Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

Great Cartoon Fantasies…and a naked lady!

May 10, 2007

Many ages ago, when this ancient planet was not quite so ancient…there was an animated movie. Not a nasty, dirty educational film; nor a dry, boring documentary. It was an animated fantasy and that meant GREAT TIMES for kids!

To this day, The Hobbit is my all-time favorite movie, and I play it just to have on in the background–much to my wife’s chagrin. As soon as I hear the strumming introduction or the trilling notes of “The Greatest Adventure” it makes me happy and sad. Happy because I love it so, and yet sad because in many ways it represents the end of an age for me personally; the end of childhood and forcible entry into the blah world of grown-ups. Bah!

I did not write this article for treasure alone…I mean only for The Hobbit. There’s also The Secret of Nimh,The Last Unicorn, Watership Down, and an Honorable Mention for Jack and the Beanstalk which appeared on HBO in 1974 and beyond. These are my favorites and if you haven’t seen ’em, you oughtta!

Quick side note: Flight of Dragons is covered with awesomesauce but I only have it on VHS so I am saving it for a second article. Likewise, Mouse and His Child can only be adequately described by taking your audience and making them watch it. Alas, it hasn’t made its way to DVD and I cannot wait to get my eyes on a copy. Please contact me with any info.

This is an Interactive, Scratch ‘n’ Sniff, 3-D article with Kung-Fu Grip(tm). In the comments be sure to tell us what is your favorite animated fantasy…and if you’re younger than me, have no fear, you can have a favorite from any era!

Now on to the show (naked lady to follow, I promise).

The Hobbit


The greatest adventure has to begin somewhere, so why not with a tea party?

This epic tale is the prequel to the Lord of the Rings smash hit movie phenom. It has it all: a reluctant hero, wizard, dragon, dwarves, elves and assorted monsters. Poor Bilbo goes from his comfy hobbit hole (that’s not dirty, you sicko!) to being captured by trolls, goblins, spiders, elves, and barrels. His humble and curious nature, along with some hardcore determination, see him through to the end.

Dwarves–apparently–are delicious. I conclude this from the fact that at every turn someone or something was trying to eat them. Trolls? Check. Goblins? Check. Spiders? Check. Smaug the Dragon? Check. The elves don’t count because we all know that they are vegetarians. Gollum tried to eat Bilbo, but since he never ran into a dwarf we can only assume that he was dying to tuck in to their bearded organs.

Jack and the Beanstalk


DVD Menu Screen


Yes, she plans to eat him too!

This movie messes with my mind. It came out in 1974 and I think HBO played it to death, which was fine with me and drove my parents crazy. I have a hazy recollection of my dad being both amazed and annoyed that even though I’d seen it 4.3 zillion times I would practically cry if he made me change the channel. The story is pretty straightforward: boy gets suckered into trading his cow for “magic” beans that really are magic! There’s a castle, a giant, a princess under a spell, some cute mice (who are really people) and a faithful dog. Like The Hobbit, this movie has loads of music that as a kid you love, but as an adult you say, “Why did I like this?” Thanks to the rose-colored glasses (and ears) of youth, I will always love these songs, including “No One’s Happier Than I.”

No naked lady here, but keep reading!

The Secret of Nimh



Mrs. Brizby and her old coot friend.

Yes the book is better than the movie, but the movie totally rocks! Intelligent rats that live in a rosebush and a single-mom mouse who has to move her cinder block house before a tractor runs over her pneumoniac son. She gets help from a love-sick crow, a crotchety old mouse and Justin the handsome nice rat. She dares death to poison an evil cat (it only puts him to sleep), and goes to see The Great Owl. What a brave mouse! In the end there is an awesome sword fight and someone gets squished. Even more importantly, you find out how the rats got smart in the first place and what happened to Mrs. Brizby’s deceased husband.

The Last Unicorn


The Last Unicorn with her butterfly friend.


At last—a naked lady! But she’s really a unicorn.

This movie will make you cry. You simply have no choice. The music, the tone, the storyline, the tragic and lonely characters…it all adds up to a snot-fest for one. Now guys, don’t turn away. There’s also an evil witch who holds the nastiest harpy ever as a captive in her (mostly phony) freak show circus. A talking skeleton, the monstrous red bull, and an evil old king all add up to a great adventure. Not the greatest, but a good one. Oh and guys you can totally score points with the ladies by watching it with them.

Watership Down



Talking rabbits you say? Yes, it does sound weird but it actually works. It helps that these rabbits are violent and kill each other in their quest to find a safe place to live. This is another sad one. What is the deal with these sad cartoons? Are all beloved children’s stories tear-jerkers? Don’t even get me started on Charlotte’s Web!

Well that’s all folks! I hope you enjoyed the ride down memory lane. Next time we will take the Great Space Coaster back to 1955. If we play our cards right we can change history so that Dick Cheney will never be born and we won’t have to grow up.

Don’t forget to tell us about YOUR favorite in the comments.

May the hair on your toes never fall out!

-Allen Dobkin


lol +Sir Lawrence

May 7, 2007

If you played DDO on Thelanis server last night, you got punked by the live event that almost TPK’d my group. Here is my fan art to commemorate the event.

If you like it, shoot me an email at edukfun at gmail dot com .





February 14, 2007

A typical meeting for an underacheiving student looks like this: parents, teachers, student and advisor all come together. They take turns explaining what is wrong with the student. Doesn’t study enough, not paying attention, socializes too much, obsessed with video games, etc.

Here is what you almost never hear at that meeting: what the student is great at, what his or her Spark of Genius is. If the kid is a whiz at computers or drama or sports, the teacher for that subject probably won’t even be at the meeting.

Granted, if the kid isn’t doing his part, he won’t be successful, but it is a very rare child who does not want to succeed in school. He or she may have given up hope that he can, may hide the fact that he cares, but deep down he wants to succeed.

And we, as educators, parents and mentors, often do the opposite of what the child needs.

We assume that the child isn’t pulling his weight, isn’t putting in the homework and study time needed. If we find out that in fact Jimmy is locked in his room four hours a night with 16 tons of textbooks, we then assume that he is goofing off in there, not making a real effort. We say things like, “If only he would study more”, “He needs to study with the T.V. off”, and my personal favorite, “When Jimmy tries, he does great,” which implies that since his grades aren’t great then he just isn’t trying.

Classical conditioning, scientifically validated for over fifty years, dictates that we should do the opposite: reinforce the behaviors you want, and ignore the behaviors you don’t want.

Try… Instead of…
Awesome, you’re studying! Shut off that computer!
Your Math grade went from a D to a C.
Let’s celebrate!
You failed English!
[Insert Punishment Here].

A common reaction to this is that it isn’t realistic, and by itself that is true. The struggling student needs an effective, structured plan. The plan should leverage the student’s Sparks of Genius to overcome weaknesses.

Is the student in love with his computer? Then taking away the computer is cutting his feet out from under him. Is she a Drama Queen (the good kind)? Don’t ban her from the school play, use a Dramatic Format to learn other subjects.

How do you handle effort and improvement? Respond with high praise, even for the smallest successes and efforts in the beginning. If your child makes an effort but fails, and the effort goes unnoticed, the child thinks, “Why bother?” Praise is free! Affection is free! Don’t scrimp on the free stuff.

How do you handle misbehavior? By dispassionately enforcing the guidelines built into your PLAN. No yelling, no screaming, no fighting; those are reinforcers that encourage the misbehavior.

So, if the child wants to be in the school play, but math is in the D-F region, you forge an agreement, like:

You will spend 30 minutes each night before a school day studying math at the kitchen table. The TV and radio will be off (if that is an issue). There will be no phone calls, internet, computer, chatting or distractions. All homework must be turned in on time. You must maintain B’s. If you score lower than a B on a quiz or test, the study time goes up to 1 hour, with a ten minute break, and you must stay after school three times for tutoring. You can miss two study sessions per month. If you miss more than that, you will be removed from the play without exception.

The agreement is put in writing and signed and posted on the fridge, the bedroom door, the bathroom mirror and the front door. Every time the child fulfills their end of the bargain, give heaps of praise and encouragement. That is what keeps them on track.

When they mess up, and they will, don’t get upset, or emotional or take it personally. Dispassionately enforce the agreement. Don’t let them get your goat.

Even the most stubborn, obstinate, disobedient child does not try to walk through walls. He understands that the wall is there and he has to deal with it. He tries to walk all over you because he has been able to do so in the past. When it comes to negative behavior, be as consistent as the wall, especially when you feel like beating your head against it.

Allen Dobkin