Tuesday, November 21, 2017

In other news, women are very special...

So today reporters finally got the President to talk about Alabama Senate candidate and alleged child molester Roy S. Moore. Here's what they asked:

"Mr President, is an accused child molester better than a Democrat?"

-NBC's Kristen Welker, no really
Pictured: Kristen Welker demonstrating the stunned expression
that was frozen on her face throughout the President's answer.
And that's when I saw the unicorn...
However, to his credit and in a shocking twist, the President replied: 

"Of course we take these accusations very seriously, and I am therefore urging Mr. Moore to step aside."

-President Trump before offering to 
answer other questions on a variety 
of subjects in complete, coherent 
sentences that didn't embarrass us all

Above: some of the women who have
accused
Trump of sexual misconduct.
There's 16 in all. 16 to Moore's 9. You
know, not that anyone's keeping count.
Wow. You know, I admit that I was wrong about President Trump. Today's comments really showed that he's finally growing into the role in which he-I'm just kidding none of that happened. He absolutely leapt to the defense of alleged child molester Roy S. Moore, pointing out that since Moore says he didn't harass and assault the nine women who are accusing him, we should totally take him at his word. After all, what would he possibly have to gain by lying about all those sex crimes he committed? Sorry, alleged sex crimes, he allegedly committed. 

So here's what the President said when reporters asked if he was ready to talk about the child molester running for the Senate. Sorry, allegedly. Anyway, here he goes:

Pictured: Roy S. Moore joining
Nazis
 on the list of things Trump
blindly throws his support behind.
"I can tell you one thing for sure, we don't need a liberal person in there, a Democrat. Jones. I've looked at his record, it's terrible on crime, it's terrible on the borders, it's terrible in the military. I can tell you for a fact, we do not need somebody that's going to be bad on crime, bad on the borders, bad with the military, bad for the Second Amendment."

-The President on how the
people of Alabama would be better
off represented by the sex offender

Wai-wai-wait, so help me out here, the President is criticizing, among other things, Doug Jones' record on crime? But isn't Moore himself accused of committing numerous egregious crimes? Sex crimes. Even if you think Jones is soft on crime, isn't being an actual sex criminal like, way worse? Anyway, the President wasn't finished. Here are some more of the bewildering words that actually came out of his mouth today:
"Women are very special. I think it's a very special time
because a lot of things are coming out and I think that's
good for our society and I think its very good for women."

-The President saying words while 
the First Lady looks on...probably 
regretting some of her life decisions

Monday, November 20, 2017

Nerd out? On the internet? Ok...

"Homaaaaage!"
-Alterna-Spock, just
loosing his shit, again
Last week was the last new episode of Star Trek: Discovery until January so if you're not caught up, please get caught up so I can talk about it. I'll wait. Back? Ok. Now either buckle up or bail, because we're about to head into nerd territory. Still with me? Splendid. We're just nine episodes in and Discovery's been pretty great. There's certainly things I can criticize, but I'm just happy there's new Star Trek being produced that doesn't rely on ripping off-sorry, homages to the original series.

I know what your thinking: Discovery is chock full of references. And you're right, as a prequel the entire series is itself kind of an homage, but I don't think it's leaning on it as heavily as say, Enterprise. Yeah, I know I trot out Enterprise, specifically 'In a Mirror Darkly' everytime I want to rag on Star Trek for ripping itself off, but I mean look at this:
It's mirror universe Archer fighting a Gorn on the
Defiant; the ship that got lost in a dimensional rift
in The Tholian Web. It's an homage smoothy! 
"You know what I'm sick of Commander?
Caves.
We live in the future and explore
space,
so why are we always in caves?"
-Geordi, kind of over caves
There're some superficial things Discovery does differently that I really like. For example, the crew isn't constantly encountering aliens who look exactly like humans except with some magic marker spots or rubber forehead appliance. No preposertous appearances by historical figures like Samuel Clemens or Abraham Lincoln. And although the ship has some kind of proto-holodeck onboard, it hasn't, to date, malfunctioned. Oh, and this is kind of a first: so far, no caves. The crew of the Enterprise was always visiting alien planets and hanging out in budget-freidnly caves. It was weird.

Does nobody write music between
Carnival III and the 23rd century?
Of course, the show's not free of Trek references, Michael Burnham is Spock's secret foster sister he never mentioned before and captain Lorca's got a Tribble in his ready room. And one of the best characters is Dwight from The Office playing harry Mudd, but mostly the writers go out of their way to not be like other Star Trek things. We heard Wyclef Jean in episode seven instead of some obnoxious piece of classical music. Character swear because sometimes you're getting tortured by Klingons and 'gosh darnit' isn't enough. Also not everyone is nice all the time.

Voyager's crew also had to struggle
with how to murder Neelix while
making it look like an accident. 
Don't get me wrong, one of the things I love about Star Trek is that it's set in a time in which people are supposed to have gotten past all their petty bullshit and get along with each other. The Federation is this shining utopia where you don't need money, there's free healthcare and everyone has a replicator. It's swell, but the best Trek stories put stress on that status quo. TNG had Q to show the humans how small and insignificant they are, Deep Space Nine threatened the Federation way of life with the Dominion War and Voyager took it away by having the crew lost in the Delta Quadrant.

At first glance it might look like Discovery is covering similar ground to DS9 with its war with the Klingons, but I think it's taking it from another angle. Instead of the external threat-which since it's set before the original series, we know the Klingons don't win-the show focuses more on asking how much of that shiny Federation utopian philosophy the characters are willing to compromise in order to survive.
Well, they're repeatedly stabbing a sentient alien
with needles to work their navigational system, so a lot?
"You murder your crew one time
and you never hear the end of it..."
-Captain Lorca
Like should Discovery keep using their spore drive even though it's harming the Tardigrade and later Stamets? Or should admiral Cornwell fire Captain Lorca for clearly being a monster? I mean, he is winning the war for them, but still, he did murder his last crew. It was to prevent their slow, painful deaths at the hands of the Klingons, but Picard would never do that...ok, except that one time he did exactly that in First Contact. Ok, bad example, but the point is she was going to fire Lorca before he tricked her into getting captured.

The point is that it's different enough from previous incarnations to feel like something new and fresh while at the same time keeping enough of the flavor of Star Trek that you don't feel like you're just watching Battlestar Galactica with Klingons. Oh, and can we talk about how Discovery boldly went where TNG should have gone like 30 years ago and had Trek's first kiss between two male characters? Because they did.
Way to go Star Trek. I mean Dawson's Creek beat you
to it by like 17 years, but still, welcome to the party.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Turns out the kids aren't all alright...

...in fact some of them are crazy gun nuts who love assault rifles. Look, I know it's like super easy to throw one's hands in the air and say 'kids these days,' but holy shit, kids these days...
Oh, and don't get me started on selfies.
Oh don't you look at me like that, we're
the ones that will have to live with the
consequences of your poor decisions.
Here, lookit this, it's a Guardian article about a Quinnipiac poll that shows that Americans age 18-34 are surprisingly divided on whether or not there should be a ban on assault rifles. 49% support a ban while 44% oppose on. This is in sharp contrast to the 65% of Americans of any age that support a ban. So what gives? Why are younger people more ok with assault rifles than old people? Shouldn't that be the other way around? Fair or not, we tend to link age with conservatism which is why it's super-frustrating when old people vote for someone like Trump and then we feel bad for pointing out they'll die sooner than us.

Call of Duty WWII: "way more fun 
than asking Grandpa about the war.."
-Activision's kind of
insensitive slogan
Anyway, what gives? The Guardian interviewed a sociologist called David Yamane who has a theory, and brace yourself because he's about to blame video games:

"There does seem to be something in particular about assault weapons, and it could be due to the normality of assault weapons for people who have come of age playing first-person shooter games like Call of Duty..."

-David Yamane about how the 
vidjagames and are warping the youth

Ok, remember how I told you to brace yourself? Well, un-brace and then re-brace because I'm not sure he's wrong. Sure, on the face of it it might seem like Yamane is just following in the footsteps of a hundred sanctimonious hand-ringers who for decades have insisted, without evidence, that video games are harmful, but I think this is more about a cultural issue than laying blame.
Hey, remember that time when Joe Liberman and the rest of the
Senate lost their shit over Night Trap and Mortal Kombat? Good times...
Somethings are just generational I guess,
like teabagging. What's with teabagging?
Yamane's not saying that first-person shooters make people violent, he's just suggesting that they can make assault rifles seem less foreign and 18-34 year olds less inclined to condemn them. He goes on to point out that kids who grew up in the 1950's were more familiar with things like hunting rifles either from first hand experience or from TV so those, for them, are normal. But kids who grew up in the 2000's playing FPS games where you've got to mow down as many enemies as possible as quickly as you can, appreciate the convenience of assault rifles in a way the rest of us can't.

So yeah, I'm going to have to go ahead and blame video games for this one. Not directly for gun crimes of course, but for helping create an entire generation of young people who think that slinging an assault rifle over your shoulder and heading out the door is a thing reasonable people do.
I mean look at these assholes...

Friday, November 17, 2017

"Finally, a Rampage movie!" said no one.

Also there was a werewolf,
because fuck yeah, werewolves.
I guess the question I'm asking the vast, silent, unthinking void is why is Rampage a movie now? Yes, Rampage, can you believe it? Huh? What's Rampage? That's a very good question and I'm glad I pretended you asked because it gives me an opportunity drop some obscure video game knowledge. Rampage is an old arcade game where you play monsters that resemble, but are legally distinct from classic giant monsters like King Kong and Godzilla.

Above: New York's iconic skyline
faithfully recreated in vaguely
building-themed rectangles.
You smash buildings in level after level of single-screen, virtually identical looking cities which the game assures us are places like New York and Peoria, all the while taking fire from helicopters, tanks and police. These attacks slowly drain your life until you die, transform into a tiny naked human and then feed the machine more quarters to continue. It was an ok game and did what it set out to do: extract money, which is what the movie makers hope to do too. But I'm not sure they're going about it in the best way.

"A movie." raves the New York Times!
The Chicago Tribune gave it a rating!
114 minute runtime confirms IMDB!
I mean, why, thirty years after the game came out and twenty-nine and a half years since anyone really cared about it, is Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson is staring in a film adaptation? Sure there were home ports and some so-so sequels in the intervening years but who is this movie for? People my age with hazy memories of playing the games or kids who were born in the aughts and are young enough to want to see a The Rock movie? Also, the trailer not only admits that the film is directed by Brad Peyton, director of San Andreas, but it kind of presents it as a reason to see it.

It's like the screenwriter has managed
to make the movie even dumber than
the game. Which is kind of innovate.
Weirdly the trailer doesn't even acknowledge that Rampage is based on a video game at all. And that's fine I guess, I mean, they're pretty clearly relying on Dwayne Johnson, monsters and explosions to entice people into the theater and away from the nine or ten streaming options that don't involve leaving their homes, but still, why bother linking it to the game at all? It's not like they kept the story, such as it was. Rampage the game was about scientists who mutated into kaiju, a premise the movie discards in favor of 'holy shit giant monsters, let's shoot them with guns.'

I'm not sure if Mortal Kombat: Annihilation
was on purpose, or just a misunderstanding
 between a film crew and some LARPers.
Look, I'm not saying the world doesn't need more giant monster movies, it absolutely does, I'm just questioning the wisdom of adapting (however loosely) a video game. Name a good video game movie? Well? Tomb Raider, Resident Evil and Mortal Kombat? Well, no. None of these were good movies. Objectively speaking they were just the least terrible video game movies. For every Tomb Raider there was an Assassin's Creed, for every Mortal Kombat, a Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.

But whatever, I'm just judging Rampage on the trailer alone and that's not fair, right? I mean, sure, I'm also judging it based on past experiences with movies adapted from video games and that's not always an indication of-oh, and also the director's previous work. I'm judging it on that too. So for those keeping track, there's the trailer, other video game movies and the director. But all that aside, I'm sure Rampage is going to be just great.
Pictured: Director Brad Peyton's 2010 film
Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore.
Why am I mentioning it? Oh, no reason.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Imitation is the highest form of imitation!

Remember when creativity in the television and film industries meant coming up with something new and original and not everything was an adaptation, a sequel or a reboot? Yeah, I don't either. But I'm still going to call bullshit on the Lord of the Rings TV show.
Although I'm sure the New Zealand Hobbit-based
tourism industry is breathing a sigh of relief.
Again, I refer you to the Hobbit Trilogy
which was, to be fair, was two and a half
more movies
 longer than it needed to be.
Huh? Oh yes, apparently Amazon, which owns everything Disney doesn't, has just snapped up the rights to produce a TV series set in the Lord of the Rings universe. I say the LOTR (acronym!) universe because the series is going to be a kind of prequel taking place before The Fellowship of the Ring movie. But wait, didn't Peter Jackson already mine the shit out of the pre-Fellowship era with the Hobbit trilogy? Sure, but why should a minor detail like a lack of source material stand in the way of milking Tolkien fans?

And milk them they shall because goddamn did the Tolkien estate cash in on this with Amazon paying $250 million. Yes, of money. And it's not just a one off, but a multi-season commitment and a spin-off. Yes, a spin-off for the series they haven't even made yet. Which, no really where are they getting the source material? Did Christopher Tolkien "find" another lost manuscript in he attic? Are they going to adapt The Children of Húrin? Or even more baffling, The Silmarillion?
Probably not. People tend to like TV
shows where things actually happen. Burn!
"So what's your excuse George R.R. Martin?
Still waiting on book six. Just saying..."

-J.R.R. Tolkien, throwing shade
It's a fair question, I mean, Tolkien's output has been a little light since he, you know, died in 1973. Here's what his estate had to say:

"Sharon (Tal Yguado, head of scripted series for Amazon) and the team at Amazon Studios have exceptional ideas to bring to the screen previously unexplored stories based on J.R.R. Tolkien's original writings."

-A rep for the Tolkien estate, 
struggling to be heard over the sound 
of J.R.R. Tolkien spinning in his grave

"Original? That's adorable."
-Jeff Bezos
I'm not sure 'hey, people like Lord of the Rings so let's make Lord of the Rings' qualifies as an exceptional idea. Also "...previously un-explored stories based on J.R.R. Tolkien's original writings." Is it me or is that statement a little...you know, misleading? Like, they're not explicitly saying that they've got some here-to-for unseen Tolkien stories to base the show on, but they'd kind of like you to think so. Like it could be anything written by anyone and they just stick in a Hobbit. Which ok, cool, but why not just write something original?

Bezos knows Lord of the Rings is
more about adventure and whimsey and
less about incest and shanking, right?
Wait, is Jeff Bezos mocking me in that caption? Well yes he is, but then he was recently named the world's richest human so he is, by any reasonable measure, right to do so. Also it was, it turns out, his creative vision that prompted Amazon to buy the LOTR rights in the first place. And by creative vision I mean he looked at the success of Game of Thrones and then told his TV people to make something like that. You know, because fantasy is in right now. You see, Game of Thrones has swords and magic, and the Hobbit has swords and magic so samey-samey, right?

Ugh...Is that how you get to be the richest person on Earth? By looking at someone else's successful idea and then telling the people under you to go buy you something like that?
"Well yeah, what's your point?"
-Jeff Bezos, from 
atop his money horde

Saturday, November 11, 2017

This is why we can't have nice things...

Ok everybody, the clock is ticking. According to the world's smartest human and noted alien invasion fear monger, Steven Hawking, we've got just six hundred more years to figure out a way off this planet or we're doomed. Doomed!
"My God that's...wait, did you say six hundred years? Yeah, sure 
we'll get right on that. After we cure cancer, come up with cold fusion 
and invent time travel. Pfft...you know, we're not your monkeys."  
-Scientists
Miami is already seeing serious flooding
and it's only a matter of time before cities
 we actually care about suffer similar fates.
What specific threat will doom us? Well, despite Hawking's previous warnings about alerting hostile aliens to our presence with inane SETI transmissions, the actual architects of our doom will be, unsurprisingly, us. Hawking says climate change resulting from the last two and a half centuries of industrialization combined with a rapidly increasing population will make the Earth uninhabitable sometime in the 27th century. Rising sea levels alone are expected to have catastrophic consequences for coastal cities in fewer than 100 years.

He's made predictions like this before, giving us timeframes anywhere between a hundred years and a thousand years, which... kind of makes me wonder why he's not working on inventing a warp drive instead of sitting around calculating our destruction, but hey, he's the once in a generation super genius I guess...
"Duh, because it's like, way easier."
-Dr. Steven Hawking
Old people: "dicking over succeeding
generations since the dawn of time."
The bright side to all of this-which is simultaneously the root of the problem-is that be it a thousand years or in a hundred years, chances are that if you're reading this you're probably not going to be alive to see the worst consequences of climate change. Kids on the other hand are kind of screwed. I'm not saying that laying blame on any one particular group is getting us anywhere, but if I were to lay some blame, I'd lay it at the feet of old people. Not all old people of course, just the ones who vote for politicians who are openly hostile towards environmental issues knowing full well they'll never see the consequences.

If we can double deck a taco, surely
we can slip some surly bonds.
So what do we do? Steven Hawking says we should get packing. Sure, the galaxy is an endless, radiation-soaked void that wants to kill us, but he feels it may well be preferable to Earth someday. It's not going to be easy, I mean, unless the government has a secret Stargate program or something, colonizing other planets is going to take some doing. And that's cool, I mean, I'm all for pouring the collective creative energies of the human race into something that isn't a new iPhone app or a taco within a taco.

But isn't there is something, I don't know, a little defeatist about this whole thing? Are we really talking about abandoning the Earth rather than switching to solar power and riding bikes? Probably. We are, after all, sort of a path of least resistance species, which is kind of what got us into this mess in the first place.
Besides, can you imagine an entire planet full of people
being insufferable about how they bike to work?

Thursday, November 9, 2017

They give out awards for that, right?

You know, the word 'hero' gets thrown around a lot these days, but did you see this thing about Donald Trump? No? Because according to his former body guard, Donald Trump once turned down five prostitutes. So like, trophy?
Above: Donald Trump getting an award.
Probably for prostitute turning-down.
Pictured: Schiller and the man
he'd do anything to protect. Even
say, lie to Congress for him. 
Yeah, his former body guard, a guy called Keith Schiller, was interviewed by Congress today in connection with that dossier which, among other things, mentioned that Trump had a bunch of prostitutes over to his hotel room. Now according to Schiller, while someone involved with the Miss Universe contest did offer to send five prostitutes up to Trump's hotel room when he was staying in Moscow back in 2013, he, that is Schiller, turned them down. And then he and Trump laughed about it. Because crime and degradation are hilarious.

He went on to helpfully clarify that both he and Trump were concerned about the likelihood of hidden cameras in Russian hotel rooms. Super.
"Wah? Hidden camera? Psscht...
guys, it's me we're talking about..."

-The guy that picked
our President for us
Wait, shouldn't he be suggesting that
we investigate Hillary Clinton? You
know, because emails or whatever?
But how are we hearing about all this? Leaks! Yes, and Schiller's lawyer is appalled. Appalled!

"It's outrageous that the very Committee that is conducting an investigation into leaks...is itself leaking information and defaming cooperative witnesses like Mr. Schiller...This conduct...calls into question the credibility and motives of the Committee's investigation."


-Keith Schiller's lawyer 
on the real outrage...leaks

I don't know what he's so upset about, I mean, Schiller said that Trump didn't hire five prostitutes. Because he was afraid he might get caught. But given the incredibly low bar the administration has set, that's pretty good right? Incidentally, what do you call a group of prostitutes anyway? A gaggle? A flock?
Is it a sadness of prostitutes? I think it's a sadness of prostitutes.