I’m having a flashback….

Okay, so. Ghostbusters.

First off we’re just gonna get the obvious picture out of the way, because of the clear visual similarities and because a few proton packs would make it far more simple to get those friggin’ Zubat into a Pokeball in Pokemon GO.


Anyhow. While I’ve tried to avoid looking at the “BOOOO GIRLS” comments because seriously who wants to read that, I’m aware that many people were unhappy with the concept of remaking Ghostbusters with women. Mind you, I don’t remember seeing many complaints about remaking Jurassic Park with men (it got some token women, but by that argument there are plenty of side-character men in the new Ghostbusters), but there you have it.

Now, here’s the thing. There are absolutely some conditions under which I would have gotten angry at a female-led remake of Ghostbusters. If, for example, they’d tried to head off the angry males at the pass and cast a handful of hollywood staples — you know, the slim, seemingly-interchangeable ones who are probably great actors with individual human personalities but always get the exact same role, hairstyle and love interest whether it’s an action movie or a romcom — or implemented “girl versions” of the old Ghostbusters plotline and gear (y’know, for the sake of the kids … so the little girls will be able to understand that there are girls in the movie).

Instead this is literally a Ghostbusters movie with female actors instead of male ones. We again got a great crop of comedians known largely from SNL and other small-screen work. They have individual personalities, complexions, and body types, which isn’t really commented on or played to comedic effect aside from the broad initial characterizations of the straitlaced one, the kooky one, the optimist and the civilian. (Note that these are comedy archetypes but not really “girl character” archetypes, because the latter tend to be defined by what kind of love interest said girl is. Unlike even the original Ghostbusters, this movie is not a romance … and frankly the original could have stood to be a not-romance too, no offense to Bill, but dang Venkman was terrible/creepy at flirting.)

Nothing is incongruously pink or form-fitting or missing chunks of fabric. They don’t make a big deal out of the fact that they’re all women, any more than the originals made a big deal of being men, but they’re still feminine in a practical way (Abby apparently keeps her work key on her bra strap so she doesn’t lose it, which frankly isn’t a bad idea). Like most remakes, reboots and sequels made with a bigger budget and/or in an era of better SFX, they jumped on the chance to throw in more/more-involved fight scenes, but frankly that worked for me here. The big showdown with all the new Ghostbuster gadgets was really fun and felt a bit more satisfying … I seem to recall the original involving more blind luck. Now, maybe that was the point — it was a goofy comedy with a goofy premise — but now that we’re all familiar with the source material and the sequels and whatnot, that brief moment of pure glorious ghost butt-kicking and tech-flaunting felt warranted. Even if it’s an obvious opening for a new toy line of Ghostbusters accessories….

An aside of sorts: When I was watching the original Ghostbusters recently, I couldn’t help thinking of how convenient it always is that no matter how much the characters on shows and movies complain about the cost of buying/repairing something, they always seem to have more than enough money to do so in the end, because eew, actually having limited funds would be almost as gross as having to watch a movie where the woman actually has brown frizzy hair and glasses for the whole runtime instead of just until the makeover crew arrives 1/3 of the way through, I guess? So the twist on their new digs in the 2016 movie was a bit of a welcome surprise for me personally as well.

I could dedicate another paragraph to Chris Hemsworth as the beautiful but completely clueless — not “man-clueless,” mind you, like a television hubby who’s afraid of the kitchen, or “girl-clueless” like a stereotypical mechanically-inept female character, or even really “below-average-intelligence clueless” but just UTTERLY USELESS in a gloriously transcendent sort of way —  secretary (though the dude has a point, an aquarium is TOTALLY a submarine for fish) … but I guess I just did, and made it a run-on sentence to boot, so there’s that. I think if he’d been played more seriously I miiiight have taken issue with it despite the perfection of the role-reversal, but as it is he’s clearly just comic effect personified. And yet … somehow if you imagine that he’s Thor in-character for the whole movie, it’s still not *entirely* implausible. I would probably watch a “The Adventures of Dumb Kevin” spin-off.

So, if you didn’t notice, I liked the movie. Was it an artistic masterpiece? Perhaps not. Was it funny and entertaining and something I’d voluntarily hazard watching a sequel to? Certainly, and that’s more than I can say for Jurassic World, Star Trek: Into Darkness, and Godzilla (1998/2016) (which, yes, were technically based on action movies, but took themselves waaaaay more seriously than the content, or in some cases the source material itself, warranted). The jokes hit, the cameos and callbacks didn’t feel too overblown (*cough*jurassicworld*cough* — talk about ruining childhood memories), and everyone seemed to be having fun. Especially Leslie Jones, because darned if she wasn’t genuinely laughing during some of those scenes. It sucks that some of the undoubtedly self-aware jokes in the movie (the angry YouTube comment about female Ghostbusters, and the “I don’t know if this was a race thing or a lady thing…” when the onscreen audience literally rushes out of the way to avoid supporting Jones’ character) rang all too true in the real world, because there are some days I like to try to delude myself into thinking we’re slightly better than ridiculous ineffectual comic demi-villains….

But enough with the bumming-out. Watch the movie, enjoy the movie, taste the — wait no, that’s Skittles. Anyhow, form whatever personal opinion of it you want, just be cool soda pop.


Gotta Catch ‘E– ERROR, TRY AGAIN

So, I bet you know what this is about.

While things seem to be smoothing out a little now, the most exciting thing about Pokemon GO at first was the roulette wheel of “will I or won’t I be able to access the game today?” The overloaded-servers message, a somewhat irritatingly-cheery assemblage of Pokemon in a meadow under a rage-calming cloudless sky, was quickly dubbed the “new blue screen of death” (though frankly I just want to know if Magikarp is really that big?!). My problem, however, was mostly that the game would give me phantom Pokemon to taunt me. Need a Spearow? Why don’t we give you one, freeze the game, let you summon it back when you restart, wait till it’s in the Pokeball, display “ERROR” without further explanation, and then say you’ve walked too far away from the Pokemon? Yeah, that sounds like fun.

The weirdest instance of this was a couple days ago, when I was camped out at a Pokestop stocking up on items. There aren’t a lot of Grass types around here, so I saw an Oddish and made a grab for it. The Pokeball sat on-screen for a second, the Oddish escaped … and then I was back to the main screen. No puff of smoke to indicate it ran away, no frozen game or error message. I restarted for the heck of it … and there was Oddish, back where he was before. I went through this a couple times, and then suddenly Oddish got a buddy. A Pidgey was RIGHT next to him, and was right back there every time Oddish disappeared and returned. Half the time I accidentally hit Pidgey instead of Oddish when I tried to bring him up, and ended up running away (while picturing Pidgey thinking, “Success!”).

Eventually I just gave up (probably not as soon as I should have), and ended up sketching my frustration instead. I took a last-minute phone pic, because TECHNICALLY this is not my sketch book…


“I gotcha buddy.” (note: colored pencils! I get a little too excited about colored pencils, as the owner of the ones used here can attest).

Some other GO notes:

Man, Weedle is sassy. What’s with that? It does these little dances and glowers and headbutts you and all that and yet it never comes close to escaping the Pokeball. Oh well, little guy can dream I guess.

EVERYBODY LOVES THIS. Not just like, a large number of human people, but every age range. Teens, 20-somethings, ten-year-olds, their parents, you name it. A little girl at the library was psyched to learn that I, too, chose Team Yellow and always go with the Fire starter. A teen was pretty much just dumbstruck that I also play the game. Two middle-aged ladies out for a walk admittedly surprised me when I was mushroom raspberry hunting (with the song from Mushroom Samba stuck in my head either way due to the phantom Parasect that kept claiming to be nearby). Since those not-quite readers requested more transcripts, HERE’S ANOTHER ONE!

Woman 1: Hi!

Me: …Hi.

Woman 2: [presumably noticing the phone I chucked in my bag before crossing the bridge] Are you catching many Pokemon?

Me: …Well, a few, I’m mostly looking for raspberries. [note: Even “a few” was an overstatement; this path is in the woods and crosses/follows a creek, and all that’s on it are Rattata and phantom Parasect]

Woman 2: So … do you just click on them to catch them or what? It’s not working for me.

Me: Sort of. Not working how?

Woman 2: I can’t seem to catch them. Do you just click on the Pokemon, or on the Pokeball…?

Me: Well, first you just click or kind of swipe the Pokemon.

Woman 1: Hm.

Woman 2: Why does it show a camera?

Me: Ohhh. It’s taking pictures?

Woman 2: Yes!

Me: Oh okay, don’t press that button. If you’re on that screen you have to swipe the Pokeball towards it to catch it. [gives a quick rundown of capture-difficulty colors, aiming, curveballs, etc.]

Woman 2: Oh, great!

Woman 1: Thank you! [shoots a “see, I told you any young person with a phone would be able to help us” look at her friend as they walk off]

Anyhow, that Oddish wasn’t much so here’s a random dragon (or wyvern, rather) from the previous page in the sketchbook, when I did NOT have colored pencils to distract me:


Happy hunting!

Oh, not the Face….

The Road to El Dorado! If you’ve never heard of it, then you’re … probably one of the many, many people who did not go to see this movie, which flopped pretty badly in theaters back in ’00. But I forgive you.

Today’s half-detailed picture brought to you by: My need to include an image on this ostensibly-art blog, my continuing inability to draw humans (even animated ones), and the rather unavoidable temptation caused by Miguel literally holding his hands up and begging like a dog shortly after the title quote.


So. This movie. I watched it when I was nine, and I watched it yesterday, and let me tell you, SO MUCH must have gone over my head when I was nine. Like, I remember some of this, but it is definitely a Dreamworks movie and a PG one at that. Despite that, there’s a refreshing lack of bodily-function humor and over-the-top slapstick (don’t get me wrong, I think virtually every major character falls/is crushed to his/her death and walks away from it at some point in this movie, but it’s generally not for comic effect). I can’t imagine my mom having been pleased with lines like “LET’S GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE,” but it doesn’t seem to have scarred me for life. If anything would have done that, it would’ve been seeing Pan’s Labyrinth when I was 15 … but really, did anyone who was 15 when that came out NOT go see it despite their better judgement? Do 15-year-olds HAVE better judgement? I can’t recall having had any, myself.

I digress. I re-watched the movie after stumbling on the old Elton John music video for what was easily my favorite song for like a month after seeing El Dorado (the excitement fizzled when I realized I couldn’t buy it easily, it was only on the movie theater’s radio station, and YouTube didn’t exist yet). To my surprise, it has aged far better for me than many cartoon theme songs I loved from that time period. It still has what I adored as a nine-year-old (CONSTANT REPETITION) but also a nice melody and not-too-distractingly-insipid lyrics. I know that sounds like super faint praise, but I really do like Someday Out of the Blue, and you can’t go wrong with a slightly-weird animated Elton John randomly but convincingly stuck in scenes from the movie (often in place of poor Miguel, for some reason).

I mention the video because I watched it when I still had little memory of the movie besides “Cuba!” and a couple other random flickers. My first passing thought, which grew less passing with each second, was “wait … did they put a love song for these two dudes in the movie? Wasn’t there a girl at some point?” And there was a girl at some point, and that bit’s in the music video eventually, but … with the lyrics, there’s at least one point where Miguel and Tulio are pretty much one quick glance away from this being a fandmade shipper video. And then I read the comments, and saw I wasn’t the only one by a long shot.

Now, normally I’m not one for after-the-fact “conspiracy romances” between characters who were never explicitly written as having a thing for each other. Even if a character initially was/wasn’t intended as a potential romantic interest (like Luke from Gilmore Girls … although that went pretty badly so nevermind), all that can be scrapped pretty thoroughly in a rewrite. But darned if these guys don’t make a cuter couple than Tulio and Chel (who is still fabulous, by the way, and shamelessly interested from the get-go in a way most female love interests aren’t — “Do you mind?” “No. [realizes they don’t want her staring while they disrobe] Oh, oh, oh, [looks away]” — side side note, man these two are shirtless a lot), and FOR THE WHOLE MOVIE. If they really did ditch the idea of having them be a couple, they left a plausible “couple’s adventure/lover’s spat” storyline in place, with a handful of Chel/Tulio interaction thrown in. And either way, even though these things are presumably meant to be vague and poppy so they’re not too irrevocably tied to the movie, I’m fairly certain the credits song didn’t get the memo about Chel being the love interest. Who would possibly need to “start again” in that relationship, anyhow?

Buuuut this isn’t really a post about how Tulio and Miguel are an adorable not-couple, though that did stand out going back over this film. It’s about my surprising lack of disappointment on re-watching, and that none of it is quiiiite as stereotypical as I’d assumed it would be. I mean, there are tons of cartoon stereotypes here (skinny, British-sounding villain; light-haired good guy; oddly smart animal sidekick who by the way is clearly the not-so-distant ancestor of Maximus from Tangled), but we also have a confident lady who isn’t a tomboy and/or assassin; “good guys” who aren’t constantly hampered by a need for moral high ground (the boys and Chel are a veritable trickster trio surviving off their wits, and even the chief knows they’re lying but chooses not to tell his people); and visually, not a lot of generic “copy-paste” citizens or soldiers (I’m looking at you, confusingly-identical-dino-soldiers-in-otherwise-diverse-Stitch-universe).

Basically this is a fun movie and it’s too bad it didn’t do better but sixteen years later both copies are currently checked out from the library so I guess it’s doing okay.