Sunday, September 14, 2014

Buy All Our Playsets and (Weird, Off-model) Toys!

When the dead web series that you’re doing reviews on actually has more signs of life than the review site itself, then you know something’s going wrong. It’s been … about four months, it looks like. No real reason, either, I’ve just been putting it off for ages. This intro paragraph is actually being written after some of the following stuff, which I wrote back in June and then never finished. But getting back on subject, if you haven’t heard yet (which is unlikely, because I don’t know who would be following this blog and not follow updates to the HR Wiki), there’s been a hint of greater things to come. Matt Chapman was interviewed for the Jeff Rubin Show, and he basically said that he and Mike have been wanting to revive the series for years now, they just haven’t had the circumstances to really get back to it and give it the full attention they’d want. But apparently there’s a good chance that it could have another update (if not come back to a regular update schedule, then at least another isolated toon) before the year is out. So check out that interview if you haven’t yet, and assuming you’ve already seen it, let’s get back on track and revisit New Boots.

Oh yeah, The Cheat, he's a...stripèd, green rabbit! With two butts!
I’ve always found this toon to be one of the most solid in the “Powered By The Cheat” category. It’s not as well-known as Crazy Cartoon, the song isn’t quite as good as Everybody to the Limit, and it’s not as memorable as mile, but there’s a lot to laugh at in this. Before I get to any of that though, I have to at least mention that I feel like the voice acting is somewhat … off. And that’s normal for this category, since the PBTC characters have intentionally crappy voices, but they seem different from usual, and The Cheat himself just sounds weird in places. It’s hard to pinpoint why, but his first “line” of the cartoon (presumably “a cute girl and an astronaut gave them to me”) sounds like someone else’s exaggeration of The Cheat’s usual noises, and not what he would normally sound like. He sounded kind of off during the segment with Strong Bad at the computer too.

Trying to ignore that though, there’s just so much other weirdness going on that it’s difficult to focus on anything. Everyone remembers the part with Nebulon (Matt Chapman himself says that it was one of his favorite moments in the whole series), and then there’s the whole bit with The Cheat pouring soup in Homestar’s eyes (a callback to the different town email). But even though it’s a minor thing, I always found it odd that Strong Bad says he’ll go get The Cheat a patty melt, and then comes back with a picnic basket of completely different items. And for whatever reason, the lines I took away from this toon were the first two that Strong Bad says - “Whoa, The Cheat, I can’t believe what cool boots you have on” and “Oh, I see, a cute girl and an astronaut gave them to you”. I quote those (replacing the subject matter, but leaving in the terrible voice and weird inflections) all the time.

And then there’s the Hip Hop Dance music video, which is just sort of tacked on to the end of the New Boots toon. It isn’t its own toon under any sort of categorization on the website, it’s just … part of New Boots. Sure, why not. It’s a fairly catchy song, with fairly terrible visuals (I like the little Mega Man sprite though), but there’s not a whole lot to say about it. I actually like the little ditty that plays while The Cheat dances on Homestar’s face almost as much as Coach Z’s song, but it ended very quickly, which is disappointing. But speaking of things that ended earlier than they should have, here’s something that’s basically the exact opposite of that – Strong Bad Email #101, car.

When you spin my buzzer, it plays the theme from Night Court starring Richard Moll.
…To elaborate on that incredibly forced segue, what I was basically trying to say is that SBEmails didn’t stop after 100. Which is obvious now, but back then, nobody was quite sure if they’d keep going. Well indeed they did, and the first one after the big 100 was somewhat of a return to the old-style “never leave the computer” format. This has never been a big favorite of mine, but upon rewatching it, I realized that it was the origin of the word “anydangway”, which I love using, and was also the first appearance of the name “Gron Sad”, which is just plain awesome.

So apparently, “what kind of car do you drive” was one of the most common emails that Strong Bad received back in the day. Rather than repeatedly mention it in the “how do you type with boxing gloves on” sense, or make fun of it as we’ll see eventually with “what do your parents look like” and “can you draw Trogdor again”, they decided to just get this email out of the way and kind of kill off the question once and for all. And so instead of Strong Bad making something up or revealing that he did in fact have a cool car all along, Homestar just kind of shows up, steals the spotlight for a bit, and then the email ends abruptly. Remember when I said that the bet would have been pretty funny if it just ended by saying “no” and not showing anything of value? Well, this email did basically just that, as pointed out to me in a comment on that post. I guess I had just forgotten about it.

Anydangway, I could talk a bit about Nerdular Nerdence, the fact that Strong Sad didn’t really answer Strong Bad’s “jillion” question very well, or bring up some pointless debate over whether or not it was an animation goof when Strong Bad spun Homestar’s buzzer and it may or may not have spun the wrong way (yes, this was actually a debate, because people have nothing better to do, and I am usually not in any position to say that myself). But I won’t, because the next email is lunch special and I like that one quite a bit, so I want to rewatch it. And besides, I just mentioned all those things in the process of saying I won’t talk about them, so my job there is done.

Gimme a basket of double hot wings, pants down, a couple of egg rolls ... and a cod plank platter!
This is just a solid email overall. It’s one of those completely nonsensical plots that doesn’t really go anywhere, along the lines of Lookin at a Thing in a Bag, and I feel like those are some of the best toons in the series. This one also lost focus a bit – the email asked Strong Bad to get Bubs to give out free lunch specials, but all the effort went into making him say “sbu” for a poorly established reason, and then that turned out to do something completely unrelated. Speaking of which, I like to think that Bubs legitimately did have the ability to fly until that moment, though I guess it’s more likely that he was just messing with Strong Bad. It’s kind of sad if that was true, though, even if he could only hover a few inches, it would still be cool to do.

I don’t think I ever paid much attention to it before this viewing, but “Super Chinese Fish Buffalo Rice” is hilarious. The DVD commentary elaborates on that a bit, apparently it was making fun of some restaurants in their area that just listed off a bunch of unrelated food rather than having an actual name. The other example they gave was “Philly Wing Fish Chinese Food”. The more I think about it, the funnier it gets. Maybe I’m just weird that way. And I still don’t know what a cod plank platter is supposed to be. Googling it returns this email as a result, so maybe it’s like pressed bunson. [doesn’t explain]

As with many high-quality toons and emails, there’s not much I can really say other than just repeating some of the funny parts, and honestly, I think “Super Chinese Fish Buffalo Rice” is the high point here. I used to enjoy this email because of the absurdity of what was going on, and basically the entire ending starting from the “I I’m think flooding he’s you flooding out! you out!” bit up until the fairly hot MS Paint Brontosaurus. But now I like it for those reasons, plus one more. Oh, and luncch. I’ve turned that into an everyday word now. But speaking of Strong Mad and crude drawings, let’s see some more of that in the next email, haircut.

And don't forget the "Ready for Primetime." Which I admit I got a little carried away with.
This was a nice simple email. By “simple”, I don’t mean it was exactly an old-fashioned stay-at-the-computer style email, but it wasn’t terribly elaborate either. The bulk of it took place staring at a photo of Strong Mad, but had some pretty funny voiceovers. So to start with this one, we’ve got someone who manages to be even less observant than the sender of the car email (unless he confused Senor Cardgage for Strong Bad, since he has a rockin’ combover), and then the email becomes somewhat sidetracked, as they often do.

Nothing particularly noteworthy occurs during the “looking for people with hair” segment, but the eyebrow art holds its own well enough, I think. There were some definite winners in there, my favorite probably being the “dog and also a cat shaped eyebrows… and a couple of muskrats” due to pure randomness. I do enjoy “I DON’T WANNA EAT A GUITAR” way more than I should though, and (in a twist that surprises no one), I enjoy using that as a non-sequitur in real life. What is it with some of these recent emails/toons where that keeps being a thing?

To close on this one, I’ll draw extra attention to the dancing/singing cardboard box Easter egg at the end (and the egg within the egg), because it’s one of the most ridiculous things ever, but I love Strong Mad’s reaction to it. Just “HOORAY  FOR BOX”. I couldn’t say it better myself, big fella. Oh, and there’s a Strong Badman comic in this one too. And yes, this is actually the first time he’s shown up since his debut way back in email 29. Jeez, I’m surprised they even remembered that. It seems like the sort of thing that would have started a mini-series within the site, but such is not the case. Instead, we’ve got a completely unrelated and barely-hinted-to miniseries starting immediately after this email! So strap in and get your wallet ready for the Cheat Commandos!

There's the Troop Carrier, the Troop Transport, and the Action Figure Storage Truck.
I’m gonna start out here by saying that I friggin’ love the Cheat Commandos. I’d have to say that it’s my favorite spinoff series from Homestar Runner, and I’m not entirely sure why, since I never watched GI Joe (which this is heavily based on), but it’s just so cheesy and shameless that I can’t help but enjoy it. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Obviously I’ve just spoiled that this does become a thing later on (if you somehow didn’t already know that), but we didn’t necessarily know that would be the case when this toon first came out. It was too good of a concept to not be used, though. For an introductory toon, this does a very good job of establishing the franchise.

Cheat Commandos is comprised of two major things, which are very heavily related. There’s the merchandise (the action figures and various playsets, which are shown off heavily in this toon), and then there’s the cartoon itself, which exists for no reason other than the sell the merchandise, hence the slogan. Oddly enough, we won’t be seeing very much (if any) of the toys after this introduction; from this point on, it’s just the cartoon. I am perfectly fine with that, because the cartoon is hilarious, but it is a bit of a shame that there’s no more toy commercials after this one, since Matt and Mike always do a really good job with fake commercials.

Cheat Commandos, maybe fighting for freedom, and each is sold separately. Cheat Commandos, they're probably battling evil. Buy all our playsets and toys! At this point, I could probably talk a bit about the different characters from the series, but I think that will happen naturally over time when I start to cover the later episodes. I will mention that a few of the characters don’t see much use through the course of the series. Foxface only shows up once (and not as a speaking role), and Ripberger (who shares a name with a character from Thy Dungeonman II), Flashfight, and Reinforcements aren’t far behind. I don’t have a problem with that, since the characters that do show up frequently have enough personality on their own that they don’t really need any more support. I just wanted to point that out because this toon introduces all ten characters (with decent little gags when you look at their action figure boxes in the Easter egg), but not all of them really get a chance to shine. Remember that most of the characters were basically created out of rejected commando names for The Cheat back in the army email.

That’s about all I can say for this one. It’s just a solid toon overall – it does its job very well introducing the series, and still has a lot of great jokes in it. I especially like the “Operation don’t crush ourselves” mission statement in the background of the Blue Laser headquarters, which they fail immediately. But anyway, I do want to get to one more email before the end of this post, so I’ll be getting to that right after a random interlude from The Cheatar.

You're way taller than me. And way...guitarer than me.
So obviously this isn’t a major toon of any sort, it’s just a little thing that got posted before the email one week. There’s not much more I can say about it that the mouse-over text doesn’t already say. It’s just a giant guitar that looks like The Cheat. It was sold for $5,000, and the money went to charity. And… that’s about it. Which is good, because the next email is one of the longest ever. So get ready to experience the fury of… theme park.

Oh, crap! It's tasteball already?
I love most SBEmails that parody the ever-loving crap out of a specific part of society, and this is one of the all-time best at that. From beginning to end, it’s a great parody of typical theme park stuff, with the expected HSR twist to it. For example, plenty of cartoons have an amusement park episode with a big scary, over-the-top roller coaster, but what other series would have one that is nothing more than a circle that you go through over and over? …And then you randomly catch fire? And then there’s the “Strong Sad Gets Decked Repeatedly Stunt SPOOK-Tacular”, which is just a generally ridiculous concept, but a hilarious one.

One of the weirder parts of this email is the segment with the cheap Bubs plushies, where you can click on one to see an image of a real one. This actually does have an explanation, but one wasn’t ever given until the fourth SBEmail DVD was released over a year later, and even then, it wasn’t really explained as much as … revisited. So from what I gather, either Matt or Mike commissioned some Chinese factory to make a Bubs plush, or someone else did and then sent the result to them. For some reason, it had a horn, not to mention the fact that its eyes were the same size and it had fangs instead of normal teeth. This thing went on to be known as “Shark-Tooth Bubs”, was given a terrible voice by Mike, and made a few unexplained appearances in later material (later as in, like, 2008). I thought that it made several DVD-exclusive appearances too, but evidently not, it just had the one.

Anyway, moving on to the end (skipping over the costumes, which was a decent segment, but nothing super interesting), we have the excellence that is the Strong Badian Riverquest Safariventure. This is one of my favorite things on the site to quote, because the delivery is just amazing. That, and I can’t not laugh at “here comes another one of our tour guides his name is The Cheat everybody say ‘Hi The Cheeeeeat…’” “Hide and seeeeeek”. That was definitely the best part of it, but the whole thing is classic, and it goes on for like, two minutes. And it ends with the water animation randomly stopping. But anyway, I think I’ve ended at a high note here, so I’m gonna call it quits for now and actually get this thing uploaded. And who knows, it might be less than four months before the next update. We’ll see.

Monday, May 5, 2014

A new update! No foolin'.

Bit of a quick explanation here: work has been terrible lately. Due to a ton of people quitting or getting fired, we’re severely understaffed and so we’ve been working 60 hour weeks for quite a while now. So free time has been limited and I haven’t gotten a solid chunk of time to dedicate to a blog post in a couple months. I’m not sure exactly when this will change, so consider the resolution to cover two years of material in one year to be officially broken. But I’ll see what I can manage today.

So first of all, holy crap guys, an update. I’m sure most people who read this are already aware, but there was an actual, honest-to-goodness update on on April 1st, and it wasn’t even lame like the previous April Fools update (Xeriouxly Forxe). I actually learned of this from the comment section on my previous post, because I hadn’t even bothered to check the site this time around. It doesn’t have a name other than April Fools’ 2014, but sure, let’s check it out. I’ve only watched this once so far, so I’ll be overanalyzing it like usual this second time around.

I’ll have to try to remember to update that link when it gets moved off the index page. So yeah, that was a thing. My first question is who asked Homestar to update “the best feature on the website”, as opposed to just the website in general. Also, and possibly a more important question overall - why was a crab shell stuck in his throat? But seriously though, this was definitely a decent revival, if you can call it that. I’m just gonna throw this out there – I don’t believe that this is an indication that the site will go back to updating regularly any time soon. It’s possible that a random toon or email could be added every few months or so, but even that is probably expecting too much. Overall I’m just glad that TBC (“The Brothers Chaps” – surprisingly, I’ve never used this abbreviation on the blog before) did acknowledge it in some way and gave the old fans something to talk about.

As for the toon itself, it was enjoyable. Not the best thing they’ve ever produced, but considering how long it’s been since a full-length toon like this, it was practically perfect. The animation and voice acting seemed spot-on to me, and the only thing that felt a little out of place was Homestar completely peeing himself over the “P.” Hairstyle Runner. I’ll admit it though, watching him laugh so hard at that made me laugh too, so it did its job. And of course, we couldn’t have an update without Strong Bad, and you’ve gotta admit the strongbad_eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee_windows98desktoptheme was kind of awesome. I can’t say I saw that coming.

And now, because I’m obligated to point this kind of crap out, here’s a couple things I noticed. First of all, Strong Bad is using the Compy here, even though it should be completely destroyed. Yeah, by the way, consider that last sentence spoilers for all two of you who didn’t know he eventually replaces it. I guess it makes more sense to use an older-looking computer with a Windows 98 theme, but the Compy was a text-based OS, so it still doesn’t really fit. Also, really, Strong Bad? You’re making fun of people for using Windows 98 in 2014 when your computers are consistently 20 years out of date? (Yes, I know that’s part of the joke.) And the last thing I wanted to mention was the fact that the song they sing at the end was the same as Homestar’s song from that really weird incomplete flash I mentioned that one time. Yeah, that one. But moving back to where I left off last time, we’ve got a little bit of everything in today’s update, starting with Teen Girl Squad Issue #5.

I'm gonna miss her. ... I'm gonna miss video games.
As always, it’s difficult to really “review” a Teen Girl Squad episode, because they’re basically a series of random happenings. I generally enjoy them, and this one is no exception. It’s a step up from the previous issue, which felt somewhat forced in places, and had weird voice acting. This one feels more natural, for whatever reason, which is a weird thing to say when it involves a violent sailing mishap, a skateboarding alien, and … whatever you call the series of events in the featured screenshot. I really couldn’t resist that one – it has The Ugly One wearing a three-piece bikini burying her head in the sand while a fat bird with its tongue sticking out is perched on her side. Meanwhile, So and So is inviting George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Henry Rollins to go tandem parasailing, which they are happy to participate in. I’ll never deny that TGS is a weird, weird series, but I love it anyway.

Oh, and I forgot to mention – the reason the mailbox at the start eats the postcard is because it has birds on it. Remember how the first three issues all basically started out with a bunch of birds getting killed for no reason? Yeah, this was just a continuation of that. It doesn’t quite beat the helicopter gunning them down from the first issue (which was great because it was the first sign that this comic would be completely idiotic) or the buzzsaw from the third (which I just thought was funny in general), but it was still funny. So with that out of the way, let’s play a game. It’s called “can you find the funny part in Puppet Time,” and we’re starting… now!

Strong Bad! I'm borrowing this squeegee-type-deal!
So what did you find? Was it Homestar throwing the broken VHS tape on the ground at the start? Perhaps the noise that The Cheat made at the very end while he stole the floppy disk container? Both of those are decent guesses, but the real answer is “nothing in this was particularly funny.” It wasn’t horrible, but I can’t say it did much for me. So yeah, next? Oh boy, an Answering Machine. Those aren’t usually too bad.
What this edition of Marzipan’s Answering Machine lacks in diversity is made up for in humor. You just have to kind of ignore Strong Sad’s calls. Sorry buddy, you’re my bro and all, but you were not bringing your A-game to this one. In fact, I’d say that you actually regressed somewhat to the 2001 era. Seriously, tell me that his “I’m a waste of space” line didn’t sound almost exactly like his baking chocolate/Necco Wafers lines from The House That Gave Sucky Treats or his whole “people started being friends with me because I had a pool” story from the Yello Dello commentary. Yech.

On the other hand, Homestar’s calls were genuinely funny. I don’t even care that they took up four of the six calls on this, it was worth it, especially the last one. If Homestar calling himself “sugarface” and suddenly breaking into song about getting “run over by a lawnmower blade” doesn’t make you laugh, then Strong Bad’s reactions should. And then once it’s over, you can find out what beat out the prank call lessons in Homestar’s “second-best $500 I ever spent” statement by clicking the tape. And there’s another Easter egg hidden there too, which I actually don’t think I ever noticed until now.

Alright, now before we move on to the next thing, I’m gonna have to take you back to 2004 for a minute. So here’s the situation. SBEmail 99, different town, came out three weeks ago. After getting TGS 5 and MAM 10, I was definitely looking forward to SBEmail 100, and figured it was probably coming soon. So it’s Monday morning before school, and I go to the website to see if it updated. Nope, still no new email yet. Well, maybe it’s actually there, but the main page hasn’t updated yet, or the cookies are out of date or something. So I manually go to, and get greeted by... well, Not the 100th Email.

Oh, I suppose you think you're pretty clever, huh?
I’m not kidding, that’s actually what happened to me, and I am so glad that it did. This toon was made specifically for, what, maybe 1% of their audience? I don’t even care about its contents at this point, I can’t get over this. They seriously predicted that people in my position would manually try to get to the new email, and went out of their way to make this for that tiny amount of fans who would actually try checking it that way. That just completely blows my mind. It reminds me of something said in a Futurama commentary, where a joke was put in that only a fraction of a percent of their audience would actually understand, and they left it in because it would be completely worth it to that small group of people.

For everyone reading this who never knew that this page existed, there’s a good reason for that. It was never linked to anywhere on the site. I want to stress this again – it was made deliberately for people who were too impatient for it to get uploaded, and were basically staking out the url for when it came out. And it’s not like it was a long wait, either. The email actually got uploaded the following day. I’m not sure if anyone else who wasn’t in the same situation that I was can really appreciate this toon. Like I said earlier, I don’t even care what the toon is about. It’s honestly not that funny; I’d say that The System is Down was funnier, and that’s basically the same concept but not a secret page. But it doesn’t matter. The fact that this thing exists makes it one of the most memorable parts of the entire website for me. Nothing would ever match the surprise of seeing this that Monday morning, when it truly felt like this was made specifically for me. But now it’s time to check out the actual email that I was waiting for: flashback.

They flew on a sweet, sweet rainbow bridge back down to Free Country, USA.
I’ve heard a few people say that this wasn’t really that great of a milestone email. Nuts to them, I say, I rather enjoyed this. If you focus on it purely as a milestone, then sure, it may not have accomplished anything huge, but I’m not sure what exactly people were expecting. The things that it did do as a milestone aren’t really the main focus here. There was a nice little callback to the original email at the start (and a decent song preceding that, for that matter), the somewhat unnecessary section of Strong Bad saying email 100 times (which I could have done without), and lots of good Easter eggs at the end. Seriously, be sure to check all of those out, most of them are pretty funny.

The main part of the email, the actual flashback/storybook bit, was a nice callback to the origins of the characters, and not only in the visual style. The “ten step footrace” was every bit as weird as the original “strongest man in the world” contest. There was no forced moral in this one, though. Apparently, it doesn’t matter if you find something (Homestar totally found the egg first) or win the contest to determine who gets it – all of that is completely arbitrary, and the person to come out on top is simply the one whose name is listed first in the title. Also making a comeback in this email are Mr. Bland and Señor, who contribute nothing (much like the original book), and the Prince of Town makes his first (and basically only) appearance pre-fishstick pile.

I’m not sure how or if I’ll be covering DVD material later on, so I figure I might as well mention a few things about the making of this email. The story was originally going to be done in the standard animation style, and would focus more on the duck shirt. Basically, Marzipan feels like Homestar has terrible fashion sense, and so she bought him a star shirt to wear instead. It turns out that Strong Bad had been wearing a star shirt up until then, and he refused to wear it afterwards because … reasons. I guess he just didn’t want to dress the same as Homestar or something. But basically, that would be the reason why he doesn’t wear a shirt any more. I guess that story would have been more … I don’t know, relevant, than the one we ended up with, but I have no problem with the giant egg story.

I can touch my toes, one two three!
There’s also a new Main Page that was released a bit after this email, done in the storybook style. As with most Main Pages, there’s really not much to say about it, but Strong Sad’s line for the “email” button, with that specific delivery, is a favorite of mine.

That’s … about it. I feel like I should have more to say about this, but really, it’s not that much different from a normal email, and it’s not the best or funniest one they’ve produced, it’s just a bit above average. So I could end here, but there’s a couple other things I did want to look at. First off, there’s Thy Dungeonman II, which I talked about a little last time. I did record a video of that game, but I can’t seem to find the video anywhere, and I think it might have gotten accidentally deleted. I was going to post that in this update, but since it seems to be missing, I guess I’ll scratch that idea for today (I’ll probably record something on it later on, but I can’t be bothered to do it right now). And I was debating if I wanted to review the next toon in this post or not, but I guess I might as well, because I haven’t actually covered that much material yet in this post. So here’s Strong Bad Is In Jail Cartoon.

Once again, Biscuitdoughhandsman slips through our fingers.
I’ve always enjoyed this one. In fact, I did a redubbing of it a few years back. It’s not that great, but here it is anyway. When I first started this blog and wanted to basically start out with a good toon that featured all the main characters, this was one that I had in mind (along with Where’s the Cheat?) but decided against it because it seemed to make more sense to just go chronologically and not really force new viewers into something with all the characters for the sake of… well, doing that.

This is the first toon in a while to portray Strong Bad as what he was originally intended to be – a villain. He’s always a jerk, and has certainly committed some theft and battery in his more recent appearances, but for the most part, he’s just kind of that one guy who cheats in contests a lot, exaggerates his coolness, and occasionally gets a bit violent. Here, he’s actually seen planning a robbery, and successfully kidnapping The Poopsmith. Not a huge shift in character by any means (he did steal stuff in the invisibility email, for instance), but a noticeable one. And on another note, apparently Homestar, Bubs, and Coach Z make up the law enforcement of Free Country, USA. Either that or they’re just the only ones who can be bothered to do it. It’s one of those things where the limited cast forces characters to take up a role that they’ve never had before just to make the story make sense. And now, a few unrelated things:

  • I don’t really know what a baklava is, other than some type of dessert, but I love the way Strong Sad pronounces it. And I agree with Homestar about the whole tai chi thing.

  • I’m not sure how putting a dash between Homestar and Runner would protect Marzipan. I mean, I kind of see where they were going with that, the whole “changing your name to avoid criminal activity” sort of thing, but it just seemed weird. Also, “Yeah, no. Is it?” is kind of an awesome line that doesn’t make any sense at all.

  • Strong Bad gets kind of sidetracked a few times in this, first with the whole “sweet lady freedom” thing, then the “ransom money = retirement money = college fund” thing, and then the “powers of persuasion” bit. I do like when he rambles.

  • Biscuitdoughhandsman is a thing. It’s been so long since I’ve first seen this, I can’t remember my original reaction to it, and now that I know about it it’s not really that funny anymore, but it certainly is … unusual.
I could probably go on a bit more, since this is one of my favorites, but I do want to finish writing sometime today, and there’s one more toon I wanted to cover just to bookend this post. We started with April Fools’ 2014, now let’s end with April Fools’ 2004, aka Professor Tor Coolguy Under Construction.

Hey, this isn't dirt! It's pudding!
I doubt that this ever actually fooled anyone, so as an April Fools’ toon, it doesn’t succeed, but as a short and nonsensical Stinkoman cartoon, I have no complaints. It brings back memories of those Xiao Xiao stick figure animations, which were pretty awesome, and you can’t go wrong with the general weirdness that is usually present whenever Stinkoman shows up. Such as EATING PUDDING WITH A SPOON! And 1-Up dripping snot for some reason. Then of course, we have the Ninja Gaiden-style cutscene with Stinkoman actually saying “dot dot dot”, and really quick credits featuring the development team of the original Legend of Zelda, as well as Kevin, who did “cover-ups”.

There, I pretty much listed off all the funny parts of this in one incredibly badly organized paragraph. But sometimes, you’ve gotta just let that happen. So that’s it for today, hopefully I’ll be able to get back to making these semi-regularly again, but we’ll see. Thanks for still checking this blog, be sure to support the website, tip your waitresses, etc.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Video Games and Useless Characters, what more could you want?

Well, I’ve had quite a bit of time off lately, due to a severe toothache letting me get out of work for a bit. And during this time, I’ve thought about working on a new post a few times. And then generally that thought would disappear after a few minutes and I’d waste my time doing something else. But I’m determined now to put out a new post before I go back to work next week. Update from the future: yeah, that didn’t go so well. It’s now almost two months after I started writing this post. Bah. So first things first, before I get to any new material, I have to actually go back and do a review of Marzipan’s Answering Machine 8.0. Thanks to Eric119 for noticing that I skipped over that one, by the way. Rather than tack it on to the start of this post, I’m going to add it to the post where it was originally supposed to be, the one from July 21. The Answering Machine was released between the sibbie and suntan emails, and it completely escaped my notice somehow. Here’s a link to the older post so you can check it out if you want.

I've got the heart of a turkey, and the wings of cranberry sauce, because it's Thanksgiving!
After looking through the lists of Toons and other site updates, I believe I only missed one other thing, and that is the Limozeen Thanksgiving E-Cards. Which I am deciding to not really say anything about, because it kind of speaks for itself if you want to take a look at it. If anyone thinks I did miss anything else, feel free to let me know. Just for the record, I’m aware that I never said anything about If I Ran The Camera (because it has nothing to do with Homestar Runner), a certain old game that will go nameless (because it apparently has a dark unspoken history… don’t ask, maybe one day I’ll elaborate on this), and the various “scroll button songs” that would update every once in a while on the SBEmail menu (which I’ll cover all at once at some point). There’s also some pages that I mentioned but said very little about, like the King of Town April Fools material (Revenge of the King, King of Town Email, etc) and the Character Videos. But I don’t really plan on going back to those, because I just didn’t have much to say about them in the first place. So anyway, moving on to new material, let’s start 2004 out strong with the classic SBEmail, army.

Hold the line! Hold the liiiiiine!!!!
This email is almost on the same page as stuff like dragon and comic in terms of impacting the future of the website, but in sort of an indirect way. Watching this for the first time, there’s not really any indication that something greater would come out of it, but once you know what the future holds, it’s an interesting look back. Without completely giving away the spoiler, let’s just say that “Firebert” was one of many commando names made up for The Cheat, and the ones that were scrapped were used for other purposes. This email is also one of very few to have a direct sequel, albeit nearly 80 emails later down the road.

So what can I say about this one? Col-o-nel Homestar is wonderfully ridiculous, and Strong Bad is completely unfazed by his actions. Homestar’s “Homestarmy” consists of Strong Sad (who I can understand wanting to go after Strong Bad), Homsar (who’s probably there because he doesn’t know any better), and a couple of inanimate objects. This series really does have a lot of objects considered to be characters – just look at the inhabitants of Strong Badia. And The Stick. And The Paper. Geez, there really are a ton of them when you think about it. On another note, lots of callbacks are present - mainly the painting from i love you and the box that originally read “eleven soaps” from fingers, though I like to think that “do you has what it takes” is a reference to “I think I has the solution” from Yello Dello.

So overall, this is definitely a solid email. It’s not a personal favorite of mine in the sense that I don’t have any huge attachment to it, but I can’t deny quality humor when I see it. And the next email is definitely a winner too, if only because of the massive amount of content it produced. Now it is my intention to sit down and write about video games for several hours. Well, hopefully not that long, but let’s take a look.

And you'd just have to sit there and imagine why on Earth you can't get ye flask!
This is one of the all-time best emails, in my opinion, and I don’t think many people would disagree with me. There could have been a bit more done with the concept, but I think this managed to condense quite a bit of variety into three minutes, and SBEmails generally aren’t too much longer than that. So here we finally get an answer to a very often-asked question for Strong Bad. Since Strong Bad has apparently never quite moved out of the late 80s to early 90s in terms of technology, our look at the types of video games he could appear in is understandably kind of dated. So let’s just do a quick analysis of each of these games.

The first game, Secret Collect., (yes, there is a period at the end of the title for some reason), is clearly based on the standard appearance of an Atari 2600 game. I rather like the weird flashing walls that look way out of place with the rest of the graphics, because those totally existed. Just look at the title screen for SwordQuest. And then you’ve got the graphics that only look “kind of like” Strong Bad, aka, a red square. Granted, there were plenty of games that did at least attempt to represent the character, but then there were ones like Adventure which did not.

Next is StrongBadZone, which is sort of like a Vectrex game (though it also looks rather Virtual Boy-ish, given the color scheme). I’m not quite sure why this one doesn’t let you play as Strong Bad, when he was clearly playable in Secret Collect. and appears in one of the following games too. I’m not going to say much about the humor in most of these, because I think it kind of speaks for itself, but this is definitely the one that most people remember from this email, if only for “Your head a splode”.

The next game, Thy Dungeonman, strangely doesn’t actually feature Strong Bad at all, and, perhaps even more strangely, is the one that generated sequels. It’s one of those things that is barely even connected with the overall Homestar Runner universe, but is yet still part of the website. But anyway, this is clearly a parody of old text adventures like Zork that require a lot of imagination and patience, because your goal is often not very clear, and a lot of times, these games would be really challenging to actually complete because of obtuse puzzle-solving and requiring obscure, missable items. Thy Dungeonman is anything but difficult though, as we’ll see in a bit.

The final game shown is Rhino Feeder, which is probably my least favorite of the four, despite Strong Bad’s insistence that it’s incredibly cutting-edge. I guess that’s sort of the joke. I’m not quite sure what system this is supposed to be a parody of either, because it does seem to be a step above NES graphics, but it’s definitely not 16-bit. It’s actually more similar to the Atari 7800, which wasn’t necessarily better- or worse-looking than the NES, but had sort of a different visual style, and the sort of gradient at the top of the screen gives me more of an Atari vibe.

"I'm supposed to release a video computer game on TV without this graphic!"

At the end of the email, you have the opportunity to try out all four of the games, probably making this the email with the most content attached to it, though website arguably beats it by a bit. I’ll be going over each of those games a bit more in-depth in a video at the end of this post, which will also cover the first of a couple other Videlectrix games released in January and February of 2004. A little bit of backstory here – Matt and Mike had been receiving emails with this subject for quite a while, and it took a while to get the creative jump to actually make the SBEmail. So when they made it, they basically got Jonathan Howe (the programmer for TROGDOR!) to make these games as well, which he managed to pump out in about three days. I guess he kind of got into a groove with those, and then proceeded to make a game called Pigs on Head a couple weeks after this email released, followed by Thy Dungeonman II another few weeks later.

Those two games are not actually on the Homestar Runner website anywhere, but rather, on the Videlectrix website, which launched on the same date as Thy Dungeonman II. (I’m not actually sure where Pigs on Head was playable before the site started, it may have temporarily been solely accessible through the “new update” button, if I had to guess). I’ll probably go over this site a bit more in-depth later on, but for now, let’s move on to another email that, surprisingly, does feature another video game, albeit briefly. It’s called the bet.

King, I think that stuff's for automotive use only.
For emails like this, I do have to wonder what it would be like if Strong Bad’s answer to the question is just “no”. 

Dear Strong Bad,
Do you ever go over to The King of Town's place for dinner? If so, what's it like?

Ann Arbor, Michigan

a>  Uh… nope. What, did you really think I’d ever hang out with the King of Town? Pff. Well, that answers that one. Until next week everyone, send me some emails that I won’t be able to answer in two seconds. [preeeeow]

That would be pretty funny as a one-time thing. But anyways, here we have a pretty decent email – nothing too outstanding, but it works well for what it is. Homestar’s bet was delightfully random, and the scenes with KoT went about how you’d expect them to, honestly. I guess the advantage to hanging out with an uncool person with a lot of food is that you get to have … well, a lot of food. Can’t really say no to that. The “putting mayo in the vent” prank was pretty funny too, and definitely one that would be horrible if it happened to me, because I hate the smell of mayonnaise anyway, even when it’s fresh. As for Typing Tutor, I only have one thing to say about it: it doesn’t have all the letters. Kind of seems like a bit of a flaw there.

Strangely, the highlight of this email is actually in the Easter eggs at the end. I usually don’t bother pointing those out any more, but definitely check them out in this one, because both are pretty funny. Butter-da is noh hush a bush push Leopold. And now for the next email, we have lackey. And I’m going to lead into this one by saying that I remember this being one of the most useless emails ever, but I haven’t seen it in quite a while, so maybe I’ll be surprised. Let’s give it a shot.

The Cheat is a good lackey because he "knows what's best" and "doesn't want to get left by the side of the road during a thunderstorm"
Yep, pretty useless. Moving on.

… Crap, I thought if I pressed Enter enough times, people would let me skip to the next one. Ok, I’ll at least say one positive thing about this email – the stuff Strong Bad was saying about The Cheat at the start (all of the stuff in quotes, basically) was actually pretty funny, if a bit long-winded. And the rest of the email was … yeah, pretty dumb, in my opinion. The “BC” jokes really overstayed their welcome (and were not actually funny to begin with), and I have no idea where the heck the idea for Doreauxgard (screw that spelling, btw) came from, or why anyone thought it was a good idea.

But apparently they liked Doreauxgard (look, can I just call you fhqwhgads?) enough to create an actual puppet version of it (not just the cantaloupe-on-a-pencil version seen in the Easter egg at the end of this email, but rather, one with an opening mouth and everything), which did not make an appearance on the website until 2008. It also has a Quote of the Week character head (basically a pre-loaded image in the Quote of the Week file that they pull when they want to use that character’s quote), despite never actually being used. That file is actually the only reason that anyone knows how to spell this freaking thing’s name. And that’s about all I have to say about this. The next one will probably be monumentally better.

Oh the things that man does! Come to think of it, what exactly does that man do?
Watching through this email again, all I could think of was the fact that this email, just like lackey, introduces a “new” character that is entirely useless, but the difference here is that this email is actually funny. The existence of the Thnikkaman in itself is hilarious because it’s about the laziest costume you could ever have, and he has absolutely no purpose at all. Strong Bad asks if he can have “some”, and Thnikkaman just says “yeah, okay”, and then that’s it. Genius.

As for the monument itself, I think the design sort of lost focus after the legs, but I can’t say no to the random palm tree sticking out of the side of it. It should have at least duct taped some aluminum foil to some twine, though. And aside from that, this email did actually lead to the introduction of Club Technochocolate (or the name of it, at least), and it also directly influenced my opinion on something in real life. Ready for it? The name “Kaitlyn”, and all spelling variations thereof. Seriously, after watching this email, I realized how freaking common that name is. I swear, every one of my classes in high school had at least one Katie in it, usually two. And it probably would have escaped my notice if not for Strong Bad pointing it out. Thanks a lot, guy. But getting back on track, I’ve still got a couple emails to get through, and the next one, much like these last two, has some stupid stuff in it. No, really, that’s the name of it.

And if I fail, then I'll quit stealing the bricks from your house, one by one.
I think this email is easily overlooked, because it doesn’t do anything too crazy. It’s just a basic at-the-computer email with little more than some dialogue exchange, but it works quite well in its simplicity, thanks to Homestar’s usual brand of humor and high level of energy. There’s no single thing I can point out that makes this a good email, it’s just generally funny all around, from the “stealing the bricks from your house” thing to “Butt’s Twelve By Pies”. And of course the whole Grumblecakes/Cheatcakes thing, which kind of came out of nowhere.

I’d say more about this email, but like I already said, it’s pretty simplistic, and the humor doesn’t require any kind of explanation or analysis, it’s just two characters that play off each other well. It may not be the most memorable email ever, but it’s enjoyable, and you’d have to be a liar or thief to say it’s not. And those people go to prison. So now for something more elaborate, let’s head on to email #99, different town.

Bubs would give away flamethrowers that shoot chocolate hundred dollar bills...
This is almost a musical version of your friends, with the difference being that email had Strong Bad inflicting harm on everyone, and this is just him imagining things being different about them. Which I guess is actually completely different, so that makes my comparison moot. Hehe. Moot.

So… I’m trying to think of what I should say about this, but I think my imagination’s broke from this too. Lemme try to think of the best thing ever. Um… Exploding muffins. Well, that’s a step up from beef stew, at least. Still though, I seem to be running into this problem a lot with some of the better toons. I can talk trash about the ones that aren’t so good, and explain why I didn’t like them, but with the good ones, it’s usually pretty evident why people enjoy them. With this one, you’ve got plenty of fast-paced jokes and visual gags that go along with a pretty catchy song. The endcaps aren’t as great as the main song portion of course, but the conversation with Strong Sad about the bust of Bubo was still humorous.

I do have to disagree with Strong Bad about Homsar’s treatment being disappointing – I think the “modestly hot” variation was definitely more interesting than Coach Z wearing a jacket or Homestar … quitting? (I’m not sure what actually happened with him). Yes, Modestly Hot Homsar is creepy looking, but I think that’s sort of the point.

The one other thing I need to point out about this email is the origins of the actual song. People who know a decent amount of stuff about the site are probably aware of this already, but the song (sans lyrics) was written by They Might Be Giants. They did get credit within the email at the very end, but only in acronym format, so if you don’t know what TMBG stands for off-hand, then it doesn’t really do you much good. But yeah, this is the band’s first involvement with Homestar Runner, and definitely not the last. I’m not by any means a huge fan of theirs (the only thing I really knew them for prior to this email was “Triangle Man”, from the Tiny Toons segment, and even then, I would have never been able to tell you who made that song), but I do enjoy their work within this series, and would definitely seek out more of their songs if I actually cared about listening to music in general.

Alright, so that basically covers everything I planned on talking about here. With the exception of Thy Dungeonman II, which I’ll be going over next time, this at least gets all of January and February’s material out of the way, so I’m at least somewhat caught up now. But before we’re through, as promised, here’s my look at the various video games from SBEmail 94, plus Pigs on Head. Enjoy.

Links to the individual games:
Secret Collect.
StrongBadZone (original version)
StrongBadZone (Wii version)
Thy Dungeonman
Rhino Feeder
Pigs on Head

Monday, January 6, 2014

Hello 2014, Goodbye 2003 (alternate title: Caffeinated Strong Sad and Comb-over Strong Bad)

Happy new year, everyone! With a new year comes a new era of me occasionally posting on this blog. Now that I’ve gotten over the addiction to Pokémon Y (following the previous addiction to Minecraft), I might actually be able to update it more often. Before moving on to the usual reviews, let’s take a look back at all the Homestar-related updates from 2013.
  1. Will Wheaton was given an introduction at a convention by non-animated Strong Bad and Homestar, much to the surprise of … well, everybody, really. 
  2. Decemberween cards were given a $2 discount in the store, meaning you could get all nine cards (three each of three different designs) for only $17.95. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that nobody took advantage of this amazing deal.
  3. Nothing else.
Well, I suppose that’s more of an update than we saw in 2012. But anyway, I’m going to see if I can finish up the 2003 updates in this post, which means I have to get through … five SBEmails, an Answering Machine, a secret toon, and a Main Page. I guess it’s actually not that much material after all. I’ll start things off with the weirdest of the bunch, an unnamed toon that wasn’t even featured on the website, known only as Where the Crap Are We? 

I think it's Massachusetts.
There’s really not much to say about the toon itself here, just the origins of it. The only things I will point out are the Easter egg at the end (an Easter egg in a toon that is, in itself, an Easter egg. Woah.) and the fact that a quote from this was eventually made into the Quote of the Week, making that the only reference to it on the entire website. Now, since I certainly wouldn’t have known that this thing existed without the help of the Wiki, I can’t really do anything other than just copy their explanation for it: “This cartoon could be found in the program Macromedia Central by going into "Help → About Central" and Ctrl-double clicking on the "C" logo. When given a password field, one would type in "sbemail" and press enter. The cartoon would then play in the "about" box.”

So in other words, nobody would have ever, ever found it without somebody actually involved in the making of it (whether it was Matt/Mike or someone from Macromedia) telling other people it was there and then letting it eventually be spread through word of mouth. I think weird hidden stuff like that is pretty cool, and it’s definitely weird to have a Homestar short hidden in an unrelated application like that. The origins of this will probably remain a mystery, and hey, speaking of which, let’s learn about the couch patch.

I thought this week's email was entitled "Teddy Graham Memories."
Is this the first email where the sender is asking about some small, useless detail in the background? I’ll answer my own question – no, because no loafing came out like, right before this one. But I was just thinking of upcoming emails that focus on weird stuff like extra plug and geddup noise, not to mention origins. I guess the mindset here is that you want to email Strong Bad, but can’t think of anything to write about, so you just watch another email, notice something minor, and decide to ask about that. I suppose that works.

Anyway, I like this email’s alternate explanations for what happened. Strong Sad’s probably seemed the most legit (maybe just because Strong Sad is probably the most reputable source), but then Strong Bad acts as if the whole “Coach Z Shadowy Figure puked in it after eating doo-doo meat gumbo” story did actually happen. An interesting fan theory is that all of the stories were actually true. Lil’ Strong Bad writes the message on the couch, realizes his mistake, and tears it up. Much later on, Coach Z pukes in it and sews it up to cover the evidence. Strong Bad later on tears it back open and releases the terrible stench from Coach Z’s mess. And then of course, Homestar spits Teddy Grahams all over the place. And The Cheat’s head explodes for no reason. There’s a few holes in that theory (HA. Pun.) but it makes about as much sense as anything else in this series, so sure, why not.

Actually, if you want to look even more unnecessarily deep into this, the “biblical stench” explanation could kind of tie in with a 2008 Easter short called Rotten Eggs. But here I am putting way too much thought into this again, because that’s what I always end up doing. I’ll end this review with a pointless explanation of something: If you’ve watched my older and more popular LPs on Youtube, you’re probably familiar with “The Steve”, a papaya that I gave a name to for absolutely no reason and then turned into a self-proclaimed “running joke of biblical proportions”. Yes, I was thinking back to this email when I made that statement. And no, I’m still not sure why I called it that. Anyway, enough of that, let’s move on to local news.

I guess those ROADS should not be RODE upon, eh?
The subtitle in the screenshot there doesn’t necessarily reflect my opinion on this email (not entirely, at least), I just kind of picked it. And while I’m pointing that out, allow me to correct the statement I made in the fourth post on this blog, where I said that The Cheat’s character video was the only place you ever get subtitles for what he is saying. And while I’m pointing THAT out, allow me to say that The Cheat was actually rather adorable in this email. I like the little ditty he’s singing during the news introduction.

My overall opinion on this one is kinda meh. It’s not bad in any way – when I look at all the individual jokes, most of them are pretty good. (Best five bucks I ever spent!) And I definitely like the Strong Bad’s Rhythm n’ Grammar songs at the end. I’ve used those quite a number of times over the years to correct people, and the apostrophe song is genuinely useful. It’s how I usually remember which spelling to use for its/it’s. So yeah, I can’t really place what it is about this email that I didn’t like as much as I should have. Maybe it was just the Strong Bad segments, which were not very funny (saying “tonight” every three words doesn’t really constitute a joke). And while I don’t mind the concept of him throwing together the local news, it feels like something he’s definitely done before, hence why they drew so much attention to it. I can’t think of an exact instance of it though, other than pizza joint, and that email came way later than this. I dunno. Like I said, it’s not bad, just not one of my favorites. And neither is the next one, for that matter. I present colonization.

I met a strange man who had strange ways and strange odors.
I’m with Strong Sad on this one, ketchup on eggs just sounds gross. I’ve never actually tried it though. Fishcorn, however, that that stuff is the haps. Seriously though, apparently Native Americans taught Pilgrims to plant fish heads with corn to fertilize the soil. I just now learned that from the Wiki and feel like this is something I should have learned in school as a kid. I just assumed this email was being weird.

So going back to the usual standby of overanalyzing the crap out of everything, this email establishes that Strong Badia doesn’t actually belong to Strong Bad, he’s just renting it from Bubs. (Debatably – the ad in the newspaper says “lot for sale”, but then Strong Bad says he pays rent for it). This is kind of the last straw for an issue that’s been bugging me for a while. Come on, man. You’re already running the only frequently seen establishment in the series (the only other places I can think of are Blubb-O’s and Club Technochocolate, neither of which have been seen yet, and the latter of which is also at least employed by Bubs, if not outright run by him), but now you’re renting out dirt fields too? What are you even doing with all the money that you make when there’s nobody else to buy stuff from? I mean, I know there must be other places that you just don’t ever see, but it’s just weird is all. …Unsettling.

Getting back on track … no, actually, that’s about all I have to say about this one, other than pointing out “Hoofton Mifflin” and the two Easter eggs, which are pretty good. I like the Shanama song, and I agree with Homestar about the whole Hank thing. Same for Charles = Chuck, and to a lesser extent, Dickard. But yeah, let’s just move on, because the next couple emails are pretty good. I’ll save those for last though, instead, have an Answering Machine. Version 9.2 to be exact. Why the “.2”? I have no idea.

You're the best girlfriend I ever had. Let's have a marriage. Let's have a marriage license.
I think this is the best Answering Machine so far, thanks to Homestar’s intervention at the end. And as for the “.2”, my best guess is it’s just because the answering machine itself was changed for this installment. I thought for a while that it might be an incredibly obscure reference to a MST3K DVD number, but upon further investigation, Volume 10.2 had a legitimate reason to be called that, and that DVD wasn’t actually released until 2008 anyway, so… uh… moving on.

The King of Town was his usual lame self here. I mean, you can (and do) eat copious amounts of food on days that aren’t Thanksgiving anyway, so why does it matter so much? Turkey and the other typical Thanksgiving food isn’t even that good anyway, in my opinion, hence why I never cared much for the holiday. Strong Bad’s message is definitely a step in the right direction. His first one, that is. The second one is kind of meh, but the Cablem’n Jorge bit was pretty funny. Would 100 feet of coaxial cable really reach Strong Bad’s house from Marzipan’s? It’s never really established where the characters live in relation to each other. Not that it really matters, it was just something I picked up on.

Coach Z’s message was kind of a work of art, honestly. I have no idea what “discatapes” are supposed to be, but whatever they are, he wants them back, so he’s going to sneak in like usual and retrieve them. But then he tries poorly to cover this up and instead just changes the subject completely to curly fries. I love the seamless transition there. And then of course, we end with Homestar’s disaster, where he somehow misinterprets a message to “go away and pick up sticks”, and hilarity ensues. There’s not much I can add to the humor of this segment, but once again we have an instance of Matt doing a character’s voice, impersonating another character’s voice. It’s not quite as hard as it seems (since the impressions aren’t particularly good, it’s basically just the standard Homestar voice but with a slight alteration to it), but it’s still fun to listen to. We also get to hear Homestar not only impersonate himself (badly), but the return of “some animal died”. I love callback jokes like that. Alright, so one last thing before the emails, let’s take a quick look at Main Page 19.

So, Characters, you were in a movie recently. Tell us about that.
Like most Main Pages, there’s not too much I really need to say about this. It’s a nice little twist on the usual formula, in that Homestar says full sentences relating to the “The Show” theme, rather than just saying Toons, Games, etc and having funky stuff happening. The best part of this (other than referring to the Gremlin as “a new store”) in my opinion is the music that plays during some of the mouse-overs. And well, that’s about it, I don’t want to put anyone to sleep by talking too much about a small thing like this. So let’s have some caffeine and wake up for the next SBEmail.

Here goes the wood-davers train! It's takin' off! It's a new century!
This is one of my favorite emails, but unfortunately, it’s funny in one of those ways that can’t really be described, so there’s not much to really comment on humor-wise. It’s certainly not intelligent humor, it’s just Strong Sad wigging out over some Sanka (which for the record is non-caffeinated, so I don’t know what the crap happened here), and Strong Bad collecting data on it. Practically everything that happens in this email is hilarious, but the highlights for me are Strong Sad rambling about wood-davers (which is what he calls pinecone birdfeeders, and thus, what I call them also), Strong Mad’s very uncharacteristic reaction to “parakeet”, and Strong Sad repeatedly slapping Coach Z. So in other words, about half of the email.

Really though, what else is there to say? This certainly isn’t the first time that a cartoon character has gotten hyperactive and started doing a lot of strange things, but it’s a pretty funny example of one, especially on a character like Strong Sad. And while he definitely steals the show here, I do have to focus on some of the other stuff happening, like the “All-Wide Science Fair”. What kind of name is that? The original project on the effects of gasoline on fire sounds like it would have been interesting to hear. We do see a bit of it at the end in an Easter egg, but it’s not very extensive. Maybe he should have just done the project on the shark-mobile. But at any rate, I hope everyone enjoyed that email, and we’re about to move on to another one of my all-time favorites, which is really funny and … well, kind of cool.

I'm very sorry, ma'am, but could you help an old denominator, like me, gather his spectacles?
In this email, we witness the admittedly confusing origin of one of my favorite characters on the website, Senor Cardgage. I’m going to spoil things for new viewers a bit here – yes, this character does return in later toons and emails. Quite a lot, actually. In fact, I’d consider him the unofficial 13th main character. He doesn’t have as many appearances as the rest of the main cast, but he does exist in the same universe as the rest of them (as opposed to characters from Teen Girl Squad, 1936, 20X6, Trogdor, etc), and there’s not that many other recurring characters that can claim that, aside from The Announcer and The Goblin. As for my high regard for this character, all I can say is that the man is hilarious in a very sketchy sort of way. This email does a fantastic job of describing the guy, and while I don’t think I would enjoy actually hanging out with a person like this in real life, I can definitely enjoy watching his interactions with the rest of the cast.

Now let’s take a step back and look at this email, and try to dissect exactly what it is that we’re seeing here. Strong Bad is describing what he would be like if he wasn’t stylish, buff, or handsome. The rest of the email plays out as if we’re watching a hypothetical scenario where this is what Strong Bad might be like, and at the end, Strong Sad explains that he was basically describing their old neighbor. But coming back to this email later on, after learning that Senor Cardgage does exist, and he is the exact same character that we see in this email, it becomes kind of weird. There’s really no way that this makes sense other than looking at it this way – Strong Bad and Senor Cardgage just happen to look very similar (much like Homestar and Homsar, but even more so), and the character had just never been seen before this email. Strong Bad isn’t making anything up here, he’s basically just introducing us to Cardgage and at the same time, wishing that he could be more like him.

I’d get back to reviewing this one email and not just the character in general, but I think I’ve almost said enough here. I will however point out that there’s three different lines that can play during the scene with Strong Mad (Cardgage describes himself as either an old denominator, wintergreen or Soderbergh). And going back to what I said about Homsar being the “weird variant” of Homestar, Senor Cardgage is actually a similar idea to a character I had drawn once before this email came out, which I named “Stong Bad”. I don’t really remember much about my drawing, but I know it didn’t look anything like Cardgage. And that’s about it for this, I’ll just leave you with a screenshot of my Minecraft skin (credit for making this goes to darkychao).

Carageenan, Monteljohn. Can you detect me to the nearest bus stamp?
And that’s it for 2003! Next time we’ll just be going over more SBEmails like usual, but they’re some pretty memorable ones, and there’s a lot of extra content that was released simultaneously with one of them, so there’s that to look forward to. 2004 is also the first year where the regular updates to Weekly Fanstuff and Sketchbook began (Quote of the Week began earlier, but I group it in with those two). I’ll probably be touching on some of the stuff in those every once in a while, but I don’t want to force myself to go over every single update for them, because I’ll drive myself insane and updates will take even longer than usual if I feel the need to incorporate them all. On that note, I’m also going to set a new year’s resolution to finish reviewing all the material from 2004 and 2005 within this year. Honestly I’d like to get even more done than that, but this is more realistic. I guess we’ll see how it goes.