much sticky walking and things sticking to a glue-covered Oopsy.  Even Wingnut can't loosen any object without it getting stuck to him as well.  Oopsy theorizes that a bath might help, and heads for the fountain.
Meanwhile, Grumpy, Funshine, Tenderheart, and Surprise arrive in Care Square, unable to fathom why they haven't seen a sign of the gobblebug by now.  They are rewarded with a sight of Oopsy shambling towards them, looking for all the world like a king gobblebug (maybe).  They run off to hide, and Oopsy calls after them, but they only surmise that the bug ate Oopsy, not that it is Oopsy.  Oopsy stumbles into the candy shop and ends up with his eyes covered, which leads to more stumbling around.  Wingnut tries to explain what's going on, but Grumpy and Funshine charge into the fray without listening, capturing Oopsy with a cloud, encasing him in a sun cage, and giving him a Care Bear Stare.
It's at this point that Cheer and Share show up, and laugh at both Oopsy's appearance and Grumpy's pride in catching the 'king gobblebug.'  They tell the others to look closer, and suddenly the truth is out.  Oopsy explains how he came to look the way he does, and Grumpy facepalms (I love it!).  Oopsy also confesses about the story being fake, and Funshine is all "What?  Why?"  As if he wasn't there the night before or something.  Oopsy explains that he wanted to be more interesting, making Grumpy gripe, "Oh, you're interesting, all right."  Funshine clarifies Grumpy's statement, but from the way Grumpy rolls his eyes, he obviously feels his statement said it all.  Cheer advises Oopsy to keep practicing and he'll be a storytelling pro in no time (or maybe just add a "this is not true" disclaimer at the beginning of his stories), and admits that she and the others should have checked the facts with him sooner.  There's some talk about Oopsy being special and keeping the others on their toes, but eventually Oopsy apologizes for messing up Grumpy's garage, so the episode can end with him helping to clean it up.

Bonus Screenshots:
Harmony Unplugged

King of the Gobblebugs

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Kemeko DX - Grateful to the sun

Why, yes, I watch Kemeko DX.  It's kinda bugging me with the whole "mysterious mystery is mysterious" thing going on at the moment, though.  But stuff like this image amuse me.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Shugo Chara ep 47 - Drunk X Chara

Don't know why, but the fact that these X charas came from salarymen and have ties is amusing enough, but the one on the right being drunk just seals the deal.  Best X Charas yet.


It occurred to me that I completely forgot to note the one-year anniversary of my blog!  So here it is one month and a year since I first posted my blog.  In that time, I've made over 160 posts.  Wow...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Halloween comes early to Gaia

Tonight marks the beginning of this year's Halloween event on Gaia.  This year you can either be a human, zombie, vampire, or dark elf.  I chose the latter.  Doesn't it go nicely with my kitty costume?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Shugo Chara 43 - What I've been waiting for

The promise of Amulet Diamond (or Dia) finally came to fruition for me tonight.  I've been waiting for this since I saw the splash page from the manga on someone's blog (I've lost the link, sadly It was this place) that showed Amu and Dia character transformed (and this was before volume 4 was out in the States, so I didn't even know there was a fourth egg in the first place). Suffice to say, I fell in love with the design at first sight.  Too bad she had to turn back into an egg at the end of the episode, but the promo art for Doki (the second season) shows her, so there's hope for that.  Just eight episodes to go....

I would like to note, when I first heard that the bad guys' plan for mass-world-X Egg-making involved people listening to a CD, my initial thought was "what about the people that only get their music online?" so I was glad (storywise) to see that they somehow figured out how to get the power into downloads, too.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Adventures in Care-a-lot Episode 18

Although I said I wanted to get right down to this episode, somehow it took all week to finally carve out the time to do it justice.  Although it's mostly the second half that I was waiting for.

Whose Friend is Who? - "You mean, I get to help?!"
This episode did not feature Friend Bear or even Best Friend as some predicted, based on the title.  And come on, writers!  Those two obviously need an episode!  But no, the actual plot of this episode runs as follows:  McKenna returns to learn about working together, however, in helping her learn, Cheer and Harmony inadvertently shut out Funshine and Oopsy (and granted, they were only making a swing, so it was a case of preventing a "too many cooks" situation), who complain to Grumpy, and the three of them make a club for just the three of them.  To retaliate, Cheer, Harmony, and Love-a-lot make their own club.  However, Grumpy's club has a cool clubhouse, so McKenna wants to be a member of both clubs.  But when she tries this, not only is she rejected by Grumpy's club, but Harmony's club kicks her out.  So she comes up with a plan to make her own club with Wingnut and show the others how it feels to be left out of a club, and in the end everyone comes together again.
Now, that's all well and good, but wouldn't this have been better as an Earth episode?  What if, instead of the creation of the clubs in Care-a-lot, after learning to help others, McKenna went back to her hometown and got involved in a club war between her friends.  Then she would go back to Care-a-lot to get help from the Care Bears to make her friends stop being cliche-ish, and they would basically do what she did, I guess, and everyone would be friends again by the end.  And that's what should have happened.

Also, the ep would have made more sense if Harmony weren't involved.  I mean, shouldn't she have been keeping harmony here instead of adding to the dischord?  Couldn't one of the less-shown female bears have been given a bigger part for this story, like, oh I don't know, Friend or Best Friend?  Or even Wish, she never gets to do anything!  Seriously, writers, get on the ball!

Present and Accounted For - "KA-ching.  We hit the jackpot!"
This ep begins at Love-a-lot's house, which is filled with framed pictures of her and Cheer (lots and lots of pictures of the two of them.  Hm....).  Most of them are of the two of them exchanging gift baskets.  Love-a-lot is woken up by Share wishing her a happy birthday, and Love-a-lot regales her with a tale of the ginormous gift basket she dreamt Cheer gave her.  But Share is gone by the time she mentions that any gift from her friend is sure to be lovely.  Turns out Share split to spill the beans on Love-a-lot's dream to Cheer, who is putting the finishing touches on this year's gift basket, which includes everything Love-a-lot mentioned, including a purple, sparkly skateboard.  Cheer claims she's just a thoughtful friend, but obviously she has psychic powers.  Either that or the dream was planted...  Later, Love-a-lot is given presents and wished many happy returns by almost everyone in Care Square, except for the one bear she's most looking forward to seeing.  As the day passes with no Cheer, Love-a-lot starts to lose hope in her friend.  
Meanwhile, Grizzle raves and rants over his many failed plans (illustrated by myriads of post-it notes all over his lair).  After storming out, his minions (as in the past few episodes, UR-2 and Sargeant Rocketbottom) muse on the situation.  Mostly UR-2, though, as Rocketbottom is portrayed as more of an idiot than usual in this ep.  UR-2 goes on to explain, using charts and a logic sequence, that when Grizzle isn't happy, nobody's happy (this leads to almost the best part of the episode, Rocketbottom glomping UR-2).  And apparently Grizzle hasn't been happy ever, but he's been more unhappy than usual for over a week.  Thus, they must come up with some sort of plan to cheer him up, and quick.
Later, or maybe earlier, Cheer pushes her gift basket (on some kind of truck) to Love-a-lot's house, and then climbs in a tree so she can see her friend's reaction.  But the exertion of pushing the present leaves her exhausted, and she falls asleep.  In the tree.  And her present goes rolling down the slight slope of Love-a-lot's front walk, of course.  Leaving it out in the open to be found by UR-2 and Rocketbottom, who are prowling around Care-a-lot in search of something for Grizzle.  Well, this gift basket seems to fit the bill, despite being covered in hearts.  And since it's just sitting out in the open, they take it back to Grizzle's lair.  Since it's only a 10 minute episode, a piece of Sargeant Rocketbottom falls off and lands in Care-a-lot, although it is goes unseen by Cheer, who is still sleeping in the tree.
She finally wakes up once the commercials are over, and seeing the present gone, assumes she missed seeing Love-a-lot find it.  She rings the doorbell, but Love-a-lot is not at home, so she leaves, disappointed.  I don't know why she would think Love-a-lot would stay home on her birthday.  Or anytime, really.  If there's a chance to say "I love it!" about something, you know Love-a-lot will be there.  Girl gets around.  Speaking of Love-a-lot, the birthday girl is drinking hot chocolate with Funshine at the moment, though it's obvious she's using it to drown her sorrows, since Cheer still hasn't shown up to wish her Happy Birthday.  She does not appreciate Funshine's attempt to lighten the mood with some humor.
Cheer runs into Grumpy, who refutes what I said earlier - no birthday girl (and especially not Love-a-lot) is going to stay home on her special day.  Cheer tells him that she hasn't heard a word from Love-a-lot about the gift basket and wonders how her friend could be so cruel.  Later, Grumpy runs into Funshine, and the two of them end up revealing what the other pink bear thinks is going on, and come to conclusion that a third party got involved and took the basket, and since they're the ones that know about it, they have to let Cheer and Love-a-lot know as well.  Only, not in the obvious way of explaining to each one what's going on, but rather, putting the two together in Care Square and watching a parody of High Noon play out.  The two pink bears put two and two together a little too quickly for my tastes (but then, I'm still hung up on Grumpy and Funshine not just explaining the situation outright), and then they make up by doing a weird hug-dance (which  is kind of cute, I guess).  Once that's over with, they turn to Funshine and Grumpy (as they should!) to find out what happened to the basket, but the two bears are as much in the dark about this as any of them.
The four bears go to investigate around Love-a-lot's house, but they have no leads until Cheer finds Sargeant Rocketbottom's missing part.  The bears ponder it, then look up toward the only place it could have come from...where Grizzle is just opening the gift basket.  He's quite keen on the purple skateboard, and even gets out of his mechasuit so that he can ride it with more control (Little Grizzle on a skateboard, having the time of his life--definitely the best part of the episode.  More episodes should lead up to something like this).  The Care Bears go to investigate, and seeing Grizzle skating around his lair, they are astonished.  Grumpy sagely notes, "He's never giving it back."  They are ambushed by UR-2 and Rocketbottom, and Funshine waves the missing part in Rocketbottom's face, but the robot simply takes it back gratefully.  UR-2 apologizes, but explains the situation, and notes that Grizzle is "almost happy," thanks to the gift basket.  The bears huddle up and Cheer and Love-a-lot come to the conclusion that the thought behind the gift is more important than the gift itself, and they rub cheeks.  They all agree that anything that keeps Grizzle happy (and out of Care-a-lot) is a good thing, and they tell UR-2 and Rocketbottom that because the two of them are such  good friends to Grizzle, he can keep the basket.  The robots thank them and offer a favor in return.  Since Rocketbottom added that they would do anything, the Care Bears call on them to be waiters at Love-a-lot's party that evening.  Rocketbottom accidently gets his head knocked into the punch, UR-2 fishes it out, and the episode is over.

Man, oh man.  This episode.  Oh man. Ooooh the subtext.  Granted, maybe this is just me, but seriously, I don't know how anyone can watch this one and not come out shipping UR-2 and Rocketbottom, even just a little.  The hints for Cheer/Love-a-lot are more subtle, but definitely there.  I have to admit, though, my personal canon has Love-a-lot being pretty fickle, so this year she was all about Cheer, but by next year, someone else could be her birthday offender.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Shugo Chara 39 - something I'd like to say, but had better not

I'm glad that Tadase got to Character Transform and all that, but did it have to be so ruffled?  Ah, Del Rey, hurry up and get volume 5 out!  I don't want to wait until December!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Shugo Chara 38 - The sex scene

Don't let the title fool you, as of yet, Shugo Chara stays in the realm of kids' shows, but let me tell you, there's no way that the scene near the end of episode 38 was supposed to mean anything else.  I mean, the body language alone makes it clear what's going on.  Not to mention the dialogue, with lines like "Want to give it a try?" and "Will it fit?" and all those shots of the key getting closer and closer to the lock interspersed with shots of Amu blushing.  And the fact that she breaks it off by saying, "No, I'm scared!"  I mean, really.  What's the world of anime coming to?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Adventures in Care-a-lot Episode 17

Surprise Day - "Oopsy, put the tires back."
On a bright Tuesday morning, Harmony heads out to Rainshine Meadows, intending to pick some bumbleberries.  She sees Surprise along the way, who does not do anything surprising.  Turns out she was acting as a decoy for Share to come out and surprise Harmony, who is not pleased to learn that it's a Care Bear Holiday, Surprise Day.  She manages to wriggle out of going to Care Square and beats a hasty retreat back home, much to Share and Surprise's, well, surprise.
While Harmony evidently doesn't like Surprise Day, everyone else enjoys it.  Oopsy and Wingnut try to surprise Grumpy, only to be surprised by him instead, thanks to his robot body double.  While he crows about never being surprised on Surprise Day, his robot breaks down, and he heads back to his garage to fix it.  Meanwhile, Funshine shows up and instantly notices that Harmony is not around, as does Cheer, who is really working that bush costume.  They decide to go see what Harmony's up to.
And she's up to hiding at home.  Surprise Day makes her so nervous that she starts talking to herself just to let the viewers know why she hates the holiday.  Just as she assures herself that staying home will keep any and all surprises away, there's a knock on the door.  She manages to convince Funshine and Cheer that she's just working on something for Surprise Day, and they let her off the hook.  As they leave, they run into Share, who is bringing some kind of musical flower to Harmony as a surprise.  Harmony is initially glad to see her friend, until Share loudly yells, "Surprise!"  Her last nerve snapped, Harmony finally stops dancing around the fact that she hates Surprise Day and takes it out on Share, rejecting her gift.
Later, Share cries by the fountain in Care Square, until a sparkly breeze blows by and sets the fountain spouting, with Surprise right in the middle.  Surprise notices Share's tears and asks what's wrong; Share spouts out verbatim what Harmony told her.  Over at Grumpy's garage, he and Funshine and Cheer muse over what to do about Harmony.  Cheer and Funshine go to talk to her, and Grumpy wards off another surprise attack by Oopsy and Wingnut.  Back at Harmony's, her friends' pleas for her to come out fall on unsympathetic ears, but the sight of a teary-eyed Share melts Harmony's heart (or at least placates her paranoia).  The two explain their POVs on the issue and make up.  Funshine asks for some clarification, and Harmony expands on her dislike of surprises, i.e. there might be a bad one coming her way.  Cheer understands her concern, but points out that she herself has yet to have a bad surprise.  In the background, Oopsy and Wingnut, having given up on surprising Grumpy, take turns surprising each other.  This reminds Harmony of the Surprise Day's potential for fun, and Funshine recommends she try being the surpriser instead of the surprisee.  Harmony still isn't sure, but Share suggests they collaborate on a surprise to make it easier.
To get an idea for the kind of surprise they should do, Share and Harmony observe other surprises in action.  They watch Funshine surprise Cheer with a book full of butterflies, and Harmony starts to get the idea of surprises being fun because they're unexpected.  She's still nervous, though, so Share suggests picking someone to surprise to give them a goal.  Harmony picks Grumpy, despite Share's warnings that he's the hardest bear to surprise.  After all, she has a plan...
Later that they, Share and Harmony wait behind a bench to put their surprise in action.  Harmony has finally gotten into the swing of things, and is excited rather than nervous.  Once Grumpy reaches the singing flower they set out, Harmony and Share jump out and surprise him, then fall prey to his robot body double, as Oopsy and Wingnut did before.  Harmony falls over from the surprise, and Grumpy immediately starts backtracking ("I didn't know it was you that I surprised!").  His contrite babbling is interrupted by Share and Harmony laughing at him and surprising him for real this time.  Share reveals that they got the scoop on his robot body double from Oopsy, and Grumpy congratulates them for actually surprising him.  Harmony admits to still being leery of surprises, but at least now she can see how they could be fun.  Grumpy thanks her for getting the jump on him for a change, and the two resolve to come up with even better surprises for next year.

This episode was all kinds of cute.  Mostly due to some very good expressions in the animation.  I can understand where Harmony is coming from, though.  I'm assuming that Surprise Day is the Care-a-lot equivalent of April Fool's Day, and I always worry about people trying to trick me.  Most people don't bother, though.  

Tempus Fugits - "Wingnut, I'm not a window!"
Over in Care Square, everyone is busy cleaning and gardening, and painting and all other kinds of work (Champ is apparently scrubbing the grass.  Wonder what happened there?).  Funshine tries to get out of painting by claiming his bucket of paint is already empty, but Share just uses her sharing power to duplicate her bucket, which still has plenty of paint.  Sadly, this episode is not about Funshine trying to get out of work, but something much more sinister.  The Nimbits are back (much groaning occurred during this episode), and they try to entice the Care Bears into playing with them, but are continually rebuffed by all the work that has to be done.  Cheer gives them false hope by telling them that they can play with them once all the work is done.  But when the day is over and there's still work to be done, the Nimbits despair.  Until the pink one gets an idea to fiddle with the clock so that the day will go faster and thus the Care Bears will work faster, finishing their jobs in the process.
The next day dawns, and it seems that the Nimbits' gamble has worked: with a seemingly shorter day, the Care Bears work faster, but their work is more erratic: Wingnut accidently wipes down Grumpy instead of a window, and Cheer loses control of a rainbow and tints the porch that Funshine and Share just finished painting, creating more work for them.  And things just get worse from there.  Finally the clock chimes the end of the day and shows a moon, although it's still daytime.  The bears converge at the Gathering Tree, completely worn out.  Cheer points out that at least their work is done, only to get a good look at the chaos caused by their crazy schedule.  At this point, Funshine realizes that the sun is still out, and Grumpy notices the clock has been compromised.  Just as they wonder who could have done such a thing, the Nimbits show up, ready to play.  They expect praise for speeding up the clock, but get a lecture on how clock-time doesn't equal real-time and tricking your friends is bad instead.  Not contrite in the least, the pink one insists that if time really had sped up, they (the Nimbits) could handle everything easy-peasy.  So they get set to try to accomplish all the tasks, with Funshine and Bedtime making it day and night in turn via their belly badges.
Suffice to say, they fail and fail miserably.  Which is kind of amusing to watch.  Fortunately for everyone involved, they learn their lesson.  Grumpy fixes the clock, the Nimbits help everyone else work, and the whole next day can be devoted to playing.  Huzzah.

The only consolation I can take in these Nimbits episodes (of which I really hope this is the last) is that I'm 89% sure that Garry Chalk does the larger one, and thus I can imagine Grounder (from The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog) in his place.  It really does help, in an odd way.


Adventures in Care-a-lot, episode 16

So yeah, these eps.  Both of them were kinda lackluster.  Which is why I've put them off for this long.  You guys are just lucky that I want to get to the most recent eps, otherwise who knows how long I would have put these off...

Bumpity and Tweazle
You know, I'm not even going to dignify this one with a summary.  All you need to know is it's the prequel to Flower Power, and it was even worse than I thought it would be.

Here Comes McKenna
This one is really only saved by Grizzle and UR-2 (that part is just me, of course).  The scenerio of the ep introduces the first kid in the TV series, a spoiled brat named McKenna who is brought to Care-a-Lot because of her lack of sharing skillz (among other things, apparently).  Seriously, this girl may have the looks, but her attitude damage is massive.  Her disregard for sharing leaves Share in despair and Funshine dumbfounded (best Funshine face ever!) as she plows through Share's lunch and demands more.  Although properly contrite when chastised, one gets the idea that she's using "this whole sharing thing is new to me" as a crutch to soften the blow of her rotten behavior.  Cheer suggests that she observe sharing in action to get a better idea of how it's done.
One quick field trip to Share's garden and a Grumpy/Share moment does nothing to help McKenna get it.  Later, she blames her lack of getting it on her lack of a belly badge, and Share sees her point.  Somehow she rips off part of her belly badge and "shares" it with McKenna, who thanks Share profusesly and runs off.  As she runs, she reveals her evil plan: she has no intention of returning the badge, and even plans to use it to force people to "share" all their stuff with her.  Cue commercial break.
Once the commercials end, we see that McKenna is lying in wait (and presumably has been all through the commercials), watching for the moment when Grumpy leaves the CBT (Care Bear Transporter) alone, so she can ditch Care-a-lot and get on with her scheme.  Her waiting is interrupted by the arrival of Grizzle, who demands the Care Bears give him Care-a-lot once and for all.  Funshine offers to share it, rather than transfer ownership outright, but Grizzle refuses to share.  Instead, he has UR-2 bring forth the Caretaker 2 (a shout-out to Oopsy Does It), which improves on the first Caretaker by being smaller, mobile, and invisible(!).  McKenna, still in hiding, is impressed.  The Caretaker 2 starts stealing badges, and McKenna notes that it turns uninvisible whenever it snags one.  She then heads for a better hiding place to keep it from getting her half-a-badge.

With the Care Bears powerless, Grizzle sets up the throne he brought for the occasion, complete with neon sign of himself (from the previous episode) and tinny victory music playing.  UR-2 and Sargent Rocketbottom burst streamers as Grizzle ascends.  Once in position, Grizzle calls for the destruction of Care-a-lot and the creation of Grizzleton.  UR-2 asks what Grizzleton is, exactly, and Grizzle tells him it's just Care-a-lot all smashed up.  While the Care Bears are forced to wreck the library steps (not the library!), Grizzle sends his robot minions to find the Caretaker 2, which is still invisible.  He also warns them not to press the blue button that releases all the belly badges, a warning that McKenna overhears.  (Lampshaded: "I never should have installed that blue button.")  Taking advantage of this distraction, McKenna accidentally trips over the Caretaker 2 on her way to the CBT.  Just as she's about to head back home, she starts to feel guilty.  After all, the Care Bears have been nothing but nice to her, and now they're enslaved.  She decides to help them and then head back home with her half-a-badge, and starts looking for the Caretaker 2.  Unable to find it, she remembers that it turns uninvisible when it snags a badge, and even though she had planned all kinds of nefarious deeds for it, her sense of decency suddenly shows up, and she uses her half-a-badge to lure out the Caretaker 2.
Unfortunately for her, UR-2 happened to be nearby when the Caretaker 2 showed itself, and he makes a mad dash (well, whatever it is he does) for it, but ends up in pieces instead (;_;).  McKenna pushes what she thinks is the blue button (since it's invisible again), and gets it right on the first try.  The badges are released and McKenna even gets her half back.  Grizzle is not amused and orders Rocketbottom to get her.  The Care Bears give him a Care Bear Stare instead, but it's not powerful enough with half-a-badge missing.  Share calls on McKenna to help out, but despite McKenna's protests that she doesn't know what to do, the instruction to "care!" is enough to bring Grizzle to his knees (figuratively, anyway).  In his stare-enlightened state, he is easily persuaded to get rid of the Caretaker 2, and then bids the Care Bears farewell.  UR-2 has pulled himself together enough to follow after his master (I'm guessing Sargeant Rocketbottom was already on the cloud transport).
With Grizzle gone, McKenna confesses to her nefarious plans for her half-a-badge, and Cheer points out that the fact that she didn't leave, even when she had the perfect chance, proves she learned something at least.  Later, as McKenna gets ready to go back home (and Share has her whole badge back), Funshine and Share present her with a "Care-a-lot Kid" outfit (it's really only a jacket and fanny pack), complete with a mini-version of Share's badge.  Apparently the mini-badge will give her the same power when it's pinned to the jacket?  I'm not sure how that would work, exactly.  McKenna tells them all goodbye, though she still calls them "Happy Bears" as she did at the beginning of the episode, and Grumpy takes offense at this as the episode ends.

The first time I saw this, I thought McKenna was too old for the part, but while the problems with sharing may be a bit of a younger thing, the attitude was definitely more in line with an older kid.  But really, if it weren't for the Grizzle parts, I probably wouldn't have bothered to write up this episode either.  

Friday, October 10, 2008

Shugo Chara! - The Golden Prince part 2

Continuing on (very slowly, as usual) with my catching up on Shugo Chara, the following happened in the continuation of the last episode I watched:

Amu's charas see the prince's dad on TV and thing he looks familiar, even though they can't put their finger on who he looks like.  Neither can I, but all that's running through my head right now is "He doesn't look a thing like Jesus..." (And he does act like a gentleman, after all).  (FWIW, they later revealed that the prince's Chara looks like his father, mystery solved.)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sushi Pack - Near Miss and Mirror, Schmirror

Near Miss, or The Episode that Completely Justified Tako's Huge Ego
As this ep opens, the Pack is already on the move, as is a Police helicoptor, which gives the dispatch and exposition: they're in pursuit of a flying pig that stole cash, but mostly coins, from a bank.  As it flies, a hole rips in the bag, dropping coins all over the place.  Somewhere else, Paradoxtor watches the pursuit, and waits for the pig to bring the Sushi Pack to him.  As the pig continues its flight, it startles a woman pushing a piano up a steep sidewalk, and the piano goes rolling back down, heading straight into the path of a truck!  The Pack pause in their pursuit to save the piano: Tako handles stopping the piano while Maguro goes after the truck, just in case.  The others stay in the Sushi Craft, also just in case.  
While Maguro uses her telekinesis to keep the truck from moving, Tako manages to return the piano to the lady, who thanks him profusely, even blowing him a kiss.  And a camera crew that just happens to be there start taking his picture, and he obliges them heartily.  The crowd sends him off with cheers of "Yay, Tako!"  Back in the Craft, Tako thanks Maguro for stopping the truck and vaguely wonders why the camera crew ignored her, but there's no time to ponder that more deeply, as they stop to help a boy whose kitten is stuck in a tree.  While Maguro flies up to get the kitten, the boy reveals himself as a Tako fan and asks for an autograph.  Tako, ever the one to show off, not only signs his name, but grabs the kitten at the same time.  To his credit, Maguro was taking an awfully long time to do such a simple task.  Still, that doesn't stop her from getting annoyed, and stealing the kitten back with her powers.  She and Tako go back and forth with the kitten for a while, and Maguro complains that she doesn't seem to be getting the attention she feels she deserves considering the effort she's putting in.  Tako points out that he thanked her, but she tells him his actions don't match up with his words, and gives the kid his kitten.  Regardless, Tako gets the thanks, much to Maguro's chagrin.
Paradoxtor, still waiting, complains about all the detours the Sushi Pack keeps making.  He's especially annoyed because he wants to try out his new cage, specially made to counter all of the Pack's powers.  The pig lands and starts digging, so the Pack sets off on foot to follow, only to be  stopped by a crowd alreadying cheering for Tako.  Tako just sends them away, since he hasn't done anything yet.  This only sets Maguro off more.  Tako tries to placate her with new-agey phrases either cribbed from her or Ben (I'm more inclined to think he's taking words she said herself, though), but she doesn't buy it.  Kani jumps to Tako's defense, although she ends up damning him with faint praise ("Sure he has a big ego and a fake eyepatch, but...").  Tako's not sure whether to be flattered or insulted.
Tired of waiting, Paradoxtor watches an episode of Even Odds that he taped at an earlier date.  He also narrates a Note to Self into a video camera (basically just congratulating himself for thinking of taping his shows, and also for getting a camera so he doesn't just talk to himself like a crazy person.  What happened to his henchshrimp?).  He also fills the camera in on his latest scheme: with his new Animixter Ray, he can combine two animals into one (hence, the flying pig), and demonstrates by mixing a wolf with a sheep.  He's already made a few and supplied them all with masks for a reason that isn't made clear.  His ultimate goal is to make an army of mixed animals, although the way he describes it, I think he's just lonely.  But first he has to get rid of the Sushi Pack, perhaps because they would never allow his abominations of nature to live.  Oh, Paradoxtor, isn't there someplace where you and your Animixes can live together in peace?  That's something to ponder over the commercial break.
Back with the Pack, and also back in the Sushi Craft, Tako ponders where the pig is going, and Maguro snaps at him.  He points out her unleaderlike behavior, but she doesn't respond.  They finally arrive at the building Paradoxtor's using for his headquarters, which practically reeks of "trap."  Tako splits them into two groups, himself with Kani and Ikura, Maguro with Wasabi.  Wasabi protests; he wants to go with Tako.  Tako points out that this would leave Maguro partnerless, but Wasabi has bought into the hype produced by this blog the media, so Tako reminds him that Maguro is as much a hero as the rest of them.  But to get the show back on track, Tako decides to let Ikura and Kani handle Wasabi while he gets some "alone time" with Maguro.  Maguro is in no mood for this, however, and tells them all in no uncertain terms that she can handle the mission herself, and goes off to do just that.  Concerned, the others take off after her, but with no sign of where she went, they follow the pig's trail and hope to find her there, too.  As they climb up the stairs, there's a small discussion of hybrids, until they reach the top and are confronted by a penguin with the head of a crocodile.
Elsewhere, Maguro searches, but she leaps into action when she hears the others' cries of distress.  It's too late, though, as Paradoxtor already has them in his new cage.  He dares them to escape, and they go at it with glee.  But Kani's pinchers are thwarted by the cage's plastic(?) sides, Wasabi's fireballs just bounce off the walls, Tako isn't able to break through, and Ikura doesn't even try.  Paradoxtor tells them of his plans for them, now that he's proven his cage is inescapable.  First, he'll use his Animixter on them, and then feed the resulting creation to his Animixes.  Fortunately for the Pack, Paradoxtor didn't notice Maguro wasn't there, and all his spieling gave her the chance to move the cage with her telekinesis.  Paradoxtor sends his Animixes after her, and there's a bit of a chase before the cage finally breaks, releasing the others just in time for a proper battle against Paradoxtor and the Animixes.  In the heat of the battle, Kani uses a table to smash the Animixter, and Paradoxtor has a Big No moment.  
Tako finds Paradoxtor's VHSes of Even Odds and the DVD back-ups, and Paradoxtor starts to rebut, but has another Big No moment when the Pack destroys the videos and DVDs (either that, or he really did mean, "Didn't you hear my Big No before?"  I'm really not sure which it is).  They attack him, too, and Paradoxtor is finished.  Ikura points out that with the destruction of the Animixtor, all the Animixes are back to normal, and Maguro notes that's it's like at the end of the movie where there's the "no animals were harmed in the making of this film" disclaimer.  Tako, on the other hand, notes that Paradoxtor did not change back to normal, meaning he isn't an Animix, but something else entirely.  Tako doesn't stop to consider the implications of this, though, since he has to give Maguro her due for saving them all this time around.  The others agree and give her three cheers.  Later, as they return the money to the bank (bet you forgot about that, didn't you?), Maguro reveals that she actually learned a lesson (apparently she was being jealous, and now she knows that they all get praised in turn), although no one points out the fact that her storming off actually allowed her to save the day.  Or maybe someone would have if they hadn't been ambushed by another cheering crowd, fortunately just giving a generic "Sushi Pack!" cheer this time.

I really felt bad for Paradoxtor this time around.  I mean, all he wanted was some friends that were like him (maybe the henchshrimp dumped him or something), and he knew that the Sushi Pack would stop him somehow, so he just wanted to get them before they got him.  Is that so wrong?
All through the first part of the ep, I couldn't help but think my blog had some influence on the writing ^_~ Also, this ep, while seeming to have all the marks of a Tako/Maguro-shippy episode, really wasn't that shippy at all.  What a waste.

Mirror, Schmirror, or Nothing is Solved by Perfectly Symmetrical Violence
This episode starts with Ikura attempting to backseat-drive the Sushi Craft (apparently a different one than their usual, since it has fewer seats, meaning Maguro and Tako sit next to each other in the front), but his direction-giving skills need some work.  It turns out that they're trying to get a pre-release copy of the latest Aquabot-boy video game for Ikura, although the others all think he has plenty of games already.  Ikura maintains that he's a collector, hence why he needs this game.  No one points out the obvious parallels to be found with The Collector (as in, Ikura shouldn't be needing to learn this lesson), but Maguro does point out that a secret warehouse is a pretty odd place to get a video game.  They park on a crate, and Tako lends everyone a tentacle getting down (literally), but Maguro, still a bit miffed from the last story (or not wanting to think about the implications of walking down Tako's arm, as it were), turns down his offer and simply floats herself down.  As soon as they're all down, the suspicious-looking parking meter they parked by morphs back into Uni.  Oh ho ho...
As they approach the warehouse door, Maguro airs her suspicions again, but Ikura simply tells her that it's a special for members of the Aquabot-boy Video Game Fan Club.  As Ikura does a secret knock, the members of the Legion of Low Tide all signal each other, ending with Toro pulling a rope that opens a trapdoor under the Pack.  Tako manages to grab onto the edge of the platform and grabs the others, and tells Maguro (again floating under her own power) to save herself once a powerful suction starts up.  Maguro attempts to break out of the suction, but she, and the others, quickly succumb.  They fall down a tube and are deposited in a glass cage.  Titanium Chef is quick to show up, gloating about how he knew his fake message would reach at least one of the Pack's need for more things.  He starts to figure out who it was, ruling each member out for different reasons (Maguro has no interest, Kani is too "hands-on," Wasabi is too naive, and Tako has too large of an ego) until he gets to Ikura and rightly hypothesizes that it was him.  Truth be told, I'm not sure what Titanium Chef's theories about Kani, Wasabi, and Tako have to do with them not taking the bait.  Ikura tells Titanium Chef that he'll never keep them down, but fortunately, the Chef has an entirely different plan in mind.  He pulls down the book of Chum Chop (this time subtitled "Recipes of Darkness") and instructs the Legion to start chanting a mantra that will send the Sushi Pack away.  As they chant, the side of the Pack's cage starts getting swirly, and the Pack tries to understand what's going on.  Tako asks Maguro for a reality check, and she tells him about the research she's read on Parallel Universes.  It seems there's a yin and yang to everything, even worlds.  
Meanwhile, the still-chanting Legionaires start blinking in and out of the picture, and a vortex opens in their cage.  Titanium Chef tells them to go through it, and when the Pack refuses, he pulls out something on fire (I'm really not sure what it is) to convince them.  As he sends them backing toward the vortex, he takes a moment to gloat ("Maybe next time the little orange guy will think twice before wanting more than he needs"), and then with one final push, they're outta there!  The Pack falls through the vortex and lands in a super-sparkly kitchen that smells of fresh-baked cookies.  Although Maguro insists that they are in a real parallel universe, she still appreciates Tako's ribbing on the Titanium Chef.  Their levity is short-lived, for they encounter the mirror-version of the Legion of Low Tide, who all have visible fangs, and the male members all have goatees.  They cower before what they think is their world's Sushi Pack, for this is a world where the scale of good to evil is reversed.  Thinking it might be another trap, the Pack starts heading out, when who should show up but the mirror-Titanium Chef!  Just as the scent indicated, he bears cookies fresh from the oven.  Freaked out by a happy homemaker Titanium Chef, the Pack beats a hasty retreat.
Out in the open, the Pack is greeted with cries of "Sushi Pack! Run!" as they look at the a Wharf City in disarray.  As they gawk, a police car drives up and a very sparkly Mirror Mayor Martin arrives.  Tako greets him as he usually would, prompting laughter from the mayor, who thinks it's a joke.  But then he gets down to the business of bribing the Pack to get him re-elected.  He gives them the keys to the city, his pinky ring, and even his shoes, and then drives off.  Tako has no clue what's going on, so Maguro explains about the parallel universe thing again.  It's quickly illustrated by the arrival of the mirror-Sushi Pack.  In addition to the fangs, mirror-Kani and Maguro also have eye shadow (Tako decides he likes the goatees on the male members, though).  Faced with their doppelgangers, the Packs attack!  Like most battles of this kind, they find themselves too evenly matched (I would like the note that there is Tako/Maguro-shippyness even in the alternate universe ^_~).  Unsure of what to do, Wasabi suggests going to Ben for advice, but what kind of advice will a mirror-Ben give?  Maybe something they'll actually listen to.
The Mirror-Pack claims the stuff the mayor left (since it was for them anyway), and start to fight over who gets what.  All except for Mirror-Ikura, who admonishes them for their greed.  The others refuse to listen to him.  Tako notices Ikura watching this, and obliquely comments on the parallel to him.  A little too obliquely, as Ikura thinks he talking about the others, and points out that the mirror-him is trying to help the others.  Then it hits him that if the mirror-him is his opposite...oh yeah.  Tako is obviously enjoying this little epiphany, but Maguro assures Ikura that he's changed now, and urges the others to get a move on.  Over at the mirror-Green Donut, Ben initially thinks that the Pack is just a shaved Mirror-Pack (and Tako agrees with him that they look better with goatees), but Maguro explains that they come from a parallel universe.  Kani adds that they need to get back to their world to stop Titanium Chef from doing who-knows-what, but who-knows-what sounds pretty good to Mirror-Ben, and he's no use at all.  In light of this, Maguro gets another idea, and the Pack is off again.
They go back to see mirror-Titanium Chef, who is glad to see them again.  Maguro reasons that he must have a copy of the book of Chum Chop, and it turns out he does, for study purposes only.  But he obliges the Pack and finds the recipe that Titanium Chef used in their world.  Before they all start chanting, Maguro asks what a nice guy like Mirror Chef is doing in a crappy world like this.  Mirror Chef chalks it down to irony, and tells them that they all have to make the best of what they're given, a lesson Ikura has learned, but in regards to stuff, not situation.  Although Mirror Chef wishes he could go somewhere where right prevails in the end, he wishes the Pack luck.
Back in the real world, Titanium Chef apparently spent the whole time giving the Legion of Low Tide a pep talk, as the Pack is back before they've had time to do anything evil at all.  Faced with the Pack, Titanium Chef and the Legion run away.  As the Pack laughs at them, Ikura declares that they have something else to take care of...  The scene cuts to some restaurant somewhere, where Ikura remarks on the lesson he learned via the Mirror-Pack.  Mirror Chef shows up with cookies, and Maguro declares their mission over.  She looks over for Tako's approval, only to find he has a goatee!  Everyone gasps (but Kani looks pleased), but Tako just rips it off--it was a fake all along.  And the episode is over.

So wait, did they go back and bring Mirror Chef to their world?  Does that mean that there are two Titanium Chefs running around Wharf City now?  Will they meet up in a future episode?  That would be pretty cool, actually.  Sadly, Titanium Chef's animation was not good enough for him to be truly awesome this time.  And is it just me, or should this ep have been longer?  I mean, you just can't do justice to a parallel world plotline in only 10 minutes.  They got there, they looked around for a minute, they went home.  
And shouldn't Mirror-Tako's eyepatch have been on the opposite side?  What's up with that, huh?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

There's a handsome guy inside this comic

I got tipped to this, and seriously, it's great. Apparently some guy redid the song "Take on Me" by A-Ha, only with lyrics that describe what's going on in the music video quite literally. The best part is the instrumental, though.
Since that video doesn't work any more, you can see it here.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Shugo Chara 36 - The Golden Prince part one, aka the Obvious Episode

As I work on catching up with all the Shugo Chara eps I missed over the spring and summer, so far I've gotten up to 36, which I seriously hope is just a filler (two-part) ep, and not an actual story from the manga, simply because of two things:

Okay, see the character on the left?  That's a girl, but apparently she was masquerading as a boy.  It's all revealed in one scene near the end of the episode where her hair came down and Amu was all "Wait a minute, you're really a girl?" and she answered, "Yes, but I disguise myself as a boy because it's easier to move around and serve the titular prince."  And I was all, "She was supposed to be a boy?"  It never even crossed my mind that she was supposed to be anything other than a girl, seriously.

2. Also, after basically stating the same fact at least three times, the prince acts all surprised when Amu suddenly calls him out on wanting to acheive what his father couldn't (find the embryo, btw).  Like his secret was out, and he hadn't been saying "I want to do what my father couldn't" all through the episode. -_- 

I don't know why these things bug me, but they do.

Sushi Pack - Taming the Gaming

Before moving forward to the new season's episodes, here's a look back that I promised a while ago.  The exceedingly Tako-centric Taming the Gaming gets massive points for lots of Tako (obviously), but negative points for a storyline that's kind of a mess.  Here's how it all went down...

The episode starts with Tako doing some kind of face-off with something, but it turns out he's just playing a video game.  He did make it all the way to level 870 already, though, so he's pretty proud of himself.  While he crows about his victory, Maguro finishes making dinner for all (do they switch off, or is she the homemaker of the group?), veggie burgers and wild rice, which the others prepare to eat with chopsticks (how?).  However, Maguro points out that not everyone is there, so they have to wait.  The missing member is Tako, still playing his game.  Maguro tries to convince him to stop playing and eat with them (even pulling out her "I'm the co-leader" card), but Tako pays her no mind and just keeps playing.
Cut to downtown, where the villain of the day, Paradoxtor, is watching his favorite game show, Even Odds, on his myriad of security monitors.  During the commercial break, he calls on his jumbo shrimp henchmen (congratulating himself on the "perfect contradiction" of jumbo shrimp as he does).  Apparently, he just wanted them to accompany him to the kitchen, where he finishes up his sweet and sour sauce, intended for Wharf City's water supply.  The sauce is made to give anyone who tastes it an uncontrollable urge for sushi, effectively getting the citizens of Wharf City to do his dirty work for him.  Which of course means that he's yet another returning-for-the-first-time villain.  Anyway, with the Pack out of the way, he'll be able to take over Wharf City, although why he wants to do this is not made known to us.  He goes on to reveal the secret ingredient of the sauce, although it doesn't really do any good to know what it is, only that he has the last bottle of it, thus if his plan goes wrong, he won't be able to repeat it.  (Note: this is just my observation; it didn't actually occur to him.) After revealing the secret ingredient, Paradoxtor reveals his name for the first time in the episode, prompting one of his henchmen to ask what a paradox is.  Paradoxtor tells him, and the henchman sees it more as an oxymoron, and hey, wouldn't that be a better name for man-ox villain?  Paradoxtor does not agree, and sends him away while he tends his sauce.
The next morning, Maguro wakes the others for their morning exercises.  Tako, however, never went to bed in the first place, and is still playing his game (I don't understand why he has to use six controllers for the same game).  Maguro inquires after his health, and Tako's game-related rambling does not reassure her.  She reminds him of their morning training, but he insists that the game is training enough, since he's been at it for three days straight.  Again, Maguro is less than reassured.  She tells him that a Pack member has to "alert, strong, and focused," but Tako just takes this advice to get further in his game, laughing maniacally (or as close as Tako gets, anyway).  Elsewhere, Paradoxtor's sauce is ready!  But just as he's about to order his hench-shrimp to action, his timer goes off, reminding him that Even Odds is about to begin.  He once again uses the security monitors to watch his show, and it just so happens to be an all-day marathon.  Fortunately for him, there's a commercial break first thing, so he has just enough time to order his shrimp to dump the sauce.
Later, the Pack (minus Tako) watch the news and see Sophia Tucker report on the sighting of literal jumbo shrimp at Wharf City Reservoir.  Ikura recognizes the shrimp as Paradoxtor's henchmen, confirming his status as a returning-for-the-first-timer.  Kani calls for action, and the others get ready to roll with the lame catchphrase, "Sushi Pack, pack up!"  Tako, however, does not appreciate being distracted from his game, but his days of nonstop playing have finally taken their toll, as one by one he drops his controllers, and though he tries to save them, there is no saving the game, and it's all over.  Tako weeps, but joins the others for the mission, although he is little more than a sleepy slug at this point.
Once the commercials are over, the Pack take off in the Sushi Craft.  Tako pilots as usual, but all too soon he starts to zonk out and thinks he's playing his game again.  He narrowly misses hitting a pigeon, thanks to a timely warning from Maguro.  Somehow he manages to land (or maybe he doesn't, considering it's offscreen), and the Pack is on the move.  Maguro demands binoculars from Tako, but not only does he fall asleep while she's asking, but he left them in the Sushi Craft anyway.  Due to these factors, Maguro strips him of his leadership, despite Tako's protests that he's more agile than ever thanks to all his gaming (he also claims it boosted his inkspray, but this proves to be false).  Instead, Maguro appoints Ikura as co-leader for the mission, and Ikura promises to do his best.  The Pack boards the ship that Paradoxtor calls home, with Tako lagging noticably behind.  Meanwhile, Paradoxtor is preparing to do something in relation to his plan (it's not clear, but it definitely involves a lever), when the commercials end and Even Odds returns.  This gives the Sushi Pack time to get on board, but Tako's lethargic entrance alerts some of the shrimp to their presence.  Ikura is able to waylay them with some well-placed salmon roe, and Maguro manages to prop open a door, but not long enough for Tako to get through.  And thus is Tako captured.
Paradoxtor takes a few moments during a commercial break to gloat in front of Tako, who is being kept in a wire cage.  Left alone again, Tako tries to escape, but lacks the strength to break through.  Where's Kani when you need her?  With the rest of the Pack, of course, sneaking past the distracted Paradoxtor.  They easily find Tako, who is surprised they came for him.  Maguro, of course, reassures him that he's part of the team, and Kani breaks the lock on the cage door.  There are hugs all around, and then the Pack gets ready for action.  There's some fancy scene work of them running.  At the next commercial break, Paradoxtor notices that Tako escaped, and calls for his henchshrimp to sound the silent alarm (of course).  During the course of all their running, the Pack stumbles on Paradoxtor's sauce, and figuring it can only be bad (since it's labeled Sushi Sauce and everything), they attack, knocking over the chamber it was in and dousing the shrimp that were chasing them.  The shrimps' sounds of distress goes unheard by Paradoxtor until the commercial break.  He goes to investigate and ends up slipping on the sauce and into the vat, and the Sushi Pack is quick to replace the lid, locking him in.  Paradoxtor laments the end of his scheme, but is satisfied that it's a paradox at least.  I, however, fail to see how it's a paradox.  If anything, it's just ironic.  Hoisted by his own petard, as it were.
Back at the Green Donut, the Pack reflects on the many things learned in this ep, like "don't underestimate the little guy," "too much of anything is a bad thing," and "less is more" (just like them! um, okay?).  Just as Tako points out the parallels between him and his video game and Paradoxtor and Even Odds, he hears the siren call of the video game saying "press start to play again."  Tako is able to put his gaming behind him, though, garnering "woohoos" and hugs from everyone else (man, they're feeling real huggy in this ep, aren't they?).  But the episode isn't over just yet.  Skip ahead to the next morning, where after a good night's sleep, Tako goes through his morning training (alone, apparently), declares himself "back," and sprays everything with ink.  The End!

So yeah, that was Taming the Gaming.  I hate to admit it, but watching it again, the ep gains a few more points because Paradoxtor is kind of cute. Y'know, for a man-ox.  I also like that we got a little more insight into the Pack's daily life (I think this was the first episode to mention that Tako and Maguro are co-leaders).  But overall, this ep just feels weird.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Crochet Me

Somehow or other, I've become a crocheter.  I'm not entirely sure how it happened, but this is what I recall.
I first encountered crochet when I was about 15 or 16.  During my Junior High through High School years, I was part of a group called Musicon Ministries; I'm not really going to go into all the details of it, but all you need to know about it for this story is that it involved a group of kids from all over CT who met for weekend retreats during the year.  Part of these retreats was a large group session/lecture, and one weekend, a girl was working on crocheting an afghan, and worked on it during all the sessions.  I asked her about it at some point and she said it was really easy once you got the pattern down, and mentioned even crocheting during her classes at school.
Skip ahead to 2002, when the first Michael's I ever encountered opened, and I picked up a teach-kids-to-crochet-stuff kit, and learned how to crochet a drawstring bag.  I made a couple more, but after that I didn't do any more crocheting for a few years, although not for want of trying.  For some reason I couldn't commit to a project (although being in college at the time probably had something to do with that).  Skip ahead again to the end of 2006, when I suddenly decided I wanted to crochet another drawstring bag (having lost the others I made).  Unfortunately for me, I couldn't find the materials that came with the kit, and when I tried finding it again at Michael's, they didn't have any.  Fortunately, a local Jo-Ann Fabrics did have the exact kit I wanted, so I was back to crocheting again.  I made grand plans of making drawstring bags for everyone I knew, but after two, my interest waned again.
Skip ahead one last time to this past May.  While browsing in the library, I noticed Get Hooked Again on display, and remembered seeing the first Get Hooked on Amazon, so I picked it up, figuring that maybe the patterns would inspire me to take up crochet again.  Just a few days later, I was at a newly opened Borders (I went because of special offer coupons only valid at that store), and while I waited in line, I noticed a crochet kit that came with not only instructions on how to crochet, two balls of yarn and a set of five hooks, but 50 pattern cards, all for only 8 dollars.  It seemed like destiny, so of course I picked it up.
Between the book and the kit, I found out something rather important: I had been crocheting the wrong way!  In all my previous endeavours, I had been going through each round by putting my hook in the back loop of each stitch, rather than under both of them, which is proper crocheting.  Going through the back loop produces a ribbed effect.  Perhaps it was finding this out that let me stick with crochet this time around, as I proceeded to crochet all summer long, sometimes to my detriment (I missed posting on time in one of my class discussions because I thought I had another day and wanted to work on a tote bag while watching one of the Indiana Jones movies), but mostly to my pleasure.
This whole post is just the lead-up to my showing off my latest, and first wearable, creation, the Coming Home Poncho.  I picked up the pattern in a shop in Bermuda, which is also where I got the hook I used for it, although I didn't want to scare my husband by getting all four balls of yarn needed for it, so I didn't get to work on it until I was actually home.  It took a little under a month, although if I'd worked on it more often, it probably would have taken less time.  Behold:
It's pretty warm.  The yarn is Lion Brand Homespun in Montana Sky (the actual pattern calls for Prairie or something like that, but it was too boring.  I like blue a lot better).  While I don't feel confident enough to do actual fitted items yet, I wouldn't mind doing something like a vest next.