N.Y. Times News Service
Silliness is rarely associated with computers, except, of
course, in their manuals and user interfaces. But inspired
silliness is the very soul of "Dazzeloids," subtitled CD-ROM
Superheroes on a Binge Against Boredom and masquerading as a work
"Dazzeloids" may indeed appeal to bright juveniles, but it
could well become a cult hit with grown-ups. This is a children's
program for adults, a spiritual descendant of Rocky, Bullwinkle
and the brothers Warner that manages both to celebrate and to
send up Saturday morning cartoons. From animation to music, this
Center for Advanced Whimsy Production is essentially the one-man
show of an artist named Rodney Alan Greenblat.
Supremely postmodern, "Dazzeloids" twits everything from
creepy conglomeration to the nature of multimedia itself. During
an annoying delay for data transfer, the disk sings, "Are you
waiting? Yeah, we're waiting for the CD to spin!" Click the
button to go back one page, and the music plays backwards.
Navigation charts are, for no good reason, displayed over a road
map of New Jersey.
The Dazzeloids are as motley as a crew can get. The
ringleader, Princess Anne Dilly Whim, "seeks revenge and freedom
for all those imprisoned by boredom and mediocrity," in part
because her sister was bored to death by a "really bad" TV rerun.
A four-legged green imp with an electronically Scottish burr,
Yendor Talbneerg (lleps ti sdrawkcab) is such a gadgeteer he
sleeps with a remote control. The strong and bookish cat Titan
Rose recites the poems "Creamy Corn" and "Plastic Decoration" so
stirringly that they may recall Lewis Carroll and bring tears,
though not of sadness. The even more eccentric Stinkabod Lame is
a ramlike creature whose obsession with bodily functions greatly
exceeds the rest of his mental powers.
Their world is ruled by the Blando Company, whose leader, the
Mediogre, dreams that "all toys and games will be replaced with
business marketing proposals." Blando sponsors TV fare like "The
Wonder Prunes," starring Plump and Fruity, who reach Chayefskyan
heights with the classic dialogue, "I don't know. What do you
want to do?" and "I don't know. What do you want to do?" ad
infinitum. Samuel Beckett himself might have conceived "House
Plant Theater's" mortised rigor.
Animated biographies add richness to the characters. Music
videos of their vivid dreams are simultaneously weird and moving,
as when Anne watches helplessly as hatchet-wielding TV sets try
to chop down a forest. From the goofy "technical" opening through
two complete stories ("A Child is Bored" and "Banker, Spare That
Petshop"), the music is infectious, the invention is unflagging
(including literary gems like "Goodnight Prune") and the
interactivity breaks new ground.
The most realistically frightening moment comes when Anne,
desperately manipulating "an arsenal of complicated and expensive
computer software" to rescue her comrades from a lifetime of
nothingness, sighs: "Where's the manual to this, anyway? …