Monday, November 30, 2020

Superstar of the Week is Shy Guy

The most iconic character of the American version of Super Mario 2, Shy Guy, has survived three decades as a member of the cast of Super Mario Bros characters. In fact, these days, Shy Guy is generally depicted as one of Bowser's minions, despite that Super Mario 2 featured a completely different antagonist from Bowser, and the entire game turned out to be Mario having a dream in the end.

As a kid, I always wondered why Mario 2 was so different from any other Mario game; a completely different cast of bad guys, enemies that you can hop on and ride, or pick up and throw, rather than enemies that die when you hop on them, pulling vegetables from the ground instead of hitting blocks in the air, a life meter, digging levels instead of swimming levels, selectable characters with different abilities, no fire flowers, no two-player mode, and a very distinct Middle Eastern vibe. 


Eventually, I found out that this is because, America's Mario 2 wasn't the actual Mario 2. Nintendo of America felt that Japan's Super Mario Brothers 2, which was identical in appearance to, but much more difficult from the original Super Mario Brothers, would be too difficult for Westerners. So, they took a completely different game, an Arabian themed game called "Doki Doki Panic", reskinned the playable characters into Mario characters, and released it in the U.S. as "Super Mario Brothers 2".

So, Shy Guy, despite being a character designed for a completely different game, has survived for three decades as a Mario character, and been adopted as one of Bowser's minions.

Also, when I first saw Shy Guy as a kid, I thought he was a walking loaf of bread with a face.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

A Request From 2007


There's a particular tune I've been trying to figure out since I was in High School, over two decades ago. Something from my childhood that I just can't figure out where it's from.

Back in 2007, I filmed a video in three clips, in which I play the tune on a keyboard. I intended to edit the video into one clip, upload it to YouTube as a private video, and send the link to my friend Adam, who I grew up with, to see if he recognized the tune. I never actually got around to doing this, and the three video clips have been sitting around in a file on my computer ever since. 

The other day, I was organizing my files, and came across these three clips, so I decided, "what the hell". After all these years, I edited them together and uploaded them to YouTube as an unlisted video, and sent the link to Adam, despite the fact that we've already discussed this since the time that I filmed the video. I also decided to add some background music that I commonly used in my videos in 2007-2008, just to give it that 2007sy touch.

What do you think it is? It has an 8-bit sound to it, with a pulsing beat. My thoughts are, either some old game, either NES or Arcade, or some local (Portland metro area) commercial for a dealership or furniture store, or something. Leave a comment if this tune is familiar to you.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Superstar of the Week is Captain Bartholomew Gosnold

It's Thanksgiving week in the United States, so I thought I would feature someone who you've likely never heard of, despite the fact that he's only the guy who started the English migration to the Americas in the first place.

Everybody who grew up in the United States, grew up with the Thanksgiving story, about how the ancestors of the U.S. migrated to the Americas to escape religious persecution, sat down and had a lovely turkey dinner with the locals, then one two skip a few, and suddenly there's thirteen colonies going to war with the British.

Of course, if your history background is a little more extensive than what you learned in grade school, then you might be aware that Virginia colony was already well established in North America by the time our Thanksgiving pilgrims made their trek across the Atlantic, which is where our whole "Jamestown, John Smith, Poccahontas" story comes in. Actually, everything in North America that was claimed by the British was referred to as "Virginia" at the time. That is until John Smith, having been banned from Virginia colony, mapped the northern part of this area, and gave a little sales pitch to would-be English settlers, calling the newly charted area "New England". 

Many Puritan settlers had already migrated to Virginia colony for the promise of religious freedom. The pilgrims who boarded the Mayflower, agreed to partake in John Smith's New England project, starting a new colony in the New England territory, rather than settling in the already established Virginia colony. If anything, the Thanksgiving story is the story of why we have a "United States" rather than simply a "State of Virginia".

After the U.S. Civil War, the Union decided to focus on a northern based origin story for the United States, rather than a southern one, and so Thanksgiving was established, focusing on the pilgrims who migrated to New England, rather than the earlier foundation of the southern state of Virginia.

So now, I have written out an entire article, and haven't even mentioned the Superstar of the Week, yet. Basically, Bartholowmew Gosnold was the guy who had the vision of establishing an English colony in America. He started a company called the Virginia Company, and convinced the government and many would-be settlers that prosperity would be found by establishing a colony in America. John Smith referred to him as the "prime mover" of Virginia Colony. Once they reached  Virginia, Bartholowmew Gosnald became the first governor of Jamestown.

He dreamed of a happy utopia built by a union of  English colonists and native Americans. Of  course, it didn't quite go that way, as the natives were quite fine with their way of life, and not particularly interested in conforming to Engish civilization. And, the English weren't quite interested in taking "no" for an answer. But, Bartholowmew would never know this, as he only lived for a year after arriving in Virginia.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Blast From the Past

The Socrates 80s Educational Game Console


A friend of mine shared this video with me, which took me back a ways. In 1988, my family moved up to Oregon from California. The Nintendo Entertainment System was the latest and greatest thing that everyone had to have. I think I remember mentioning that I wanted video games for Christmas, or something. Sure enough, that Christmas I got a video game console. It was not an NES, or even an Atari. It was a Socrates educational console. 

This is where you may be expecting me to tell you how disappointed I was that I got a Go-Bot instead of a Transformer, like a spoiled ungrateful little punk first-worlder. No! I liked Go-Bots. Go-Bots were cool in a lesser than Transformers sort of way, and Socrates was cool in a lesser than Nintendo sort of way. I was excited to have some sort of gaming console that I could hook up to my TV like Nintendo.

Socrates had math games, and word games, and a hang-man, a music feature, and a "Super Painter", which was pretty much a rudimentary version of MS Paint. There were even cartridges we could purchase, which you could plug in for additional games. I had one that had really tough algebra that nobody could figure out. It also had a wireless control, which was pretty much a long bar with a keyboard and two pop-out controllers on the sides.

I pretty much gravitated toward the Super Painter, and also enjoyed the hang man game, which had different levels in which Socrates, an adorable little robot knockoff of Johnny 5, journeys from his home planet to Earth. There was also a two player game which involved competing Socrateses on a game board. I pretty much ignored the math and spelling games, but my friend Adam enjoyed them. He even spent a lot of time trying to solve the algebra game, even though we were fourth graders. He says he thought Socrates was cool because it was  different.

The next year, I got an actual Nintendo for Christmas, and Socrates became a dust collector. 


Monday, November 02, 2020

Superstar of the Week is Sean Connery

 Raise your hand, if you totally missed Sean Connery's passing on Halloween a few days ago. Maybe you've heard about it since then, but were unaware of it when it happened. Or, maybe you're reading this, years from now, and going, "Wait... What!?" 

That's how crazy this year is. Typically, when a celebrity passes away, we're bombarded with news of it all over the place. You can't miss it. It trends on Twitter, people share tributes all over Facebook. Sean Connery was huge! He was a major beloved icon who starred in over a million movies!* Yet, there's so much craziness this year, Sean Connery's passing was barely a blip in the media! You know, we also had the world's first commercial space flight this year. Any other year, that would have been one of the year's major stories, but this year, nobody cares about things like commercial space flights! There's too much else on our plates! It's crazy!

So, this Superstar of the Week pays tribute to Sean Connery, the star of Zardoz, and some other things. He went young, at 90, not even a full century, yet. 

Sean Connery 8/25/1930 - 10/31/2020

* The quantity of movies starring Sean Connery may have been exaggerated in this post.

Friday, October 30, 2020

Urban Legend of the Week

 People Swallow an Average of Eight Spiders a Year While Sleeping



I decided to go with this famous spider swallowing urban legend, for this Halloween edition of "This Week's Urban Legend", just because I've heard it so often and so many people seem to have accepted it as a scientifically proven fact. I've even seen it offered up as trivia on TV. Often times, it's shared as an attempt to make people feel uneasy. "It's  just one of those unpleasant truths we've gotta accept".

Fortunately, we don't gotta accept it, because it isn't actually true. It's a fake statistic that was actually made up and sent out via email in the 90s for the purpose of demonstrating how easily people accept whatever absurd information they read on the Internet. Ironically, it's proven its own point, by becoming one of the most widely circulated pieces of misinformation. In actuality, it's highly improbable that a spider will make its way into your mouth while you're asleep once in your lifetime, let alone eight times in a year. This person trolled, just to show how easily people are trolled, and YOU fell for it, didn't you?

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Nosferatu VII

In previous editions of Nosferatu, I have written about things that drain one's life force in some way, such as Vampires, Chupacabra, Lampreys, Bank of America, and College tuition and fees. Last Halloween season, I read the classic Dracula, by Bram Stoker, for the first time. It turns out, book Dracula is a way cooler villain than the traditional "Bwa bwa, I vant to suck your blood" Dracula we see every Halloween. So, for this year's Nosferatu, I've decided to separate book Dracula from the familiar Halloween Dracula.

Beginning with his appearance, Dracula is already a lot different from the familiar Count Chokula Dracula we're used to. Even the 1992 Bram Stoker's Dracula with the eccentric hair cut, portrayed by Gary Oldman, and parodied by Mr. Burns in a Simpson's Treehouse of Horror episode, differed from the book description. In the book, Dracula de-ages, giving him three appearances. In the first scene, the "Dracula's Castle" scene, he is described as a pale old man with white hair and a long white mustache. At the end of the castle scene, Jonathan Harker sees Dracula laying immobile in his coffin, after having just engorged himself with blood. He is now younger, with fuller gray hair, and is not so withered. In London, Dracula is described as having dark hair, and a pointed beard with silver streaks. Essentially, the classic "evil magician" look.

As far as dress, there is absolutely no rhyme or reason for Dracula to wear a tuxedo with a shiny red and black cape. Actually, the reason for this attire, is that it was used for Dracula in 1920s theatrical performances, where it was common to wear flashy and flowy attire for stage performances, where the actors on stage appear small to the audience. This attire was carried by Bela Lagosi from the stage to the screen in his iconic 1931 film appearance. From there, the look sort of stuck as the iconic look.

In the book, Dracula's clothing description was vague. In both his young and old appearances, he is described as wearing all black. Dracula was a Romanian nobleman, so I looked up what his attire would look like. It would basically be a gown with a high mandarin type collar. The book didn't specify a change of clothes for young Dracula. However, in the beginning of the book, Dracula mentioned to Jonathan his intention to fit in with the London crowd. So I figured he would have changed his clothes to 1890s London attire, think Charles Dickens, as the Romanian noble attire would have stood out.

Who is Dracula? Traditional tellings don't really give you a backstory for Dracula. You know he's a vampire from Transylvania who comes to England and haunts the Harkers, but you don't know anything beyond that. The 1992 film, the more recent "Dracula Untold", as well as "Blade 3" fabricate backstories for the Count, but they all differ from the backstory given in the actual novel.

First of all, it's become popular to refer to Dracula as "Vlad" for his first name, referring to the historical figure "Vlad the Impaler". The 1992 film did it, "Dracula Untold" did it, and I've even seen a children's book about a skateboarding vampire named "Vlad the Rad". I'm sure most of us have read or heard something or other about the fictitious Count Dracula being based on Vlad the Impaler. This is a bit of a stretched truth. Bram Stoker did not base Dracula on Vlad the Impaler, nor was the name "Vlad" mentioned anywhere in the book. The name "Dracula", however, may have been inspired by Vlad's nickname "Dracul" (Dragon), and some of Dracula's mortal heritage, as a nobleman warrior from Wachovia, is similar to Vlad's. However, the Dracula character was originally conceived as a character named "Count Wampyr" with no correlation to Vlad. While some elements do seem to have taken inspiration from Vlad, the two characters are far from synonymous.

In the 1992 film, Dracula was a warrior who found out that his fiance committed suicide. After a priest told him that she was now damned to Hell forever, Dracula cursed God, and in doing so, was transformed into a vampire. God is a real a-hole in that version. In "Dracula Untold" He was a warrior who gained powers from a pre-existing vampire in order to help him fell an enemy. In "Blade 3" he's some sort of ancient alien, or something.

In the novel, Dracula was a member of an old Romanian noble class, called a Boyar, something he seems to be proud of, and mentions his status as a Boyar multiple times. He was a warrior, and mentions that the Draculas had a love of war and bloodshed. He was initiated as a student into a satanic school of sorcery. But the catch-22, every 10th student initiated is claimed by the devil. Guess who turned out to be a 10th student. And that's how Dracula became a Vampire.

So, what is a Vampire in the Dracula novel? Every vampire franchise has a slightly different idea of what a vampire is. In the Blade and Underworld series, vampirism is a virus that mutates people. In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, somebody who gets bitten by a vampire dies, and their body becomes possessed by a demon. In the Anne Rice novels, vampires are people who have had their blood fused with some ancient spirit thing, by being fed the blood of a pre-existing vampire. I don't know what they are in Twilight, and I don't want to know. In Dracula, when a person gets bitten, they get really sick and die. The soul, however, becomes bound to the body, unable to move on, and every night, the dead person is reanimated and hunts for blood.

Vampire weaknesses differ a bit from what we're used to. In just about every vampire franchise, the one surefire way to kill a vampire, is sunlight. Exposure causes them to burst into flames, and turn to ash. Then, there's those ones who get sparkly, but lets not go there. In the Dracula novel, however, vampires are perfectly fine with sunlight. Typically, vampires are in a coma during the day and alive at night, but when they do find themselves in the daylight, they are perfectly fine.

A stake through the heart plus beheading will do in a vampire. This generally has to be done while they are in a coma in their coffin, due to their exceptional strength. Also, garlic will ward off vampires, only in the novel, they use garlic blossoms, not garlic bulbs.

Crucifixes also have an effect, however it doesn't seem to harm the vampire or cause them to hiss and cower. In the book, a crucifix quells the vampires blood lust. It's also noted that symbols from other religions work, too, which is surprising, considering the highly Christian dogma of the book.

Vampire abilities can be a bit sketchy. Considering that Dracula was a sorcerer, it can be difficult to sort out what abilities are part of his sorcery and what comes with being a vampire. Dracula himself can transform into a bat, or a big dog, can communicate with wolves, and can crawl up and down walls, or turn a living person into a slave by making them drink his blood. These may or may not be common vampire abilities. Things we see other vampires do is squeeze out of tight spaces, such as closed coffins and closed doors, despite being solid matter, and transforming into mist.

And for a final bit of trivia: Van Helsing. Van Helsing was not an action hero monster hunter, nor was he a vampire expert. He was an old doctor who had been called in to assist in the case of a girl who was sick and dying for unknown reasons. When he had exhausted all possible medical explanations for Lucy's sickness, open-minded Van Helsing turned to the occult. In his research, he discovered a match between Lucy's symptoms, and the symptoms of a vampire victim. From there, he studied further on vampirism, to attempt to help Lucy, and later, thwart Dracula.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

J-Dubb's Moral of the Week

When making a big investment, such as buying a new house, make sure you have an exit plan, just in case.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Superstar of the Week is Slimer

Halloween week is back on J-Dubb's Theatre, starting off with Slimer, as the Superstar of the Week. Slimer had a small role in the Ghosbuster's movies. In the original film, he was in a minor, yet memorable scene, in which he was haunting a hotel. He ate a lot, and slimed Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), a scene which actually coined the phrase "being slimed". You're welcome, 80s Nickelodeon. 

It was the 80s cartoon, "The Real Ghostbusters", that made Slimer a main character, giving him a name, and placing him in the role of comic relief sidekick that all 80s cartoons had to have. (Think Snarf from the Thundercats, or Orko from He-Man). The second Ghostbusters film brought back Slimer in a cameo, due to his popularity from the cartoon, despite that the cartoon was not a part of movie continuity. The more recent reboot featured a cameo of Slimer, as well. I wonder if the new Ghostbuster's movie, which has been delayed due to Covid, will feature Slimer, as well.

 Trivia: The 80s cartoon based off of the 1984 movie, "Ghostbusters", was  called  "The Real Ghostbusters". This is because there was already a cartoon airing at the time, called "Ghostbusters", which was unrelated to the 1984 film. This cartoon featured a group of two humans and a gorilla named Tracy, which hunted for ghosts. This cartoon was actually based off of a British television series of the same name, which predated the 1984 movie.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

15 Years Ago...

J-Dubb's Theatre has now been around for 15 years. In October of 2005, I decided to start a website, as a way of getting myself out there. I was talking to my friend, Jon, on my Sprint flip phone, out in the smoking area, while working a swing shift for my old security job. I mentioned that I was going to start a website, and so he did a Google (or possibly Yahoo) search for free sites, and found results for Blogger and MySpace. We both agreed that MySpace wasn't what I was looking for, so the next day, the first day of my weekend at that job, I logged on to Blogger and created a blog.

I named my new blog "J-Dubb's Blog", but shortly after, changed the name to J-Dubb's Theatre. I wrote, imagining the voice of a DJ from local radio station KUFO, named Tim Savage. My humor was that of a college-aged 20-something. My early blog posts often began with an introductory topic, before switching to the main topic, rather than just focusing on one topic. And from the beginning, I included the weekly features "Superstar of the Week", "Animal of the Week", and not fully thought-out "This Week's Moment in Evolution", which would evolve into "This Week's Moment in Natural Selection",  and finally, "Blooper of the Week". I also included "J-Dubb's Moral of the Week", and "Factoid of the Week/This Week's Urban Legend". Over the years, my writing style developed, as well as matured.

 Eventually, J-Dubb's Theatre expanded into a YouTube channel. J-Dubb's Theatre videos came to take prominence, and the blogging dwindled. In my videos, I often focused on the YouTube community, creating responses to other YouTubers. Eventually, I would attend VidCon, and talk to other YouTubers on a yearly basis. My early videos leaned more toward a sketch format, evlolving into a vlog format with sketch jump cuts, and eventually an educational type format with image and animation overlays. My videos had a good 10 year run, amassing a couple thousand subscribers, before I moved on to other things, and decided to pull the plug.

 During the following couple of years, the J-Dubb's Theatre blog existed as a place where I would occasionally reminisce about the old Internet, classic J-Dubb's Theatre trivia, or what I was doing 10 years ago. More recently, however, I've brought back the classic blogging format, an homage to early J-Dubb's Theatre, including Superstar of the Week, and other weekly features.

During this time, I've gone from a Security Officer, fresh out of the Air Force and studying Psychology part time, to a full time Psychology student, to a graphic design student, to a web design student, to a Web Designer/ Graphic Designer attempting to start my own business, to a Jo-Ann's employee attempting to get a web design job, to a YouTube Partner with a part time job at Jo-Ann's, to a married entrepreneur working various admin and insurance jobs.

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

Monday, August 31, 2020

Superstar of the Week is Bob's Big Boy

Remember Bob's Big Boy? I was a pretty young kid, in Southern California, in the early 80s, so I barely remember Bob's Big Boy, aside from the big statue that looks like it jumped straight out of a 1930's Looney Tune's cartoon. (Writing that sentence, I realized how creepy it sounds to talk about that figure jumping out of something.) I also remember not really knowing the difference between a fast food restaurant, and a sit-down restaurant, and thinking of Bob's Big Boy as another kind of McDonald's, like Carl's Jr. and Burger King, even though Bob's was a sit down restaurant. I guess it was another burger place.

I thought of Bob's Big Boy, because I recently watched Austin Powers with my wife, for nostalgia sake, and Doctor Evil flies around in a Bob's Big Boy statue from the 60s. Remember that? It's funny; watching Austin Powers when it came out was humorous, because it was a 60s guy trying to work in the "modern" world. Now it's funny because of all the retro 90s stuff. Technically, a spy from the 90's could travel to the current decade, and it would be about the same time gap as a spy from the 60s traveling to the 90s.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020