Friday, December 31, 2010

First Signs Year End Review

By the end of today, 2010 will be a distant memory. Nothing new can happen in 2010, and because of this it is time to look back and see how the year was, on a pop culture level. Minus the music of course. It is my life's regret that I never got into music as well as I could have. I love music, I appreciate music, but I cannot in all honesty call myself a music person. For that, go to my friend's music blog. He has pretty good taste and his blog is a lot better than mine. For everything else, hopefully, I have you covered here. For each category I chose the best and the most disappointing. I chose disappointing instead of worse. It's easy to be the worst at something, but to disappoint takes effort and deserves the extra scorn. Also for television shows I am only counting shows that premiered this year. It's not my fault that bad shows lasted into this year.

Best Film of the Year: Inception

I regrettably haven't seen The Social Network or Black Swan yet. I love both directors behind the movies and have been wanting to see them (the trailer for Social Network was amazing) but just never had a chance. It is because of this I choose Inception for the best film of the year. After I see those two I may change my mind but for now Inception takes the cake. For one, it was one of the most original films of the year. Christopher Nolan took a chance, with a film that confused a lot of people, but amazed the majority. In the top grossing films of the year, it sits number four, surrounded by sequels and remakes. Not saying that box office makes a great film, but the fact that it was a major success critically and financially speaks volumes. South Park, which lost it's edge years ago, even did it's own Inception spoof. With millions of fans, a South Park episode, it's own meme and making spinning tops cool again; Inception wins. Should it win Best Picture? Now that's a different story.

Most Disappointing Movie: Book of Eli

Denzel Washington is one of the coolest people on the planet. He is, by any definition, the man. That's why it sucks to see him in such a disappointing movie. Maybe I had too much hopes for it. Book of Eli even had Gary Oldman as a villain, which should of been worth the price of admission alone. Oldman has previously proven himself as an excellent villain in half of his films. Here though he is wasted as a egomaniacal leader of a post-apocalyptic village. The movie, which starts off fine enough, turns into a half-asses parable. That alone would be tolerable, until they break out the mother of all twists. Although there are clues throughout Book of Eli, the twist still feels cheap and meaningless. Made only for twist's sake. Also this movie's trailer reminded me of Fallout 3, which I was obsessed with at the time.

Best New Television Show: The Walking Dead

Award winning comic book series, plus Frank Darabont (the man behind such new classics as Shawshank Redemption, Green Mile and The Mist), plus the most fearless network on cable equals an amazing program. Airing a zombie themed television show is ballsy enough, but to do that and take it seriously is where AMC and Darabont succeed. Once you get done watching the short season, you realize that the zombies aren't even the most important part. Zombies are just a set piece, a situation for our characters. When used in that way, zombie themed media are used at their most effective. We need to care for the characters. Not only is it a brilliant execution of a zombie story, which is more than just zombies for zombies' sake, but it's also a success in ratings. Walking Dead out performed every other show out there. AMC even managed to win over my demographic, which is hard unless you air a show on Adult Swim.

Most Disappointing Television Show: Boardwalk Empire

This one is a tough call for me. Surely there are worse shows out there (Outsourced). The thing of it is, Boardwalk Empire had so much promise. A-list talent, good production quality, and a good premise. Why then was I so bored with it? If it wasn't for the fact that I live ten minutes away from Atlantic City, I wouldn't of even bothered finishing the season. I just wish that they made it into a miniseries instead of a continuing series. If they had a finite amount of episodes they could of told a story with a much clearer direction and message. It's just too bad, I had so much hope for it. Really it isn't fair to Boardwalk Empire, because anything short of masterpiece will be disappointing.

Best Video Game: Red Dead Redemption

StarCraft II is amazing, but I've already mentioned it before on here. Also it's PC game and I'm not a big PC gamer. So, in it's place, Red Dead Redemption is the best game of 2010. Almost for the same reason that Inception was the best film on 2010, it was both an original and a success. Video game companies have attempted to mine the old west before (Gun, Red Dead Revolver, Custer's Revenge), however with Red Dead Redemption it all comes together seamlessly. It takes a bunch of play mechanics we've seen before, but it all synergizes together perfectly here. Rockstar already has my complete and utter faith in them, having revolutionized the sandbox gaming template. Here though they do more then their tried-and-true modern day crime theme, and it works. James Marston feels more real than half the people I see on the movie screen. And tell me you weren't amazed when you first rode into Mexico.

Most Disappointing Video Game: Fable III

I didn't actually play Fable III, to be fair I watched a friend play it. With that being said, it was a lackluster gaming experience for the both of us. The Fable series is respected and they obviously didn't half-ass the game. With all its work and polish, the game should of turned out decent. Each gamer was met with plodding gameplay and a disappointing story. The twist in the story was actually good, but the execution was terrible. That's the best way to sum up Fable III, good attempt but bad execution.

So there is my roundup for 2010. Don't agree? Be sure to tell me why. Here's to 2011, and hopefully it will be a good year. Happy New Years, dear readers.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New Years Twilight Zone marathons are the best

Every New Years, there is something I look forward to more than seeing a giant disco ball drop. It's the Scifi Channel's (I refuse to call it Syfy) annual marathon of Twilight Zone episodes. The series, which ran from 1954-1965 was a landmark in television. Now, thanks to Scifi, every year people can rediscover these black and white gems.

Each episode is a different look at mankind, it's virtues and it's vices. Yes it is told through a science fiction lens, but that's just to tell the story. People who write Twilight Zone off as old people television or nerdy science fiction is missing the point entirely. It was a product of it's time. A mixture of cold war paranoia and the science fiction golden age. This is the time when Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut and Isaac Asimov were being widely read and appreciated.

Asimov's vision on film.

Twilight Zone could of only existed during this time, this is evident by the fact that so many shows tried to recapture the mainstream success of Twilight Zone. Twilight Zone itself has tried to recapture it's previous success in the 80s and in 2002. Both failed where Rodger Serling succeeded. It was the charm of the series that helped give it it's classic nature. While Tales from the Darkside, The Outer Limits, and even Serling's own Night Gallery were good television shows, something about Twilight Zone was untouchable.

I first became acquainted with the show when I was little. My mom got me to watch it and I loved it. I wasn't yet able to appreciate the meaning behind the episodes, but I sure got a kick out of the weird little episodes. Shows like Are You Afraid of the Dark?, kiddie versions of the Twilight Zone template, helped facilitate my interest.

So much better than Goosebumps.

I assume my opinion matters because you're reading my blog. Now, since my opinion is awesome and you are interested in said opinion, here are what I consider my top five Twilight Zone episodes.

5. The Mirror

This episode doesn't get the most respect out there. It's an obvious parallel to Fidel Castro and is lacking in the subtlety department. However I enjoy it's easy message about Dictators becoming the despots they force out. It's a simple yet important message, especially during the Cuban Revolution. Even with it's borderline propaganda approach it's an underrated episode. Especially with Columbo himself, Peter Falk, and his glass eye playing the Castro stand-in.

4. A Game of Pool

The Hustler is one of my favorite films, so this episode was a treat for me. A pool shark claims to be the best pool player ever, so the best-pool-player-ever's ghost comes to the pool shark and makes a deal. If the pool shark wins he is declared the best ever, if the ghost wins then the pool shark loses his life. The pool shark wins, however he learns the responsibilities of being the best ever. It's a nice take on the old "be careful what you wish for" message that comes with a lot of Twilight Zone episodes. Also I love billiards so it was an added bonus for me. I'm not the greatest at it but if there was any game I wish I could be amazing at it's pool.

3. A Nice Place to Visit

Another case of "be careful what you wish for," a gunned down criminal finds himself in an afterlife where he is a winner. Every slot machine is a jackpot and he can have any girl he wants. In the afterlife he learns that success is empty when it is given to you, and when he finally breaks he learns that this is his own personal hell. A great message, one that I've explained to people in my life, explaining the episode's plot line as an example.

2. Number 12 Looks Just Like You

Everyone loves Eye of the Beholder. That episode is definitely a classic, and when someone mentions Twilight Zone it's one of the first they mention. I prefer Number 12 Looks Just Like You though. Number 12 doesn't have the twist ending that Beholder is famous for, but it tells a similar story of a woman who must have plastic surgery to better adapt to society. Where it edges out of Beholder is the ending. Beholder's ending is memorable but has no real message other than what can be found in the title and lesson not to live with pig-faced people. In Number 12 the woman ends up being forced to take the procedure and, in a subtle twist, loves her new appearance. Also the episode title was the inspiration for a decent band's name, The Number Twelve Looks Like You.

1. Time Enough at Last

If any one episode best summed up the Twilight Zone experience it's this one. One part Cold War fear, another part "be careful what you wish for" parable, Time Enough at Last is not only the most memorable episode but arguably the best. It also stars Twilight Zone regular Burgess Meredith (who also played the Penguin in the old Batman television show) as poor Henry Bemis, a man who only wants some time to read and enjoy a book. When the world becomes an atomic wasteland, he finally has all the time in the world to read his beloved books, until his glasses break at the end of the episode. It's heartbreaking, tragic, and kind of funny to watch.

Awesome Twilight Zone episodes aren't limited to these five. Really, every single episode has something in it worth watching. Even if it's just the always watchable Serling introducing each episode, there is no reason not to sit down and watch the show.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Charlie Brown musings and my personal dream gifts

I'm old.

I feel old at least. My license may say that I'm turning 21 tomorrow, but dates on licenses are rarely indicative of how old one feels. As a young adult, you feel twice as old as you're suppose to, and as an adult you wish you were half as young as you are. Tomorrow I turn 21, and to me it's just another day.

Maybe I'm just blaming my age and maturity on my blase attitude towards Christmas. I use to be a Christmas nut growing up. But now I don't know. It doesn't seem like my favorite holiday anymore, just another excuse to spend time with people I had no choice but to love, even when I don't like them. I'm no Grinch or Scrooge, those characters went out of their way to not be merry. I have no such passion, just listlessness. Maybe in the eleventh hour I'll be hit with the Christmas spirit, but at the time of this writing, the only thing reminding me it's Christmas is the calendar.

I think of Charlie Brown talking to Linus about not being in the Christmas spirit. I've always considered myself a Linus, but I can't help but identify with old Chuck. It's just not the same.

"Out of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you're the Charlie Browniest."

My Christmas list always goes through the same evolution. I list a bunch of things I want on a whim and then, as I look back at the list, I realize I don't need anything. I cross things off as easily as I put them on. I can live without a new movie to watch or video game to play. And I wonder why my mom has had to wake me up the past few years. I use to be the one to wake her up.

These are the ridiculous gifts. The gifts I know I don't need but want anyway. My dream Christmas list that I never expect to actually get.

1. Lock Pick Set: No, I don't want to become a cat burglar, I just think it would be a cool skill to have. No intent on crimes here. I think it's just one more step to my life goal, being Batman. Picking locks seems like a nice puzzle, and unlike jigsaw puzzles, lockpicking actually something good that comes out of it.

2. Pocket Watch: I've always been fascinated by time. As a kid I always had to have a watch on me. At one point I wore two watches at once, one on my arm and one that clipped to my belt. Now, I realize that having a pocket watch nowadays isn't very practical and I doubt it will ever do more then collect dust on my shelf. Something inside me still wants one though. Maybe I'll wear it on special occasions.

3. Hip Flask: This one even baffles me. I don't drink, and I especially don't drink hard liquor. For me to have a hip flask is the very definition of superfluous. Maybe on day when I aspire to become a drunk, I'll be ready. Or maybe I can fill it with something else. It would just be cool to have though. Not even an engraved or flashy one, just a simple flask would do. I don't need a portrait of Bob Marley on it, or any other gaudy design that you see in Spencer Gifts.

I definitely don't need an Insane Clown Posse flask.

Merry Christmas to all of you. I hope that this holiday brings you lots of joy, and that you spend it with your favorite people. Tune in tomorrow, when I write a special edition post. It'll be an expose on what it's like to have a Christmas birthday.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

How to properly receive a present

Buying the correct present for a person is an undeniably arduous task. Do you let the price tag do the talking? Are you the thoughtful kind of gift-giver, where the gift symbolizes your relationship with that person (I'd like to think I fall into this category)? There are also the crappy gift givers, who buy whatever they see the night before or, worse yet, buy something they themselves would like with no consideration for the gift-receiver. After the crappy wrapping job, it's finally time to see if the search was worth it. To see the eyes of the other person light up as they slowly unwrap your present to them.

It is this stage of the gift giving process that most fail at. Nobody wants to admit that the gift is horrible. Our eyes may give away the disappointment we feel as we look at our new Chia Pet, but we don't want to make it too obvious. What I want to talk about, this fine December evening, is the art of receiving gifts and pretending the socks you got were just what you always wanted.


I am the worst gift-receiver ever. I'm rarely one to show excitement. The most you'll get out of me is mild amusement. I do however, know how to fake it. Or at least, fake it enough not to hurt your aunt's feelings. Really it's all in the smiles. Do not try to overcompensate and constantly smile, for that will give away just how forced it is. The best way to carry out this smile, is to act as though you are trying your best to hide it. Nobody will you believe you if it's constant, it's all about the smile breaks that sell it.

That's more like it.

Even if the gift-giver keeps reassuring you that it can be returned, never take them up on the offer. It's a trap. They may have legitimately kept the receipt in case you didn't like it, but you will only be playing into their hands if you take them up on their offer. Always keep the gift, even if you plan on cramming it into your closet and forgetting about it for years. Who knows maybe one day you'll appreciate the gift for what it is, or the thought behind it is enough to warrant the keeping.

Never try and oversell the appreciation of the gift. If you're not the hugging sort than don't start now. Just accept it for what it is, thank the person as sincerely as you can, and drop it in a corner of the room till you leave. It's not the person's fault the gift sucks. People don't realize how hard it is to buy presents. Truly, the best kind of present is the one that the person doesn't even realize they want. Anybody can give a list of things they want, the list cheapens the whole gift giving experience. And worse yet, there's no surprise. That's what it all comes down to, the surprise.

Few gifts ever ever reach this mark though. It's hard to know what that person wants without them even knowing what they want. One of the things that makes me a horrible gift-receiver is I never know what I want. The best gift I've ever gotten however, was something I didn't even know I wanted. It was senior year of high school and I was swapping gifts with my girlfriend at the time. She handed me a flat piece of cardboard wrapped up in reindeer wrapping paper. I was prepared to be disappointed, already having the fake smile ready to go. No awesome present has ever been flat. I was wrong though, it was the best present I've ever gotten. It was a poster for my favorite movie of all time, The Third Man. I never even thought about getting a poster for it, but once I saw it I was shaking with excitement (to be fair I shake a lot anyway). I even hugged the girl for the gift, a sign of affection that I'm not normally known for.

You have no idea how happy this made me.

I still have the poster hanging on my bedroom wall. It broke my heart to have to put tacks through it, but it still remains one of my favorite presents. I've had some winners since, but nothing compares to that. So I guess it goes to show, even with the pseudo-grimaces and the faux-validation given to the gift-giver, you really can be surprised once in awhile. And be shown what true appreciation is, even if you didn't feel yourself capable of such a feeling. A lifetime of tepid gift-receiving can be overturned with just one unwrapping, and you can gain faith once again.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Pop stars making the same Christmas album every year for easy money

Let me start off by saying this, I'm not against Christmas music. No other holiday has a musical tradition that matches Dec. 25. Aside from drunkenly mumbling Auld Lang Syne every New Years Eve, no other holiday has an equal library of music. I love music and I love Christmas (then again who hates either?). What I don't like is pop stars using the holiday season to make a quick buck. One afternoon in the recording studio is all it takes to make a Christmas CD, ready to be bought by the same people that made American Idol the number one show on television for so long. The great Christmas song book has been raped repeatedly by flash-in-the-pan pop stars. It's time to put an end to it. We'll always have Bing Crosby to sing us a White Christmas, and that's all we need. The songs are already written, so all the CD needs is some lazy singing.

Larry the Cable Guy released, not one, but two holiday albums.

Country music stars are some of the worst offenders of this. Faith Hill, Kenny Rodgers, Taylor Swift, Tobey Keith, and Garth Brooks himself are all at fault here. I guess their fans don't get in the holiday spirit until their favorite cowboy hat wearing singer belts out the same song they've heard since kindergarten. It's just not Christmas without it. Frankly, I'd surprised we went this long celebrating the holiday tradition before Alabama threw their hat in the ring (note: a young Jeff Cook, fiddler for Alabama, looks just like Kenny Powers). Or you're going through the CD rack at your local mall and and you see Garth Brooks eyeing you, commanding you to buy his Christmas album.

Blue Steel?

Pop stars are also at fault here. It seems that every actor on the Disney Channel is also a singer, and they all had a hand in creating a Disney Channel holiday album. Christina Aguilera, before she got awesome, released her own Christmas album. Hell, my sisters owned the one NSYNC released. American Idol contestants, which I have already made fun of, are the worst offenders off all. Contestants on the show are already damned to commercialism as soon as they sign their soul away. Clay Aiken, David Archuleta (to be honest I don't know who David Archuleta is) and even William Hung all made money off of the season of giving. I can expect it out of Archuleta and Aiken but Hung?

My December by Kelly Clarkson, surprisingly not about Christmas.

Even music acts I actually like have fallen prey to it. Al Green, my favorite soul singer, released his own album. The album was ironically titled White Christmas and I'm sure that, along with every other album Green has made and alcohol,ic eggnog it has facilitated the birth of many a child. Weezer, the band so awesome I keep Pinkerton as my car default CD, made their own Christmas album. It's not that I'm angry, it's just that I'm disappointed. Maybe it is hard to say no to the easy money that these albums bring, but that doesn't make it right.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Television Specials

No holiday is complete without television specials. And Christmas, by far, wins in that category. Every channel has their own Christmas specials. The problem is, a made-for-television movie about Christmas usually falls for the same pitfalls. They all try desperately to remind us of the spirit of Christmas and the importance of good will towards man. All these messages become saccharine sweet though.

Caution: Scrooge-ness ahead.

All these films amount to Lifetime movies wrapped up in a festive bow. Family films, made for kids that have yet to lose faith in Christmas. It's no surprise that Hallmark, the company that makes greeting cards, is responsible for many of these saccharine sweet films. They are saccharine because they try to be sweet but in the end they are just fake. They aren't earnest. It's just the same packaged tale over and over.

Greeting cards, telling you how you feel so you don't have to.

The Christmas Shoes, for instance, is a song made in 2000, involving a man who meets a poor kid in a store who is trying to buy shoes for his sick mother. The man is touched by this touching display and buys the boy the shoes for his mother to "look beautiful if Mama meets Jesus tonight." It's the kind of story that is found in bad chain letters. Not only did they make a song based around this story but CBS made a movie based on the song in 2002. You spend an hour and a half waiting for the tough businessman to meet the poor kid in the department store. When it finally happens you can't help but notice that it looks as corny as it sounds.

Kind of like Tiny Tim.

Actual kids specials are a little more bearable. These are meant for kids that already care about Christmas. There is still pandering but it's at least to the correct demographic. Rankin/Bass is famous for their Christmas specials. It's mostly just Santa Clause and Rudolph kind of stories (Santa Clause is Coming to Town in my personal favorite, complete with song by Mayor Burgermeister Meisterburger), but it's told with enough charm that you have no need to question why they are still being aired 40 years later. That's not to say that those specials didn't flirt with weirdness.

Admit it, all you care about is the Miser Brothers.

Little Drummer Boy was the obvious attempt at a non-secular Christmas special, Jack Frost just happened to be set during winter, Rudolph's Shiny New Year was a completely unnecessary retread into a previous success and The Life & Adventures of Santa Clause is just too messed up for words. A much more pagan look at Santa, Life & Adventures sticks out like a sore thumb compared to the others. People care about the Coca-Cola vision of Santa, not the old creepy man in the woods version. Give me Santa Clause is Coming to Town any day.

There's a reason why you never really see it on television anymore.

Now, at this point, I might as well talk about Christmas movies I do like. The following is a list I've just put together randomly off the top of my head:

Best version of Christmas Carol: Muppet Christmas Carol

Best television show Christmas special: Pee-Wee's Playhouse Christmas Special

Best Rankin/Bass special: Santa Clause is Coming to Town

Best from my childhood: Claymation Christmas

Best Bill Murray Christmas movie: Scrooged (and his only Christmas movie but I really wanted to mention it)

Best Action movie: Die Hard

Best token Christmas celebration: Rugrats Hanukkah special episode

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Popcorn tins: The best gift money can buy

I don't know how it came about. I don't know what tradition it stemmed from. I don't even know the original point. What does matter is the fact that popcorn tins are the best freakin present you can get someone on the fly. Picture it: you're at Rite Aid on Christmas Eve. You need to find a gift for your nephew and you don't love him enough to of gotten something earlier. The toys at drugstores are cheap and lame and you already bought him a Chia Pet last year. You have no idea what he likes or what to get him and you're running out of time.

If someone ever bought you a Chia Pet they do not love you.

Then you spot it. It's everything you'll ever want. It's everything you'll ever need. In short, it's glorious. A whole wall of popcorn tins. Stacked perfectly, waiting to be plucked. Each packed, brimming with maize. Separated into three different flavors. The staple, buttered popcorn which everyone loves. The adventurous and bad for your teeth caramel popcorn, that's the bane of dentist everywhere. And finally cheese, which tastes halfway decent. And the best part yet, there's all kinds of different designs on the outside. Send that kid a Spongebob tin. Kids love Spongebob tins. They'll appreciate it a hell of a lot more than the Hickory Farms Gift Box Sampler.

To be fair, those strawberry candies are awesome.

The fun never stops with popcorn tins. In the beginning you have more popcorn than you know what to do with. You feel like you'll have enough till rapture, with your never-ending tin. With the separators you're allowed to pick which flavor you want. Only having to deal with cheese when you see how much you've been disregarding it. Which isn't fair because there's always more cheese than caramel corn. Then as you realize the finite tin space you can take out the separator, mixing the flavors into interesting combination. That kid has something to snack on for the next month thanks to you. Now he won't go hungry when his mother refuses to make dinner because his father doesn't appreciate her enough.

Or sustenance for when he neglectfully gets left alone for Christmas.

The fun doesn't stop either. After the popcorn is finished with you have the tin to do with as you wish. Need a wastepaper basket? Done. Need to store something away? Done. Need a place to put your LEGOs so you don't step on them at night and hurt yourself? Done. With one simple last minute gift purchase you'll change that kid's life for the better. It's cheap too. Doesn't that make you feel better about yourself when you do your last minute shopping at Rite Aid?

Rite Aid: Responsible for crappy gifts since 1968.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Weebles wobble theme song remix

As kids, we were all lied to on a daily basis. By our teachers, by our family, and by our peers in childhood. Toy commercials lie too. Toys never look as cool as they do in the commercials. Slinky commercials? Yea, they lie. I have never once seen a Slinky do what it was intended to do. All you could do was juggle it or wear it on your arms like you were a robot. You might say, "Yea that's cause you didn't have a staircase growing up." That's not the point. They shouldn't make a toy just for kids with staircases. It's not fair. If you are rich enough for a second story don't buy a cheap ass Slinky for your kid, you can do better than that.

It's not a toy, it's a jagged piece of metal.

There is one constant though. One toy always performed just how it was advertised and did it splendidly. It is the Weeble. You see kids, Weebles wobble but they don't fall down. Trust me I've tried, but that Weeble just kept on wobbling like a champ. It was something you can depend on.

Weebles have been playroom staples since they were introduced in the 70s. They didn't have to be hip or try. They were Weebles damnit. That's what I thought anyway. It was a few months ago and I was watching Cartoon Network (they have some good shows i.e. Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, Chowder, and Adventure Time). It was the usual unassuming commercials. The kind they usually play on kids shows or Saturday mornings (One Saturday Morning was the best. Sidenote: You ever notice Disney Channel doesn't have any actual commercials?). McDonalds commercials, Nerf guns, and the usual suspects. Then I heard it, the Weeble jingle we've all grown up with. It was different though. It was in autotune.

Why on God's beautiful green Earth did they feel the need to update the Weebles jingle? And worse yet, they tried to make it hip. They tried to make it hip with the biggest plague on music since white people started rapping. Whichever marketing guy came up with this should be slaughtered. Kids don't care if it's autotuned, they just want to play with a toy that will never tip over. But marketing people don't care about that. All they care about is murdering tradition. It saddens me. Oh well, I guess I shouldn't be too mad. To be honest, I didn't really grow up with Weebles that much, I only had two of them. What I had growing up was a bitchin' pirate ship and castle playset.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Justin Bieber, Hitler, Titanic, and other ideas I failed to develop

I have the whole rest of the month planned out, except for today. So I figure that on this special occasion, I'll give you all a glimpse into by bitter, broken mind. I was going to do a post on the evils of Google, but then I realized that my e-mail and this blog itself is run by Google. So since I didn't want to make myself a hypocrite, I had to think of something else. The following is a relatively stream-of-conscious rant, using three ideas I previously had but failed to properly develop.

Justin Bieber:
Did you know he was Canadian?

Bieber is a sixteen year old pop star extraordinaire. He is also one of the most hated people on the internet. Go to any music video on Youtube and look at the comments. There is a 50 percent chance that there is some comment along the lines of "Man this was when music was good, before Justin Bieber." These comments pop up on a decent amount of videos for me to notice. What's Justin Bieber have to do with Queen (Which is a band that's impossible to hate)? The answer is nothing, yet people feel the need say, and I quote:
"Why did Freddie have to die. I mean what are the odds...1 of 6,000,000,000 people couldnt god choose another like justin bieber (washes mouth for saying that name)."
-Comment on Bohemian Rhapsody
This comment astounds me, yet comments such as this can be found all over Youtube. Now I'm personally not a fan of his music, that's why I don't listen to it. So why do people feel the need to constantly broadcast how much they don't like him? We get it, move on. The fact remains Bieber actually makes some people happy. That's already more than some of you can say about yourselves. Bieber jokes are lame too. Making a Bieber joke is just too easy. It's as easy as saying you hate Hitler. That is unless you're the kind of person that likes to argue that Hitler was decent, only so you can sound controversial.

"Hitler helped rebuild Germany's economy, dontcha know?"


Baby Hitler was so adorable.

First off, never use Hitler's name in an argument. When I debate with someone and they bring up Hitler or Nazi Germany I just walk away. It's just not worth dealing with. If they can't take the debate seriously then I can't either.

That's not to say Hitler isn't serious. To quote Eddie Izzard, Hitler was a mass-murdering fuckhead (I am shocked fuckhead is in my spellcheck). He was a horrible human being. Not only did he start a World War and was responsible for killing millions of people, but he also ruined a whole style of mustache for everybody. Thanks to Hitler, nobody can wear a toothbrush mustache anymore without looking like that bastard (except for Michael Jordan). Who knows, some people could look good with a soul-patch below their nose. But no, thanks to one man and his quest for being the biggest dickhead ever, nobody can, in good conscious, grow their facial hair in such a manner. And Hitler was the cause of a war that enveloped the whole world, so there is no excuse for not knowing it's a Hitler-stache. Everyone knows him (cue Hipster saying, "I knew Hitler before everyone else. I knew him when he was a failed artist.").

Now it is my theory that Hitler may have survived the war. Bear with me now. Hitler had a major supporter in Henry Ford. Ford even showed up in Germany to receive a medal from the Fuhrer. With this friend in automobiles, Hitler could of been smuggled to America and opened an auto-parts store. Just look at the Pep Boys logo. Doesn't the man on the left look familiar? Hitler is either burning in hell or is in plain sight as one of the leaders in auto-parts.

Hitler and his two buddies.


Speaking of burning in hell, I was thinking about the ending to Titanic recently (don't ask me why, I cannot say). Now this isn't a common occurrence, I haven't even seen Titanic that many times. I was seven when it came out. There was nothing in it for me but seeing a ship sink and getting my first glimpse of boobies. Anyway, Titanic ends with Old Rose dying (or just falling asleep, depending on how you saw it). Suddenly it cuts to Titanic, where everybody lost is hanging out and Rose and Jack are finally reunited. It is my theory that Rose went to hell.

Think of it this way, Rose died and is in the afterlife. Where does she end up? Titanic obviously. Now Rose lived a long and fulfilling life, why would she want to be on Titanic again? If that is the afterlife, can you think of anything more horrible than being stuck on the same doomed ship for all eternity? And Jack was there. Lets face it, Jack wasn't the best dude around. His whole lovable rapscallion gimmick means that he's probably done some not nice things in his life. Dying in the Atlantic doesn't give a person much time for contrition, so it is my belief that Jack went to hell. I guess Jack was lucky Rose became young again though. Think how much that would suck, being stuck with Old Rose.

Again maybe Old Rose just fell asleep, as old people tend to do. Either way it's a thought. Tune in next week, when I convince a bunch of orphans that Santa isn't real and nobody loves them.

It's a Christmas special.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

R.I.P. Leslie Nielsen and Irvin Kershner

Last Sunday I heard that comedy actor Leslie Nielsen died at the age of 84. Shortly after finding out about Nielsen I also read about Irvin Kershner dying the day before, Kershner was 87 years old. Both men have made significant contributions to pop culture, and to hear that they have both died is horrible.

Leslie Nielsen, 1926-2010:
Did you know he was Canadian?

Leslie Nielsen was not a comedian. If he was forced to get in front of an audience on a stage he probably wouldn't have a single joke to tell. What he was, was a comedy actor. Nobody could work a gag like Nielsen. While his films may have been over-the-top and silly, he always kept a straight face. He understood that you didn't have to ham it up to get a laugh. He was like an old, silly uncle. Earnest in his convictions, but dumped into whatever situation the director threw him in (no wonder they cast him as Mr. Magoo).

He originally began his career as a serious actor, starring in such films as Forbidden Planet and The Poseidon Adventure. Then Airplane! came, and forced Neilsen to reinvent his whole career. With the success of Airplane!, and his standout role as a doctor stuck on the doomed airliner. The Zucker brothers made Nielsen their go-to star. The Naked Gun film series further solidified Nielsen as a spoof movie king and guaranteed Nielsen work for the rest of his life. The movies may not have always been good, to be honest a fair amount of them were terrible, however Nielsen never phoned in any of his performances. He always managed to have fun on screen and it showed through. That and he got to play Santa Clause twice, which is one more time than award winning actor/director Richard Attenborough.

Irvin Kershner 1923-2010:

Lets get this out of the way, the reason why you should respect Kershner is because he directed The Empire Strikes Back, which is considered to be the best Star Wars film ever. Kershner managed to bring a humanity to Star Wars that all the other films missed. There's a reason why you are more emotionally invested in Empire than all the other Star Wars films, it's because it's the one that focuses on the characters more. Yes there's the badass battle of Hoth (recreated nicely in the Shadows of the Empire N64 video game), and there's the duel between Vader and Luke (as a kid I referred to Empire as "That movie where the guy gets his hand chopped off"), but those are only small parts of the film. Kershner made sure to focus on the characters we care about, not set pieces or people that would make kickass action figures. He populated the screen with characters we cared about.

The best of the Star Wars films.

Before Star Wars, Kershner was a respected film director. Though his work was not as well known as Empire, he made a nice name for himself on the small films he made. When the director asked Lucas why he was chosen to direct a Star Wars film, Lucas answered (according to Wikipedia), ""Well, because you know everything a Hollywood director is supposed to know, but you're not Hollywood."

The next big movie after Empire was a James Bond film, titled Never Say Never Again. Never Say Never Again is interesting on two counts: it brought Sean Connery back in the role as Bond and it wasn't made by EON, Bond's usual production company. Not only did Kershner have the balls to make a Bond movie without EON, but he released it around the same time as Octopussy, Moore's second-to-last Bond film. While Octopussy made more money, Never Say Never Again still made $160 million and got a better score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Connery also got to make-out with Kim Basinger, Suck it Moore.

Kershner's next movie was Robocop 2, which managed to out-crazy the original film, directed by the insane Paul Vehoeven. Robocop 2 was darker, more violent, and a lot more over-the-top than the original film. Sadly, the film was not met with kind reviews or box office. The movie has grown in respect however, after the abortion Robocop 3 was released.

It's sad to see these two men pass, however, their cinematic legacy is still there for future generations to enjoy. I doubt Empire Strikes Back will be forgotten anytime soon, and Leslie Nielsen has made so many movies, he's bound to be on television at some point.

Friday, November 26, 2010

How to make Thanksgiving better

Thanksgiving: everyone's favorite or least favorite holiday, depending on how much you like your family. It's decent enough, with rich history and tradition. It gets lost though, with Christmas so close by. Here are some ways that I think will bring the awesome-sauce to Thanksgiving.

Tradition = lame.

1. Add presents for kids and/or alcohol for adults (note: don't give alcohol to children):

What makes a holiday worthwhile for kids? It's the presents, stupid. Whether it's candy or a new Transformer, kids will only care about a holiday if they get something out of it. I'm not calling kids materialistic, they're just spoiled brats. I'm not against kids, I love kids. Just imagine yourself when you were a kid, you were probably the biggest brat you knew. No kid gets excited about having dinner with extended family, it's just an aunt and uncle expansion pack to their normal, everyday dinner.

Adults on the other hand don't appreciate gifts as much. All they want is to get drunk as hell. From now on, after dinner there should be family-wide beer bong contest. Or, after cleaning off that table that somehow fit twenty members of your family, set up for beer pong. Make it festive and make the cups into turkey shapes (I can't for the life of me think of any other symbol for Thanksgiving). Maybe once your Aunt Margret gets drunk and tells you about the old days when black people stayed in their own part of town, the party will finally be fun. Halloween has spiked punch, Christmas has eggnog and Jagermeister, so it's about time Thanksgiving had it's own tradition.

It tastes festive, it looks festive, it has a reindeer on it. Good enough for me.

2. Liven up the parades:

Unless you are bored waiting for food or football, there is no reason to be watching the Thanksgivings Day parade. No kid likes Shrek enough to want to see a balloon of him go down a New York City street, almost taking out street lamps along the way. It's the same crap every year.

They need to find a way to make the parade radder. Get rid of the marching bands and musical numbers, make cooler floats, or add more fire. Really, there are so many ways to make people walking down a street more exciting. The floats are nothing more than Disney commercials on wheels anymore. Make floats battle like they're out of the movie Road Warrior, that would be cool. If not that, than at least speed it up. If the Mummers can't keep up than they should be run off the road. Anyone that dresses up like that deserves a beat down.

If a kid is watching he is waiting for one thing: Santa Clause. Santa is always at the end of the parade, so seeing him both signals the start of the Christmas season and the end of the parade (which is reason to celebrate enough). That's all the kid wants to see, his jolly, chubby, red-suited hero. So i demand that every five minutes of parade there should be someone dressed like Santa. In fact, every person holding the balloon in order to stop it from flying away or being taken by Batman should be dressed like Santa.

It's Santa, we can go home now.

3. Change up the food:

I'm sorry to break it to you but, according to Wikipedia, turkey was not a big part of the original Thanksgiving. There was also no mashed potatoes (my favorite part of the feast) and sure as hell no jellied cranberry sauce. So any ideas of food traditions are off. With that being said, let's spice it up. Thanksgiving tacos would be a good start. Or how about pizza, everyone loves pizza. And just like turkey, pizza is still good as leftovers. It's the perfect food. Or, if you want, make it a real first Thanksgiving. Clams, lobster, eels (pass the eel, please), or beetroot should all be on the menu if you want to celebrate a traditional Thanksgiving. The point is, there is no set foods to eat on Thanksgiving, it's whatever you want to eat, even if it's sushi. Don't feel tied up by false traditions. Especially if that tradition demands jellied fruit out of a can.

What are you?!

4. Make it less about family:

Nobody likes their family. Nobody wants to be stuck with their family for a whole afternoon. The thing about being with our extended family is, it's a lot of work. We don't get to act like ourselves under the eye of our aunts and uncles, only putting on our best in case we're under scrutiny. It's not fun pretending to like your cousins for a few hours, the pretense is exhausting. And if you're the kind of person that has "My friends are the only family I need, they are my blood," written on some long forgotten instant messaging profile somewhere I have three words for you: get over yourself. Your family are your family, your friends are your friends. It's nice having Thanksgiving dinner with our friends, it might be more pleasant than being with your parents, but don't group your friends as family. No friend, no matter how horrible they are, deserves that insult.

No teenager wants to wear matching colors with their family.

5. Name it Black Friday Eve:

This one's easy and sounds like something Jay Leno would say when trying to warm his audience up. But it's true. You may be helping yourself to your second helping of corn, but in your mind all you're thinking about is when you should set up camp outside Best Buy. Let's face it, a large group of people are more concerned about saving money at Sears than enjoying quality time with people you're only forced to see once a year. Americans are ugly, materialistic people. So we should have a holiday, aside from Valentines day, to celebrate that. So lets make body-checking the mom next to you for the last Cabbage Patch Doll into a true tradition.

That Asian-dude in the middle has no idea where he is.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Experiencing technical difficulties, please stand-by

I only just realized it was blog day, and to be honest I'm not in a real blogging mood. Sorry for the technical difficulties, please tune in next Friday for regularly scheduled programing. I think I'll write about "Ways to make Thanksgiving better." But for now, in the meanwhile, please enjoy these pictures of pandas.