Html/Javascript widget

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Dora the Explorer debunked

Dora wandering through a sub-tropical climate forest while Swiper the fox looks on in the distance.

Created a year after France won the 1998 Fifa World Cup, Dora the Explorer is Nickelodeon's attempt at placing Latina heroines in the spotlight. The show is about the adventures of a 7-year-old child who uses English to communicate with the audience while switching to Spanish at key moments, often with the intent of teaching some new words. They commonly range from counting from 1 through 10, colours and everyday greetings. On each episode she's seen interacting with a number of human and non-human characters, each with their own characteristic traits.From what I found online, to th
is day Dora the Explorer still enjoys high sales, even outselling products from Barbie, Spider Man and more dolls than the caucasian-looking Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella.

From what I ahve also read, Dora had originally been conceived as a way to get little children started in second language learning and I hardly disagree with this concept. Children who introduced early to a language other than their first quickly pick it up and hold a much better chance at becoming proficient than starting out as a teenager or grown-up. Not that it's outright impossible, but whoever tried to learn any language at all after being past a certain age knows full well that it's never easy to learn new words and memorise them. In fact, I haven't ever seen efforts so futile as trying to cobble together a half decent sentence than when I tried to have a go at learning a different language. It's almost as if something life threatening had to happen to force me to really internalise a single idea and manage to produce meaningful utterances.  It's the same with babies trying to communicate with their legal guardians, they need to find ways to say whatever they want or else they don't get fed or cared for the way they see fit. But children overall have the benefit of learning a new language without all the stress involved that inevitable goes along when out in the same undertaking as an adult.

Dora the Explorers is aimed at Latino children, although it's also watched by non-latino ones. First off, what's the point of airing a cartoon thinking that only latino ankle biters will enjoy? What does it have in it that wards off children from other ethnic sets? This is a downright racist way of reasoning, despite being what serious sources preach.

Still, the show steers clear away from the infamous stereotypes domain, at the same time that it's geared to a young audience that can learn about a foreign culture without any accompanying bias.

I wish I could make this look more interesting than it really because the premise of introducing little children to a second language is supposed to be have a very positive impact in their lives later on. Problem is, I don't find the show all that endearing. Even if it's geared for very young children, there are some very outlandish stuff thrown in there, like Boots, the monkey. I just don't find him funny at all. While I could gripe even about the way he walks, I will upset myself going on over this detail. What I find darn annoying is his role. He doesn't do a darned thing throughout the whole cartoon. He's there to tag along with Dora, but he has no mind of his own. He's got to have information punched into his head so he can either agree with whatever the heck that blooming Dora is stating or just repeat things mindlessly. Is it a by product of our society's failure at getting a grip on reality or am I just unfortunate enough to feel damned over a monkey whose mog never fails to kill me every time? Which one is the truth? Will I ever know? The only way I can ever get over it is if Nickelodeon axes that woeful creature. I know it's utterly pointless to vent frustation like this, but since I couldn't find anyone bold enough to hate write about Boots, It was high time someone actually did it.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Donald's crime

Donald Duck has a date with Daisy Duck, yet it's not until the final hours of the long awaited evening that he finds out he's stone broke. he soon learns that his beloved nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie are in possession of a coveted hoard of money, namely their piggy bank. He pilfers his nephews' savings and takes his female companion out on a successful date, which ends with her kissing him and calling him a "big shot", causing Donald to plunge into fantasy.
Donald's crime's theatrical release print, showing Donald as a member of the crime world. Notice the black colour of his thug's attire, which in this context implies shady or suspicious affairs.

Donald sets off home while vividly picturing himself a welathy man. It's not long before he becomes aware of his theft and his daydreams turn to disturbing visions of him as a wanted criminal fleeing from imaginary pursuers. Bloodhounds, searchlights and a motor-by gunning complete the segment and drive home the point that he's committed a federal offence. He eventually makes his way onto a nearby building's rooftop and at the end he finds himself clad in an inmate's garb within the confines of a prison cell, complete with a bar grid and everything. He grasps the bars of the door window and despondently tries to shake it open.

Reality suddenly steps in and decides that a blow to the head is in order. The thwack knocks some sense into him, revealing that he his nightmarish frenzy was a figment of his imagination and he had all along been entangled in a ruckus at the backdoor of an all night cafe and a help wanted sign had fallen off onto his head. He makes a prompt dash to the service entrance and accepts the offer on the spot. He then proceeds to perfunctorily washes the heaps of soiled dishes while thinking of nothing else but to repay his nephews in full.

At the end of his toilsome night, he's home again. In cloak and dagger fashion, he deposits the due amount of cash into the bereft piggy bank, only that he puts one too many. He again goes into a Riot of Blood sort of state trying to knock the spare nickel out of the piggy bank. He halts as he hears his nephews standing by the door telling him off for the attempted theft. The short finishes with the narrator's final words, that "crime doesn't pay".
The triplets get wind of their uncle's supposed theft.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Mongrel, a 1982 movie

Not an overly baffling picture, not by any standard of complexity. A doozy, to say the least. But slightly entertaining for those who go all the trouble to watch it. Despite being an obvious low-budget, this detail is quickly missed once one is caught up in all the action unravelling at a manor converted into low-rent apartments. The tenants are each a specimen of what humankind has to offer, good or wicked.

The plot kicks in without delay after the opening credits sequence rolls. Ken takes room and board at the house. Shrewd viewers (and even those a little on the slow side) will notice he is the only normal human being in the whole movie. He is normal even according to other movies' criteria. However, there isn't much to his acting role, so his being normal and well adjusted comes off as befitting his required presence in the movie- to set a contrasting backdrop against the other tenants' more glaring personalities. I also guess that, using a character set to look normal during all the camera time he gets, the filmmakers didn't have to bother to look for some real, Hollywood standard actor. Any ordinary human being would do. Maybe that was what they did.

The remainder of the group includes Ike, Turquoise, Sharon, Jerry and Toad. And Woody, the loudmouthed tool most would be cheering for to meet some gruesome demise. He isn't a likeable character by any level of tolerance. Besides being the unofficial manager of the apartment building gone mad he's also charged with collecting the tenants' rent. He does so without giving a receipt confirming the transaction. He seems to take a dislike to Ken after the latter requires proof of having just reimbursed the obligatory cash to crash.

Okay, onwards with the plot. Ken arrives in town looking to find somewhere to stay and elects to do so at this place. The first one he meets is Jerry, a mousy young fellow who kindly shows him his room without sparing a single opportunity to display his shy demeanour. Ken is new in town and befriends him in no time. Jerry in return accepts his company and lays down the unofficial rules to him, which consists of making Ken aware of Woody's annoying antics. The movie then proceeds to highlight Ken's character in detail, so he can get to know the other members of this crumbling society. He does so in quick succession and with little to no action along with it. The movie seemed to go nowhere until Ike's dog (oddly chained near the front door) is shot for mauling Toad. Ken's prattling with Sharon, the object of affection to the males of the film, doesn't strike Ike's fancy so he asks Woody to devise a rather twisted revenge. Woody doesn't like Ken either for not being an utter div. Their idea of revenge is downright childish and at the same time sickening. They unearth the previously slain pooch and place it on Ken's bed. After he finds out he scrambles about to flick on the light bulb, accidentally knocking over a water-holding container that, combined with a badly wired lamp, provides for a suitable close to the already disgusting prank. At least the sound effect was satisfying at this segment.

The rest of the movie is a moot point. His friend's death proves to be too much for Jerry's strained psyche and he is soon over the edge. He starts believing he's a real hound and starts picking off the other tenants after issuing a warning growl just before lunging at his victim. Then the landlord pops by with his trusty shotgun and shoots him quite dead while he's on the verge of making a fiery go at his female target.

This really lacks the sort of allure seen in movies like Alien Prey. Both are low-budget attempts at conveying some kind of message to the audience. Alien Prey had a scant amount of characters, but at least they were appealing to me. I couldn't identify myself with any of the characters in Mongrel. Nor could I commiserate with them.I can't explain exactly why, but apart from Jerry, the characters weren't developed in an intelligent light so their deaths were barely noticeable.

Overall, an interesting movie if you're not too picky. There might not be much to it as far as acting is concerned, but the interactions among the characters are definitely choice stuff. Throw in the fact that the sets are easy to identify with and unpretentious, observing the dictum of simplicity. As homely as movies can get, this is not bad.

X the Ball

Back in my hometown there is a famous chinese-owned arcade parlour in the city centre and at times I make my way inside whenever necessary to while away some minutes before meeting up with someone or going to a scheduled appointment. This might come across as something beyond most people's comprehension, but I actually like to just watch people play without the slightest twinge of wondering about spending a single quarter and see how they fare against each other or that darn cpu-controlled opponent that most arcade goers dread (read: Igniz from KOF 2001). The other reason I don't dedicate any portion of my personal cash is that I'm helplessly cack-handed at manipulating that control stick characteristic of most arcade cabinets. It might strike you as something of a surprise, but I am able to actually draw a great deal of motivation by watching video game spawned characters: there's something intangible about them that surpasses conventional fictional characters. Perhaps to me they seem more alive than what they really are, although that may be on account on my having a happy childhood dominated by desires of one day being able to freely indulge in this passion, my performance of yore had been bridled by then current circumstances such as homework, handing in academic papers or studying for tests. I knew that one day that would all be over and then I would have more time at my disposal to go wild doing the things I really wanted. Although as a grown-up i don't aspire to engaging in this delightful activity as I once was, the sweetness of memories remain strong in the upper quarters of the soul, and to this tender side I enjoy paying due support by means of rekindling former moments now and then, mostly through the internet, which has allowed me to happen upon a fortunate amount of peers who also at one point in the past partook in all the wonders offered by classic games.

Yes, this means that I eventually found out that a fully grown up's life is not made entirely of faffing about. Indeed, I'd risk a widely accepted concept that maybe 1% of their functional time awaken from bed should be spared to unproductive activities so they can let off steam. Stepping over this threshold wouldn't bode well as lack of diligence is tantamount to unwelcome episodes of gloom, the kind which is not a wholesome deal to the soul.

Although many deliberately choose to overlook, the main asset of the shop is a pair of arcade cabinets at the back of the premises. They are a host to a myriad of classical games and I can promptly recognise a healthy portion of them. So there are some which I haven't ever see my whole life.. Amidst them are a baseball game that involves monkeys in baseball outfits, Mahjong games that seem as though they were made by some shady software company (even more unbelievable is the fact that I think they were all the same company), space shooters smacking of a futuristic utopia from the 80's and then one day I saw X the Ball.

At first I couldn't make what the game was like as the playing contraption had apparently been set to display a timed looped sequence of the gameplay and in X the Ball's case the viewer was confined to watching the title screen over and over, unless they were willing to shell out enough for a quarter, which I wasn't in the mood to do.

I was curious about that game as it read RARE at the bottom and it included a likeness of the 1990 world cup's mascot. "he might be some sort of secret character!" that was my thought. Some days later I managed to recall the name of the game and proceeded to download it. Even though that was supposed to be a football game by the looks of it, the actual thing turned out to be an outlandish oddity.
X the Ball's intriguing title screen. Image retrieved from

It's not really a football game in which two 11-player teams need to content for a spherical wind-filled body but a game outright distinct from it that is only centred about football without involving any of its traditional gameplay. The entire point of this game is place X's on the screen where the player judges the ball to be. A static picture of some classic world class match is presented to the player and the ball is missing. It's up to you to use your cognitive skills and correctly assume where it is. You have a total of 20 seconds to place up to 5 X's on the screen where you think the rounded object is or else you lose a life! You have only 1 life by the way so a loss equals instant death. Heck, even if you do manage to stack your X right on the ball's spot your turn will be over after the standings screen fades away (it displays how close you were to the ball and how many tickets your effort was worth.) What the hell are those tickets for anyway?

Image retrieved from