Thursday, May 19, 2016

GadgetJax's Lightspeed Analysis: 'Homestar Runner' by Mike and Matt Chapman

Today we're going to review a cartoon, and boy, have I wanted to write about this for a while. If we're going to tackle any cartoon, it's gotta be a special one, and I'm not talking about the world-renowned mascots like Mickey Mouse or Bugs Bunny... no, we're talking about the pioneer of the Flash Cartoon revolution: Homestar Runner!

"If I had to pick one word to describe myself, it would probably be... Fluffy Puff Marshmallows. Or Homestar. Either one, really. They both fit."

Homestar Runner is a Flash Animation series written and produced by just two fine blokes: Mike and Matt Chapman (oh, and Missy Palmer voices one character, but that's not important). The series first started as a children's picture book titled 'Homestar Runner enters the Strongest Man in the World Contest', and soon spawned off a mini-series of cartoons. There are currently over 300 different shorts on the official website, all of which are free to watch. Yeah, who needs a monthly subscription to Netflix when the creators just throw out their show for all to enjoy?
     Our cartoon stars 'Homestar', a lovable athlete with no arms and no clue, and his many companions. The most popular of Homestar's companions is Strong Bad; this guy is ruff, gruff, tuff - and actually spends all his free time pranking others and checking fan eMails. Homestar and Strong Bad share the spotlight, but the rest of the cast includes:

  • The Cheat; Strong Bad's clever pet henchman. He's always there to help him check an eMail, plot his next big shenanigan, or throw a light-switch rave.
  • Marzipan; Homestar's on-again and off-again significant other, and self-proclaimed 'girl character'.
  • Strong Mad; Strong Bad's older brother, known for having gigantic muscles and miniscule intelligence levels.
  • Strong Sad; Strong Bad's younger brother, revered for his vast knowledge and etiquette... but is usually too busy being bullied by Strong Bad to be noticed.
  • Coach Z; the captain of the local sports teams, though his personal hygiene and vocabulary are much under par.
  • Bubs; the only friend of Coach Z and the owner of the local concession stand. He's a smooth-talker and shrewd businessman, though his store's inventory is of questionable taste.
  • Pom Pom; Homestar's best friend. He's round like a beachball, cool as a bag of grapes, and somehow only able to communicate through a gurble of bubble noises.
  • The King of Town; the gluttonous, self-proclaimed king of the land. He would and will eat just about anything, including full mountains of salt.
  • The Poopsmith; his job is obvious.
  • Homsar; a strange little man indeed. His identity stems from a typo of Homestar's name - I'm not kidding.

The Homestar Runner series is split into many segments: The main cartoons, Strong Bad eMails, holiday-themed cartoons, Marzipan's Answering Machine, puppet cartoons, Strong Bad's Teen Girl Squad comics, and The Cheat's personal Flash Animations. The most popular of these are the Strong Bad eMails, in which SB himself answers mail from the fans with chaotic results. Sometimes, a question as simple as Strong Bad's movie-going experiences can lead to Homestar getting blasted in the face from a bazooka.

...and that leads me to why I love the Homestar Runner series so dearly: The humor is always fresh.  There are two distinct styles of hilarity used by the show: reactive comedy and physical comedy. Jokes made in the first style are unexpected and play against the usual comedy medium. Homestar Runner also avoids the all-too-common stereotype of comedy that revolves solely around insults; what's the point of watching two cartoon characters just yell at each other?
      The other comedy style, physical, is also a spin on the usual comedy mechanics. Strong Bad is usually the one dishing the pain, but because the rest of the cast is rather clueless, the after-effects of his practical jokes either leave no blemishes or come back to bite him in the end. Strong Bad could send The Cheat to go pummel Homestar with a nunchuck, and Homestar wouldn't even care because he's too busy singing songs about bread.
     
That's all I really have to say about Homestar Runner; it's hilarious, it's free, and you should watch it right now. You can take this all-too-obvious link to see the cartoons right now ( www.homestarrunner.com ). Or, you can check out this cartoon to give yourself a basic impression of the cartoon's style before diving into the rest of the series:

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Library Night Live: Why is that Phrase: “Tabling a Discussion”



Our first Library Night Live was so great!
The teens had 1:15 total to create this masterpiece: 
  • 20 minutes to brainstorm, make an outline and cast/assign production roles
  • 20 minutes to create props and set dressings out of material on hand (in our case, tape, construction paper, markers, and Legos 
  • 20 minutes to rehearse and film

Cast:
$Ben Franklin$ - Lily
Announcer - Jackerax
Washington - Jayden
Adams - Zack
Hamilton - Hayden
Jefferson - Nick
Washington’s teeth’s hands - Jackerax
Table flippers - Jackerax and Ms. B
Camera operator - GadgetJax
Captions/audio description: Why is that Phrase: “Tabling a Discussion” Library Night Live: Filmed 5/11/16
Setting:
 Burger King George’s
Announcer: “It’s time for Revolutionary America's  favorite game…”
Everyone:
 “Why is that Phrase”
Announcer:
 “…with your host, the electrifying, Ben Franklin!”
*announcer waves kite with key behind Ben’s head*

Hamilton:
 “What a nice declaration, it be a shame if anything …happened to it!” *spills drink*
Washington:
 “Achoo!” *sneezes out teeth*
Off camera, spoken sound effect:
 “SPLAT”
Adams:
 “Balderdash!”
Jefferson:
 *flips table*
$Ben Franklin$:
 “And that’s why it’s called Tabling It!”

Monday, May 2, 2016

Superfight Tournament Rules!

Hayden, (most recently seen singing to us in April's Quote of the Month post) came up with a set of Tournament Rules for the game Superfight. A debate style card game that we play at LEAST once a month at our Game On programs here at Highland:


SUPERFIGHT TOURNAMENT RULES:

1. TOURNAMENT IS PERFORMED IN TWO SINGLE ELIMINATION STYLE BRACKETS. THE WINNERS OF EACH BRACKET COMPETE IN A HEAD TO HEAD FINALE .

2. ALL STANDARD RULES OF SUPERFIGHT APPLY TO EACH MATCHUP.

3. ALL CHARACTERS MUST BE CHOSEN BEFORE ROUND ONE BEGINS.

4. ONCE ELIMINATED, ALL CONTESTANTS JOIN THE JURY THAT WILL ADVISE THE JUDGE(s).

5. THERE MUST BE AN ODD NUMBER OF UNBIASED JUDGES WHO WILL ONLY TAKE INTO ACCOUNT WHAT THE CONTESTANTS SAY.