Wednesday, June 28, 2017

5 blades of paranoid comfort!

The inside of his head? I don't know,
something like this I suppose. 
What must it like to be inside his head? Whose? Yeah, sorry, we're talking about the President again. I swear, eventually we'll get back to nerd stuff. Eventually. Anyway, this thing, this CNN thing, you saw this right? CNN published a story on its website linking Anthony Scaramucci, a member of Trump's transition team to the whole Russian thing? So, Scaramucci called them up, threatened to sue and they retracted it. Then they fired the reporters responsible for it and released a statement saying that it wasn't up to journalistic standards and you know, sorry.

Above: Scaramucci making millions
by taking other rich people's money
and making them even richer.
For his part, Scaramucci even tweeted a kind of classy response saying: "@CNN did the right thing. Classy move. Apology accepted. Everyone makes mistakes. Moving on." Huh, ok. Now, just to be clear, this guy's a hedge-fund manager who, as of earlier this month, works for the Trump administration. And taking the job necessitated selling of his interest is some kind hedge-fund of hedge fund business called SkyBridge meaning that he just made $100 million dollars. Again, I'm not a business person, but I'm pretty sure people like him are why the world is fucked.

But credit where credit is due, right? So if that shockingly even-tempered tweet is as unnerving to you as it is to me, don't worry, the President was quick to pounce:
Well, I'm sure the vast media conspiracy that's been so unfairly pursuing
Donald Trump for absolutely no reason whatsoever is soon to come crashing down.
Should the King of the Birthers really
be taking the moral high ground when
it comes to spreading false information?
Ok, so I'm not sure how a story that was up for a day and was about someone we've never heard possibly being connected to the slow-moving clusterfuck of a scandal the Administration's been embroiled in for months constitutes a big story but whatever. What really makes my ears bleed is that in a subsequent tweet he added NBC, CBS, ABC, the New York Times and The Washington Post to his list of national news media outlets he baseless accuses of lying about him. To be clear, Trump is accusing all the news that isn't formerly owned by Steve Bannon, of spreading falsehoods about him.

"For the last time, there are five lights.
Not four. Five. Next questions."
Which...I mean, every interaction the administration has had-you know, when they grudgingly agree to answer to the American people at all, had been hostile and fallen somewhere on the spectrum between insulting, like that time they told us Cofeve was a secret message or something, to the demonstrably false, like the horseshit about the inauguration attendance. I'm not saying there isn't genuine bad reporting out there, but holy shit, does he really think there's like a massive media conspiracy against him? 

Crazy is it? Now who's being naive?
-Kennedy 9/Moon Hoffa truthers
I'll admit I'm not a conspiracy fan and maybe that makes me naive. But the kind of widespread, coordinated cooperation between news outlets who are all in direct competition with each other and every American intelligence agency, that would be needed to make up and then perpetuate an elaborate conspiracy against the former host of The Apprentice for no reason other than they hate him beggars all reason. It would be like Jimmy Hoffa teaming up with Bigfoot and The Grays to fly a commercial airliner into JFK on the moon. 

I'm not suggesting that the President lives in a terrifying, paranoid world where everyone's against him but by comparison, Russian intelligence operatives employing hackers to screw with the elections with, or without Republican collusion is the Gillete Proslide Fusion 5 of Occam's Razors.
It's like this except with reason instead of five blades
for the closest, most comfortable shave a man can get.*

*I just grabbed that out of the air, I certainly don't mean to advertise for a particular brand of razor. In fact, those 5-bladed things are a one-way ticket to ingrown hairs. Avoid at all costs.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Nostalgia glands ripe for the rubbing!

So the good news, if you're a grown-up manchild (or womanchild) who's still into your sedentary childhood hobbies, is that Nintendo announced that they're going to make a tiny SNES. I will, of course, get to the bad news, but first I should explain to the well adjusted among us what an SNES Classic Edition is and why this is good news. Oh, and buckle up, it's going to get nerdy ahead. If that's not your cuppa, bail now, I'll understand.
Look at these grown-ass adults having fun.
Please, explain to me why people even go outside.
Fortunately for Nintendo, most nerds have a
over-developed nostalgia gland and an
atrophied 'good decisions about money' gland. 
One of the few bright spots during last year's depressing spiral into hopelessness and horror was the release of the NES Classic. It's a shrunk down version of the Nintendo from the 1980's. It came pre-loaded with 30 games, a replica of the original controller, it cost 60 bucks and unlike what you'd find in the used bin at Gamestop, it wasn't encrusted with Dortio dust and no one wrote 'Brad' on it in Sharpie.  Sure, you couldn't load additional games and yes the controller cord was a comically short 30 inches long, but it was Nintendo's way of rubbing our nostalgia glands and it worked like a charm. Then came the fuckery.

"Whoa, whoa, we have enough 
money thank you very much..."
-Nintendo to fans
For reasons passing understanding, retail stores got a super-limited supply, with some getting only one or two in stock at any given time. Amazon got more, but would only sell them to people with Prime subscriptions because business is gross and re-sellers, objectively the lowest form of life on the internet, quickly snatched up as many as they could find and resold them for three to four times as much. And then, in a move completely contrary to my understanding of how business works, Nintendo announced that they'd stopped making the NES Classic. Forever.

You see that's funny because...well, Karate
Champ
was a shit game and...never mind.
Weird right? But surely with the SNES Classic, which as you may have guessed is a tiny version of the Super NES, Nintendo will get it right, right? Yes, in many ways they will. This one will come with 21 games as opposed to the NES Classic's 30, but the list is way better. Super Mario World, A Link to the Past, Super Metroid-holy shit, I've become one of those people. You know, like those people that get into a band when they're a teenager and then never move on. Super NES is my 311. Anyway, the point is nobody ever asked for a re-issue of goddamn Ice Climber. I mean, no Dragon Warrior IV, no River City Ransom. But Ice Climber. What, was Karate Champ busy?

Above: Star Fox cosplayers or
possibly furries. It's a thin line.
Anyway, this one's even going to have Star Fox 2. Which, if you're not a video game person, will mean nothing to you, but it's a totally big deal...to indoor kids. You see, Star Fox 1 was an early 3D-polygon game about forest creatures who fly around in starfighters shooting things and doing barrel rolls and it blew our minds in the early 90's. The sequel was designed and ready to go back in 1995 but again, for business reasons, Nintendo cancelled it, put it in a box or something and buried it in the yard.

Don't let it get to you. They're
probably exaggerating. 
Oh, and get this, the tiny SNES is going to come with two controllers. Two! Finally, the original Mario Kart will be able to destroy friendships once again. Remember when game consoles came with two controllers? You know, instead of one controller and a headset through which, with a monthly subscription, you interact online, anonymously, and with complete strangers who are not only 12 and better than you at Halo, but also claim to have sex with various members your family on a regular basis? No? Just me then? Ok.

Pictured: A barbecue-flavored
example of artificial scarcity. 
Now for the bad news. Nintendo says it's going to make way more of the SNES Classic than it did the NES Classic, and that's cool, but they're also not planning on making it for very long. It comes out on September 29th, but they're only going to be shipping them until the end of the year. Like some kind of McRib of video games. Again, I'm not a business guy, but idiots like me are more than willing to pony up again and again for the same dozen games we've been buying and re-buying for thirty years, so what gives? Turns out manufacturing capacity gives.

The official line is that this is a limited run so they can focus on the 3DS and the Switch which makes sense...if their factory is located in Brigadoon.
"Sure, the bag pipes wear thin after awhile, but we couldn't pass up the tax incentives
Oh, and it turns out OSHA can only inspect us once very 100 years, so, it's a good fit for us."
-A spokesperson for
Nintendo of Brigadoon
Above: basically heroin. And I'm not
sure if I think that's good thing or not.
I mean, why not license out to a third party like Sega did with the Genesis? You can't spit at a Best Buy without hitting one of those. Some of us, mainly the afore mentioned man/woman-children who are still into this stuff, remember a time when video games weren't all iterative sequels, item crafting and paid DLC. Our nostalgia glands are engorged and ripe for the rubbing and we will be physically unable to stop ourselves from handing over our money for what is essentially a tiny, plastic drug that plays Donkey Kong Country.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Meddlin' mulligans!

And did they ever manage to nail him for
what he did to Zoe at the end of season 1?
So is it weird that the President is totally comfortable acknowledging Russian interference in the 2016 election when he's criticizing the Obama administration about it, but when anyone suggests the possibility that said meddling is the reason we have President Trump and not President Clinton (again), it's all like a crazy witch hunt devised by sore losers? Or is the obstruction of justice thing the witch hunt and the Russian election meddling fake news? Or both? It's really hard to keep all the presidency-ending scandals straight.

I'm sorry, did he think we needed help
recognizing the electoral college as
a catastrophically flawed system?
Anyway, Trump was reacting to-sorry, tweet-ranting? I'm not sure what we call this anymore. He was talking about a Washington Post report that says that President Obama received a CIA intelligence report that said that Trump's KGBFF, Vladimir Putin not only directly ordered the hacks of DNC emails, but that he did so with the explicit intention of discrediting the American democratic system by damaging the Clinton campaign and helping Donald Trump win the election. Which he did, sort of. Win I mean, the point is he's the president now and possibly because of Russia.

Is acknowledgement of Russian interference an acknowledgement that the election was questionable and we should, you know, look into this? Or is it maybe a chance to go after Obama. Go on, guess. Here's the tweet:
Should we at least pretend to be surprised that he's making
the story about his potential illegitimacy about Obama?
"Vlad, I'm going to need you to stop meddl-
huh? No? Well, we're going to levy some-oh,
he's promised to lift them? I see. Well, I'm out."

-Obama, exercising all options

Uh...yeah. Ok, good question. Of course, Obama didn't not do nothing-wait-didn't do nothing? You know what I mean. Obama did call Putin and asked him to knock it off, and he did levy some sanctions which...hey remember all the accusations the current President has been facing about his staff having contact with Russia before the inauguration and possibly telling Russian officials not to sweat all those sanctions because now that their guy was going to be President, he can make them go away? So...yeah..Obama hasn't commented yet, but he did do something, he just didn't not do something that didn't not help. With me?

Five years of demanding Obama respond
to an accusation that he himself made up.
Also, I'm not super clear about what action the Obama administration was supposed to have taken that Trump and the GOP wouldn't have turned into an accusation of him trying to help Clinton win. Remember when Trump wouldn't agree to accept the election results if he lost? And before that when he spent five years asking for Obama's birth certificate? Now, seven months after electoral-college winning an election that might have been interfered with, he wants to know why Obama didn't postpone the election or something?  

Here, check out this subsequent tweet in which Trump went on to call on all of us to stop focusing so much on him and start focusing on the previous administration's failure to prevent him from being president:
Uh...I don't know, I'm kind of comfortable focusing on T,
since T is the P thanks to R and probably should be in J.
"What are we supposed to do? Win by 
having better ideas than our opponents?"
-Speaker Ryan
Look, I'm not saying the Obama administration handled this great. I have no idea how they responded and neither does Trump. And we may never know the extent of the interference or whether or not it changed the outcome. Republicans have spent the last six years re-drawing district lines in their favor and according to a new analysis by the Associated Press, GOP gerrymandering might account for 22 of their House seats. So even without Russia, it could be that Republicans win because they're goddamn cheaters. It would go along way to explaining how they keep getting elected despite consistently passing objectively bad legislation.

What I am suggesting is that maybe the sharp, icepick to the brain sensation we're all feeling might be related to the unprecedented situation we find ourselves in: we have a President who may have won because of meddling by a foreign power. He openly acknowledges this meddling, and yet doesn't seem to understand why we have a problem with it. So I guess my question is, aren't we having an election do-over right now? Like, right goddamn now?
"If I had a million dollars for every time my inability to accept objective 
 reality has gotten me out of a tight spot, I'd have...huh, what ya know?"
-The guy most of us didn't vote for

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Today in new reasons not to visit Texas...

Hey, do you know what Alabama, Kentucky, South Dakota and Texas have in common with Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee? I'll give you a hint:
Kinkos that'll do large-format signs?
Pictured: A traditional cake topper,
as demanded by Jesus. In the Bible.
If you guessed that all those states have laws that discriminate against the LGBTQ community, you're right! So...congratulations? Holy shit, right? How are lawmakers in these states writing, voting on and then passing laws that allow Americans to be discriminated against based on things like sexual orientation, gender identity? Things like North Carolina's bathroom bill and those preposterous laws that say that bakers can refuse to make a wedding cake if the penis to vagina ratio of the couple getting married doesn't line up with their religious worldview?

How is this shit still happening? We live in the 21st century, aren't we past all this 1950's closed-minded, backwards, bigoted, horseshit yet?
"Wait a minute, discrimination? In America? Whaaaa?"
-people of color, women
and seniors, sarcastically
"Everything looks up to code, but
I'm afraid I'm still going to need
to see a birth certificate."
The answer, of course, is no. Except for here in California. Those states I mentioned earlier? They're on California's travel ban list which today added Alabama, Kentucky, South Dakota and Texas for a total of 8 states. It's sort of like that other travel ban except not racist. It's also not super-effective as it only applies to state-funded travel. So if you feel like piling the kids into the car and checking out South Dakota's 'gay parents need not apply' adoption agencies or North Carolina's rigidly enforced 'assigned sex at birth' bathrooms, nobody's stopping you. 

Could you put a price on
Rob Schneider's talent?
Officials from the new minted no-go states were understandably upset. Texas Governor and noted reproductive biologist Greg Abbott had this to say:

"California may be able to stop their state employees, but they can't stop all the businesses that are fleeing over taxation and regulation and relocating to Texas..."

-Greg Abbott, still a dick

Yes, businesses like Rob Schneider's vitamin company which the actor, comedian and anti-vaccination evangelist said he was taking out of state back in 2013 because Democrats ruined his career. 

Above: Typical West Coast liberals,
seen here punishing conservatives by
supporting equality for all Americans.
Like a bunch of fascists.
The loss of the star of The Hot Chick was, as you can imagine, a blow, but it was a spokesperson for Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin whose remarks cut most deeply:

"It's fascinating that the very same West Coast liberals who rail against the President's executive order that protects our nation from foreign terrorists, have now contrived their own travel ban aimed at punishing states who don't fall in lockstep with their far-left political ideology."

-Governor Bevin's easily 
fascinated spokesperson

The travel ban could cost the Hunstville, AL
Super 8 literally tens of dollars in lost revenue.
I don't mean to quibble, but the President's executive order was a blanket ban on anyone who has the misfortune of being from a country arbitrarily selected by the former host of The Apprentice for being to Muslim-y. And in addition to being Islamophic, it was also like, completely unconstitutional. California's travel ban applies only to state officials and prevents them from using tax money to travel to certain states. And it's not a punishment for those states listed, it's a protest.   

Specifically a protest against the homophobic bills people like Abbott and Bevin have signed into law. Laws that are designed to make straight white Christians with persecution complexes feel better about themselves at the expense of civil liberties and fairness for LGBTQ people in these states. So Abbott, Bevin and the lawmakers involved aren't the victims here. They're the, what's the phrase? Oh yeah, red state shit merchants? Yes, they're the red state shit merchants who live to make people's lives miserable. 
It's just our way of saying that while California has
its problems, at least we don't listen to guys like this.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A rich tapestry of nerd angst

It's not just me, right?
I mean, this can't be normal.
Today I'm going to give you a little insight into the resentment and sense of inferiority that lurks in the heart of many sci-fi/fantasy fans when it comes to sports. Not all nerds mind you, some of us are totally into both and it's nothing against physical activity, it's just that when you're not a sports person and everyone around you is, it's a little like being from some other planet or a parallel universe. Wearing a jersey with some guy's name on the back and watching other people play a game for hours? For non-sports fans this shit is weird.

It's a whole other world that, to the uninitiated, seems strange and unfamiliar. Which brings us to Star Trek. Bet you didn't see that coming. Or maybe you did. I am fairly predictable.
Incidentally, I'd like to take this opportunity to downplay
my previous assertion that sports fans are weirdos.
"CBS All Access: resistance is futile!"
-CBS's ill-advised new slogan
Anyway, CBS has announced the premier date for the new series, Discovery, and I think it's further evidence that they either don't know what they're doing or just straight up hate their fans. Or maybe both. We'll get to that. The way the series is going to be made available in the U.S. is lame. To watch, you'll have to sign up for CBS All Access, which is their streaming service. It's ten bucks a month, but you still have to sit through commercials because I guess CBS is unclear about why nobody watches broadcast television anymore.

Why pay them when we know they're jerks?
Again, fans. Short for fanatic doncha know.
But that's just the U.S, the rest of the world can see it on Netflix with no commercials. Because it's 2017. But whatever, CBS apparently knows that since it's the only place to get new Star Trek, fans like me will reliably, if grudgingly, pony up for their stupid service. What's straight up offensive to nerds like me is how their handling the premier. In addition to streaming, the first episode will air on CBS on September 24th at 8:30-ish. Yeah, ish. It's following Sunday night football, so it'll air whenever that's done.

"Wah...why is Picard dressed like...and is
Worf wearing tights? What's happening?"

-Me, age 10
And that brings us back to sports and the source of my aversion to all things athletic. When I was a kid, Star Trek would run in syndication on weekends after football. And when I say after football, I mean after an 11 minute game is stretched into three and a half hours. No really, I looked it up. Eleven minutes of actual footballing. Add to that another half hour of former players crammed into ill-fitting suits discussing the game that just happened, and then the network would join their regularly scheduled programming already in progress. Yes, like half way over. Because sports.

There was a decent chunck of TNG episodes' original run that I only saw the last twenty minutes of. It was infuriating to a ten-year old who didn't care about or understand sports that a bunch of old guys talking about a game everyone just watched took precedence over me getting my nerd fix for the week. So thanks CBS, thanks for bringing it all back...
"Blah blah, end zone blah blah third down, blah
yard line, blah. Blaaaah. Now over to you Terry."

-What this all sounds
 like to non-sports fans

Monday, June 19, 2017

Tweet havoc!

So as much as I'm sick of Donald Trump being the axis around which everything seems to revolve lately, I really can't let this pass by without comment. Let what pass by? This:
Pictured: a thinly-veiled indictment of the current politcal-wait, I
say thinly-veiled but I think the phrase is, face-punchingly obvious?
"Carpe feles!"
-Julius-ok, one thing in common
Yeah. The Public Theatre in New York just did a production of Julius Caesar in which Caesar looks like Trump. You know, because subtle social commentary is alive and well in American Theater. Anyway, a lot of people were outraged, some because-spoiler alert-it doesn't end well for Trump/Caesar and others because holy shit the two have like nothing in common. I mean, Caesar was able to speak in complete sentences where as our sort-of President is famous for inarticulately thumbing out gibberish on twitter at all hours.

I suppose they can't all be 'the die is
cast' and 'et tu Brute?' huh Jules?
Anyway, on Friday a protestor, Laura Loomer, ran onstage during the assassination scene and shouted 'This is violence against Donald Trump!' She may have been paraphrasing Caesar's historical, but not super-memorable 'Why, this is violence!' quip he made shortly before getting stabbed to death by his closest pals, but that's assuming a lot of someone who despite these last five months and the campaign leading up to them, still literally leapt (what? It's a raised stage) to Trump's defense.

"I'm Ricahrd II. Know ye not that?"
#loosers #thatreisgay
So look, I'm not defending The Public Theatre's choice to plunk the former host of The Apprentice in the middle of an Elizabethan play based on first century B.C.'s most famous shanking. It could be great, it could be shit, I don't know, but whatever we may think of Trump, William Shakespeare lived and died 400 years before anyone ever tweeted, so laying 21st century America's political shitshow on top of the play is a stretch at best.

But whatever, Loomer and another protester who filmed her cameo appearance pulled a dick move here and one which they compounded by accusing everyone in the theatre of being exactly like Hitler's propaganda guy, Josef Goebels. You know, because political commentary that doesn't align with your worldview is, by definition, Nazi propaganda.
Pictured: either Don Knots was into Nazi cosplay or
Josef Goebbels was just a ridiculous looking man.
Above: Loomer exercising her 1st Amendment
Rights by trampling all over other people
exercising their 1st Amendment Rights.
Hey that's funny, because here we thought everyone on the right was a bunch of Nazis. Go figure. While I'm sure Loomer and her friend hilariously believe themselves to be American heroes, their spectacle does, accidentally (again, not going to give them a ton of credit), raise a question about freedom of speech. After all, the production is absolutely a political statement and would be even if they didn't go full-on bludgeon by putting The Donald on stage so why isn't it ok for Trump-fans to protest in the way that they did? It's a difficult, soul-searching question and one that doesn't have an easy answer.

"A fellow of infinite jest. So much
jest you wouldn't even believe." #sad
But I'm going to answer it. And easily. No, of course it's not ok to bust onto the stage in the middle of a performance and start calling everyone Nazis. I mean what are they, assholes? Regardless of opinions about The Public's production, it's still their artistic and political expression and if Loomer and pals don't like it, they are welcome to put on their own show in response. Maybe they could do a version of Hamlet where Trump is Claudius and he heroically usurps the throne and then whines about Hamelt's witch hunt. 

Look, I don't know if making Donald Trump into Julius Caesar is a thoughtful artistic choice or a move designed to cash-in on the still-fresh shock we all feel at the realization that anyone, literally anyone no matter how flagrantly unqualified can be the goddamn President of the United States, but it's The Public's call as well as the public's call (see what I did there?). It's not ok for Loomer or anyone else to barge in and ruin everyone's pleasant evening of unsubtle revenge fantasy. I mean if you want to crap all over what others do, write a blog.
"So...nobody's going to ask me what I think about all this? No? I see..."
-I don't know, some guy

Friday, June 16, 2017

We're really Shaka-ing this up...

Ok, so you're mad, I'm mad, we're all mad. A lot of us don't like the current president, while others think he's doing a great job and wish we'd stop asking about all the justice obstructing. Obviously they're wrong, but I think what we all need to keep in mind is the lesson taught to us by Captain Jean-Luc Picard: that violence is never the solution.
Pictured: Picard solving his problems with violence.
"I'm a role model."
-Picard
Ok, there was that one time he shot a bunch of Borg on the holodeck with a holographic tommy gun. But for the most part Captain Picard solved his problems with diplomacy and occasionally by re-routing power through the whatever and then emitting a tachyon pulse through the main deflector, but he did that diplomatically too. And that's why this day, June 16th, is set aside to honor Captain Jean-Luc Picard: space explorer, amateur archeologist and role model. That's right, today is Captain Picard Day. I hope you sent your cards out in time.

Above: Riker playing with one of the
Picard Day entries while seriously
jeopardizing his career in the process.
Introduced in the episode The Pegasus as a way for Commander Riker to fuck with his boss, it's now a real thing for trekkies. While not as well known or widely observed as First Contact Day, or May the Fourth, Captian Picard Day is nevertheless an important geek orthodox holiday. Traditionally, children celebrate by drawing pictures or fashioning crude likeness of the Captain out of household supplies, which are then entered in a contest judged by Jean-Luc himself. Of course, Captain Picard is fictional and as such can't judge your art work, but that doesn't mean you can't mark the occasion.

You heard me.
You see the true meaning of Captain Picard's Day isn't about crayons or macaroni Picard sculptures or even calling out from work-although, feel free to call out from work. Tell them I said it was ok. Anyway, Captain Picard Day is about Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra. You know, cooperation. The simple fact is that that despite our differences, the key to coexistence isn't stunt doubles throwing double punches or even having superior phaser fire, it's a cup of Earl Grey tea and the willingness to talk through our problems.

Whether it's with someone who voted differently from you, or a hive-mind bent on assimilaton, or even just with someone who speaks entirely in impenetrable metaphors drawn from their planet's history with which you couldn't possibly have any familiarity, there is common ground if you look hard enough. That's the lesson of Captain Picard Day and it's especially relevant now because we are seriously Shaka-ing when the walls fell when it comes to getting along with one another.*

"Darmok and Jalad at...Why would you just assume
I, an alien, would get your obscure cultural references?"

-Picard, the reason
for the season



*allow me to nerd'splain: Shaka when the walls fell is Tamarian for complete and disastrous failure.