The Best of 2019

In the immortal words of Strong Bad – “IT’S OVER!” Time for a brief look back at what made 2019 interesting.

Best meme: Jonathan Frakes asking questions:

Best word added to Oxford English Dictionary:
clabbydoo, n.: “A large dark mussel; esp. the northern horse mussel, Modiolus modiolus.”

Best newly discovered species: janolus flavoanulatus, a yellow ringed seaslug of the Philippines. 

Best source of ancient hunter-gatherer DNA: 5700 year old birch pitch “chewing gum” in Lolland, Denmark

Best case of poetic justice: Rhino poacher eaten by lions in Kruger National Park, South Africa

Best Movie Monster: The All-paca from Richard Stanley’s The Color Out of Space

Best Magic: The Gathering card: Bake Into A Pie (Throne of Eldraine set)

Best animated series I haven’t watched yet: Genndy Tartakovsky’s Primal.

Best Star Trek release: Short Trek “The Trouble with Edward”

Best zombie film with a ‘oner’: One Cut of the Dead

Best new podcast: Toren’s Guide to Everything (plug! plug!)

Finding Ghibli Merchandise in Tokyo and Kyoto Japan

Let me start with this link to all the Donguri official shops in Japan and then move on to my personal experiences and other shops
https://www.kanpai-japan.com/travel-guide/donguri-official-ghibli-shops

In Tokyo

Tokyo Station’s Character Street, two minutes away from Tokyo Station’s Yaesu exit, inside First Avenue Tokyo Station, you can find the shop named Donguri Kyōwakoku.
Find more info at the link, including detailed instructions on finding the shop:
https://matcha-jp.com/en/2039

In the Akihabara shopping hub of Tokyo there is a shop called Kotobukiya that has many of the same items that you would find in the other Ghibli stores listed here, you can find them on the first floor in the back corner
http://en.kotobukiya.co.jp/kotobukiya-akihabara-store-floor-guide/

In Tokyo Shibuya area the Mega Don Quijote has a decent selection of stuff on the second floor toy area.
28-6 Udagawacho, Shibuya City, Tokyo 154-0042
03-5428-4086
https://g.co/kgs/oyPDNv

In Kamakura Komachi Dori Shopping Area, the Ghibli shop technically has two floors but they are two side-by-side boutiques. Here there are a few items that I didn’t see elsewhere
どんぐり共和国 鎌倉店
〒248-0006 Kanagawa, Kamakura, Komachi, 1 Chome−5−6 松秀ビル
0467-24-7705
https://g.co/kgs/baHm32

In Nakano Broadway
And of course if you are at Nakano Broadway you wont need to go far to find some truly outstanding stuff both new and vintage. Start on the second and third floor. I saw a large, extremely rare hebikera (flying centipede) toy/model from Nausicaa and Laputa: Castle in the Sky robot stackable game

In Kyoto

Google “Ghibli shop Kyoto.” Two locations will pop up in Gion neighborhood. They both have unassuming store fronts but are surprisingly large on the inside, especially the one with the cafe (the Northernmost of the two). They have many wonderful items at various price points that puts the Tokyo Ghibli Museum gift shop to shame. It is a short walk between the two shops and I found unique items in each so visit both if you can! And if you’re not interested in Ghibli then disregard. Happy to answer any questions

Donguri Address: 363-22-2 Masuyacho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0826, Japan

Ghibli Studios Shop Kyoto Address:  〒605-0862 Kyoto, Higashiyama Ward, 清水2ー224

2019 Saturday Morning Cartoon Party: Dungeons and Dragons edition

This year the theme for my annual Saturday Morning Cartoon Party was… Dungeons and Dragons! I included cartoons in which the characters played D&D (in some version or another) but also some cartoons that were set in a fantasy world similar to D&D (Visionaries, Gummi Bears, Korgoth of Barbaria). It’s a long list and there were actually some cartoons on theme that I didn’t include due to time constraints (Voltron “Monsters and Mana”; My Little Pony “Dungeons & Discord”

Here’s the final schedule:

  • Here’s the cereal buffet!

At about the halfway point I did trivia. Here are the questions – how did you do???

  1. In the Dexter’s Laboratory episode “D&DD”, Dexter’s character is Hodo the Furry Footed Burrower. To what D&D race is this a reference?

2. In the Futurama episode “How Hermes Requisitioned his Groove Back” which iconic D&D monster guarded a corridor in the Central Bureaucracy Headquarters?

3. In the episode “Mazes & Mutants” the ninja turtles LARP in the sewer tunnels, perhaps an homage to which 1982 movie starring Tom Hanks?

4. The classes of the children in the D&D cartoon are: ranger, barbarian, magician, thief, cavalier and acrobat. Only one of these is a class that’s available to play in the Basic Set of D&D (1977). Name that class.

5. IN the D&D cartoon, Venger has a sycophantic servant. The type of creature and the name it goes by are the same two words. What are they?

6. In the Adventure Time episode “Dungeon” Finn comes across an ooze that resembles which classic 6-sided monster from D&D?

7. In the Simpsons episode “Home Goes to College” Homer plays D&D with his new geek friends. His character was slain by what creature/race?

VOICE ACTOR SECTION:

8. In the 2012 TMNT series, Raphael is voiced by an actor who famously played a hobbit on the silver screen. a) Who is the actor? AND b) What is the name of the hobbit?

9. In Futurama episode #216 “anthology of interest 1” which creator of D&D guest starred?

10. Zummi Gummi is voiced by Paul Winchell, He is better known for voicing which cartoon tiger?

HAPPY DAYS, Donny Most, 1974-84

11. Eric the Cavalier was voiced by Donny Most, who is best known for playing “Ralph Malf” on which live action TV sitcom?

12. Brendan Small co-created Home Movies. he went on to create and provide voice and music for which cartoon series featuring the heavy metal band “Dethklok”?

Dethklok

13. Name the comedian who guested on the premiere of Harmonquest who also voiced Mr Peanutbutter on Bojack Horseman, Deputy mayor Cunningham on Bob’s Burgers, and Gladstone Gander on the new Ducktales.

14. This actor voiced Uni and Tiamat in the D&D cartoon, but also voiced Elminster and Korax in the Baldur’s Gate video game. Who dis?
Hint: he is probably the most prolific voice actor in cartoon history – his most recent imdb role is in the 2020 film Scoob

TIE BREAKERS…

Dirk the Daring, Princess Daphne and the evil dragon Singe are characters in a 1983 arcade game that went on to become a short-lived saturday morning cartoon. What is the name?

In Stranger Things season 1, what is the name they give the monster which they borrow from the D&D game they’re playing

ANSWERS BELOW!

  1. HALFLING
  2. BEHOLDER
  3. 3MAZES AND MONSTERS
  4. THIEF
  5. SHADOW DEMON
  6. GELATINOUS CUBE
  7. ELF
  8. A: SEAN ASTIN; B: SAMWISE GAMGEE
  9. GARY GYGAX
  10. TIGGER
  11. HAPPY DAYS
  12. METALOCALYPSE
  13. PAUL F TOMPKINS
  14. FRANK WELKER
  15. TIE BREAKERS Dirk the Daring, Princess Daphne and the evil dragon Singe are characters in a 1983 arcade game DRAGON’S LAIR
  16. In Stranger Things season 1, the monster name which they borrow from D&D: DEMOGORGON

Top Five D&D-Themed Cartoons

Now that the 2019 Atomic D&D Tournament has concluded (Congratulations Kim, Ren, Carolina and Kieran!) I thought it might be fun to look at some of the best cartoons that feature Dungeons & Dragons!


1983: Dungeons and Dragons (Marvel/TSR) – The series featured six everyday 80s kids who rode a D&D carnival ride into another dimension, are given the coveted (by Venger, voiced by Peter “Megatron” Cullen) Weapons of Power by the enigmatic Dungeon Master, and joined by Uni the unicorn. Lots of great eps but “The Dragon’s Graveyard” in which the kids stop running and face Venger (with the aid of Tiamat the 5-headed dragon) is intense!

1994 : Reboot “Wizards, Warriors and a Word From Our Sponsor” (Mainframe) – Bob, Dot, Enzo and Mike the TV must learn to work together to overcome traps, giant spiders, and battle carrots in a game called “A Dungeon Deep.”

Dexter’s Laboratory “D&DD”

1997: Dexter’s Laboratory “D&DD” (Cartoon Network) – As Game Master for the game “Mazes & Monsters,” Dexter cheats dice rolls and is obsessed with killing his friends’ characters. When his sister Dee Dee takes over the game the kids have a lot more fun, except Dexter who is forced to play the role of Hodo the furry-footed burrower.

2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles “Mazes & Mutants” (Nickelodeon) Paul Ruebens (Pee-Wee Herman) plays a nerdy mutant who makes the heroes’ LARP (Live Action Role-Play) into reality…or does he?!?

2016 Teen Titans Go “Riding The Dragon” (DC/Warner) – Robin’s adherence to the rules of “Dragon’s Fire” sucks the joy out of the game for the rest of the team. An important lesson for all Dungeon Masters out there!

SPECIAL MENTION:

Superfriends “Lord of Middle Earth” 1979

1979 “Lord of Middle Earth” – Superfriends Season 4. Not good, but definitely notable as a very blatant “homage” to Tolkien, as the heroes quest for a magic ring so they can defeat the evil wizard who has turned them into ‘trolls’ (hobbits).

Other notable shows:
Home: Adventures with Tip and Oh “Lords and Lasers”
Spongebob Squarepants “Dunces and Dragons”
My Little Pony Friendship is Magic “Dungeons and Discords”
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power “Roll With It”
Voltron Legendary Defender “Monsters and Mana”
Gravity Falls “Dungeons, Dungeons and More Dungeons”
Regular Show “But I Have A Receipt”
Amazing World of Gumball “The Master”
Harmonquest (any episode)

Fight Fire with Fire Movies

Beware – the season of forest fires in BC is nigh. FIRE BAD… unless it’s portrayed in a movie for our entertainment. Here are my top 3 fire scenes in film AND the top 3 takeways from wildland firefighting training that my firefighter friend Allan wants you to know

#3 fire tip: Never ever EVER throw cigarettes from car windows.
#3 movie scene: A young girl with telekinetic powers loses it at the prom, and starts an electrical fire in Carrie (1976)

#2 fire tip: If you live in an area where evacuation is possible, keep an emergency evacuation kit in your vehicle.
#2 movie scene: after a few false starts, Kurt Russel deals with the titular monster in the Thing (1982) in the original “kill it with fire” moment.

#1 fire tip: When given an evacuation order, comply immediately.
#1 movie scene: John Goodman runs down a blazing hotel hallway shouting “I will show you the life of the mind!” in the Coen Brothers’ Barton Fink (1992)

Craving more pop culture on wildfires? Check out my podcast causticsodapodcast.com/2015/06/01/wildfires/

Star Trek Enterprise – Just The Essentials

So you’ve decided to watch Enterprise, but you’re not sure you’re ready to commit to all 98 episodes? Just want to get the gist of it?

I’m here to help!

These are the episodes that I deem worth watching, either because a) they’re an important part of the main story, b) they set something up that will become important, or c) they’re just plain good episodes!

SEASON ONE: 10 episodes to watch (or 11 depending on how you count the pilot)

E1-E2: Broken Bow Parts 1 and 2. In which we learn that Vulcans in the Enterprise era are assholes. This is fine. They are also very emotional. Introduces the Suliban and the ‘temporal cold war.’ Also there’s Klingons. WATCH IT.

E3. Fight or Flight. I like it, gives a sense that space is dangerous. But also sets up that Hoshi is useless. WATCH IT.

E4. Strange New World. Skip it
E5. Unexpected. Trip gets pregnant, there’s a holodeck of sorts, plus Klingons. Your call.
E6. Terra Nova. Skip it.

E7. The Andorian Incident. The Andorians claim a Vulcan Monastery is a spy post. Are they paranoid? Introduces Commander Shran (Jeffrey Combs). WATCH IT

E8. Breaking the Ice. Skip it.
E9. Civilization. Skip it.
E10. Fortunate Son. Watch it if you like Nausicaans. Otherwise, skip it.

E11. Cold Front. Remember the temporal cold war? WATCH IT.

E12. Silent Enemy. Skip it.

E13. Dear Doctor. Lots of Phlox and the rumblings of a Prime Directive. WATCH IT.

E14. Sleeping Dogs. Has Klingons. WATCH IT

E15. Shadow’s of P’Jem. Political stuff between Vulcans and Andorians. Jeffrey Combs! WATCH IT

E16. Shuttlepod One. Skip it.

E17. Fusion. The origin of the mind meld? WATCH IT

E18. Rogue Planet. Skip it

E19. Acquisition. It was established in TNG that no species from the Federation had contact with Ferengi before the Enterprise D encountered them in the first season of TNG. This episode mostly contradicts that, but it’s a fun episode with Clint Howard (Balok from TOS), Ethan Phillips (Neelix from VOY) and Jeffrey Combs (DS9). WATCH IT

E20. Oasis. Skip it.
E21. Detained. Skip it
E22. Vox Sola. Skip it
E23. Fallen Hero. Skip it
E24. Desert Crossing. Skip it
E25. Two Days and Two Nights. Skip it

E26. Shockwave Part 1. The Enterprise kills everyone and the world goes to shit. Temporal cold war episode! WATCH IT. 

Stay tuned for Season 2!