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January « 2010 « Puppet Kaos - where Kelvin Kao plays with puppets and tell random stories
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Puppet Kaos - where Kelvin Kao plays with puppets and tell random stories

The End of an Era

After 17 years (from 1992 to 2009), Jay Leno left the Tonight Show, marking the end of an era.

Oh wait, he’s coming back, isn’t he? Never mind.

Who cares about Jay Leno? I mean, What I really want to talk about, is something a lot more important: Power Rangers. Last year (2009), it is announced that there will not be a new season of Power Rangers in 2010, and that, marks the end of an era. Fourteen years (from 1995 to 2009) is a long time for any show. In fact, I’ve just took a stroke down the memory lane by watching the opening of all the Power Ranger series in 14 years. It took about 17 minutes. From the music and the way the characters look, you can see how the idea of what is cool has changed over the years. It’s quite interesting to see. Watch it here: Part 1 (Zordon Era), Part 2 (Post-Zordon), Part 3 (Disney Era).

When we first came to the United States, we watched quite a few kids TV shows. One reason is that they are scheduled to show after school let out (as in, between 3pm and 5pm), and the other is that they are easier to understand than, say, court drama. And one of such shows is Power Rangers. Okay, maybe those are not the real reasons. Maybe I just love Power Rangers because watching robots and alien monsters (both clearly men in rubber suits) beat the crap out of each other amused me to no end. But hey, this show taught me important English words such as “morph”, “sabre”, and a gazillion things that you can yell out when you think your weapon / armor / robot / victory is really awesome (“That was awesome!” “Cool!” “Right on!” “Yeah!” “All right!”).

The series that we watched the most episodes are Power Rangers In Space and Power Rangers: Lost Galaxy (because they came out in 1998 and 1999, respectively). Now here’s what I loved about them.

Power Rangers In Space

Ah, look at the video. Aren’t they a good-looking bunch (even the villain)? I liked the dynamics of this group. In the series before this one, the main story line consisted of teenagers given the power to protect the Earth. However, at the end of Power Rangers Turbo, the villains managed to destroy the Turbo Megazord (the Rangers’ robot), capture their wizard mentor Zordon, and blow up the Power Chamber, causing the Rangers to lose their power. The Rangers had to flee into space, where they encountered a Power Ranger from a different planet who gave them different morphers so they could have powers again. The four old Turbo Power Rangers plus the Astro Ranger from the different planet became the Space Rangers.

This series was unique in that instead of living on Earth (each going to school and having their own life and so on), they are living on a spaceship. This created many more opportunities for them to interact. Also, the spaceship allowed them to explorer the universe more. The fact that four of them were Turbo Rangers before, while another was from another planet also created interesting dynamics.

Also, the Rangers in this series had all suffered some kind of loss. The four old Turbo Rangers had lost their old power and Zords (robots) before. The Red Ranger (the one from another planet) had been forever looking for his sister, who was kidnapped when she was just a child. And also all of the Rangers were searching for their captured mentor Zordon. Although still mostly light-hearted (it’s Power Rangers after all), the series was less slapstick than previous series and took on a more serious undertone. This series also wrapped up a long story arc six years in the making. At the end of the series, most of the universe was taken over by the villains and several Zords were destroyed. The battle at the end spanned episodes and was epic. At the end, Zordon sacrificed himself to use his essence to wipe out the force of evil. At the end, the villains were defeated (after six years) so that’s definitely major pay-off. It was an awesome series.

Power Rangers: Lost Galaxy

Power Ranger In Space was more polished than the previous series, in my opinion. However, the series that followed it, Power Rangers: Lost Galaxy, looked even better. Maybe the cameras improved? Everything just looked a lot newer and sharper. Prior to this series, the cast changed gradually as the plot lines progressed and everything followed an overall story arc. But as mentioned before, this was wrapped up. Starting in Power Rangers: Lost Galaxy, each series had its own team of Rangers and a self-contained storyline.

To be honest, I do not remember the individual characters as much as I do with Power Rangers In Space, but this series had a more complex story and more twists. For example, the Pink Ranger Kendrix sacrificed herself to save the Space Ranger Cassie. Later Kendrix’s spirit saved Karone, who was the Red Ranger’s sister from the previous series that was kidnapped, raised, and brainwashed to become the Power Rangers In Space’s main villain Astronema. And Kendrix made Karone the new Pink Ranger. Also there was this mysterious ally, Magna Defender, who was really cool because he had his own costume, armor, music, and Zord. Magna Defender was an ancient warrior who was seeking revenge for his son. He was sealed away in a pit until he decided to take over the body of Mike, who fell in by accident, and was the Red Galaxy Ranger Leo’s brother. Later in one battle, he sacrificed himself to save the space colony. Mike was freed from his control and the spirit of Magna Defender officially passed the power to Mike. Okay, see? I told you it was complicated.

One of my favorite thing about this series was the fight scenes. The Rangers in this series all used sabers. That made the fight choreography a lot more interesting than, say, having people shoot lasers at each other.

Power Rangers: Lightspeed Rescue

Unfortunately, after those two strong series, Power Rangers: Lightspeed Rescue just didn’t do it for me. It was about this team of Rangers consisting of a fire-fighter, a life guard, and so on, that came to rescue when villains terrorized the city. I was fine with that premise, but the way the power was given to them just didn’t do it for me. Since the oldest series, the power sources were mythical. For example, the Mighty Morphing Power Rangers got their power from the five Power Coins. The Space Power Rangers used Astro Morphers whose power, presumably, was derived from something extraterrestrial. The Galaxy Rangers got their powers from five mystical swords, known as the Quasar Sabers. All of them derived the power from some kind of mystical source.

However, for the first time in the Power Rangers series, all these things were man-made. The robots, the morphers, the suits, and everything else were made by humans using advanced technology. And then a captain recruited some of the best people to become Power Rangers to fight crimes. I called them “the artificial rangers”. That really didn’t do it for me. People have different preferences, I guess, but that premise really killed it for me. Where’s the myth? Where’s the destiny? What’s so special about a team that’s chosen by some random guy? That just killed it for me. I stopped watching.

Of course, there are a lot more Power Rangers series after that. Some of them were considered good too, I think. But I got busier and no longer had time to watch TV in those hours. I still catch an episode or two every now and then, but since I am not that familiar with those characters, I am not as invested and don’t care for them as much.

And wow, that has got to be one of the most researched blog post on this blog. And it’s about Power Rangers, of all things. Oh well, who knew? 😀

Twitter

One thing I love about Twitter is that they are short. A lot of times I would have a random idea that just pops into my head. It might be clever. It might be stupid and yet entertaining. It’s something that can’t really be developed into a full story or an article, but it feels sort of brilliant at the moment. So what can I do with the idea? Well, I can post it on Twitter!

For example, I would be reading about someone using “I just need more space” as an excuse for breaking up with his girlfriend, instead of thinking “man, what a lame excuse!” (okay, maybe I did) or “that’s a load of crap”, I thought “You know who would love to see more space? Astronomers and astronauts!”. And then I would proceed to chuckle to myself cuz that thought amused me.

Maybe the fact that English isn’t my first language has something to do with it. I often see weird associations between words that other people just wouldn’t see. I remember once I was playing an improv game where there’s a cast member hosting a party and has to guess the identities of his guests. One of them was Sherlock Holmes. When the party host was having a hard time guessing it, I did not come into the scene to do detective stuff, or talk to some Dr. Watson or anything. Instead, I came in as the landlord and said, “I heard you will be going on a vacation, so I want to give you this reminder: be SURE to LOCK your HOMES.” See? Nobody else would come up with something like that.

So, since there are weird ideas (often play-on-words) that pop into my head all the time, I figure I would put down those thoughts somewhere. And Twitter is perfect for that. So here’s a collection of some of them. If you already follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably seen many of these and hopefully found them somewhat amusing.

  • An astronaut said he wanted to break up with his girlfriend. Girlfriend asked why. He said he just needs more space.
  • A juice blender was broken. When you turn it on, all it does is vibrate and does not blend. It was sold to James Bond.
  • Charlie was a baby boomer. He escaped from prison one day but cops are not worried, They knew that when a boomer ran, he always came back.
  • Bob always have lots of dead lines to meet. Bob is a telephone line repairman.
  • The package has arrived and the online tracking system said it’s signed by “front door”. Teaching my door to write finally paid off.
  • A forbidden fruit a day keeps the doctor away.
  • When you say “hehe”, it’s a very light laugh because it has a combined mass of 8.005204 amu.
  • I am bad at geography but at least I don’t think America is India. How come he gets a day named after him?
  • Did you know? You can’t spell “fine art” without “fart”
  • Also, you can’t spell “bar food” without “barf”
  • Don’t talk to walls. They don’t have ears. Try corn instead.
  • A donkey cloned himself. A horse saw it and said “nice ass”. The donkey said “Yep, I totally made an ass out of myself.”
  • The book title “The Old Man and the Sea” provides subtle linguistic cues that makes old people want to go on a cruise.
  • If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a fake picture is equivalent to an one-thousand-word lie.
  • I am a radical person. I get to the root of everything, no matter how complex, whether real or imaginary.
  • Just realized that “Connecticut” contains both the word “connect” and “cut”.
  • What is love? Good question. The answer is, of course, “baby, don’t hurt me. Don’t hurt me, no more.” Simple.
  • The dive board is an invention based on humans’ primitive desire to jump off a cliff.
  • When musicians look at the FACE, they can read between the lines.

And I will write more whenever I am inspired.

Goodbye 2009, Hello 2010

Probably every blog in the world has a post like this today or yesterday. So how can I not do one? (You know… since I always follow the trend… Yeah, right.)

Year 2009 hasn’t been that great for me and many of my friends, from what I’ve been hearing. The economy was bad, the two parties were fighting in the congress (and everywhere else), and the country was gloomy overall. I was laid off at first, and then brought back the next day to see if we could come up with a product to keep the company going. Before that was finished, we got a client and I started doing iPhone application development. I am making relatively steady income now, but for a span of several months, I had no income. At least things worked out now. November and December was crazy busy but it should get better.

I have no new year resolutions, since I know I don’t tend to keep them. The ones I do get done usually has nothing to do with whether I started doing it at New Year’s time or not. So I am not going to make any new year resolutions here. I do have a few plans in mind. You will know when I put things into gear.

As for puppetry stuff, I only did one video this year. I did, however, finally took a TV puppetry class. It was fun and I learned a lot. I highly recommend it for whoever wants to learn about this stuff. I would also like to put it to use in 2010 and make more videos. Oh, and I got the DVD for the student film that I puppeteered for. Will post footages once I get my editing software problem fixed. Also I saw myself on TV for like a fraction of a second. And I recorded bus safety instructions. Those were some of the random things that happened in 2009.

Many bloggers list their favorite posts for the year. My favorite posts this year are actually not the puppetry posts, but the silly stories that I started posting on this blog. Back in college, I wrote a bunch of comedic scenes that were performed on stage. And now, I am writing more silly stories and posting them on my blog. I simply have a hard time writing stories that has a normal plot line. In fact, I was already writing silly sketches in elementary school. I would write them and give them to my classmates to read during recess. I still have those sketches on my shelf. I can’t help it. Somehow everything I write came out sort of goofy. Maybe it was me. Actually, it was definitely me.

So here are some of my favorite posts from 2009:

The Origin of Slutty Halloween Costumes
Yes, there is an explanation, a historical one. Yes, I made it up. Duh.

Sledgehammer
This is a story about the joy of sledgehammers. I love writing stories that look silly but are kind of meaningful if you try to assign meaning to it.

Play Him Off
This is a story inspired by Keyboard Cat. It’s full of stupid puns. Oh, how I love stupid puns.

Why Old People Take Cruises
Again, I love explaining things and sharing my (strange) insights with you.

Friendster Messages from Quintuplets
This has got to be the kinkiest post on this blog. I mean, how often do I write about sexy quintuplets, right?

Entering Puppet-Design Contest
This was fun. And I am evil. And I would like to thank all that helped out.

On December 31, 2009, I tweeted for the 2000th time. It wasn’t intentional. I just realized that I had 1999 tweets when the year was almost over. I did not know I tweet so much.

And finally, I would like to thank everyone that commented here throughout 2009, especially Melissa, Na, Vered, and Michelle. Can you believe we’ve been visiting each other’s blog for a year (and most likely longer than that)?

Hope 2010 is a good one! 😀

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