A Media Entry – Assessing Animated Attractiveness

Or, a more wordy and less embarrassing way of saying, “Toons that are hot.”  I thought about a top ten list or something, and this is what I came up with.  Hey, this is my misspent youth and my influences.  I’m deliberately leaving out toons who are not adults and anthropomorphized toons.  This is only based on my experience, so it’s possible I missed a few toons here and there.

Continue reading A Media Entry – Assessing Animated Attractiveness

A TV/Comic Book Entry – Thoughts on Villainy 2: Henchmen

I think about comic book style villainy, especially cartoony comic book style villainy (which is why this is a cross-media entry).  I think a lot about these things, which probably says a lot about me, although I’m not sure it’s all good…  So awhile back my feverish writer’s brain was wondering how in the world evil organizations manage to recruit any new members.   After re-watching the G.I. Joe episode “The Revenge of Cobra” I wondered who is responsible for training these new members?  Well, here’s my theory…

Big Bad: Okay, who are you and what can do you for me?

Consultant: I represent Henchman Training Systems, Inc., and I’m going to give you my best pitch as to why you should hire HTS to train your henchman.

Big Bad: I’m listening.

Consultant: Here at HTS we understand that as a Big Bad, you and your lieutenants have better things to do than train some low-level henchmen who are likely going to end in dead or jail the first time you send them on a mission.  But we also understand you need complete loyalty and sufficient training that your henchmen present a credible threat, or at least diversion, for any heroes that attempt to interrupt your operations.

Big Bad: I agree.

Consultant: HTS has a secret headquarters where we can train all your low-level henchmen, with optional teleport pad for easy transport.  Our state of the art headquarters has state of the art equipment for training your henchmen.  Plus, we have psychiatrists and nutritionists on-staff to help manipulate your henchmen mind and body.

Big Bad: I like where this is going.

Consultant: Here at HTS, we can tailor the training regiment to suit your needs.  Here’s an example training day –

0530 – Wake up
0545-0700 – Physical fitness
0700-0745 – Breakfast
0800-0930 – Training Class
0930-1030 – Physical fitness
1030-1145 – Training Class
1200-1245 – Lunch
1300-1430 – Training Class
1430-1530 – Organization Morale Boosting Session
1530-1730 – Training Class
1730-1815 – Dinner
1830-2100 – Approved Recreational Activities
2100 – Lights Out

Big Bad: “Organization Morale Boosting Session?”

Consultant: Brainwashing and propaganda.  Like the card says, “We take over where recruiting leaves off.”

Big Bad: Nice catchphrase.  I notice there’s a lot of emphasis on physical fitness.  Does this include actual combat training?

Consultant: Well, we could include actual combat and weapons training if you want, but that’s in our upgraded packages.  Our basic package assumes henchmen will be captured and/or killed in their first mission, so why bother to train them when you really won’t get your money’s worth from them?

Big Bad: That’s an excellent point.  So what is the purpose of the physical fitness sessions?

Consultant: Mostly just to keep them busy and keep morale up.  They think they’re really learning something.  And many organizations like the one you head up tend to employ scientists and medical professionals of, let’s say, ambiguous morality, like to use humans in their studies, and favor healthy specimens over unhealthy ones.

Big Bad: Oh, yes, Dr. Brainmelter is always asking for subjects, I mean, volunteers for his experiments.

Consultant: How often are henchmen expected to volunteer?

Big Bad: Usually just once does it.

Consultant: Ah, well, there are several modules for purchase for the “Organization Morale Boosting Session” and I suggest you seriously consider the module, “Scientific Progress and How You can Help.”

Big Bad: Sounds like something to consider. I assume you have a brochure?

Consultant: Absolutely.  I also have several sample menus with varying chemical supplements for you to review.  We want to make sure your henchmen are as strong, or as weak, as you need them to be.  We are also willing to alter our menus based on the suggestions of your morally ambiguous medical professionals.

Big Bad: Excellent.

Consultant: Training classes cover the usual henchmen training; marching in formation, yelling your battle cry, defending the lieutenants…

Big Bad: I’m sorry, “yelling your battle cry?”

Consultant: Oh yes, standard procedures for most organizations.  The henchmen yell the battle cry before engaging in combat with the heroes.  Generally this battle cry is the name of the organization.  You know, “Cooooobraaaa!” or “Hail HYYYYYYDRAAAA!”

Big Bad: But wouldn’t it make more sense to just open fire rather than warning the heroes you’re about to fire on them?

Consultant: Well, yes, of course, for trusted lieutenants.  But for henchmen, the purpose of the battle cry is to trigger the psychological conditioning of the training to override all their fear and common sense and charge into battle with little to no actual combat training to engage a clearly tactically superior group of heroes.  The heroes take out the henchmen, and your trusted lieutenants carry on the important part of your plan.

Big Bad: That’s surprisingly logical.  But what happens if some of these henchman actually get promoted to trusted lieutenant status?

Consultant: HTS offers an advanced training course to break the psychological conditioning if you need it immediately.  The conditioning will break down if it’s not constantly reinforced, so your lieutenant will eventually stop yelling the battle cry.  We understand that’s a slight downside to our very effective training, but the odds are against any one henchman achieving that level of advancement, which we think outweighs any potential undesirable side-effects.

Big Bad: You make a compelling argument.

Consultant: Thank you.  And of course, there are numerous training modules to choose from.  As I said, we can actually train your henchmen to use weapons.  We can also train them in numerous other skills, such as operating your arsenal of vehicular weapons.  Of course, we do need some specifications to tailor the module, but we only need the very basics and understand much of your weaponry is proprietary.

Big Bad: So what’s the minimum you need?

Consultant: On, off, forward, backwards, side-to-side, aim, fire, stop.  And if this is an airborne vehicle, take-off and land.  Safety features only if you feel so inclined to provide that information, assuming safety features are even available.

Big Bad: Well, you know, tough economic times and all.  Even my best engineers have been asked to conserve funds wherever possible.

Consultant: Very thrifty indeed.  We will also manufacture uniforms for your henchmen.  I have this handy catalogue of colors and logos. We have four styles available – basic, police-grade armor, military-grade armor, and illusion armor.

Big Bad: What’s illusion armor?

Consultant: We make the uniform look like there’s armor, which increases morale without actually charging you the premium of real armor.

Big Bad: Illusion armor it is.

Consultant: It is our most popular style.  So, if you’re satisfied that HTS, Inc. can provide for all your henchmen training needs, shall I bring out the contract to commence with the custom evaluation?  After all, we don’t want to lock you into a price that won’t bring you the results you need.

Big Bad: And I’m under no obligation to pay HTS if your custom program does not suit my needs?

Consultant: You have to pay us for the evaluation, but you are under no obligation to proceed with the training regiment.  Attempting to cheat persons of your reputation and ability through legal loopholes is simply poor business sense.

Big Bad: Am I assured this won’t be later used as evidence against me in a court of law?

Consultant: Absolutely!  Here is a copy of the confidentiality clause.  And again, attempting to blackmail persons of your reputation and ability is simply poor business sense.

Big Bad: I’ll have my lawyers look over this and I’ll get back to you.  But right now, HTS is leading the pack.

Consultant: Thank you!  Please keep our promotional materials and here’s my card.  Remember, HTS works for you!

Fifteen-minute Movie – G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

or, “Further Looting of my Childhood for Profit”
or, “And Not Even Good Looting at That”
or, “It’s Not Even as Good as Transformers!”
or, “But at Least There was No Stuttering”
or, “And I Could See What was Going On”
or, “But the Title Indicates a Sequel Will Be Produced!”
or, “Because We Really Need More Stupid Movies Based on ’80s Cartoons

[[the movie starts with some backstory about the original Destro, who was a weapons dealing Scotsman in the 1600s who got caught and had his face sealed in a white-hot metal mask that totally didn’t kill him; the movie assures us this will be important later]]

MARS Co.:
McCullen – Okay, so I’ve developed this nanotechnology and made nano-tech warheads which needs to NATO.  I’m assuming the U.S. Army is capable of this delivery service?

Duke – Absolutely.  What could go wrong?

McCullen – Aren’t you supposed to sound kind of like John Wayne?  Or at least try to have a Southern accent or something?

Duke – Yeah, like kids these days know who the hell John Wayne is.

McCullen – And your partner is a Wayans brother!

Ripcord – You got a problem with that?

McCullen – I’m beginning to re-think giving up the role of the Doctor so I could act in movies.  I really don’t have a record of picking good ones here…

Ambush:
Duke – Ambush?  Wait, what?

[[Mysterious hi-tech mercenary terrorists ambush convoy with extremely advanced weaponry; things go poorly for the soldiers]]

Duke – Hey, I know the hot brunette in the tight outfit!  What’s she doing here?

Ripcord – Dude, focus!  We’re totally getting killed here!

[[Different mysterious hi-tech mercenary-types ambush the ambush with extremely advanced weaponry and manage to drive away the first group and save the nano-tech warheads]]

Mysterious Redhead – Give us the case.

Duke – Um, no.  I’m grateful you chased away that first group that was trying to take the case, but that doesn’t mean you’re the good guys, so I’m keeping this and will deliver it NATO as planned.

Mysterious Redhead – Fine, we’ll take you to our super-secret headquarters and explain to you why you should give us the case.

Duke – Yeah, because that’s totally what good guys do – kidnap soldiers.

Secret MARS Lair:
McCullen – Damnit, Baroness, you were supposed to steal the case of weapons so your stupid husband could weaponize them for me.

Baroness (hologram) – My husband happens to be brilliant and how is he supposed to weaponize something you already made as weapons?

McCullen – Just go with it.  Now, I’m going to send Storm Shadow with you, who despite his fashionable metrosexual appearance is actually a ninja.  I don’t like your husband and will kill him as soon as he his no longer useful to us.  And then we’ll go on a date.

Baroness (hologram) – That is so creepy and romantic.

McCullen – Just get the case back! [[hangs up hologram]]  Hello, scientist I am not naming because that is in no way an important clue, how goes your research?  What are you doing again anyway?

Mysterious Scientist with a Respirator – I’m utilizing venom from cobrasss to make all sssortsss of biochemical weapons, including sssteroids, ssshapessshifting, and mind control.

McCullen – That’s cool.

[[The Baroness and her cleavage make a brief appearance at a party to tell the audience her husband’s name is Baron DeCobray because this movie has all the subtlety of an exploding truck]]

The Pit:
Ripcord – Could someone please explain what the hell is going here?  Maybe, you, the mysterious  redhead with the gun-crossbow thing?

General Hawk – That’s Scarlett, the ninja is Snake Eyes, who doesn’t talk, and the big guy is Heavy Duty.  We’re a super-secret para-military force called the G.I. Joes.  Thank you for not dying like everyone else and protecting the warheads.  We’ll take these to NATO now and take you to the nearest Army base where believe me you are going to have a lot of paperwork to fill out.

Duke – I know the brunette who was leading the raid.

Hawk – Wait, what?  You know the Baroness?

Duke – I didn’t know she was a Baroness, but I knew her four years ago or so and she was a blonde then.  We were engaged; her brother was under my command.  He was killed in a raid and she disappeared.

Hawk – Well, that’s an important piece of intelligence which for some reason is enough for me to allow you to take the G.I. Joe training and see if you have what it takes to serve with us.

Ripcord – That sounds like a grueling and time-consuming training regimen.  Do we really have that much time?

Scarlett – It’s only one night.

Duke – Seriously?

[[Seriously; after just one night of various physical tests and shooting tests, they pass with the best scores ever and are made full Joes]]

Scarlett – You beat my record!

Ripcord – So?

Scarlett – I’m a perfectionist with daddy issues and that really bothers me!

Ripcord – Really?  That’s where the movie is going with this?  Why can’t you just be a totally kick-ass redhead in a tight outfit without the burden of a stupid backstory that doesn’t make any sense and no one cares about?

Scarlett – To prove this isn’t a mindless summer blockbuster?

Ripcord – Well, I’m not going to complain too much since it looks like we’re totally going to get together in this movie.

Duke – Hey, I thought Scarlett hooked up with me in the show!

Ripcord – Dude, you’ve got some weird love story with the Baroness.  Give me a break, already!

The Pit, Later:
[[The mysterious hi-tech mercenary terrorists who are never named as Cobra but I’m not going to keep typing out “mysterious hi-tech mercenary terrorists” when we all know they’re Cobra find the secret base via tracking device in the weapons case and use giant drill-machines to drill right into the Pit]]

Baroness – Wow, I would have thought such a hi-tech facility would have some sort of perimeter alarm.

Storm Shadow – That’s why we went through the walls.

Baroness – True, but shouldn’t there still be some kind of alarm because the walls have been breached and may be unstable?  Also, why aren’t there any cameras or any sort of security at all?

Storm Shadow – Just go with it.  Although I hope I run into someone because I need to prove I’m actually a ninja, damn it!

[[Eventually the Joes realize their base is being invaded and try to stop Cobra from getting the warheads; Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes get into a fight which prompts a flash back]]

Flash Back, Asia Somewhere:
Li’l Storm Shadow – Hey!  Homeless white kid!  You can’t just steal food because you’re starving!  I’m going to try to kill you now!

[[Li’l Storm Shadow does try to kill Li’l Snake Eyes until the sensai comes in and breaks things up]]

Sensai – Li’l Storm Shadow, you should be nicer.  I’ll take in the little mute boy and train him to be a ninja just like you.  You’ll have a friend.  Won’t that be nice?

Li’l Storm Shadow – I am totally going to kill you for this.

[[Li’l Storm Shadow totally kills his sensai which Li’l Snake Eyes witnesses, leading him to say the only word he ever says in the movie]]

The Pit, Again:
Storm Shadow – Wow, that establishes me as a homicidal maniac from a young age and establishes why you don’t speak.  This is also by far the most interesting story in the movie.  Have you got those warheads yet?

Duke – Ana, wait, no!

Baroness – Yep, although it would be nice if this blond guy I totally don’t know would quit calling me by a name I clearly don’t recognize.

Ripcord – How did they even find us?  This base is supposed to be secret!  It’s like they had a tracking device or something totally obvious like that!

[[Cobra heads on out with the nano-tech warheads; the Baron weaponizes the weapons as expected and then Storm Shadow kills him; then Cobra threatens to destroy Paris; presumably afterwards McCullen will take the Baroness out to dinner and a movie (but not in Paris, clearly)]]

Paris, France:
Heavy Duty – Could anyone explain to me why the new guys are the only ones that get power armor here?  This seems really unfair.

Duke – Yeah, I know, because this is totally awesome!  Let’s fight!

[[Cobra and the Joes fight and the Joes seem oddly unconcerned with death of innocent bystanders or property destruction, but it doesn’t matter because Cobra unleashes the nanobot things which destroys the Eiffel Tower and then they escape, capturing Duke in the process and the rest of the Joes are arrested for terrorism; on the bright side, the Joes manage to put two and two together and come up with McCullen as the guy who lead Cobra right to them]]

Cobra Arctic Lair Set, Lab:
Duke – Oh, man.  Hey, who are you creepy guy with the face mask and where’s the Baroness?

Mysterious Scientist with Respirator – You don’t recognize me?  And you can’t see the totally obviousss plot twissst?

Duke – Um, yeah, no, I got nothing.

Mysterious Scientist with Respirator – Maybe a brief flashback will help.

Flashback 2, the Doomed Raid:
Duke – Okay, Rex, I need you to go inside that bunker where it’s safe!

Rex – No problem!  [[does so]]

[[Random and poorly understood violence happens and despite Duke’s best efforts, the bunker is blown to pieces]]

Duke – Oh, no!  My fiancee’s little brother has been killed on my watch!  She’ll never forgive me!

Cobra Arctic Lair Set, Lab:
Duke – I knew that part.  Wait, unless Rex didn’t actually die, and you’re actually Rex!

Rex – You’re not much of a thinker, are you?

Duke – But why are you evil?

Rex – Oh, it’s turnsss out there was thisss guy called Doctor Mindbinder trapped in the bunker with me after the explosion.  He turned me to evil and helped me keep me alive until I could get this ressspirator.

Duke – That actually makes sense.  I mean, how could you not end up evil when you were trapped with some guy called Doctor Mindbender?

[[Rex leaves briefly and the Baroness sneaks into the lab to free Duke]]

Duke – Ana!  I thought you didn’t remember who you were!

Baroness – Yeah, well, seeing you brought back memories, so I’m getting you out of here.

Rex – Hey!  You can’t do that!  I injected you with mind control nanobots!

Baroness – You what!  You little brat!  I’m going smack you so hard our mother’s going to feel it… [[Rex causes her to faint]]

Duke – Dude, that’s your sister!

Rex – What part of me being evil don’t you get?  Now, I’ll do horrible things to you!

Duke – Or the Joes will come rescue me.

Rex – Yeah, like that’s going to …[[cue explosion]]  I hate you.

[[The Joes, who followed Duke through a poorly explained plot device, I mean, tracking signal, go to bust up the base, but Cobra launches a bunch of missiles to destroy major cities]]

Ripcord – We’ll have to blow up the missiles in mid-air!  Luckily I am a highly trained pilot and can do that!

Duke – I’m going to rescue my financee!

McCullen – She’s my girl whether she likes or not! [[tries to kill Duke but ends up with horrible burns on his face, causing him to flee]]

Storm Shadow – And I’m going to fight my nemesis again!  [[he fights Snake Eyes, who ends up stabbing him and dumping him in the frigid Arctic waters so he’s probably dead, but then again, maybe not]]

McCullen – Oh my face!

Rex – I’ll fix it. [[injects him with nano-bots, which turns his face into metal]]

McCullen – You jerk!  You didn’t have to make my face all metal like my evil ancestor!

Rex – Yeah, that’ssss true, but I am evil.  You can call me Cobra Commander and I’m going to call you Dessstro!

McCullen – Whatever.

[[the Joes blow the joint and manage to capture the fleeing Cobra while Ripcord takes out the missiles]]

USS Flagg:
Duke – So, we win, right?  I get the girl, Ripcord gets a girl, and Cobra’s in custody.

Zartan – Sure, except that the whole missile thing was a ruse so I could shapeshift and take the place of the President of the United States.

Duke – Well, it doesn’t matter.  We’ll just defeat you in the sequel.  Yo Joe!

-fade out-