Saturday, November 17, 2007



SWMBO’s brother Morris William and his son William arrived at Chez Elisson in the wee hours of this morning, after driving straight through from Denton, Texas. Oy.

It’s amazing how much William changes every time we see him. As a five-year-old, he is worlds apart from the toddler he was last time he was here in Atlanta. And his interests have changed, too.

No longer is he enamored of Thomas the Incredibly Insipid Tank Engine, whose chief attraction to the Training Pants Set is that he and his associates have personalities just like human toddlers. No: William has Moved On. Now it’s the characters from Cars (he’s particularly fond of Lightning McQueen), and the Transformers.

Yes, the Transformers. Fueled by the 2007 movie, Transformers are once again the King Shit among boys’ toys. Proving, I suppose, that the more things change transform, the more they stay the same.

For, you see, they’ve been around a while, these Transformers. The first generation hit the toy store shelves back in 1984, followed closely by the animated cartoons that helped establish the characters...and pimp the hell out of the toys. In this case, the toys came first, but it’s hard to imagine that there wasn’t some sort of Master Plan that envisioned the huge marketing power of what was, essentially, a series of half-hour toy ads.

New generations of Transformers came along as the years passed, and Hasbro gradually built up a backstory that rivals H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos in complexity. And now, with the Michael Bay movie having brought the Autobots and Decepticons to the big screen, it looks like these cyber-critters are going to be with us for the duration.

Back in the day, SWMBO and I missed having any significant involvement with the Transformers. With us having daughters, the adventures of Megatron and Optimus Prime were less compelling than, say, Rainbow Brite, Strawberry Shortcake, My Little Pony, and the Cabbage Patch Kids. (Feh.) And I’m old enough to remember when a “transformer” was something that powered your electric train set.

But William loves ’em, especially the Optimus Prime we got him for his fifth birthday. Ingenious toys, these Transformers. I’ve got an engineering degree from an Ivy League university, and I sit in befuddled wonderment as my five-year-old nephew converts O.P. from Kick-Ass Robot form to Peterbilt Truck form and back with a few quick twists and snaps.

And you can even tell Transformers jokes.

Optimus Prime: Where do Megatron and his evil cohorts get their fuel?

Bumblebee: I dunno. Where?

Optimus Prime: The Deceptic Tank.

Hey, it beats (gasp!) Barney the Purple you should grow like a fossil with your head in the ground Dinosaur.

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