Category: Television

He was #1

He was #1

Sometimes you really don’t think about how much of an impact a person has had in your life until you see that name pop up on an obituary.

That happened for me when I saw that Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of Spongebob Squarepants, passed away from ALS complications at 57 today.

Spongebob hasn’t been at the forefront of my mind for a number of years now. If anything I’ve grown to be more resentful and dismissive of the Nickelodeon classic the longer it lives in prime time, because I’m one of those snobs that loves to go on about how the old episodes were great and the new stuff is trash.

Which is objectively true. But I digress.

Just because the modern run of the show isn’t fantastic doesn’t mean the blockbuster of a series didn’t become a classic for nothing.

Almost immediately after Spongebob aired in 1999 (almost 20 years ago — yikes), he became the face of Nickelodeon. Anyone who watched the network at any point in the early aughts would recognize the yellow sponge in everything.

The show has been nominated for and won over 100 awards in its runtime according to imdb, and I would say it’s hard to find a more recognizable voice talent than Tom Kenny in the field of animation.

That sponge is everywhere in our pop culture landscape. Hell they even referenced Squidward in Avengers Infinity War.

We have Stephen Hillenburg to thank for that entry, as well as others like Rocko’s Modern Life.

As usual Variety has a pretty nice article summarizing his overall impact and past far better than I could.

My contribution comes a little more easily from talking about how much Spongebob became an ever-present part of my life without my even realizing it.

Like I mentioned, the older episodes are absolute classics in my mind. Almost word-for-word I could recite the plots that I watched repeatedly on weekend mornings.

The one where Squidward travels through time.

The magic conch shell.

The Mr. Krabs robot.

Long, tan and handsome.

The Alaskan bull worm.

The hash slinging slasher.

The imagination box.

Smitty Werbenjagermanjensen (he was #1).

And of course, my personal favorite episode: Band Geeks.

There are honestly too many to count. Almost all of them, interestingly enough, seemed to involve a number of the most famous Spongebob moments that became memes as the internet grew.

So many memes stemmed out of Spongebob episodes, it honestly feels like one crops up whenever another dies. Those kind of moments have become jokes and references that my friends still pass around to this day.

Slight topic shift. At one point in my life I tried my hands at doing sprite animation. Even went to a summer camp to learn more about the subject with my old friend Mitchell Winn.

One of the first projects I tried was recreating the football halftime scene at the end of Band Geeks using video game sprites.

That scene was so iconic to me that I wanted to capture even a glimmer of its majesty in a medium I’d almost never done anything with before. The project never went very far, but I distinctly recall using the Spriter’s Resource to cast Mario from Superstar Saga as a drummer using a drum set from the Scribblenauts series.

That’s how much of an impact the show had on me.

Just thinking about Spongebob drudged up that old part of me, which also helped me remember the Smash Bros.-themed desktop wallpapers I created.

I’ll have to see if I can find those to show them off, but that’s a post for another day.

I also couldn’t help but think about the Nicktoons Unite game I played on the DS back in the day, namely because it was the Spongebob level I could never beat.

Funnily enough when I tried to look for that game in my collection, all I was able to find were these two Spongebob games that I don’t even remember owning!

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This stupid little sponge was literally everywhere in my life. Seriously.

The day that I’m writing this, Nov. 27, is Giving Tuesday.

Originally I was going to write something promoting the Gladeo donation campaign, but in honor of Stephen Hillenburg I think it would only be right to point out some ALS charities for everyone to donate to.

Unfortunately I don’t know who’s reputable and who isn’t, so I’m going to default to the ALS Association. Go support them in honor of that iconic character living in a pineapple under the sea.

With all that said and done, I can’t think of a better send off for Stephen than this tweet.

Yet another man with a legacy that will live decades beyond his far too early passing. Rest in peace.


Featured Image courtesy of Carlos Cazurro via Wikimedia Commons

Jason and Dara explore ‘America’s Got Talent’

Jason and Dara explore ‘America’s Got Talent’

I don’t know how exactly I got roped into this, but Mom and I have spent a chunk of the day just streaming through the most recent season of America’s Got Talent on Hulu.

She said she’s watching it because there isn’t a whole heck of a lot else on. But also because sometimes you get to watch people pull Howie Mandel on stage and swing a katana at him. Or almost crush him doing motorcycle tricks.

For those of you who aren’t aware, AGT is essentially a reality television competition show in a similar vein as American Idol. Both of which star Simon Cowell as a judge in fact.

But while American Idol is entirely focused on singing (and playing instruments in later seasons), AGT hosts a variety of acts all competing to be the most talented of the Americans.

Sometimes it’s singing. Sometimes it’s dancing. Comedians do schticks. People do horror acts. Or, as I mentioned, sometimes people do things like blind themselves before swinging samurai swords around or complete motorcycle tricks.

My only serious underlying concern with the show is how weird the prospect of having to judge between so many different kinds of acts as if they’re on equal footing to decide what’s the best? Though they’ve been doing it for 13 years now or whatever so I guess I’m just not hip enough to it.

As far as I’m aware our family doesn’t watch this particular reality TV competition show very often. I believe the only time I’ve seen it on in our bourse before was when my grandmother was visiting from Florida. Even so, it has its own entertaining merits.

Whether it be a genuinely impressive performance from, say, a 13-year-old singer that makes you feel as though you’ve done nothing with your life, or it’s just an attempt to do something that winds up being hilarious in how awful it is, the show can be pretty fun to laugh at.

God knows the reality competition shows are far better than the bs reality shows like Jersey Shore. Or the Kardashians show.

Yeah that’s right I said it Internet.

Don’t @ me.

I suppose if I’m being fair, we haven’t just spent all day vegging out watching competition shows. Even if that doesn’t sound like such a bad way to spend a day.

We also went out and hung out at a coffee shop for a while, catching up with one of her band parent friends.

But I couldn’t really think of a way to extrapolate on that for a semi-interesting blog post. So instead you’ve got like the most bare bones discussion of America’s Got Talent that anyone’s ever given.

Hope it’s something you enjoy.

Also I guess I should stick to whatever tradition I’ve started in my one post of this kind and let my Mom say some words. But I don’t think it’d serve the post well to pseudo-interview her like last time, so I’m just going to give her the floor.


Dara’s Corner:

Mom caveat: we don’t watch these shows often, and he’s right, usually only when my mom comes out to visit. But, what else to watch at the end of the summer when there is nothing else on yet.

I watch these shows and go, what have I done with my life. Then again, my mouth goes agape when shy kids who barely can answer the judges’ questions all of a sudden belt Janis Joplin.

Certainly, some acts make me wonder if they’re planted by the producers, but in a nutshell, one never knows what will come out on stage. Plus, added mom bonus – I get to spend time with Jason on the couch laughing. 🙂

-Dara



P.S. — Back to Jason now. Who decided to let Tyra Banks be the Ryan Seacrest of this show?

Don’t get me wrong, I used to be a big fan of America’s Next Top Model, but it just feels so… Strange.

Wanted to put that out there. Don’t have anywhere else to go with the thought.