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Wickensworth

trollforceTroll Force
Star Pics, Inc., 1992

I wasn’t sure if these cards would be based on the troll dolls popular around this period, or some other sort of trolls, and I’m honestly not sure what in my heart I was hoping for. But the only way I could have possibly been more disappointed is if actual trolls jumped out of the package and started biting me.

(Continued)


80s90scards

Every once in a while I see something that reminds me that I have a website. Usually I can safely ignore these feelings of guilt and neglect, but sometimes a sense of profound obligation overwhelms me. In Brooklyn I saw a store selling tons of trading cards from the ’80s and ’90s, which are provably worthless. Factoring in inflation, the price of Alf cards, for example, are actually cheaper now than they were in 1987. It seemed like a shrewd little investment.

There was a voice in my head telling me to ignore these cards, to grow up, that we had to go get brunch. But I ignored my girlfriend and rifled through the boxes upon boxes of trading cards, purchasing ten packs that called out to me most privately. This took a great deal of time, and an even greater measure of focus, having to tune out complaints of hunger pains and various cruel threats. I told her we might need to cancel brunch altogether and just have an early brinner.

In this special series, I will examine these trading cards pack by pack, highlighting a couple cards from each for closer examination. Most of these cards come from the very early ’90s, unless they contain bubble gum, in which case they are from the ’80s. There must have been a specific day somebody over at Topps realized that including a comestible in a pack of trading cards was disgusting. This gum came off the assembly line stale, and by the time the sticks wound up in your hands they were in a state of rigor mortis, no more chewable than a butter knife. Today in 2013 they have engendered an evolved civilization of extremophiles who know only darkness and worship of their mighty god Alf. But I’m pleased to report that at least now the gum has a little flavor.

(Continued)


I was up at 4am last night, assaulted by an insane idea. I am certain it is simultaneously the best and the most idiotic idea I’ve ever had.

The idea was to organize the largest audience wave in history—the sort normally performed by the drunken spectators of a tedious baseball game. But for this wave, all of the United States would be encouraged to participate.

It would start on the eastern edge of Maine, upon the conclusion of a special opening ceremony describing shared unity, brotherhood, etc., etc. I don’t think we’d even have to invite U2—I think they’d just show up.

From there the wave would move westward in a great sweeping longitudinal line. How it would work is you’d download an app, which will use your geolocation to determine when it’s your turn to perform the wave. If you don’t have a smart phone, you could just log into the website, enter your location, and figure out when it was your scheduled time. Both the app and the website would be called “Home of the Wave.”

The contiguous United States are 2,880 miles across. I think you could reasonably expect an audience wave to move at like 30MPH, just faster than the limits of human footspeed. So we’re looking at 96 hours. I don’t necessarily expect people to set their alarms for like 5am so that they can participate, but you can’t simply halt the wave at night; that defeats the purpose of a wave. So if you live in the areas the wave passes through at night, you’re kind of fucked. The other option would be to have a really fast wave, like a jet plane, so that it can be completed in a single day. I am also open to this kind of wave.

Hawaii and Alaska can participate, too, but honestly by that point I don’t think anybody would care. I don’t necessarily expect a very high participation rate among Hawaiians, but maybe if they can set down their coconut bongs long enough, we’ll make it through Honolulu. Meanwhile, Alaska is not really populated enough on its own. I imagine just a series of isolated Alaskans haphazardly standing up and sitting down across the countryside, which kind of shits on the whole idea of symbolic unity.

I know what you’re thinking, and I hear you. The biggest problem would be engagement. Even I would be hesitant to participate, and I organized the fucking thing. I think it’s one of those things where if you have a few other friends participating, you might as well participate too, and pretty soon just about every able body is on board, and you’re kind of just an asshole if you sit it out. There might be a few traffic accidents as the wave crosses interstate highways and drivers temporarily let go of their steering wheels, but I do think they’re partially to blame for not pulling over and taking the wave seriously.

Meanwhile—and this is where the idea turns from nocturnal whimsy to deranged delusion—meanwhile, although the giant audience wave would ostensibly be a beautiful symbolic gesture, a coming together of all Americans regardless of color and creed, both the app and the website would contain advertisements. “Home of the Wave” is an absolute cash cow because the demographic is everyone. I’d donate a token amount to this or that charity—throw some retarded kids a bone—but I’d also keep an absolute shit-ton of money and retire upon the succession of the wave.

Regardless, if the wave is successful, we can then organize a tremendous global Worldwide Wave. It’s a bit fucked up, though, because people near the poles would have to perform a really, really slow wave to keep pace. Like if there’s anybody in some sort of Arctic research station, they’d essentially just be holding their arms up the entire time. I guess it’s OK if they just hold one arm up and continue working—I think that’s fine. God forbid we set back their precious ice research or whatever the fuck they think they’re doing up there.

The Worldwide Wave will be the ultimate execution of an absurd vision. As the wave sweeps across the globe, I imagine soldiers putting down their arms, a temporary succession of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, a respite from riots in Turkey. This would be the wave that quelled wars, bonded religions, and taught us all about our shared heritage. There may be language barriers, and there’d doubtless be dead pockets as the wave sailed through leper colonies. But I really think we could make it around the globe. Compared to this, the lighting of the Olympic torch will seem as tawdry and pathetic as a Mexican donkey show.


Everything bagels are a complete joke. The Einstein Bros can go fuck each other if they think rolling a bagel around in birdseed constitutes “everything.” “Here you go, sir! Some poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and a few scabs of onion. There, that’s everything!” Um no that is not everything. That’s actually far closer to nothing than to everything. You’re three items away from nothing, but like a hundred items away from everything. You’ve successfully created a nothing bagel. Are there holes in your bagels, or holes in your fucking head? Where’s my everything bagel?

Imagine going to Subway and ordering a turkey club with everything, and the guy just throws a couple red onions and green peppers and a few squirts of honey mustard on top of your turkey. “There you are, that’s everything! Three items!” Nobody would stand for this. People would yell, “Is this a joke? What country am I in? I asked for everything, not everything you can grab in the next three seconds. Go stick your head in that warming oven, you little dipshit.”

It’s not that I’m holding bagel manufacturers to literally “everything,” as in every conceivable food item, like creamed corn and marshmallows and those weird Japanese wafer candies. An actual “everything” bagel would be fucking disgusting. But you’ve left off a ton of entirely conventional bagel items. Where’s my blueberries, my strawberries, my cinnamon, my raisins? Would it kill you to put some Asiago cheese on this bitch? No wonder you people are considered stingy.


Too often kids are told platitudes like, “If your friends can’t accept you for who you are, they aren’t really your true friends.” Hang on a minute there, let’s not be too hasty eliminating potential friends. Maybe some of your classmates aren’t the platonic ideal of a “true friend,” but you’re not exactly living in an enchanted realm of friendship in which endless streams of fun-loving peers are all clamoring to embark with you on a magical journey to friendship island. Maybe a “true friend” wouldn’t ever talk about you behind your back or sleep with your girlfriend, but if you limited yourself to “true friends” you’d maybe have two real friends over the course of your entire childhood. So you can either become some sort of highly-principled friendship martyr who spends most of his time by himself enumerating the many reasons you can’t be friends with your classmates, or you can swallow your pride and befriend a few people who occasionally cause you psychological harm. This is the real world, not the Babysitter’s Club.

To put this another way (and please feel free to share this with your children): if your friends aren’t always there when you need them, it’s because that’s their prerogative and sometimes they have other shit to do. They’re your friends, not your AA sponsors. Sometimes this is your fault; perhaps they shouldn’t accept you for who you are because who you are is irritating and makes others feel uncomfortable. But more often it’s purely a function of arithmetic. When you’re a young child, your friends are really just random miscreants who happen to share coincident geometry, often localized in a tiny broke-ass little classroom of 30 snotty little children. 15 of these changelings are going to be the opposite gender and thus ill-suited for true long-term friendship. Another three or four are going to be compulsive liars, bullies, tyrants, psychopaths. A solid two or three are going to be under-diagnosed special needs children who still wear diapers, or who still should be wearing diapers based on how often they seem to shit their pants. By the time you get to a workable group of potential friends, you’re down to a meager handful of motley little children. Assuming this slim remainder doesn’t preemptively reject you (definitely not a guarantee), are you really going to be all that concerned if they’re a little judgmental or sometimes publicly humiliate you? Your friends aren’t always going to have your back; sometimes they’ll even stab you in it — sometimes literally with a sharpened pencil. That doesn’t mean they’re not your friends, it just means that the world is complicated than Thomas the Tank Engine led you to believe. Welcome to kindergarten, bitch.


There may only be two or three people reading this, but I have elected to begin updating my website once again. It’s difficult for me to follow through with that, so please forgive me if I’m currently lying to your face. I have also created a twitter account, @Wickensworth. I will tweet as an accompaniment to the website, because it’s easier for quick, meaningless word blasts that don’t always make sense and that may not hold up to closer scrutiny.

Also, here’s a link to a website somebody created based on my review of my cat: ReviewofmyCat.com.


Because of time constraints, today’s edition of Mailbag Monday features only one email. Off to a good start!

I couldn’t help but notice on your board games article (http://ekarj.com/boardgames.htm) that entertainment was said to have been invented in the early ’90s. I was wondering if you might please pin-point the exact moment for us – was it the opening of “Terminator 2″?

Perhaps the release of the Super NES console? My guess is the world tour of Vanilla Ice. That was a good one.

Please get back to me and let me know the exact moment that entertainment came into existence. Thanks for your time!

-Brandon Mullis

Entertainment made huge advancements with Super Soakers (in 1990), Super Mario Kart (1992), and Jurassic Park (1993), overcoming a huge setback from Pogs in the early 90s. Its arrival in the states, however, can ultimately be traced back to the premier of America’s Funniest Videos in January of 1990 (though the Japanese had a working prototype of entertainment as early as 1975).

America’s Funniest Videos offered a barrage of 30-second home video clips featuring toddlers smearing peas over their faces, abusive fathers knocking over Christmas trees, children careening off sleds and into the woods—it was all hilarious, and inexplicably Bob Saget’s obnoxious high-pitched inner monologues only made it better. “Oh, look at me, I’m a baby crawling around in the snow! Oh boy, this snow sure looks like a nice snack, I think I’ll have a bite or two! Oh, shit, here comes a dog.” Bob Saget could narrate the inner monologues of characters in Schindler’s List and it would become hilarious. “La-da-da, I wonder where this train is going? Uh-oh!”


Beginning next week I’m going to attempt to update this site every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. To meet this quota some of my entries might be insipid or baffling, or just conceptually lazy. For example, I’m instituting Mailbag Mondays. Each Monday I’ll be answering two emails, some of which have been stockpiled since my last edition of Letters. If you don’t want me answering dated questions about Octomom or the 2008 democratic primaries, you can also send me fresh emails at wickensworth@gmail.com. The first Mailbag Monday will take place today, because today is Thursday.

Email #1

I remember the internet in 1996 I was 14 at the time. I just got a 486 running windows 3.1 with a 14.4 kbs modem which was fast at the time. I used prodigy to get on (which has long time dissapeared from the isp seen). I was trying to remember what it was like back then, so I googled the phrase “what was the internet like in 1996″ and your site came up. Thanks for gathering up all that data and displaying the embryonic state of the internet brings back very old memories. I can’t believe how amatuerish the websites were for those huge corporations like McDonalds were. When was your first exposure to the internet?

–Bob Mcfar

The first time I saw the internet was in 6th grade, which would have been 1993-94. My teacher forced us to watch him go online, but there weren’t any websites or anything. I think he just used Usenet or some archaic chat interface to talk with some random loser from Hong Kong about plate tectonics. I’m sure everybody in the classroom just had blank faces. It was like, “Yeah, hey, this is great. I liked the internet better when it was called the telegraph.”

Really, though, I didn’t understand what the internet was either before or after this demonstration. At some point I recall conflating the idea of the internet with my interpretation of the phrase “virtual reality.” The internet in my head was an imaginary computer world through which you traversed using a virtual identify. It was kind of like that cartoon ReBoot, and I eagerly awaited the advent of “Internet” so that I could begin building up my virtual reputation. But by 1996 it became apparent that my version of “Internet” did not actually exist, nor was it ever purported to exist, and that I’d made it up to cope with the fact that I didn’t understand computer technology, or even to some extent the premise of ReBoot.

 

This was how I expected to be greeted when I first logged onto “Internet”

 

Email #2

WHY DO YOU TORTURE US WITH YOUR SPONTANEOUS LEAVE OF ABSENCE FROM eKARJALA?
At least leave a small note that you’d like to abandon us, faithful readers.
Well, have a great day Mr. Man Eddie Karjala Sir!
I hope you’re having a great life out there in the real world!
Outside of this stalker filled cyberspace environment people call, “the internets”.

–eKarj fAnGuRl, DeeTee

I could claim that my multiyear absenteeism is a loyalty test to determine who my truly dedicated readers are, but that would just be an attempt to obfuscate my indolence. The honest answer is simply that my enthusiasm for this site is cyclical. Having said that, I think I’ll still go with the loyalty test thing. If you’re currently reading this, thank you. You’ve proven you care. It’s a little technique I learned from my family. They know that no matter how much they ignore me, I’ll still show up at their house every Christmas, peering in through their front window as they exchange gifts.

As I said previously, beginning next Monday your loyalty will be rewarded with thrice-a-week updates. I may not last more than a week or two—I may not even last more than a day. But if I decide that this updating schedule isn’t feasible, if I once again find myself wanting to cease posting for an indefinite length of time, you can be sure that I’ll do so completely without warning, like a little bitch.

 

Here’s this picture again


Last year I decided to purchase a cat, who I named Pippi. I selected her because she seemed relatively docile and had an endearing appearance. Had I somehow been able to choose a cat based on future personality, I would probably have gone in a different direction. I might have even taken one of those nasty full-grown cats with patches of missing fur and an upper respiratory infection.

Here is my one-year consumer review of Pippi.

(Continued)


I’m pretty sure I accidentally used advanced SEO tactics in my Land Before Time article, because even years later it continues to generate comments from the world’s most ardently retarded Land Before Time fans. These people hate me very deeply. I used to sync my phone up with the comment RSS feed so that I was alerted whenever somebody left a comment, but I kept being woken up in the middle of the night from random people calling me a moron. If I wanted people to insult me while I tried to sleep I’d move back in with my parents.

I still do read, or at least politely skim, every comment left on this site. Most people are friendly, but there are scores of others who have the most heartbreakingly confused world view. I want to pat these people on their heads and tell them everything’s going to be OK, even though I know in my heart that their lives are going to be very challenging. You can read all the feedback on the Land Before Time article here, but I’ve taken the time to assemble the 10 most breathtaking comments:

#177 jere wrote:

where can i buy all of ( Land Before Time ) DVD at ?

The fuck should I know, Jere? Amazon? I’ll never be able comprehend this sort of comment. Does he think I made these movies? Or that I’m some sort of wholesale supplier? Where did Jere even get the money to purchase all the Land Before Time DVDs? I don’t think I could afford that. He’s got to be receiving some sort of government check. This guy literally doesn’t know how to participate in the system of commerce.

It’d be one thing if he was just computer illiterate and didn’t understand how to do a Google search or check eBay, but not only was he able to find my article, he figured out how to leave a comment on it. How am I even supposed to get back to him? Leave another comment? Has he been continuously refreshing the comments page for the past year, waiting for somebody to tell him where to buy a DVD? I should put an Amazon.com link in the article to start receiving referral income from an army of Jeres, but I’m too lazy to monetize my site in this fashion. I’m not even sure Jere would understand what to do once he arrived at Amazon. Jere, if you’re reading this, here’s how you buy all the Land Before Time DVDs: You send me money. They cost $1000. You send me $1000. You give me your money and I will have the dinosaur cartoons sent directly to your adult care facility.

#78 Why wrote:

Little foot isnt going to kill the little sharptooth named chomper. The movie ended the way it should have chomper where he belonged. It would Its a film for kids, pop out a few of your own and maybe youd understand, grow up and stop whining over kid movies. What next time r u gonna write about how ridiculous and bothersome a pineapple under the sea housing a frycook is?!

Hey, asshole, I haven’t seen the ending of that film yet. I didn’t know about the twist ending where the little sharptooth named Chomper goes back to the very place he belongs. I really thought Littlefoot was going to bash in Chomper’s skull with a crowbar. I still think he should have, and no amount of kids popping out of me will change that. That baby sharptooth might be cute, but he’s going to become very dangerous as an adult. You can say I’m being immature, but I saw the first film. The adult sharptooth tried to kill Littlefoot. He tried to kill him and eat him. I really don’t think you understand that. If Littlefoot ever sees that baby sharptooth again, he and his friend should take turns curb stomping him.

#59 Jeff wrote:

Well I bought the first 11 of them on VHS. I’ve seen 10 of them so far. Now Chapter 14 is coming. Anyway I watch a movie like that once and wait for the next otherwise it gets a bit redundant. Anyway I’d watch it not as a fan but more like a What The Heck sort of thing. I’m just collecting them to build the set up because if eventually I sell them off they’d be worth a lot of money together with all 14 or so movies collected together AND because I have the first 11 on VHS that makes it more valuable and rare as it’s a full set so if not to watch regularly it’s a hobby. Because with each released chapter the value goes up given they’ve been active for 20 years now. It makes sense to launch #14 on the big 2-0.

I genuinely believe that sometimes people begin commenting on my website, and then somehow forget they’re leaving a comment on a website and just start aimlessly indulging in some sort of internal monologue about whatever shit is going through their head. “Well I have 4 of the board games mentioned in your article. My uncle had a closet in the hallway where he kept them. Anyway sometimes he would give me Juicy Juice and we’d play Chutes and Ladders while I drank the Juicy Juice. Anyway my favorite Juicy Juice flavor is grape, but I also like raspberry.” Jeff sounds pretty sweet, but it’s August right now and I can’t stop imagining him wearing one of those winter jacket with mittens strung to the sleeves.

# 196 Becky wrote:

Don’t you have anything better to do than make a website dissing the best classical series in history? Childish. You can tell that you haven’t watched all the movies. So don’t make fun os something great. Get a life.

An argument might be made that The Land Before Time constitutes a “classical series,” but you’re putting a tremendous strain on the word “classical.” If somebody introduces themselves at a party as a classical scholar, they’re probably talking about ancient Greek literature and won’t know how to answer your probing questions about the Tinysaurus invasion. But even if The Land Before Time could be considered a classical series, to call it the best such series in history is a pretty substantial claim. Becky is implying that these films are better than Godfather 1 & 2, Krzysztof Kieślowski’s The Three Colors Trilogy, Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns. If true—it’s a longshot, but if true—The Land Before Time series represents the most significant undiscovered cultural achievement in the history of the Western world. But it’s also possible that Becky is an imbecile.

#135 Andrew wrote:

seriously you wasted time writing all that? The only reason i am evening responding to this is the amount of fuck yous and mother fucks in that? Honestly if your mother was so hard up she couldnt fuckin by you anything but land before time movies thats her fault. Maybe if you saw the damn movie and how it affected a child and what the child got from it rather than taking drugs and trying to write something “logical” you would understand why the sequels made so much money. I have read by far many more write ups that actually did have me laughing. But your opinion and cander in your so called “professional” writing leaves me wondering how much better my 3 year old can evaluate a movie. You call yourself a writer

Thanks for writing in, Andrew. I never made the claim that my article on The Land Before Time series constitutes professional writing. The New Yorker continues to send me form rejection letters. Your allegation that I take drugs is very hurtful, and I don’t appreciate you bringing my mother into this, but your point is well taken. It is true that I probably relied a little too much on vulgarity in this particular article, and I’ll try to tone it down in subsequent pieces. Thanks again for the comment, and be sure to keep reading!

Oh, by the way! You’re a shithead and so is your kid.

# 187 Beatrice wrote:

YOU WANT TO RUINED MY CHILDHOOD…you do not but every movie there’s a value in it…if you have a brain??? (i don;t think so, huh?)so just YOU JUST FUCKING UGLY!!! bitter, maybe your childhood is not beautiful…

No Beatrice! I really thought Beatrice had eviscerated me with the wisecrack about missing a brain, but when she blindsided me with the ugly comment I burst into tears. I’m very sorry I tried to ruin your childhood, Beatrice. I hope you manage to enjoy the remainder of it.

#80 Cheryl wrote:

GESH!!! The Land before Time was created for TODDLERS “not” ADULTS now if you really wanted to show your vast wisdom and expertise you could have been keeping a running commentary on the American Investment Bankers that would have really kept you busy. One reason why the American economy is in a mess because people like you keep so many mired in superficial muck. ps. you could take a few lessons from the characters in the series.

I can receive my fair share of criticism, but I do have to take exception with Cheryl’s allegation that my article on The Land Before Time was indirectly responsible for the banking collapse. I’m not saying I disagree, I’m just saying it’s a little cruel to point it out. However, the rest of her advice is sensible. Beginning tomorrow the focus of eKarjala will shift and this site will become an ongoing investigation of American investment banking. It was very stupid of me not to make this change earlier.

#192 merla wrote:

i love the lan before time so much.it is
the best movie i have ever saw.and all i
want is for you to keep makeing the
land before time and to start showing it
on tv.

It’s obviously possible that Merla is 8 years old, but by the time I was old enough to compose a complete paragraph I could definitely distinguish between people who made something and people who merely made mention of it. Like if I saw some other kids playing with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I wouldn’t have ran up to them and started shouting: “I love those turtles so much! You should make more shows about Donatello, he’s my favorite turtle!” Not only would I have recognized how inappropriate this would be, but Donatello wasn’t even close to being my favorite turtle. So I don’t think Merla’s age has anything to do with her confusion. It’s more likely—and far more disturbing—that Merla is in her 30s and works somewhere where her everyday decisions have a direct impact on our lives. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if she was a television network executive.

#42 Anonymous wrote:

This is the most retarded thing i’ve ever seen. all the sequesl were great, if you want to rant no one gives a shit so why are you even putting your 2 cents in dumb ass. If you don’t like the sequels, then go cry yourself to sleep because more than double the people who hate the sequels love the sequels. Fag.

I’m not about to get into an argument with somebody who obviously double-majored in mathematics and rhetorical debate, but I still refuse to cry myself to sleep just because I don’t like The Land Before Time series. Not only does the alcohol make crying myself to sleep virtually impossible, I don’t necessarily think it’s shameful for an adult to dislike children’s cartoons about dinosaurs. On the contrary, if I loved The Land Before Time sequels and had a little racecar bed with Land Before Time bed sheets, I would probably cry myself to sleep every night as I hugged and petted my Littlefoot plush doll. But I would never mention my infatuation to anybody. It would be my deepest, darkest secret, and if anybody asked me whether or not I liked The Land Before Time I’d laugh in their face. I’d probably even go so far as to make an article on my website making fun of The Land Before Time sequels, just to keep people from guessing the shameful truth.

#206 baby_dinosaurs wrote:

:( so this post made me quite upset. i actually love the land before time. i have the 8 on VHS and the rest on DVD. i later upgraded the 8 to DVDs because my video tapes were getting ruined (with the help of me watching them all the time. lol) little foot is my favorite. ive had the stuffed animal of him since i was 3 yrs old. and now love stereotype “long necks” over any other type of dinosaur. i agree that its a little unusual that a series would continue on for years. but when you have such a strong fan list backing you up, and Stephen Spielberg producing these films, you cant really go wrong. i hope they’d continue to make LBT movies. like i said, i own all 13 and sometimes have huge land before time parties (where i watch all 13. lol) not getting a new DVD every few years, will make me disappointed. because they’ve become such a big part of my life. by the way, im 18 now. and yes, i love the baby dinosaurs. :)

I may be getting old, but after reading this comment I now believe the age of consent should be at least 22. This poor girl is 18. Somebody could use a Land Before Time DVD to lure her into a white van and it’d be perfectly legal. If your girlfriend hosts Land Before Time parties, guess what—that’s statutory rape. I don’t care how old she is, it’s statutory rape and you’re going to jail.