Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Time Dilation Accelerator: ProStars, It’s All About Helping Kids

ProStars cartoon show
We are, we are ProStars!

Occasionally, the Time Dilation Accelerator defies the laws of space and time by going back to review the best (or the weirdest) aspects of the early 90s.

This show is fucking amazing. Seriously. We could write a whole article about how insanely ridiculous the show’s opening is, but we’ll try our best to cram the entire awesomeness of the cartoon into just one article.

You see, once upon a time, athletes, instead of being steroid popping jackasses, were heroes that kids could look up to (actually, they were just better at hiding their dirt). Since sporting good endorsements weren’t bringing in enough cash, Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, and Bo Jackson decided to lend their names and likenesses to a cartoon (because that’s where the big bucks were in the 90s). Thus, ProStars was born. The cartoon, which was produced by DIC Entertainment—the geniuses behind Alf: The Animated Series, Captain Planet, the Super Mario Bros. Super Show, and a whole list of craptactular abominations (and a few good shows)—ran on NBC for four months in 1991.

The show’s premise was fairly simple: Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, and Bo Jackson worked for Mom—an annoying Jewish stereotype who ran a super secret crime fighting organization out of her gym. Each week, the three would battle an irritating villain whose evil plans threatened either: a) the environment, b) some random kid, or c) our heroes' athletic reputation (in one episode a villain even steals the Stanley Cup).

ProStars perverted villain
Yikes! Something’s not quite right with this scene.

Like most early 90s cartoons, this one is almost unwatchable today, as every goddamn aspect of the show is littered with painfully annoying jokes.

Wayne: “Let’s go kick some butts—Dr. Lobe’s per-‘butts’ that is!”

Fucking hilarious.

ProStars - Bo Jackson Baseball cannon
Also, did we mention that a baseball bat that shoots baseballs is the coolest weapon ever.

While the writing sucked, we still love the concept. What’s cooler than athletes using their sporting skills to fight evil robots? Nothing, except maybe if each of the characters were given a personality that in no way reflected their real life personas.

You see, some brilliant writer decided that Jordan should be the fast-talking genius of the group, because we all remember Michael for his technical skills and inventions, right? Jackson, who looks like an advertisement for steroids, was the superhuman tank of group with the personality of a slug. Finally, Wayne was the funny one who couldn’t stop eating. Yeah…the funny one?

That’s probably the one word that we would never use to describe Wayne Gretzky, ever. Wayne’s a great hockey player, and a Canadian icon—but a comedian? Not in a million years. In another spark of inspiration, the writers also made Wayne obsessed with food, despite the fact he only weighed 185 pounds.

ProStars - Wayne Gretzky the hungry one
Wayne gets his sandwich on.

You see, in the early 90s, every cartoon needed a character obsessed with food. Sonic was obsessed with chili dogs, Michelangelo with pizza, and Wayne just wanted to stuff his face—just like in real life. We fondly recall the Oilers games where Wayne would jump the boards, accost the hogdog guy, and choke down forty hotdogs. What’s even weirder is that Townsend Coleman, the actor who voiced Michelangelo in the 1987 Ninja Turtles cartoon, also voiced Wayne Gretzky.

While the three stars didn’t voice their respective characters, they did appear in an opening live-action segment to discuss the theme of the upcoming episode (yes, like every stellar 90s cartoon, ProStars had a moral to teach). Usually, these segments, which were filmed on different sound stages, only featured Jackson and Gretzky, but were edited to make it appear like they were having a conversation. Jordan, who apparently had more important things to do, only occasionally appeared, and rarely said more than a few lines.

ProStars - Michael Jordan, Bo Jackson, Wayne Gretzky
ProStars, it’s all about helping kids line our wallets.

Now, for the best part of the show: the opening theme. The show first debuted with a knock-off of Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” entitled “We Are, We Are ProStars!,” Later, this theme was replaced with a different slower, remixed version. Although both themes are “Jammin’,” the second theme has better lyrics.

Jordan jams in your face, gonna put them in their place! ProStaaars, show staaars!
ProStars!
Blue line, crunch time. Wayne will score, just in time! ProStaaars, all staaars!
Show stop!
Big swing, Bo’s the man. Gonna hit a grand slam!
Prostars, it’s all about helping kids.


Awesome!



ProStars was only around for a few months, but it might be one of the best representations of kids programming in the early 90s—the show has everything. Over the top early 90s lingo? Check. Hokey moral lessons? Check. Cereal tie-in? Check. Cash desperate sports stars fighting robots in the not-too-distant future. Double check.

ProStars Cereal Box
Looks kinda like Alph-bits, with only one shape.

All screenshots from come the ProStars cartoon show. The cereal box image comes from eBay.

> Continue Reading: The Time Dilation Accelerator: ProStars, It’s All About Helping Kids

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Time Dilation Accelerator: The Ninja Turtles Visit Shredderville

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shredderville
Shredder and Donatello had a special relationship.

Occasionally, the Time Dilation Accelerator defies the laws of space and time by going back to review the best (or the weirdest) aspects of the early 90s.

In the late 80s and early 90s, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were everywhere—they were in movies, cartoon shows, public service announcements, on cereal boxes, clothing, and even Pizza Crunchabungas (whatever the hell they are). Although they were plastered on everything, the undisputed jewel in the Ninja Turtle commercial empire was the cartoon show. Every Saturday morning hundreds of thousands of kids would tune in to see the turtles foil Shredder and Krang’s fiendish and often comically inept plans, and while the cartoon hasn’t aged very well, we still have fond memories.

Most of the episodes followed a fairly standard formula: first the turtles eat some pizza, while making tired jokes, then Shredder, Krang, or some other third rate hack of-a-villain hatches a ridiculous plan, which the turtles eventually foil in a poorly animated fight scene. There is one episode that stands out though: Shredderville. The premise is a pretty standard It’s a Wonderful Life style tale, and although dozens of shows have done the same, this one is pretty unique bizarre.

The episode begins as the turtles return to the sewer, after once again besting, but failing to capture Shredder. While wallowing in self-pity, the turtles begin to question their endless struggle and wonder if the world might be better off without them. The next morning, the turtles awaken to a world where Shredder is the undisputed lord and master and New York has been appropriately renamed Shredderville. With Splinter gone, the turtles try to seek out April O’Neil and Irma (yeah, we didn’t remember her either, but apparently she’s April’s best friend). The turtles arrive at Channel 6 headquarters only to find that in this reality, April and Irma are both slaves in Bebop and Rocksteady’s harem. We have to say that for a children's cartoon, this seems a little racy.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shredderville
No TMNT episode is complete without the turtles putting on some ridiculous costumes.

As the turtles continue to wander the city, they discover that the world is a dismal place without them. Under Shredder’s rule unemployment has skyrocketed and the city has been reduced to a crumbling wasteland. None of this is really that unique—the alternate Sunnydale sans Buffy reality in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode The Wish was a wasteland too, though a scarier vampire filled one.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shredderville
Krang is useless without the robotic body of balding fat man in red underpants.

What really makes this episode different is how Krang and Shredder are depicted. The turtles, believing that Krang is behind this new reality, go to visit him at the Technodrome—which now sits as a rusting war relic in the middle of Central Park. But when they meet Krang, instead of finding their formidable foe, they find a pathetic bureaucrat who’s more concerned with fixing his monitor so he can finish his paperwork than stopping the Technodrome from overheating.

If anything, Shredder is even worse off than Krang. When the turtles visit him at his headquarters at Channel 6 (why his headquarters is there is beyond us), he’s just as miserable and pathetic—though in this reality he wears a business suit, while still sporting his trademark helmet (after all, an evil emperor needs to be both terrifying and stylish). With the Technodrome only minutes away from an explosion, Donatello demands that Shredder divert coolant to stop the reaction.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shredderville
Oh Shredder, how the hell did you ever become a ninja?

“I’ve only got two hands,” whines Shredder in response. “Look at all these repair requests, everything is broken. You think being emperor of the world is easy; oh it’s giving me an ulcer.”

“Oh Great,” sighs Donatello. “We want to get back to our world; where you don’t rule.”

“A world where I don’t rule,” pleads Shredder. “Take me with you, please.”

Wow. Poor Shredder, he finally gets what he wants, complete and total dominion over the earth, and it’s too much paperwork for him to handle. Seriously though, the episode, despite its lame jokes and ridiculous turtle disguises (how is anyone fooled by a trench coat and a hat, they still have green faces), is actually pretty interesting. The story follows the standard It’s a Wonderful Life premise, but turns it on its head by showing how pathetic the lives of villains are without the heroes. Of course in the end, the turtles wake up safe and sound in the sewer, but we all knew that was going to happen from the start.

If you so desire, you can check out the episode in its entirety on YouTube.

All images come from the TMNT episode Shredderville.

> Continue Reading: The Time Dilation Accelerator: The Ninja Turtles Visit Shredderville

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

GameStop Video Suggests That Women Gamers Are Idiots



In this internal GameStop training video, a (fake) British anthropologist from "GS University" explains how to approach and up-sell to women. The video is pretty sexist, as it suggests that women are easily frightened and confused by all things technological. (It also suggests that women will buy anything if it comes with a free subscription to Cosmo). There are lots of female gamers out there—if GameStop is having trouble selling to them, then perhaps they should stop treating them like morons.

Video originally posted by The Consumerist.

> Continue Reading: GameStop Video Suggests That Women Gamers Are Idiots

Monday, February 16, 2009

Bell And Rogers Are Lying To Us About Internet Congestion

Bell Er Campaign Poster

According to data released to the CRTC by Canada’s top seven ISPs for the period 2005-06 to 2007-08, annual growth in terms of total traffic is declining. This makes sense—broadband sales have hit a wall, as every Canadian who wants a broadband connection probably already has one. This data also completely undermines the Canadian ISPs and their arguments for internet management. For the past few years, Bell, Rogers, and the rest of the ISPs have been telling us that our internet usage is crippling their networks, but as SaveOurNet.ca co-founder Steve Anderson has noted, “If traffic growth is slowing, then it is hard to imagine why the ISPs need to suddenly selectively throttle Internet traffic. The fact that ISPs are slowing access to Internet technologies that compete with their own services seems like more than just a coincidence.”

The CRTC, which is studying traffic management and “net neutrality,” has extended the deadline for public submissions on the issue until February 23rd. Originally the deadline was February 16th, however, the ISPs only released their data last Wednesday, and consumer groups still needed time to respond. Canadians who want to voice their concerns to the CRTC can still do so through SaveOurNet.ca.

Photo by velouria!

> Continue Reading: Bell And Rogers Are Lying To Us About Internet Congestion

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Facebook Owns You, Forever

Facebook Owns You

You know that embarrassing picture you uploaded to Facebook—the one where you’re a) smoking a joint, b) posing for a cleavage shot, c) drunk off your ass—well guess what, Facebook now owns the permanent rights to that photo, and anything else you’ve ever uploaded. Under Facebook’s old TOS (Terms of Service), any rights to your image or information expired if you closed your account. But now, Facebook can use or sell your information as they see fit, even after you've deleted your account.

Here’s original TOS text:
You are solely responsible for the User Content that you Post on or through the Facebook Service. You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settings or (ii) enable a user to Post, including by offering a Share Link on your website and (b) to use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising, each of (a) and (b) on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof. You represent and warrant that you have all rights and permissions to grant the foregoing licenses.
And here’s what Facebook just added:
The following sections will survive any termination of your use of the Facebook Service: Prohibited Conduct, User Content, Your Privacy Practices, Gift Credits, Ownership; Proprietary Rights, Licenses, Submissions, User Disputes; Complaints, Indemnity, General Disclaimers, Limitation on Liability, Termination and Changes to the Facebook Service, Arbitration, Governing Law; Venue and Jurisdiction and Other.
As the Consumerist noted when it first posted this story: “Make sure you never upload anything you don't feel comfortable giving away forever, because it's Facebook's now.”

Original image of the bars and lock by Seany2000.

> Continue Reading: Facebook Owns You, Forever

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The CN Tower is a Big Frakkin Toaster

The CN Tower is a Cylon


Twelve Thirteen Cylon Models
Seven Are Known
Five Live In The Fleet
And The Last Is 533.33 Metres Tall

Ever since the LEDs were installed in 2007, we suspected that the CN Tower had been replaced with a Cylon.

Photo by Steve C. Lemaire.

> Continue Reading: The CN Tower is a Big Frakkin Toaster

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Zombie-Metro

Toronto Metro News Box

The consensus is that the news industry is screwed. When a respected institution like the New York Times has to turn to a sleazy Mexican criminal for cash, you know that the noose around everyone else’s neck must be twice as tight. In Toronto, however, the situation is particularly troubling, as even before the recession there were just too many players in the market. Now, those same organizations are dying as they struggle to compete for a smaller pot of advertising revenue.

In December, Sun Media laid-off six-hundred employees nationwide, including twenty-seven in their Toronto Sun office and just last week the Globe and Mail laid-off thirty employees and bought out another sixty.

The latest industry casualty is the Metro—a free paper operated since 2000 by the Toronto Star’s publisher, Torstar. Today, the Metro announced that to save costs it was terminating all six of its full time employees and replacing them with unpaid interns. While the Metro has never really been intellectually stimulating, it’s hard to imagine that a group of newly hired interns will be able to produce a paper of similar quality with only a few days training.

So, while the Metro really isn’t dead per-say, it’s pretty much a zombie on life support (in this analogy, interns are apparently analogous to life support). Firing every single paid employee is a last ditch effort, so as far as we’re concerned, the Metro might as well be dead.

Photo by __bri__

> Continue Reading: The Zombie-Metro

Monday, February 09, 2009

Toronto’s News Media Market Is Oversaturated

Burning Newspaper

There are a lot of great news organizations that call Toronto home, but when Eye, Now, and a dozen other outlets keep producing the same headlines, it’s time to wonder if we have too much of a good thing. There over seventy-five major media organizations that currently cover Toronto—plus thousands of Toronto centric blogs. All of these organizations compete with each other to provide unique content and break stories, but with so much competition, repetition has become commonplace and unique ideas are almost impossible to come by. Toronto, like much of news industry, is in the grips of what Michael Kinsley calls an information gridlock—which he attributes to the growing blogosphere. But the problem isn’t just blogs, it’s the industry as whole—too many organizations are slashing staff while simultaneously trying to increase content in a frantic effort to compete. You can only do more with less for so long; eventually content starts to suffer, and sooner or later the superfluous news organizations will go under.

Image by Cuppojoe

> Continue Reading: Toronto’s News Media Market Is Oversaturated

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Yes Pecan! How Companies Are Marketing To The Obama Generation

Yes Pecan! by Ben and Jerry's

Change is the air in Washington, on lips of the world, and even plastered across television, radio, and magazines ads—yes, companies have finally embraced the mantra of “hope and change” in an effort to sell us ice cream, gum, and soft drinks. But seriously, what took them so long? Change was already a buzzword in 2008 Pepsi—and could you please make your logo a little more obvious? It seems that almost every company has jumped on the change bandwagon. Wrigley’s wants Americans to “stick together,” Nickelodeon is promoting its lousy cartoons by calling kids “agents of change,” and according to Ikea “the time for domestic reform is now.”

Pepsi Hope Ad

So have Canadian advertising companies started using Obama’s lofty rhetoric to hock goods? Unfortunately, yes. In a December ad, Mini copied the style of the iconic red, white, and blue Obama change poster to tell us:
One leader has shown us that change is possible. Before it was fashionable oratory, change was a car. A small car. A car that changed the way we judge performance cars. The way we think about fuel-efficient cars. The way we look at speed limits. So you can still make change happen with a 2009 Mini? Yes, you can!
Gross!

Mini Obama Ad

The Yes Pecan! image is from Ben and Jerry's website, the Pepsi "hope" image is by jameshome, and the Mini advertisement was scanned by The Marketing Blog.

> Continue Reading: Yes Pecan! How Companies Are Marketing To The Obama Generation

The Top Of The Podium Just Got Higher

Michael Phelps Bong
Well it seems that Olympians aren’t just better athletes than the rest of us—they’re also better at doing drugs. Michael Phelps, the hero of the 2008 Summer Olympics and bong aficionado extraordinaire, can take bigger hits than the rest of us because he has bigger lungs. In fact, Phelps lungs are twice as big as the average human. While the rest of us can only hold six litres of air, Phelps can hold twelve litres. But Phelps monster lung capacity doesn’t mean that he can get twice as high—at six-foot-four and 195 pounds, Phelps is a giant and the bigger you are the more it takes.

Photo by USA Today.

> Continue Reading: The Top Of The Podium Just Got Higher