Friday, July 25, 2008

Why the San Diego Comic-Con Drives Me Nuts

I've planned out my criticism so it won't be just a rant. I have very carefully detailed and thought-out reasons why the San Diego Comic-Con is a huge waste of time. I'll even present a counter-argument! This is the kind of seasoned debater you've stumbled upon.

Let's get right into it:

1) The Self-Congratulatory Doodlers - You may not know this, but the convention is about more than just huge nerds gushing over comic books. There are also huge nerds gushing over shitty filmmakers. Below is a clip from today's Q&A session with the actors and director of the upcoming film Watchmen. If you don't know (and I didn't until I was forced to) Watchmen is a really long comic book that's being made into a movie. By the way, that's what it is. A really long comic book. It's not a "graphic novel." There is no such thing as a "graphic novel." If you took all the words in this damn thing and printed it like an actual novel, it would be maybe 15 pages. So what you have is, at most, a "graphic short story," sold with an actual cover and spine so massive nerds will pay $24.95 for it. Don't get me wrong, I have great respect for artists. And the people who draw comic books certainly are artists. Let's just not get above our raisins here.

Anyhow, this clip contains a guy dressed up like The Joker (he has it spot on - I almost thought it was Heath Ledger himself!) who says that Watchmen is "dark to the point of nihilism" and how the filmmakers were planning on dealing with that.

Just watch. It's only the first minute:

Okay, a few things to point out here. First of all, let's just think about the context here. There are hundreds of people in this audience, gushing over Zack Snyder, director of 300, talking about a film that they haven't even seen. This film could (and likely, will) be a total piece of shit. These people line up to hear all about the secrets of a film that they won't see for another eight months. What can they hope to learn? In total, I watched maybe twenty minutes of this panel, and I learned absolutely nothing about the movie that I didn't know before. Here's what I knew about the movie before:

"Oh, it's like The Incredibles except all serious."

That's it. So, my analysis of this panel was that Zack Snyder got kind of tired of actual film critics and enthusiasts calling him a hack, so he couldn't wait to get his bro-ass down to San Diego so a bunch of bearded dingleberries could figuratively fellate him.

2) The Grown-Up D&D Nuts - It's comforting if you think of Comic-Con as just a big festival of 15-year-old pimple-faced geeks. Quite the contrary. I'm willing to bet the average age of a Comic-Con attendee is 30 or above (not even counting Stan Lee!)

These are the kind of people who would get really disappointed when they were 17 and their mom had to politely tell them that they couldn't really go out trick-or-treating anymore.

This is what you get in terms of patronage at this thing:

To be fair, they tried to get a Winston Zedmore, but NO BLACK PERSON WOULD BE CAUGHT DEAD AT THIS EVENT! I don't even think Samuel L. Jackson showed up and he's in half the fucking movies!

3) The Frenzy - What? You mean it's only $80 to sit next to Harry Knowles' sweaty armpits and listen to the kid who played "Gordie" in Stand By Me talk about meeting William Shatner? Where do I sign up?

If you're one of the thousands at Comic-Con right now, you might be thinking the following (said in "Comic Book Guy" voice):

"Jonathan, what's the problem with people gathering in a single place to learn more about something they enjoy? What's wrong with embracing one's hobby and getting to meet people one sincerely respects?"

I have no problem with people gathering to express gratification for their favorite hobby. I have a problem with the way you are currently being exploited to suck away even more of your hard-earned cash. This entire thing is just one big Happy Meal toy. It's a marketing exercise! Get a bunch of guys with cash to burn and promote your crummy products. That's why there isn't a Fantastic Four panel or an Iron Man panel. Those movies are already out! Can't get any more money from you until the sequel is ready. Better promote a bunch of crap that'll be ready in the next few months. Wet their pointy beaks and have them foaming at the mouth. Maybe even let slip a spoiler or two. That'll get the blogs humming.

There are thousands of you right now, paying money so that you can be exposed to advertising. I feel the same amount of anger at the endless commercials before movies in the theater. I'm paying money to see this movie. I don't want the advertising. There's a reason I put up with ads on television. It's free!

(Brief tangent: Isn't it odd how people love their DVR and can't wait to skip commercials on television, but if you tell the same people that you hate commercials before a movie, they say "Not me! I love trailers!" Mind boggling.)

Well, there you have it. Quite possibly my most thought-out and longest post. I'm happy to have taken the time to share with you my ideas on this matter. I'd elaborate further, but the Terminator Salvation Trailer just leaked and I have to get that shit on YouTube!

Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion Walkthrough

Man, you know what I love? The...umm...what is it? Oh yeah, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. What's the only thing more fun than playing this game? Why, being told exactly how to beat it, step-by-step! This is a 100-hour long game, people. You don't have that kind of time. Not with your mom coming down to the basement to tell you that 10:30 was bedtime.

You're a man with a plan. That's why you want to read this Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion Walkthrough. A three-part mega-opus on how to beat the game.

Warning: Doesn't look that great in Firefox 2 on a Mac. Best to be using Safari or Firefox 3.

Ben Stein Compares Obama to "the Fuhrer"

Seriously. No out of context bullshit here. Ben Stein was on Glenn Beck's show (two brilliant political minds here, I know) talking about how he didn't really like the idea of Barack Obama giving a big speech in front of 75,000 people. This is what he said:

"Seventy-five-thousand people at an outdoor sports palace. Well, that's something the Fuhrer would have done."

Ummm...yeah...also...David Bowie?

Stein's real gripe really does seem to be about the number of people Obama was talking to. You can't have serious political things to say unless you're talking to a controlled group of 200 people in a "town hall" with pre-written questions. Are these really the arguments they're bringing against Barack Obama at this point?

Here's the clip via Media Matters:

Not to be outdone, Glenn Beck says we're heading for a "Mussolini Presidency."

I can't wrap my head around some of this nonsense anymore.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bill O'Reilly: Birth Control Expert

Bill O'Reilly himself is a genetic wonder. Capable of expressing unprecedented outrage at homeless veterans while at the same time desiring to use a falafel [sic] on one of his unsuspecting producers.

Now, meet Dr. Bill. He knows so much he's able to diagnose illness a la Bill Frist. In this clip from Fox News, care of Media Matters, he'll tell you what is and what isn't a "medical condition."

I know, Bill. I got this video from the left-wing attack-o-crats. But, the footage does not lie. You do disagree with WebMD, and the American Medical Association when you say that pregnancy is, in fact, not a medical condition.

In case you were too lazy to watch the video, O'Reilly tries to tackle the argument that Viagra should be covered by health insurance plans while birth control should not. His argument is that male impotence (which O'Reilly does not have) is a medical condition while pregnancy (which I hope to God he also doesn't have) is not.

I thought, to rebut O'Reilly's argument, that I'd find out specifically what a "medical condition" is, and try and find a way to not fit "pregnancy" into that category.

I know it's not reliable at all, but I thought I'd start with the Wikipedia. Here's a quote from their "Disease" entry, where the writer is distinguishing pregnancy from a disease:

"[Pregnancy is] considered by the medical community as a condition requiring medical care and by society at large as a condition requiring one's staying at home from work."

Okay, I know it only says "medical" twice in that sentence and "condition" once, so I don't expect you to be convinced yet. It does, however, also say that it usually requires the pregnant person to stay home from work. Does male impotence require one to stay home from work? Well, if you're in pornography maybe...but Frank in accounts payable? Didn't think so.

That would make pregnancy....MORE of a serious condition than male impotence, would it not?

Moving on. Pregnancy requires almost 100% of women to see doctors regularly and even be in the hospital at some point. Getting a prescription for Viagra is about as hard as...well, I won't go there. Besides, Bill does a much better job of describing how hard things can be.

The real cusp of O'Reilly's argument seems to be that pregnancy is something that no woman could ever want to prevent. It is "a choice," after all (he says "choice" very caustically). Actually, half of all pregnancies are accidents, and over 85% of teen pregnancies are accidental.

I shouldn't make my blog all about how Bill O'Reilly is an idiot. This is supposed to be a challenging endeavor.

Two Silver Trees - Calexico

Awesome new song from Calexico over on the Forkcast. This song will be on their new album Carried To Dust which is due out September 9.

Give it a listen. It's got some new synth sounds but still maintains their stranded-in-the-desert-loneliness sound.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Drug or World Leader?

Welcome, Country Caravan fans! It's time to play another game of Drug or World Leader? Here on the game, we invite you to examine five names and you'll determine if that is the name of a prescription medication or the name of a one of our world's esteemed rulers.

And here we go!

1) Ezetimibe
2) Odinga
3) Simvastatin
4) Basescu
5) Ramelteon

Answers below...

1) Ezetimibe is a drug used to treat high cholesterol
2) Odinga is the prime minister of Kenya
3) Simvastatin is also used to treat high cholesterol
4) Basescu is the President of Romania
5) Ramelteon is a sleep medication (the one with Abe Lincoln and the beaver in the commercial!)

Thanks for playing!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Michael Savage Autism

Jiminy Crickets:

And, what about all those cancer patients! "Wah-wah...I'm dying a slow and painful death. I have no hair." Would you like some cheese with your whine?

Okay, seriously now. Can Michael Savage actually believe what he says? At this point he must just be trying to make headlines (and since my blog is #7 in Google for "Michael Savage Autism," I can safely say that he has failed).

Does he honestly think that he, with his zero hours of research on the matter, can hope to know more than the experts at WebMD, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and the Center for Disease Control?

Mr. Savage, congratulations. In your quest to offend, you have outed yourself as a true victim of mental retardation.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Dark Knight

A few weeks ago, I was already convinced that Wall-E might be sitting up top among the year's best films come December. Now, amazingly, a second summer blockbuster is giving it some fierce competition. Ladies and gentle-men, I give you Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight.

This is a complex, fulfilling, captivating crime spectacle. Once again, the world of Nolan's Batman films centers around organized crime and their continued pursuit to regain control of Gotham from the dark crusader who has put fear into the once fearless. The mob, however, are only concerned with money. A truer and more horrifying evil is at work in The Dark Knight.

What makes Heath Ledger's Joker such a horrifying character is his complete lack of origin, scruples or logical motive. He exists only to cause chaos - to take those who think they are moral and toss them into a world where they can make horrifying decisions. The Joker is what Jigsaw in the Saw films would be if he cared more about pushing people to their limits than about creating a gore-fest.

I'll talk about Ledger for a moment. His performance is really something. Remember his quiet passivity in Brokeback Mountain and you'll realize what a charged and electrifying performance this is. I believe that Ledger would still be getting this level of praise had he not passed away in January. He's captivating and frightening, and I'm looking forward to seeing him up for an Oscar early next year.

The action scenes are intense and not terribly dizzying. You get some car chases, fight sequences, explosions and a game of chicken. You also get a great scene between Batman and the Joker that talks of the fine line between hero and villain.

I'm not good at summarizing the story and picking apart the bits, but I think you get the idea. It looks great, it sounds great, and Ledger is something to witness.

I was lucky enough to see an early screening. If tickets are sold out this weekend, just wait and hope that your friends shut up long enough for you to go in fresh. This is one to see.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Zoom Zoom

I was driving with my friend today, looking for a parking spot around Amoeba Records, as the lot was full. I saw one on the opposite side of the street and went to make an illegal turn. My brief thinking: If I wait and go to the light and make a legal U-turn the spot would probably be gone.

So I cross the lines and am making the turn when I hear a horn and a guy slam on his brakes. Apparently, this guy had been in my blind spot and was going to pass me on the other side. So we both stop and luckily we didn't hit each other. This dude in sunglasses started screaming and cursing at me. At this point I had made it to the spot and was beginning to back up. This guy just stops in the middle of the street and screams "Fucking look! Fuck you!" and he gives me the finger. I'm about to park but I see he's stopped at a green light just looking back at me.

At this point, I was less concerned with my error while driving then by avoiding any unnecessary confrontation with this nutjob. So I look at my friend and decide to drive around the corner for a minute. When I go back he's gone and I take the spot.

A few things have resulted from this:
1) I feel stupid for not having seen him. After all, if there was an accident it would have been at least partially my fault (probably 70% -- this guy was really trying to speed past me and he came out of nowhere).
2) This adds to a series of car incidents lately to make me wonder why I have one. In the last few months, I've had a car smashed, rear-ended someone for the first time in my life, got a parking ticket for not having a front license plate (there aren't any screws that come with the damn thing so it looks like I have to go to a body shop and have someone drill it into the damn plastic) and now this recent incident. I don't want to be one of those people that is chronically afraid to drive, but it's been a real source of stress in my life lately.

I don't really believe in the power of writing to alleviate stress, so I'm sure I'll still be thinking about all this. But, hey, at least this is a problem I'm not embarrassed to write about. Those are saved for the doc.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Fleet Foxes: White Winter Hymnal

This music video makes me want to go to dreamy dream land.

I'm totally on the wagon and into Fleet Foxes. Let's just stop resisting.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Fox News Alters Photos

No, it's not beneath them. Fox News, in response to criticism from writers in the New York Times, showed a photo of both Jacques Steinberg and Steven Reddicliffe and referred to them as attack dogs. The photos were altered to make Steinberg's nose and chin significantly wider (he's a Jew, get it?), and to make Reddicliffe's forehead obscenely long. Both men had their teeth yellowed. They drink alot of soda, I guess?

Below is the video as it aired on Fox News. Check out the analysis of the photos at Media Matters.

First Five Minutes of The Dark Knight

I haven't watched it and I'm not going to. However, the following, if you don't want to wait, is the first five minutes of The Dark Knight. You've been warned.

Clipse performing Ride Around Shining

Ok, I know there's been almost nothing but music videos up here lately, but I can't resist a good Clipse performance.

I saw Malice and Pusha T last year at the House of Blues at Downtown Disney of all places, and it was pretty intense (though they didn't perform the two songs I wanted to hear the most.) This is a performance of "Ride Around Shining" at the 2007 Pitchfork Music Festival. Watch the indie hipsters in the audience break it down.

These guys ride in with hefty bags full o' cash and cars full o' ass. Check it.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

¿Dónde está mi reembolso?

"You did not qualify for the Stimulus payment because your qualifying income was not high enough."

This is the sentence I read from the official IRS site when I followed their Where's My Stimulus Package? link. You see, though I think it's a dumb idea in the first place, I was going to put that $600 to good use, in terms of securing my apartment for another month and buying enough Hormel Chili and Easy Mac to cruise through the summer. However, the IRS now says that I didn't make enough money to qualify for the stimulus payment. Wasn't the entire point to give money to people who don't freaking have any? (i.e. me!)

I'm very confused by all this. Not that I trusted the Bush Administration to actually make good on their promises. Honestly, I'd have a better chance of getting money from them if they promised to shoot 10,000 bags of bagged spinach to Venus.

I thought for a moment that I might be confused about my "qualifying income." Perhaps I'm supposed to earn money in a different way? I earn my money through the traditional means: working furiously for countless hours so I can scrape together enough crumpled singles to buy nachos from the nearest taco truck. Apparently, the government wishes for me to accrue my finances through some other method. I'll have to ask the corner dealers if they have received their stimulus yet.

The following is a list of the wealthiest U.S. senators and how much they're worth (plenty of Democrats in here, just in case you thought I wasn't being fair):
John Kerry, D-Massachusetts: $163,626,399
Herb Kohl, D-Wisconsin: $111,015,016
John Rockefeller, D -West Virginia: $81,648,018
Jon Corzine, D-New Jersey: $71,035,025
Dianne Feinstein, D-California: $26,377,109
Peter Fitzgerald, R-Illinois: $26,132,013
Frank Lautenberg, D-New Jersey $17,789,018
John Edwards, D-North Carolina: $12,844,029
Edward Kennedy, D-Massachusetts: $9,905,009
Jeff Bingaman, D-New Mexico: $7,981,015
Bob Graham, D-Florida: $7,691,052
Richard Shelby, R-Alabama: $7,085,012
Gordon Smith, R-Oregon: $6,429,011
Lincoln Chafee, R-Rhode Island: $6,296,010

Thanks, guys (and Dianne).

The Knife's Marble House

Check out the INLAND EMPIRE-esque video for "Marble House" by The Knife. Really creepy stuff.