Saturday, May 28, 2011

Further technical difficulties: Please stand-by

There comes a day (or perhaps a week), where one does not feel like doing anything. This is the land where motivation counts for nothing. So, just as last time, here are pictures of pandas to make up for my own laziness. Tune in for regularly scheduled programing next week. I don't know what I'm writing about next but it'll be neat-o. I promise.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Guest Blog: Spielberg: Giving audiences what they want, but not what they need

I asked for bloggers and now I have to own up to it. At least once a week I'll try and post a guest blog on top of my two. This week's blog comes from Malcolm, a fellow movie buff who also has his own blog. Any comments I make are in italics.
-Don Woods

I hate Stephen Spielberg.

That’s not really a fair statement. Most of his films are harmless popcorn movies, such as E.T., Hook (I love Hook. To this day I don't believe that's really Dustin Hoffman) or the Indiana Jones franchise. But the Spielberg brand means much more than just the man these days; it has become synonymous with big Hollywood blockbusters. It's been like that ever since Jaws made almost half a billion dollars on a seven-million-dollar budget. The film itself wasn’t bad, it was almost Hitchcockian. But its success completely revolutionized Hollywood, for the worse I think. It set the standard for the Hollywood blockbuster. As a result big studios now depend on these types of movies. But, as I’ve said, these films are mostly harmless. It is when these films are mistaken for cinematic masterpieces that I take issue.

I doubt 1941 is one of those flicks.

Side note: Spielberg would return to Hitchcock-territory with 2002's Minority Report. Yes, the ending was a bit too Spielberg for my taste but the rest of the film is a gripping thriller, based off of Hitchcock's "wrong-man-on-the-run" genre of movies. One scene was even based off of a cut sequence from North by Northwest.

Exhibit A is Schindler’s List, the touching story of Oskar Schindler, a businessman who risked everything to save hundreds of Jews during the Holocaust. Spielberg adapted this story into film in 1993 and it went on to not only win Best Picture, but also to place in the top ten American films of all time in an AFI ranking.

Pictured: Wrong AFI

I hate Schindler's List. The first time I saw it, it rubbed me all the wrong ways. However, everyone else hailed it as a masterpiece. I was mortified that Spielberg had made what I considered a sentimental film about the Holocaust. Stanley Kubrick said it best when he began work on his own Holocaust movie. When Frederic Raphael, screenwriter of Eyes Wide Shut, asked Kubrick what he thought about Shindler’s List, Kubrick responded, “Think that was about the Holocaust? That was about success, wasn't it? The Holocaust is about six million people who get killed. 'Schindler's List' was about six hundred people who don't.”

Spielberg Oscars for directing: 2. Kubrick's: 0. It's a damn shame...

It reminds me of those films that came out a few years ago about September 11th that were so controversial. I remember September 11th quite well, and am glad it's over. Any film that does anything but depict the true horrors of that day will only lack perspective. These are human failures, and to view them as success stories in any way, to me, belittles history. This wasn’t the only thing that bothered me about the film. The portrayal of Amon Goeth, the Nazi who distrusts Oskar Shindler, is also shown out of perspective. Spielberg portrays him as a stone-cold killer with no human qualities, and at the end of the film there is a cathartic moment for the viewer as he is hanged. Fair enough, since this is how the historical Goeth died, but what about all the former Nazis that continued to live alongside the Jewish survivors following the war? Killing Goeth symbolizes the end of the Holocaust, and, to me, that shows only a rudimentary understanding of the Holocaust.

This is the man who took the guns out of E.T. He anesthetizes everything he touches.

As anyone who knows me, or reads my blog, or even read the first half of this entry knows, I bring almost every film discussion back to Stanley Kubrick. To me, he is the unrivaled master of filmmaking. Stanley Kubrick died in 1999, and I believe nobody could be angrier with that than Kubrick himself. Before he died however, he had already lined up his next film project – A.I. Artificial Intelligence. Kubrick spent almost thirty years thinking out this project, writing and rewriting screenplays, directing voice acting sessions, coming up with character and art directions and planning filming locations. In the early 90s, after seeing Jurassic Park, Kubrick decided that Spielberg should direct the film, with Kubrick collaborating closely as the films producer. Spielberg said yes at first, but later opted out, saying that Kubrick should direct it. Following Kubrick’s death, Spielberg was convinced to make the film, based on the extensive amount of work Kubrick put in to it. The film, which should have been a Stanley Kubrick production of a Steven Spielberg film, became completely Spielberg. Like Eyes Wide Shut, A.I. was going to push the limitations of the MPAA’s R rating, but Spielberg softened everything about it to ensure a more audience friendly PG-13 rating.

All the adult concepts are dropped, and the movie is given just about the happiest ending imaginable. The only Kubrickian part of the movie is the first act. It is a reworking of the biblical Cain and Abel (except in this case Cain is a robot). After the first act, it all goes to shit. Kubrick isn’t even personally mentioned in the credits, that’s how far from his vision Spielberg went. There’s no doubt that Spielberg’s version is more popular with audiences than Kubrick’s version would have been, that’s just how Hollywood works.

Haley Joel Osment was also kind of insufferable.

I agree that A.I. should of been 20 minutes shorter. Ending with him frozen under the ice praying to the Blue Fairy for all eternity has a nice poetic sound to it. It's about the futility of fate and the hopes of a little boy. What we get, however, is an epilogue so obviously tacked on that it is almost laughable.

I am quite certain many people will openly disagree with me on many parts of this article. What I am attempting to do is bring down a man who’s the biggest figure in the Hollywood system, and he has many devoted fans. I welcome your arguments, that’s when I feel I learn most about films, when I’m forced to argue about them. If you liked this entry, or hated it and want to let me know, check out my blog, Welcome to Pottersville, at

Thanks Don for letting me have this spot this week, best of luck on future endeavors.

-Malcolm Coates

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Alien invasion movies invading

I am not one to mourn creativity. I understand the fact that there are many ways to tell the same story and only an finite amount of stories out there. Just because something is similar doesn't make it derivative. Some even claim that every story out there can be traced back to William Shakespeare. I myself do not have much love for The Bard but I recognize his genius. Even if that genius involved ripping of others work (such as the debated origin of Romeo and Juliet), Shakespeare is still the crowned king of literature. There is a reason why my English teacher of a sister owns three copies of each of his plays (even before she started teaching, mind you). Shakespeare, however, never did write a play about alien invasion.

"The slings and laser-blasts of outrageous fortune," doesn't quite work in iambic pentameter.

The threat of alien invasion didn't really come until H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds. A parable for England's own imperialism, Wells' novel decided to give England some perspective by taking the Empire on which the sun never sets and wrecking it with Martians. Since then, Wells' tale of invaders from the red planet has been retold countless times. Even after we discovered Mars lacking in life, the idea of humanity facing an enemy from the stars is still in our consciousness. Look no further than the recent outbreak in cinema and television.

Video games don't count. They all involve killing either aliens or Nazis.

This year's alien invasion movies include: Battle: Los Angeles, Battle of Los Angeles (the direct-to-video ripoff), I Am Number 4 (which looked more like a new CW series than anything else), Paul (the best alien buddy-flick since My Favorite Martian queefed into theaters), Thor (they are technically aliens), Transformers: Dark of the Moon (although it is a stretch to call Transformers a movie. It's more like a big car commercial) and even a remake of The Thing (no doubt with super-cool CGI). Television has even caught the invasion bug. Premiering this summer is Falling Skies, a TNT drama (they, after all, know drama) about a small resistance against a recent alien invasion. I mention this, not only because of its story but because of its producer: Steven Spielberg.


A celebrated director, Spielberg's name alone use to be a sign of quality (I still like Hook). However, when it comes to producing, he doesn't seem to have the same discerning eye. His name seems to be attached to everything nowadays. And instead of elevating the project's quality, these mad production credits have only diminished Spielberg's star. At least to me anyway. Along with Falling Skies, his name appears this summer in the producing credits of Cowboys & Aliens, Super 8 and Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

We'll also get a new Men in Black movie in 2012.

Spielberg seems to go through phases. He had his World War II phase and his Kids WB cartoon phase. Now he is revisiting the phase that put him on the map in the first place. Jaws may have helped him invent the blockbuster, but he really didn't solidify his reputation until Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. He obviously loves sci-fi (He even made his own version of War of the Worlds in 2005). With Close Encounter's mashed-potato-mountain charm and E.T.'s sense of wonder, Spielberg became the darling of Hollywood. E.T. resonated with pop culture, which led to a Neil Diamond song, an amusement park ride and a McDonald's sponsored rip off (Mac and Me is too easy of a target). On a personal note I was never that big a fan of E.T. I know that's sacrilege to say but it never really resonated with me.

Plus I always felt like E.T. resembled a pile of poop. He's not cute, he's excrement.

Super 8, a J.J. Abrams movie coming out on June 10, seems almost like a greatest hits collection of Spielberg. Alien invasion intrigue and precocious (i.e. annoying) kids populate the rural town being invaded by extraterrestrials. To be honest I don't know much about the movie. It being directed by J.J. Abrams, the plot has been kept a secret from the public. All we know is that it's about aliens and the lead characters are kids. Nevertheless the trailer reeks of saccharine and forced wonderment. And the secrecy seems more like a marketing stunt rather than an attempt at artistic integrity.

Maybe I'd understand it better if I watched the first seven movies...

Believe it or not, I'm actually more excited about Cowboys & Aliens. Not only is it directed by Iron Man helmer Jon Favreau, but it also stars Daniel Craig, who I've had a man-crush on since first watching Layer Cake (you can't deny how freakin' cool he is). Yes, the concept seems strange. If handled improperly, it will go the way of other weird-westerns (Wild Wild West and Jonah Hex come to mind). But luckily it's not like that. Favreau is going about this movie the right way and treating it like a proper western that happens to have aliens. And although the concept sounds weird (it's based off a comic book), it's just weird enough to work. I'm tired of seeing the same, tired, old alien invasion stories play out. This way it is at least told in a new way. And that is what it means to be creative. To explore a story that others may not have tackled, even if it is simply a mash-up of previously explored territory.

Did I mention how cool Craig was?

The world is a smaller place now. With humans looking at themselves more in relation to globalization, it's getting harder to find villains for movies. Looking up at the sky, filmmakers can explore the final frontier of movie villainy(an infinite frontier at that). There will probably be a lot more alien invasion stories to come, but hopefully, in between all the derivative nonsense, we can get a few creative glimpses at something new. Kind of like when District 9 premiered in 2009. It was a rebellious look at the story we've all seen before. And by being different it became a resounding success (although it wasn't by choice, it was the only movie I've seen more than once in theaters). Shows like The Wire rebelled against the tired police-procedural format and gained critical praise. Hopefully, alien invasion movies get their own creative apex in the near future.

It's been awhile since I worked a Wire reference into here.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Happy belated birthday Andrew W.K and R.I.P. Macho Man

The world was once much bleaker. A hopeless existence. A partyless life. God, taking pity on this depressing world, created an agent of fun. Born into this world as Andrew Fetterly Wilkes-Krier, he would be rechristened as Andrew W.K., one of the coolest people in existence.

PARTY TIP: Stretch your mind past the breaking point.
I'm here to help you pull it all back together. -Andrew W.K.'s twitter.

His twitter describes himself as, "KING OF PARTYING - professional partier, international rock 'n' roller, new age self help motivational speaker, nightclub owner, TV personality." He is more than all of that though. He is a white-jeans wearing spiritual adviser. He's like Yoda, except much more fun to be with. His philosophy is simple. The answer to all of life's questions, no matter how complicated, all boil down to partying. Never has one word meant so much, but Andrew W.K. has boiled the answer to all of life's problems into one simple phrase: Party Hard.

Let's have a banana together! I LOVE TO PARTY! -Andrew W.K.'s twitter.

Sadly, because of finals week, I missed his May 9 birthday. So, in an attempt to make amends, I hope to further extoll his philosophy in my blog. You see, partying is not just an act of having fun. It's a state of mind. It's a way to forget life's troubles and have fun. And who can hate a life-view based on having fun? In his songs he's not just asking for fun, he is demanding it. He is shouting to his party-disciples to forget their lives for a little bit and get lost in the fun. Not only does he sing of this worldview or even preach it on motivational speaker tours. He genuinely lives his life the way he expects others to. And his doing so puts him on a greater plane of existence than the rest of us. It almost makes him angelic, in his white clothes and scruffy beard.

Grant me the strength to party the things I can't party, the courage to party the things I can party,
and then to just party.
-Andrew W.K.'s twitter

Yes his singles may all sound the same, but it's not annoying in an AC/DC way. Instead it gives him an earnestness that few artists have. His songs maybe simple in their messages but they are messages he believes in. He wants to party hard and he beseeches all around him to follow suit. He is probably the happiest man alive. And not just because he is a successful musician, a regular television guest, motivational speaker and host of a show of Cartoon Network. His resume is not so diverse because he is a sellout looking for a paycheck. It's the complete opposite. He just loves what he does and it shows whenever he is in the spotlight. He loves what he does and he genuinely loves his fans. One time he played at a funeral of a fan who died. Another instance he spent a whole tour in a wheelchair because he broke his leg yet didn't want to disappoint fans. He even signs autographs while being lead to the ambulance. Those that claim Andrew W.K. has sold out or become deluded are missing the point. He has always been like this. And the world should be so lucky that he is sharing his gospel of partying with the world. God knows we need to hear it.

"I just mailed out $120 worth of party cash to some very worthy partiers.
Let all the money in the world be spent on joy!" -Andrew W.K.'s twitter.

That's why all of these captions have been from his twitter. Because his twitter is so entertaining and thoughtful that I am compelled to read it at least once a week. He really does believe in his message. And why not, it's worked for him so far. He has a lovely wife and a devoted following. He may be known for his songs about partying but that's not even what he is all about. He makes whatever music he damn well pleases. Whether it's Japanese pop-covers or piano rock albums, he just does whatever he thinks is fun. He's like Peter Fonda in Easy Rider. Few people can embrace true freedom. Yet here is Mr. W.K., partying for all us sinners.

PARTY TIP: Do what you want today. By tomorrow, it could be illegal. -Andrew W.K.'s twitter.

In other news, Macho Man Randy Savage died last Friday, in an apparent heart attack, that led to his car crashing into a tree. Savage will forever be remembered as one of the top wrestlers in the 90s. Any man my age would be lying if they claimed to never watch wrestling growing up. We were alive during a renaissance in wrestling. With the Monday night wars between WCW and WWF (I refuse to call it WWE) and WWF's "attitude era," the sport was at its height of popularity. This golden age would last all through the 90s, until the movie Ready to Rumble premiered in 2000 (which I didn't hate, to be completely honest). Savage's Macho Man persona, complete with shades and cowboy hat, defined the wrestling-watching experience for a lot of people. His raspy voice was used for more than just calling out Ric Flair during interviews. He was also the face of Slim Jims, the snack so amazing that you don't even want to know how they make it. Now, whenever I snap into a Slim Jim, I will think of him.

There's gotta be a better way to put that...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Guest Blog: Still Dre

I asked for bloggers and now I have to own up to it. At least once a week I'll try and post a guest blog on top of my two. I would first like to apologize to Tom, this week's blogger. He actually sent me this a month ago but I was waiting for more people to send theirs in. So, at long last, here is Thomas Henry's first, and hopefully not last, blog. Any comments I make are in italics.
-Don Woods

Six hours ago I was only a casual reader of this blog. Before I was merely a reader, having read and shared with Donny my thoughts on the topics he discussed (usually complaining that he didn’t cite me when ever Jesse Hall was mentioned). And then came the life changing moment, I received a text from Donny asking me to contribute to his blog. (I just think he wanted to feel like William Randolph Hurst). So I figured I would try my hand.

Editor's Note: I do want to be like Hearst, minus the "killing a man on a yacht" part of his life.

It took me a couple of hours to decide what I wanted to write my first blog about and as I laid in bed attempting to go to sleep I began to run over topics that had been bugging me recently. Well ultimately, I decided to write about something that I had recently fallen in love with. And that is the most recent single by Dr. Andre Romelle Young, but for the rest of the article we ll just call him Dr. Dre.

Note: Not an actual doctor.

Now I am by no stretch of the imagination a rap fan. But I have always enjoyed anything that Dr. Dre has had a hand in (why did NWA break up again?). Anyway, for those of you who have not heard the song yet, stop reading and go watch the music video on Youtube. Go ahead I’ll wait. And do me a favor watch the whole damn thing I know that the music doesn’t start for three minutes but the thing is a work of art. And please just ignore the weird things that Skylar Grey does, I don’t know who she is or what she is doing so just let it go.

Paging Dr. Dre....

Anyway seriously I am in love with this song (and video), which is a big deal for me. Honestly the last rap song I really enjoyed to this level was I Think My Dads Gone Crazy by Eminem (notice how it all feeds back to Dre in the end?)(Note to self: white, suburban people loving Eminem for future topic). Anyway, I really thought that this song deserved a shout out to a crowd that I am assuming has yet to hear it because, like Donny, I still consider Quadrophenia to be the end all be all of musical accomplishments. (or Ferris Bueller’s rendition of Twist and Shout).

Quadrophenia: Great album or greatest album?

In all seriousness though this song is awesome, and it really shows how much Dr. Dre has meant to rap since the genre's inception (for some reason he feels the need to do this about once every ten years, anybody else remember a song called Forgot About Dre?). I do think the world does need to be reminded about Dre, just look at the changes in the pictures that get flashed up. Dre’s been around for so long that he pre-dates gangsta-rap. That’s right, the guy who influenced Biggie and Tupac is still alive … that’s gotta be some sort of miracle.

Dre as a gangsta: Exhibit A.

Really though this song just shows how much life has changed for Dr Dre over the past 25 years that he has been a performer (and that's rounding down). He has been involved with every major change that has gone on with the rap game since 1986 when he founded NWA and the beginnings of gangsta-rap. Since then, just look at the names of the artists that he helped come into the national spotlight. Hell, Snoop Dogg and Eminem should be enough to convince anyone that he has left his mark. Regardless once again, Dr. Dre comes forward and reminds the world that yes I am still alive and do more than commercials for Dr. Pepper.

I must've drank me 15 Dr. Peppers.

In one of the classiest moves I’ve seen in a whil,e the video fades to black while Dre stands over Eric Wright’s grave and you can just see the regret all over his face. For those of you who don’t know who Eric Wright is, he was Eazy-E (a member of NWA) who died in 1995 shortly after making amends with Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg (after NWA broke up they didn’t really get along so well … their solo albums at the time were testaments to their mutual hatred).

Songs about hating Dre and his affinity for hats (may have made that last part up).

The reason I decided to pick this topic as my first article is because I think that it will be one of Dr. Dre’s songs that transcend his typical audience, and also the song has yet to get the chart recognition that it truly deserves.

-Thomas Henry

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

May 21: The end of ze world

UPDATE: The world did not end, thank god. I refused to believe the world would expire before the milk in my fridge did.

I choose to take the Black Horse Pike on my drives from college to home. I drive it because it is a much more interesting drive than the expressway. I take the pike because there is more to look at outside my window. And, most of all, I take the pike because it saves me $3.75 in toll charges. I don't, however, take the pike to learn news of the coming rapture. But as I slow down my crappy sedan, worried about the police car behind me, I spot a billboard. It's not an anti-drug billboard or an always entertaining Chik-fil-A billboard. It's space rented out by Family Radio, a christian radio station. And like all prophets, Family Radio chose to spread the word on ad space revolutionized by South of the Border.

Specifically this man, pictured here with his many leather bound books.

Jeremiah performed, Ezekiel went crazy, and Harold Camping, Family Radio founder and originator of the end of the world theory, made billboards. According to him, through numerology and his TI-30 calculator, May 21 marks the day of rapture. Rapture is the long promised time when God shall take the faithful up to heaven, and leave everyone else twiddling their thumbs. Prophecies have been nice enough to describe the tribulations of man during end times but never said when it would be.

Apparently it happened in 1992. Nobody noticed.

I went to Catholic school. And while Bible class made for excellent naptime in high school, I spent most of my time reading the Book of Revelations. There's a reason I read Revelations out of boredom, because it was scary and crazy enough to be interesting. That and I was a fan of The Omen growing up (cue scary music). Nothing captures the imagination like the end of times. And that is exactly what Camping counts on. Camping is the madman on the street, only instead of badly Xeroxed pamphlets its an AM frequency. AM stations, where your grandfather listens to the music he grew up with.

LinkI only have faith in FM stations.

It's easy to believe something when you say your source is the Bible, but Camping's own method for determining the end relies on leaps in mathematics and logic. To the further discredit of Camping, he already claimed that the world would end on Sept. 6, 1994. You'd think that after he walked out his door on Sept. 7, seeing the world untouched by God's hand, he'd of given up on being a prophet. Yet here is he again looking for attention.

The Bible guarantees it indeed...

Really, Camping and is just undercutting the 2012 prophecy. Most likely pissed that people (and Roland Emmerich) are putting so much faith in 2012. He doesn't believe in calendars, only the Bible. And according to him, the Bible names May 21 as Rapture. I don't have faith in Camping however. Just as I don't have faith in 2012 or any other apocalypse prophecy. People have been predicting the end of the world since it began. Yet, with all the prediction and numerology and supposed experts on History Channel claiming Tribulation, the world still revolves on its path in defiance. The fact that May 22 will be like any other day should not be a surprise to anyone.

The world better not end before Kung Fu Panda 2 comes out.

So live your life, instead of being afraid of predictions made by a radio station personality looking for attention and ratings. Have an end of the world party. And when you wake up with a headache and the urge to puke because of the seven shots of tequila you had, be thankful you have another day on this world. And, preferably, party again to celebrate God postponing his owning for another time. Strangely enough, that date also signifies my friend turning 21. So maybe there is something to this end-of-the-world thing. Just don't listen to Camping. He is the kind of person that gives the Bible a bad name.

You now have four days to learn all the lyrics to this song.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Pets, guinea pigs and the occasional slow loris

You are your pet. I don't mean this in a "dog-look-alike contest" kind of way where they judge how much the pets look like their owners, because nobody wins in that contest. I mean that the pets we have are a lot like us. Look no further than my one friend and his five ferrets. Like him, ferrets are social, adventurous, mischievous and smelling of shit. Now, I agree that the comparison isn't perfect. My friend has bones, unlike the snakelike ferrets that live in his room. They're boneless, annoying, little weasels.

"I have no bones!"

Friend number 2 has a chinchilla. Known for their wonderfully soft fur that makes for a great coat. Just try feeling chinchilla hair and not fall in love. Now imagine having that fur keep you warm and snug in the cold cold nights. Heavenly is what it is. Friend number 2, like his chinchilla, is shy yet unbelievably loyal. And, unlike ferrets, actually clean and organized. Chinchillas take dust-baths for christ sakes. It's adorable. They may look like mutant-squirrels but they are unbelievably awesome and never die. They are highlanders. The only thing that kills them is neglect and loneliness.

Chinchillas also love Joy Division.

I had neither chinchilla or ferret. No, I was stuck with a guinea pig. His name was Spunky and he was named after the dog on Rocko's Modern Life. I admit, it wasn't the most creative name for a pet but this was before I became amazingly creative. If I wrote a blog during those non-creative adolescent days it would of sucked. Lucky for you, dear reader, I have grown. Not Spunky though. He eventually died. A cross still marks his grave in my backyard.

For the record he died of old age.

Before we bought him, Spunky lived in PetSmart. He enjoyed staying in his log cabin and not bothering anyone. It was this aversion to socialization that attracted me to the pig. Out of a whole brood of chirping rats, he was the only one sitting in the corner and minding his own business. We rewarded him by placing him in a cardboard box and taking him home. While ferrets are adventurous and chinchillas are loyal, Spunky was nothing but hated. I don't know why my friends hated him so, but his death became the number one topic of conversation at the eight grade lunch table. When we took a break from talking about boobies, my friends would come up with imaginative ways to murder my pet. I just sat back, horrified and impressed by the imagination of my playmates.

Half of the murder plots involving fireworks.

I enjoyed Spunky, but the fun of having a pet did not last long. No, after a year it wasn't a joy. After a year you're basically waiting for the guinea pig to die so you don't have to take care of him anymore. I say that in complete honesty. I am an animal lover and the biggest fan of dogs in the world. But at the same time the guinea pig just turned into a pain in the ass. The bastard wouldn't even play in the ball we got him.

Lazy bastard would just sit there.

Dream-pets are different nowadays. Thanks to Youtube, there's a few animals that everyone wants and they're a little more exotic than chinchillas. They are sugar gliders and slow lorises. Sugar gliders are nothing more than chipmunks with wings. And while I do love Rocky and Bullwinkle, I don't want a midget squirrel as a pet. On the other hand, slow lorises are downright cute. They look like a Dr. Moreau mixture: part sloth, part monkey and all adorable. If you don't believe me, just watch the Youtube videos. They do slow lorises more justice than my meager words ever could. They are, apparently, also poisonous.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Osama Bin Laden dying and my generation

Osama Bin Laden is dead. I doubt that is news to you. And if that is news to you, than thank you for living under a rock (like Spongebob's friend Patrick) and reading only my blog. But for the 7 billion other people in the world, this news is a week old. And a week in internet time is a millennia. Now I have no doubt that many of you two-finger-typing older people reading this on the internet genuinely care about this news. Bin Laden was a mad man that was on the loose for ten years longer than he should of been. The fact that nobody believed the news when it first broke is proof enough that we never believed we would ever find him, much less kill him. He is dead though. And for my generation that's like killing the boogieman. But better, because the boogieman doesn't blow up a building in Manhattan.

Every picture on here is going to be from

Now I try and stay away from politics on my blog, but this is too big to ignore. I found the news out on Facebook of all places. I was on someone's laptop and saw a status about it. Now, being the shrewd individual I am, I didn't believe it. Never trust news on Facebook (side note: how did so many people fall for the Bin-Laden-death-video virus? My newsfeed was full of gullible people). If you believed every status you've read then Kel Mitchell (from Kenan & Kel) has died nine times over. But then more statuses came. Google searches didn't reveal anything at first but after a few reloads, the news finally came. This maybe a testament to the speed of word of mouth, but nevertheless it was confirmed for me. And the reaction was massive.

Statuses started going nuts. People in my dorm started going nuts. Eventually, a crowd of college students started building up and going nuts. Through a Facebook event request, around 200 kids started marching around campus. Yes there were noise complaints but that wasn't the point. The college kids gathered with each other, not because anybody told them to, but because they felt they needed to. I spent my Sunday night circling the campus, watching mobs of fellow students marching and chanting. It was a celebration. And best of all, it was completely impromptu. It just grew, to the point where the campus security could only sit back and watch. This didn't just happen on my campus either but all over the nation. You see, it wasn't a riot. It was a sigh of relief ten years in the making.

We were the generation that grew up watching the World Trade Center collapse. It was horrible for everyone but to grow up seeing that made it personal to us. I remember when it happened, I was in middle school. The principal made an announcement that morning not to turn on the news or go on the computers because the internet and cable were out (as kids we believed everything on the loudspeaker). We weren't even allowed outside for recess. Then when I got home I saw my older sister watching the news. When she told me I could hardly believer her. Like Bin Laden's death, it didn't seem possible. It was too big of an idea to comprehend.

That day would be the catalyst for all foreign policy made since and has affected everyone's lives. Really, news of Bin Laden's death is our Berlin Wall moment. The fall of the Berlin Wall symbolized the end of a terror that engulfed the lives of a whole generation. But at the end of the day, destroying that wall did not mean the end of communism. There was still a lot of work to be done. The Berlin Wall was, at the end of the day, just a wall just as Bin Laden was just a man. And just like with the wall, there is still a lot of work to be done. Both events however defined a fear for a whole generation.

I'm not naive. I realize that killing one man does not change the world. But with that being said, Bin Laden's death was a symbol. Just like the Berlin Wall, it was a symbol for triumph in this more cynical world. And when you're dealing with a war against an abstract idea like terror, symbolic victories may be the best kind. Be warned, whoever takes Bin Laden's place as a leader in terrorism may try to make a name for themselves soon. But for now lets enjoy this victory. We've waited long enough for it. My generation grew up being constantly reminded of our time's great tragedy. Well that chapter can, for the most part, be closed.

Thanks to the internet, everyone can express themselves over the news. Then again that also means that conspiracy theorist have an even bigger pedestal to act crazy. While it's completely shady that he's been buried already, those people need to learn to not be so cynical. My personal favorite is the meme. It's a style that no other age group really has but mine. And lately the interwebs have been flooding with one-off jokes about Bin Laden's death. People our age passionate about such an event. Patriotic without having to be told to be patriotic. Making captions in bold, white font isn't just a cheap joke. It's how we get our revenge. Now, that we finally realize he is gone and no longer in fear, we can make fun of him without remorse. It's the American way.

So where were you when you heard Bin Laden is dead?

First Signs needs writers (that aren't me)

I'll be the first to admit I'm not the smartest person. While yes, those that know me may have heard the phrase "I know everything" leave my mouth, I really don't know everything. As Socrates once said, "True knowledge is knowing that you know nothing."

Even though I know it's wrong, I can't help but pronounce his name the Bill and Ted way.

You, dear reader, may know more about a subject then I do. Maybe I don't properly discuss a subject, maybe you don't agree with me or maybe I don't discuss what you want to hear at all. When I started this blog I wanted to have an outlet for my favorite rants. Why not share the love to those I love to rant with? While yes, part of me wants people to do the writing for me, another part of me wants to vary the voice up on this blog. Yes, it is my blog and I am the dominate voice but that doesn't mean I can't diversify it. Give you something else to read besides my personal style.

And whatever style I rip off of.

So if you are reading this, do yourself a favor. Whether I have personally sent this to you or if you stumble upon it yourself, I want to hear your rants. I want special guests blogs every week, on top of my two a week. Write what you know. Write what you want to share. Write the blog post that you have always wanted to read. Because, I promise you, whatever you want to discuss there is someone out there that feels the same way and wants to read a similar opinion. Give those people the Google search that you've always wanted to find. And most of all, say something new. There's no point writing about the same thing everyone else is.

And I want the increase in page views...

So send me your blog posts. Send it to my email or my Facebook, if you know me on there. There are two rules:

1. I get final edit (It's my blog so that's a given. I'm a copy editor and I'm fair).
2. You have to help pimp out the blog (at the very least link your blog post on your Facebook).

So, if you're interested, hit me up. If you prefer, send it to my blog email at Just type like you're ranting to a friend.
-Don Woods

p.s. You don't even have to use the same Cracked-model I use. I just prefer it because I like writing captions.

I find captions to be my strong-suite