I don’t know how I feel about this

September 17, 2009

Inasmuch as I don’t have a “style” on this blog, I typically don’t break the third wall.  Is it the fourth wall?  I write articles with no personal voice and I don’t break a wall.  Please let me know which wall it is.  Nonetheless, whatever thing it is I don’t break, I’m going to break now.

I want to talk about Glee.

Like everyone else, I have agreed that Glee is the best new show on TV.  Oh sure, there are some people who don’t agree.  Typically, these people are convicted rapists and people who wish to rape.  Rapists are a contrarian lot who don’t care for the magic of show tunes.  This is why they feel compelled to rape and not like Glee.  Bastards, the whole lot of them.

Like all of you, I watched the season premiere of Glee and was not initially impressed.  First there was the one-dimensional characters, some of whom only existed to advance the paper-thin plot.  Then the deus ex machina’s at every turn.  Truly horrible, horrible writing.  But then.. the songs.  Can I love a show on the strength of cover tunes alone?   God help me, it turns out I can.

The premiere episode came together with the cover of “don’t stop believing” by Journey.  As it turns out, you could release any TV show pilot you wanted to, and if the first episode featured a cover of “dont’ stop believing” I would probably hooked for another 40 or so episodes.  Such is the power of that song.   I’ve sat through five horrendous seasons of Lost just on the off chance Kate would take off her shirt.  Imagine if after the first monster attack Charlie ripped it up with Don’t Stop Believing?  I wouldn’t even need a Kate.

So imagine my horror when I found out that the fantastically arranged cover they did of this classic song was ripped off from a fucking mini-pops CD.  Not the song itself obviously, but the harmonies, the way the song was put together, everything.  Is someone getting sued for this?  Do the minipops have lawyers or all they all just orphans?

I don’t know how to feel.

You might be asking yourself – why was I listening to the minipops in the first place?  Honestly, that’s not something I want to get into.  Let’s just allow that there was a compelling reason for me to download 22 different covers of “Don’t Stop Believing” and listen to them all in one night.  The important thing to remember here is that Glee 100% ripped off minipops.  For some reason.

Minipops version (click play) (it’s song 18.)  It was released like 19 months before Glee. 

Glee ripped off version

Long story short – I’m not sure I can watch Glee anymore. 

Update

I’ve explained this situation to my wife – “GA!  Glee ripped off Minipops!  FUCK!”.   I may have mentioned the government somewhere in there.

Terrifyingly, she doesn’t see the big deal.  She doesn’t even know why I bother taking to her.  I think I may also have to quit my marriage.  I can’t explain why this is a big deal.  You are either a type of person who understands why this ruins the show or you are my wife.  Please pick sides.

Update 2

According to Amazon, the Minipops CD wasn’t released until Sept 1, 2009, meaning the Glee version came first.  BUT!  They don’t just write these things the day before they release, they plan first.  This means that both versions probably were conceived at very close to the same time.  On the other hand, how long does it take to record a Minipops CD?  40 minutes?  I will continue to do research.


Kids shows drive you crazy

May 8, 2009

The average child under 4 will watch 63 hours of TV a week (I made this number up).  My son doesn’t watch quite that much, but he certainly consumes his fair amount of television.  His two favorite channels are Playhouse Disney and Treehouse.  Both of these stations feature shows that, while very child-friendly, are mind numbingly tedious.  Over the course of my three years, I’ve been subjected to 738 hours of children’s programming (I also made this number up) and when you’re forced to watch that much bad TV your mind tends to find ways to keep itself occupied.

With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of things that make no sense to me in these shows.  I appreciate they’re not meant to hold up against nerd-like scrutiny, but these have really got me thinking.

Thomas and Friends
1. If Thomas is sentient, what does his driver do?  Is this some kind of meta-comment on runaway technology and how we’re all just hopelessly strung along, unable to control our own destinies?  By the same token,  is the driver blamed when one of the trains causes confusion and delay? (note to non-Thomas fans – this happens in every episode).   This is not the first time this show has confused me.

I get union wages!

I get union wages!

Pixar’s Cars
2.  How did anything get built in the “Cars” world?  Cars have no oposable thumbs.  Yet they have buildings, roads, cameras, maintenance crews.  Something fundamentally doesn’t add up.  I assume that there is a subplot that was left on the cutting room floor about a secret underground human slavery ring.

Fuck you, Abe Lincon

Fuck you, Abe Lincoln

Mighty Machines
3.  This show is ostensibly about machines.  Mighty Machines.  They’re working for you, doing Mighty things, they’re (clap clap) Mighty Machines.  In light of that, what is the criteria for becoming a mighty machine?  Because from some of the episodes I’ve seen, it’s literally any piece of machinery.  Doesn’t matter what.  There was an episode on pop dispensers.  What makes that a mighty machine?  Honestly, if you’re just going to show something you run across in your day to day life, just call the show “mechanical stuff”.

Yeah, I'm a Mighty Machine.  What of it?

Yeah, I’m a Mighty Machine. What of it?

Imagination Movers
4. This is a show about the Wiggles, except they’re from New Orleans, their music is better and they apparently run their own business.  They’re in the problem solving game, according to the canon of the show.  But do you really think singing at me is going to solve my problem, Imagination Movers?  What if I have a heroin problem?  Can Dave pull some Buprenex out of his hat?  Let’s see you dance your way out of that!!!

We can solve any problem except actual problems

We can solve any problem except actual problems

Four Square
5. I appreciate almost no one has seen this awful show.  It’s difficult to explain, so here’s the clip.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_WEvOWcxZs

Are those hippity-hippity-hippity-hop guys on 4-square supposed to be the vanguard of an invading alien army?  If not, why is it “Captain” Hoppette?  In what military organization does she designate her rank from?  I’m assuming she outranks the other three and that’s why she gets to tell them what to do.  I think when you watch them, you’re supposed to pretend like you’re an alien overlord and she’s making a brief, if exceptionally confusing status report on her ongoing earth investigation.

“Hoppette.  Please report on the status of the Earth Military”

“Touch your nose.  Hup!”

“… You’re… very very fired”

Dora the Goddamn Explorer
6. WHY DO DORA’S PARENTS THINK THIS LIFESTYLE IS SAFE FOR A 9 YEAR OLD????  Also, her head is shaped like a football.

Not featured: Difficult questions from child services

Not featured: Difficult questions from child services

Chuggington
7. Okay, this is kind of a newer show.  It’s about trains (note – 70% of the shows are about vehicles.  Kids love vehicles except when they have to go drive in your car).  In the Chugginton world they all talk, and when they’re teasing, they refer to each other as “scaredy-chuggers”.  But “chuggers” is basically the name of the society.  They’re all chuggers.  So that’s like me calling you a “scaredy-human”.  Which, FYI, I’m going to start doing all the time now.

Google sometimes throws up odd images.

Google sometimes throws up odd images during searches.

My Friends Tigger and Pooh
8.  This is a reboot of the Pooh mythology.  What J.J. Abrams did for Star Trek, this show did for Winnie the Pooh.  Astute fans will notice that they no longer feature Christopher Robin and Owl.  What I struggle to understand is what did Christopher Robin and Owl do such that they’re not included in the cast?  What market segment determined that those two characters are unlikeable and that a cute girl named Darby will have better penetration with 4 year olds?

Sorry Christopher.  Your ambiguous sexuality leaves us all uncomfortable

Sorry Christopher. Your ambiguous sexuality leaves us all uncomfortable

Elmo’s World
9.  I actually kind of thought that Grover was Elmo’s dad and that Elmo just had horrible roseola.

Man.  Star Wars rules

Man. Star Wars rules


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New details about Cheney torture plot

May 4, 2009

From Cnn:

New information has unsurfaced which could further incriminate the Bush administration in the ongoing torture investigations.  Following his promise to bring transparency and accountability to the White House, President Obama has released more classified memos which go into greater detail around Dick Cheney’s secret torture agenda and the lengths the US government went to with programs designed to secure US boarders.  Specifically, reporters have now learned about something dubbed the “Weapon X” initiative – a highly secret government training program which was executed in the early days following the 9/11 attacks. 

The Weapon X program was apparently designed to create a breed of “super soldiers” in the war against terrorism, although the specifics of how this would be accomplished was never made clear in the memo.  Indeed, even if one super solider was successfully created and killed a terrorist every single hour for one full year,  that would only eliminate 25% of the problem. 

 

Well, this all seems in order

Well, this all seems in order

Lt. William Stryker, the mastermind behind the controversial initiative, spoke at a brief press conference today:
“On the question of so-called torture, we don’t do torture.  We never have. It’s not something that this administration subscribes to.  Again, we proceeded very cautiously.  We checked. We had the Justice Department issue the requisite opinions in order to know where the bright lines were that you could not cross.  And they were very clear.  Injecting 200 pounds of superheated liquid metal of unknown origin into an already mentally unstable superhuman with the sole purpose of turning him into a indestructible killing machine is not torture.

The professionals involved in that program were very, very cautious, very careful — wouldn’t do anything without making certain it was authorized and that it was legal.  And any suggestion to the contrary is just wrong.  Did it produce the desired results?  I think it did.  And although we cannot pinpoint with any certainty the exact whereabouts of Weapon X and it’s a given that were he ever to have access to any of us, he would kill us all without remorse or pity, I still believe we made the right choice.

I think, for example, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was the number three man in al Qaeda, the man who planned the attacks of 9/11, provided us with a wealth of information.  There was a period of time there, three or four years ago, when about half of everything we knew about al Qaeda came from that one source.  Granted, the majority of that information came from a telepath who can turn her skin into diamond, so really, that’s not one for Weapon X.  But we got what we wanted, hah?  So, it’s been a remarkably successful effort. I think the results speak for themselves. 

And I think those who allege that we’ve been involved in torture, or that somehow we violated the Constitution or laws with the Weapon X program, simply don’t know what they’re talking about.  Also, the experiments were done in Canada with a Canadian, so honestly.  Who cares?  It’s about time they got some skin in the game”

Canadian officials did not specifically comment on the program which went on right under their noses, however they did remark that it happened somewhere in the Rockies in Northern Vancouver and pointed out they have no clue what kind of shit goes on up there. 

The public remains divided on this issue with 60% supporting light to medium torture if it’s done by Kiefer Sutherland or someone who looks like Kiefer Sutherland.  45% also believe it’s fully justified if “there’s no time, damnit!” or “that’s my daughter!  Don’t tell me about protocol!”

On the question of performing painful medical experiments of suspect morality on a minority group with a .005% success rate, and no clearly articulated goals beyond “stopping all evil” 87% of Republicans are in full support.


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Stormtrooper Orientation Guide

April 28, 2009

So you’ve decided to become a Stormtrooper. And by “decided” we mean “had no choice but” as you’re a clone with no free will. Please take a moment to read through a FAQ we’ve prepared to help you through this period.

1. Oh god. Where am I? What’s happening?
Calm down! You’re just awakening in your cloning pod. Your memories will be wiped shortly and you will become a souless automaton serving in the Empires army as a Stormtrooper.

2. Stormtrooper eh?  When do I get paid?
You’re clones. You’re basically slaves. You don’t get paid.

3. Okay fine.  I am a part-time employee. When do I get paid?
There is no such thing as a part-time Stormtrooper.  You are a clone-slave.  You don’t get paid.  Ever.

4. Who can I call if I have questions regarding my benefits, my pay, or need an interpretation of workplace policies or procedures?
You have no benefits or pay.  You’re a cloneslave.  Any misinterpretations in workplace policies will result in immediate force-strangulation*

*If there is no manager available with knowledge of the force you will be pushed from an airlock.  It’s just best not question any policies.

5. What did you do to me?
Nothing.  Almost nothing.  You’re a clone created from your own DNA.  Every second of your existence is a horrible, mute reminder of the dead-eyed puppet you’ve become and must be constantly surrounded by.  Every friendship or relationship with your fellow stormtroopers will be tainted by the fact that you all look alike and will be tempted to masturbate together.  This is frowned on.

6. God.  GOD!  Why would you do this?  How does this even make us an effective fighting unit?
We’re the Empire, we’re totally evil.

7. Am I eligible to participate in 401 (k) and, if so, how do I enroll?
You are eligible to participate immediately.  You become eligible for company matching contributions beginning the first of the month after 12 months of service with at least 1000 hours worked during that period and at least 4 (four) confirmed Rebel kills.  You have the option to enroll via the telephone voice response unit or the Website

8. How does The Empire support Stormtroopers who contribute in their community?
Well.. mostly we don’t.  We’re kind of a repressive regime, you know?  Most other stormtroopers contribute to the community by not shooting people directly in the face.

9. Speaking of shooting people in the face, when will I go through marksmanship training?
Never, as you are expected to have genetically inherited the marksmanship skill from yourself, although it should be mentioned that you barely were able to hit anything successfully. Any off-hours training will have to come from your own pocket.

10. With the money I don’t have because you refuse to pay me.
Correct.

11. When are my benefits effective?
(sigh) You have no benefits (see #4)

12. Does my armor actually protect me from laser fire?
No.  No, it doesn’t.  It actually doesn’t protect you from anything, including sticks thrown by 3-foot teddy bears.

13. Then why wear it?
We paid for like 30 billion up front from those stupid cloning fish fucks so we’re more or less obligated to use them.

14. When will I receive my Benefit Enrollment packet to select the benefit plans I wish to participate in? How do I enroll in benefits?
You are automatically ineligible for benefits because you’re a fucking clone.  How are you not getting this?  You.  Have.  No.  Benefits.  Fuck.  We’re not paying benefits to what is essentially a glorified meat shield.  You could be replaced by a burlap sack filled with ham with a rifle attached to it.  There are no fucking benefits.

15. Am I eligible for Tuition Reimbursement?
Potentially, yes.  Discuss with your manager whether you are eligible under the Tuition Reimbursement Program and if he or she will support your application.

16. How long do I have to stay in my current position to be eligible to apply for new job opportunities within the Empire?
A minimum of 12 months with a satisfactory job performance review.  There are several opportunities for advancement, be it snow storm trooper, or giant red special gay Stormtrooper that protects the Emperor

17. So that’s it then?  I’m a fucking clone with no rights who is just there to absorb laser fire?
Yes, pretty much.

18. So when can I apply for benefits?
We’re all done here.

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Texas is the new Quebec

April 24, 2009

Quebec sides with Texas

In a surprise move, Quebec Premier Jean Charest with support from federal Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe came out yesterday in support of efforts within Texas to leave the US.

At an impromptu press conference Charest said “Je suis énorme deuchebag qui veut voir mon pays détruit. J’en déteste la vie et tout. Je suis un énorme hypocrite qui veut voir toute la vie détruite. Sucez mes boules, chacun”.

We don’t know what any of that means, but we assume it translates to “Go Texas”.

Quebec has a long history of threatening to leave Canada, which has helped shape their identity as a province of whining asshats who on the one hand benefit from proportionally, more government assistance than any other province, while still affording them the freedom to chip away at the unity of Canada, one piece at a time.
Texas finds themselves in good company, although Texas Gov. Rick Perry was startled to find out that his state was now essentially the French of the US.

“Wait, what”? He said after hearing the news. “I don’t want to be French, how am I French?” before promptly throwing his ten gallon beret on the ground in disgust.

After having the obvious parallels explained to him, he shrugged and continued his battle to destroy the US.
“Listen, I love my country.” He said. “That’s why I want to see it destroyed.” Seeing no apparent contradictions in this exercise in mental gymnastics, he blithely continued “Under Barak Obama, the US is quickly turning into a socialist nation. After all, just look at the bailout package which is largely a continuation of the exact same bailout started by Bush which I had absolutely no issues with at the time. I mean, can you believe this guy”?

When it was pointed out that if Texas seceded, they would likely lose the $6 billion military industry that drives a portion of their economy and it would be a near certainty that Republicans would never again win in any US national election, he laughed and rubbed his hands together. “Oui!” he started “Uh, that is, I mean yes”.

Pressed for comment, US President Barak Obama stated “As the US looks to Canada for guidance on many aspects such as universal healthcare and a rock solid banking infrastructure, we cannot truly succeed until we have a group of Frenchmen living right within our borders. Thankfully, Texas has taken up that mantle and is now the Quebec of the US. God bless America”


Billy Bob Thornton trampoline meltdown

April 14, 2009

(transcript of Interview with Billy Bob Thornton and Brent Neville – DJ for 102.9 Q zone out of Manitoba for the Trampoline Hour – the only news show for trampoline enthusiasts)

Brent: And we’re back. We’re talking to Billy Bob Thornton, the front man for the country-rock fusion quartet the Boxmasters. Having totally failed to conquer one industry, he’s back pursuing his second love – trampolining. Billy Bob, welcome to the show. It’s a great pleasure to talk to you.

Billy Bob : grunts

Brent: Let’s cut right to the chase. Which trampoline has inspired you the most through your career?

Billy Bob: I don’t… I don’t understand what you mean.

Brent: Well, was it JumpSport? HopSpring? FunBounce? BigLeap? SpringJump? BounceLeap? BigSport? AllyJump?

Billy Bob: I really don’t understand the question.

Brent: O..kay. Um. Which trampoline are you using right now? Like in your own home, what do you bounce on?

Billy Bob: I have no idea what you’re talking about.

Brent: Okay well like me personally, I’m no professional, but I start off in the morning with a SoftBounce system to warm up. Later, I’ll move on to my 10×17 2 spring Econo-Bounce model, and when I really get into the groove I like to get things hopping with my Staged Variable Power Bounce.

Billy Bob: Meh

Brent: …

Billy Bob:

Brent: Um. Okay. Um. Alright. Can you talk about-

Billy Bob: Would you ask Von Boxmeyer if this was his second love?

Brent: What?

Billy Bob: If you had the world-renowned Trampoline Enthusiast Van Boxmeyer on the show, would you ask him if this was his second love?

Brent: Well have you – I mean, are you referring to my introduction when I referred to this as your second passion?

Billy Bob: That’s exactly what I’m referring to. I thought we weren’t going to mention my laughable singing career. I thought we weren’t going to talk about that .

Brent: I never received any specific instructions –

Billy Bob: I gave specific instructions to your producer not to talk about my joke of a failed music career. I just came on to talk about trampolining. You wouldn’t ask Van Boxmeyer if this was his hobby.

Brent: I’m just trying to provide context –

Billy Bob: You wouldn’t ask

Brent: I’m trying to provide context about how you’re such a huge musical joke and that’s the reason we’re even having you on a radio show about Trampolining. I’m happy to talk only trampolining with you. I’m happy to.

Billy Bob: This is bull is the thing.

Brent: Listen, we got off on the wrong foot. Can we call a truce? We’ll stick to talking about trampolines.

Billy Bob: Fine.

Brent: Okay. Now when you’re doing double bounces –

Billy Bob: Canadian audiences are garbage for trampolining too

Brent: Pardon? Hmm? It’s kind of a solo thing you know

Billy Bob: I’m up there and I’m used to trampolining in front of pretty rowdy crowds, my two cats and whatever strung out coked-up Thai hooker I’ve brought home that night. I mean they’re throwing things, Canadians are all mashed potatoes and no gravy.

Brent: Don’t you mean all steak and no sizzle?

Billy Bob:

Brent: Okay, I understand you’re going to put on a little demonstration for us, so our listeners can listen to you trampoline?

Billy Bob: No, I don’t haul around my trampoline at 6:00am in the morning. I’m just going to air-trampoline for 6 minutes.

Brent: Oh god

(six minutes of dead radio air time follow, intermittently interrupted by Billy Bob grunting and straining. In the background you can hear Brent swearing softly)

Brent: Okay, we’re out of time. Billy Bob, thanks for taking the time to… what? Be on the show I guess? I’m mostly sorry you couldn’t be here today.


Reluctant Batman

March 10, 2009

His Father read stories of The Batman to him, like any good Father should.  He was raised on tales of billionaire ninja orphan crime fighters who wore pajamas and hung around in caves with 10 year old boys.   This was all normal to him.  He knew the stories inside and out – boy sees parents gunned down, boy (rather than devote his billions of dollars to assisting existing, proven crime fighting institutions like the police) decides to take the law into his own hands, boy places too much emphasis on flying rodents.  It was a common tale to him.  The Batman was his hero.

So when his own parents were killed in a bank hostage situation, he knew what he had to do.  Devote his life to beating up criminals and leaving them tied up in front of police stations with clever notes that somehow made a pun out of their crimes (these guys were trying to steal a diamond – I put them “on ice”!)

Damnit.

The problem was he had no real desire to become a crime fighter, or dress up in tights.  Certainly, he was very depressed after losing his parents, but after engaging a very professional therapist (thank you Dr. Carver!) he was able to overcome many of his issues.  He realized that while the individual men who shot his parents were directly responsible, “crime” per se, was not.  Many criminals were in fact victims of demographics.  They were to be pitied and helped through progressive liberal outreach programs!  He volunteered at one!

Nonetheless, he must beat them without mercy.

He lacked many of the advantages that Bruce Wayne had.  Size.  Athletic ability.  Any particular aptitude for anything.  Basic reasoning skills.  Money.  But he couldn’t let these things stand in his way.  He couldn’t let his parents down.

One of his last memories of his Father was (of course) reading a Batman story together.  It was Detective Comics # 275 where Batman becomes a Zebra.  After they finished the thrilling tale, he turned to his Father.  “Where does Batman live Daddy?  Can I meet him?”  His Dad just chuckled.

“Batman is… fiction son.  This – ” he pointed to all the Batman memorabilia in the room “is just for play.  It’s carnival.  You know Batman isn’t real right?”  The boy chuckled and rolled over for sleep.

“Son?” his father wouldn’t stop talking “I’m serious.  Don’t think this is real.  Never try to avenge my death through vigilantism.”

He went to sleep that night feeling safer than he ever had.  Until criminals (well, not criminals exactly according to Dr. Carver.  Republican policies that widen the gap between the rich and poor were to blame.  Whatever) took his parents away. 

Years later, he was ready.  Sort of ready.  He wasn’t really into this exactly, but he did what he had to.  He had spent some time studying martial arts movies while he went to community college.  He watched all the Batman movies over and over again.  They were terrible.  He didn’t have a wise butler, but his wise landlord told him that his pipes were probably clogged because he kept flushing tuna down kitchen sink.  It was a very good point and he took from it what he could.

The first night he went out to face the criminal elements (well, not criminal.  Victims of their own fear as Dr. Carver would go on to say.  Fear of success.   Compelling and rich analysis) dressed in the mantle of his hero.  While he couldn’t afford one of the real batman costumes that were on ebay, he was able to fashion a mask out of old rain boots.  He was ready.

He went to the worst part of town and prowled the streets looking for action in his bat-shaped boot mask.  The denizens of the night did not disappoint and he was very quickly accosted by an unfortunate.

“Gimme your cake” said a transient, waving a switchblade at him.

“Your move punk” the boy said and took a long, overhand swing at the disadvantaged’s head.  He missed by a mile and the economically-challenged stabbed him in the elbow.  The boy cried out in pain and dropped to the pavement.  Dropped just like his parents must have when they were shot for being in the wrong place (in front of those bullets) at the wrong time (when they were fired).

“Father…” he wept up at the uncaring sky as the differently-wealth-distributed gentleman rifled through his pockets.  “Forgive me…”

He went through 2 surgeries to repair his tendons and a further 8 months of physical therapy.  He was laid off from his job at the pizza warehouse as he couldn’t meet the physical demands of the job.  The sacrifice was worth it.

He didn’t ever go back to direct crime fighting, but he felt like with the effort he had made his father proud.  He stopped seeing Dr. Carver and he won his victories against crime where he could.  He didn’t give his change to the homeless anymore and when the policemans association would call for donations, he would only half-heartedly tell them to go fuck themselves.  He was healing.  He was better.

He just wasn’t The Batman.