Saturday, November 9, 2013

My Top 6 Cartoon Opening Sequences

I grew up during the golden age of cartoons.  The 80s and early 90s produced some of the greatest pieces of animation in television history.  My earliest memories of watching cartoons are of Voltron, Transformers, and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.  Other shows that I loved were Thundercats, G.I. Joe, and Bravestarr.

Things reached a ridiculous level of awesome in 1987 with the debut of this little show you may have heard of: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  That show changed my life.  Well, it may not have changed my life, but it gave me something to obsess over.  And obsess I did.  That's another blog entry entirely, though.

Following the awesome action cartoons of the early to mid 80s were the comedy cartoons from Disney and WB: Duck Tales, Darkwing Duck, Tale Spin, Chip 'n Dale's Rescue Rangers, Tiny Toon Adventures, and Animaniacs.

Then came the shows that would really change my life (or at least my buying habits):  X-Men and Batman: the Animated Series.  Those two shows are the reason I'm a comic book fan today.  I'm sure eventually I'll devote an entire blog to each of those shows, so that's all I'll say about them now.

There was something about those shows that cartoons these days are missing. It seems like back then the producers understood kids better.  Or maybe we were just way cooler back then and didn't like lame stuff like kids these days do.

Anyway, this post isn't about awesome cartoons so much as their awesome opening sequences, so here are my top 6 theme songs/opening sequences in no particular order.  I tried really hard to rank them, but I'm no good at that.

SWAT Kats Season Two

This is a show that I did not catch on its original run.  I don't know why that happened, but I didn't start watching it until it was on Cartoon Network some time in the late 90s.  The show is about two mechanics (who are also cats, just like everyone else in Megakat city) who secretly defended the city from villains and monsters as the SWAT Kats.  One of the Kats (Jake) is voiced by Barry Gordon, who was Donatello and Bebop on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

What Megakat city would look like IRL.

The theme for this show is pretty awesome.  It doesn't have any lyrics that describe the show or the characters, but it has some sweet guitar licks set over some pretty smooth animation.  Plus, I feel like this one would be forgotten on most lists and I wanted to spotlight it.

Scooby Doo, Where are You!

Okay, so this one isn't from the 80s or 90s, but how does one make a list of great cartoon theme songs and leave this one off?  The answer:  one does not.  I don't really have to say a lot about this show, because if you are clueless about it then you've been living under a rock for the last 40 years. 

Hey.  What did I miss?

This song has a great late 60s groove about it.  That bass line is killer!  The footage from the show is a great summary of what to expect in the show:  scary ghosts, a lot of running, and Shaggy and Scooby running in funny ways.  I also like the bats at the beginning.


Awesome guitar licks, awesome robot voices, and awesome visuals of robots shooting each other with lasers. There was always something that intrigued me about the line "more than meets the eye."  It's an obvious reference to the fact that they're cars or jets or whatever AND huge freakin' robots, but still, to my 4 or 5 year old brain there was something mysterious going on there.

Soundwave was more than meets the ear.


This show has held up surprisingly well compared to other cartoons from the early 90s.  Granted, there are some crazy bright colors going on in the wardrobes of most of the characters, but look at Saved By The Bell.  That was happening in real life, too.

I'm pretty sure Cyclops wore this in one episode of X-Men.
The stories were pretty much straight from the comics and the theme song was straight from what I imagine a soundtrack to an X-Men comic to sound like from 1992.  In the opening sequence, each character was spotlighted to show off his/her power and name (which used the characters' logos from the comics..awesome).  When I started playing guitar (way back in ninth grade, circa 1996), this was one of the first songs I looked up the tabs for.  I have since forgotten how to play it.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

This, ladies and gentlemen, is how to do a cartoon and appeal to children at pretty much every level.  Ninjas.  Turtles.  Mutants.  Creative villains.  Toys.  Catchy theme song.  When this show came out in 1987, my mind was blown.  Talking turtles with swords?  Yes, please!  My grandparents (or parents or greatgrandparents, whomever) would buy me a new Ninja Turtles toy every time we went to Wal-Mart (which, back then, wasn't that often, because we lived way out in the sticks).

I was so very obsessed with this show.  It was quite the departure from the original concept of the Turtles by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird way back in 1984.  The comic started out as a parody of Frank Miller's Daredevil run.  Our favorite Renaissance artist-named turtles were not the happy-go-lucky, pizza-eating friends that we grew to love on the cartoon.  They were cold-blooded killers.  It's what ninjas do.

I don't remember the episode where Leonardo stabbed Shredder then threw him off a building.  With a grenade.

The theme was greatness.  It is ridiculously catchy and tells exactly what the show is about:

They're the world's most fearsome fighting team (We're really hip!)
They're heroes in the half shell and they're green (Hey, get a grip!)
When the evil Shredder attacks, these turtle boys don't cut him no slack! 

(Obviously, we didn't worry about things like grammar in the 80s.)

And introduces the characters:

Splinter taught them to be ninja teens (He's a radical rat!)
Leonardo leads, Donatello does machines (That's a fact, Jack!)
Raphael is cool but crude (Gimme a break!)
Michelangelo is a party dude (Party!)

(The Ninja Turtles were saying "Jack" before Uncle Si!)

The song (which was co-written by Chuck Lorre of Two and a Half Men and Big Bang Theory fame) was played over some really great animation.  The animation was almost this good in the pilot episodes, but decreased in quality after that.  Overall, a great opening for a great cartoon!

Batman: The Animated Series

This, ladies and gentlemen, is how to do a cartoon and appeal to everyone on almost every level.  Much has already been written on the internet in the last 20 years summarizing the show or detailing its influence.  In my opinion, this is the greatest animated show in the history of animated shows.  As has been the case with all the themes on this list, this one gives a great introduction to the look and feel of the series.  It's dark and has Batman kicking butt.  And the music was composed by this guy:

Danny Elfman reworked his theme from the 1989 Batman movie to be used for the opening of the animated series.  And it worked perfectly.  The animation flows along with the music, rising and falling together like a couple climbing a mountain to jump to their deaths at a lovers' leap.

Well there's my list of favorites.  I probably could've made this a top 15 or top 20 list, but I think six will suffice.  Comment with your favorites and let's discuss.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Football season!

Ah, football season.  The time of year men wait all spring and summer for and women dread because they lose their husbands until February.  Or maybe women are excited for that very reason.  Whatever.  Here are my thoughts on the goings on of various football related topics of late:

New Orleans Saints

3-0!!  What a way to start the season!  This is much better than last year's start, which I won't even talk about in depth, because who wants to relive that?  Coach Payton is back, which has relit a fire under the Saints.  New Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan has completely turned around the defense.  I think it's his hair.  He's a modern-day Samson.

Plus, I think he hides a 12th defender under his shirt who jumps out, swats the ball away, then runs back to his XXXL safe haven.

To start things off, the Saints beat the scourge of the NFL, the ingrown toenail on the foot of football, the despicable Atlanta Failcons.  I don't like them.  At all.  General Sherman missed the Georgia Dome on his march through Atlanta.  Can he get a redo?

Could've had a V8.  Not that it would help the fact that you're a Falcon.

 I don't want to start talking Super Bowl just yet, but I'm a fan, so I have to.  Super Bowl, here we come!

Miami Dolphins

 3-0!!  How long has it been since my two favorite teams have started 3-0?  No, really.  How long?  I'm too lazy to research it.  Point is, I like it. 

I was excited when they drafted Ryan Tannehill last year.  I enjoyed watching him at Texas A&M and enjoyed even more watching him grow as his first NFL season went on.  He's looked pretty solid so far this season.

Wait, I didn't know you could red shirt NFL players..

This upcoming Monday night, the Dolphins travel to New Orleans to face the Saints.  Though they are my two favorite teams, I bleed black and gold, so I'm obviously pulling for the Saints.  I just hope the Saints' victory doesn't derail what the Dolphins have going so far.

College Football

I haven't watched too much college ball this season;  I've had to play music pretty much every Saturday.  From what I can tell, though, Mississippi State sucks about as much as normal (which sucks).  Ole Miss actually looks pretty good and they get their first real test against Alabama this weekend, which I will miss because I have to play music.  Apparently, Alabama may not be quite up to their usual standards this season.  Their normally stingy defense gave up 628 yards to Johnny Manziel.

The real Johnny Football

 My lack of time to watch college football has not allowed me to get as excited about it as I usually am.  Oh, well.  There are many weeks left for me to catch some games.

Fantasy Football

For years, I've been resisting fantasy football.  I thought it would take up too much time and it wouldn't be that fun, anyway.  I was wrong.  Even as I'm typing this, I have my fantasy league opened up in a different tab, making some adjustments to my lineup for this weekend's games.

People have told me that it completely changes the football viewing experiencing, making you care about games that you would otherwise not watch.  That is true.  It also causes much frustration during those games, such as Sunday night when Roethlisberger kept throwing the ball to Antonio Brown (who was on the team that mine was going up against) instead of Emmanuel Sanders (who is on my team).

Here is my team: QB - Drew Brees, Eli Manning; WR - Danny Amendola, Jordy Nelson, Emmanuel Sanders, Golden Tate, Torrey Smith; RB - Reggie Bush, Darren Sproles, Ben Tate, Le'Veon Bell; TE - Jimmy Graham, Antonio Gates; Kicker - Garrett Hartley; Defense - Denver.

I think next season I'm gonna join another league or two.  Lots of fun.

Which brings us to...

So far it's been the trend in this blog for me to lay out in the open things that are convicting me, so here we go again.

Why in the world do so many Christians (myself included, oh so much) get so fired up about something as meaningless as football but fail to engage in even one conversation a week about Christ?  There's some kind of disconnect between what our priorities should be and what they actually are.

Am I saying it's wrong to enjoy football season?  No, I don't think it's wrong.  I just think we need to be really careful about what our focus is on.  Colossians 3:2 says, "Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth."  It's really easy for me to get carried away with all the excitement of my two favorite teams being undefeated and lose sight of what matters.

So I'm asking that you pray for me that I can keep my focus on things above and I'll do the same for you.

Who dat!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

My Favorite Comic Artists

I'm going to take this time to share with you some of my favorite comic artists.  I'm not going to say anything about them, I'm just gonna let the artwork speak for itself.  So here they are, in no particular order (except for Jim Aparo being first...he's my absolute favorite):

Jim Aparo

Neal Adams

Adam Kubert

There should totally be bones where some of those bullet holes are, but whatever.  It still looks cool.

Mark Texeira

Hope you enjoyed looking at some drawings that I enjoy looking at.  This was fun for me.  I'll probably do another post like this one soon.  Y'all be good to each other.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Hurricane Katrina Anniversary

Eight years ago today Hurricane Katrina rolled through the Gulf Coast. Everyone I know from the Mississippi Coast has a Katrina story.  My family and I fled to Georgia, where we were under a tornado warning most of the time because of the feeder bands.  I knew our house wouldn't flood.  If it did, Katrina would have been the least of our worries and someone should have been building an ark.  We got home to discover that every tree in our yard had fallen, miraculously, around the house, not on it.  After a couple weeks of clean-up things were back to normal, with considerably less shade.

Some of you have more dramatic stories.  Some of you lost things or loved ones.  Take the time to share your stories in the comments section.  I want to hear them.  I'm sure other people do, too.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Least of These

34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’  (Matthew 25:34-40, English Standard Version)
Those are some challenging words from Jesus.  He is calling us to a life of service and of love.  Sure, most of us try to be nice to everyone (hopefully), but what does it mean to truly serve and to love?  What does it look like for us to really reach out to "the least of these?"  Who exactly is "the least of these?"  Here's the song "Under Bridges" by Brave Saint Saturn, which I think paints an excellent picture of what Jesus meant in the above passage.

 The language in this song may be shocking, but I think it needs to be.  We need to be reminded that the homeless, the junkie, the alcoholic are all created in the image of God.  

I'm writing this to myself probably moreso than to anyone else reading.  Why is it so hard for us to get out of our comfort zones and talk to someone who doesn't look like us or live like us?  Shouldn't the gospel be important enough to share to everyone?  Shouldn't we care about the souls of everyone, regardless of their situation or lot in life?  Who is the "least of these?"  It is the homeless man begging for change outside of the gas station; the junkie jonesing for another shot of heroin; the alcoholic who beats his wife and children; the teenager struggling with his sexuality and worried about becoming an outcast to his own family; the church leader addicted to pornography; the soccer mom addicted to gambling.

We are not called to keep Jesus to ourselves.  Jesus in Matthew 28:19 tells us to make disciples off all nations, not just the people who look like us or dress like us or like the things we like.  Again, I think this is more for me than anyone else.  I need to be more bold with my faith.  I need to see others as Jesus would see them, not as I do.  I need to be reminded everyday that each person has a soul that is either bound for heaven or for hell.  Jesus made it my responsibility to let people know that they don't have to spend eternity in hell, that Jesus loves them and wants to have a relationship with them.  Why don't I do that?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Things I Like About the New 52, part 2

Yesterday I rambled on about Aquaman (and could've said more).  Today we're moving on.  More things I like about the New 52!

Expanding Gotham's history

No one knows a city like Batman knows Gotham.  Or so he thought.  Turns out, there was a secret society known as the Court of Owls who had worked their way into the fabric of the city and the social consciousness almost completely unnoticed.  I don't want to spoil any of the story, but just to show how much they infiltrated things, here's Bruce being thrown out of a window from high above the city.

"Owl" be seeing you, Bruce!

Scott Snyder has definitely asserted himself (in my opinion) as one of the greatest writers to add to the Batman mythos.  Greg Capullo's pencils definitely haven't hurt, either.  Capullo has been around for a while and I believe that he's at his prime drawing Batman.

I actually saw this on a tie the other day.  I would rock that tie.
There were some cool moments in the story, like where Batman is trapped in a labyrinth (sans David Bowie) and you actually have to turn the comic sideways and upside-down to read it as he gets more and more lost.  All in all, an excellent story that adds to the legend and also provides the possibility for a change of the status quo in the life of Bruce Wayne.

The Phantom Stranger

The Phantom Stranger is one of my favorite characters.  He just looks so darn cool (especially when drawn by Jim Aparo back in the day).

I need a cape.

Pre-New 52, the Phantom Stranger was a stranger who would show up when needed to do supernatural things.  No one knew where he came from or just what his powers were.  In fact, in Secret Origins #10 from 1987 there are four possible origins for the Stranger presented, but it is never specified which one is true, which adds to the mystery.  New 52 Stranger has a definite origin.  I don't necessarily like the fact that we know where he came from, but we're focusing on the positives here, not the negatives.

Basically (and trying to remain spoiler free), the Stranger is following the commands of The Voice, which usually involve him betraying someone, which makes sense considering his origin.  Eventually, he will be free from his curse and can move on to the afterlife or nothingness or wherever.  So far, he has played a pretty big role in the New 52 universe (or the DCnU, as it's called these days), leading several people to their dooms which will eventually lead them to becoming important DC characters.  He has had run-ins with some of my favorite characters, including the Spectre and the Question.

I don't really have anything witty to say.  This is just awesome.

 To recap: while I don't really like the fact that we know his origin, the Phantom Stranger is an interesting character who looks way cool.  His book is one of my favorites, especially since J. M. DeMatteis took over writing duties from Dan Didio.

Martian Manhunter

I'm not really gonna say a lot about this.  Just look at him.


Ethan Van Sciver drawing Batman

This is something that I've been wanting to see for a while.  Ethan Van Sciver, who forever left his mark on comics with Green Lantern: Rebirth in 2005, is one of the only artists today, in my opinion, carrying on the Neal Adams tradition of a dark, scary, manly Batman.

The cover to Legends of the Dark Knight #1.  My copy is autographed.  Be jealous.

His Bruce Wayne is excellent.  Manly is really the only word I can think of to describe his look.  I just feel like Bruce shaves with broken glass, uses Old Spice, and probably taught James Bond a thing or two about women.  Also, look at this page layout.  Bruce's girlfriend is a pianist and Ethan flawlessly brings that into the design of the page.

Even without the words, you can tell what's happening on these pages.

Ethan's Mad Hatter looks like a creeper, which fits perfectly with Gregg Hurwitz's story.

I feel like I need to take a shower after looking at him.

Not only is he an excellent artist, but Ethan is one of the best Facebook friends you can have.  He's hilarious, posts his artwork, and is a conservative!

I hope some of the things I have pointed out have made you maybe want to read comics if you never have before, or stop hating on the New 52 if you're a hater.  If not, then I'll just have to give some more reasons later!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Things I Like About the New 52, part 1

I have collected comics off and on for about 20 years now.  I started collecting in junior high, quit some time in late high school, started again in college, then quit again a year or two after college for financial reasons.  Around 2011 I was really wanting to get back into collecting and it just so happened that DC provided the perfect jumping on point.  They were rebooting their entire universe with Flashpoint (Google it if you want more details) and all their titles were starting over at issue 1.  I started out getting Batman, Detective Comics, Justice League, and Aquaman (also the non-DC titles Wolverine and the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic that I'll write about some other time).  I have since added several more titles to my monthly haul, all but two or three of them being DC New 52 books.

A lot of people hate on the New 52.  Those people are crazy.  Here are a few reasons why I love the New 52.


Ah, yes.  Aquaman.  He has been the butt of many jokes throughout the years.  In the New 52's first issue of Aquaman, writer Geoff Johns tackled this very topic right out of the gate.  Since then, I believe that Johns has successfully shown why Aquaman deserves to be among the likes of Batman, Superman, and Martian Manhunter in the Justice League.
For the record, yes, Aquaman is standing, triumphantly, over Batman, Superman, and Green Lantern.
 Not only has Geoff Johns made Aquaman the character a legitimate force to be reckoned with, he has also made Aquaman the comic the most consistently good comic month in and month out.  Story arcs like "The Trench" have introduced tough new villains while "The Others" introduced a new team (oddly enough called the Others) that is just begging to have their own book.
The Others.  Come on DC, please give them a book.  Please?

The art has also been top-notch.  Ivan Reis was the original artist on the rebooted series, and he killed it.  He made Arthur really sleek and...regal, I guess.  Also, his Mera is greatness.  Add in Rod Reis' fantastic, bold coloring and you get the best looking book on the stands.
The family that slays together, stays together.

Following Ivan Reis on the title (after he took over Justice League from Jim Lee) is Paul Pelletier.  He had just finished an arc on Wolverine and I was not too impressed with his art.  I guess drawing the King of Atlantis brought out the best him in though, because his Aquaman is stunning.  He's responsible for one of my favorite covers of the past, I dunno, forever.
Yeah.  That.
Bottom line, if you're not reading Aquaman, you should.  Even if you're not a comic fan.  "The Trench" and "The Others" have both been collected into trade paperback (or hardcover) form.  Go get them.

This ended up being longer than I thought.  Looks like the things I like about the New 52 will be a multiple-part blog post.  Stay tuned for the next one!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Gather 'round, children, it's story time!

Hey.  This is my new blog, where I plan on mostly rambling about things that interest me or what's going on in my life.  Sometimes I may post something serious.  So without further delay, let's get to it....

What I'm up to these days

Raising a kid and being married

So Noah, my son, just turned one last month.  Pretty crazy.  Time sure does fly....
Anyway, it's getting to the point where we're going to have to start teaching him things.  Up to this point our job has pretty much been to keep him alive.  So, yeah.  Let the fun begin!

New job!

I'm working at the library in Bay St. Louis.  It's a nice change of pace from teaching.  No lesson plans, no grading papers, no yelling at teenagers all day.  I do miss actually teaching and (hopefully) being a positive role model to my students.  So far, things at the library have been great.  I really enjoy my job, especially looking at stuff on microfilm.  Tons of fun.  Y'all come see me!


  • It's interesting how one's television viewing habits change when a child enters the picture.  Jake and the Never Land Pirates is Noah's favorite show.  I kinda like it, too.  Especially these guys:                                                                         I would buy every album they ever put out.
  • I put this on Facebook the other day, but here it is for those of you with whom I am not friends on Facebook.  This makes me want to punch baby penguins.  Dictionaries include definition of 'literally' that isn't literal
  • I could never punch a baby penguin.  Look how freakin' adorable they are.                                          
  • And behold, a man came up to him, saying, "Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?"  And he said to him, "Why do you ask me about what is good?  There is only one who is good.  If you would enter life, keep the commandment."  He said to him, "Which ones?"  And Jesus said, "You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself."  The young man said to him, "All these tings I have kept.  What do I still lack?"  Jesus said to him, "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me."  When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.  (Matthew 19:16-22 ESV)                                                                     Why is it so hard to do the hard stuff?

Well this is it for now.  Have a great day.  Stay frosty.