Masters of Disguise and Otherwise

In most cartoons and TV shows, being a master of disguise is a somewhat misleading label. It should be a master of disguise except...? The exception can be anything; except something, except fill in the blank because every great disguise is really a terrible disguise in the making. Any disguise it seems has fatal flaw, and it’s most likely being looked at. Simple observation seems to be the Achilles’ heel of any skinwalker, changeling, shapeshifter, chameleon, counterfeiter, or sham artist.

Every master of disguise has a tell—some big, some small—but always enough for whichever hero, however dimwitted they may seem, to notice.

Zartan – G.I. Joe

Zartan

Tell: Blue skin
Zartan is the classic master of disguise. He can disguise his voice and appearance as anyone he wants. These are perfect disguises that are indistinguishable from the original. Perfect in every way except (and here’s our first except) that Zartan's skin turns blue in the sunlight. He has a weird sort of photosensitive hereditary rosacea, but instead of hives or acne, you get a case of the blues (I’m calling it azuracea). Zartan's motto on his business card should read: I can masquerade as anyone on the planet as long as it’s not between the hours of 7 and 5.

In the G.I. Joe live-action movie, Zartan doesn’t turn blue, but whistles as his tell. So, in all the ridiculousness that is the G.I. Joe movie, the filmmakers drew the line at blue skin.

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A Review of Gnards 2012 so Very Long After 2013 Began

So, where has Wolf Gnards been, you ask? Just what has ol’ Wolfie been up to? It certainly hasn’t been writing articles. Well, I’ve watched every episode of Dr. Who, read through several D&D manuals, obsessed over Jeremy Lin stats (he’s like a taller, more athletic, more coordinator, smarter, more flattopped, more Asian version of me… which makes him almost entirely not like me), chugged through Game of Thrones (Favorite quote: These thrones have been gamed!), and dicked around YouTube. Namely the same as most of you, which is nothing much. But I’ve been doing a damn fine job of nothing.

I couldn’t even be roused to do my annual Groundhog Day post. So, here’s a picture of Bill Murray as a werewolf instead. Just because.

But before I go about making promises of regular updates (which I most likely will not be keeping… but keep clicking back everyday just in case!), let’s take a look at 2012 in our completely untimely 2012 year in review!

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My Dinner with Predator: How a Predator Eats

Predator

I was thinking recently about the Predator’s mouth (as I often do on cold, lonely nights), and I noticed a slight design flaw. Not its nightmare vagina appearance, well sort of, but not the fact that it looks like a succubus’s private parts but because it really doesn’t work as a mouth. The primary function of most mouths is to eat some sort of food, but the primary function of the predator’s mouth is to be pointed at while someone (most likely your friend Ricky) shouts, “Oh, damn!”

As mouths go it just doesn’t work. Scary and disturbing? Yes. Functional? Probably not. Here’s the problem—count them up—the Predator species has 10 teeth. 10 teeth! And four of those are on those little pincers around his mouth, so only six of them are really devoted to any chewing/biting power. That’s barely enough to eat applesauce! Meaning Predators either have the dietary habits of your average baby or that of a snake.

predator teeth

Paste Theory

Like Robocop, the Predators subsist off a "rudimentary paste that sustains their organic systems." The fact that Robocop eats baby food is pretty good evidence that a big, strong killing machine can thrive off the stuff. Baby food is probably also convenient for space travel like astronaut ice cream or Tang, or like military MRE’s (which are a little more like dog food, but I think a Predator might enjoy that more though). I do have a hard time believing that the Predator race has the manufacturing infrastructure and know-how to market and mass produce Brand X Predator baby mush (with the meaty gravy that babies crave). However, this same sentiment could also be suggested for spaceships/space travel. I like to imagine that faster than light travel requires more book reading and less laser shooting. Most likely if they do eat some sort of gruel it is composed of the bones of their fallen prey; any meat grinder would do in that case.

Swallow Theory

Predators don’t have teeth because they don’t need teeth, they simply swallow their food whole. Chewing is so primitive, any futuristic society would most likely evolve beyond teeth. It’s like in The Jetsons, where everything’s in pill form. If science has told us anything it’s this: evolution goes amoeba ► fish ► fish-monkey ► monkey ► Brendan Fraser ► Me ► reptilian bounty hunter (rastified 10%) ► pure energy (just wait until I get my energy rays all up in this hood).

It also explains those little insectoid palps on the side of its face (Tooth 1, 4, 5, and 10 in the figure above). Like an insect or crustacean these appendages are there to help cram various foodstuffs down the ol’ throat hole. Not chewing also explains why Predators are so low energy. Swallowing food whole is hell on a digestive system, it’s like eating a big turkey dinner at every meal. When you look at it, Predators really don’t get done nearly as much predatorating as they could. They’re invisible and have laser guns, it should take no more than 5 minutes to kill Arnold and his entire squad. Instead the Predator spends most of his time napping in trees. The daily activity of the Predator probably goes something like kill, eat, nap, kill, eat, nap, wax dreadlocks, string shark tooth necklace, kill, eat, nap.

So, what’s in a Predator’s diet? Anything it can fit in their mouths, I guess. If it’s anything like a snake then any small mammals, birds, or eggs will do. Or any of these fine foods:

Predator hotdog
predator popsicle
predator banana
predator corn

The Predators' mouths and jaws may not be effective, but, at least, it doesn’t have a second mouth inside its first mouth.

Cyberspace Madness: Moonrise Kingdom Cosplay & D&D Wenches

Sam Suzy

These are Moonrise Kingdom finger puppets given to me for my birthday by friend Abbey (Hint… go to her Etsy store, it’s etstacular!). Of course, the reason this was given to me is not because I’m a huge Wes Anderson fan (which I am) or because I particularly liked the movie (which I did), but because I vaguely look like the kid in the film. Ok… I look a lot like the kid, to the point to where anyone who saw Moonrise Kingdom and knew who I was became very distracted by my younger self’s presence in the film.

Point of Proof:
Here’s a picture of me (I’m the one who’s not Val Kilmer)
Here’s a picture of the Moonrise Kingdom kid, aka Jared Gilman

Fun Facts

  • Gilman is from New Jersey
  • I am also from New Jersey
  • Gilman was born in 1998
  • I was in New Jersey in 1997

I’m not saying I’m his father, but… wait a second, I am saying I AM NOT HIS FATHER.

In other Moonrise Kingdom news, lots of indie couples wanted to express their indie love by dressing up Sam & Suzy for Halloween. So much so that what should have been a semi-obscure film reference became completely unoriginal. And even though I look so much like Sam (even though I am most definitely not his father – which I pronounce in a legally binding statement), I chose to dress up this year as Dr. Who and Mrs. Gnards was the TARDIS; equally unoriginal, but much more suitable.

In other nerd news:

Nerd PokerBrian Posehn put out a Nerd Poker podcast. Which is basically just an hour of him and his friends playing D&D, I actually liken D&D more to Fantasy Football, but I get what he’s saying. It’s just a fun game that has equal or greater value than other game that society deems more worthy.

It’s a fun podcast (albeit a long podcast), but it really brought me back to my pre-teen years before sex got in the way of having fun. This doesn’t mean I stopped playing D&D because I was trying to be cool (in order to have sex). Me not playing D&D had zero bearings on my odds of having sex. What I mean is that hormones just got in the way of a good game of D&D. It all become about having X number of wenches, and my character has 10 wenches and your character only has 7 wenches, and then, of course, at some point our characters began to fight over fictional wenches. And when you’re fighting over fictional wenches, it’s time to count your chips up, and push away from the table.

Bang, Zoom! Domestic Violence or Space Travel?

One man, one fist, one sassy wife, and one moon: these are all the ingredients you need to fuel the space race. It started simply; Ralph Kramden wanted to punch his wife so hard that she would literally fly to the moon. Now, maybe, he didn’t wish her ill will, he could have thought she would survive such a journey. Remember that this was in the 1950’s, a time when people still thought the moon was made out of cheese, the Earth was flat, and the sun was some chariot of fire. You can’t blame Ralph for having a limited knowledge of space travel. He didn’t want to murder her; they just needed a little break and in space no one can hear you nag.

The Honeymooners represented a different time on so many levels. This was a time when it was okay to rough up your wife a bit, at the most it was frowned upon, and to be fair, Ralph never actually hit Alice, he just talked about it… constantly. In the 50’s, not only was it okay to threaten to beat your wife a bit, it was expected. Also, space travel, as I alluded, was a thing of pure science fiction. So, this really was an empty threat at best. This has totally changed with recent advancements in technology. What with Richard Branson’s achievements in personal space flight and Chris Brown’s transgressions in hitting women, anything is possible.

But what does it mean to punch your wife into outer space?

At the very least it takes a Superman caliber punch to knock someone into orbit. A punch with around 4.5 million lbs. of thrust behind it… give or take a million pounds. A punch powerful enough to launch a person into space should technically be enough to get it to the moon… eventually. It’s all about breaking the Earth’s gravitational pull, once you do that, you should be able to just glide the rest of the way.

But how powerful would Ralph Kramden need to be to properly bang zoom his wife into space? Let’s compare:

Ms. Marvel Punched Rogue into Orbit


Pertinent Power Facts
Ms. Marvel: Carol Danvers caught her super powers from contact with an alien she was dating much like a venereal disease (only with more flying).
Ralph Kramden: While not the same as an alien gonorrhea, Ralph once got his physical mixed up a sick dog’s. Wackiness ensued, but little in the way of super strength.

It should be noted that Ms. Marvel and Rogue had a history (Rogue put her in a coma), so she was strong and pissed. Anger issues are definitely something Ralph can relate to.

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The Multicultural Action Squad

A while back I read about some of the negative reactions to the Rue in The Hunger Games film. It seems the nut of the “fans'” argument was that the film would have been better if it was a little bit whiter in that they were expecting a totally white cast and they only got a 94% white cast. Now there’s no question that these are idiots, but I think there’s definitely something to their anger, however, misplaced and racists as it may be.

I actually think it issort of natural to picture yourself as whatever character you read in whatever book. My Mom, for instance, when she read Twilight, pictured Edward as a short, older Asian gentleman with neatly parted hair and glasses because that’s what she pictures when she pictures a sexy man (my Dad). So, it goes without saying she was a little disappointed when Robert Pattinson was neither old, Asian, or bespectacled. However, rationally, she knew that’s not how the character was written.

The characters in The Hunger Games were actually written as non-white or, at least, some sort of future gray. All those Hunger Games readers should have just spent a little more time actually reading the books instead of burning them (that's a Nazi reference for any historical fans our there, or it's an Indiana Jones for everyone else). Still I do think there is a legitimate argument in there somewhere. Let me start by saying I don’t condone racism. Racism is bad, mmm’kay. But I also don’t want to be forced into political correctness. There’s something almost patronizing about multicultural programing. It’s too well thought out and scientific to be sincere.

Take the Justice League cartoon of a few years ago. Why use John Stewart, arguably the worst Green Lantern? Why pick him over Hal Jordan, the most popular Green Lantern, or Kyle Rayner, the then current Green Lantern in the Green Lantern comics. Even Guy Gardner would be a better choice because he’s, at least, interesting. Maybe, the problem is simply a lack of iconic characters of color in comic book chronology (I couldn’t help myself). Perhaps, comic book writers and artists are so afraid of being accused of racism, that they instead make characters like John Stewart, characters completely devoid of personality, either good or bad.

Or, maybe, they don’t want to unleash more Black Vulcans, Apache Chiefs, or Samurais on the world. Those being characters who were obviously conceived to capture waning demographics. Or take Aqualad in the latest Young Justice incarnation; a character created for the show, which was then retroactively introduced to the comics to make it seem not quite so blatant because, hey, it’s in the comic, too, so it can’t be an entirely bad. Can it? Or, perhaps, a better example is Spike from X-Men: Evolution. There are thousands of mutants in the comics, yet they made up a mutant (Storm’s nephew) instead of using one of the established characters at their disposal. Why? Is someone that much more likely to watch a cartoon that features one character who looks like them? Sadly, yes.

I suppose it works though. As an Asian man of a certain age demographic, do I care more about Ernie Reyes Jr., Jonathan Ke Quan, or Danté Basco than Bruce Leeroy, Sean Astin, or Robin Williams? You bet I do. However, those characters seemed organic to the process, and not something crammed down our throats. But are they really any better than Apache Chief? Are these really great characters or have I been duped?

Which brings us to the multicultural action squad. The multicultural action squad is a group heroes (usually of teens or pre-teens) brought together from across different ethnic and social backgrounds. The squad is almost always composed of one black male, one Asian female, a white male, a white female (60% chance of being blonde), and one random character, most likely a nerd of some sort. Now when I pointed out the racism in Nickelodeon’s Doug the most prevalent argument is that it’s a kid's show and I’m making too much of it. And, it goes without saying that I’m definitely making too much of every issue, but I’m also not making this stuff up. It’s there for anyone to see.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers


The perfect breakdown: Billy (Nerd), Trini (Asian), Jason (White), Kimberly (White), Zack (Black). Now the real question is did they even stop to think before they made the Asian girl the Yellow Ranger and the black guy the Black Ranger?

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