Low Rent 3D

July 20, 2010

Toy Story 3, Despicable Me, Avatar and a multitude of other current movies have embraced the freshly marketed and admittedly re-vamped third dimension of movies. I won’t take away from the technology used in these movies, I liked the way it looked. That said, does anyone remember the awesomeness that was cheap 3D glasses than came on cereal boxes in the early 90s? Those 3D glasses were wonderful, they let you see puzzles on the side of the box and made everything around you look blue and red. Sure they were shamelessly put there to entice children to beg for unnecessarily sugary cereals but nonetheless, wasn’t it fun?

Before 3D came back into fashion for Hollywood going to the cinema was not as complicated nor as expensive as it is now. Using 3D glasses at the theatre for a 3D show forces the price of tickets up. In addition, there seems to be a new rule that all children’s movies require a third dimension. I don’t mean to negate the progress of computer graphics but a generation of children raised on 3D computer drawn cartoons that feature characters moving at painfully quick speeds across choppy scenes will inevitably make classic cartoons even more a part of the past than they already are.

The high tech 3D of the 2000s is undeniably very nifty. Despite this, the cheap, quick and easy 3D of the 80s and 90s deserves a place, even if only for the sake of nostalgia. I won’t lie, I’d  still buy a box of cereal with 3D glasses….wouldn’t you?

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Oregon Trail

January 23, 2010

Travel the Trail!!!

While the 1990s saw the rise and fall of many educational software programs for children such as NFL Math and Spelling Jungle (easily my favorite) one game completely blew the rest out of the water. Admit it, you and your elementary school buddies fought over who got to play Oregon Trail in computer lab oh so long ago. And why wouldn’t you? Oregon Trail was at face value a pretty simple game, the objective was to survive with as many people in your family as possible along the trail and to make it to Oregon Territory. If you played, however, you know that it was SO MUCH MORE.

In order to survive, however, you had to make difficult decisions that were crucial to the health of your family. Should you buy a Conestoga or simply a large wagon? Should you buy a horse? What medicine should you bring? How many sets of utensils and clothing are necessary? And most importantly, what kind of gun and ammunition should you buy? As you traveled down the trail the full repercussions of all of these choices became evident and often resulted in disaster. Admit it, you got scurvy or had to “administer laudanum” (which is essentially opium haha) and fix wagon axles.

Oregon Trail deserves a second look because it was a game that linked actions and repercussions. It was a game with a point, it had depth. It’s popularity amongst children is evidence that children (admittedly I was one) were looking for something more than just a quick thrill, they were looking for a challenge. Once I made it to Oregon and struck a land claim I always felt very accomplished, especially if all of my family survived the journey. Damn those accidental hunting accidents and unfortunate snake bites!

The Titanic Frenzy

January 16, 2010

In light of the Avatar craze I decided to look back at James Cameron’s last pop culture saturating feat, 1997’s Titanic. Sure, the special effects were mad cool for their day but no film since Titanic has had the allure of Titanic. A few reasons that the Titanic frenzy deserves a second look follow.

“I’ve seen it six times in theatres.” “Wow, but I’ve seen it seven times!” Really… why on earth did we all need to see Titanic more than once or generously twice in theatres? I’d like to think it was because as a human collective everyone decided to examine the fragile state of humanity. In reality, we all loved Jack and Rose and most certainly hated Cal. Admit it, you clapped in the theatre the first time you saw Rose spit in Cal’s face and run to Jack. Jack and Rose’s love story made us all pine for a deep love and intimate connection that would compel us to change our name and start our new lives with only memories of the person that inspired us.

Not to be cliche’ but when I think of inspiration and I think of Titanic, one very important person comes to mind. Not James Cameron but CELINE DION. You can love or hate this song. I choose to love it. I love it now and I loved it in elementary school when they would play the song with sound bytes from the movie itself dubbed in on the radio. I danced at my earliest boy/girl dances to this song and believed in all that it said. Today I still think the song deserves attention. It’s my favorite song to sing at karaoke and (youtube it!) the music video for this song is absolutely hilarious.

While Avatar is admittedly an enjoyable movie with special effects that blur reality and fiction the culture surrounding the movie, the hype, the public fawning of it are minimal in comparison to Titanic. My apologies to the Na’vi of Pandora but Jack and Rose will always be king of the world and that is why Titanic deserves a second look.

Stick Stickly

October 27, 2009

stickstickly

Write to me, Stick Stickly, PO Box 963, New York City, New York State, 10108….!!!!!!

Stick Stickly! He was the mascot of many a Nickelodeon summer of my youth. He was always excited and upbeat. Encouraging and determined. Not to mention, he wanted me to be his friend…I mean he DID give me his address.

Stick Stickly (as much of early Nickelodeon does) deserves a second look for a number of very important reasons. First, Stick Stickly was “green” WWWAAAAYYYY before it was trendy. Sure, we knew about recycling way back when. Unfortunately, in the States, not too many people had really picked up on it during Stick Stickly’s hey day. Yet there He was. Stick Stickly could have been thrown in the trash after whatever treat he had been  melted away but he wasn’t. He was instead recycled and reused. Not so much reduced….he gained a face.

A recycled popsicle stick that was the perfect emcee for a children’s television network. I’m sure he knew that he had a network to promote but he was concerned about childhood obesity long before the current epidemic. He promoted going out and playing but didn’t judge during those times when you just wanted to sit and watch some shows. Also, he promoted shows that incorporated activeness and education even in the summer. Legends of the Hidden Temple anyone? Yes, Stick Stickly was concerned with the health of the bodies and minds of children.

Possibly the best thing about Stick Stickly comes from the fact that he was a popsicle stick. Programming today is full of 3D, warp speed, animated, CGI, ADD advancing hullabaloo.  Stick Stickly probably wouldn’t cut it anymore because he had no part in that. Stick Stickly was simple and he fostered creativity and innovation. Unless your child is that little girl on the Windows 7 commercials he or she would probably have a hard time making the host of any of their programming at home. Not so when Stick Stickly reigned supreme, kids could make him at home and in the process allow their imagination wheels to roll unchecked and free.

Stick Stickly was down to earth and genuinely cared about the programming he was made to promote and about the audience that watched it. He deserves a second look.