Tag Archives: action figure

Return of the Star Wars Figures

On a previous Saturday I admitted to the crime of using 12-inch action figures to play the Star Wars role-playing game.  The Dungeons and Dragons RPG world was horrified.  You are supposed to use scale-appropriate metal miniatures.  How can you simulate combat without small figures on a grid?  I have to confess.  It was via x’s and dots on graph paper.  But we didn’t use the action figures to represent ranges and lines of site in combat.  And one of my players was my niece, an actual girl.  So, I guess, to be honest, we were actually playing with dolls.

But it helps to have a lot of dolls.

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Emperor Palpatine, Snow Trooper, Obi-Wan, Jar Jar, Quigon, Droid Soldier, and home-made Mace Windu

We started play after the first two movies in the Prequel Trilogy.

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Wicket, Imperial Walker, Astroboy (What’s he doing there?) Darth Vader, Little Anakin, and Boba Fett.

We got creative with stories.

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Jango Fett, General Grievous, and Admiral Akbar

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Anakin Skywalker

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Robot from Lost in Space, R2D2, Slave Girl Leia, and a Green Orion Slave Girl Dancer from Star Trek

So there is evidence available to my offspring to help them have me committed to an institution.  The truth is, these are not even all of my Star Wars Dolls.  So this morning’s confession session is now at an end, though all of the horrible truth is not yet revealed.

 

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Rise of the Bargain Bin Goon

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One of the biggest problems with being an action figure aficionado with raging hoarding disorder is the fact that every new dolly has it’s own personality… and sometimes its own evil agenda.  Once you own too many of these things, especially the evil ones, it is no longer possible to properly pay attention to what they are up to.

The last installment of Action Figure Comics had the hero, Captain Action (specifically Captain Carl Action) thwarting the evil Doctor Evil by taking away his evil removable brain.  (I know I use the word evil far too often in describing the evil Doctor Evil, but he is also repetitively redundant.)  I had thought this Achilles’ heel of Dr. Evil’s… er, rather, this Achilles’ brain of the evil Doctor Evil was just too convenient a solution to the problem presented by this irrepressible evil bad guy.  But as a rule I find ignorance is bliss.     I know now that I was wrong.  That was a terrible rule to follow.  As a former teacher you are supposed to know that ignorance is not bliss… it is evil.  After 31 years of fighting the War Against Ignorance in my classroom, you would think I would remember this.  I should’ve been watching Emperor Ming of Mongo more closely… or should that be closlier?  Battle scars from the War have left me unsure.

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One has to recall that Evil Emperor Ming is really just another incarnation of the evil Doctor Evil under his mask… although not one with a removable brain.  Notice that his minion, the evil Doctor Mindbender is no less evil when it comes to redundant use of the word “evil”… and he even commits the further sin of repetitively saying “no-good goody-goody”.  “Ach!  Ja!  Evil use of bad grammar makes my battle scars hurt more!” cries the former teacher driven to write this hopeless drivel.

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What’s this?  He means to destroy the new bargain bin wrestler doll… I mean, action figure that I just bought?  I had meant to keep that as a mint in box collector’s item until the lucha wrestling fans of Sin Cara are as old as I am now.  Then I will find one of them with hoarding disorder and sell it for possibly eight dollars.  I will have made a whole dollar by the time I’m 109!

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Yes, I should’ve been watching that dang evil Emperor Ming more closely!  Now he has ruined my mint-in-box action figure by taking it out of the box.  What bad thing will he do next?  Stay tuned to this goofy old blog.  You never know, I may actually continue this story if I can keep better track of what these goofy little dolls are doing.

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Fragile People

This is an old journal piece I wrote in 2007 when I was a jobless substitute teacher.  I found it, read it, and decided it is still relevant to today when I am soon going to have to give up teaching and retire due to ill health.  It was written during one of those times when I was made of glass.

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After the student at Virginia Tech cracked into pieces and ended thirty-two lives, shattering an entire university community, I began seriously thinking about how breakable human beings can be, and breakable in so many different ways.  I can remember times in my own life when I was the boy made of glass.  I was cracked and crumbled when I was ten years old because a fifteen-year-old neighbor boy sexually abused me.  I was ground into shards again when the Wicked Witch of Creek Valley refused to see any redeeming qualities in my teaching ability, and zeroed me out on an evaluation so badly that no one will ever hire me again for the one thing in life I’ve been trained for and believe that I am good at.  (In the Summer of 2007, Garland ISD actually did give me another teaching job… the fools.)  The depression from each of those crackings was very nearly fatal.

Don’t despair for me, though.  I have always only been made of glass for brief periods of time in my life.  The rest of the time I am mostly made of spoof and rubber.  Stuff bounces off me, and I learned from my grandfather (the one I always believed was secretly God in human form) how to laugh at everything, especially my troubles.  Those of us who know the loving God (no matter what name we are willing to call Him by) are harder to break than most people.  That belief, especially that part that galvanizes and changes the very stuff we are made of, helps life’s barbs and darts and plain ol’ rocks to bounce off like we are Superman’s sillier clone with very little harm actually done.

Not all people seem to be like that, however.  I have been teaching hard of late (in spite of the Wicked Witch of Creek Valley), doing substitute work in Reading, Science, Special Ed, and even as a test administrator for the Texas state academic exams, the TAKS Tests (the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, though the name is perfect because they are really more like sitting on TACKS while paying your income TAX).  In fact, I am a substitute Science teacher as I ink these very words (on paper, you know, because subs are not generally smart enough to be trusted with computers).  As a substitute I have encountered more fragile kids in one year than I ever knew existed when I was a regular classroom teacher.  There are more breakable people in schools than you can count on Robert Malthus’ abacus.

At the TAKS-celebration teacher-student basketball game, I was called on to sit in a quiet room with two unique specials who couldn’t stand to be around crowds or noise (noise being a constant condition in schools that one can only rarely get away from).  The girl, who throws fits if she thinks you are looking at her too much, sat quietly with the computer, looking up Pokemon episodes and repeating dialogue aloud from each in funny voices meant only to entertain herself.  The boy, who goes into the fetal curl and weeps, sat at a table with a book on origami, happily folding up an army of alien space cruisers to stuff into his notebooks and leave a trail of wherever he was soon to go.  Neither one of them will ever damage anyone but themselves if they get broken by life, yet each is so fragile that mere noise can scatter their flower petals.  Hothouse violets with no tolerance for much of anything.  I suppose I should feel honored that the school felt confident enough in my abilities at classroom management that I could handle these two delicate blossoms at the same time while everyone else was off having fun of a different kind.

I’ve seen violent and angry broken people too.   I once referred a boy to the school counselor because he was fantasizing about blowing people’s heads off with a shotgun in the pages of his class journal assignment.  The counselor back then, in a pre-9-11 world, said there was really nothing that could be done about something that was in a boy’s private journal.  Three years later that boy went to jail for beating his girlfriend’s youngest daughter almost to death.  The child was only two years old.  It put a few cracks in my own armor to learn about that, knowing what I thought I knew about that boy.  Sometimes we are not Superman and the bullets don’t bounce off.

One of the most dangerous sorts of glass people are the girls made of glass (at least in the opinion of one goofy male teacher that didn’t marry until age 37).  At least three times girls fell in love with me during the course of a school year.  All three reached a point in their fantasy lives where they believed they required love and sex back from me.   I wondered to myself if they had severe vision problems or were just plain crazy, but all three were lovely girls, and smart, a joy to teach… at least until that love bug bit ’em.  The first two ended up hating me and becoming discipline problems for the remainder of the year.  The third, well… she was just too perfect.  She listened to the “you are more like a daughter to me, and I’m marrying someone else” speech and only put her sweet head against my shoulder and said to me with tears in her big, brown eyes, “You are the teacher I am going to miss the most when I’m in High School.”  You know, fifteen years later, I still tear up thinking about that one (and not because I married the only woman in the world who is always right about everything and never agrees with me about anything).  Those three girls were all breakable people too, and I had the hammer in my hand on those three occasions.  They are not the type to hurt others either, but I mourn for them, because they all three grew up into beautiful women and are so much smarter now than they were then.

So, what is the main idea out of all this mooning, fluff, and drivel?  Well, I guess that people are all made out glass sometimes, all delicate and easy to destroy.  And you know what?  There are too many angry bulls in this China shop we call our lives.  Too much gets cracked, wrecked, or broken.  If only people could walk through our lives with a bit lighter step… and maybe at least try to be careful!

Now, seven years after writing this piece, I am feeling like I’m made of glass yet again.  I am going to miss being a teacher.  I am going to miss dealing with Fragile People.

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Comic Book Heroes – A is for Aquaman

Today’s Paffooney is a tribute to a childhood hero, Aquaman.   I drew the picture from a comic book inspiration source coming from DC Comics in the 1960’s.  Aquaman is a B-level superhero with not nearly so many fans as the big three, Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman.   He was, however, my second favorite after Spiderman.  He was more important to me than the Avengers.  And this was strange, because I only had the chance to read the sacred comic books in the old barbershop in uptown Rowan.  I only remember about two different issues that I was able to read during the long wait for a haircut.  (Haircuts on Saturday took forever, because all the bald and crew-cut farmers would take forever getting their hair cut.  And they hardly had any hair!   I think the barber cut each hair individually.)

Aquaman and Aqualad would journey together in an incredible undersea world of sea monsters, giant fish, scuba divers, villains like Black Manta, and Mera, a real hot underwater babe.  Topo the octopus could play comic relief by playing musical instruments or getting drunk on old lost kegs of pirate rum.  I became a part of the adventure.  I’m not sure whether I imagined myself more as Aquaman himself, or Aqualad.  Aqualand was dressed all in red and blue, my favorite colors.  I liked his blue swim-trunks.  I myself could never wear swim trunks without a fatal case of embarrassment over my knobby knees and hairy legs.    I admired Aqualad’s smooth and muscled boy-legs, though not without some shame and embarrassment.  Some suggest that the relationship between Aquaman and Aqualad was a homo-erotic thing just like Batman and Robin.   But, hey… NO IT WASN’T!  It was a hero and sidekick that mirrored the complex relationship between a father and son.  My father and I could never talk at any deeper level than Aquaman talked to Aqualad.   Yet my father had super-powers for solving my problems and helping me do things and make things.  Yes, I think I loved Aquaman because he reminded me of my own father in his quiet competence.

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And I had a Captain Action Aquaman costume, a Christmas present and wonderful treasure.  I played with it so much that only the broken trident, mask, and swim fins remain.  The rest was all broken and unraveled and disintegrated from being played with.  The Aquaman in my Captain Action collection has replacement parts in it to make it more complete.  Yes, I spent time and money putting that toy back together so that I might play with it yet again.

So why is the super-powered King of the Sea so important to me?  After all, his super powers are to breath underwater and telepathically talk to fish.  I think, reading back over this stupid little essay, that the most important theme is the father-son thing.    I never owned a single Aquaman comic book as a kid, but I watched him on Saturday morning TV.  He was one of the Superfriends.  And my father had been in the Navy on Aircraft Carriers.  Yes, Aquaman is my favorite because Aquaman is secretly my father.

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