Monday, July 29, 2013

This guy knows what a Pope does, right?

Pictured: I don't know, just some guy...
Who is he to judge? He's the Pope, isn't that like, his job? In a stunningly progressive move-ok, well, stunningly progressive for the head of an organization that needed 500 years to come to terms with Galileo's suggestion that the Earth went around the sun-Pope Francis said the following to reporters on the flight back to Rome after his South American tour:

"If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?"

-Pope Fran-really? Ok, Pope Francis

Note: I said, theoretically.
Wah the who? Did he get into those tiny single-serving bottles of communion wine they hand out on airplanes or is he, and by extension the massive, medieval, apparatus of the Catholic Church finally joining the 21st (ok, 20th) century? Eh, sort of. While he maintained that being gay isn't a sin, doing gay stuff still is. So he's ok with gays as long as they lead sexless, unhappy lives. Sigh. Oh well, he's getting there. You know, for an hierarchy consisting of and run by theoretically celibate people, they spend an awful lot of time worrying about other people's sex lives.

For a Pope, Francis's statement is like super-progressive, but for a regular person, not so much. The bar must be a bit lower when your job description was written in the first century because he went on to re-affirm that women have no place in the priesthood because Jesus only had male apostles and besides they'd only get their periods and talk about shoes.
"Pscht...women. Am I right fellas?"
-Pope Francis
But still, the Pope's attitudes are decades ahead of Pat Robertson, who compares gay people to baby-murdering Molech worshippers, and prescribes regular beatings for disobedient wives. On the other hand, he's getting his ass handed to him by retired Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu who said this:
Oh Desmond, you are Tutu much!

"I would not worship a God who is homophobic, and that is how deeply I feel about this. I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place."

-Desmond Tutu,
being awesome

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Does she know it's already a thing?

Hey look, my home town has made the news for the first time since Alec Baldwin and his mother did some awkward local grocery store commercials! So yeah, you should probably sit back and get ready to feign interest as I recount to you some local politics from a place you've probably never been.
Baldwin, the star of 30 Rock and Threatening Tweets
is seen here sucking on his index finger in an ad for Wegmans.
Here she is on the cover of the
magazine she printed about herself.
Last week was Gay Pride week in Rochester N.Y, so buildings belonging to the City's Government marked the occasion by flying rainbow flags. It's a decoration, like taping those stupid paper Pilgrim hats to the bulletin board at Thanksgiving, or setting effigies on fire on Guy Fawkes Night (just 105 more shopping days to go!). The Monroe County Office building however, did not (not officially, but hang on, we'll get to that). How come? County Executive Maggie Brooks fills us in:

"It is not county practice to "'fly issue-based' or 'advocacy' flags' at the county building."

-County Executive Maggie Brooks
while making that stupid 'air quotes' gesture.

I'm confused, are gay people issues or advocacies? You know what? It doesn't matter, it's a goddamn rainbow flag during Pride week and it's what you do. And what the shit is 'county practice?' Is there a rulebook somewhere? Can I see it? Or does 'county practice' just mean whatever the hell she wants it to mean?
The County Practice Rulebook is apparently real and located in a locked filing cabinet
stuck in a disused lavatory with this sign (above) on the door (add +10 to your nerd roll).
In fairness, Brooks isn't the first to accuse
gay people
of causing buildings to collapse.
Seeing an opportunity to make a statement about equality and to stick it to Brooks, County Legislature Democrats...huh? I didn't mention that Brooks is a Republican? Well, try to look surprised. So they got a rainbow flag and hung it outside Chief of Staff Joe Rittler's office. In response, some staff from the Sheriff's Office went into Rittler's office and confiscated the flag because, get this, they were concerned about the flag damaging the building. Because, what? A two-foot by three-foot nylon flag might bring down a five story granite office building?

Hey, way to avoid the bad press...
Anyway, Rittler then went out and got another flag, put it back up and dared them, just fucking dared them to go ahead and arrest him. Meanwhile I assume, he invited the local news to watch and take pictures of him being hauled away in handcuffs for supporting equal rights. Not wanting to attract the shitstorm of negative media attention, the Sheriff's office and Brooks backed off and she then declared July 19th 2013 to be Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley Day in Monroe County. You know, for all their inclusiveness and stuff.

To sum up: Maggie Brooks banned the rainbow flag from County buildings, made up some bullshit about how it was a safety concern and then asked the LGBT community to shut-up and enjoy Gay Day: a holiday set aside by Maggie Brooks to recognize that Maggie Brooks totally doesn't hate gay people. Um, someone told her it was already Pride week, right?
Thanks to Maggie Brooks, cities around the country are now celebrating
Gay Alliance of the Genessee Valley Day. Surprisingly enough, festivities
in San Francisco began three weeks before Brooks even declared the observance. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

So did anybody actually vote for this kid?

Tremble Britons, for your future lord and master is come!
Above: The scene outside St. Mary's Hospital in London
earlier today. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge posed for
a few pictures before killing and devouring several subjects.
Pictured: The money shot.
Yup, Kate 'The Duchess' Middleton has finally dropped a Dukelet (what?) like it's her job, which, incidentally, it kind of is. Well, that and the waving. Unlike previous monarchs, the future Kings and Queens of England are unlikely to be required to face down a Spanish Armada or judge an archery contest, so really posing for the money and ensuring the royal line of succession (through lots and lots of boning) are the closest things they have to responsibility.

"Way to go kid! Here, have a
country, you've earned it."
This has left some people wondering why, in the 21st century, anyone bothers with the monarchy at all anymore? I suppose it's a valid point, in many ways it's downright undemocratic. This yet-to-be-named heir apparent is very likely to be King of England someday (assuming the hologram of Elizabeth II ever gets around to abdicating) and all he had to do was be born; something that literally every human being who has ever lived has managed to do.

Screw the electoral college,
we might as well use a sorting hat.
Yeah, that's right, nobody voted for him, nobody made him pull a sword out of anything, he just had the good fortune to enter this world through the right vagina. I mean, that's bullshit right? Here in America, we had the common sense to do away with the king and institute a fair and democratic system whereby we vote for electors who will (although they are not legally bound do do so) cast their votes for one of two candidates pre-selected by one of the two dominant political know, monarchy's looking pretty sweet...

Anyway, it turns out that while some have suggested booting the royals in favor of a republic (citing the expense and the fact that they're a relic of the middle ages), something like 80% of Britons prefer the tyrannical rule of the Dread Queen Elizabeth. In fact, this guy makes the point that Royal Family actually makes money (£160 million) for the U.K, so a Bastille Day for England doesn't seem very likely. Although if it ever did happen, I suspect it would be exceedingly polite.
"Terribly sorry, going to have to cut your head off. Revolution you know."
"Oh, it's no trouble at all, I quite understand."

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Reboot: You're doing it wrong.

Buckle your nerd-belts kids, I'm about to complain about Star Trek again. In fact, if obsessively fanish nit-pickary about the vagaries of Star Trek canon aren't your thing you might want to hit the eject button now. Still with me? You are? God, we're nerds...
Strapped in? Good, it's going to be a nerdy ride.
Genetic super-men, sleeper ships,
mode 7 graphics, truly, the mid-90's
was a era of technological wonders.
So the subject of my current dork-rage is the announcement of a new comic mini-series about the origin of (and I'm spoiling Into Darkness's big twist here) Benedict Cumberbatch's version of Khan, the genetically enhanced super-human from the 20th century. Khan, at least in the original series, was one of a bunch of tyrants who took over the Earth in 1992, got overthrown during the Eugenics Wars and then fled into space in one of those sleeper ships everyone had in the back 90's. Don't remember seeing that on CNN? Me neither. Good thing they rebooted the Star Trek univer-

Let me repeat: gold fishnet bodysuits.
-oh, right, they didn't reboot the Star Trek universe. It's an 'alternate reality.' So how did they deal with Khan? He was floating around in a cryogenic tube while Nero was fucking up future history so by all rights he should look like Ricardo Montalban and run around in gold fishnet bodysuit. The screenwriters just straight up ignored the problem, cast Benedict Cumberbatch and had characters explicitly refer to him as being frozen for three hundred years (which would have made him from the 1950's) leaving nerds like me to fume at the writer's blasé attitude towards canon and their inability to do simple math.

The plan now is to spackle over the continuity issues with a goddamn comic book. They pulled this shit back in '09 with not one, but two series about Nero, the villain from Star Trek: The Rebootening...although neither tie-in explained Nero's motivations beyond 'he's crazy and evil' so I don't know what the point was.
"Soon, I will have my revenge for uh...whatever it is you did to me..."
-Chandler in episode 24: The One
Where Khan Moves in Next Door
I guess the Khan comic will try to explain all the shit they glossed over in Into Darkness. You know, like the fact that he's now a white English guy with Wolverine's healing factor. But wasn't the whole the rationale for rebooting Star Trek in the first place so that the writers could put a fresh creative spin on the series and divest themselves of almost 50 years of complicated backstory? By setting the film in an alternate history timeline they're still locked into most of the canon of the original series; like Khan ruling the world during the second season of Friends for example. Like, what did that accomplish?

I know it's just a movie, and that being consistent with Trek canon probably isn't as important to the writers as making an entertaining movie, but holy shit, if you need tie-in material to plug your plot holes, you're doing something wrong.
Hey, how about a comic book explaining where Admiral Marcus
got the uniforms for his crew? I mean they were a rogue faction of Starfleet,
did he take the time to design little outfits for them to wear while instigat-
-oh, well I guess that makes sense...
(extra nerd credit if you get that)

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Nice try guys, I'm still not buying a Wii U. Yeah, if you click on the link you'll see that Nintendo has released Earthbound on the Wii U Virtual Console and while that's-huh? What's that? You have no idea what I'm talking about? Well, look at you Mister (or Miss) "I have a social life and enjoy human interaction." I guess I have some explaining to do.
I'm confused, these people seem to be having a good time, but
I don't see any game controllers...maybe they have Kinect...
"Thanks, no, we're good."
-Nintendo to fans
Earthbound was a much-beloved role-playing game that came out for the Super Nintendo back in 1995. It was kind of a big damn deal then and even now used, unboxed copies of the game sell for hundreds of dollars on eBay. Despite the fact that everyone loved Earthbound, the sequels never made it to the U.S. and the game never saw a re-release. Nintendo even refused (at least until today) to offer it as a digital download on VC. How come? Well, I can only assume Nintendo hates both its fans and their money.

"No, really it-it came out last year. There's
a Mario game for it and everything..."

-Shiguru Miyamoto
So it's out now, why am I complaining? I mean, practically everyone in the country has a Wii collecting dust under their televisions, what's the problem? Well, for technobabble reasons worthy of Star Trek Voyager, the Wii's Virtual Console is not the same thing as the Wii U's Virtual Console and Earthbound is a Wii U VC exclusive, meaning that in order to download it you have a Wii U-a platform that even Nintendo admits a lot of people don't even realize is a thing.

Let me level with you Nintendo, $350 is a lot to pay for a glorified nostalgia machine, but, I'll tell you what, if you put Earthbound out on regular Wii Virtual Console I promise to tell everyone I know that the Wii U is a game system and not some kind of online school. Deal?
Hey everyone, the Wii U is a game system and unlike most Nintendo consoles
the software library isn't mostly Petz and games based on Hub cartoons, so like, go buy one! 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Seriously, aren't we done with these guys yet?

The California Supreme Court issued a writ of Wah-wah (it's Latin for sad trombone sound) today to a group called ProjectMarriage, and rejected their request that the State stop issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples while they continue trying to prove in a court of law that gay marriage makes baby Jesus cry.
"Your honor, right now gay couples all over California are getting married 
and finding happiness. I'm sure you'll agree that something must be done."
-Lawyers for ProjectMarriage
Could you imagine if like*
came along and got a law passed that made
your marriage illegal? It would be like that.
So just who is ProjectMarriage and what's their deal? Well, they're a website...yes, a goddamn website run by a group of fundamentalists and homophobes brought together by a common hatred of gay people who, back in 2008, got Prop 8 put on the ballot. It passed but was later found to be unconstitutional by District Court Judge Vaugh Walker, because holy shit you don't put civil rights up for a show of hands. I mean, seriously, what's wrong with you? Long story short, they continued to appeal the decision but the U. S. Supreme Court ruled last month that they didn't have the legal standing to do so.

Why no legal standing for Well, first of all they're terrible people, but more importantly you can't defend a law that doesn't affect you in any way and no, gay people getting married doesn't affect your straight (or original flavor) marriage.
Above: Another wedding ruined by gay people...uh, somehow...
Pictured: The law. Yeah, I'm not
wading through all of that.
What, then, is still doing anywhere near a courthouse? While the Court ruled they don't have the standing to appeal Judge Walker's original decision, the group is now saying that ruling only refers to the plaintiffs who brought the case and that Prop 8 is still in effect for everyone else. I'm not a legal expert, but my understanding of the ruling (ok, of the wikipedia article on the ruling) is that Walker's ruling stands and can go fuck itself.

But what I don't understand is how is this not over yet? How can they make an appeal of the appeal of the appeal? The Supreme Court said that their case has all the legal weight of a leprechaun suing the Easter Bunny for full custody of the color orange, so shouldn't they like shut up and go away now?
"Sometimes, you have to stand up and fight for what's yours 
no matter what the world says, or how imaginary you are..."
-Some leprechaun

*That's just an example, Piperlime would never do that. They're a progressive and open-minded company that sells excellent, uh, I don't know, shoes, I think?

Kevin Swanson is a spacist!

So how did I miss this? It's Colorado pastor Kevin Swanson condemning Captain Kirk for having a three-way with two aliens in Star Trek Into Darkness.
Not pictured: The other one. She's in there somewhere.
"What is this thing you
Earthmen call...crabs?"
The source of Swanson's theological icky seems to be that Kirk is getting it on with aliens in the new movie, but has this guy ever even seen Star Trek before? Ask even the most casual fan to tell you what they know about Captain Kirk and I guarantee you that 'has sex with alien chicks' is going to come up right after 'space captain' and 'Shatner.' The man is a veritable grab bag of interstellar STD's. As much as I think that J. J. Abrams doesn't understand Star Trek at all, he at least gets that Kirk + alien woman = snu-snu.

Yes, even the Horta.
Look, there are plenty of reasons not to like Into Darkness: the illogical plot, the mindless action, that bullshit about Khan being a white English guy, but bestiality? That's just, uh, space racist? Spacist? I don't know, the point is aliens are people too, that's like what Star Trek is all about...that and exploring space in unitards. Different species on Star Trek have been boning for decades and as preposterous as it seems from a scientific perspective, such boning has even resulted in half-human half-alien characters like Mr. Spock.

Yeah, I did say preposterous. Look, while I'm no sciencetician, I do know how to look things up on wikipedia and one of the things that defines a species is an ability to interbreed. Alien/human hybrids are up there with unicorns on the plausibility scale, but this is Star Trek and little technobabble goes a long way.
"Congratulations! It's a scientific implausibility!" 
Anyway, Kevin Swanson is not only a theological expert but also a scientific genius so it should come as no surprise that he manages to shoe-horn the evils of evolution into his rant about Captain Kirk's penchant for xenosexuality:

Kevin's a rare exception to the
'glasses make you look smart' rule.
"...within an evolutionary construct there is no real problem with speciation and cross-species mating, there's no problem with that at all, in fact that's how you evolve, that's how you get evolution. And so the end result of course, is that evolution has no basic problem with bestiality or cross species mating. Okay?"

-Kevin Swanson, putting words together

Holy shit, let's breed centaurs!, it's not okay. In fact, we're all stupider for having heard him say that. While many of the sounds he made are big, sciencey words, nothing he said is really a thing. You don't, and again this is my wikipedia-based research talking here, create a new species through the cross-breeding of two other species. Beavers and ducks didn't mate and come up with the platypus. I know people tune in to conservative radio shows to have their worldview reaffirmed and not to like, learn things, but holy shit, there should be a law against saying things are science when they're not. Oh and because this is a conservative radio show, listeners expect a certain number of gay jokes with their crap science so Swanson's co-host crammed this funny, funny line into their condemnation of fictional sex with fictional alien cat-women:

"Well, you know I could understand if Christians would get upset if it was a male of a different species. No actually, I'm not sure that the bestiality and the homosexuality are really all that different." 
-Dave Beuhner, confused about the homosexuality
and about the proper use of the definite article
"That's the gays for you, always having the sex with the animals..."

Saturday, July 13, 2013

How 'bout that? They actually did a good job with Pacific Rim.*

*tee hee.

"Um...thanks I think...also, I put
Ron Perlman in it, so you're welcome."
Alright, look, I'm not saying that Pacific Rim is like the greatest movie ever or even that it's in the top fifty, but when a sci-fi action movie presents itself as two hours of giant robots punching giant monsters and then delivers exactly that in a summer with no other options except a Wrath of Khan knock-off and two movies about Scientologists tootling around the apocalypse, Guillermo del Toro's (Spanish for William of the bull!) robo-punch-a-thon looks pretty damn good.

Above: Ishiro Honda directing the shit out of
Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich,
and he'd never even heard of CGI.
The premise is just that simple: in the not-too-distant future alien monsters from another dimension pop up through a wormhole in the Pacific ocean and start Ishiro Honda-ing coastal cities. How? Who cares? Obviously, the only way to combat such an invaders is to build equally giant robots (ok, mecha, really) to engage them in hand-to-appendage combat. Of course the mecha are also equipped with plasma cannons and swords but the pilots never use them until after they've leveled a few city blocks with their wrestling moves first. Again, why? Because it looks more awesomer.

It's exactly the same logic that left us to wonder why Voltron pilots ever bothered with lion mode, or why the Power Rangers didn't immediately go for the Megazords and just step on the monster of the week.

"Gentlemen, I don't see any way around it,
the only way we're ever going to win this
fight is punching, lots of punching."
Does monster-punching make more sense in context? No, absolutely not. Do you care while you're watching it? Ditto. Sure, the humans could just have easily constructed giant tanks armed with plasma cannons and bombarded the creatures from a safe distance. It probably would have been cheaper, resulted in less collateral damage and would have avoided the dangerous neuro-drift technology (syence!) that most of the film's story revolves around. On the other hand, when a six-hundred foot humanoid punch machine is on the table, you don't opt for practicality...

Oh yeah, the neuro-drift thing. Apparently the only way to pilot your giant mecha is by having two pilots link their brains in order to avoid neuro-overload. If it sounds like bullshit, it's because it is, but it sets up the interpersonal drama we watch unfold between punching.
To be clear, controlling the mecha requires that two pilots cosplay as Master Chief, connect their brains to each other and then play Dance Dance Revolution while nestled in the robot's extremely vulnerable headWhy don't they simply operate them remotely from the safety of a bunker? Because shut up, that's why.
If Yancy's name wasn't a Futurama
reference, I want my $11 back.
By interpersonal drama, I mean the squishy human emotions the actors are simulating. Our hero, who I'm sure had a name...hang on, I'll look it up...ok, it's Raleigh Becket-of course it is. Anyway, he was a robot pilot along with his brother Yancy. Yancy is killed in a fight while linked to Raleigh and now Raleigh is reluctant to pilot a robot when the mustached military father figure shows up and asks him to save the world. It's just...too painful...<sniff>. Until of course he meets Mako, the hot shot rookie with a tragic past and with whom he'd totally like to make out.

Whatever. It's not like we go to these kinds of movies for plot and character development. And we're certainly not there for the acting. If you are, you should probably skip this one, although the presence of Ron Perlman helps.
Do what I did and just pretend the actors are themselves
robots piloted by even tinier, better actors. It helps.
Also, and this is key, it didn't end
with Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox
 screwing on Bumblebee's hood.
Advantage: Del Toro
So who cares if the acting's not the best, or the story's not the most original? I was just happy it wasn't another reboot or comic book movie. I mean, I usually like that sort of thing, but it's nice to walk out of a movie and not have to complain about how it didn't live up to the source material. Sure, the line between homage and blatant clone is a thin one, and Pacific Rim does borrow pretty heavily from Godzilla movies and animé like Neon Genesis Evangelion, but it was original-ish, or if it wasn't, it was entertaining enough that you won't care.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Let's Boycott Ender's Game!

So here's a sticky wicket: do I go see Ender's Game or not? Huh? What's Ender's Game? Oh sweet mother of Lloth, what kind of nerd are you? Fine, here, Ender's Game is a 1985 novel set in the future in which the military trains child prodigies to be leaders in the upcoming war against an alien race hilariously named 'the Buggers.'
"Wait a sec, 'Bugger' means what in your language?"
This book is to Ender's game
what season 9 was to Stargate.
The book has been made into a movie and I was all about going to see it until I was reminded of an uncomfortable fact about the novel's author, Orson Scott Card...I mean other than the fact that he cranked out like fifteen unnecessary sequels to Ender. Ok, fine, Ender's Shadow was good, I'll give you that one. And I kind of enjoyed Speaker for the Dead, even though most people didn't like it. But by the time he got to Shadow of the Hegemon you could tell he was just milking it and...ok, I'm getting off track. What I'm talking about is the fact that Orson's kind of an icky person. He belongs to the National Organization for Marriage (remember these guys?) and is a vocal opponent of gay marriage. And I don't mean in a 'I have my beliefs, and you have yours' kind of way but in a 'gay people will destroy 'merica kind of way.'

Here's a link to an essay he wrote in which he insists that gay people serve no function in society and if two dudes are allowed to get married, then an army of righteous straight people should bring down the government by any means necessary. I think 'holy shit' is the phrase you're searching for.
And here's a link to a blog post I wrote explaining that gay people
exist because of saber tooth cats. Ball's in your court, Orson. 

"Hey gaymos, you can get married
in California now, so go see my movie
-Orson Scott Card, 
extending the olive branch

In an effort to see that Card, and by extension, groups like NOM don't get any more money with which to fund their bullshit efforts to fight against marriage equality, a geeky LGBT group called Geeks OUT is organizing a boycott of the movie. In response, Card issued a statement which I think was an attempt at reconciliation, but comes off as him being a passive aggressive dick:

"It will be interesting to see whether the victorious proponents of gay marriage will show tolerance towards those who disagreed with them when the issue was still in dispute."

Oy. Where to begin? Ok, first of all it's always kind of hilarious when intolerant people call for tolerance of their intolerant attitude. As though the issue of civil rights was just a friendly debate over tea between two equally valid, yet opposing view points and not say, a struggle by a disenfranchised minority to be recognized as equal citizens under the law. 
"I believe I should be allowed to marry the person I love."
"And I say you're a godless, hellbound abomination whose very existence imperils our society."
"Very well, then let us agree to disagree. Excellent tea by the way.
"Thanks, I thought I'd try a new blend."
Hurray for partial recognition
of marriage equality! 
And what does he mean 'when the issue was still in dispute?' Same-sex marriage is still illegal in 37 states and opponents of marriage equality, like the NOM (to which Card belongs) are at this very moment engaged in a vicious legal battle to make sure that their bullshit pseudo-religious objections to hot Takei sex are forever enshrined in our laws. Sure there have been some important pro-equality victories in the last few months, but in what way is this issue not still in dispute? 

But does any of this mean I can't go see Ender's Game? Is it right to treat the film (or the book for that matter) as tainted simply because the author espouses a bigoted viewpoint? I mean, the book itself wasn't anti-gay, just Card. And the movie has Harrison Ford and Ben Kinglsy in it and the special effects look great and...
uhhg...but the trailer makes it look pretty cool and it has been a pretty disappointing summer for sci-fi movies, and do I really want to miss this one just because...
...I mean there's a chance it could be pretty decent and what's $11.50? It's not like the money goes directly to NOM, and what about all other people who helped make the movie? Also, going to see it would actually be really good, uh, for the economy and..and...uh...

"Yeah, not bloody likely."
...sigh. So much for that. I guess it really does mean I can't go see it, at least not without feeling like a terrible person. Yeah, I know that me not going probably won't affect the box office in any serious way, I mean there plenty of other people who either don't know about the author's politics or don't care about them and that's fine. But maybe if enough people skip it and let everyone know why they're skipping it, it could send a message that Card's name and his attitudes are a liability to any movies based on his work and maybe they'll think twice about giving him any more money (and therefore the groups he belongs to). At least until he makes an apology, stops supporting anti-gay organizations, completely reevaluates his worldview and...goddamnit, I'm never going to be able to see this movie am I, Orson?