Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year's Redshirts!

Hey, it's New Year's and that means it's time to take a look back at the trail of dead people we leave behind in 2013. Well, not all the dead people, just the important ones.
Sorry 99% of all people who have ever lived...
Tasha's will specifically requested
that her holo-funeral take place on
the Windows XP Desktop. 
This is one of the many ways in which real life is just like Star Trek: The Next Generation. On Star Trek, death is always sad, but most of the time nobody cares unless the person who dies is a reoccurring character. Take Tasha Yar for example. Remember her? She was killed by a sentient oil slick at the end of season one. It was super sad. But do you remember Marla Astor, Chief Engineer Singh or Ensign Haskell? No? That's because they were all proverbial Red Shirts. Extras. Cannon fodder. Like most of us. New Year's is for famous people, the Tashas Yar, if you will.

So who's dead now? Lots of people. Lou Reed, Marcia Wallace, James Gandolfini, Karen Black. Peter freaking O'Toole died this year and-hey, did you ever see The Lion in Winter? No? Watch it right goddamn now, it's amazing.
It's a little like Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolfe
but with the ever-present threat of bubonic plague.
The end was nigh all right...
Apocalypse fans lost Harold Camping. Remember him? The radio host/doomsayer who predicted that the world would end on May 21st, 2011? You don't? Oh, right, that's because it didn't and Camping was a crackpot who used made up math and crazy to convince people that the end was nigh. Harmless fun, right? Well, when the world didn't end, he went back to his gin-fueled calculations, but the hundreds of his followers who sold their homes and cashed in their pensions to pay for billboards warning us about the Rapture were shit out of luck.

Who spilled the dressing?
It's Doris Lessing
Oh, and can we talk a little about how the grim specter of death went to town on Earth's many authors this year? Like for real. British writer Doris Lessing died, so did crime writer Elmore Leonard and sci-fi novelist Frederik Pohl. Older white Republican men who wear tracksuits and love 'merica will have to muddle through without any new Tom Clancy novels. Also, Iain M. Banks, who's like one of my favorite authors ever died of cancer because cancer is an asshole. In an excellent move, astronomer and fan José Louis Galache got an asteroid named after him.

Also dead are Nelson Mandela and the opposite of Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher. Speaking of world leaders, David Frost, the guy who rung an apology out of Richard Nixon is dead too, which I find a little suspicious. I'm not one to believe in zombies, but if Nixon was going to claw his way out of the grave to take revenge on someone...
Above: Richard Nixon mentally adding
David Frost to his Zombie Murder List.
No really, why is he on television
and not say, in an institution?
In abstract concepts, the world said good bye to sanity this year. Take, for example, this Canadian doctor who wants to clone John Lennon...from his rotten tooth. And then there was this radio host who accused Captain Kirk of bestiality for getting it on with aliens. And let's not forget about Pat Robertson who shed light on a secret plot (which he totally made up) by HIV positive people to spread the virus with razor sharp joy buzzers. Holy shit...I mean...just, holy shit, he's still on TV.

Speaking of crazy, I for one enjoyed watching the GOP, in a valiant effort to save us all from medical coverage, absolutely lose their shit over Obamacare. They were willing to plung the world into another economic catastrophe rather than see poor people go to the doctor.
Above: John Boehner crying like a child because
people have to be able to afford health insurance.
Tough luck religious people, better
luck next life...just kidding.
I hope you weren't attached to any particular religion because belief in such nonsense has been forever dashed by these scientists who've discovered that there's no afterlife and that anyone who believes in one is a stupid idiot. So much for that. Oh, and this group of scammers were quick to take advantage of the moral void left behind by religion when they promised a bunch of homeless people a free meal to help them get iPhone 5's (to sell overseas) and then didn't give them their damn sandwiches.

Authors, entertainers, world leaders and the last remaining ember of human compassion. Wow, 2013 had quite a body count, can't say I'm going to miss it. Also, 2014 means we're only a year away from hoverboards, so like Happy New Year.
Above: Future!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Phil Robertson: Fire-Proof!

The premium channels are in
there, but not basic cable.
Hey, remember when Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson made some pretty heinous anti-gay comments and A&E suspended him? You don't? Seriously? It was like last week. Anyway, he did and they did and then every jackass with internet access chimed in, but now it turns out it was all a big mistake. On our part. Let me explain. When this all happened, some people applauded A&E's decision while others, idiots mainly, leaped to Robertson's defense insisting that it violated the First Amendment. Of course, the Bill of Rights doesn't actually cover cable networks, but sometimes it's easier not to engage.

Like, here, check out this post for example. It's from a blog by crazy people about how Robertson was a victim of an unholy alliance between gay mafia-Nazis and Facebook. Also, there're some links to stuff about 9/11 and the President's birth certificate, so it's sure to be rational and well-researched.
When the tin foil hat brigade is on
your side, it might be time to reevaluate.
Above: All of us, laughing at the
stupid homophobe getting fired. 
So, A&E canned Robertson and we all got to laugh at people like Sarah Palin and Bobby Jindal as they seized the opportunity to bask in the righteous indignation of conservatives with persecution complexes. Great, right? And then this happened:

"While Phil's comments made in the interview reflect his own personal views based on his own beliefs and his own personal journey, he and his family have publicly stated that they regret the 'course language' he used and the misinterpretation of his core belief based solely on the article."
-A&E, breaking off like Akbar
from the Death Star's shield

"I'm ready for that apology now."
Oh. I see. So when he likened homosexuality to bestiality, it's not so much that he was making a bigoted and hateful comparison, it's that we misinterpreted him. See? See how we're at fault here? Shame on all of us. Well, I'm sure glad that's cleared up. And get this: since it's duck season, the show's been on hiatus this whole time, so Robertson was never really suspended. Douche never missed a day of work. You know, suspending Robertson wasn't ever about punishing him for his worldview or for speaking his mind, it was about making the statement that A&E's not a company that's going to tolerate his kind of bullshit. By caving now they're sort of saying that they're cool with being associated with the rancid ignorance that dribbles out of his beard hole and that just sucks.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Bill & Ted's Unnecessary Sequel

Brace yourself, because Keanu Reeves is getting ready to ruin your childhood like he ruined Bram Stoker's Dracula.
My Dearest Mina,
I hope my missive finds you, and your hot friend Lucy, well. Sorry I can't come home yet, but
Count Dracula locked me up in his castle and won't let me go. It's most non-triumphant. Anyway, 
I shall endeavor to escape the Count and his harem of topless succubies...succubusses...
uh, vampire chicks with rocking tits, and then we can totally get married. 
Party On,
Jonathan Harker 
Staring Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter and
the bad guy from Die Hard 2, Bogus
is an acting tour de force.
The legendary star of stage and screen announced on the Today Show that he'd be into doing a third Bill & Ted movie. Uh-huh. Wait, wah? A third? Oh yes! Unbeknownst to Savannah Guthrie, there already was a Bill & Ted sequel called Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey (soon to be known as Bogus JourneyPart Two of the Bill & Ted Saga). It involves the grim reaper and martians, so if you haven't seen it you're in for a treat. Anyway, sensing that there was still one culty 80's movie left untainted by the soulless grave robbing that is rebooting, someone's already written a script.

But how would a sequel to Bill & Ted would even work? Like, Bogus Journey ended with a flash forward to the future where the Wyld Stallyns' music has ushered in a golden age of peace and air guitar. Where do you go from there?
The future is so bright that protective eyewear is recommended. 

Upbeat until you realize that no one
bothered to give Abe a head's up
about changing his theatre plans.
I'm not ashamed to admit (ok, I'm a little ashamed to admit), that I get a little chocked up every time I watch that scene where Bill and Ted step out of their phone booth and into a utopia based on rocking out and just being excellent to each other. Like, what if that's what we all had to look forward to? I mean, I could do without the silver lamé robes, but still, I'd just hate to see them ruin an otherwise upbeat ending with a needless sequel about an aging Bill and Ted on Celebrity Rehab or doing the Superbowl halftime show.

Skinny ties, upturned collars, printouts...
wow, that movie nailed the 21st century. 
Did you ever see the third Alien movie? You didn't? Great. Here, let me ruin the second Alien movie for you: After a hard fought battle against the combined forces of the xenomorphs and Paul Riser, Aliens ends with our heroes: Ripley, Newt, Hicks and most of Bishop, going back into stasis, ready and waiting for the next amazing sequel. Then Alien 3 comes a long, kills most of the characters we care about from the last movie (off-camera, no less) and then has Ripley do a swan dive into the space prison's lava pit.

Now go back and watch Aliens, and try to get invested in the struggle of characters you know are doomed to be victims of freezer burn. Sucks, right? So yeah, wanna do another Matrix? Fine, don't care. Point Break 2? Go for it. Just please leave Bill and Ted where they are, spreading peace through power ballads and traveling through time with George Carlin.
No seriously. If I ever have access to a time machine I'm going to use it to
A: tell Jim Henson to get a check up and B: meet George Carlin.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Hate-Filled Rainbow of Diversity!

At least I think that's his hate-hole,
it's hard to tell through the beard.
Who's that opening his hate-hole this week? Why it's Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson who had this to say to GQ magazine for some reason:

"It seems like, to me, a vagina -- as a man -- would be more desirable than a man's anus. That's just me. I'm just thinking: There's more there! She's got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I'm saying?"
-Phil Robertson,
on the anus

So look out gay men, a man who's made a career out of having a beard is going to talk you out of your gayness. Oh and incidentally, if you shuddered at the thought that he might have some basis for comparison, you're not alone.
"You know what? The duck guy's got a point.
C'mon Andrew, let's go find some vaginas!"
Sorry idolaters, better
luck next time!
So get this: straight sex isn't just better than gay sex, it's biblically sanctioned. Robertson went on to explain that gays (along with idolaters and alcoholics) 'won't inherit the Kingdom of God' saying "Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men." So to sum up: hot Takei sex is some kind of magic gateway drug that leads to bestiality and then, confusingly, to sleeping around with multiple women, before going back to men. Got all that?

The Constitution, like the Bible
pretty much means whatever
you want it to, huh Bobby?
Anyway, Duck Dynasty's network, A&E, suspended Robertson and in doing so has drawn the ire of homophobes who are sick and tired of being called homophobic just because of their homophobia. Take for example Louisiana Governor Bobby 'still calls himself Bobby' Jindal who said this: "...I remember when TV networks believed in the First Amendment." Yeah, just so we're clear: the First Amendment actually doesn't require TV networks to give airtime to the beer-scented, pseudo-religious ramblings of a guy whose theological qualifications are a reality show and a bachelor's degree in Phys. Ed.

There's even an online petition called istandwithphil.com which, I shit you not, is asking people stand up for Robertson's intolerance in the name of tolerance. Here, take a look at the letter they'd like you to sign. Oh, and don't think about it too hard, you'll only hurt yourself:

Phil Robertson:
Victim of intolerance.
Dear A&E,

I'm writing you you regarding your network's intolerant, discriminatory and punitive treatment of Mr. Phil Robertson, star of A&E's #1 hit show, Duck Dynasty...As a Faith Driven Consumer, I am signing this petition to demand that my views be treated with equality and respect in America's rich rainbow of diversity...While the LGBT community may be offended by his opposing view point, your rash, discriminatory and unfair treatment toward Mr. Robertson -a recognized symbol of the faith community-is a slap in the face of Faith Driven Consumers and everyday Americans alike.

So which part of America's rich
rainbow are these assholes from?
Holy hell, can these people even hear themselves over the deafening sound of their own bullshit? Look, of course the guy has a right to his own opinions, but he's got to understand that expressing hateful, vitriolic opinions about shit he knows nothing about is going to have consequences. A&E isn't suspending him for his beliefs, they're suspending him because they don't want to be associated with his beliefs. You can't not shower for a whole month and then start accusing people of being intolerant because they don't want to hang out with you.

I think the problem here is with the defense of homophobia as a freedom of speech issue. This argument gives having an opinion about gay people the same weight as actually being a gay person. Like gayness is just a point of view and not a part of who a person is. Gay people being gay and having gay sex in the comfort of their gay homes is not up for debate and it's not up for judgement, it just is, so shut up and make your stupid duck calls.
"Gay? Son, are you sure? Have you-have you ever watched Duck Dynasty?
The big guy with the beard says that a vagina is more desirable
than a man's anus and I mean, he would know, he's on TV."

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Let's Boycott India? Why India? Oh, I see...

Gay people are now illegal in India. Go on, read it, it's a kick in the teeth. Yeah, The Indian Supreme Court has re-criminalized gay sex. So for those keeping score, we're now boycotting Barilla PastaEnder's GameRussia and the Winter Olympics, Hobby LobbyAlec BaldwinChic-fil-A and the highest court in India.
Fun Fact: Thanks to today's ruling, India is no longer
the world's most progressive sub-continent. 
"If we don't ban the gay sex, it's the
same as making it mandatory."

-Pat Robertson,
expert on the gay sex
Re-criminalized. So intercourse between consenting adults of the same sex was illegal, then legal for a while but is now illegal again. What the hell happened? Religious conservatives with too much time on their hands and an apparently bottomless legal fund happened...again. Sound familiar? Anyway, back in 2009 the Delhi High Court ruled that hot Takei sex was fine and not really anybody else's business, and that if anyone has a problem with this then they can you know, just not have gay sex. Well a group of faith-based organizations were having none of it, launched an appeal and somehow won.

Oh, and when I say faith-based, I'm totally being ironic. If these people had faith, then maybe they wouldn't look at the complex spectrum of human sexuality and just assume that God (or the Gods, or Lloth the Spider Queen) must have fucked up when he made gay people.
"We thank you, oh Lord, for all your wondrous creations...
except of course for the gays, I mean, what were you thinking?"
-Father Smarmy McKnowsbetter 
It's an oddly prudish law coming from a
woman married to a guy called Prince Albert.
Today's ruling found that the Delhi High Court was overstepping its authority when it dismantled an 1861 law that forbids 'intercourse against the order of nature,' which seemed like a pretty messed up law to begin with. Like, 'against the order of nature' could mean a lot of things. Is anything other than missionary style off the table? What about sex toys? Vibrators and blow-up dolls don't typically occur in nature. For that matter, are contraceptives unnatural and therefore against the law as well? And since the court is apparently pining for the days of the British Raj, maybe after everybody's done having straight, unprotected missionary sex, they could sing God Save the Queen

Look, I've never been to India, but this ruling seems like a huge step backwards for the world's largest democracy and straight up medieval for a country that used to decorate its holy sites with bas relief guides to boning. C'mon Indian Supreme Court, you guys are better than this.
Two gay dudes? Unnatural. Whatever the hell these people
are doing in this temple sculpture? Totally cool. Thanks India.

Idea Man

It's only stealing when you don't have
a multi-million dollar studio.
In a stunningly creative move, 20th Century Fox has tasked X-Men First-Class producer Simon Kinberg with creating an interlinked superhero movie universe, combining the X-Men franchise with Fox's soon to be rebooted Fantastic Four series. Yup, superheroes from different movies teaming up, what an ingenious idea! And if sounds a little like what Marvel has been building up over the last five years, that's just because it's exactly like what Marvel has been building up over the last five years.

Above: Kinberg, building the shit out of brands.

"I have a lot of ideas on how to build those brands and do what everybody is thinking these days: Be like Marvel. I want to be able to build stories over multiple movies."

-Simon Kinberg, whose actual job 
description is to rip-off Marvel

You know, I'm not really sure that intentionally imitating someone else's work really constitutes having an idea, but then I'm not getting paid to do it. Although that would be...hey, I've just had an 'idea.' What if we adapted a series of popular young adult novels for the big screen and made hundreds of millions of dollars in the process. See? I'm a goddamn producer. Who wants to hire me?
People seem to like this Hunger Games thing,
ever think of making a movie about that?
The Adventures of Captain Worf:
coming this fall, because fuck yeah.
Look, I'm not trying to pick on this Kinberg guy, I mean, I know that movie studios risk a shitload of money on every production so it makes sense that they want to play it safe. It's just that I can't help but feel a seething jealousy towards him and what he does for a living. You see, as a nerd between the ages of 18-35, I am convinced, like on a neurological level, that I'd be perfect for the job of sci-fi/fantasy movie producer. As far as I can tell it consists of recognizing something as an awesome idea, and then telling other people to do all the work. It's the perfect job for an obsessed/lazy fan.

Ever see Game of Thrones? The TV show was totally my idea. Back in 2003 when I picked up the first book, I said 'Hey, this would make a great TV show, but like on HBO so they can keep all the murder and screwing'. A few years later? Blamo, everyone in America knows how to pronounce Daenerys Targaryen and I'm still waiting for my check.
Ok, so George R. R. Martin actually wrote the damn thing, but I was the one who
thought it was neat. Isn't there some way I could be getting paid for that?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

No really, they can do that?

Wait a minute, so it's legal in 15 states for same-sex couples to marry, but if your employer doesn't approve, then they're totally within their rights to fire you as long as their objection is religiously based? That doesn't sound right...
"You want to get married...to a woman? I don't know Janice, your work has been exemplary,
but I'm going to have to run this by my pastor, see what he thinks. Let's touch base in a week."

Holy Ghost prep's mascot:
Hank the Holy Ghost
...but, here we are. If you remember back in October, the State of New Jersey legalized same-sex marriage over the irrational and alliterative objections of Governor Chris Christie. That's when a teacher at Holy Ghost Preparatory (it's a Catholic High School, so you can probably tell where this is going) named Michael Griffin, who is gay, and his fiancée (who is probably also gay) decided to get hitched. Cool right? But when Griffin informed Headmaster Fr. James McCloskey of his plans to marry, he was told he'd be let go.

"I got yer moral teaching right here!"
-Some Crusader
According to the Headmaster, Griffin wasn't being fired because he's gay, but because getting gay married violates the conditions for employment. Which conditions? Not being gay and married apparently. There's this vaguely worded provision in Griffin's contract that states that 'all teachers must uphold lifestyles compatible with the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.' Not super-specific, is it? Like, it could mean whatever they want it to mean. It's an all-purpose grounds for dismissal and in this instance, it amounts to a 'no queers allowed' policy.

"Thou shalt not suffer a gay guy to teach French class."
-The Bible, The Book of Somewhereintheback,
Chapter: <cough>, Verse: hey, look over there!

Also, it's a pretty stuffy attitude for a
guy calling himself The Headmaster.

Can you believe it? Even more insane is the fact that Headmaster McCloskey already knew that Griffin is gay, but only made an issue out of it when he and his partner applied for the marriage license. So to be clear: McCloskey is fine with Griffin being gay, he's just not ok with Griffin finding happiness in a committed relationship. I guess that's only for straight people. Hey, you know what that was? That that was the moment when Father James McCloskey surrendered any moral authority or credibility he ever had when discussing the importance and sanctity of marriage, thank you very much.

Anyway, surely the school needs a better reason to fire someone than 'got gay married in violation of out bullshit, medieval policy,' right? I mean, this is 2013, can they really make the case that Michael Griffin's gay wedding will somehow impede his ability to teach AP French?
"Je suis, tu es, il est, nous...nous...I'm sorry class, I have to stop, I can't...
I'm just too gay to conjugate être in the present tense, if you'll excuse me..."
Above: Griffin, seen here not suing
the frocks off everyone in sight.
Seriously, how long until Griffin calls down a legal shitstorm the likes of which mankind has never before seen? What's that? Never? Really? Here, check this out:

"I am trying to move forward with a peaceful heart and wish nothing but the best to my colleges and students who mean the world to me."

-Micheal Griffin,
turning all kinds of cheeks

"A peaceful heart? Forgiveness?
Sounds a little gay if you ask us..."
Wow, he's just forgiving the people who wronged him and is moving on with his life. Do you suppose anyone in the school's administration is appreciating the irony here? I mean, for real, are two-thousand years of Catholic teachings and traditions going to come crashing down if Holy Ghost Preparatory were to let go of some outmoded, old-testament mindset and instead keep a teacher who actually lives the philosophy they're trying to espouse?

Saturday, December 7, 2013


Of course they put mayonnaise on their
burgers, so the similarities end there.
The atheist group, Center for Inquiry Canada, have been denied billboard space in Vancouver and, being Canadian, are politely ootraged aboot it. After all, Canada, despite being under the iron-fisted rule of the Dread Queen Elizabeth, scourge of the Falklands, and cuddler of Corgis, is in fact a free country with all kinds of freedom of speech guarantees. They're like us, but with without all the murder. So why was their billboard rejected? All the CFI was trying to do was tell religious people that their word view is based on lies and superstitious delusions and that when we die we simply blink into nothingness and-

-oh...wait, no. No, they didn't. In fact, unlike some admittedly dick moves by atheist groups in the past, CFI's billboard was pretty innocuous. Here, take a look:
Wow, that Jenn is pretty wise. I think I'll base my life around her teachings
and then encourage others to do so as well. Violently, if necessary. 
Above: Yikes. Take that, uh,
victims of chattel slavery...
See? That's not so bad, right? They're just saying that maybe instead of sitting around waiting for divine intervention, people should, you know, get up off their asses and do something. Actually, it kind of sounds like the widely accepted (but not actually biblical) expression: 'God helps those who helps themselves.' It's a far cry from some of the downright insulting messages other atheist groups (see left) have been putting out there and that was sort of the point.

Try Atheism: All the smug certainty about
the unknowable, but with zero deities!
"When we designed the ads, we went out of our way to make them as soft as we could. Our purpose is to find those people out there who think the same way we do but don't know there's an organization that will support their views. It's like any other advertising campaign: we're looking for people who are interested in our message and our product."

and cheerleader for the godless void

Ok, so cynical comparisons to selling Vancouverians (Vancouverites?) on atheism like it's car insurance or a new phone carrier aside, O'Brien and the CFI have every right to be upset. B.C. law (as in British Columbia, not like Hammurabi's Code, although B.C. Law would make an excellent police procedural) protects against discrimination based on religion or in this case absence thereof. 
In the B.C. criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet
equally important groups: the guy who accuses the someone of stealing a goat, and
the rabble who stone the accused to death without a trial. These are their stories.
A woman's right to choose?
Clearly you hate adorable babies...
The advertising company who owns the billboards, Pattison Outdoor, has offered no explanation for the rejection, so we're left to wonder why they would refuse to put up CFI's signs. Don't they like money? O'Brien points out that the advertising company in question, Pattison Outdoor, had no problem putting anti-abortion ads outside hospitals in Halifax that offer abortions, so there's a chance, just a chance that the decision to reject CFI's ad was maybe a little religiously motivated. Maybe (ok, definitely).

Usually in disputes like this, that is, atheists vs. believers in some stupid squabble over ad space (surprisingly, it happens a lot), both sides come off as tremendous asshats, but this time, I'm going to have to go with the godless heathens. 
"Suck on it, Churchy McGodington!"
-Noted Atheist Richard Dawkins
What? Voltaire says a lot of things...
Look, it's not that I find their 'the universe is an indifferent, chaotic void' argument any more convincing or provable then the religiously inclined's insistence that a divine, cosmic Santa Claus is out there, intervening on the behalf of whichever football team's fans pray the loudest. It's just that they totally have every right to say it. Sure the ad's a little snarky, but like Voltaire says: I'll defend to the death their right to snark.