TMNT fail? The new ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ don’t say ‘Cowabunga’ anymore


Everyone’s still concerned that Michael Bay is going to ruin the legacy of ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ with his upcoming reboot where the heroes in a half-shell are an alien race — but a new ‘TMNT’ is on TV, and it’s just as bad. The pizza-loving sewer-residing quartet is back with new Saturday morning cartoons on Nickelodeon, and a lot has changed. 2007’s big-screen disasterpiece ‘TMNT’ was bad enough in changing April O’Neill from a reporter to an archaeologist. Change is inevitable, reboots and remakes are easy money for Hollywood, but this is going too far.

Splinter is no longer a rat that mutated when he came into contact with ooze. He’s a human that mutated into a rat when he was mugged in alley while carrying his pets: four baby turtles.

‘Cowabunga!’ is gone. None of the Ninja Turtles say the catchphrases that made us love them in the ’80s and ’90s. Times change, and it’s understandable that some things would get updated with the new series, but now the hot new catchphrase is ‘booyakasha’… Apparently, they started shooting the series with nothing in the script but then voice actor Greg Cipes (who plays Michelangelo) used the ridiculous NBA Jam-esque word and it has become a part of the show.

Raphael is apparently the best turtle, according to the premiere episode where we’re all re-introduced to the turtles with a twisted new origin story. The show begins with the four teen turtles practicing martial arts in their sewer lair. Leonardo and Raphael best Donatello and Michelangelo, and then Raph beats Leo. Every fan has a favorite (the blue one! the purple one! the orange one! no, the red one!) but the series never led us to believe one was a better fighter than the others. Instead, they all had specific skill sets that made them succeed as a team.

Jason Biggs and Sean Astin. Young viewers might have no idea the ‘American Pie’ star had sex with baked goods or who was ‘Rudy’ (or Samwise Gamgee from the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy), but they are the voices of Leonardo and Raphael, respectively. It’s very distracting to hear recognizable voices as well-established characters, not to mention Biggs has already hurt the show with his racy, very R-rated commentary on Twitter.

Anime graphics. The Ninja Turtles might be popular in Asian markets or with U.S. viewers who also like anime, but they had their own visual look that keeps getting changed with each version of the show. ‘TMNT’ was bad, but the new ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ TV show actually uses anime-like graphics such as an asterisk popping up when someone’s hit — or has a thought. There was a Japanese series called ‘Mutant Turtles: Choujin Densetsu-hen’ that satisfied the anime fans, so why not keep them separate?

Michelangelo has a new weapon. Leo still has his swords (or Katanas), Donny still has a bo (or staff), Raph has his sai — and Mikey has his nunchucks (or nunchaku) but now they apparently have sharp things at the end, like he’s going to whip them around and impale thugs in the head as he does it. The updated weapon is too scary, violent.

And to make matters worse, the show doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. The Sept. 29 premiere episode was the week’s top telecast with kids 2-11 (6.2/2.1 million) and the cable network’s top-rated premiere for an animated series since 2009, reaching nearly 12 million total viewers in its debut weekend. 26 more episodes have been ordered and toys are coming. Cowabunga? Booyakasha?

Is chocolate the opposite of vanilla? Friendly’s says it is

Friendly's sign in Wilbraham, Mass.

Friendly’s headquarters are in Wilbraham, where a sign along the Massachusetts Turnpike greets drivers to “Wilbraham, home of Friendly Ice Cream.”

Let me start by saying I’m a fan of Friendly’s restaurants. I grew up in Massachusetts about an hour from where the company began in Wilbraham, MA, and I have a lot of fond memories of being a kid and going to Sunday brunch with my family, having a Fribble with fluffy pancakes and a Happy Ending for dessert. I still love seeing the Wilbraham Friendly’s sign on the Mass Pike when I’m driving on Rt. 90 from Syracuse to visit family and friends in the Boston area, and I also still dine at the chain occasionally as an adult and look forward to their ice cream creations, from the classic Cone Head to their other sundaes.

But while at a Friendly’s restaurant in Central New York recently, I noticed that the kids’ menu has a crossword puzzle with an interesting clue: “1 Down — The opposite of vanilla.” Sure enough, the corresponding space had nine boxes for the word “chocolate.” Two other clues from Across confirmed the word had to be chocolate as they were for the words “rainbow” and “baseball,” forcing 1 Down to be _ _ O _ _ _ A _ _. (Go ahead and fill the letters in, CHOCOLATE fits.)

Is vanilla the opposite of chocolate? And is chocolate the opposite of vanilla? I’m not sure if I agree.

Ice cream has been around for hundreds of years and different flavors have long existed — Baskin-Robbins had 31 flavors in 1945, so it’s not like chocolate is (or was) the opposite of vanilla by default because of a lack of other flavors. If we’re talking color, cocoa beans are brown and vanilla beans are pale yellow, almost beige — anyone who’s ever had a box of 64 Crayola crayons would be hard-pressed to say brown is the opposite of yellow. And while I’m not a taste connoisseur (despite being hard-of-hearing, the “lose one sense, gain another” adage is mostly a myth) in my personal experience I’ve never eaten chocolate and thought “Man! This is completely the opposite of vanilla!” as both are sweet and not the other classic tastes (sour, bitter, salty, etc).

Friendly's crossword puzzle

A crossword puzzle on a Friendly’s restaurant kids menu suggests chocolate is the opposite of vanilla.

And of course, if we’re accepting Friendly’s premise that vanilla is the opposite of chocolate, then what about other flavors? What’s the opposite of strawberry? Or orange sherbert, or chocolate mint? Would Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food or Half Baked have an opposite? (I guess one could argue Half Baked’s alternative could be Fully Baked or Un-Baked, but that’s still not really an opposite.)

What do you think? Is chocolate the opposite of vanilla?

My Brightest Diamond’s Shara Worden: The most heartbreaking, devastatingly beautiful voice you’ll hear today

My Brightest Diamond's Shara Worden

Shara Worden is an amazing woman. She’s the singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist behind My Brightest Diamond, the artist name she releases music under for Asthmatic Kitty Records. Shara grew up in Oklahama, went to high school in Ypsilanti, Michigan, studied opera in college in Texas, lived in Moscow, NYC… She mixes experimental rock, droning pop, cabaret, chamber music, and her own quirkiness into a sound that’s hard to define — you could call her the female, operatic answer to Radiohead, but that would only scrape the surface.

Her voice is stunning, and her songs are so unique that my only complaint I could ever offer is that sometimes she takes away from own voice with the noise-pop touch she gives her albums. As such, I love it when she performs without any production or effects (or her concerts’ goofy-but-fun costumes).

In a Take Away Show for Blogotheque, Shara crept into a Berlin hotel bar on a Sunday morning to sing “I Have Never Loved Someone,” a track from My Brightest Diamond’s brand-new album All Things Will Unwind. Unlike the album version, she performs accompanied only by her acoustic guitar and it’s just… heartbreaking. She cried after filming this semi-impromptu performance of the song, written for her son, and so did the person filming. It’s beautiful.

Shara Worden performs “I Have Never Loved Someone” acoustic:

As another testament to her amazing vocal talents, one performance I’ve long been a fan of is this YouTube video filmed by a friend in Brazil. She and her husband were at a karaoke bar, just having a good time, and she got up to sing Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.” Yes, it’s originally a Dolly Parton song, but she sang the Whitney version — and crushed it. She was barely even trying (she might have only barely been sober) and her voice still devastates me. She could do an album of all pop covers and it could be the greatest thing anyone’s ever heard.

Shara Worden sings “I Will Always Love You” in a karaoke bar:

Seriously, take some time and check out My Brightest Diamond. It might be hard to get into at times (and I confess, I sometimes skip the tracks on my iPod if I’m not in the mood) but your ears will thank you for listening. And if you find you can’t get enough, Shara has also recorded with Sufjan Stevens, Jedi Mind Tricks and did the song “Seven Years” for the David Byrne-Fatboy Slim rock opera Here Lies Love about Imelda Marcos. There’s also a lot of My Brightest Diamond remixes, too. :)

#snowmageddon? #snowmg? Stop telling lies, this isn’t a blizzard.

Two pictures taken Monday, December 27th in Massachusetts during the "blizzard of 2010," which has snow accumulation of less than the height of an iPhone.

I’m going to tell you something shocking. If you don’t read this, it could kill you. You must stay tuned to this blog, the safety of your children could depend on it. Are you ready for it? Brace yourself.

The… media… exaggerates. Continue reading