Monday, February 27, 2017

Today in sedentary achievements...

The heady aroma of Mountain Dew and
garage sale looms heavily over his victory.
So what did you do this weekend? Really? Because Piotr Delgado Kusielczuk just completed his three year quest to beat all 714 original NES games. I'll take your stunned silence as an indication that you're in total awe of this-huh? Oh, that's not awe? That's shrugging indifference? I see, well maybe you'd like me to complain about the President some more? No? Great, then buckle that nerd belt because we're about to talk about old video games and why someone would waste three years playing them all.

Pictured: Some philatelist wasting his
life collecting stamps. Pfft...stamps...
Did I say 'waste three years?' Because I meant to say 'commit oneself to this most glorious pursuit' for three years. Kusielczuk's playing through and finishing every original Nintendo game ever released in North America might sound like a pointless exercise in muscle atrophy, especially considering all the other things one could accomplish in three years, but-huh? Like what? Look, I don't know, I'd probably spend three years playing video games too, but still that's a lot of time and effort to put into livestreaming a hobby.

Kusielczuk's feat is even more impressive considering that he must have had to include a fair amount of objective garbage in the interest of completion. Don't get me wrong, I loved the NES, but a childhood spent renting games from the grocery store (it was a barbarous time) taught me that a good chuck of that 714 game catalogue suuuucked.
I'm looking at you Hydlide. Goddamned Hydlide...
I'm pretty sure TMNT 1 gave me an ulcer.
Also, and I know this is subjective, but games were harder back then. Home console games were still burdened with the atavistic tendency of arcade games to be super difficult and thought nothing of booting you back to the beginning after your three lives were spent. No autosave and no Youtube play throughs. If Nintendo Power magazine didn't cover the game you were stuck in that month you're only hope was asking other kids. And god help you if the family next door had Sega. I mean, did they hate their own children or something?

Anyway, scoff if you will, (and you will, I know you too well) but as someone who gave up on so many of those long-forgotten plastic slabs of frustration, I can say that Kusielczuk has pulled off no mean feat. I mean this man beat the last stage of Ghostbusters. Ghostbusters. And we hand out awards for acting?
Above: Piotr Delgado Kusielczuk, the first person ever to beat every NES game. Sure it's.
not a cure for cancer, but still, pretty neat. Although a cure for cancer would be nice too...

Friday, February 24, 2017

Suckle the info-teat!

Although I feel like even then we'd still
be talking about goddamned Trump...
I know that NASA totally just discovered like a whole star system full of potentially life-bearing planets about 40 light years away and that's awesome, but unless they've sent an armada to conquer us, I still feel the need to talk about the ridiculous pre-fascist dick move the Trump administration has decided to pull today. You're probably wondering about to which specific dick move I'm referring because at this point it's hard to keep track. I'm referring to the press briefing to which the press was not actually invited.

Well, some of the press anyway. The New York Times, the L.A. Times and CNN were among those not allowed to suckle at Press Secretary Sean Spicer's mighty info-teat.
Good luck getting that image out of your head.
Surely an office that can accommodate a
lip-sync of The Jackal can seat CNN...
Wait, what? Yeah, apparently CNN, the USA Today of cable news, has ended up on the media non-grata list along with the NYT, but I suppose that's just another difference between our home universe and this terrifying alternate timeline we've become trapped in. But whatever, the limp, bullshit-caked reason from the White House was that the regular conference in the Press Briefing Room was cancelled and instead a smaller briefing would be held in Spicer's office. know...

Fine, you got me, I just made that up,
but you're picturing it now aren't you?
Yeah, that was the stated rational for excluding major news outlets who coincidentally may have been critical of (technical) President Trump while giving Red-State shit merchants like Breitbart front row seats. If that sounds like so much transparent Orwellian Newspeak, that's because it is. If Spicer got the crappy office, then why did they move the meeting other than to rationalize locking out reporters who refuse to give the White House the reach around they so petulantly demand-what? It's a journalism phrase meaning favorable coverage...

Anyway, so the President is yanking healthcare from millions of people, making trans kids use the wrong bathrooms and is kicking out reporters who he says are mean to him (because they, you know, report). I have to ask, are we great again now? Because I'm not sure I'm seeing it...
He knows that the press isn't the enemy of all the people right.? Just him.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Today in small-minded pettiness...

Citing a dangerous uptick in the number of transgender students not being discriminated against, the Trump administration just rescinded President Obama's guidelines for schools that allow kids to use the restroom facilities appropriate to their gender identity rather than their sex at birth. For those keeping score, Trump's enemies list now includes Saturday Night Live, the media and kids who just want to use the bathroom.
Did you bring a birth certificate? No?
Then I guess you're going to have to hold it.
"I didn't say white Jesus, but c'mon,
I mean, he was totally white."
According to inexplicably still the Press Secretary Sean Spicer, the President is a firm believer in state's rights and if a particular state wants to shame and humiliate school children for no reason other than gross ignorance and intolerance on the part of the gullible people who ushered Trump into office on a wave of transphobia and, I assume, meth, then by white Jesus, they should be able to do so. Ok, Spicer didn't say all that, but it was clearly implied.

Pictured: Noted tyrant Barack Obama,
architect of the oppressive guidelines
that asked schools to please stop being
 assholes to trans kids. What a monster.
So yeah, we're back on the bathroom thing. Obama issued the guidelines back in May of last year and while it was a huge win for transgender students, the red states kind of flipped out, mostly because they don't know what transgender means and the unfamiliar frightens them. Since May, was there an outbreak of straight, cis-gendered boys claiming to identify as female so they could be creepy in the girls' room? No, of course there goddamn wasn't, that's ridiculous. But having strong feelings about a thing has always been more important than valid reason and so, here we are.

Infuriating isn't it? Well infuriated is the new...uh, I don't know, breathing? Progressives are angry that the administration is lurching drunkenly from one outrageously discriminatory action to another and the Right is angry that the rest of us are angry at them and nobody's happy. Who's right? Who's to blame? Well, obviously us and then them in that order.
Biased? Moi? Sure I am, but biased opinions are at the very core
of what the internet is for along with porn and discussing Star Trek.
"Russia? What? No, the real threat
is kids' bathroom assignments."

-The Right
I don't think we're asking for the moon when we expect the President to remember that he works for all of us, regardless of political party, but the last month has been an unceasing shitshow where the majority of us who didn't vote for this guy have watched in horror as he undoes all the things Obama-whom most of us did vote for-did. This sucks is what I'm saying, and this move to let schools treat transgender kids, who are all ready at enormous risk for depression and suicide, like outcasts is another reason we can't go on like this.

And again, we're not talking about some crazy liberal thing like eliminating all military spending or mandatory reiki, this is the bathroom debate. Again. The administration is about to make life even harder for trans kids because an insecure gameshow host is feeling beholden to the fringey, unfocused and ignorant rage of the people who put him in office.
"Stop calling me a bigot! I am angry and white and I will have
my opinion heard and enacted as policy, no matter how irrational!"

-a man with unfocused ignorant rage

Monday, February 20, 2017

Move over John Adams...

Today was President's Day, the day upon which we Americans celebrate the achievements of our Presidents with deep discounts on major appliances. Well, discounts and disagreement.
"Take 35% off all Kenmore appliances because Taft!"
More like 'Virginia is for losers...'
What? I'm kidding. It's lovely State.
Really. But still, we you know, won.
Since America is confusing and rife with divisiveness, we can't even all agree on why we're getting a deal on a new electric range. It turns out President's Day isn't President's Day everywhere. Some states call it President's Day while other's call it Washington's Birthday. Still others call it Washington's and Lincoln's Birthday thus screwing us out of a holiday which is also confusing because Lincoln was born on the 12th. Oh, and in Virginia it's just called George Washington Day, probably because they like to gloss over our 16th President who kicked their slave-holding asses in the war.

Caesar was good at a lot of things.
Calendars and not getting murdered
however were not among them.
Anyway, as a Federal Holiday it's technically called Washington's Birthday even though it celebrates all the Presidents. And even weirder is the fact that it's observed on the third Monday in February despite the fact that Washington was born on February 22nd. Except that he wasn't. When Washington was born in 1732, the British Empire which still owned us at the time, was still using the Julian calendar. Because Julius Caesar wasn't great at math, it was off by like 11 days and while most European countries had moved on to the Gregorian calendar, the British were still clinging to the old one the way your mom refuses to upgrade to the new IOS because they keep changing the buttons.

When the Empire finally got with the program in 1752, Washington went from being an Aquarius to a Pisces overnight and now the 3rd Monday in February means your bank is probably closed so um, thanks Washington.
"Today is a good day to embark on new projects. Maybe there's a chore
you've been putting off, or a king you'd like to overthrow."
-Space Fish
He is however this guy's President.
Of course it's not just Federal observances that divide us as a people, there's also, you know, all that other stuff. Right now is a particularly angry time to be an American and possibly our biggest point of contention is the gameshow host who is technically the President. It's not surprising then that today saw 'Not My President's Day' demonstrations and protests across the country in opposition to the current occupant of the White House. Wow, that's weird right? The fact that we now have to include Donald Freaking Trump on the list of Presidents?

Whatever we think of him and the election, he's going to be on that list forever. Yeah, technically Donald Trump now has one 45th of the Holiday set aside for our country leaders, so um, Happy President's Day...
If it's any consolation, John Adams is no longer
the U.S. President with the most ridiculous hair.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Everyone loves a quitter!

Oh, maybe not 'loves,' but maybe we'd hate him less. Who? Oh, I think you know. Anyway, just so we're super-clear, the joke here, like the irony of Donald Trump is that he doesn't get it, right?  I ask because on Thursday he gave a crazy-town press conference in which he described his administration as a 'finely-tuned machine' and not say, a shit-show of potentially apocalyptic proportions.

Do you suppose he's unclear on the definition of finely-tuned, machine or both?
I sure hope those walls are lead-lined,
'cause I'm pretty the Beast has x-ray vision.

And then he blamed all his woes on the media, which was probably a little awkward because they were right there in the room and also not a great idea because they have, you know, cameras. So what I want to clarify is, is he serious? Does he honestly not get that more than half the country hates him. Hates him. When the election happened everyone threw up their hands and blamed the results on angry, disenfranchised conservatives climbing out of their rapture shelters long enough to make their voices heard and that's kinda true, but that doesn't mean that he's got a mandate and it certainly doesn't win him any favors with all of us who voted for Hillary Clinton.

Maybe he didn't read any of their signs and
thought everyone turned out just to say 'hi.'
Sure, the fringey right is happy, but the rest of the country falls somewhere on the 'we got screwed' spectrum. Now we're the disenfranchised angry people whose votes didn't matter because a bunch of red counties in the right places voted for a novelty candidate. Whatever ridiculous claims of illegal voting and huge inauguration turn out the administration makes, he still lost the popular vote by a huge margin and most of us, yes most of us, a point I can't stress enough, hate his guts.

"Who do you think you are? Asking questions
and then telling everyone what I said..."
And the press isn't some rogue element using fake news to convince the public that Donald Trump is an unqualified and unstable wanna be autocrat. They're reporters bound by their journalistic integrity to-huh? Well some of them...I assume...fine, they're trying to sell adspace, but that doesn't mean they're not right for calling him out for being unqualified, unstable and a wanna be autocrat. The point is that even they find the administration's bullshit too obvious to repeat. 

"What part of 'it's only treason when
Democrats do it' don't you people get?"
They're just saying what we're all thinking and he's not going to change our minds by calling them names and insulting us with demonstrably untrue bullshit. And I know that there's a certain amount of bullshit we expect from our leaders, sure, but holy shit we're a month in and the administration is already asking us to pay no attention to the mounting evidence that Vladimir Putin chose our president...which, why is no one in jail for that?

I guess the question then is does Trump not know that there's no coming back from this? He's not going to wake up one day and find that we're all suddenly cool with his unique brand of hostile Twitter-whining and China-poking. The only options open to him are to ride it out and go down as the most hated President in U.S. history or to resign, get a new reality show and leave Mike Pence holding the bag. A bag full of indictments.
"Either way, Nixon's off the hook baby!"
-Richard Nixon, our soon to be
second least favorite President

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Toady in wishful thinking...

So just because Justin Trudeau is Canadian and the Prime Minister of Canada, does that mean we can't have him as our President? Constitutionally speaking...yes? But then I'm not a constitutional scholar, so who knows?
Above: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
perfectly expressing how we all feel.
Pictured: Micheal Flynn, inexplicably
not being hauled away in handcuffs.
National Security Adviser Mike Flynn resigned last night after it came out that he lied to VP Mike Pence and (technically the) President Trump about talking to Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak back in December. Apparently he told Kislyak to go ahead and ignore the sanctions President Obama was leveling against Russia for interfering in our election because they guy they helped elect would just go ahead and lift them any. Holy shit. I mean, holy shit. How are all of them not in jail right now?

If you were to travel back in time 4 months
and show this to me, I'd believe your time
machine was real before I'd buy the photo.
And then I'd take up drinking. Full time.
So what'd he lie about? Apparently he didn't tell the administration about being BFF's with Vladimir Putin, but, you know, didn't he? We don't know. This might just be me imagining the worst in these people because during the campaign and up though these last few weeks Trump's people have been, what's the phrase? Living, shit-spewing examples of everything wrong with America? And high on schadenfreude, I'm just waiting with gleeful anticipation for the whole thing to come crashing down upon his butterscotch coiffured head. 

I know I keep harping on this but remember
when we elected her and swore in Trump? Yeah...
And to be clear, I'm not saying I want America, as a thing, to fail, I just want to see the Trump administration get what's coming to it. Which is to say an embarrassing scandal from which they'll never recover, mass resignations and a recall election in which we put someone competent in office. Like, say Hillary Clinton, whom most of us voted for anyway or maybe Elizabeth Warren who's just the best. Will it happen? Of course not. 

Oh, you heard me.
Yes, Russia interfered in our election and even if the Trump campaign didn't have a hand in it, they still gleefully accepted the tainted results and lied to us about inauguration attendance and imaginary, illegal voters, and are now in a perfect position to not investigate themselves for all the treason they committed. All this brings me back to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Crazy? Yes and it's super-illegal to have the head of a foreign government take an active role in American politics, but may I direct your attention to what's going on right now?

Besides, there is historical precent. When Queen Elizabeth I died without an heir, James VI of Scotland came in and became James I of England as well. He was a double king. So I say, let's put out some feelers and see what we can work out with our neighbors to the north. Let's hear it for President Justin Trudeau! 
More like President Dreamboat...

Monday, February 13, 2017

Today in fictional lumpy space Vikings...

Brace yourselves, we're about to go deep nerd here because there's been a leaked photo from the set of the new Star Trek show and it is downright scandalous. You know, as scandalous as Star Trek news can get.
"Klingons have never been trustworthy."
-James Tiberius Kirk in
Star Trek VI: The Racist One
"You have to knock it off with the...racism!
And learn to...get along! another."

-Kirk, season 3 episode 13
These surprisingly racist-well, space racist (spacist?) words coming from the hero of television's least subtle show about not being a racist were proven totally correct Saturday when Andrew MacKay, an actor playing a background Klingon in Star Trek: Discovery, posted a behind the scenes shot of some of his cast mates in full make-up and costume which is, given how secretive everyone's being about the new series, probably frowned upon. MacKay's already deleted it but, you know, the internet. Incidentally, Toronto area actor Andrew MacKay is probably now available and looking for new projects.

Anyway, after like two years of Bryan Fuller being coy and showing us pretty much nothing about the new show, MacKay's indiscreet Instagram gives us a look at this series' version of Klingons and yes, they're different. What's that? Are you shrugging indifferently?
They shall sings songs of the glorious
conquest of the craft services table.
Above: The original Klingon look was,
um, let's say insensitive at best...
That's because you probably have a well-rounded life with a wide range on interests. Trekkies however would notice immediately that Discovery's Klingons are pretty different from the ones we're used to on the other Star Trek shows. The make-up looks more elaborate with more ridges and longer skulls and they're bald which is kinda weird. Klingon foreheads are already a point of contention among Star Trek fans ever since the first Star Trek movie updated the look from a bunch of guys with gold lamé sashes and goatees to space-faring Vikings with lumpy foreheads.

See? Oh and fun fact, that's John
 Larroquette, pointing at Christopher
Lloyd. I can't make this shit up.
We eventually got a preposterous in-universe explanation involving Khan and Mr. Data's creator's grandpa or something, but really the change was about having a decent make-up budget. Ok, so the Klingons are sporting a new look, what's the scandal alluded to before? Well, if there's one thing that gets under fans' skin it's inconsistencies and a sudden, unexplained change might piss people off. It turns out that Trekkies are like, super-detail oriented and if say a control on the bridge of the Enterprise fires phasers in one episode and scans for life forms in the next, there will be hell to pay. Hell in the form of angry emails from fans.

The point is even the most minor deviation from canon are met with resistance and scathing blog posts. No, not from me of course, I've matured, but I do hope that Discovery's producers know what they're doing. Trekkies have been known to hold grudges. Again, not referring to myself of course...just other fans. Obsessed fans...
Pictured: director J.J. Abrams, currently in witness protection
after mis-locating planet Delta Vega in the Star Trek reboot

Today in Vampire Propaganda...

Because we, as a planet, are completely out of ideas, Netflix is producing an animated TV series based on Castlevania. Yes, Castelevania and if that ridiculous title means nothing to you, fist of all, shame. But if you're truly out of touch with video games due to what I can only assume is an active social life, allow me to nerd'splain.
Pictured: what the internet assures me people with
active social lives look like. I'll have to take its word.
By combining the words castle and
Transylvania, Konami has saved us three
seconds over the last 30 years. Thanks guys!
The original Castlevania was an NES-era platform game where the player, as Simon Belmont, kills wave after wave of similar to, but legal distinct from, Universal Studios movie monsters in Count Dracula's castle in Transylvania called, preposterously, Castlevania. Konami basically owned my childhood with Castlevania and its sequels along with Contra and Metal Gear and they would have gotten me with Dance Dance Revolution too if it wasn't for all the standing and moving that one involved.

Oh, and like most Konami games, Castlevania and its sequels, particularly the early ones, were hard. Like, deep end of the pool, controller smashing hard. Anytime an enemy hits Simon he gets knocked backwards, usually into a pit which is instant death and in a castle full of flying Medusa heads (because video games) it happened a lot.
Seriously Konami, fuck you.
Precious, life-giving ham.
Anyway, while action video games in the 80's were usually pretty light on story, the premise here is that Dracula comes to life once every century and some Belmont descendant has to re-murder him with a whip. Which, in further video game logic is the only thing that kills a vampire. Oh, and did I mention the wall ham? Because apparently the walls of Dracula's castle are full of ham; a feature I'm sure Netflix will incorporate into their series.

-Some Vampire
Ok, so it's not exactly the richest source material, but everyone loves vampires and violence so, maybe it'll work. And violent it will be! According to producer Adi Shankar way back in 2015 when this series was first mentioned and we we're all like: 'Pffft...sure...' had this to say:

"I'm producing a super-violent Castlevania series...It's going to be dark, satirical and after a decade of propaganda it will flip the vampire sub-genre on its head."

-Adi Shankar, on his plans for-
wait, propaganda?

So...maybe incest? 
Vampire propaganda? Are we all victims of Big Vampire? Yeah. I have no idea what vampire propaganda we're supposed to have been subjected to for the last decade, but there it is. And since he wants people to watch it, he made the obligatory comparison to Game of Thrones. He didn't actually specify what he means by that either, but I suspect it's less about thematic or narrative similarities between Castlevania and Thrones and more about how he would like to make a shit ton of money with it. So um...good luck Adi...

I'm not saying Shankar and Netflix won't succeed with their new show, I'm just pointing out that GOT has tons of violence, sex, nudity and often disturbing combinations of the three while Netflix has a cartoon based on a thirty-year old video game about whipping vampires and eating wall ham.
Above: Totally the next game of thrones. Totally.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Mitch McConnell: Meme-Machine

"No, I can't hear myself speak. We talked
about this, it's a legitimate medical condition."
-Mitch McConnell
Hey, remember that time Senate Republicans invoked a little known parliamentary rule to silence a colleague who was quoting a civil rights activist about how racist Jeff Sessions is? And remember how that colleague was Elizabeth Warren and the woman she was quoting was Coretta Scott King? And then Mitch McConnell got up to explain to us why we should all be cool with him asking a woman to kindly shut up and to stop being mean to the GOP's favorite Klan fan? Remember?

Yeah, it didn't work out too well for McConnell. But of course the best part was when the Senate majority leader handed us a rallying cry that's already on t-shirts, buttons and goddamn coffee mugs? Yeah, that was the best.
"Hey Mitch, you realize you literally just wrote every poster board
protest sign for the next twenty marches.So, um, thanks?"
-Senator Warren, persisting

Today in justifiable cultural insensitivity...

Vladamir Putin, seen here hugging a
puppy, says it's ok to beat your family,
just keep it within reason, you know?
Are you for, I can't even...I think we all knew Russia was pretty screwed up but thisThis. Didn't click on the link? No problem. I'll explain what it's about. Vladimir Putin, you know the guy that helped us pick our President? He just signed a new law that will drastically reduce sentences for domestic violence. 'Holy shit Russia' is, I believe, the phrase you're looking for. It's called the 'Slapping Law' and it reduces the punishment for domestic violence if no bones are broken and no blood is drawn. Men who administer light beatings could get 15 days in jail or a fine of 30,000 rubles.

Thirty grand might sound like a lot, but rubles are like pegged to Monopoly money or something, so it works out to be about $500. Yup, the law reduces the punishments for domestic abuse to a slap on the wrist which would be funny if there were anything funny about this. Which there's not. Because holy shit Russia, I mean, holy shit.
You'd actually get a better exchange rate with Disney Dollars.
I don't know, I just expect more from
the country that brought us Zangief.
So why in the name of hell would the rusted out, mafia-run remains of a former superpower do something like this? Why family values of course. Also Hitler. Let me explain. According to proponents of the law, in traditional Russian families the husband is the head of the household and prison sentences for men who beat their wives and children undermine patriarchal authority. To be clear: punishing men who abuse their families is like, super-inconvenient for them.

Dmitri Smirnov is literally the Russian
equivalent of Joe Sixpack.
According to Dmitri Smirnov of the Russian Orthodox church, and walking Russian stereotype had this ridiculous comparison to offer:

"Some of the things happening in Northern Europe now are such that even Hitler couldn't have dreamed up."

-Dmitri Smirnov head of the 
Church's commission on family matters  

What other thing...oh, right.
Wait, what things is he talking about? We can't be sure, but from context I'm assuming he's referring to countries in Northern Europe that have, you know, laws against beating up your family. What's Hitler got to do with this? Was Hitler known for being tough on domestic violence? Because most of us remember him for the other thing. You know, he was also a huge anti-smoking guy, but Dmitri's not suggesting we all take it up just to stick it to Hitler, so maybe let's all stop invoking Hitler, ok? Because only a Hitler would do that.

Pictured: a typical session of the Duma.
What? I'll be nicer when they stop
decriminalizing domestic violence.
The bill passed Russia's Duma-huh? Oh, that's their preposterously named legislature. It passed with 85% support because conservatives love family values and because conservatives the world over lack the part of the brain necessary for irony. So to sum up: Russian law makers saw families torn apart by domestic violence but felt that the root of the problem wasn't so much the violence itself or the men who carried it out, but the legal repercussions which took fathers away from the families they beat. Which reminds me of an anecdote about the space program.

Yes, lot's of things remind me of the space program. Anyway, when faced with the problem of writing in zero gravity, NASA spent millions developing a pen that would work in space. The Russians on the other hand gave cosmonauts a pencil and then punched them in the face and said: "Stop crying or I'll give you something to cry about."
So yeah, I'm trotting out a lot of Russian stereotypes and making
some culturally insensitive comments, but they just passed a law
that puts domestic violence on par with a traffic ticket, so fuck'em.