Tuesday, January 8, 2019

And Last Night, I Had Another Batgirl Dream...

Oh, boy...


I was in Paris. Lily called and asked me to meet her at a certain cafe. She said she needed to talk to me...

When we met at the cafe, Batman was there, but I couldn't see his face....

Lily was very pleasant. She had brought Cathy & Christina with her. We all had a coffee...

Lily would pause in-between sips to make bat-shaped shadow puppets with her hands, which reflected onto the surface of the coffee cup's saucer. She concluded her puppetry by doing the Batusi while remaining seated...

And then she said the ancient phrase:

"We are like the dreamer, who dreams and lives inside the dream."

We are like the dreamer, who dreams and lives inside the dream...I told her I understood. And then she said:

"But...who is the dreamer?"

But who is the dreamer? A very powerful, uneasy feeling came over me. Lily looked past me and indicated to me to look back at something that was happening there...

I turned and looked...

I saw myself...I saw myself, from long ago, at a defunct comic book store in Manhattan's East Village...listening to Ben, telling me about a dream he had:

"Joseph, it's 10:10 a.m. on February 16th...I was worried about today because of the dream I told you about...the one where I get everything I ever wished for, but it's f*$ked up. I don't like them apples, Joe. I don't like the look of them apples at all...what am I gonna' do? It's like someone's sayin': 'Applesauce, bitch! Take it or leave it'."

And that was the day Matt appeared...


And didn't appear...

"Matt? Is that you?"

"Ben..meet the long-lost Matt Reeves..you may've heard of him."

And while Matt was apparently there, he raised his arm and pointed at Ben, and asked me:

"Who do ya' think that is there?...Naw, naw..we ain't gonna' talk Bats and Babs, now..we ain't gonna talk 'bout Babs or Bats at all..."

I turned around...Lily had put on a purple Batgirl mask and was snapping her fingers before saying one word:




I hadn't remembered that!..

Now this is something really interesting to think about!...

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

One Last Halloween Treat..

Halloween 2018 is almost over...random thoughts left stirring..not much innovation regarding Halloween candy, in my opinion, though I liked Russell Stover's candy corn-flavored marshmallow with white chocolate-shell pumpkins. I also liked M&M's candy corn-flavored white chocolate-shell candies. The combination is tastier than it sounds, despite the fact that white chocolate is not actually made of chocolate. So candy corn can be delightful when blended with something that cancels out it's dry taste.

Not much innovation regarding Halloween specials for television. All is right with the world (or, depending on your perspective on current events, there's still hope) if It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is still airing annually on network television.

There's more viewing options regarding movies these days. People are trying to make a big deal of the  90's Disney movie, Hocus Pocus. It has it's moments, sure, but maybe the reboot will improve on it...oh, sure, don't be surprised...I can see it happening...Disney tested the waters with a sequel novel, but I can imagine Tina Fey, Rebel Wilson and Aubrey Plaza as the new Sanderson sisters...or maybe do a race swap and reimagine the Sanderson witches as voodoo priestesses, instead...or just do Goosebumps 3 with a more substantial role for Jack Black this time around, assuming he's not busy filming the sequel to The House With A Clock In It's Walls, which, at a glance, looked like a movie starring Paul Dini & Misty Lee (that would be neat), though it's success means Puffin/Penguin/Putnam with hopefully reissue the John Bellairs novel in hardcover, because paperbacks age terribly.

And I'm still wondering why Blumhouse didn't cast Danielle Harris alongside Jamie Lee Curtis in that Halloween reboot film...saving Jamie Lloyd for the next reboot, I guess, since having an older version of Laurie's daughter from Halloween 4 confront Michael Myers and/or team-up with Laurie is one of the few new sequel ideas in that Trick or Treat pumpkin bucket.

I hope you all had a happy Halloween this year. Don't try to finish all the candy at once. Goodnight! ;)

Friday, October 19, 2018

Only To Sleep by Lawrence Osborne

          Way out west, there was this fella,
         this fella that I want to tell you about,
          fella by the name of Philip Marlowe.
          At least that's the handle his beloved,
          yet often sozzled creator gave him.
          But he never had much use for it
          This Marlowe, he often called himself
          a "Shamus", with emphasis on
          "SHA" when pronounced, like
          "Sha-na-na" and not "Shay". Now,
          Shamus, that's a name no one
          would self-apply where I come
          from. But then there was a lot
          about this gumshoe that didn't
          make a whole lot of sense to me.
          And a lot about where he lived,
          likewise. But, then again, maybe
          that's why I found Marlowe and the
          place he lived in so durn
          Now this here story I'm blogging
          about took place in the late-80's,
          just about the time of Madonna
          and Max Headroom and cartoons
          talking mermaids and dogs talking
          like Burt Reynolds and just before
          Michael Keaton put on a pair of
          Nike boots and dressed up as
          Batman. 1988. I only mention it
          'cause sometimes there's a man,
          I won't say a hero, 'cause what's
          a hero? But sometimes there's a
          man, and I'm talking about this
          shamus here, sometimes there's
          a man - well, he's NOT the man for
          his time and place. He DOESN'T fit
          right in there, he's an anachronism,
          and that's Philip Marlowe, in Los
          Angeles. And even if he's not a very
          perceptive detective, and Marlowe
          was most certainly NOT that, quite
          possibly the least-perceptive player
          in his chronicles, which would place
          him high in the running for the most
          clueless, yet highly-respected sleuth
          in detective fiction worldwide...But
          sometimes there's a detective...
          sometimes there's a detective...
          Ah, I lost my train of thought, here.
          But...ah, hell. He's the only one who
          cares. I done introduced him enough.

Writers will do a thing sometimes to amuse themselves with the manuscript. They'll name-drop an actor who could be their choice for playing the character in their book for a possible film/television adaptation. With Only To Sleep, Lawrence Osborne drops Beau Bridges in there, in passing. Beau Bridges as Philip Marlowe? Or in this case, a 72 year-old Philip Marlowe. Possible. But frankly, nowadays the actor playing Philip Marlowe in a new movie with the surname of "Bridges" is likely to be Beau's younger brother, Jeff. The Dude. Playing Jeffrey Lebowski has become Jeff Bridges performance by default...I don't know if his own personality became subsumed by the character, or if it crystallized him, made him identifiable in a way that he wasn't in roles played prior to The Big Lebowski, which I always thought was the Coen brothers' answer to Pulp Fiction and is arguably more-popular than the latter nowadays...or it just seems so, since you can find Lebowski re-released in theaters every summer and is on basic cable as often as Goodfellas...

             Ah, I'm going off on a tangent..

No, back to Marlowe. He's 72 in this book, retired and walking around with a swordcane...'cause that's a cool "toy" on every old man's want-list. He feels like he's marking time, but young, 38 years-old Marlowe always talked like that in the old books..I can't remember the blogger who wrote it, but he observed that Marlowe always acts like he's wondering why he's alive, and that attitude is in this new book, too, so it feels authentic.

This is the fourth Marlowe novel authorized by the estate of Raymond Chandler. The first three tried coasting on scraps - Poodle Springs was built off 3 brief sample chapters Chandler probably typed up to amuse himself (Marlowe married to Linda Loring? Heh heh heh), Perchance To Dream was Robert B. Parker's sequel to The Big Sleep, which only felt an attempt at identifying Marlowe with his own private eye character, Spenser, followed years later with Benjamin Black's effort The Black-Eyed Blonde, which proved you could do pastiches of Marlowe in perpetuity, but would you really want to read them if it doesn't feel like Marlowe was brought back to life? That's the appeal of the Chandler books. Marlowe may never realize that he's the only character in his stories that's not hip to what's happening, but he's the only character who cares, and the real highlight of the books of finding out what he cares about in each tale that makes him push on in these quests. In The Big Sleep, he felt bad about invalid General Sternwood saddled with two dirty daughters. What's he looking for to care about in Only To Sleep? Osborne decides it's the father of the man whose identity was stolen by Donald Zinn - a con artist who faked his death and is living a new life in Mexico with his younger wife. Marlowe takes a fancy to this femme fatale, but like the Marlowe of old, he resists her comely charms while revealing that he's still tempted as he was in the old days, even though he no longer looks like a matinee idol, if that's how he ever ever thought he looked like.

Zinn is clearly a dark mirror-image of Marlowe, though I can imagine John Slattery playing him in the movie, with Ana de Armas as Delores Araya, Zinn's "widow"/partner-in-crime/able Grable/Marlowe's femme fatale. He's living the life Marlowe toyed with having accepted Linda Loring's impulsive marriage proposal in Playback and tried out in Poodle Springs before Osborne's revelation in Only To Sleep:

"You know, I was married once, but the condition doesn't agree with me. It makes me unstable."

Rather eloquently put, that. There are a lot of passages in the book that give it a convincing texture, even though itdoesn't make much of the fact that it's set in the 80's. It feels it could be set in any decade pre-internet and the results are the same. The window-dressing was never the appeal of the Marlowe books. You read Marlowe for Marlowe. And this feels like Marlowe. Ironic that he's now the same age as Jane Marple or Hercule Poirot, given how Chandler thought little of Agatha Christie's work, but the private eye genre can be just as unreal and far-fetched. Read whatever you like.

Osborne's timeline suggests Marlowe would've turned 100 in 2015, yet because he can exist in that charmed state of suspended animation that keeps fictional characters from aging further, he could still appear again, this time with a swordcane in hand for his 2nd life, pondering the ephemerality of life and the persistence of yearning...he's a Miyazaki character, now.

              Well, you know...sometimes
               you eat the bear, and
              sometimes, you know...
              The shamus abides.

              I don't know about you, but
              I take comfort in that. It's good
              knowing he's out there,
              the shamus, taking her easy
              for all us readers. Shoosh,
              I hope he keeps on going
              into the next millenia. Well,
              that about does her. Wraps
              her all up. Things seem to
              have worked out pretty good
              for the shamus and Delores.
              And it was a pretty good story,
              don't you think? Made me
              laugh to beat the band...
              parts anyway. I didn't like
              seeing Delores go. But then
              I happen to know..there's a
              little Marlowe on the way. That
              might just absolute horseshit
              on my part, but I believe that's
              the way the whole darned human
              comedy keeps perpetuating
              itself down through the
              generations. Westward the
              Studebakers, across the sands
              of time until we - oh, look at
              me. I'm rambling again. Well,
              I hope you folks enjoyed
              yourselves. Catch you later on
              down the social media trail.
              Say, friend, you got any more
              of that good non-alcoholic
              margaritas? Margarita Hayworth?..

Friday, September 28, 2018

"Superman: Kryptonite" by Darwyn Cooke and Tim Sale

The end of my loosely-connected trilogy of essays devoted to stories featuring kryptonite in Superman comic books is long-overdue...and really awkwardly put, since why would any non-Superman comic feature a story about kryptonite if it wasn't setting up an appearance by Superman? It's one of the few things that can kill Superman, the irony that it's made from the remains of his home planet; you're killing him with a "souvenir from home".

Kryptonite can be annoying, because it allows for Superman to be in peril of garden-variety gangsters and thugs; why waste imagination coming up with formidable foes for Superman to spar with, when a purse-snatcher holding a green rock the size of a penny could knock him out?

So..you can imagine the conceit in which Cooke has the audacity to suggest that the villain of his tale could be a giant sentient, telepathic chunk of kryptonite that's been passed around over the decades to various owners like the Hope Diamond, only to reveal that it was actually a cage for a telepathic alien imprisoned like a fly in amber, after briefly becoming intangible during Krypton's explosion, then trapped inside the meteorite while phasing in, ultimately using his mental prowess to force gangster Tony Gallo to act as his proxy on behalf, ultimately reforming the psychotic capo in an uneasy puppet show...I $#!+ you not, that's part of the plot in this book.

Superman: Kryptonite is actually the classiest Superman arc I've ever read, but I don't think it caught on with readers the way people say other stories have, like "Red Son" or "Whatever Happened To The Man From Tomorrow?" - but it's good company with those tales on your bookshelf of Superman stories...if you have one. It's got a sci-fi/noir feel to it, only cheapened, in my opinion, by the appearance of the post-Crisis version of Lex Luthor - the boring 1980's business tycoon. Again, just my opinion, but I prefer the Tony Stark version of Lex Luthor that was more prominent in the Silver and Bronze Age, who occasionally appears in Modern Age comics in the last decade since Infinite Crisis. Luthor didn't appear in the original tale that introduced kryptonite and he shouldn't have appeared here, even if it's abundantly clear that the only reason he's in this is to depict a new origin for the infamous kryptonite ring that he wore...which gave him cancer due to being in nonstop close proximity to it's radiation...which resulted in him faking his death and transplanting his conciousness in a cloned body that posed as the original's "son" until the clone body deteriorated and he made a deal with DC's equivalent of the Devil - Neron - in exchange for having his restored...I  $#!+ you not, this junk actually happened in the Superman books during the 90's...a character worthy of antics deserving to be banished to the now non-existent "quarter-bins" really shouldn't be seen in a classy joint like Superman: Kryptonite.

What else could've derailed this story? It was used as a launch for a new ongoing comic book series, Superman Confidential, a counterpart to another title, Batman Confidential, which was supposed to be the successor to the venerable 1990's Batman comic Legends of The Dark Knight..

..just as a sidebar, I can't help thinking a book titled Legends of The Man of Steel would've been more interesting to have for an anthology book that was going to offer stories in a similar vein - tales set in the early years of Superman's career - but Coinfiential must've sounded "kewl" to the guys occupying the DC Comics offices at the time...

Batman Confidential lasted a few years, whereas Superman Confidential never got off the ground...this opening arc was plagued with delays (I think Tim Sale was also working on the TV series "Heroes" during this time - 2006) and DC Comics editors tried filling the schedule with mediocre fill-in stories by other writers and artists. That strategy for dealing with late books tends to piss off retailers and fans alike, because too long a wait invariably kills interest and hurts sales. It couldn't have helped that five of the six issues that serialized this story had drab covers. Issue #3 has the best cover - with the giant Kryptonite rock in the background and the "villain", Tony Gallo, in the foreground.

Another problem is that Darwyn Cooke could be his biggest critic. The introduction featured in the hardcover and paperback editions has Cooke somewhat writing apologetically, that brainstorming  ideas for a standable Superman story arc that could stand the test of myriad continuity changes and reboots was no picnic and appreciated all the help he got from working with Sale, plus the fact that this tale was a total reboot of a Golden Age tale that was executed frivolously (my observation from Cooke's summation, not necessarily his) and he was grateful to just see it done and in print, at last.

That...bellies the confidence and talent on display, here. All parties involved were up to the task and did a great job. It's one of the best Superman comics I've read. And it's even better collected as a graphic novel. I $#!+ you not.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Doctor Who: The Stone Rose by Jacqueline Rayner

Genies are tricksters. Be careful what you wish for. In some tales, the actual wording of the wish you make begats unforeseen consequences. You wish you were rich...and the bill collectors show up. You wish you had a new car...and it's a car belonging to some wealthy drug lord...You wish you were famous...and it turns out you are that wealthy drug lord, pursued by bounty hunters...in that new sportscar you wished for. Nice.

And that's three wishes, already. Some tales hint about wishing for more wishes...others say ixnay on the 'wishing for more wishes'. Next Master, please.

And there's the character of the Djinn, or Genie. They rarely ever look like Robin Williams or Barbara Eden in these stories. The genie of 1001 Arabian Knights has more in common with Jafar when he became a genie in Disney's Aladdin. The business of Tony Nelson marrying 'Jeannie' was inspired by Bewitched, which was inspired by the movies I Married A Witch and Bell,Book and Candle...which might be inspired by the farcical "romance" scenes with Titania the Fairy Queen & Bottom in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream...that theory is entirely mine..though I don't think it's an original conclusion; I haven't checked if anyone else saw that.

There is a genie of sorts in Doctor Who: The Stone Rose, but the selling point of the novel was the 10th Doctor & Rose investigating the origin of a stone statue dating back to ancient Rome resembling Rose Tyler residing in the British Museum in London. Yes, this predates the episode revealing that the 11th Doctor's sidekick, Rory Williams, was working at the same museum as a security guard, so there's some wibbly-wobbly overlap for a potential future "Past Doctor Who Adventure" for Gareth Roberts or James Goss to type up if they want...they'll just need to have an icebag ready to deal with resolving continuity headaches. I'm not going to do this, so I can keep mulling over it.

The genie in Stone Rose is a Genetically Engineered Neural Imagination Engine. Described as a small, scaly creature, a cross between a baby dragon and a duck-billed platypus.

And...this "Genie" talks like Flintstones character The Great Gazoo. The best stuff in Stone Rose is the stuff with this G.E.N.I.E., but he appears in the last quarter of the book, so it's all plot denouement rather than plot & character  development; it becomes a Saturday Morning Doctor Who...with animation by Filmation, likely, but the concept of this magical creature, particularly the dragon-like description and Gazoo-esque personality, stayed in my brain years after reading the book.

It reminded me of other characters from other places. The best example is the wish-granting, genetically-engineered lab experiment resembling a dragon that appeared in an issue of World's Finest, featuring Superman & Batman, in a story written by Dennis O'Neil. Doesn't that sound like a likely inspiration? There are plenty of fantasy stories about a stopwatch that stops time, for example. Stories about magic dragons granting wishes, in summantion, sound more frequent than one would think. While preparing this post, I remembered Figment, the magic dragon from Epcot Center at Walt Disney World who had his own comic book series from Marvel Comics a few years ago. There are also Pocket Dragons, Smurf-like plastic figurines of cutsey baby dragons that even had their own cartoon show at one point. I'm absolutely convinced that G.E.N.I.E could've been based on one or any of these things.

So..in time for the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who, original novels like The Stone Rose were reprinted..in this case, because it counted as an historical adventure  (everyone seems to just remember the David Tennant Doctor facing a lion in the arena, go figure). And..according to Wikipedia, it was the best-selling of the Doctor Who novels from the current series, so that's something, although maybe those Douglas Adams-branded novelizations of Adams' Who scripts might've bumped that down a few notches by now.

So the newer edition of Stone Rose came with an introduction by the author, Jacqueline Rayner. Would she bring up the G.E.N.I.E character? Yeah, she did. Should I buy this book? Yeah, I did. Did she confirm all that you thought inspired the character? No, she didn't - she claimed she was inspired by the severed monkey's paw from "The Monkey's Paw", which, to my knowledge, does not feature any dragon-platypus hybrids. Maybe she gave that answer because the plot mechanics in that last quarter do echo the story, but the reference that inspired the visual of the G.E.N.I.E is not there, so that may be her way of dodging any concern about copyrights and trademarks.

It's like this: I think I solved a puzzle, but the answer key provided to check is some kind of nonsense, so I'm just left with a gathering of stray observations that fit into something that made the book more-appealing past it's sell-by date, but will just stay scattered in the air...be careful what you wish for..

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Woody Woodpecker: The Movie

I don't think Cartoon Network ever showed reruns of Woody Woodpecker cartoons...if they did, they came and went. Universal Pictures owns the character, but I don't think they even air his cartoons on their children's programming cable channel, Universal Kids.

So...is the out-of-nowhere emergence of a live-action/CG Woody Woodpecker movie akin to when DreamWorks made the Mr. Peabody and Sherman movie? If so, Woody's lucky he's not owned by Sony, who didn't greenlight a Popeye directed by the sole individual responsible for making the Hotel Transylvania movies look good..because they're just not that into Popeye.

But that's not so...Woody Woodpecker cartoons are still very popular in Brazil, where it's still shown daily, so this movie is explicitly aimed at that fanbase. It's the same logic that resulted in those two (!) animated Top Cat feature-length cartoons that premiered in Mexico and an upcoming film adaptation of the obscure DePatie-Freling cartoon series, Here Comes The Grump. If there's a surefire guarantee of a profit to be made, they will make a film. I'm hoping some other country out there is also into Crazylegs Crane or The Mumbly Show. Jabberjaw?

So it's because Brazil was the original target audience for this film that native Brazilian actress Thaila Ayala (who kinda reminds me of Law & Order actress Annie Parisse) gets top-billing in her English-language acting debut as co-lead alongside Psych co-star Timothy Omundson (barely recognizable with the grubby-looking beard). Ayala plays the dimepiece girlfriend/fiance to Omundson's yuppie and bails on him after enduring Woody Woodpecker's pranks one too many times. This allows Omundson's character the opportunity to reconcile with his estranged pre-teen son and cultivate a flirtation with the cute forest ranger...wait, I haven't explained the plot yet..

Have you seen Peter Rabbit? How about Yogi Bear? Kangaroo Jack? The Smurfs? The Smurfs 2? Garfield? Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties? Alvin and The Chipmunks? Alvin and The Chipmunks 2, 3, 4?

The plot of Woody Woodpecker isn't particularly innovative. The yuppies hope to flip lakefront property by building a luxury cabin by the lake (oddly enough, thry make a curious decision to aint the outside of the cabin entirely in blue...if this were a "Pink Panther" CG movie, the plot would be about the panther painting the cabin pink...do NOT be surprised if the rumored Pink Panther CG film has that plot), only to blow their budget by recouping from loses made by Woody - who didn't want them disturbing his habitat - but manage to complete the project after achieving a truce after the bird gets along with Omundson's son. By then, Ayala's character has split around the 45-minute mark (the "screenwriter" neglected to have her say, "Darling, I love you, but give me Park Avenue", but I'm not sure if they air reruns of Green Acres in Brazil) and the rest of the film is devoted to the reunited father-and-son rescuing Woody from goofy poachers and helping the son jam in a rock band with local kids.

It's predictable, familiar, not particularly cinematic, unambitious in scope, clumsy yet competently well-done. If most of the live-action/CG hybrid movies I mentioned earlier felt like stuff that you would think would have the decency to premiere on television like those 3 weird, but harmless  Fairly Oddparents live-action TV movies Nickelodeon aired a few years ago, well, this debuted straight-to-deal everywhere else. Popularity of Thaila Ayala in Brazil notwithstanding, I couldn't help wondering if this cast was really first choice. Were Brendan Fraser and Carmen Electra really unavailable? Was Fraser really reluctant after appearing in similar fare for over two decades? Or really too-expensive?

How was the eponymous title character? Woody was just fine. Perhaps the fact that this wasn't particularly high-profile prevented any superfluous superficial design tinkering that would've led to ghastly results. Eric Bauza does a great job recreating the voice. I thought the scale for the interiors of Woody's treehouse home looked too small for him to actually dwell in, but it's nothing terrible. The film's greatest accomplishment is that it fits right in with the other films in this recent genre of live-action/CG hybrids and gets away with doing so on a cheaper budget. As a bonus, if you sit through the end credits, a restored print of a vintage Woody Woodpecker cartoon Niagara Fools plays (albeit in 3:2 format ratio instead of full-screen - odd, since the live-action film was in full-screen). The plot ofthe cartoon involves a goofy park ranger's attempts to prevent Woody from recklessly jumping over Niagara falls in a barrel. I remember this was broadcast as a heavily-edited instrumental music video during the late-80s and early 90's reruns and the complete cartoon had been rarely seen thereafter...possibly because Woody's efforts could be misunderstood as attempted suicide...or the park ranger repeatedly surviving the falls in the barrel might confuse misguided children into jumping off waterfalls or cliffs..whatever. it's nice to see it again. If the Woody Woodpecker cartoons aren't as acclaimed as the Looney Tunes or Disney cartoons or even Hanna-Barbera cartoons, they usually had a faster pace that kept them from wearing out their welcome..that's why his balloon at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade endured as long as it did. Certainly longer than Popeye's.

"Bugs (Bunny) must always be provoked into action...if he isn't provoked, he runs the risk of becoming an unmotivated bully, like Heckle and Jeckle, or Woody Woodpecker at his worst." - Chuck Jones

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Time To Grow Up, Toys R Us "kids"..

You could say the writing was on the wall when their magnificent Times Square location was closed 3 years ago, but it's now officially the end of the Toys R Us retail chain, following the slowest liquidation sale I ever did see. It really did feel like the last two months they were offering everything at only 10% discount.

Did I get to buy anything good?

Well, it's not like that ferris wheel was ever available to own..

I brought the "Toys R Us Exclusive!" Funkopop Fraggle Rock figure of Sprocket the dog, because it just looks fantastic (at 20% off) and the DVD of Woody Woodpecker: The Movie (at 10% off)..that was in the early days..I had a hunch that by the time they got to 50%, I would be staring at empty shelves. They had an iron grip on the Lego merchandise - I wouldn't be surprised if they just boxed those up and shipped them to some outlet mall chain or Family Dollar or whatever. I was curious about buying the updated version of Clue that replaced Miss White with Dr. Orchid, but I wasn't committed to keeping track of anything. Prior to this liquidation, I had gotten into those Funko "Mystery Minis" mini-figures of characters from The Disney Afternoon and wound up with three Negaduck figurines.

Toys R Us was never particularly good at sales...it was only by comparison to the mom-and-pop toy stores, the Kmarts, the Targets, the comic shops...then it looked like they offered better deals by a narrow margin. Plus, unlike the comic shops and mom-and-pops, you could get your money back or make exchanges without difficulty. I don't think the mom-and-pop shops will re-emerge as the main place to shop for toys and games, but there's something about Toys R Us' pricing  strategies that eventually kept them from meeting their quota in the wake of increasing options to shop online or go to other stores. As a kid, I remember Kay Bee Toys and Lionel's Kiddie City toy stores were more popular because they had better prices on popular toys and video games, whereas Toys R Us usually only had lower prices on racecar test tracks and plastic toy dinette sets. They did have good prices on Hot Wheels and Matchbox toy cars; tourists would buy them a lot, as they were actually more expensive in countries outside the U.S.

Because the name of the store is such a recognizable brand across the globe, I wouldn't be surprised if the brand was acquired and the stores were revived, albeit in a smaller scale, possibly as a chain of upscale boutique toy shops..yeah, that's certainly not the same, plus it depends on whether or not the marketplace for upscale plastic toys, but I'm picturing something that can survive between the gentrified boutique and seedy-looking videogame stores.

Should it only be about selling toys? With Kids R Us and Babies R Us it looked like they were testing the waters before just sticking with the Babies department before the 90's ended, but I suppose the word "Toys" in the name kept them from thinking outside the box and feeling like they were overreaching if they were to add a "Home Furnishings"/"Intimate Apparel"/"Food" department...then it would really look like a Kmart.

And bring back Geoffrey the giraffe...they'd been kinda non-committal by keeping giraffes in their marketing material for the last decade or so, but it always seemed like Geoffrey had been retired, yet he was prominent during the chain's heyday...food for thought.

So...have I watched the Woody Woodpecker movie?

To be continued...