Trails, Green Ranger

That was unexpected: Jason David Frank, most famously known as the Green Ranger from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, found dead at the age of 49, as a result of suicide

The reason why I don’t bid happy trails to JDF is that in a nutshell, I don’t really respect suicide, especially of those that have some degree of celebrity.  Reasons may vary, but it really boils down to the unrelatable, how can your life be so hard if you’re famous opinion that I have.  And considering just how many outlets and the fact that TMZ has picked it up, JDF was clearly famous enough to be put into that category in my mind.

Supposedly, from what I can put together with as limited effort I want to put into it, JDF cheated on his wife at some point, was caught, and his wife initiated a divorce.  Presumably, JDF can’t take the heat of divorce, and offs himself; in spite of the fact that suicide is about one of the worst possible things anyone who claims to be all pious and Christian could do, and let us not forget that JDF had or endorsed some company/motto of Jesus Didn’t Tap, to where he even had it tattooed onto his body.

Some belief in Christianity there, eh Tommy?

The worst part of this to me, is the fact that his wife, who by all intents and purposes didn’t do anything wrong in this whole saga, is going to be eating the brunt of the heat from the fallout of all this, because the narrative is going to see her actions as being the catalyst for JDF’s demise, and she doesn’t deserve that.  But be it through her own self-torment, or the rage of the internet, she’s undoubtedly going to be having fingers pointed at her regardless.

But before I really dig myself into a hole of speaking ill of the dead, I have to say that this whole shitshow triggered a brog post, because it spoke to my nostalgia, it spoke to my fandoms, and regardless of what path he headed down after I grew out of it and he moved on from Power Rangers, I was a fan of JDF at some point.

I remember seeing a teaser on FOX Kids about how A NEW Ranger was going to be introduced and he was green, and I have vivid memory of seeing the exact scene in the above gif, and being immediately sucked in that they were introducing someone who was to be the combat equal to fucking Jason, which seemed pretty inconceivable to my fifth grade brain.

And then, they introduced DragonZord as the zord that he would get, and I was all in to being all about the Green Ranger.  For years afterward, even when it was really not cool to be into Power Rangers at the age I was at, I still fanboyed over it, and as I’ve mentioned numerous times in the past, it was some of my life’s ambitions to try and get my very own Zord toys, which took like nearly 20 years later before I actually did.

But man, was I fan of Tommy, and his journey of turning face as the Green Ranger, before Rita and Lord Zedd made a Terminator-like mission to end him.  And then Zordon christening him as the White Ranger, which was pretty cool because Saba bogarted all the other ThunderZords which let the Red Dragonzord fight in its own battle mode which I always preferred.

Needless to say, in spite of how much I had to hide it as a kid, Power Rangers was a notable blip in my childhood, and JDF as Tommy did have something to do with it.  Seeing him kick the bucket, even if it was in the deplorable suicidal manner, is still like seeing a piece of my childhood getting a spinning jump back kick to the face, and that is always sad.

Happy Trails, Kevin Lillard

I think I can say that I’ve been fortunate that there haven’t been a lot of deaths in my life of people that really, genuinely impacts me.  The passings of figures and celebrities are sad, like when Bobby Heenan or Sonny Chiba passed, but they’re still celebrities to me and I never knew them personally.

But today, I found out that a guy I knew way back from my old convention days passed away, and it definitely was a wtf kind of moment to hear about, and brings me sadness to have learned about it.  Kevin Lillard, a legendary figure to those of us convention going olds from the late 90s into the 2000s, who was a photographer and historian who ran the very well-known Fan’s View website, where he went to a staggering number of conventions every year and basically photographed every single costumer in existence at the time.

Like, a convention wasn’t a convention if Kevin Lillard wasn’t there to document it.  At the time, there were only really like 9-12 conventions a year, and he would somehow go to each and every one of them.  I remember the first time he pulled double duty, and was at one convention on a Friday, and literally flew out Saturday morning so that he could go cover a second convention for the remainder of the weekend.  I was floored, because it was always one of my goals to get him to join my merry group of miscreants for dinner or an off-site outing, because I was a hipster and was always planning on ways to flex being too cool for the conventions, but he was ever the loyal, consistent guy with the press pass who always, always dutifully did his own thing for the sake of his site.

It’s funny looking back, because I really only was hardcore active in the convention scene for like 2-3 years before petering out for the next few before I really kind of stopped going to anime cons outright.  But I can confidently say that I developed a friendly relationship with Kevin throughout those years, and I genuinely liked and cared about the person.  Like many people, I had pored and combed through his site over the years, and even through his non-anime convention stuff, I saw that he had covered an ECW house show at one point, so I knew he had to have had some interest.  In 2000, when my friends and I were planning to go to an ECW show that overlapped with Katsucon, I made a point to lobby hard to Kevin to try and get him to come with us, to which he was interested, but politely declined so that he could document the opening ceremonies instead.

But that was the Kevin Lillard I grew to know; consistent, always friendly and polite, and without question the most unbiased and inclusive person that stepped foot into every single convention he went to.  It didn’t matter if a costumer was a hardcore tryhard cosplayer, or a novice teenager in a cardboard Samus suit, he took everyone’s picture.  He and his camera had the innate ability to make people feel special and confident, and give them something to look forward to later to just know that they were going to be able to find their picture on his website.

I remember the first time he took my photo, I was dressed up as Tasuki with my friends also in Fushigi Yuugi costumes.  I was quite tickled when I found the photo, and throughout the ensuing years, it never didn’t make smile whenever I came across myself, or friends, and to recollect the stories and memories of a convention weekend through his parade of photos.

Through his site, I enjoyed a little bit of convention credibility when he had made me one of his personality of the weeks, and written some nice words about me, and my dedication to going to conventions and having fun at the time, which really touched me, because he was usually a little dry and sarcastic in conversation in person.  I was an antisocial awkward teenager, and his acknowledgment and exposure really did a number for my confidence, and considering there are a lot of people from those days that are still actively in my life today, there’s something to be owed for that.

After the journey of life drifted me away from conventions, I heard bits and pieces of his health and life in general.  When I finally came aboard Facebook much later, I wish I had reconnected with him at some point, but I suppose the opportunity just never presented itself.  I’d probably have loved to have had a conversation with him about the changes of the convention scene that had happened throughout the last 20 years, and gotten his take on, everything, from the sheer number of cons, to the immense growth of the cosplay community and its skill levels.

But would’ve, should’ve, could’ve; things didn’t happen that way, we never reconnected, and now I’ll never get the opportunity.  Such is the nature of living and the passage of time sometimes.  Regardless, it does not make me any less sadder than any of the numerous people who are discovering this unfortunate news today as we all are, and I just wanted to put some words down on brog to express my appreciation for his existence, some positive memories I have of him, and well wishes to whatever happens next in his journey.

Happy trails, Kevin.  It was an honor to have known you, it’s an honor to have a rare copy of your book, and I appreciate all your contributions to a scene and culture that would undoubtedly never grown to its current heights without you.

An unprecedented level of ownage

Fascinating: Scottie Pippen’s ex-wife, Larsa Pippen comes out and confirms relationship with Michael Jordan . . . ‘s son

It’s no secret that Michael Jordan was a pretty ruthless competitor in his playing days.  Although he seldom would admit to it, I think it was pretty obvious that winning alone wasn’t enough for MJ, but to demoralize and destroy his opponents in the process.  If the phrasing of owning others existed during his heydays, MJ probably ended his career basically having owned the entire NBA.

However, usually MJ’s ownage was limited to his opponents, most notably Patrick Ewing or any center who played for Georgetown.  It’s not to say he didn’t try to impose his will onto his own teammates present or past, but if there was always one guy that throughout his career was (mostly*) spared from getting owned by His Airness, it would’ve been the right-hand man, the #2, the Robin to Batman, Scottie Pippen.

*there are random clips out there of some exhibition one-on-ones between the two that never seem conclusive nor apparent that either were ever taking it serious enough, but MJ probably won those too

Over the last two years though, whether it was a ploy to help drive up buzz for his autobiography, or perhaps it was sour grapes over some of the narrative in The Last Dance, Scottie Pippen has been vocal and been saying some perceivably controversial things about his relationship with MJ, the Bulls, and his career in general, with not everything particularly positive.  Now Pippen has always struck me as a pretty bitter guy who holds grudges, but he’s always been pretty silent in regards to his relationship with Jordan.  But I guess after nearly two decades from their peak playing days and no real chance for MJ to extract retribution on the court, Pippen has taken the gloves off and has decided to take some swings.

But no problem, MJ doesn’t need a court or even a basketball to remind Pippen who god is.  In fact, MJ doesn’t even need to do anything himself in this case, because his son Marcus is the one doing it, revealing that he’s in a relationship with Scottie’s ex-wife, Larsa. 

Honestly, more than likely this has nothing to do with MJ at all, but by virtue of being the blood of Jordan, he still gets credit for the ownage of Scottie Pippen.  I mean, this is an unprecedented level of ownage here, because it’s not like MJ is the one nailing Scottie’s ex, but his fucking son.  Obviously, Larsa Pippen** is older, but by virtue of being a glorified gold-digging Instagram model, still looks pretty amazing with a plastic body, is still a catch for Marcus Jordan, but it’s a pretty crazy scenario where Scottie Pippen is getting owned by not just Michael Jordan, but MJ’s kid, is the one railing his ex-wife.

**a more passive ownage is the fact that Larsa never dropped the Pippen name, even in divorce, from what I presume is her means to remain tanginally celebrity, but without having to put up with actually being in a relationship with Scottie

Obviously, the chances of MJ himself orchestrating this as a means for punishing Scottie for coming at the king are very slim, so much as it’s happenstance of his son getting involved with a plastic cougar.  But it’s fun to theorize the narrative that it was.  And for a guy like Scottie Pippen, who’s always been kind of a bitch in life; being underpaid for an eon, could never win without MJ, is an infamously shitty tipper, and bitter about everything, it’s just entertaining to see him get owned yet again, but on a level that seems pretty legendary, in the grand scale of ownage.

Happy trails, Batman

This one really hurts: Kevin Conroy, the voice of Batman from Batman the Animated Series, passes away at the age of 66

I remember I was in the fifth grade when Batman the Animated Series debuted on FOX Kids. It was slotted at 4:30 after Tiny Toons and Animaniacs.  I was dubious about how good it could be, considering it was intended to be a kid-friendly cartoon, and to that point I was already aware that Batman comics were pretty heavy-handed, gritty and violent.

Despite my skepticism, before I knew it, I was hooked on the show, and I was amazed at how the show reimagined the entire property to be kid-friendly but still tell great stories and implement all sorts of Batman expanse and really open my horizons to more characters, villains and arcs.  Without the show, I never would have become as big of a fan of Batman in general.

Before I can go off in the wrong direction with this, it all really started with Kevin Conroy’s performance as both Batman and Bruce Wayne.  Unlike the Adam Wests and Michael Keatons who  portrayed live-speaking Batmans before the cartoon, Conroy transforming his voice to adeptly transition between the two personas really raised the bar of what the character should have always been portrayed like.

It only happened a few times in the life of the show, but I always got a tremendous kick out of whenever Batman in full Batman gear, would use the Bruce Wayne voice, usually over the speaker phone in the Batcave.  And his eyes were always animated more happy and not the angry stern look that Batman typically has, and once the phone calls were terminated, we’d immediately be back to the cold and calculated Batman voice before the episode resumed.

The point of all this is that as far as I’m concerned, Kevin Conroy is to me, truly the one and only Batman, as I am sure he is to all sorts of Batman fans out there that share my sensibilities.  His passing is one that genuinely hurts and really does take chunks of our collective childhoods with him into the grave, because he really was one of the actual voices of my generation’s childhoods.

On a personal level, Kevin Conroy’s passing truly is up there with Sonny Chiba and Bobby Heenan for me. His portrayal of Batman really was one of those things that helped raise and shape me, and there’s a very clear reason why he was always tapped to reprise the role for all sorts of shows and video games, long after the Animated Series had ended its original run.

So happy trails, Mr. Conroy.  You will forever be remembered as the official voice of Batman, and although comics live forever, the world is a poorer place without your talents and legacy.

Damn it, I have to side with the conservative chick

It’s obvious that my brog has kind of devolved into this cesspool of parenting, wrestling and occasional sports posts, and that I don’t really write so much about the variety of topics that I tried to spread out throughout my ability to write.  Parenting has really shrunken my general world into a very small space that I obviously need to focus on more than anything else these days, but every now and then a slice of the world outside my own manages to sneak in through social media, grasp my attention, and trigger an avalanche of thoughts, and ultimately words that I can put down onto a word doc and call it a brog post.

Normally, when I hear that an alleged victim is of a conservative variety, I expect to get ready to roll my eyes and imagine at what nonsense a white person is going to be bitching about next.  But in this particular story that someone found its way to me, about a girl who is enraged with American Airlines, because she was on a flight where she was the unfortunate middle seat in between two, morbidly obese siblings, for a three hour flight, I kind of get it.

I think it’s a safe bet to say that I’ve flown more than the average traveler.  And in my travels, I have sat in more than my fair share of middle seats, especially considering all the standby traveling I did where middle seats were really my only option versus not making it out at all.  And let me tell you, in the age of seats getting smaller and smaller so that more seats can be crammed onto aircrafts, I have definitely been this girl more times than I can count, where I’ve been victimized by people whose girth far exceeds the confines of a standard airline seat.

Of course, I am no small individual by any means.  I’m probably like 20-30 lbs. away from an ideal mass ratio, but for the most part, I fit adequately into the boundaries of an airline seat.  Sometimes my shoulders exceed the boundaries, not necessarily because I’m swole or anything, but because everyone’s shoulders usually exceed the boundaries of a seat, and most of the time it’s a domino effect of everyone in a row gradually leaning to one side in order to try and get some physical reprieve.

Except in the case of this poor girl, there was no reprieve, because she was literally sandwiched in between two mammoth masses of humanity.  The fact that they were spread out with a gap seat in the middle indicates that they knew they were both blobs and needed the space of a seat in between them, but the fact that they didn’t just outright purchase that seat meant that there was always the chance of some poor unfortunate soul getting booked in it, which is exactly what happened in this case.

And normally I tend to not feel much empathy for those who proudly identify as conservatives, but as a fellow human being who has traveled on his share of airplanes, I completely feel for this girl.  It is absolutely the worst feeling in the world being stuck next to a blob of a person who is oozing into your personal space, and you’re stuck touching these usually less than hygienic My 600 Lb. Life patients for more than two hours otherwise you might’ve driven in the first place.

I have loathed every time this has happened to me, and in my case it’s usually been from one side, but it has happened where I’ve been the schmuck stuck between the Natural Disasters and it is the absolute worst.

The ironically funniest thing about this story is that after the initial, fairly nonchalant response from American Airlines to this girl, is the secondary follow-up response where AA basically sided with her, low-key admit our bad, and gave her a voucher for the horrendous atrocity of having to endure a flight being a literal Jill sandwich.  It’s like after the initial shot was fired, some case worker actually analyzed the scenario and realized how miserable she was and had the empathy to reach back out and offer a peace offering.

It reminded me of my own experience, where the above photo was a picture that I took on an AirTran flight coming back from Las Vegas.  We were surrounded by a family or three where everyone was massive, and fortunately they weren’t in my row, but they definitely were all around me, and because of their girth, they were obviously uncomfortable in their seats, resulting in them constantly getting up and meandering all around me, to where at one point, they just gathered in the back, right next to me, just so that they wouldn’t have to be seated in tight quarters on account of their blobbiness.

I contacted AirTran about the incident, and they actually sided with me with no resistance, and gave me a credit.  It’s like they too know how much of a pain in the ass huge motherfuckers are to the airline travel experience as much as everyone else does, but because so many Americans are so fucking fat, it’s just something that happens on the regular, and they just hope people don’t reach out to complain about it.

Anyway, this chick obviously got blasted by the internet for being so callous as to fat shame, but the funny thing is that there was also a notable amount of sympathy for her situation, because at the root of it, just about everyone who’s ever had to deal with it themselves knows just how much it sucks flying next to a bunch of fat fucks who ooze all over the place.

Anyone else feel this way too?

I was inside a Target recently, mostly to admire #2’s prevalent presence in their baby section, and over the PA system, among the music that usually is tantamount to white noise, I was able to pick out the lyrics to Ricky Martin’s She Bangs.

The strangest thing to me, was the fact that it was actually Ricky Martin’s version of the song, and just how foreign and alien it sounded, hearing it for the first time in like, maybe 18 years.

Because in my head, when I think of She Bangs, the only version of the song I ever hear in my head is William Hung’s terrible rendition that he tried to audition on American Idol with.  In fact, while at Target, I was kind of awestruck at the simple fact that the lyrics actually continued past “looks like a flower but stings like a bee” because I practically expected there to be an interruption by Simon, Randy and Paula, except there wasn’t one, but instead a whole lot of unfamiliar lyrics.

It’s no secret that FOX and the internet gobbled all of William Hung up for making an ass out of himself on one of television’s most viewed programs, but in hindsight, Hung took it like a champion, and parlayed his abysmal appearance on Idol into all sorts of appearances and gigs afterward.  Given the crash and burn nature of so many Idol alum, I think it’s safe to say that in spite of everything, Hung still came out smelling a lot better than many who were probably a little bit more successful in the show than he was.

Anyway, as far as I’m concerned, She Bangs belongs to William Hung.  Anyone else feel this way too?

Cobra Kai S5: Attack of the Koreans

Like seeing a lamer version of Ryu, Ken and Gouki

One of my friends that I can’t remember whom, said it the best when it comes to describing Cobra Kai: it’s a show that has no right being as good as it is.  All throughout all prior seasons of the show, I always spoke about it with this air of superiority, like I was too good to like the show.  But then I’d watch every single episode and dare find myself enjoying them all.  And as the seasons progressed, I found myself fast-tracking the show ahead of the endless queue of shit that I want to watch.

Needless to say, when I saw some online ad stating that season 5 was dropping on September 9, my first reaction was, aw shit; now I have to jump this shit in the line and watch all of it as soon as I could.  By now, there was no denying that I was a fan of the show, and that the show had no right to be as good as it had been up to this point.

And with all the Emmy consideration the show has gotten throughout the years, it’s clear that the show runners have found a good formula of appealing to a younger demographic, while still being captivating to us olds through nostalgia and not-always that clever references to stuff from the past.  Fewer things seem as cheesy as seeing footage from and of the prior films in a flashback, and then coming back to present time to seeing an old-ass Daniel or Johnny looking all reminiscent.

But anyway, season 5 of Cobra Kai; and I make no promises that I won’t say things that could be construed as spoilers – watched all of it in three days, and found it as cheesily satisfying as most of the prior seasons were.  The ending to the season seemed uncharacteristically wrapped up in neat little bows, and considering the context of everything that had happened, I get the impression that Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg are kind of hedging their bets in the event that the show is not picked up for a sixth season, not to mention that they’re running out of source material from the original series to dip into for nostalgia effect, that things are at least tied up pretty well in the event that this really is the end.

Okay, a cut here, because I probably am going to write about plot points beyond this.

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