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That Was a Dumb Movie: The Tall Man - February 11, 2013

Well, I’m back at it again. Watching movies on Netflix, and my most recent endeavor was The Tall Man, a 2012 film starring Jessica Biel. Now, why I decided to watch this movie, I don’t know. Really, I thought it was a horror film, and I kind of wanted to see a scary movie, but it turned out that it was not, in fact, a horror film, it was a dumb movie.

Basically the plot of the film was that dumb stuff happened. That’s it. Just a bunch of dumb stuff happened. I can’t believe how dumb the stuff was that happened. I know I’m being pretty vague, and repeating myself about how dumb this film was, so I will go ahead an clarify why, exactly, I thought it was dumb.

Basically the plot goes like this: It was dumb. Okay, seriously... So there’s this town, Cold Rock, and some kids have been disappearing out of there. And when I say some kids, I mean like 20 or 30 kids. Now this is some town full of white kids in America. Think about it, if one kid disappeared the public news media and FBI would be all over it. Not to mention if two kids disappeared in the same town. But, as it were, in this town 30 kids have disappeared and everyone just sort of thinks that it’s normal. That’s just the way it is... Kids disappear. I mean seriously, if two kids disappeared in my neighborhood, I don’t think any parent would ever let their kids out of their sight. It is just plain dumb that 30 or so kids have disappeared in one small town, where there probably are only around 60 kids total. They just blame it on The Tall Man and forget about it. I mean it’s almost like the dark ages, when it was just normal for people to die.

The movie is so dumb in regards to small towns too. So there was no school in town. This is actually pretty normal for small towns, but you know what? In such towns there is a freaking bus that takes the kids to the nearest town that does have a school. No such luck in this town. They were just like, No school in town... I guess are kids are just going to be dumb. Yeah, that’s what they were like. What about the freaking president’s initiative, No Child Left Behind? This town was like, We want our children left behind. The town is supposed to be in Washington State, maybe a few hours from Seattle.

If you’ve ever read HP Lovecraft, you may be aware of the Cthulhu mythos. Lovecraft’s stories often feature towns in the middle of the good old US of A where weird stuff is going down, and no one outside of town is the wiser. I kind of consider that silly, because I really think that outside of third world civilizations everybody is pretty connected. Lovecraft’s stories take place in the early 20th century. So I kind of give his stories a pass on the whole idea of a disconnected society, even though there was newspapers and mail service back then. But The Tall Man takes place in the present day. A day of the internet, a day of satellite TV, and yet for some reason this town is just completely disconnected from the rest of society. I mean, the film-makers actually tried to make it seem to be connected by playing some news footage about the disappearances, but seriously, there is no way they were as connected as all that if the whole of the FBI wasn’t scouring that town.

So, a bunch of kids disappeared. We actually find out what happened to them at the end of the movie, and it isn’t even anything too bad, but the people of Cold Rock don’t find out what happened to them. They presume that they are all dead. Of course, more dumbness comes from that presumption... Cold Rock used to be a mining town, so there are mine caverns running underground all over the area. The townsfolk... Wait, let me clarify, the dumb townsfolk, presume that the bodies of the children are in the mines, but you know what they do about it? They say, Well there are too many caves, and we’ll probably never find them. That was their conclusion. Think about this: The caves were man-made mines. Thirty or so kids have disappeared. You get a search party of fifty people, and believe me it wouldn’t be hard to get a search party of that many people to find some missing kids, you could cover all of the mines in a matter of hours. It’s just plain dumb that they didn’t search them. They didn’t even try. They were dumb.

Of course the dumbest part was the reveal at the end. (And I’m just going to give away the film, to spare you the need to watch it.) It turns out that The Tall Man is abducting kids from poverty stricken homes and delivering them to well-off homes in the city. Yeah, that was the reveal. They were kidnapping children from their parents and giving them to different parents. Of course they brainwashed them first so that they would never tell anyone how they got abducted. One girl in the movie actually wanted to get abducted. And asked for it, then she got placed in her new home, and you know what? She isn’t happy. She’s like, I think my life is better. It is better... Isn’t it? Isn’t it? It was so dumb. I’m angry at how dumb this movie was.

It was totally different from what I thought it was going in. It was dumb. What’s worse, is that I knew in the first five minutes it was going to be dumb. I could just sort of tell. Little did I know just how dumb it would be. Normally, I would try to figure out just why anyone would think this film was any good, or why it got green-lit, but I can’t. I mean maybe the film-makers were trying to make a point about how everyone has the right to be a parent, even if they are poor, but really no point is made, it was too dumb to make a point. And why anyone would like it... There isn’t any reason. Unless you are a huge Jessica Biel fan, and I really don’t know of anyone that is, but there must be some since she’s been in stuff after 7th Heaven was cancelled. So anyway, I’ve given away the whole film, so I’ve ruined it for you, but you’re better off, since it was dumb.

Categories: Movie Reviews

That Was a Good Ending: AlternativA - January 28, 2013

I’m writing this blog about the game AlternativA, and it is meant for two particular audiences, those that have played the game, and are interested in reading some thoughts on the ending of the game, and those that will never play the game, and want to hear about an unconventional ending. For those that intend to play the game, play it first, then read. This is a commentary that contains spoilers for those that haven’t played the game. It should also prove interesting to those not interested in playing the game, or those that don’t play games at all.

I recently played the point and click adventure game AlternativA, and while I must admit that the game had it’s fair share of problems, it was a pretty good game. Basically the game was set some time in the future, where pretty much the whole world is controlled by three entities: The State, which is the local government, Endora, some kind of corporation that does pretty much everything, and Theolex, another corporation that pretty much does everything.

The chick, Andrea.
At the beginning of the game the main character, Richard, is on his way to his job as a construction worker in the industrial district of Prague, but the security robots that patrol the entrance take his work card from him and tell him that he is fired. In fact, pretty much everybody that worked there got fired, so after arguing with the robot for a bit he gives up and goes home. However, suspecting that something weird is going on he decides to investigate, and ends up joining something called The Resistance. Now I don’t know why The Resistance exists, or what they were resisting, because up until Richard got fired, everything seemed to be okay. But it does exist. Apparently they don’t like large corporations. Well, when Richard first tries to join it some complicated stuff happens, Richard gets accused of murder, the chick from the front cover of the box, that you see on the Steam page shows up, and it turns out some big conspiracy is going on. Other interesting people are met, the quality of the game sort of peters off, and the puzzles get really easy, and then comes the ending.

The ending was the best part in my opinion. It kind of sneaks up on you. I’d imagine, though, that many players might approach it and be like, The game just ended? Right there? In fact the same thought crossed my mind. I mean I figured it was about time for the game to end. I’d put in about 8 hours, which is a good length for an adventure game. Still, I kind of wondered if that was the actual ending of the game, so I did a quick search on Google to see if there were alternate endings. I mean the game is called AlternativA. So maybe... but I didn’t see anything I could have possibly done differently except play with the harder difficulty setting, which did not appeal to me since it seemed to have a limited number of saves, but apparently doing the harder difficulty setting doesn’t get you a different ending, so it didn’t matter. And honestly, I really hope there is no alternate ending, because I really liked the ending we got.

So here’s how it goes. Throughout the game, Richard discovers that the reason he lost his job was because Radium, a rare element, was discovered on his job site. In fact the whole construction operation that he worked on was really just a cover for a mining operation that was going on in secret. Richard’s quest then became discovering what the corporation, Endora, needed Radium for. Which lead to the final puzzle, where Richard breaks into Endora, and steals some documents concerning a scientist who was murdered and Radium. Well, it turns out that Endora basically wanted control of the whole world, but The State (recall that this was the local government) still had most of the power over the population, and so Endora need Radium because time travel technology had been invented, and it required a great deal of Radium to work, hence the mining operation, and Endora’s plan was then to go back in time and wipe out The State before it ever even seized power or existed, Terminator style.

So that’s all interesting and stuff, and what science fiction conspiracy theory story doesn’t have a plot like that? Pretty much they all do, just substitute the time travel for science fiction weapons, EMP devices, computer viruses, brainwashing, what have you. Someone’s always trying to take over the world, and the heroes always try to stop them...

It’s a grim world with a grim ending.
So, after getting the documents, Richard meets up with Andrea (the chick), and some other dude that was in The Resistance, shows them the documents, and so you think maybe the heroes are about to do what they are supposed to do, and try to stop Endora, but instead, they just give up. They conclude that time travel is way beyond anything they can handle. They conclude that they are pretty much screwed and there isn’t a darn thing that they can do about it. One of the characters says, They’re going to succeed! ... This is a huge conspiracy that is eventually going to affect us all. The Resistance can’t get involved in this, we should start preparing for some big changes. So there you have it, the conclusion of all the work that Richard had done to find out about the conspiracy was that they couldn’t get involved. After that conclusion was made, Richard just decides to disappear since he’s a wanted man, and Andrea goes with him, since, what the heck, the whole history of the world is going to change, might as well take a chance and just run away with some guy she met a few days ago. That was the end.

In reading some forums, I noted that a few optimistic players said that this was just setting the game up for a sequel, the characters don’t do anything because the resolution is meant to happen in the sequel. They might be right, but I argue against that. I mean based on what the characters said at the end of the game, they didn’t intend to do anything, they basically just concluded that it was too far beyond their reach that they couldn’t do anything, and I liked that. I mean really, some things are just too big for any one man, or any small group to handle. Look at most action movies, the hero would realistically be dead within five minutes. No bad guy is going to stand around talking to a hero about his master plot when he could just shoot him, and while this game did actually have moments like that, the ending at least said, Nope, you can’t do it, you might as well give up. And they did give up.

That’s what I liked most about the game. The characters just took a totally different stance. None of this, I want revenge sentiment. They did what most people would do, they disappeared into anonymity. I was very impressed that the creators of the game had done this. I mean the game isn’t American made, and I know that outside of America, people don’t necessarily have the same expectations as far as resolution of plot is concerned, and may not expect the traditional happy ending, but this was certainly the most tragic I’d seen. I mean the characters could have tried and failed, but instead they decided not to try at all. It was a bold ending, to say the least. Maybe there will be a sequel to this game with a happy ending, but that will kind of ruin it for me. I liked the give-up ending a lot. I want to see more stories like this. I think it makes a stronger ending. It gives you more to think about. It makes you wonder, what would you really do? Probably not give up, but these characters did.

Categories: Video Game Reviews

That Was a Dumb Movie: Meek's Cutoff - January 8, 2013

I’m not really into reviewing films since there are plenty of reviewers out there, but every now and then I see a film that is so lame, or so boring that I can’t even believe it exists. And so I introduce my new series, That Was a Dumb Movie. Basically in this series I will criticize the film, but I will also try to discover why the film was as least supposed to be good.

A few days ago I saw the film Meek’s Cutoff. It is exactly that kind of boring film, that at the end of it I said aloud, That was so boring, nothing even happened. I want to first explain why I watched it, because ordinarily I might see the cover art for a film like this and know right away that I wasn’t interested. Basically, I heard about the film on NPR, and something about the way the hosts discussed the film made me interested in seeing it. I don’t remember exactly what they said, but the person commenting on the film had said, It’s a film kind of like The Tree of Life you either love it, or you hate it. When the commentator said that, he meant literally, You will either love it, or hate it, and there is really no middle ground. But I interpreted his comment as, If you are the type of person that loved The Tree of Life, you will love Meek’s Cutoff. I loved The Tree of Life, so I wrote down the name of the film on a piece of paper with the intent of eventually getting to it. Of course I can’t blame the commentator for my misunderstanding of what he meant, and my subsequent watching of the film, that’s all on me, but what’s done is done, and I saw the film.

I don’t really like Westerns to begin with. It’s just not my genre. So it’s not really my place to comment on them, but I did enjoy the TV series Brisco County Junior. And while that may not be the typical Western, since it features science fiction elements, I think that it captures the essence of why people do like Westerns: Guns a-blazing action, and tough-as-nails cowboys. I may be wrong, but I think that’s what people want out of a Western. That’s why, even though I don’t like Westerns I feel alright making some criticisms of Meek’s Cutoff, because it is not a traditional Western, it is a realistic Western. Meaning that it is about things that could actually happen. There are no gun’s a-blazing, with cowboys killing each other right away.

While the filmmakers might not admit this, Meek’s Cutoff was a film inspired by the old Applie IIe video game Oregon Trail. Apparently the Oregon Trail exists in real life, but my knowledge of it comes from the video game. If you went to grade school in the 80s or 90s you’ve probably heard of it. Heck, there are probably updated versions available. In the game, you take a wagon train from the east coast and across America to Oregon. While on the trail you do such things as go hunting, cross rivers, see landmarks, hire Indians to help you, party members get sick, your wagons get broken, et cetera. That’s also what happens in Meek’s Cutoff.

The film opens with the wagon train crossing a river. In the game there are several ways to cross a river. You can ford the river, caulk the wagon and float it across, ferry it, hire an Indian to help you cross the river, or wait a few days to see if the water level lowers. The characters in Meek’s Cutoff chose the option to ford the river. The water level was low enough that they did this just fine. Then basically a lot of walking around occurred, consistent with the game.

We soon learn that the party was being lead by a guide named Stephen Meek, and no one really seems to think he’s competent, so I don’t know why they hired the guy to begin with. Being that if you listen to this guy talk for thirty seconds you got to know he’s some kind of dunce. The characters all seem to believe that they are lost, all except Meek, that is, who claims he knows exactly where they are. Then proceeds to tell an exaggerated story about how a guy he knew wrestled a bear. Later on their journey they encounter an Indian, and since they don’t really think Meek knows what he’s doing, and they need water, they decide to follow the Indian around hoping that he gets thirsty and decides to find some water. Of course they can’t speak his language and he can’t speak theirs so they have no way of telling him this, so he’s probably wondering why these guys are following him.

Meanwhile some video game inspired events happen, a wagon breaks and a guy gets sick. Then the film ends with them not finding any water, and Meek admits that he was the idiot that all the other characters already thought he was. And of course the film has to have a classic Western ending with a lone wanderer walking off into the sunset, so the Indian decided to walk off towards the sun. Presumably everybody died a few days later. (Except I think the film was based on a historical event where not everybody died, so I don’t really know for sure.)

I don’t really know where to begin with my criticism of that plot. It actually sounds alright summed up like that. I mean it’s probably the best you can do with a movie inspired by a video game that had no plot, so to speak. The main problem, I guess was the context in which the material was presented. Mostly it was just people walking around, a lot. Every now and then someone complained about being lost. And, of course, whenever the guy, Meek, opened his mouth, you wonder how the other characters could have been so dumb as to hire him in the first place, especially when they actually seem kind of competent themselves.

Basically the biggest criticism I have, and this isn’t a very thoughtful criticism, but it’s really all I can think of, is that the film is boring. I mean it is literally about people walking around. The plot with the Indian made it only slightly less boring than if we had actually just watched them walk around.

To illustrate why it is boring, let me explain some of the scenes in the movie, the scenes with the most action. The first action incident is when one of the characters first encounters the Indian. She gets scared runs back to the wagon and fires of a couple of shots. That actually sounds like a decent amount of action, right? Well, this is all filmed in real time. She runs back to the wagon which is a good two or three hundred yards away, this alone takes about thirty seconds, then she fumbles around the wagon for another thirty seconds looking for a rifle, then fires a warning shot into the air, then takes about two minutes to reload the rifle and fires of the second warning shot. All in all it was about three minutes long. And while it was supposed to convey the sense of panic that this character was feeling, it took so long that any such feeling was lost.

Another action incident involved the a wagon breaking. Basically what happened was that the party needed to lower their wagons down a steep hill so they tied some rope to them and lowered the wagons down the hill. On the third and last wagon the rope broke and the wagon was destroyed. Like the rifle scene, this really drags on. You watch two wagons get lowered in real time just as one would get lowered in real life, slowly. I mean you are literally watching the boring action of a wagon being lowered for twenty minutes. Like the rifle scene there is supposed to be some suspense. I mean you figure there is at least a 50% chance the rope will break. They crossed the river at the beginning of the movie just fine, so you know that not everything that the characters do will be a disaster, but you also know that further into a film there is usually additional conflict so you think it might break, but then the film has been so uneventful that you think maybe it won’t break. Then of course, the rope breaks on the third wagon so it goes down the hill quite a bit faster, but basically you already spent forever watching the first two wagons get lowered, that it’s kind of a relief that you don’t have to watch the third one. So basically you have no sympathy for the characters.

I think that is really what was wrong with the film. You just had no sympathy for these characters. I mean how could you? They were dumb enough to hire this Meek guy. Maybe you weren’t supposed to sympathize with them, maybe you were supposed to sympathize with the Indian, but that was difficult in and of itself because you couldn’t understand what he was saying, so for all you knew he did know that they were trying to find water, but was intentionally leading them the wrong way. Maybe the only way to truly appreciate the film is to do some research on the side and figure out what the Indian was actually talking about. But this isn’t literature. It’s a film. You should be able to watch it for what it is.

The guy on NPR was right. You will either love it or hate it. My guess is that if you bother to see the film you will hate it. I also wonder if the critics that acclaim it are only saying it is good because they want to look sophisticated. Then again, I did like The Tree of Life and many have argued that it was boring as well. Of course the difference between the two films, I believe, is that The Tree of Life is visually stimulating as well as emotionally, whereas Meek’s Cutoff is probably supposed to be mentally stimulating, which just isn’t my thing when it comes to film.

Categories: Movie Reviews

I Was Wrong: A Story of a White Elephant Gift - December 2, 2012

In case you don’t know, a White Elephant Party is one where every guest brings a wrapped gift, with no particular recipient in mind, then using some sort of game the gifts are exchanged until everyone has a random gift from a random person. I think a lot of kids are introduced to this type of party in elementary school. That’s how I was introduced to them, in any case.

A sliding puzzle game, a typical cheap White Elephant gift.
The most common version of the game is where all the gifts are put in a pot, and every player gets exactly one turn. The order in which you get your turn is selected at random, by any means, such as alphabetical. On a player’s turn they have two options: They may take a random gift from the pot and open it as their own. Or they may take a random gift from the pot and exchange it with someone else that already has an opened gift. At that point the person they exchanged gifts work with opens the new present to reveal what it is. As you can imagine early on in the game a few select presents will be revealed and they will bounce around a lot. On the other hands duds show up more frequently and once you have a dud it’s pretty much game over. In elementary school you can expect presents such as water pistols, Hot Wheels cars, or sliding tile puzzles.

The first time I played the game in the 2nd grade one of the top choices ended up being a package that included a notepad, trapper keeper folder, and pen. There were a few other popular items that were bouncing around as well. I remember that gift being a top choice because I lucked out, and was the last person to go, so I had the whole gamut to choose from and I chose the stationary.

The next time I played the game, I wasn’t so lucky. We played a drastically different version of the game in the 3rd grade. This time around, before the day of the party itself there was talk and rumors going around. This girl named Michelle really liked this one guy, Eric I think, but it may have been someone else, I’m not for certain, and rumor had it that she was going to bring a special gift that she was hoping he’d get, and also he had bought a special gift that he was hoping she would get. That was the rumor anyway. In this particular game we all sat in a circle with our own gift in front of us, and the teacher read us a story. As we listened to the story, any time the word right or left was said, we would pass all of our gifts to the person to that side of us. Then when the story was over, we got what was in front of us. Admittedly this game isn’t nearly as interesting as the other one because there really isn’t any strategy about what you might get, you just sort of get what you get.

Well it just so happened that everyone was kind of guessing at what the best presents might be based upon their weight, and also everyone sort of knew which present Michelle had brought and which Eric had brought (if that really is the guy Michelle had a crush on), so everyone was sort of watching out for those, including me. Well as the story went on, Michelle’s present was in my general vicinity and it was in my hands quite a bit, in fact it was just a little bit to my right near the end of the story:

He sprang RIGHT to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
and away they all LEFT like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he LEFT out of sight,
Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!

At that moment Michelle’s gift was in the hands of the person next to me, this girl named Kendra. Come on, just say left one more time, just for the heck of it, I thought. Sure the story was over, but I was so close. To this day I can still imagine how great would have been had the teacher just decided to blurt out, Left.

I opened my gift, it was one of those sliding tile puzzles. Really lame, in my opinion, but anything was lame compared to what Kendra got. She opened her present. Everyone knew it was Michelle’s and everyone watched intently. It was this really cool, really nice Christmas decoration of Santa and his reindeer. And I don’t mean some child’s toy. This was a porcelain decoration that you would expect your parents to put on the mantle. Had I won that, I can guarantee you I’d still have it on display every Christmas. Eric’s present that had been intended for Michelle was also okay, it turned out to be one of those disposable point and click cameras, really not that great by today’s standards, but keep in mind that was during a time when cell phones didn’t really exist.

The lame present that I brought.
I don’t remember much of what I brought to these White Elephant parties. Mostly I don’t think I brought anything at all, since it was almost guaranteed that someone would forget so the teacher would just bring extra gifts. At this particular party I had brought a McDonald’s Happy Meal toy. A Bugs Bunny in a sport’s car/stretch limo. While I don’t know who brought the sliding puzzle that I got, I do know who got my Bugs Bunny toy, it was this girl named Brianna. I saw the expression on her face when she opened it, and I must admit I was a little heartbroken because the look of disappointment was unmistakeable. Basically it was a hard thing for me to give up a McDonald’s toy. I was collecting them, and the Bugs Bunny car was acceptable because I had two of them. I actually felt bad that I brought a gift she was unhappy with, because I knew it was going straight into the trash, much like my sliding puzzle was going to go swiftly into the trash. In retrospect what I feel worst about is the fact that I was kind of angry that I got such a lame present when I myself had brought a dud. I also now realize that I could have brought a better present if I had just asked my mom to get something.

With all this back-story it’s time I explained how all this White Elephant stuff ties into me admitting that I was wrong about something. For that I must tell you about the last time I played a White Elephant game. It was in 10th grade, in one of my classes. We played the traditional exchange game where you pick a random present out of the pot. I wasn’t lucky enough to go last, but also not unfortunate enough to go first. I went somewhere in the middle. There were already a few select gifts out there, so I could have gone for something moderate and then hope that everyone after me would go for higher profile items, but I wanted to live on the edge. I wanted to take a chance, so I decided to grab a present at random and open it. It was a pretty plain looking package. Almost a perfect cube. Not too big to stand out, but not so small that there was no chance it was something interesting. I opened it, and to my dismay it was a denture cleaning kit. A denture cleaning kit! If anything was a dud, this was the dud among duds. It wasn’t even useful. Not one person in that group had dentures. I mean, we were in high school. There was no way anyone in that group would need dentures. I was flat out angry that this was my present. Once you have a dud present you don’t really get to play anymore, because no one is going to exchange that gift with you. I was out of the game, and I had a bitter attitude through the rest of the party. I wanted to drop swear words, I wanted to storm out of the room. I wanted to pout, I wanted to cry, I wanted too... Okay well maybe not that extreme, but basically the rest of the game was pretty boring for me, and I was at least somewhat bitter.

I left the present there, sitting on my desk. I didn’t even bother throwing it away. I wanted the next person to sit in that desk to see the denture cleaning kit and wonder why it was there.

I was wrong, though. And surprisingly, it wasn’t just my negative attitude that made me wrong, though that was part of it. This was one of those White Elephants where I didn’t bring anything. I counted on the extra gifts to cover the fact that I didn’t bring one. Certainly Karma frowned on me for that reason alone. I mean seriously, I didn’t even bring anything, and I expected to have as much fun as the next man? I was begging for a denture cleaning kit. Now that might be enough reason for most people to admit that they were wrong, but it’s actually more extreme than that. That reason is that the denture cleaning kit would have been a good present for me, had I actually kept it. You see, while the product name was Denture Cleaning Kit, amongst the other uses for the product was retainer cleaning and it just so happened that I had a retainer at the time. It was probably in my mouth even I was telling my friend Casey about how disappointed I was. Out of the spite that I gotten a dud present, I didn’t even put two and two together.

A denture cleaning kit. Also good for retainers.
Now, anyone who has had a retainer knows just how nasty those things are. They are in your mouth then they come out of your mouth. Over time they just get nastier and nastier. Eventually a layer of residue just sort of forms over them. Even those that don’t have retainers know how gross it is to see one sitting on someone’s lunch tray. The only method I ever used for cleaning my retainer was brushing it with a tooth brush and toothpaste. How much greater it would have been to actually have the thing sitting in a little tub designed for cleaning objects that go in your mouth. This could have been a great present that would have made my retainer just a little less nasty, and I, out of pride or selfishness or whatever other negative attitude you can associate with my decision, threw away that opportunity. I was wrong, and I know it.

I Was Calling Them Bibley Heroes - November 19, 2012

The View-Master by Fisher-Price.
Some of you may remember the View-Master, a stereoscopic picture view by Fisher-Price. Basically you put in a reel and could see 3D images. You could get generic View-Master reels that had nice pictures, such as those of Yellowstone National Park, or the like, or you could get ones that tell stories as each frame could have some text associated with it. View-Master reels came in a set of three or four reels, as you couldn’t tell much of a story without a lot of pictures. Many were based on various films and such, Disney movies were particularly popular. Heck, I don’t know why I’m talking about them in the past tense. I’m pretty sure they still make and sell View-Masters and their corresponding reels. When I was a lad we had a View-Master, and we had such cool reels as those containing Dinosaurs. Basically it was awesome. Everyone had a View-Master.

Well maybe not everyone, but there was one at the lady’s house that I went to daycare for. Now being that I had a View-Master at home, you might think I wouldn’t care much about hers. That’s where you’re wrong. You see, there were literally thousands of reels out there. Maybe hundreds of thousands, and everyone had different ones, so there was no reason not to check out the ones she had.

I found one of her sets called Bibley Heroes, and she also had Bibley Heroes 2 and Bibley Heroes 3. Now keep in mind, that is just what I was calling them. Bibley Heroes is pronounced \ˈbib-lē\ Heroes. That is, the first syllable being Bib like the bib that babies wear when eating. And the last syllable being Lee like Stan Lee or the lee side of the mountain. Well, I kind of liked superheroes and I figured these Bibley Heroes must be some kind of superhero that I just never heard of. I mean my knowledge of superheros was kind of limited. I’m pretty sure that, at the time, all I’d heard of was Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man. But I kind of liked them, so I wasn’t opposed to find out who these Bibley Heroes were.

You can imagine I was disappointed that the first hero was just some guy named David. There wasn’t even super in his name at all. Worse than that it took place in ancient times, and I was like, Whaaat? I thought superheros only existed in the present or future. He did seem to have super-strength though, as he did fight a giant. So I moved onto the next one, this one was about another ordinary dude named Daniel. Where are the superhero names? I wondered. Apparently this guy was a friend with Lions, okay kind of a superhero power, but nothing like Superman’s flying.

About the time that I got to a superhero named Noah, and a flood, I realized where I had gone wrong. They weren’t Bibley Heroes, they were \ˈbī-bəl\ Heroes. I’d been pronouncing the first word wrong. I felt like an idiot. There I was, a young man that went to Sunday School every week and I didn’t even know how to spell Bible. I reckon I knew how to spell it after that.

\ˈbib-lē\ Heroes!

Categories: 1988-1995 K-6

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