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

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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:

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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.

First Day of Vacation: I Went to Work edition

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I was looking for a .gif of the “Get me a G-O-B” scene, but this’ll do.

Last week was an exceptionally shitty week to be a furniture salesman– easily the worst single week in my entire two-year tenure, in fact, and is is nearly unimaginable that June will not end up as my worst single month as a furniture salesman as well.  So when a previous customer called last week and said that she was out of town but wanted to make an appointment to come in and spend a few thousand dollars, I happily scheduled her for 10:00 this morning and came in anyway.  While I was there, I caught a customer from yesterday who had had to postpone his purchase because of a freeze on his credit accounts– meaning that I had, in a single hour, on a day when I was not supposed to be at work, more total sales than in the seventeen days prior to that hour.

So, yeah.  Come into work on my day off, but make hundreds of dollars in commissions during that hour I came in?  No problem.

Then I returned something to Best Buy, came home, played video games, mowed the lawn, played more video games, got some important emails, responded to those emails, finished my renewal for my teachers’ license (which will expire in 2028, a year that is so far away I cannot comprehend it), played more video games, got some light cleaning done around the house, ate dinner, and now I’m writing thishere blog post.

My big plan for tomorrow?  Breakfast is gonna be sausage grits and a fried egg.  Ask me how excited I am about my breakfast tomorrow.

I am so excited about my breakfast tomorrow.

The remainder of the day will be split between more video games– can you tell I caved and bought Dark Souls Remastered once I realized I’d have a solid week where I didn’t have to go to work?– and the Composition of Fiction.

Not bad for my first day off.

In which something is a bitch

4309I don’t believe in karma.  The universe doesn’t care about me (or you) one way or another, and there is no balancing force or supernatural intelligence out there looking to balance any sort of scales, especially with regard to my specific life.

That said, sometimes shit happens and makes you wonder.

Monday afternoon sometime I had a guest come into the store.  It became immediately apparent that the guest was Not Quite Right in some way or another; either impaired on some sort of substance or simply, for whatever reason, not in possession of a surfeit of social skills.  She had a problem of some sort; there’s no need to go into the details, but it was immediately clear to me– as in within a sentence or two– that I was not the person to solve her problem, but that the person who could solve her problem was in the store, and I could take her to that person in mere moments, if she would shut up about her interminably long, ridiculous, boring story long enough for me to get a word in edgewise.

You have probably had this conversation at some point, right?  Where the person takes forever to explain something to you, you provide the information they need in less than a sentence, and then they go “Yes, but” and repeat the entire story again?

It happened three times in a row until I simply walked away, assuming that either she would follow me or I would collect the person she actually needed to talk to and bring them to her.

At any rate, at about the halfway point during this conversation I noticed that this woman had her shirt on inside out.  And I went into one of those stupid mental calculation things, where my desire to be done and away from this conversation and my additional desire to not do or say things that cause embarrassment to other people went to war with, well, let’s call it “basic fucking human decency” and leave it at that.

Basic human decency did not win.  I did not point out the condition of her shirt to her, having no desire to poke the bear any further, and eventually got her into the custody of someone who could actually help her.

That 382-word short story exists as a preamble to this:  this morning I did the following:

  1. Took my dog to the vet;
  2. Took my son to breakfast at McDonalds, and ate inside the restaurant;
  3. Went to the post office;
  4. Went to the bank; and
  5. Went to Target;

and only at that point, halfway through my shopping trip at Target, did I notice that the shirt I’d thrown on that morning, a shirt that I’d pulled out of dirty laundry because I was planning on mowing the lawn after all the errands and there was no point to taking a shower (one of the advantages of being bald) or putting on clean clothes if I was just going to sweat them all up; only after all of that did I notice that I’d been out in public for two and a half hours and my shirt was– wait for it– inside out.

The end.

REPOST: MOAR BUTTZ, a tale told with pictorial accompaniment.

Context: my day has been long and tiring, and yesterday was largely consumed by dealing with my now-six-year-old son’s ass and the various horrifying products it was creating and dispensing.  I am not in the mood to write a post, but I have always felt like this one didn’t get enough credit.  And most of you haven’t seen it.  So therefore: enjoy.

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So for the last couple of days the boy has been all

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and, frankly, it’s starting to look really unpleasant.  He’s clearly not terribly happy with the situation either.

My wife gets home from work today and tells me she has a mission for me.  I’ll be honest: I was tired (again) and hungry (again) and more than a little aggravated already for reasons that I don’t plan to go into and the thought of a mission was not entirely pleasing to me.

“Describe the nature of this mission,” I requested.

“I need you to get butt paste,” she said.

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“Butt paste.” I replied.  I made sure to phrase it in such a way that she heard the period at the end of the sentence.

“Butt paste,” she says.  “I’m hoping you can get it at Martin’s.”

(Context: Martin’s is our local grocery store; it’s a chain but I’m pretty sure it’s limited to north-central Indiana and maybe lower Michigan.)

I look up Butt Paste on the Internet, which sadly is probably not the oddest search I’m going to perform on the Internet this week.  It turns out that there is a product specifically called Butt Paste.  Check the URL:  you find it at buttpaste.com, which should not be a website for medical supplies.  However, frighteningly, that is not the Butt Paste that I’m looking for.

UnknownWhat I’m looking for– what the pediatrician apparently explicitly suggested my wife try to locate– is actually called Dr. Sirlin’s Bottom Ointment, which still sounds inappropriate.  Dr. Sirlin’s Bottom Ointment is, near as I can tell, only sold in one place on Earth, but more on them later.  Needless to say, that place isn’t Martin’s.  My wife calls Martin’s anyway, just to be sure, and asks the pharmacist who answers the phone if they carry, no shit, this is a direct quote: “Dr. Sirlin’s butt paste.  For butts.  Baby butts.”

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I consider protesting the use of the phrase butt paste for this query, because we aren’t looking for butt paste, we’re looking for bottom ointment, which is clearly very different.  I do not actually voice the query.  The person on the other line comes back quickly with an affirmative.  We have butt paste!  Go for butt paste!

Unknown-1And I’m off to Martin’s.  It’s not far away from home, which is the reason we’d rather go there.  Once I get there I arrive timed perfectly with a car leaving a very choice parking spot, which I wait for.  The driver of the other car, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to get that I want her parking spot, and keeps trying to wave me on past her, thinking she’s being polite, and no amount of flailing and pointing at the empty goddamn parking spot on my part convinces her otherwise.  So instead I park here:

Unknown-2And into Martin’s I go.  To be greeted with a conundrum!  Cute Cashier Girl is for some reason working at the pharmacy counter.  Cute Cashier Girl, I hope to God, is in her early twenties.  She’s a cashier, though!  She’s not supposed to be at the pharmacy!

I cannot ask Cute Cashier Girl for butt paste.  I’m gonna try and be all suave, like

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but I know me.  It’s gonna come off all

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I cannot do this.

I spend a moment considering other options and can’t think of any.  I approach the counter.  She smiles cheerily and asks if she can help me, with no idea of the horror of the request I’m about to make of her.

“I’m looking for something called Dr. Sirlin’s Ointment?”  I omit the word bottom, because I cannot say bottom to this lovely young lady.  “I understand it’s supposed to be behind the counter for some reason.”

She looks quizzically at me, then looks around for a minute.

“I don’t see it.  What’s it for?”

Don’t say butts.

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“Diaper rash.”  Ha!  I win!

She lights up, smiling again.  “Oh!  You’re the butt paste guy!”

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Oh hell no.  I am a lot of things, Cute Cashier Girl, but I am sure as hell not butt paste guy.  No.  Uh-uh.  No goddamn way.

The butt paste, apparently, is not behind the counter.  It is actually in the baby aisle.  I swallow what is left of my dignity and head for the baby aisle, knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt what is about to happen.  And my worst fears come true:

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God dammit.  That, you will notice, is not Dr. Sirlin’s Bottom Ointment.  That’s fucking butt paste.  I don’t want butt paste.  I want bottom ointment.

I pick up the box, cursing God and all creation, and return to the pharmacy counter.  She’s still there, of course, it’s not like the goddamn baby aisle is that far away.

“I have a, uh, follow-up question?”

“Oh, okay!”  oh god she hates me so much she’s actually got her bright cheery smile on her face, and a bit of a twinkle in her eye that suggests to me that she’s enjoying my pain.

“I assume you are the one my wife talked to.”

“Yep!”

“She asked for Dr. Sirlin’s… (makes a face) Butt Paste.  The stuff we want is actually called

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Bottom ointment.  I thought this might happen.  Do you have the ointment?  This isn’t actually what I’m looking for.”

She looks around again and then signals the actual pharmacist, who has been hiding behind a rack of drugs and trying her damnedest to keep a fucking straight face.  The pharmacist confirms that, no, they don’t have Bottom Ointment.  Just Butt Paste.  So I have to go to the other place.

I thank her for her time and apologize for my own nonsense.  Off to the car!

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There are two reasons I don’t want to go to this other establishment.  One I’ll get to later.  The other is that they are a million miles away.  They are literally not in the same town I’m in.  I don’t want to go to another town for butt paste or bottom ointment.  I want to be home, eating dinner.  In my town.

But I love my wife, and I love my son, at least the non-butt parts of him.  So off I go.  I drive past this place on my way home from OtherJob all the time, so I know where it is, and I head there– to OtherJob, not quite realizing until it’s slightly too late that I drive past it on the way home from OtherJob, and for reasons that are not interesting I generally drive home from OtherJob via a different route than I take to get to OtherJob.  So I’m going the wrong way.

Once I realize this and correct my course, I still manage to make two fucking wrong turns before successfully arriving at Pharmacy Two.  On the way over to the pharmacy, it occurs to me that I am so fucking blogging this shit when I get home.  I take a moment in their parking lot and compose an entertaining Tweet to that effect.  Then I get out and go inside.

Well, I try to.  As I’m reaching for the fucking door, an employee locks the fucking thing from the inside and points at a sign next to the door.  The sign cheerfully informs me that this fucking place closes at six, as pharmacies do oh wait no they fucking don’t, ever.

I look at my watch.

It’s five fucking fifty-eight.

At this point my mood somewhat transitions.

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I was entertained with this bullshit up until this exact fucking second.

You did not just LOCK A FUCKING DOOR IN MY FUCKING FACE TWO FUCKING MINUTES BEFORE FUCKING CLOSING AT A FUCKING ***PHARMACY***.  It ain’t goddamn 1983 anymore.  My fucking watch ties into a goddamn satellite that tells it what time it is.  I can’t even adjust the motherfucker.  It ain’t goddamn 6:00 yet, which means your ass isn’t fucking closed yet.

Listen, bitch, this ain’t fucking Barnes and Noble and it isn’t fucking Applebee’s.  I am not fucking here to browse.  You’re a pharmacy, motherfucker, and no fucker anywhere goes to a fucking pharmacy unless they motherfucking need to. I am there to get my shit and get the fuck out, and don’t you dare fucking thing for one fucking second that I can’t see that there is at least one motherfucker in there who isn’t dressed like he’s at fucking work.

I have two fuckin’ choices here.  One is to go home.   The other is to go to jail.  Jail will no doubt feel better but either way there will be no fucking Bottom Ointment.

Not.  Happy.

I went home and had dinner.  A bit more research after dinner indicated that Dr. Sirlin’s Bottom Ointment is apparently produced by this pharmacy.  It’s literally the only place you can get it other than the Internet.  Well, fuck them.

Butt Paste it is.  I return to Martin’s.

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I collect my Butt Paste.  I go back to the pharmacy counter, because I’m buying this with a damn flex account and it’s easier if we just use the pharmacy counter to buy anything medical-related.  She’s still there, naturally.  And she, I swear to God, says:

“There’s a story here, isn’t there.”

Oh sweetie.  You have no idea.

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(ADDENDUM:  I didn’t include this in context because it kinda kills the tone of the piece, but the other reason I don’t like this pharmacy?  They tried to kill my dog.  My dog in high school/early college developed epilepsy, and rather than try to get a canine version of the drug they needed the vet just contracted through them to produce his medicine– which happened to be in liquid form.  He was on the stuff for quite a while, and at some point we went in and got a bottle that was a radically different color and consistency than every other version of the medicine we’d gotten.  The pharmacist not only argued with my mother about whether the medicine was different, at one point he actually said the words “Look, it’s just for a dog.”  So this is the second time this place has nearly resulted in a member of my family going to jail.  Merrill Pharmacy in Mishawaka, Indiana?  Go fuck yourselves.)

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(FINAL NOTE:  As I was finishing this post up, my wife, who has been bathing our son, sticks her head into the office.  “Hey, babe?  There’s poop in the tub.”  Because of course there is.)

The End.

RIP, Mrs. Gates

image-29403_20180310.jpgxI got a text from my mother just now, while I was eating dinner, that my second grade teacher had passed away, at the admirably ripe old age of 92.  Mrs. Gates is one of the several teachers that my book Searching for Malumba is dedicated to, one of only two from my elementary/primary school years.

I had found myself wondering about her many times over the years.  My second-grade recollection of her was that she was one of my older teachers, but that could have meant she was 40; kids are terrible at pegging how old adults are, right?  As it turns out, she was nearly 60 when I had her, so she was probably nearing retirement at the time.  I remember her as being probably the best example I ever had of the “strict but fair” teacher, which was something I always tried to emulate in my own career.

The funny thing is that when I try to unearth specific memories of what she was like as a teacher, I can only come up with one or two of them, and the clearest memory probably counts as educational malpractice, to the point where I almost feel disrespectful for talking about it.   Mrs. Gates was always big on cleanliness– keeping the room clean, and in particular, keeping our desks clean.  She’d actually inspect them from time to time– I have no idea how frequently; this could have been a daily or weekly thing for all I remember, or it could have been more frequently than that.

I am still in touch with literally no one who was in my second grade class, but I can think of perhaps four or five kids who are no more than a quick Facebook search away.  And I guarantee each of them remembers the day Mrs. Gates got tired of Jonathan W. (I remember his full name, but why let him Google this?) having a sloppy desk for like the nine hundredth time in a row and in a fit of frustration dumped it out on the classroom floor in front of everyone.  Objectively, with thirty-some-odd years of hindsight, this was probably a terribly humiliating thing for Jonathan and was not the proper way for her to have handled the situation.  certainly can’t imagine dumping a kid’s desk out on the floor in front of the whole class.  And yet, I think for most of us, it made us more fond of her– and make no mistake, strict as she was, the kids in that class loved Mrs. Gates.  Because this lady wasn’t taking any shit, and chances are most of our moms would have done the same damn thing in similar circumstances.  I stayed friends with Jonathan until he moved away, I think in middle school sometime, and that story was still getting told at slumber parties years later.

For whatever it’s worth, I suspect he’d probably still laugh at the story.  I dunno; maybe I shouldn’t have told it.

Rest in peace, Mrs. Gates.  I hope wherever you are, all the desks are pristine.