Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Let's appease The Gods!

Earthquakes, no, Water-Walking, yes.
Also: Laser-Eyes (not pictured).

An earthquake (5.8!) on the east coast? The hell? Have we offended the gods or something? Well, probably, but it's pretty rare that they bother to do something about it. Maybe they're more pissed off than usual, I don't know. Anyway, I'm not talking about God, or Allah or Shiva, I'm talking about the kind of gods that actually do things. Oh, and I'm really not making fun. Most biblical scholars insist that Jesus doesn't make earthquakes happen. It's just not one of his super-powers. You can't kill a goat for The Lord and expect your house to be quake-proof.

Muslim, Jew, Christian, or Atheist, it
doesn't matter. Cthulhu loves us all.

So what are we supposed to do? Worship Neptune or the Aztec quake god Tepeyollotl? C'mon, this is America. We need some new gods, some 'merican gods. Gods we can all get behind and fear together, regardless of belief. Is that too much to ask? I don't think so, not if we take it slow. Just a couple gods to start with until people adjust. We could probably use a God of the Stock Market, and one for the when you're stuck in traffic. Oh, and a Patron God of Shitty Bandwidth would be nice. Like for real.

Anyway, I'm totally open to suggestions and just to get the ball rolling, I've come up with a God of Earthquakes (see below). His name is Rik-Tor, and for offerings I suggest goats and the occasional iTunes card. So who's with me?

Behold: Rik-Tor, God of Earthquakes!
(artist's rendering)

p.s. For those of you who are not with me, repent or prepare yourself for the wrathful judgement of Rik-Tor.

UPDATE! 'Riktor' is already a thing. A google-ing of the name has revealed that there's a Wizard by that name in Discworld. Oh, well, I guess Rik-Tor will have to be the god of earthquakes and intellectual copyright violations.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

In further 'things not looking like stuff'

Awesome III,
King of Kick Ass and Radonia
A few weeks ago I drove down to L.A. to go to the open call for extras for the new Batman movie. Well, actually the call was for 'Magnus Rex' which is the secret code-name for Dark Knight Rises. Why? I don't know, we all know it's Batman 3, so why the charade? (click here to say it British-ly!) What's weird is that I think they'd probably be better off calling it Magnus Rex. I know it's basically Latin for 'King Awesome' but it's a better title than Dark Knight Rises. Almost anything with 'rise' in the title is probably going to blow. Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver SurferG.I. Joe: The Rise of CobraVan Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj. Average Metacritc score: 32.6 (math!). Sure, if the movie turns out to be great, who cares what it's called? But if it is crap this is one of the things we'll make fun of later.

Here's my headshot.
Notice my smoldering intensity.

Anyway, I and about 10,000 other would-be 'background talent' (holy shit, DO NOT call them extras) stood around for like four and a half low blood sugar hours in hopes of getting cast as 'Man with Newspaper #2' or 'Woman Eating Cake.'  It was a long and boring experience but still kind of a cool. I mean c'mon, it's a Batman movie, I'm sure I couldn't have been the only person there harboring fantasies of Christopher Nolan strolling by, picking me out of the crowd and shouting into his director's megaphone: 'I have found my The Riddler!' What? It could happen...(no it couldn't).

There was not a man or woman in Conference Room B that wouldn't stab their own
Grandmothers for a 10-second walk-on role in The Mentalist.

Ah the internet,
what would we do without it?
So yeah, it was quite a thing. While I wait for my agent to call however, I'd like to discuss what's wrong with the new Batman movie. How could I possibly judge with a movie that isn't even out yet? Why the internet of course, but also experience. Allow me to explain: In a further example of things not looking like stuff anymore, the last two Bats-Man (like mothers-in-law), while totally good movies, made me think that Christopher Nolan just enjoys sucking the fun out of superheroes by re-boot-magining Batman as a real-live person.

"Ok Mr. Wayne, that's 300 bat-shaped
boomerangs. Would you like any grappling
hooks to go with your order today?"
I know it's nerd-blasphemy to question Nolan's epic (or, long) Batman Begins, but in showing us every single step in the Bruce Wayne becoming Batman process, the film kind of strips the character of his superhero-ness. Batman doesn't have super powers and instead relies on his utility belt, kick-ass martial arts and detective skills to fight crazy theme crime. Sure, his gadgets are just slightly sci-fi and don't always obey the rules of physics but it's cool. He's Batman. Where does he get those wonderful toys? Well, in BB (acronym!) we spend half an hour watching Christian Bale order his gear from a catalogue, so yeah, I guess that's where he gets them. Operators are standing by.

Here's all we need to know.

Look out Goldman Sachs,
Batman's on to you!
As for the film's villain, Scarecrow was ok, but what happened to Ra's Al Ghul? In the comics he's a five hundred year-old megalomaniac who uses a magic well to live forever. They left this part out because they thought the audience wouldn't buy the magic, instead they just made him some dude who orchestrates a financial crisis. Ok. Sure, it's more plausible than a fat man flying around on a heli-umbrella, but the movie version of Ra's Al Ghul could have just as easily been defeated by a team of forensic accountants.

A deleted scene from Batman Returns explained that Oswald Cobblepot is 40% helium.

I thought the The Dark Knight was a little more comfortable being a comic book movie what with both Two-Face and the Joker, even if the latter was reduced to a serial killer with clown make-up. I mean, Joker was always a serial killer, but in the comics his murder-sprees were kind of hilarious. Observe:

Here the Joker shoots Barbara Gordon, leaving her paralyzed for life.
It's funny 'cause he's wearing a silly hat.

He's a giant purple guy who
eats planets. Accept it and move on.
Sometimes I wonder if the people who make movies out of comic books and cartoons aren't just a little bit ashamed of the source material. Like when Michael Bay didn't want to deal with mass-shifting Transformers, or when the Fantastic Four sequel turned Galactus, Devourer of Worlds into an evil space-cloud. Sure, it makes sense that a more realistic take on Batman would require some toning down of the more out-there aspects of the Bat-universe, but sooner or later Warner Brothers is going to roll out Justice League or a Batman/Superman team-up to compete with Marvel's Avengers movie. Once you drop the Last Son of Krypton and Martian Manhunter into the mix, the devotion to realism kind of goes out the window.

What got me thinking about this was the photos from the new movie that started cropping up on the internet. Sure they're out of context and almost certainly don't represent the finished film, but still. This is a movie about a man dressed as a bat fighting crime with boomerangs...lighten up a little, you know?

On a side note, whilst down in Los Angeles I stayed with my friends in Silver Lake and spotted these delightful flyers stuck to a pole:

Click to make bigger
and therefore legible.

Oh hipsters...

Silver Lake is a great neighborhood, but be warned: despite stronger emission standards, living there is the equivalent of smoking 2 packs of irony a day.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Michele Bachmann goes both ways...

...in her opinion of gay people. What did you think I meant? Check out this amazing video wherein she stares glassily at David Gregory as together they listen to clips of her from the EdWatch National Education Conference saying how gay people lead sad lives, and that being gay is basically the same thing as satanic bondage. 

I'm surprised she didn't try to work Hitler and socialism into her line of bullshit.

"Judge not lest ye be an omnipotent
super-being with god-like powers."
-Judge Q
So when Gregory asks her how she thinks gay people might feel about her judgmental rantings, she responds that she's 'no one's judge' and that all anyone should care about is that she's 'running for the Presidency.' After all, she doesn't hate gay people, she just sees gays as having a sexual dysfunction that makes them unfit to be parents or have equal rights under the law, what's judgy about that? It's like if I call Congresswoman Bachmann a homophobic harpy with dead eyes and a medieval worldview, it would be cool because, uh I'm running for the Presidency and stuff..

"Blessed is he who supports low
corporate tax rates and gun-ownership."

Anyway, if you're like me, you were probably wondering how her bigoted, unscientific ramblings went unchallenged by the audience in attendance at a National Education Conference. Well, the thing is that this was 2004 EdWatch National Education Conference. The now defunct EdWatch was an organization dedicated to ensuring that schools teach 'the Judeo-Christian worldview' which sounds slightly less racist than 'conservative white-people history.' Really, she could have stood up there and asked the attendees to help her take Jerusalem back from the Turks and they'd have been all for it.

Above: the 2008 EdWatch Conference. The hot topic that year:
Thunder: Thor's Anger or Angels Bowling?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Also, Rick Perry thinks we're idiots.

Tastes like strawberries,
and sanctimoniousness.
Rick Perry announced that he'd be running for not only for President of the United States, but also for President of Jesus. Is that even a thing? Am I being unfair? I don't know, maybe, but he did hold that prayer rally attended by 30,000 Evangelical Christians and then insisted that it was in no way political and not designed to remind voters that he's like, a super-Christian and will finally stick up for the, uh, over dog. How is this ok? Does he lack the gene that allows a person to smell their own bullshit? Am I just being cynical? The man makes a Church and State smoothie every time someone gives him a mic but it's cool because he's all about American Values. You know, like succession.

"Combining religion and politics to further my career? Moi?" 
                                                                            -Governor Rick Perry

The Netherlands:
It's Dutch for California
Yeah, remember when he suggested that Texas could succeed from the Union because uh, you know, people don't like paying taxes? What the shit was that? I mean could you imagine the reaction if California Governor Jerry Brown were to say that his state should break off and form some kind of utopia of universal healthcare and decriminalized pot (see right)? So how come Rick Perry gets to launch into the kind of crazy rants that would end the career of any progressive in office faster than you can say Jocelyn Elders, but still come out smelling like baseball and apple pie?

Being an American is awesome until you have to help pay for
schools and roads. Then, it's time to get out yer guns. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Race to the Bottom

Many Bothnians died
to bring us this information.
Get this: Swedish underwater treasure hunter Peter Lindberg and his underwater team of Aqua Swedes have discovered a 60 foot disc-shaped obect at the bottom of the Gulf of Bothnia between Finland and Sweden. Theories as to what in Odin's name it could be range from a natural rock formation to some kind of underwater Stonehenge (so like an unnatural rock formation). I'm going with what I find to be the most rational explanation: crashed alien starship, but it looks like we might never know as Peter 'Tightwad' Linberg doesn't want to shell out the kronas necessary to retrieve it.

What? Just because they recorded Waterloo
and wear foil they can't also be scientists?

Why? I don't know. Unlike the recent discovery of an alien starbase on Mars, this thing is totally get-to-able. So what's the hold up? I guess the most important discovery in the history of the human race just isn't interesting to a guy used to dredging the ocean floor in search of Viking beard combs. I mean the object Alien Scout Vessel, is just sitting there under 300 ft of water waiting to be hauled up to the surface and studied by the most brilliant minds Sweden has to offer.

Do we really want these people
to get hover-cars before us?

Sure, it could be anything. Rock, flying saucer, Stargate. The point is we won't know for sure until someone goes down there and takes a closer look. And I say if Sweden doesn't want it, let's go for it. It's only a matter of time before someone else goes after it (Finland, I'm looking at you). I mean we just killed the shuttle program, flying cars are years off, and the most innovative invention to come out of the U.S. in the last ten years is the Forever Lazy. We could totally use some hyper-advanced alien technology right about now. If anything, we can't afford not to explore this thing.

Look, we were all about sniffing around the Titanic with our multi-million dollar robo-subs and that thing is miles under the ocean. I'm just saying that's a lot of time, money and effort when all we can hope to find aboard is Edwardian opulence and some hastily arranged deck chairs.

While many criticized White Star Line for not carrying enough lifeboats, it's important to note that at the time most people assumed that the Irish stereotypes in 3rd class could simply drink their way to shore.

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Feast for Vultures

Like a winged scavenger circling a kill in the desert I've been ducking into the increasingly spartan remains of the nearby mall Borders in hopes of snagging the latest G.R.R. Martin book at a desperation-based discount.

I could smell what I thought for sure to be the scent of death hanging over the place, but then I realized that the
 bookstore was Abercrombie and Fitch-adjacent. Holy shit guys, enough with the cologne.

"Each one I sell brings me closer to
obsolescence. Also, it plays Angry Birds."

-Cassie, Barnes and Noble Employee
It was a delicate balancing act, waiting for the price to go lower while being careful not to wait too long lest until they run out. Today I made my move snatching the penultimate (what? I like the word) copy from the store's carcass and leaving the rest to the jackals. Am I glad I did it? Sure. Do I feel good about it? Nah. In addition to the thousands who are loosing their jobs, I just really hate to see a bookstore go under the crushing and anti-social weight of Amazon and ebooks. Besides, now where am I supposed to go to look like I read more than I really do? The library? Pfft. Maybe if I wanted some microfiche...

On the other hand with the Sci-Fi/Fantasy or 'nerd' section being slowly assimilated by the 'Teen Paranormal Romance' non-genre (or 'nonre,' if you will), I can't help but wonder if it isn't for the best.

Thus ends 5000 years of the written word.
By the by, Beowulf is a saga. These are Harlequin Romance novels for tweens.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Amazing Spider-Men? Mans? Spiders-Man?

Like these guys are big fans of comi-
Wait a minute, is that Greg Proops!?*
In a move that has already provoked the ire of racists who don't give a shit about comic books until Fox News tells them to get angry about something, Marvel has revealed that the new Ultimate Spider-Man is biracial <gasp!>. They're upset because, well, I actually don't know why they're upset but click on the first link for some hilarious 'white-guys with persecution complexes' action. I think you'll find that these dudes have awfully passionate opinions about men in spandex.

Here, Spider-Man battles the Lizard.
His super-power is being a lizard.

New Ultimate-what now? Oh yes, this is Marvel we're talking about so it's going to be a little more complicated than 'hey, there's a new Spider-Man.' For people who don't waste their lives contemplating the mysteries of the Marvel Multiverse, allow me to explain. The Spider-Man most people are familiar with is rubber-science (and alliteration) victim Peter Parker. Parker uses his stick-to-walls powers and a revolutionary (and curiously un-patented) breakthrough in polymers to fight both regular crime and animal themed super-crime. This Spider-Man is native to Earth 616, which is where most Marvel Comics are set. Still with me?

Above: Jackson doing more in one
frame than in 3 Star Wars prequels.
The Ultimate Universe or Earth 1610, is an alternate reality reboot invented back in 2000 as a way to sell more comic books without coming up with new ideas. It's usually somewhat more edgy than Earth 616 and some of the stories are actually pretty good. Classic characters can die (and not be revived a couple years later), Colossus is gay and Nick Fury was played by Samuel L. Jackson before Samuel L. Jackson played Nick Fury. Think Star Trek's 2009 alt-boot sans lens flare.

The Ultimate Universe is the most fleshed out of the dozens of 'what-if' realities in the Multiverse. In addition to the Earth 1610, there's there's also a Pilgrim Universe (Earth 311) and a Noir Universe (Earth 90214) among others.

Earth 2149: The Zombie Universe.
I shit you not.

NYC: You're more likely to get super-powers
from a spider bite than find a parking space.
Anyway, (spoiler) Ultimate Spider-Man is (or was) also named Peter Parker, but he was killed off earlier this summer. Hence the need for a new Ultimate Spider-Man. Enter Miles Morales (Marvel loves their alliteration). With the new character Marvel's editors are making a conscious choice to diversify their roster of super-heroes, and that's cool. Sure, killing off and 'recasting' alterna-Spidey is not quite as bold a move as say shaking up the Earth 616 status quo with a black Captain America or putting Donald Glover in The Amazing Spider-Man reboot, but still.

Japan lives by the motto:
Everything's better with robots.
So much to the chagrin of racists everywhere, Spider-Man can be whomever the writers want him to be. In fact he's already been a clonea girl and in Dark Avengers, Venom. One miniseries re-imagines him as Pavitr Prabhakar, an awkward teen from India. In Japan he's Takama Yokashiro, a motocross rider who gets his Spider-powers from a magic alien bracelet and pilots a giant robot named Leopardon. Spider-Man even exists as an ill-conceived broadway musical for reasons beyond understanding. The point is that the Multiverse is big enough for everyone. Except Bono. Like seriously, screw that.


*No, no it's not Greg Proops. But seriously, doesn't it kind of look like him?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Operation: Faking It

Ok, so the stock market is one of the things I'll never understand about the global economy. I mean I get that investors buy and sell shares of companies. I can wrap my head around that. What's beyond me is the part where they occasionally get freaked, sell all their stock and run off a cliff like a pack of well-manicured lemmings.

Stop crying and buy some goddamn stock you bald jerk!

"One hundred of your finest stocks please!"
I know I'm probably displaying my ignorance here when it comes to economics, (displaying ignorance is what the internet is all about!) but what if rich people just stopped panicking? It's my (deeply limited) understanding that the stock market is both an indicator of the health of the economy, and a factor in it. When people are confident in the economy, they buy more stock and that's good for business, right? So why not fake it? Why don't we send some fake investors on to the trading floor to wave around some cash and bellow loudly about how confident they are? You know, just to make everyone feel good about investing.

Crackpottery you say? Perhaps. I don't know. Investors and their mood swings seem like a much bigger threat to the world than a lot of the countries we've invaded recently, so why don't we do something about it? 

They're basically Al-Qaeda with money-clips and that rich-guy smell.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Let's get dangerous!

It could have been much, much worse.
Since I've posted like three 'I just saw a movie and here's what's wrong with it' rants in the last couple of months, I'll try to keep this one short. I saw Captain America: The First Avenger last week and I liked it. It wasn't the best ever, but it was ok. Unlike Green Lantern, Cap was likable and unlike Thor the story kind of made some sense. As the Marvel movies go it ranks well above Fantastic Four and Dare Devil but nowhere near X-Men First Class or Iron Man.

My main problem with the film is that it totally lacks any dramatic tension. At no point was Cap in any danger. No matter how many Hydra troops Red Skull tossed at him, he just sort of beat them up and moved on.

By the time Cap's punching out Hydra goon #8,342, the movie starts to drag a little.

These guys don't blend in.
CA: TFA (acronym!) reminded me a little of Star Wars in this respect and yeah, I'm about to call out the original trilogy, so settle down. The Galactic Empire has like billions of Storm Troopers, all of whom wear body armor, carry blasters and fly around in starships capable of laying waste to entire planets. But for some reason not one of them can manage to hit Luke despite the fact that he's running around the stark, mono-chromatic interior of the Death Star with a stiff-jointed shiny golden droid and a seven-foot yeti.

It is a legitimate medical condition affecting nine out of every ten Stormtroopers.

I mean, what's not menacing
about these guys?
But while the Stormtroopers were never really a threat, we had the garbage smasher, Darth Vader and TIE Fighters (also, the possibility of incest) to put the characters in jeopardy. This movie has none of these things. It's just wave after wave of Hydra psuedo-Nazis getting their asses handed to them by the Captain. Sure, they have tanks and flame throwers and Odin-powered (just go with it) laser guns but Captain America has an everything-proof shield and his name in the title of the film. So where's the danger?

I got yer danger right here. Speaking of which, where's this movie?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Economy: Solved!

Soulja Boy has evidently
never heard of Expedia.com
There is officially such a thing as too rich. Behold Soulja Boy who may, or may not have spent $55 million* on a private jet with optional flatscreens and 4 wet bars. Is it even possible to spend that much on a jet? And how many wet bars do you need on a plane that seats like 12 people? Is there one for the pilot? 55 million dollars? Seriously? It's not that I have an opinion of him as an artist or anything, but if he did somehow blow that much on a plane, he'd totally deserve a punch in the Chinese character for 'conspicuous consumption' (see face, right).

This JPEG of Ray Irani alone is
worth $2.4 million.
Ok, so while Soulja Boy is probably full of shit, this guy definitely has too much money. His name's Ray Irani and he made $76 million at an oil company last year. Over the last 10 years he made $857 million. Am I a total pinko for saying that no one should make that much when gas costs $4 a gallon? I don't care how good this guy is at oil-company CEO-ing, there is someone, somewhere (probably working under him) who is better at it than he. The difference is that they're not making more money than the island nation of Tuvalu.

I'm not alone on this, am I? Millions of us don't even have one wet bar on our private jets, or health insurance for that matter. Meanwhile, there are people out there with yachts like this one:

Although in fairness, this yacht is surprisingly eco-friendly. 
Instead of diesel, it runs on panda blood and the tears of childhood-cancer patients.

We are so going after this son of a bitch.

Aren't we, as a planet, sort of teetering on the edge of economic calamity? If things keep going the way they're going and these jackasses continue to flaunt their offensively vast wealth, how long before we have another Bastille Day? That's not to say that I'm against the idea of turning some of these people upside down and plugging the debt with whatever falls out of their pockets, but sooner or later we're going to have to fix the problem. Fortunetly, thanks to video games, I think I've hit upon the solution.

"Money fight!"
-C. Montgomery Burns

I'm not an economist (I know, right?) and I don't fully understand how the global economy works, but I think we all need to remember that money is kind of imaginary when you get right down to it. It's only worth something because we pretend it is. The government prints it so we don't have to barter goats and children and stuff, not so a few dozen kagillionaires can wallow in extravagance. It's like Monopoly, if someone has all the money it's not fun anymore. You stop playing. 

There's so much the Orcs can teach us.

So what's my idea? Level caps. Like in World of Warcraft, you know? For those with lives, level caps keep players from becoming too powerful. Without level caps your level infinity Night Elf Warlock would blow through each new expansion pack in about fifteen minutes, you'd lose interest and then Blizzard would have to come up with some other way to get your $14.99 a month. Or, I don't know, maybe they could release Diablo III sometime this decade. 

So why doesn't real life have something like this? What if the most anyone was allowed to accumulate was, I don't know, 20 million dollars. And anything beyond that goes in a big kitty to help pay off national debt or universal healthcare or something.

Or one of these. America could use one of these.

Before you say that $20 million isn't
enough, remember you get a crown too.

That's enough, right? $20 million and that's it, you win. Congratulations. You don't get to have any more money, but you get a crown or a sash or something and you get to live out the rest of your life as the guy who won at life. I'm not suggesting that we throw out capitalism, I'm just suggesting that there could be a limit on how much money a person should be allowed to hoard. Is that so crazy?

*To put this in perspective, which clearly Soulja Boy has not, $55 million is roughly equivalent to the average income of 1,100 people687 college educations* or 275 rides on the space plane. Yeah, I looked it up. The more you know!