On my other kid

Pictured: not my kid, my kid

I just dug through a month’s worth of posts from five years ago to determine that, probably because she was a minor at the time and isn’t actually my kid, I didn’t mention that a former student stayed in my house overnight before the last Washington D.C. trip I chaperoned way back in the day. Technically she probably shouldn’t have been on the trip, but she’d signed up before moving to Arizona and I literally had her mom assign me temporary legal custody of her and just didn’t tell anybody about it.

I took a picture of her sitting on my couch, and I remember posting it to Facebook with a caption something along the lines of “Why is this in my house?,” which entertained a number of her other teachers who I was friends with at the time.

She is 19 now, and is back in town again, and I picked her up at the airport last night, and she’ll probably be here tonight too before spending the rest of the week with other family and friends. And last night, as we were driving back from the airport, she got a text message from one of her friends directing us to visit her at her job at Arby’s. The friend is also a former student.

So were two other employees at that Arby’s, including another kid who had been on that same DC trip. All four of them were in the same class, which was hands-down the best group of kids I ever had. And I had them twice, first in 6th grade and then when they were 8th graders. So it happened that I, a grown man less than a month from his 43rd birthday, found myself in an Arby’s at 10:15 on a Friday night, after the lobby had closed, at least nominally hanging out with four nineteen-year-olds, three of whom were at least technically at work (and one the manager) and none of whom seemed to think it was remotely weird that 1) I was there in the first place or 2) I was the person who had been assigned the duty of picking this kid up at the airport, a job that one might think would have gone to, like, actual family, but we all have our priorities where they should be apparently.

And I spent about twenty minutes bouncing back and forth between this is at least a little creepy and hey, Hacienda is right across the street, do you guys want to go over there for a while after you get off work? Because age difference or not this really was a great group of kids and it turns out they have not gotten less interesting as they’ve aged into young adulthood.

And I’m just gonna leave that thought there, because I’m not sure I have anything else to add to it, but yeah: last night was kind of surreal.

(About the picture: the boy didn’t remember her from her last visit, which wasn’t surprising, but as soon as he discovered she was wearing Psyduck socks she became his favorite person ever.)

On explaining gay people to your presumably straight kids

This just happened.

THE SCENE: We are watching the final episode of Season 2 of She-Ra. It is revealed that a character (no spoilers) has two dads.

THE BOY: Two dads?

MY WIFE: Yep.

ME: It happens.

THE BOY: Oh, okay.

End scene.

Creepy Children’s Programming Reviews: #SHERA AND THE PRINCESSES OF POWER

Y’all.

I had He-Man toys as a kid.  I grew up in the eighties; it was inevitable.  I didn’t really pay a hell of a lot of attention to She-Ra because … well, I was a boy.  And She-Ra was for girls.  I also watched the He-Man cartoon, and I have very detailed memories of being very angry with WGN because at some point or another they chose to commit the cardinal sin of pre-empting an episode of He-Man with a Cubs game.  

I don’t think I ever watched the She-Ra cartoon.  I remember that she said “For the honor of Greyskull” instead of “By the power of Greyskull,” but I think that’s cultural osmosis and not an actual memory.  I could not have told you the names of a single member of her supporting cast prior to this week.

Honestly, I only decided to watch the show because it seemed to be pissing off a bunch of whiny manbaby manchildren, and I like it when those people’s feelings are hurt.  If that makes me a bad person, I can live with it.  

I probably shouldn’t even make this part of the CCPR series, y’all, because I loved every second of this show.  The three of us watched the first two episodes together and we had to force our son to go to bed at his bedtime because he wanted to stay up and watch more.  We watched the other eleven episodes in two big gulps over the next couple of days.  This is absolutely 100% unequivocally the best show I’ve ever done one of these pieces on, and I’m only not calling it my favorite animated series of all time because I feel like the second I hit Publish on this piece I’ll remember what my favorite animated series really is and I’ll feel dumb.

I’m not gonna lie: a large portion of my affection for this show is somewhat political.  I love what this show is as much as how it is what it is.  But before I get into that, I want to be super clear about something: the show is hilarious and touching and action-packed and the voice acting is superb and even before we get into any of the representation issues it’s a great show.  My son loved it so much that he’s created his own characters inspired by the show and he’s been drawing comic books about them and creating statues of them in Minecraft all day.  My son does not love the show because of politics.  My son loves the show because it’s awesome.

To wit: when She-Ra first turns Swift Wind, her horse, into a … pegacorn?  Unisus?  Rainbow horned wing-beast thing, the horse’s reaction to its new wings and horn had all three of us laughing so hard we could barely breathe.  Sea Hawk’s insistence on setting his ships on fire was a running joke that never got any less funny.  The relationship between She-Ra and Catra– an invention of the new series, from my understanding– is complex and heartbreaking, especially for a show where friendship is such an important theme, and it feels real.  Adora’s fish-out-of-water reaction to … well, virtually everything after leaving the Horde is great.  I love even the minor characters, with Mermista, Entrapta and Scorpia being particular favorites. The animation style, which got a lot of unnecessary abuse, is exactly appropriate for the show, and the facial expressions are worthy of The Amazing World of Gumball.  It’s phenomenal, all the way through.

But yeah.  Let’s talk about the cast.  This is what She-Ra’s cast of characters used to look like:

I mean, the two on the outside are both purple…

This is what the cast of the new show looks like:

So straight off the jump we’re in a better place here.  The cast of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is deliberately and intentionally diverse, both in the appearances of the characters and the actual voice cast.  Glimmer is actually kinda chubby, and Spinnerella is flat-out fat,and it’s never once remarked upon by any of the characters.  That’s just what they look like.  It’s heavy on women characters, as a show with the words Princesses of Power might be expected to be, but it’s not just a palette swap with typical cartoons, where the women have less agency and less characterization.  Bow may be the only male of the three principals with Adora and Glimmer, but he’s a solid character on his own right and his relationship with Sea Hawk is hilarious.

(A moment, please, to just appreciate the He-Man style of naming characters.  This show features a sorceress character called Castaspella, mercifully called “Casta” most of the time, and a character who throws nets whose name is Netossa.  And in case “Netossa” is too subtle for you, she actually explains it onscreen.  The character named Perfuma is once represented by some random object while the group is making a plan and she insists on being represented by a perfume bottle.  The names are ridiculous.)

And, oh, guys, it’s so gay.  So very very very very very very very gay.

This show is so gay it makes Queer Eye look like 19 Kids and Counting.

Bow wears a midriff with a heart on it.  At one point he needs to wear a tuxedo for a ball.  His tuxedo has a cummerbund on it.  He tears off the cummerbund so he can continue to rock his abs in his formalwear at the ball.  Which he attends with a girl, but oh my God his reaction when he realizes Sea Hawk is there.

The bad guys are literally wiped away by a giant rainbow wave of love in the final episode.

Spoiler alert, I guess.  I mean, if you didn’t know the good guys win at the end of the season.  You probably coulda guessed.  

Oh, and the goddamn horse ends up being a socialist.

You need to watch this show.  If that means you need to get Netflix, do it.  It’s great.  I can’t wait for the second season.  Neither can my seven-year-old son.  If my recommendation doesn’t work for you, take his.

Creepy Children’s Programming Reviews: THE DAY MY BUTT WENT PSYCHO

TheDayMyButtWentPsychoProfile.jpg

So the boy has figured out how to use the Netflix app on his (my) iPad, meaning that he no longer really watches “TV” in the classic sense, ie, on an actual television.  He’s also become a bit less likely to get religion about a show for weeks at a time.  The New Hotness might last only a few days now before he moves onto something else.  Also, because he’s watching on a personal device, what he’s watching requires a bit more direct monitoring than the TV, which gets shoved into my brain if I’m in the room whether I want to or not.

A couple of weeks ago I’m sitting in my recliner, probably reading or something, and he’s on the couch watching some damn thing on the iPad.  After a few minutes, I realize that the word butt has floated into my earballs just a bit more than random chance might otherwise suggest, and I start paying attention.   And the word butt continues to fly from the iPad.

“Boy, what the hell are you watching?”

“The Day my Butt went Psycho,” he says.

“What’s it really called?” I say.

This confuses him.  At any rate, he’s telling the truth, and The Day My Butt Went Psycho is an actual fucking show, made by Canadians and Australians, no less, two peoples who I thought had more sense than this, and based on an actual book.  Although it doesn’t appear to be actually about a particular day, or anyone’s particular butt going psycho.  No, this show’s actually the weirdest post-apocalyptic fantasy in television history:

Butts!  Always one step behind.  Years ago, butts rose up to overthrow humanity.  People fought back!  And now an uneasy peace remains, as the world waits for the next great buttfighter!

Here, there, everywhere, 
Butts are loose but we don’t care
I’m teaming up with my butt
Cheek for cheek, an awesome pair
We’ve got the same DNA
Kicking butt in every waaaaay
Zach and Deuce forever!

I…

I have so many questions.  How many years ago did this happen?  Decades?  Just a couple of years?  Has Zach’s butt Deuce always been detatched, or as the show implies, did it happen when he was a teenager?  Are children born with their butts detatched?  Can butts reproduce on their own without human assistance?  Do butts automatically match their humans in gender?  How the hell does pooping and digestion in general work now? Do butts need to eat?

What the merry fuck is buttfighting?  Why is the world waiting for a buttfighter, and how will a buttfighter help with the “uneasy peace” between people and butts?  Zach and Deuce are best friends; are they unusual in this respect?  Do most people not get along with their butts?  How does that work?  What happens to the people whose butts were killed during the Great Butt Uprising?  What happens to the butts whose people were killed during the Great Butt Uprising?  Have animals also lost their butts?  What about other living things who possess a digestive system and a means of excretion but do not, precisely speaking, have what we would call a “butt”?

What exactly is a butt, anyway?

I need to know the answers to these questions.  But without, like, watching the show or anything, because I just cannot handle this number of butt-related puns, with episodes like Butt I’m a Cheerleader and Jurassic Fart and Game of Porcelain Thrones and My God Just Kill Me and maybe I made up that last one.

This show is not telling the stories I want to hear.  I need worldbuilding here, people!  Exposition!  When are the prequels coming out?  I must know about the uprising.

God help me.

God help us all.

Creepy Children’s Programming Reviews: THE AMAZING WORLD OF GUMBALL

painel-festa-2x1m-gumball-artigos-para-festa

This show has been the New Hotness around here for maybe three weeks or so, and he really hasn’t watched anything else during that time.  Outside of Teen Titans Go!, which it just occurs to me has never been the subject of one of these posts, it might be my favorite series he’s ever watched, to the point where I really don’t even have anything snarky to say about it, just a recommendation that you go watch it yourself, even if you don’t have a little kid in the house to give you an excuse.

The premise: the blue, oddly wide-hipped cat on the right is Gumball Watterson, a middle-school aged cat-thing.  The orange thing in the green socks on the left is Darwin Raglan Caspian Ahab Poseidon Nicodemius Watterson III.  That’s not a joke.  They call him Darwin, but that’s his name. Darwin is a fish, and he used to be Gumball’s pet and live in a bowl on his desk, but apparently I missed the episode where he grew legs and became a main character or something?  I dunno, roll with it.

(In time-honored The Boy Is Watching TV fashion, I haven’t seen the episodes in anything even vaguely resembling the order they aired in, so I’m sure I’m missing lots of stuff.  But yeah, Darwin’s a fish, and used to be a pet, but now he can breathe air and walk around. Make something up so it makes sense.)

Also, Darwin is a cat, and his mom is a cat, but the fish is also his brother in addition to being his former pet, and his dad and his sister are both rabbits.  The role of genetics in this world is somewhat suspect.  Also, his dad is a genial useless Homer Simpson type without the cynicism– oddly, I find dad weirdly refreshing– and Mom may be a no-shit actual ninja when she isn’t housewifing.

Take a good long look at that picture up there, which includes a decent chunk of the cast. You will note that there appear to be a pretty wide variety of animation styles on display, from traditional 2D animation to 3D CGI to papercraft to 8-bit pixel art to 1930s-style cel animation to puppetry to stop-motion to live-action.  The characters themselves range from animals to insects to robots to inanimate objects (one character is a bomb with legs) and food to Sussie.  This is Sussie:

ThePony45

Sussie, if you can’t immediately tell, is someone’s upside-down face with googly eyes glued to her (?) chin.  (Sussie is female, but I think the chins are mostly guys?  They’re not always the same chin; that one snaggletooth in the picture isn’t always there.) We watched a Sussie-centered episode last night before going to bed and she was what convinced me that this show needed one of these pieces written about it, because Sussie is fucked up, guys.  She apparently takes her eyes off before she sleeps, and then peels them off of a sheet of googly-eyes to put them on in the morning?  And the episode was about her making Gumball and Darwin wear her googly eyes over her real eyes, and then they saw the world the way she does, and the entire episode was a fucked-up masterpiece of 3000 different styles of animation all in the same episode, and it was weird and brilliant and

(brief pause while I realize the second Tunisian player is being stretchered off the field since I started typing this; damn, but the Belgians and Tunisians are going at each other hard in this match)

and anyway the show is weird and dark and funny and insanely inventive and adventurous and original and has the best facial expressions of any animated television program I’ve ever seen and it’s genuinely worth a watch even if you don’t have a kid in the house to give you an excuse.  Actually, let’s talk about those facial expressions for a moment; one of the results about this show’s refusal to stick to a single stye of animation is that they’re free to vary things like line weight as much as they want, which gives them a tremendous range of expression when they need it:

Multiply this across literally every character on the show and you’ve got something really special.  Go check this one out.