Friday, December 30, 2011

Otto von Hapsburg, we hardly knew ye.

1996: The year Randy Savage
redefined the craft.
What do Macho Man Randy Savage and Elizabeth Taylor have in common? If you said they both died this year you'd be correct but you'd be leaving out Randy Savage's contributions to the art of acting (and forgettting about the time Liz Taylor suplexed the Iron Skiek at Wrestlemania III). For a couple of years in the 90's Savage was the be-sunglassed face of Slim Jim brand mechanically separated meat tubes. Move over Elizabeth Taylor's corpse, 2011 will be remembered as the year we lost two titans of acting.

Anyway, since it's almost 2012, it's time to look back on the people who have died. Why? I don't know, it's like we all become old people who read the obituaries to each other in the morning.
"Look honey, Ethel Crandell died. Remember her from high school? God she was a bitch."

Above: Pssscht...nobodies. 
Of course, part of the tradition is that we only remember the passing of people who were super-rich, in the entertainment industry, or who murdered political rivals to achieve unlimited power (or a combination of the three, again see Elizabeth Taylor), so don't hold your breath waiting for a CNN retrospective to mention grandma; nobody cares. The rest of us simply pass into the long night unremarked and forgotten. So on to the list:

Ouch, not even a border skirmish.
Dead now are Steve Jobs, Anne 'Dragons of Pern' McCaffrey, Columbo (aka Peter Falk), Joe Simon, who co-created Captain America and Michael Gough (the guy who played Alfred in Tim Burton's Batman movies). Also dead is Austrian Archduke Otto von Hapsburg. Tragically, Otto's passing went largely unnoticed and unlike his Godfather and fellow Archduke, Franz Ferdinand, failed to plunge Europe into a World War.

In the terrible people who are now dead category we have Osama bin Laden and not one but two military-strong men/oppressive dictators.

Now that these guys are gone, the people of Libya and North Korea
can totally look forward to a free and democratic future...right?

"It's only cheating when Democrats do it."
-Newt Gingrich, out of his pie-hole
But it's not just the people who have left us. We can say good bye to the space shuttle program as well as America's non-commercial space aspirations. In the interests of making sure there's nothing good on TV, the SyFy channel has cancelled Caprica and Stargate Universe. Oh and we should pause to remember the concept of irony which was brutally murdered the moment Newt Gingrich opened his pie-hole about other people's marriages. It will be missed.

So much for 2011, I hope you enjoyed looking back on it because this New Year's will be our last. We survived several brushes with doomsday last year, but this one predicted by the Ancient Mayans is probably for real.
No one wearing a turtle neck could possibly be full of shit.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Our Lady of Sour Grapes

"In the name of tolerance, we are not being tolerated,"
                                             -Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki

Above: Bishop Paprocki after a visit to Burger Pope.
"If we don't treat the gays like shit,
who will? Am I right people?"
No. Screw you Bishop Pop Rocks. Does he not see the problem with complaining that his intolerance is not being tolerated? What the hell am I talking about? I see you didn't read the story. Fine, here's the link again. The broad strokes are these: The Catholic Church in Illinois is being renamed the Archdiocese of Sadpants because the State is saying they can no longer turn away gay people who want to adopt kids.

"And another thing, no dancing, it's abomination. Yeah that's it."

-Leviticus, 26:24
Yup. Despite the scientific consensus that gays and lesbians are perfectly fit parents and the tremendous need for stable home environments for kids, Catholic Charities (the organization that handles the Church's adoptions and foster care services) will shut down its operations rather than join the 21st century and accept the fact that Leviticus was written 2500 years ago by cranky jerks. You know, I don't see them standing up for slavery or stoning your wife to death and that's in there, so why there're clinging so hard to the Bible's anti-gay stuff is beyond me.

They're not exactly hurting when it
comes to golden horse-drawn coaches.
If Catholic Charities is really looking out for the best interests of children (note the absence of a priest joke-I've matured), can't they just gloss over a couple lines of the Old Testament and deal? Are they there to be a charitable organization or to recruit new Catholics? If the latter, should they really be getting State money in the first place? Speaking of which, isn't the Church kind of, you know, rich? I mean, can't they foot the bill without the State of Illinois?

Advocates of the anti-discrimination laws make the point that State money shouldn't be used to discriminate against people. The Church's argument is that in asking them to comply with anti-discrimination laws over their religious objections, the State is discriminating against them. Bullshit. That's like saying the 19th Amendment discriminates against anti-suffragists. You don't get a pass just because your rationale for bigotry is religiously-based. Suck it up.
Above: More victims of equality. Theirs is a heart-breaking story of not getting their way.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Has it come to this?

'To boldly golf...'
Are there aliens on the moon? No, of course not. Don't be an idiot. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't look. A couple of scyentists from Arizona State have come up with an idea to have internet nerds comb through photos taken by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter looking for signs left behind by aliens. Why? Because it will give us something to do and I suppose it's cheaper than renting a spaceship from Russia or Virgin Galactic.

The aliens have gold lamé
technology centuries ahead of ours.

Their theory is that aliens may have traveled light years between stars and spotted our primitive ancestors murdering each other over religion and throwing poo. But instead of nuking us from orbit (as would have been the sensible option) or using their advanced technology to make us worship them as gods (the plot of 15% of all Star Trek episodes) the aliens said to themselves: 'Hey, let's leave a note, or an obelisk or something!'

Or, failing something so blatant, they're also hoping to find space junk or left-over scientific instruments on the assumption that the visiting life-forms are slobs like us.
It's a good thing this Italian guy pretending to be an 
Indian never joined the space program.
Godspeed nerds, godspeed.
Ok, fine. I guess it's totally possible. And really, free internet labor (again, nerds) has proven willing to aid science (as long as we don't have to get up or anything). But has it really come to this? We used to strap brave (or possibly insane) men and women to rockets and watch them slip the surly bonds of Earth in the name of science. Now we're down to lunar dumpster diving. Does anyone find the 21st kind of lame sometimes?

"Holy shit NASA, if you missed an alien starship on the moon 
for forty years I totally want our money back."

Monday, December 26, 2011

So this is Boxing Day, and what have you boxed?

Behold: My people.
Hey everybody, today is Boxing Day! What the hell is Boxing Day? I always thought it was like some kind of Canadian Christmas. They have all their holidays on the wrong day. For example, the Canadian Thanksgiving? It's in October for some reason. Oh, and Canada Day, the imaginatively named Canadian version of the 4th of July? That's on July 1st. Once again those mounted, hockey playing abooters have beaten us to the punch. And yes I can say that, I'm one quarter Canadian, so it's ok.

Superior British technology will
allow for triple-decker buses by 2014. 
Anyway, I did some research (and by research I mean wikipedia) on the subject of Boxing Day and it's not originally Canadian but an invention of their overlords, the British. In the U.K. Boxing Day combines the drunken fandom of Thanksgiving Football (the soccer kind) with Black Friday, where deep discounts draw shoppers out of their quaint Hobbit holes in search of bargains. However, unlike the frenzied day after Thanksgiving Wal-Mart massacres we have here in the states, the civilized Brits settle quarrels over the last kipper at Tesco's with words instead of fisticuffs. Truly they are an advanced people.

Like the public executions of Guy Fawkes Night or the alien invasions of Christmas, Boxing Day has an origin story. It started as the day rich people set aside to give presents (presumably tiny crutches and gruel) to their servants and the needy. You see, 19th century England was a cruel, soot-covered nightmare of class stratification and organ meat pies and they didn't want the poor bumming out rich people on Christmas. How thoughtful. Happy Boxing Day everybody!
Above: The traditional orphan hunt,
a Boxing Day favorite since 1764.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Everybody loves a parade! (Except Chicago Archbishop Francis George)

Sorry to be harping on religion lately, but what is up with Christian persecution complexes? Like would Rick Perry even have a job if Evangelicals didn't live under the delusion that they're some sort of persecuted minority who every year face down PC stormtroopers determined to rob them of their right to say Merry Christmas?
"Rwarr! You should have said 'Happy Holidays' instead of 'Merry Christmas!' Rwaarrrrr!"
-Some lion, circa 64 A.D.

Nope, no Roman Empire. But the best
 country name award goes to Djibouti.
Look, I know Christianity has a history of being treated shittily by the establishment. Granted. But the establishment in question was the Roman Empire which, if I read the map correctly, is no longer a thing. In fact, before collapsing into a thousand years of dinner, tournaments and fun for the whole family, the empire converted to Christianity and promptly started picking on non-Christians. A lot of the last 1500 years of western civilization can be summed up with "Jesus: Love'em or die screaming you heathen pig." Now they kind of are the establishment.

-Cardinal Francis George
So when Cardinal Francis George, the Supreme Admiral of the Chicago diocese (Catholics have admirals, right?) said the following without a trace of irony, you kind of have to wonder where the paranoia comes from:

Yup he's comparing the push for LGBT equality to the KKK. That voice of reason you hear suggesting that maybe the Cardinal's statement goes a little too far? That's a Fox News host. When Fox News is asking you to rein in your crazy, it might be time to pause and check your math. 

Note to the Church: You don't get this
turnout telling people they're going to hell.
The Archdiocese of Chicago was upset because the route for this year's gay pride parade would have taken it past a church during mass. Ok, in fairness the once-a-year parade might indeed have been disruptive to the service. You know, the church service that has happened once a week, every week, for the last 2000 years or so. Fine. Surely the city's Catholic and LGBT communities could have worked something out without anyone bringing the goddamned Klan into it, right? I mean is holding a gay pride parade really the same as cross burnings?

In the end, parade organizers did relent despite the Cardinal's dickish comments. I just hope it was because it was the considerate thing to do and not because anyone actually gave a shit about inconveniencing Cardinal George.
"Jesus H. Christ, would somebody please go ask the gays to keep it down out there? 
I can barely hear myself condemn them to eternal torment."
Above: A member of the Church's
anti-gay marriage aerial division.
Hey, since the Chicago Gay Pride Parade organizers have demonstrated how to be kind to their fellow man, wouldn't it be great if the Archdiocese would do the same? The Catholic Church in Illinois actually has a special department whose job it is to defeat any attempts by gay people and their supporters to win equal rights under the law. It's sort of a special intolerance brigade, ready to spring into action wherever equality might rear its ugly head. Maybe they could, you know, knock it off? In the interest of getting along and all?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

No for real, don't laugh.

Shopping for a new religion? 15,070 people in the Czech Republic just identified themselves as Jedi Knights. 15,070. And those were just the ones who wrote it in. In the U.K. and New Zealand (where it started) it's a box you can check on the census and it's been around for awhile. They even have a website, and they don't let just anyone have one of those.

Don't laugh. If you now or have ever in your life believed in anything
outside the realm of hard, empirical science don't even laugh.
All aboard.
Crazy train, or sane train? Who's to say? Me, that's who. And I'm going with sane train. For real, check out their website. Other than some hokum (yeah, I dropped hokum) about the omnipresent mystical Force, they really don't say anything that out there. There's no god, but there isn't not a god, there's no afterlife, but there isn't not an afterlife and to date exactly 0 (non-fictional) people have been killed in the name of (or by) Yoda. 

And that hokum I mentioned? That might even be real. Higgs Boson particles might just be the universal elemental building block of matter. If real, they're everywhere, binding and penetrating us (eww), and CERN Scientists in Switzerland may have discovered them using the Large Hadron Collider and the tiny magnifying glasses on their army knives.
Large Hadron Colliders, chocolate, cheese with holes, the Swiss are an advanced people.
Fun fact: Jesus started out writing mystery
 novels under the name J.H. Christ.
Anyway, before you judge the real-life Jedi as a pack of obsessed fans, just remember that they may be on to something. Besides, it's not like they're not the first space religion. Check out these baby-cloning, free-love UFO devotees. Nothing crazy there. And if you have a problem with basing your life on the teachings of George Lucas, keep in mind that millions of people follow the path laid out by L. Ron Hubbard, and he somehow managed to be an even worse sci-fi writer than Lucas.

Is this really any weirder than burning bushes or walking on water?
You know who you are.
A note of caution though: Even the most well intentioned religions can go hell-fire looney given enough time. I don't want to name names, but a certain group of bible-thumping dinosaur-deniers seem to have gotten away from the 'do unto others' spirit they're supposed to be all about and replaced it with some seriously biblical douchbaggary (see left). Will the Jedi be any different? 2000 years from now, Comicons may well be marred by the continuing violence between the Orthodox Jedi of the Holy Trilogy and the Church of Latter Day Prequels.

It may just be better to subscribe to the notion that the true nature of the universe is unknowable and that we should just be not be dicks to each other out of basic human decency. On the other hand, there is an undeniable awesomeness to lightsabers.

"Fwoom! Fwoom! Midichlorians my ass!"
"Neeeeooom! Fwoom! You'll pay for your blasphemy Steve! Sssszzzzooom!"

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Business End

If it is true that having ones picture taken can steal ones soul, photographer Nick Saglimbeni's camera is, right now, starving to death. Behold, the Kardashian Christmas card:

If you stare into the abyss long enough, it stares blankly off camera.
I'm going to admit to you now with no small amount of pride that I don't really follow the exploits of the Kardashians, and in fact wouldn't be aware of them if their name wasn't so similar to a certain race of alien space-fascists from Deep Space Nine.

"Feast my pretty, feast on their joy..."
That said, I find myself transfixed by the way the 2011 Kardashian family Christmas card so expertly scoops out the joy from one's very heart, inserts the business end of a pastry bag filled with all that is the opposite of the human spirit and then squeezes, thus creating a misery-filled heart donut that is then fed to a purse full of starving Maltese's. Like for real. As I've mentioned before, I'm not the biggest Christmas fan but compared to them I'm Bob Frelling Cratchit. Here are three of the many, many reasons this card murders cheer:

"Yeah, like Merry Christmas,
or whatever. We don't care."
1: You can't tell what any of them are looking at. I've extrapolated the family's dead stares in an attempt to determine just what the hell they all find more interesting than the task at hand. Except for matriarch/V creature Kris (whose eye-lasers are boring directly into the camera), no one in the photo is able to meet our gaze. What's up with that? Are they afraid their eyes might give them away as the soulless automatons they are? 'Cause we already know that.

2: The set is confusing and not-to-subtly dirty. They're posed on stairs that lead nowhere except archways with no openings. Where are they supposed to be and why do the archways all look like nipples? It's like they wandered onto a college theatre program's production of Lysistrata and got bored (but then, who wouldn't? Take that Aristophanes!)*

To really give the place that warm, homey feeling of the holidays the set-designer went with
fake blue stucco, doric columns and classic Greek nipple-ways.
'tis the season, for naked

3: It's a goddamn commercial. I know they're not so much a family as they are a brand, but seriously, click on the Daily Mail story. If, for some reason you wanted to dress like this pack of vapid, photoshopped mannequins, simply roll your cursor over the blue dots that speckle the photo and it brings up a link to Piperlime where you can 'Get the Look!' Yup, they've cross-synergized their holiday greeting with online marketing thus making them whorey on like three new levels.

Perfume and carbon nano-fibers?
Is there anything her ass can't do?
On the other hand, by telling us where we can get our hands on whatever material is able to contain Kim's, um, only marketable feature, the Kardashians may have inadvertently invented the space elevator. For years now scientists have been searching for something to make the tether out of that is strong enough to withstand the intense forces of geostationary orbit yet light enough to be worn by someone whose physical activity is limited to modeling and dancing with Mark Ballas. Are you paying attention Nobel Prize Committee?

Kim Kardashian is literally sitting on the solution to metamaterials.

*That right there was the only time my B.A. in Theatre has come in handy. The only time.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Crazy wears a drab jumpsuit.

Kim Jong Il died and that's sad, like in theory. I don't really wish anyone dead, but there are plenty of people who, if they died and I had 99 Phoenix Downs, probably wouldn't make the cut. Does that make me a bad person?
Literally tens of North Koreans heard the sad news from this grief-stricken
reporter on one of the country's 4 television sets.
You're picturing it now aren't you?
The steamy moment of passion?
Anyway, it's sad because for millions of North Koreans, Dear Leader was JFK, Kurt Cobain and Steve Jobs rolled into one drab jumpsuit. They didn't seem to mind that he was a megalomaniacal loony-toon who kept his country starving and stuck in the 1950's while he lived like Jabba the Hutt. To make things worse, the guy that's going to take over for him is his 20-something son who's only qualification is having been conceived in a steamy moment of passion between Kim Jong Il and one of his consorts.

And I don't mean to judge Jong-Un before he's even had a chance to threaten nuclear destruction on the South, but this guy grew up with a father who once kidnapped a filmmaker and forced him to make a monster movie for him. Is there even a chance this kid isn't going to be the Korean equivalent of Francis Buxton? Remember? The spoiled rich kid who stole Pee-Wee's bike? Yeah, there he is.
"Today's my birthday, and my father said I can nuke anyone I want.
So is this the button that blows up Seoul?"

-Kim Jong-Un, future star of Team America 2

Friday, December 16, 2011

Let's cheat the Reaper!

We, as a species, have taken a 'm'eh' approach to things like the environment and climate change. And why not? Giving up the things that are destroying the planet would be inconvenient. It's not that we don't care about the Earth, it's that we don't care about the people who will be alive a hundred years from now. You know, our children.
"Enjoy the planet, suckers!"
                                         -Preceding generations
Behold: Aquatopia, formerly Buffalo.
After all, they (not we) will be the ones around when rising sea levels flood the surface world and force us to surrender control of our once proud civilization to genetically engineered Merfolk. Once formally recognized as the Earth's new masters, these terrible aqua-men will no doubt re-name our great cities things like New Atlantis and Sub-Diego. Grim huh? Fortunately, waterworld (the ice-cap-less future, not the movie) is decades off and most of us will be long dead. Not our problem.

Aubrey is evidently unaware
of Terminators, but still.
Or is it? Drama sting! Scientists are making strides against one of humanity's greatest foes: old people. Or at least aging. Check out this totally sci-fi sounding story. It's not even on a crazy site, it's on the regular news. Here's a quote from researcher Aubrey de Grey who, along with others is working tirelessly to spit in the face of god:

"Certainly, there's nothing that would stop people intrinsically from living thousands of years."
-Aubrey de Grey, Sciencetician

Say waaaaaaht? Thousands of years? Virtual immortality? Short of successfully challenging Death to a game of chess, how is living forever even possible?

"What is this, Deal or No Deal? Just tell me which grail you sick fuck."
-Indiana Jones in a deleted scene from
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Our genes are literally full of science. The secret
of immortality must be in there somewhere

The answer, of course, is science! You see, for some stupid reason, our cells are programmed to die at some point (suck on it Kirk Cameron). But by re-kagiggering the DNA (or something) we can slow or even reverse the aging process. Or if that doesn't work, it might also be possible to clone new organs in a lab. Remember that time someone grew an ear on a mouse? Well, picture an entire pet shop full of spare parts. I mean, really picture that. Yup, the future's going to be a horror show.

What kind of life would that be?
An awesome one, that's what kind.
But if ear-mice aren't your thing, there's always cyborgs. We could all have our weak, non-bullet-proof flesh replaced with kick-ass bionic limbs and laser-eyes. I know some nay-sayers out there might not be comfortable with the idea of spending eternity as a soulless, half-human abomination, but of them I ask this simple question: do you want to live forever, or do you want to live forever and be able to punch through steel? I think the choice is clear.
I'm sure the reality of people living on long past their expiration dates probably has some draw backs. Up 'till now people have had the common decency to die thus making room for newer generations with increasingly lower-riding pants. Immortality will mean more people, longer lines and fewer resources to go around. We'll eventually have to start eating each other, but on the upside we'll be forced to take better care of the environment, not for the children of course, (the hell with them) but for ourselves.
"Hey honey, remember when people could die? That was the best."
"I swear to god Tim..."

-The couple on the right