Hidden Gem: The Adventures of Pete & Pete

Hidden Gem

“Why is it that when you miss somebody so much that your heart is ready to disintegrate, you always hear the saddest song ever on the radio?”
– Old Pete (played by Michael C. Maronna)

         Being a child of the 90’s, most of my youth was spent in front of that giant orange blob commonly known as the Nickelodeon channel. I would waste away hours of my life sitting in front of the boob tube laughing at the hijinks of The Amanda Show, All That, Keenan and Kel, and the rest of the typical Nickelodeon lineup. I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a day that went by where I didn’t watch television, as sad as that may sound.

         It’s no secret that what we’re told on television at an early age can affect us as we grow, after all there’s a reason children’s shows teach us the very core of being a decent human being: to share, to say please, and thank you, to ask permission, look both ways, the basics. For children, television is purely an educational tool, and is rightfully so.

         That being said, when is the age that we switch from watching television for knowledge, to watching television for entertainment? Surely, there comes a time when learning how to share fifty times a day grows old, and we want to watch something else.. Something a little more, demanding? A little more “our age”? With so many options, so many channels, it seems like a nightmare.

However, there are those few frequency chasers who dare intercept the world of television. Those who beam through the digital channels of Disney, Nick, and Cartoon Network. We’ve crossed the streams of satellites, searching for a show worthy of your viewership.

I too have plugged in, and discovered this little gem.

          Yes! This little puppy’s full name is actually “The Adventures of Pete and Pete”, and sadly this show did not grace my childhood. Despite being raised in the 90’s, I just never saw Pete & Pete on TV that much, which is a shame in retrospect. I sort of “rediscovered” this show a few years ago from my ex girlfriends older brother, and came to find it’s got somewhat of a cult following.

          The show follows the two brothers, both named Pete and both red-haired, as they go about their lives in the Wrigley household. That’s the premise of the entire show, a family’s coming-of-age story for two brothers. But did I mention  their best friend is the strongest man in the world? Yes, Pete & Pete cleverly fuses the previously mentioned gap between entertainment and education by giving us humorous characters like Artie, Mr. Frosty, Open-Face, The Nightcrawlers, and the Halloweenies, all the while still delivering a very real and unique take on growing up in modern suburbia.

         Surely there were a lot of shows at the time, and still today, that cover the wide field of “growing-up”, perhaps some even better than the now possibly outdated Pete & Pete. However what newer shows make up for in modernization and newer graphics, Pete & Pete still wins out as far as being actually relatable. While there are the few rare occasions of upper-white class teens actually being online celebrities (a la iCarly), the majority of television shows watched by children or pre-teens today depict situations that are so far different from modern life, that these children almost seem upset that their lives aren’t exactly the same as what they see on the TV.

         Mind you I am not a father. I’ve never had kids, and am only stating what I’ve observed difference-wise between the television of my youth compared to the television of today’s youth. I’m also not saying that these shows are necessarily bad.

         What I am saying, is that while these shows may be entertaining, they pale in comparison to the combination of entertainment and education that The Adventures of Pete & Pete brought to the table. This show is the closest comparison I can make to what growing up for me was actually like. I was just a boy, with a small group of friends, doing random, stupid things. I didn’t know every single person at school, and I wasn’t obsessed with girls or buying new things. Pete & Pete successfully depicts the reality of an average American middle-class household. On top of that, it relates to not only little brothers, but older brothers, fathers, mothers, and friends.

  • There is an episode where we learn how to handle older brothers getting girlfriends.
  • There’s an episode on how to handle our little brothers being bullied.
  • There’s an episode on what to do when a different man hits on your mother.
  • There’s an episode on handling long road trips with the family.
  • There’s an episode on how to let go of imaginary friends.

This list could go on for a while, but I want to save some for those who actually want to watch. The show tackles topics that usual shows never actually want to approach, or even would think to consider discussing, and does it in a quirky, successful way. I can only imagine how much easier my life would have been seeing others deal with these issues like I had, and I hope this applied to the rest of my little viking friends as well.


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Filmography – A Message of Peace and Happiness (2013)

A Message of Peace and Happiness

(Watch on Vimeo)

“Know that you are loved.”
A Message of Peace and Happiness

Starring Sean McGehee and Haley Bertelsen

         This little love story was concocted in the winter of 2013 for the Ellensburg Film Festival: Show Us Your Shorts competition. It was thought up and filmed all within less than a day, with nothing more than a bucket of props, a tripod, a camera, a girlfriend, and myself.
We were given three guidelines to follow:
Theme the piece around the color blue, include a moment of breaking the 4th wall,
and a time limit of what I believe was 10 minutes.

This film almost never happened in fact, as our original idea was to go camping for the weekend and set whatever we wrote around the woods. Shit happened, and I was my usual prick-self at the time, and I decided to not go on the trip. Haley stayed with me as well, and I realized that we should at least come up with something to submit, rather than looking like fools for paying the entree fee and then not submitting anything.

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         Do not read the following unless you’ve seen it already.
Major spoilers.

         The premise of the short was pretty simple: a scientist develops a machine that can send recorded messages to alternate timelines. He decides to send the message “know that you are loved” to impress a lady, and the message travels to all alternate timelines, changing the course of events within them. Within each of these timelines, the message occurs in some strange way, like through a radio, or over an intercom, each time getting harder to understand the deeper and farther it goes through these timelines. Every moment the message is heard by the scientist and woman’s alternate timeline selves, it ends up bringing the two closer together, leading up to the final moment when they are together. The unique twist I decided was to show these effects in reverse, so instead of the two appearing to grow closer, they actually grow apart, until the final scene where we see what is really happening.

         There were many similarities that pop up in each timeline, such as references to classical music, and the scientist becoming more and more “sciencey” as time progresses. Because of this, when watched for the first time, the short seems very confusing, being just a poorly shot collection of random scenes, with no real plot occurring. In the end, I don’t think this really was my best. I was in a bad place at the time, not truly enjoying the things around me, which showed in my work. I would love to revisit the premise in the future, maybe do a remake with better cinematography and a more cohesive storyline.

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The one saving grace I find from this film is, ironically, the message itself, which strangely seems to have lingered into my reality as well.


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Filmography – The Philosopher (2013)

(Watch on Vimeo)

“Our problem is not solved, and you are not abolished of your duties at this fortress by order of The King!”
The General – Chad Oswald

Starring Chad Oswald (General), Kyle Lippman (Philosopher),
Adam Fisher (Engineer), JJ Hernandez (Doctor), Caleb Allison (Chef),
and Drew Gibbs (Foodbringer).

Written & recorded by Sean McGehee, Directed by Skyler Gahley and myself.

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Food-Bringer

         The Philosopher was a huge mess. You see, one of the heads of my department during a checkup meeting told me I should start submitting some of my pieces to competitions to get my name out there. At the time, all I had that I would have been proud of submitting was Torch. So instead of being smart and submitting that, I used this as an excuse to write something new. Thus, The Philosopher was created. Yes, inspired by having been taking a philosophy class at the time, it was coupled with the idea of making a tribe of alligator-people wielding spears live in a post-apocalypse wasteland…
Of course the biggest downfall to creating fictional fantasy films is that you’re not able to easily make something with oh, I don’t know… let’s say a tribe of alligator men with spears. So I settled with humans, and designed the piece to feel like a post-apocalyptic wasteland regardless.

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         One of the major selling points that I’m particularly proud of was the costumes, all designed by the genius Joanne Kirckof. We spent the first few weeks before film scouring thrift stores for props and clothing that would match the tone of the film best. We wanted everything to have a strange, duck tape covered raggedy look. As far as the filming itself goes, this was the first time since high school that I had actually storyboarded my film; and it really shows. In the past I would just go out and wing it, but I realize now how completely and ignorantly amateur that really is.

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That was the biggest thing I learned from creating this piece, and I’ll never film without first storyboarding from here on out. That, and having some kind of wind blocker or an actual decent microphone. Oh well, at least it’s a thing people can watch.


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Hidden Gem: Rubin and Ed

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“I am the king of the echo people.”
– Rubin Farr (played by Crispin Glover)

As an aspiring filmmaker, I’ve seen quite a few movies over my life. After all, one of the best ways to learn is to watch examples from other people’s work. And while there are a lot of remakes and reboots nowadays, each script and film tells a story of it’s own. No two directors or writers are exactly the same, and each has her/his own format and stylings that make them unique.

This applies to everyone and everything. From the lowest budgets or poor storytelling, to even the most expensive modern films with no spirit. One does not assume the other; you can have a large budget and still be pulling out terrible films. The reverse can be applied to low budgets with great films just as easily. There have been so many movies made over the years, that to attempt viewing them all without being told what’s at least moderately worth watching would be a very time consuming task.

However, there are those few woodsmen who bravely hack away at the forest of moving pictures. Those who sharpen their cranial axes against the spinning film reels of the past and present, in search of art worth watching! We toss our climbing ropes into the mass of average viewers to save the innocent from being consumed into mindless drones.

I too have chopped the trunks over the years and discovered this little gem.

        Rubin and Ed, released the spring of ’92, may be one of the wildest fever-dream, possibly drug inspired films I have ever seen. Many of you may recognize the lead Crispin Glover as Marty McFly’s father from the Back to the Future series, or perhaps the guy who loses his arm in Hot Tub Time Machine. Glover is partnered with actor Howard Hesseman, who does an absolutely stellar job playing the over-energetic and depressed pyramid scheme puppet. Together the two continue along the story of the film in a strange “Odd Couple” sort of way, with Glover being a super sheltered and awkward cat lover versus Hesseman’s incessant talking.

Their goal? Discover the perfect location to bury Rubin’s long since dead beloved cat.

We begin with Ed desperately in search for a sucker to drag to his fast cash seminar, only to run into the eccentric Rubin Farr. Rubin tricks Ed into driving him to the desert to find a special spot for his dead cat’s final resting place, eventually leaving them stranded in the desert with nothing more than a cooler of rotten cat on ice.

I must warn you, if you attempt to watch this you’re gonna have to really push yourself to actually make it to the end. The film itself is very hit and miss as far as humor and entertainment goes, and the budget was obviously nothing to brag home about. The same can be said about Glover’s character Rubin, his quirks often seeming a little too over the top and poorly executed.

            That being said, when watched under the right mindset, Rubin and Ed impressively serves as a pinnacle of artistic expression and symbolism.

Right from the start, we are thrown into the middle of a rich (white) businessman’s powerful speech on how to become the hugely successful entrepreneur that all humans should strive for. He tells us to ask ourselves, “Who are you”, followed with large crowds of chanting repeating brainwashed phrases.

“I am an incredibly powerful salesperson, who continually climbs higher and higher up the ladder of success”

Ed feverishly takes notes on the mans Hilter-esque speech, desperately wanting to become that successful individual. He repeats these phrases throughout the entirety of the film, and tries as hard as he can to make the organization proud by finding new members. This is where fate intervenes: Ed running into the odd and hugely different than him, Rubin Farr.

Throughout the course of their journey, Ed constantly finds himself struggling to become this symbol of human perfection, as his stressful babysitting of carefree Rubin pushes him to extreme bouts of anger and an eventual stroke in the desert. We are shown how much more important something as simple as burying a beloved pet can be versus attempting to reach the top of society: Rubin finds himself extremely content with his way of life, and as the story progresses, his freedom and choice of a simpler life rubs off on Ed. This is only further demonstrated by every single element of design; from the bizarre uniqueness of Rubin’s home and clothing choice, to the bland white walls and suit jackets in the world Ed lives.

There are clear references to the futility of becoming an “echo person”, someone who makes no decisions for themselves and follows others mindlessly. Despite having no shootouts or exploding buildings, the film still succeeds in leaving us with a pleasant sense of individuality that really hits home. The most powerful demonstration comes when the two discover a spray-painted wall reading “Andy Warhol sucks a big one”. Rubin has no clue who Andy Warhol is, Ed scoffing at him for not knowing one of the hugest and well known artists of America.

     We ask ourselves, just because somebody is hugely successful, is it really important to follow and worship the lifestyles of others? As long as we’re content with who we are and our decisions, why does it matter?

“It’s not often you find something you really enjoy. Only we enjoy different things. If we didn’t, what would be the point of being different people?”

        Jeffry Sweet – Last Day of Camp

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Screenwriter: Trent Harris (Because it’s always important to credit the writer)

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Hidden Gem: Listener

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“So I’ve built a wooden heart inside inside this iron ship to sail these blood red seas and find your coast,
don’t let these waves wash away your hopes. This warship is sinking and I still believe in anchors.”

– Dan Smith (aka Listener)

There’s been a lot of untalented crap throughout history in the music industry.

I don’t mean just the obvious, well-known examples like Friday or anything Insane Clown Posse, I mean even within the top hits. Especially when concerned with what we hear as the “popular choice” on the radio in our day to day lives. We’re constantly plagued with uninspired lyrics, remixes, reused beats, and even in some extremes stealing an entire idea all together.

Perhaps it’s for these reasons more and more people are switching to the indie scene, where the inspiration for ideas doesn’t originally come from a money-making standpoint, but rather something you want to tell the world. People are releasing more and more of their own work, and while the “quality” difference between professional and independent can vary between pieces, the overall success that’s been achieved over the past few years from these developers is phenomenal. And it all pays off, just look at the hugely successful Minecraft, Meat Boy, The Blair Witch Project, Clerks, and countless others.

While there are still hundreds of terrible artists signed daily, there are those few spelunkers who dare descend the catacombs of the audio world. Those who neatly sort through the haystack straw by straw. We prick our fingers to the tunes of others, hoping to find a hidden band that nobody has heard of.

I have done my fair share of sorting, and one of my close friends introduced me to this little gem.

     Yes that beautiful man, and the writer of the opening quote, is Dan Smith. While not being a completely unknown artist, the guy doesn’t get nearly enough credit for the quality of work that he puts out. You’ll never see Listener playing on Saturday Night Live or  being recognized on the street, but what you can see in his music is true art.

     My first five or six times listening to Listener (ha, listening to Listener), I honestly had no idea what I was hearing. It sounded like a tone-deaf amateur yelling on top of guitar. But I gave it some time, and it grew on me, and I realized the reason I didn’t understand it at first wasn’t because it was bad, it was because it was different then what I’m used to. It doesn’t have poppy choruses or bass drops, no bootylicious women or million dollar music videos. It was, plain and simple: poetry. Dan Smith is not a musician, he’s a poet.

Listener will put you into a weird trance, not really understanding, but recognizing with the lyrics. He’ll give you an overall vibe of the olden days, childhood – innocence, and how far we’ve all changed since our youth.

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You can listen to more of Listener here:
Listener on YouTube

And of course, you can learn more about the band on their website:
Listener Website

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Hidden Gem: Tomba!

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Growing up I never got sucked into the “N64” era of video games. Many of my friends see classics like Banjo-Kazooie and GoldenEye as the be all-end all as far as nostalgia is concerned. Yes, if you were raised in the suburban 90’s, the Nintendo-64 seems to have swallowed you and everyone else into having the same childhood game-wise.

However, there are those few of us poor children who skipped this wild craze. Those who scoffed in the face of Yamauchi, who forged our own paths. We decided alien-shaped controllers were a no, and whether out of spite, or more likely old hand-me-downs, we chose the Sony Playstation as our system of choice.

Most of my childhood was dedicated to Sony, which is where I discovered this gem.

tomba Yes, this little number created by ex-game company Whoopee Camp was what I spent many, many hours of my life dedicated to as a child. I could probably say that I owe a very large fraction of my life, in fact, to this game.

   – So what the hell is it?

For a majority of you, the one thing you may remember ever hearing about this game was a commercial that ran in 1999 for it’s sequel actually, involving a man with pink hair attempting to catch a rather larger woman from a burning building.

I’m not here to make any comment on how unrelated the advertisement for the sequel was to the franchise, I believe it speaks for itself. But as far as the first game goes:

               Tomba! is hands down the most unique video game ever made.

Now calm down. That’s a very fair argument to make. I’m not saying it’s the best game ever made, and I’m not saying it’s got the best graphics, or is the most fun, or the best programmed, or any of that. All I’m saying is that it is the most unique game ever made. Period. There’s no argument, Whoopie Camp should not have gone out of business by a long shot, and here’s why:

For starters, Tomba! is both a sidescroller, and an RPG. I have never seen this pulled off well since Tomba!, in fact the only game I can even think of being remotely similar would be MapleStory. That being said, Tomba!’s not an RPG in the usual sense. Yes, there are “quests” you must accomplish to further you along the story, but there are no elements of grinding, paying for content, or even the “necessary” optional quests. No, this beautiful work of art does not use cheap tricks to increase the games length. In fact, it wasn’t until I replayed it years later that I actually accomplished everything that could be done in the game.

Unique genre aside, there are many other reasons Tomba! (Yes, the exclamation mark is part of the title) should hold “Most Unique Game Ever”. For starters, there’s an exclamation mark as part of it’s title. Here’s more uniqueness:

  1. Main character’s got pink hair.
  2. Main character’s name is Tomba (?!what?!).
  3. Your main goal in the game is to get your dead grandfather’s bracelet back… THAT WAS STOLEN BY EVIL PIGS!
  4. You fight evil pigs.
  5. Your best friend is a talking monkey. With an umbrella. Who loses his underwear.
  6. You make candy for a witch.
  7. You care for a baby dog, which grows into a FLYING DOG à la Dumbo.
  8. To defeat the seven evil pigs, you THROW THEM INTO BAGS!
  9. Each evil pig represents a different element. Water, Fire, etc. One of the elements is “Haunted”.
  10. Your entire inventory is kept inside of your stomach.
  11. There is a full village of Dwarves.
  12. You learn to speak Dwarvish by jumping on Dwarves..
  13. Throughout the game you meet progressively older wise-men, beginning with the 100 Year Old Wise-Man, the 1000 Year Old Wise-Man, and all the way to the 1,000,000 Year Old Wise-Man.
  14. All of these men have magic teleporting bells. That they’ve lost.
  15. You bomb a city.
  16. There are butterflies with leaves for wings.
  17. You play hide-and-seek the entire game.
  18. Did I mention you bite enemies on the ass to kill them?
  19. There’s mermaids.
  20. There’s a drug-forest that makes you laugh and cry constantly.
  21. Talking trees.
  22. *spoiler* There’s actually eight evil pigs! *spoiler*
  23. Your first mission is to use a tornado..
  24. There are cannibal natives! And borderline racism!
  25. Marshmallows on spikes.
  26. Pigs on sleds. Pigs on spikes. Pigs on marshmallows on spikes.
  27. A CITY OF RATS
  28. Collecting baby pigs with fart gas.
  29. Floating one-eyed Lovecraftian squid monsters.
  30. Bringing a phoenix back to life twice.

Tomba! comes from the innocent age of video-gaming. Where things could be fun, and colorful, and about pigs. True I’m sure PETA doesn’t support this game much, but I like to think that even they would prefer the uniqueness of biting pigs on the ass next to the brutality we see in the average video games of today (I’m not saying I hate modern gaming, because I bought GTA V recently and have been going to town on some deer okay). I think the most unique video game I’ve seen come out recently was Rayman? And even that was just the sequel to the re-launch of an older Playstation franchise.

But the concept of modern games and films losing their “soul” is not a new argument, and certainly not one I care to get into on the internet at this time. In fact, I pray that no more unique games come out. Because if someone ever wanted to dare fight Tomba! for his current title-holding record for World’s Most Unique Game, then they’d have to get through me first.

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         – Back to Hidden Gems

Hidden Gem: Catherine

Back to Hidden GemsThere is a lot of, dare I say, really stupid shit on YouTube.

Piles and piles of it.

It’s much easier to assume that all of something is horrible then to pick out which little chunks are good, and such is the case with the digital haystack known as YouTube… there is no separation between Joe-Shmoe’s two dollar home movie on cats, and Stacey Carmichael’s in-depth analysis and re-representation of the musical CATS through interpretive dance. While there are other websites dedicated only to uploading media that meets a certain standard *cough* Vimeo *cough*, YouTube’s “monopoly” on the world wide web’s moving pictures is not going anywhere anytime soon.

However, there are those few explorers who dare brave the vlogging abyss! Those who dive into the genitals of the internet in search of something we educated humans dare say can be described as a work of art! We throw our digital life-preservers towards fellow artists in an attempt to save them from becoming the next Fred.

I too have done my fair share of mining, and last night I discovered this little gem.

      Yes, this short series written by and starring Jenny Slate was concocted while she was very high; the original concept being a series in which people are neither boring, or funny, but perfectly neutral at all times. While her intentions for creating the show was purely out of comedy, what I saw was not a common “stoner” comedy show (it’s funny how often most things described originally as “stoner” end up being much deeper and influential to society than the majority of things broadcast on television).

 I would have never guessed it was supposed to be funny.

     No my friends, in fact I had no prior knowledge of this show before watching it. The only other thing I had seen Slate in was the Kroll Show on Comedy Central, and to be honest she annoyed the hell out of me on that (the show’s jokes are very hit and miss). I came across Catherine after rewatching the hilarious Marcel the Shell, as I discovered Slate is the voice of Marcel. As mentioned, I didn’t laugh while watching Catherine.. Okay I did laugh once in Episode 9 when Ian jumps out at her.
But in all honesty, I was patiently watching each episode in depth, looking for clues as to what the hell was going on! Why was everyone acting so weird? What was up with the lunch? Was there a deeper meaning behind Catherine’s bread and butter sandwich? How come everyone reacted so strange to the apple not being taken? The colors of the sets and costumes were all designed so well to further this overall feeling of confusion. I assumed everything would be revealed in the final episode, and was extremely disappointed to discover after the finale that the entire series was meant to be a comedy.

     It was all a ruse. My in-depth analysis was meaningless, I was making mountains out of molehills, finding something in nothing.. but in the end, does it matter that I found meaning in something that was never intended to have any? No, it doesn’t. The exact same applies to every aspect of art.

– One person can get a strong emotional response from looking at a painting, while another person just see’s a bunch of lumpy clocks on trees.
– One person watches a hilarious series on poor acting in boring situations, while another watches the “ideal” image of humanity and our preferred methods of social interaction being displayed to an extreme as a farce against Western culture and idealism… ~

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Sources Used: http://splitsider.com/2013/06/talking-to-jenny-slate/

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