Saturday, December 31, 2016

Let's all agree never to speak of 2016 again.

I uh...well, happy um, New Years. I suppose. It's the last day of 2016 which I'm sure comes as a relief to anyone who puts undue and irrational importance on unscientific concepts like bad luck and probably to the rest of us who can't argue with how shitty a year this has been. I mean, holy shit, did someone desecrate a tomb or something?
Above: basically all of us.
Somewhere in the multiverse, they're
mourning washed up baseball star turned
Binghamton area car dealer, Fidel Castro.
The usual mark of a bad year is traditionally how long the list of dead, beloved famous people is and this year it is long and talented. Musicians Prince, David Bowie, Sharon Jones, George Michael, Franks Sinatra Jr and Leonard Cohen are all dead. Literature lost Harper Lee, who wrote How to Kill a Mockingbird and Watershed Down author Richard Adams. And sports fans lost Muhammed Ali, Arnold Palmer and Fidel Castro who I think played baseball for a little while before moving on to an armed revolution and subsequently ruling an oppressive communist regime for decades.

"See that Danny? That's the universe. A cold,
godless expanse that hates us. Better get used to it."
Actors Anton Yelchin, Alan Rickman and Robert Vaugh are dead. As are Zsa Zsa Gabor, Ron Glass, Abe Vigoda and the long running joke about whether or not he's dead. Gene Wilder is dead because, hey why not, right? TV mom Florence Henderson and TV dad Alan Thicke are gone and Star Wars fans lost both Kenny Baker (the guy inside R2D2) and Carrie Fisher. Can you believe it? And speaking of, because the universe likes kicking us while we're down, Fisher's mother, Debbie Reynolds died the next goddamn day.

So long Robert S. Hulseman, we
hardly knew ye. May your legacy live on
forever through college movie clich├ęs.
And since Twitter and bullshit news on Facebook has already killed journalism, we might as well say goodbye to 60 Minutes guy Morley Safer and PBS News Hour host Gwen Ifill. Thailand lost King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Christian apocalypse fans lost novelist Tim LaHaye and people who fall for scams lost Madam Cleo. Also dead are some less famous people like this flight attendant who, back in 1972, survived a fall of three miles, that's like 33,000 feet, when her plane exploded in mid-air and the guy who invented the red Solo cup.

Way to go Mitch. Way to go. I'm sure
 future generations will thank you.
And because the universe hates America, (and not without cause), John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth died this year. So did noted dance party host and first woman to hold the position of Attorney General, Janet Reno. Antonin Scalia is dead which, you know, I kind of hated him but I didn't want to see him dead. The real kick in the teeth is the way Mitch McConnell made up some bullshit about how the next President should get to fill the seat on the bench and now that President is (technically) Donald Trump. 

Hey, we had a good run, and besides
Hillary Clinton was once careless with her
emails, so we really dodged that bullet.
And yeah, on that note, I think the thing keeping us from popping the champaign cork and dancing on the rapidly cooling corpse of 2016 is the promise of 2017. I know I've been pretty focused on the election and on Trump, and I know there are other things going on in the world, but for real. 2017 is the year in which we're going to swear in a President that most of us didn't vote for and whose short temper and reckless tweeting is almost certainly going to spark a global conflict that will end our reign as the planet's dominant life form.

So let's raise a glass to the baboons, chimps and other primates who will, in the coming millennia, evolve to fill the niche we once occupied. Here's to you, may you learn from our mistakes and stay away from electoral colleges and gerrymandering. Or better yet, just elect a parliament or a council or something, because clearly we had know idea what we were doing. Like at all. I mean, look where it's gotten us.
Good luck ape council. You're going to need it.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Today in institutions picking on children...

Can you tell by looking at this thing
what biological sex the person who
made it was born? No? Then shut up. 
Hey, do you know what couldn't possibly matter less when fashioning some stupid bird feeder out of an empty milk carton and some bird seed? A person's biological sex at birth. So it's kind of weird that an 8 year old boy called Joe Maldonado was kicked out of Cub Scouts because he was born biologically female. Weird and infuriating. Mostly infuriating. And what's even more infuriating-ier is that when he signed-up, the Troop was fully aware that he was transgender and none of his fellow scouts had a problem with it. So what gives?

You know, cranking out a couple
 kids doesn't actually entitle
you to the moral high ground.  
Some panicky parent Helen Lovejoy bullshit, that's what. Apparently, the scouts don't have a policy when it comes to transgender kids participating, so it was only after some of his fellow scouts' parents complained that Joe was asked to leave. Which, can we talk a little about how fucked up that is? Like, if you have some ridiculous problem with your kid making pinewood derby racers with a transgender fellow scout then pull them out and homeschcool them in your rapture shelter or whatever. Why should Joe suffer because some other kids' parents are dicks?

If anything these parents that wanted Joe out should have been forced to give a televised press conference where they explain, without the cloak of anonymity upon which so many bigots rely, exactly what their beef is. I think we, as a society, seriously underestimate the power of shame when it comes to calling out bigotry and besides, I wonder how many people would get over their bullshit if they could just hear what they sound like.
"Um...because uh, because we don't want our kid catching the gay...
oh, you know what? I hear it now. God, I do sound like an idiot. Sorry!"
-some idiot parent
Are they though?
You might remember a few years ago when the organization grudgingly joined the 20th century (you heard me) and lifted its ban on gay scouts-you know, as long as they're not all in your face about it-but for whatever reason the T in LGBT is just too much of a stretch for them.

"No youth may be removed from any of our programs on the basis of his or her sexual orientation. Gender identity isn't related to sexual orientations."

earning the shit out her hair-splitting merit badge

This jackass got voted out of office
because he couldn't figure out the difference.
Which, wait-I-sorry, I was just caught a little off guard there. Because she's right, sexual orientation and gender identity are two completely different things. So, well done? I mean she's grasping a concept that LGBT rights proponents have been trying for years to get people to understand and that's cool. But what's not so cool is that she's using the distinction to justify kicking an 8-year old out of Scouts, so, you know, fuck you Effie.

Sorry. That was a little-wait, you know what? I'm standing by 'fuck you Effie.' I was in Scouts for a couple of years until I realized how much time it was taking away from video games and cartoons and I think Joe deserves the chance to discover how lame it is. I mean, because of the activities they do. Not how lame they are because they don't have the basic decency or fortitude to stick up to bigots in defense of an 8-year old kid.
Do these kids even know about PS4? Because I don't think they'd be tooling around
outdoors in those stupid outfits if they knew there was a new Final Fantasy game out.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Let's shake a skyward fist at 2016!

This is unacceptable 2016,
do you hear me? Unacceptable. 
Remember yesterday when I was sort of suggesting that all this 2016 hate was misplaced and that we really can't blame something as meaningless and arbitrary as a number on a calendar for bad things happening and besides, next year's probably going to be worse, so let's save our impotent rage for that? Remember that? That was yesterday. Today I'm going to go ahead and say fuck 2016. Because I mean for real.

Did he suddenly get
really good at chess?
Rolling out the long list of artists, musicians, actors and just generally famous people who died is traditionally more of a New Years thing, and I'm sure we'll get to that, but in the meantime, I'd just like to say to whatever anthropomorphic personification of death which may, or may not exist, 'What the shit?' I mean, I don't want to tell him or her or it how to do his or hers or its job, but seriously, could you stop depleting the ranks of people who bring art and music into all our lives? I mean, aren't there plenty of jerks to choose from?

And look, I would never, never wish harm on someone, but I would point out that there are plenty of people spreading misery and violence around the world, so you know...again, not naming names here, just maybe lay off the good ones for awhile?
In the meantime, please join me in
shaking an impotent fist skyward.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Just save it for next year...

To be clear, 2016 isn't a thing you can fuck. I get the sentiment behind the whole fuck 2016 thing, like, it has been a terrible year. It's just that a year is an arbitrary delineation of time and not actually responsible for celebrity deaths, natural disasters or the sundering of the last lingering threads of confidence we have in our democracy. Calendars can't kill you.
Ok fine, most calendars can't kill you.
Oh shit, that's still...like, we're really
going through with this, aren't we?
And by bemoaning 2016 and constantly asking if it's over yet, aren't we kind of suggesting that we think 2017 is going to be better? Because it's a pretty safe but it's going to suck even harder. I'm not trying to be a pessimist here, but in addition to the fact that more people, famous or otherwise, will likely die in 2017, there's still the ever worsening effects of climate change, the civil war in Syria and remember when Donald Trump won the election? Well, won is kind of a strong word. Technically won?

Our next President shaving Vince
McMahon's head. No words.
Yeah, because unless we, as a nation, are the victims of some kind of elaborate punking, and on Inauguration Day Hillary Clinton is going to jump out and shout 'gotcha!' before taking the oath of office, we're rather screwed and will be for the foreseeable. In addition to being in a position to start the world's first literal Twitter war-as in an actual armed conflict started on Twitter, he's going to choose the next Supreme Court justice. A man who once hosted WrestleMania will be filling a seat on the Court in 2017. Lets that sit a minute.

Look, I'm not saying this hasn't been a rough year, but 2016 wasn't the worst year ever either. There was the Lincoln assassination in 1865 and the Plague started in 1346, so I guess what I'm saying is that 2016 is at least coming in third and since all signs point to an even shittier 2017, I invite us all to unfuck 2016.
Oh, and let's not forget the K-T extinction about 66 million years ago,
you didn't hear people whining 'worst year ever' back then, did you?

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Today in blatant age-ism...

In your day, jobs paid a living wage and
college cost like $200 a year, so shut up maybe?
Hey lookit, youths, getting like all involved and shit! You know, millennials? They're that generation people like to write off as lazy, entitled brats while at the same time conveniently forgetting that the lazy entitlement of the previous generations has created a world where kids have to work two or more shitty, low-paying jobs with no security and no health insurance just to cobble together a living and barely afford a place to live as long as they share it with two or more roommates.

Just some of the older Trump fans who
won't have to live with the repercussions of
poor choice they made. (source: bitterness)
They're looking up from their Twitterbooks and Facepages long enough to organize a crowdfunded movement house in D.C. What the hell is a movement house? I'm glad I pretended you asked. They plan to rent a space in our nation's capitol close to the White House and Congress and use it as a staging ground for protests against technical President Trump, who, as you know, in addition to being just all around terrible is particularly unpopular among young people.

"Let strangers stay in your house. For money."
-not actually their slogan
but it might as well be

The group, called Millennials for Revolution is made up of activists whose previous work has been in things like fighting against social ills like climate change, discrimination and Walmart, so dedicating themselves to protesting Trump seems like a natural progression. According to the crowdfunding page, the house itself will be used mainly as a base of operations and not like, a place to live, but then 'activist' isn't usually a paying gig and this is the generation that gave us AirBnb, so, yeah, c'mon people are totally going to be sleeping there at least some of the time.

It's the future and they have Thunder Dome,
but with kids and everyone dresses like drag
queens and-.oh! They're hungry...
Millennials for Revolution says they hope to get District 13 open in time-huh? Didn't I mention? Yeah, they're naming it District 13, which is like a reference to Hunger Games. A reference I had to look up. Because I'm suddenly old. Don't laugh, if it hasn't happened to you yet, it will. Soon and when you least expect it. Anyway, they're aiming for $50,000 to cover rent for a year and they hope to have it up and running in time for Inauguration Day and the Women's March on Washington so, cool. right? Cool? Do the kids still say that? Ill?

Whatever, I don't use Twitter, I think AirBnB is gross, and I never read Hunger Games but millennials are kind of giving me hope for the future. Well, millennials and the certainty that the people largely responsible for Trump's win won't be around forever.
Holy shit, now I'm just being mean. Sorry baby boomers,
I know it wasn't all you. Racists and idiots helped too.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Today in metaphorical face tattoos...

Holy shit Electoral College,
we're like 0 for 2 here. Little help?
So tomorrow electors in all fifty states are going to, I don't know, huddle in their dark electing rooms and not do the only thing they're good for: preventing a unbalanced and dangerous bully from becoming president. And I just don't know what to say about it. I mean, the goddamn point of holding elections in a representative democracy is so we can all have an active roll in choosing people smarter and better informed than us to run things, so democracy has already failed us on two counts.

Our next President, who makes being uninformed a point of pride, was chosen by a minority of voters which is like the opposite of how elections are supposed to work. He 'won' because he had the support of mostly white, mostly male voters who, thanks to decades of gerrymandering, go to the polls in states where their vote just counts more.
The Electoral College:
"Helping Red States feel appreciated since 2000..."
Pictured: Pretty much this but
instead of the bomb, he's riding
white people's persecution complexes.
If only there was some overly complex and archaic feature of our electoral process that could serve as a bulwark against a dangerous and unqualified candidate from riding a wave of divisiveness and pandering into the most powerful position in the world...and yes, I can hear myself speak. I realize that I just bemoaned the Electoral College in one paragraph while holding it up as our last best hope in the next and I'm comfortable with that. Besides, the aforementioned dangerous and unqualified candidate exploited the very thing that's supposed to keep people like him out of office.

It's like if the judge in Miracle on 34th Street
was like, 'Nah, the old man's bananas.' And
it ended with Santa pumped full of thorazine.
But despite a massive campaign of thousands of letters and emails, begging, pleading with electors to, for the love of all that is holy, do something about President Trump. But despite this, despite not only of his gross under-qualification, unstable temperament and the fact that both the CIA and the FBI are pretty damn sure we're only still talking about him at all because Vladimir Putin carried out a massive operation to interfere with our elections and put Trump in office there's still like no chance that enough of them will agree to switch to Clinton or some other, less terrifying Republican.

Take this one elector from Arizona who told the Washington Post that:

"Honestly, it (the letters) had an impact...but I signed a loyalty pledge. And that matters."

-Carole Joyce, presumably while the Battle Hymn 
of the Republic played softly in the background

I'm sure years from now, the mutants who will live in the catacombs
beneath the burnt out ruins of our civilization will appreciate you and
your unswerving loyalty to the former host of The Apprentice, Carole.
Even Aaron Burr agrees with us on
why Trump is a terrible idea and he's
 the damn fool who shot Hamilton.
Which, yeah ok, loyalty's super and all but her job as an elector, at least according to Alexander Hamilton whom we've all suddenly realized is awesome, is to not let shit like this happen and I don't know about you, but I'm kind of ok with Carole Joyce's conscience bothering her if it means having a President that won't just poke China to see what happens. Sure, the system is a ridiculous holdover from a less enlightened time when those in power didn't think we could be trusted, but clearly we can't always be trusted. People make terrible decisions sometimes. Look at face tattoos.

Donald Trump is a face tattoo and America is drunk and sitting in the chair at the tattoo place and the Electoral College is our sober friend who's supposed to take us home and put us to bed but isn't, so my question is holy shit Electoral College, what are you waiting for?
This is going to be all of us on the morning of January 21st. 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Episode 3.5: A New Hopelessness

Alright, you had to know this was coming. It's the internet and I'm about to talk about the new Star Wars, so if you-huh? Yeah, Wars, not Trek. I can like two things. Anyway, so if you don't want me to ruin it for you, stop reading now. Still reading? Because I can't tell. I'm just typing. I can't actually see you.
Anonymity is what make the internet great...also horrible.
Don't you roll your eyes at me.
I'm not the one that made Darth Vader
into a whining child-murder. 
Anyway, not to beat a dead, flannel loving, bearded horse, but George Lucas in making the prequel trilogy seemed to miss what Star Wars fans really liked about Star Wars movies, and also some of the really basic things like, a coherent plot, likable characters and you know, acting. Instead he just crammed in as much CGI weirdness and overly-choreographed lightsaber fights as he possibly could and the results were, you know, what they were. But then, frustrated by the internet and its ability to offer his former fans a way register their ever-increasing disgust at everything he touches, he sold the whole thing to Disney. 

Above: J. J. Abrams stroking the
nostalgia region of our brains.
And now we have decades of entertaining but completely derivative sequels and spin-offs to look forward to, each one carefully calibrated to make all the money ever. But whatever, because the Force Awakens and now Rogue One, seem to get their audience. Or at least how to stroke whichever part of the brain releases the neuro-conductor nostalgamine which is responsible for making us think things are cool because we remember them. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. 

Pictured: Pretty much
this entire movie.
Rogue One has all the things Star Wars fans love: practical effects, sassy robots, and a space admiral who's also a fish and sounds like Winston Churchill. Win. But where Force Awakens simply remade A New Hope, Rogue One actually tells a new story, albeit one that's built out of parts we're already familiar with, but it's also a heavier story. Like, where as most of the previous movies were light-hearted romps with occasional planetary annihilations, this one's a little dark. 

"Humor is my coping mechanism
ok? Also drugs. Lots of drugs."
-Former Princess Leia
Take the first movie for example. Princess Leia watches helplessly as her home planet, her parents and practically everyone she's ever known is explodulated just to prove a point. Well, two points. One, that the Empire isn't just fucking around and two, that Dantooine is kind of a schlep. Anyway, like twenty minutes after suffering an incomprehensible loss, she's making short jokes about Luke. Rogue One meanwhile makes sure we're good and attached to characters before making us watch them die horribly. 

That's not to say there isn't any humor, it's just that most of the funny comes from Alan Tudyk's psychotic droid and the punchline is usually him crushing an Imperial officer's skull. 
Pictured: K2SO hilariously chucking a grenade at some
Stormtroopers who, in their defense, are just trying to do their job. 
Dex, the overweight cockroach who
runs a diner in Episode 2 isn't weird,
he's just stupid as all hell (source: fact). 
It does have some things that aren't so great, notably Grand Moff Tarkin, played by the computer animated corpse of the late Peter Cushing. It's unsettling at best. Kind of wish they kept him to a minimum but instead, there he is creeping everybody out pretty much throughout. Like, this is a Star Wars movie, so fully CGI characters aren't anything new, but they're usually robots or aliens so any un-realness is chalked up to that. Tarkin, on the other hand looks like he just stepped off the Polar Express. It's kind of distracting.

The most embarrassing thing would be that
time he whined about how chaffing sand can be.
Oh and then there's the pun. Again, spoiler alert, but Darth Vader makes an appearance in his fabulous castle on Mustafar. Because of course he'd want a place with a nice view of the flowing rivers of lava where he was horrible mutilated. So we visit case de Vader and get to see him relaxed at home and get this, cracking jokes while force choking his underlings. I'm not saying this is the most embarrassing thing we've ever seen Darth Vader do, it was just a little weird seeing the guy who betrayed and then murdered like all the Jedi, including the children, making a funny.

Anyway, like I said, Rogue One was good. Like, totally good. It hits all the points you probably want in a Star Wars without the feeling that it was just retreading previous entries in the series. But it was grim. Griiiiiim. Like, I'm not going to go into specifics here, but don't get too attached to anyone in this movie. 
Especially these guys. Farewell Trooper 773, we hardly knew ye.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Today in no longer crazy conspiracy theories...

Apples who won the popular vote and
oranges who may have colluded with Russia.
Hey, remember back during the presidential debates when the moderator asked if Trump would accept the results if he lost the election? And he wouldn't answer, which was kind of unsettling but we all had a laugh because there was no way he could win. Remember? I only bring it up because Hillary Clinton is now raising questions about the election but it's not at all the same thing. It's apples and orange-hued real-estate developers. Trump was preparing us for him being a sore-looser, Clinton on the other hand might have a case.

It was funny then because Trump had inarguably lost all three of the debates, was way behind in the polls and besides, America's wouldn't be that...I was going to say stupid, but now that just sounds mean. Um, un-smart?
Fun fact: they're neither silent nor a majority.
Russia? They're like famous
for free and fair elections, right?
So yeah, if it sounds like we're all suddenly cool with questioning the results of the election it's because holy shit, these are some questionable results. Aside from the crazy off-the-mark polls, the bullshit with James Comey and the FBI, the computer scientists who said we should probably look into some of the swing-states, states who then denied the recount requests you know, for reasons. Aside from all that we now have 17 intelligence agencies saying that Russia definitely interfered and the CIA is even going so far as to say they believe it was with the express intent of helping Trump win. How come? No idea, although, back when Russia held totally free elections that Vladimir Putin certainly didn't rig at all, there were like, mass protests which Putin insisted that Secretary of State Clinton had a hand in. But I'm sure this has nothing to do with that, right?

Trump, for his part, is insisting that this is all ridiculous and immediately turned the tables with his usual unassailable logic. On Twitter. Because of course, Twitter.
Hey, remember when he also said that he totally wins the popular vote
when you deduct the 'illegal votes' he baselessly asserted exist? Yeah...
That wild accusation brought to you by
the be-moustached face-hole of a guy
who might Trump's Secretary of State.
To be clear, the argument is that we shouldn't look into the disturbing assessment of our nation's intelligence community that foreign agents interfered with the very bedrock of our democracy because if the situation were reversed we'd probably think Trump was just being nutty. Ok. Not to be out-nutty-ied, former ambassador John Bolton also weighed in, suggesting without, you know, a shred of evidence, that this whole thing is just a elaborate ruse perpetrated by the Obama administration. Holy shit.

Details like, is our next President the
puppet of an ex-KGB Russian strongman?
So obviously, Clinton's campaign is now getting behind a bipartisan request made by some members of the Electoral College to have access to intelligence findings about Russian interference, you know, so they can get a clear picture of just how fucked we all are. The electors cite some shady shit like Trump campaign aides flying to Moscow, FBI inquires into connections between his campaign and Russia and a whole bunch of Russian officials who were like, 'sure, we talk to Trumps people all the time' as reasons they should be briefed on any pertinent details.

Senators McCain and Graham, seen here
 just seconds from a passionate kiss, agree
that this is too important for partisanship.
Ok, so nine of the ten electors who wrote the letter asking for this info are already voting for Clinton so it's bipartisan because the tenth is that Republican elector who wrote an op-ed about how he'd much rather vote for John Kasich, which, you know, eww. But still, these are perfectly reasonable questions to be asking. So reasonable in fact, that even Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain have teamed up with Democrats Chuck Schumer and Jack Reed to demand an investigation. Even Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants in.

Pictured: Mitch McConnell, looking
as shocked as we are that we're
all on the same page about this.
"I agree with Senator Schumer, Chairman McCain, Senator Burr and others, this simply cannot be a partisan issue..."


Yes, Mitch McConnell, a guy so partisan he dug in and refused to even talk about Obama picking Anointing Scalia's replacement insisting that the next President should do it...how'd that work out Mitch?

Anyway, I guess the important thing to remember here is that if you're kind of freaking out that the election was compromised at best, or an outright fraud carried out by some covert Russian intelligence agency job at worst, you're not alone and you're not just being paranoid.
For those keeping score, it looks like Russian operatives may have actually manipulated
American elections, thus calling into question the legitimacy of President-elect Trump's win.
Chem trails however are still just the condensation from jet engines, so there's some good news.