Thursday, May 31, 2012

On the Homeless

As much as a desperately want to move to The City, I'm definitely a born-and-raised suburban boy.

Today, I mistook a homeless man for a bear.

There's only one homeless person in my neighborhood, and–in my defense–he's a pretty dark shade of black and was wearing a big black and brown coat with a dark hat, and was hunched over his piled shopping cart full of whatevers.

Still, he lives on that street corner. When I leave for work in the morning he's tidying up his grocery cart, and when I come home he's sweeping up the corner parking space where he sleeps. If anything belonged on that corner, it was not a bear.

But I thought 'bear' because I have way more experience with bears than itinerants.

When I was a kid, we had one year with a rash of bear sightings nearby, and my mother said to me, "Dave … do you know what to do if you see a bear?"

She never quizzed me on what to do if I came across the dispossessed.

Plus, I've been to the zoo. They haw beats you can look at there. You're never suppose to loo at the homeless.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Men Pretty Enough to Date Scarlet Johansson

  • David Beckham
  • Brad Pitt, circa Fight Club
    • Ryan Reynolds Dane Cook (I'm sure she made that mistake too.)
    • That transsexual Canadian Miss Universe contestant
    • The guy on the Brawny Paper Towels
    Huh. Looks a little like Jeremy Piven with hair and a clean shave.
    •  So I guess Jeremy Piven.

      Tuesday, May 29, 2012

      On The Devil

      There's the expression, "The greatest trick the Devil ever played was convincing the world he didn't exist."

      Sea more likely the greater trick would be convincing people that expression were true. Then you could kick back and watch humanity point blame anywhere but themselves or happenstance every time things got a little unfriendly.

      Paranoia running rampant, they would descend to the next logical level, believing that that was an even greater trick, perpetuated to obfuscate maniacal plans and dark influences. Recursively, it would form a terrible, terrible loop.

      Truly, the greatest trick the Devil could play would be to rise and confront humanity only after we gave control of our civilization to the logicians.

      Monday, May 28, 2012

      On Self-Medication


      Self medication is incredibly dangerous and should never be attempted. Always find a safe person and place to talk and find help. You're worth it.

      With that aside, I've been in traction all day. Pretty much as I was preparing to post last night's blog, I had a coughing fit while laying down. This tensed my back muscles to try to sit up, and when I did, a muscle in my lower back popped. Twice.

      It was the kind of experience where you really question if there's been irreparable damage or if you've become a paraplegic. Just complete, limb-freezing, lungs arresting terrorpain.

      So I lost a full day of work and holiday pay, but on the up-side I had leftover sick leave and I was already prescribed the exact medicine I needed, and I got to watch a lot of anime today. I'll just feel guilty and terrified of reinjury all day tomorrow, but dammit, I'm not missing my first real Memorial Day Barbecue. Even if I can't drink on Naproxen. Stupid Naproxen; hat the Hell is it, even?

      God DAMNIT!

      It's freakin' Aleve! Strong-dose ALEVE!

      Well forget that, I stayed sober all weekend with this pain for fear of a bleeding ulcer from using Aleve?? Forget that noise. Tomorrow I'm drinking vodka ice-tea and grilling meat until I can't feel my insides at all.

      I'll be responsible on Tuesday. Maybe I still get Holiday pay then, but I doubt it. Maybe the computer won't accept non-holiday pay when I put in for my sick leave. Maybe the world is full of bright sparkles and ponies and everything will be perfect forever!

      … This is still just Aleve I'm on, right?

      Sunday, May 27, 2012

      An Open Letter to Sluts

      This look should typically be reserved for
      a Coca-Cola commercial.
      Dear Sluts,

      There are a lot of things I could say to you. Why do you do the things you do? Why are you finding it so necessary to debase yourselves? Why not with me, specifically? These are irrelevant. Today, I wish to only address one concern with you.

      Sluts, take heed:

      If I can see your butt cheeks, you aren't wearing pants.

      Those are underwear.

      Thank you. I hope we've cleared up that misunderstanding.

      Casually and with great vigor,

      David Zucker

      P.S. - This is mostly directed at Fat Sluts, Ugly Sluts, and Preteen Training Sluts. We don't need your brands of awkwardness around these parts. Annoyingly Attractive Sluts, we're cool. Just remember that we still know you're sluts.

      Saturday, May 26, 2012

      On an Unnecessary Number of Shades of Grey

      Erika Leonard, I begrudge you nothing but the millions of dollars you'll make
      exploiting the market's overall lack of taste in fiction.
      You're no worse than the Disney Channel.

      I'll admit, I'm completely a hypocritical elitist when it comes to books. I know what good literature is and I know what good writing is, in the non-fictitious realm, and I know that just because something is popular doesn't make it automatically bad writing.

      I mean usually, but not always. ("Hunger Games" proved its worth to me.) Likewise, just because genre nerds love something doesn't make it good either, nor is a book well written just because I like it. Frankly, the bulk of my shelves are still Star Wars novels. They're not even particularly solid, anymore, just genre tropes, but I'm 40 years into a continually expanding universe. I'm plot committed. (Glad somebody else uses that term, apparently.)

      Still, "Fifty Shades of Grey" is a piece of garbage I wouldn't tough if it were recycled into the only toilet paper in a five block radius.

      Yes, yes, I bitched out "Harry Potter" and "Twilight" before it, but those at the very least had the distinction of gearing towards children and teens. This book began as "Twilight" erotic fan fiction and is selling like a new iPhone. It is not good, it is not even fun. It has all the undercurrent popularity of mild pornography smuggled into tree houses from brothers' backpacks.

      And honestly, I'm fine with it.

      Worst-case scenario, nothing happens aside from another terrible movie adaptation trilogy, currently rumored to star Alex Skarsgard. That could at least be a lot of sexy times in 4 hours of television men will get dragged to. Way more than Bridget Jones' Diary.

      Best case? A whole generation of women latch onto light-to-moderate BDSM play as a weekend fetish on par with the Sexy Pirate swashbuckler novels and $8 naughty nurse VHS tapes.

      Still, I'm thinking about exercising that "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason" clause if any more 14 year-olds ask for it.

      We put age ratings on the manga and even shrink wrap the more violent ones or anything that draws the nipple. We shrink wrap "The Big Butts Book" in Photography for the same reason: while technically listed as it, the artistic merits of the nudity are questionable, especially in light of commercial and obscenity laws.

      "Fifty Shades" is listed as 'Erotica' right on the back cover, and I'm selling it to grandmothers, mothers, and girls who were dropped off here on their way to the movies which, if rated R, would require their chaperone. Some local girls are even trying to read it for their high school's Free Choice quarterly book project.

      Alright, I might steal that eight page sex contract/questionnaire, though. That might be useful at some point.

      Friday, May 25, 2012

      On Health Care Pt 2

      So I'm not gaining any coughing-based superpowers it seems.

      Just mild, residual inflammation from the flu virus and, yeah, probably a pulled muscle in my side. Big freakin' deal.

      So I've got a pain killer for that last one, and a super-low-dose steroid for the bronchial inflammation, which raises an interesting more.

      I remember those "Ask Me" apps and games and quizzes that used to be on Facebook and MySpace back in the day. They used to have things like, "Do you think XXXXX has ever taken steroids?"

      Well I'm on some right now. I paid $10 to some pimple-faced kid at my local CVS and I popped the first 6 after I downed a Dunkin breakfast sandwich and some milk. Have you ever had your ***** taken out? Yeah? Well then you've probably been on steroids.

      Sorry, I didn't mean to get so worked up there. I don't know what came over me. I'm just gonna go over here now and dead lift about 600 pounds.

      Health Care Mini-Post

      I joked a while back that all the couching I did during my flu was going to give me ripped abs.

      Well, it might have specifically ripped my right oblique.

      I never quite shook that cough. Basically, the stress of trying to coordinate a major career and housing shift made me susceptible to illness, which might have put a little liquid in my lungs. Not full-on pneumonia, but I think just enough phlegm to keep me coughing and perpetuate the whole nonsense. That in turn had me coughing so viciously when I lay down that I may have kind of sort of could have pulled a muscle in my side.

      Seriously, it's like a nine year old hit my in the ribs with a softball. This is stupid.

      Being the big-shot adult I am, with health care cards and all, I've got a doctor's appointment at 9:15 this morning, so I'll update you all with the hilarious results on my prescribed prodding.

      With any luck, he'll tell me I need mind-altering medication and bed rest.

      Thursday, May 24, 2012

      This Week In "Too Soon"

      Oh, sorry."
      • Looks like somebody hit 'Unlike' on the facebook IPO.
      • Ah Ah Ah Ah Stayin' ali- Oh, never mind.
      • Space X launched the first manable commercial space vehicle, carrying the ashes of Star Trek's original Scotty. After two aborts and a delay, he finally figured out how to give 'em everyt'ing she's got.
      • Mass riot arrests in Quebec. Any Canadians other than college students protesting money issues would have dispersed pleasantly after they were asked to leave the first time.
      • The Global Polio Eradication Initiative is encouraging emergency measures to combat resurgence of the disease. I'm not so sure. We could really use a hippie like FDR back in the White House.

      Wednesday, May 23, 2012

      On Travel

      I've made no secret of the fact that I love being the Baggin' Saggin' Barry of my friends. I love pulling out that one thing we suddenly need that no one should really have.

      However, considering my friends are surprised to find clean cups, ketchup, or a box spring under their mattress, 'basic' apartment necessities seem to also fit my M.O. It's weird to think, but I'm probably going to have trouble fitting all my stuff into my next apartment. I've got, like, everything you could really need.

      It makes sense, I'm not a light packer, but I've finally gotten the carry-on thing down. I suddenly feel the great need to go a-traveling. For maybe a week. But multiple times. I can pack light, short-term, I just need a base of operations to keep all my long-haul gear like protractors and hampers and that snowboard I've never really used.

      So here's my solution: instead of just becoming rich and vacationing constantly, I'm going to get a job where I have to travel a lot. Then, like my annoyingly perfect cousins, I'm going to parlay all those frequent flyer miles into cheep vacations all year long.

      Oh, you moved to Texas? VISITED. You work out of a pinball-laden office in L.A.? VISITED. Weird artists' gathering outside of some city I've only ever heard of on Twitter? MO-FUGGIN VISITED.

      Or, you know, I'll finally getting around to throwing out that protractor.

      Tuesday, May 22, 2012

      A Dear Jane Letter to My Bedding

      I think I need a vacation.

      Like a real, different city, in a hotel vacation.

      It's not that I'm tired of work, I like my job. And I'm not feeling monotone, I actually enjoy routine. I have fun penciled in pretty regularly with plenty of wiggle room.

      No, I want a vacation because I was had the flu about a week ago and I'm still pretty knocked out. And, unfortunately, my bed and I have grown a little too close.

      With the amount of time we've spent together, you'd expect one of us to be the penetrative partner in this relationship. Vegas weddings take less time. My body groove and pillow are out of shape. Worst: I resent my bed. I've lived in it for so long it qualifies under the homestead act.

      I just need a break. Not forever, just … just some time apart, to try different sleeping arrangements and get readjusted, back to how I used to feel at night. I don't think it would be that long, I probably won't even do it, I just need the idea of having that freedom.

      Then I can come back. I'd be doing this for us.

      Will you wait for me?

      Monday, May 21, 2012

      Game of Thrones Spoilers from Someone Who Has Never Watched or Seen Game of Thrones

      "So I smacked the grubby little priss I'm Tyrion Effing Lannister.
      1. Right before he is to be beheaded, Eddard Stark passes on his secrets of metallurgy to his son, Robb. Robb sires Arno Stark, great-grandfather to the eleventh of Antonio, father of Howard, who begat Iron Man/Robert Downey, Jr.

      2. Dire Wolves never manage to learn how to catch a Frisbee.

      3. Eventually, something will break down the wall and come through. I imagine it will be rather large.

      4. There will be a lot of sexing.

      5. It will be revealed in the final chapters that all the characters have been clockwork mechanisms as hinted at in the opening credits. In a further twist, the entire world's history has been a massive holographic simulation at the behest of Peter Dinklage, before he must make an address to the Interstellar Consortium of Sentients. George R.R. Martin is heralded as the new Prince of hard science fiction.

      6. Eventually, someone finally cuts their butt sitting on that pointy chair.

      Sunday, May 20, 2012

      Why I Revoke My Approval of Harry Potter

      "I am the night! I AM THE BATMAN!"
      I was too old for Harry Potter.

      Though others my age started in and said "It's really not that young; you'd like it," I preferred reading material intended for adults. Frankly, I blame grade school and New York State's teachers possessing an inability to assign reading not depicting children horribly abused or otherwise stranded in the wild, and brought to the brink of suicide. You know, good, old-fashioned murderporn.1

      Everything's perspective, though. Rowling had the good sense to age her characters along with her readers. As the kids grew old enough to handle mature themes, they became more immediate within the text. Hell, there was swearing. Cursing too, but that muggles the waters a bit.2

      And of course Twilight became a thing that happened.

      Alright, I was willing to give HP its props for getting a whole generation across the globe reading and feeling the good vibes.

      But now owls are dying because of it.

      I saw a dead owl on the side of the road the other day. Those of you who follow me on twitter might have heard already, but it was weird. Just a crow picking at an owl carcass. And the only trees were ludicrously high. Either that owl landed for the express purpose of laying down to die splayed out, failed to dive-bomb a field mouse and pull up in time, or it just keeled over and fell 150 feet from its final resting perch.

      And it just might have been your fault, for loving Hedwig so much.

      Or, I mean, it could have been like a wicked fat brown hawk or something.

      1 I fully expect The Hunger Games and Battle Royale to be required school reading within the next decade. At least I could justify the first. Battle might have to be an independent study.

      2 ZING!

      Saturday, May 19, 2012

      Rhinitis, Septums, and Nickelodeon

      "Doooomed, I tell ya!"
      Like all good writers, when I can't think of something to write, I watch cartoons.

      I imagine it's only the Great Writers who drink, then usually die young, often through self-inflicted means. The rest of us must want to die of old age enough to lay off the sauce until we've met our daily quota.

      Returning to the point at hand, Nickelodeon's Rugrats just returned me to my younger years with an early episode that hit close to home: Chuckie gets a medical treatment that cures his preternaturally stuffy nose. As a child, I had that. Difficult-to-pronounce consonants, easily winded, the magical ability to blow my nose and always make a horrifying sound, all of it.

      In the episode, Chuckie gets depressed when the lab rat who took the experimental process first regresses to its original allergic state. For the record, it's a retelling of Daniel Keyes' Flowers for Algernon. Chuckie decides he's happy being himself, with all the gifts and curses associated. I'm kind of angry. Once again, television promised me that being unique was something to be proud of.


      Being unique as a kid is a matter of pride for adults, as a child it's a reason to get emotionally abused until you go to college. Chuckie keeps getting made fun of. If I can only point to one positive aspect of Rugrats: All Grown Up, it was that Tommy was still considered an idealistic dreamer, Angelica was still a bitch, Phil and Lil were still fairly stupid, and Chuckie was still mocked horribly every day of his life and had to fight the same battles over and over again to prove that he was just as good as the next fictional middle schooler.

      That's life. You get your tonsils and adenoids taken out to open your airways, you find out your septum is entirely deviated to the left effectively giving you half a functional nose, and one day you finally grow out of the sleep apnea that caused you to stop breathing in the middle of the night.

      But one day, you realize Chuckie was always the man, and everyone else needs him.

      Thank you, Chuckies.

      Friday, May 18, 2012

      The Princess and the Frog | Disney "Had a Dream"

      This image is a pretty solid metaphor for Disney finally exploiting
      every race there is. It had to be done, though. Now everyone's separate,
      but at least we're all equal, right?
      This isn't exactly timely, but a friendly discussion the other night brought us a new perspective on life:

      The Princess and the Frog finally gave young black girls a Disney Princess Halloween costume to wear that wouldn't be preceded by the qualifier "Black."

      Black Ariel, Black Sleeping Beauty, Black Belles. We've all seen them. "What are you dressed as?"

      "Oh, I'm Sleeping Beauty." No, you're not. You're Black Sleeping Beauty.

      And don't try any of that baloney where you're like half black and try to swing a Jasmine or a Pocahontas. Somehow, I feel like that's just usurping a whole other race's hard one exploitation. You've got your own exploited princess now, and she's sassy to boot.

      Of course, this was admittedly the same friend who narrowly failed to convince his half-black girlfriend to dress as the Sally Hemings to his Thomas Jefferson. We're still pretty mad at her for backing out on that.

      Thursday, May 17, 2012

      Rejected Transsexual Transformer Photos

      Being the nerd I am, I had a 20th Anniversary collector's edition Optimus Prime just lying around, so I set out to post some kind of "Does this mysteriously appearing trailor make my ass look big?" or at least a "All this energon is going to go straight to my servomotors!" joke. You know, something base and stereotypically gayish to juxtapose the seriousness of the discussion.

      Well, it all just ended up one horrifyingly offensive photoshoot. Honestly, I'm a little surprised it didn't end with me smoking a cigarette on the casting couch and Optimus sobbing quietly into his unmarked bills and a rumpled sports bra in the lobby as I called him a cab.

      Anyway, there were some pretty insensitive images of Optimus Prime even I thought were in bad taste. So here they are!

      "Oh, you!"The coquettish legs were hard at first, but then I just couldn't get his wrist to bend without looking
      just terribly limp. Sultry Jessica Rabbit poses were also impossible.

      "Strike a pose!"
      Jazz hands and spirit fingers were both unachievable, but worse yet one of his wrists was
      loose and a limited range of motion nullified Prime's ability to properly 'Vogue.'

      "Whatever. You know I look good."
      Actually, this one was too heteronormative. Just looks like a very diesel Ambercrombie ad.

      Wednesday, May 16, 2012

      Transformers As an Allegory for Transsexuality In America

      Lately I've been reading an old webcomic called Venus Envy. It's an interesting premise, the daily life and somewhat unique trials of a 14 year old transsexual somewhere a little less understanding than a liberal college town.

      I highly recommend it, not for the art, which is adorably … er, rough for most of the series ("it get's better"), but for the subject matter. The stories are interesting and have a perspective most of us don't get to hear from barring a very special episode of "Glee." Eventually some of the more surreal elements take over and, as with any loosely autobio project, an actual plot emerges as a way of wrapping up the fictional bits, which kind of takes away from the slice-of-slice aspect. It's not bad, it's just a change.

      Beside the MTF bisexual protagonist are a lesbian, about thirty other lesbians, a straight FTM transsexual, and a fairly straight transvestite. Last night, I finished a chapter that explains that last one with a pretty adorable diagram of boys and girls who like girls and boys or boys and girls, and the occasional boy who still likes girls but also to dress like a girl sometimes. The lesbian is rather confused.

      Essential, if gender is performative and sexuality an expression of innate desire, a "straight" crossdresser might be considered "transperformative." But not transportative. That would be a body dysmorphic Transformer.

      Oh, yeah. Last night I also fell asleep after watching a bunch of "Transformers."

      The two must have joined forces in my subconscious, because as I showered this morning, a realization dawned on me:

      Transformers can be construed as a dissertation on transsexuality in modern America.

      Now, before we continue, I should note that, as a giant nerd, I know on what Transformers is a dissertation. It's selling toys. Made by a Japanese company. Originally, a bunch of toys they had lying around.

      But hear me out. If there's anything I learned in Intro to Crit, it's that creators get very little say in how we read their works, mainly because we read whatever the hell we want to see in past works. So what the hell, let's exercise some cognitive irreverence.

      The over-simplified reading is Autobots and Decepticons disguise who they are with a different but familiar covering. This would be akin to saying an army sniper is a transspeciesist for dressing up like a bush. Camouflage is not the same as identity.

      Transformation was developed, depending on continuity, as a covert military tactic, however it is a partially biological function. Transformers, silicon-based life forms, contain within them a biomechanical organ called a T-cog, which enables the process of transformation. Personally, I ascribe to the theory that this is a function of a high-energy reaction fueling the fundamental element of Cybertronian life: reconfiguring swarms of nanobots, but that's a bit of a digression.

      The important take-away is that transformation is an inherent property of a Cybertronian. It is not performative any more than respiration or–perhaps more aptly–running is to humans. However, the manner in which a Transformer acquires its alternate mode is something of a murky matter.

      Like gender and sexuality, a Transformer gains the quality of its "disguise" both biologically and socially. Cybertronians, when not crafted directly from raw materials by the ethereal tools of their godlike forebears (themselves creations of the multiversal singularity and embodiment of creation held over from the universe which preceded ours), are "birthed" as protoforms from biomechanical pods. These pods convey upon the protoform both locally acquired vehicle/animal mode and party allegiance.

      "Boy bots wish they looked this good."
      Let me repeat that. While the process of transformation is biologically inherent to all Transformers, what they transform into and even the worldviews set down over their base personalities are impressed upon them by Ideological and Repressive State Apparati. They are literally programed what to look like and who to hate.

      It is possible for a Transformer to switch its alternate mode and even its affiliation, though the latter is quite rare. More often personal agendas have more to do with breaking allegiances than ideological or moral differences. As to the former, vehicle guises are often switched as a result of a change in semi-permanent location, in order to better blend in. This process, however, usually requires "reformatting," which outside of Michael Bay's film universe, is a rather lengthy and resource-draining process requiring specialized machinery. (Or the multiversal singularity and embodiment of destruction which was split from the original essence of the last being from a previous universe. Either/or, really.)

      Yet Cybertronians seem to take reformatting in stride, as if there were nothing they could do about it. That's just the way outside forces made them. As much as Decepticons might prod at perceived lacks in a vehicle mode's performance, Autobots and Maximals know that its a bot's character that determines worth.

      Of course, according to Michael Bay all Transformers choose their own disguises, and they all choose either Chevy or GM makes because Chevy and GM are American and if you choose to change into anything foreign, that means you are a spineless capitulating sissy-nancy who hates a Mer'ca.

      "You mean I'll never be pretty?"
      Then again, that kind of over-performance just reeks of drag queens.

      Tuesday, May 15, 2012

      Geico Gecko Has Not Quit Day Job

      I'm a little terrified. Apparently, there's a whole app for making a spokescharacter's even more fictitious ventriloquist dummy say whatever you want.

      I'm proud of Geico for that. All the car insurance advertising divisions, really. They all do a pretty bang-up job. Truthfully, only 21st Century has commercials that I don't look forward to watching when I hear their telltale opening moments, and I still don't look unfavorably upon those.

      Yet Geico seems to have a special habit of straddling the precipice of the Uncanny Valley, sometimes enraging me but most often enthralling me and gaining my empathy. I just love that little gecko. I always have, ever since he used to be an average, albeit classy British lizard who all too frequently received phone calls intended for the auto insurance company. I almost left when he was briefly recast with the voice of Invader Zim, but I stuck by my little guy.

      Except now I'm getting a little disconcerted again. He's got a ventriloquist's dummy. And some chops.

      If you watch the above video, his lips really are moving. Just a bit. But it's there. Somewhere, an animator spent a lot of time studying ventriloquism, just enough to make this look believable. It's a whole lot of work for not a lot of payout, but it's a mark of honor I bet holds a lot of pride for someone.

      On the other hand, I just spent quite a while talking about it, didn't I? Point advertisers.

      Monday, May 14, 2012

      Yahoo CEO Steps Down, Doesn't Know Computers

      I have no idea how no one could take this company seriously. No, really.

      In a last minute reprieve, the Internet has given me my hot news item for the day:

      Scott Thompson, CEO of Yahoo!, has resigned, after an "activist shareholder" pointed out that he didn't actually have a Computer Science degree listed on his professional C.V.

      That is, the guy behind Yahoo!, Yahoo Mail, and Flickr didn't technically have an accredited understanding of how computers of the Internet work.

      To anyone with the ability to register a new Gmail account in under an hour, this should have been patently obvious.

      Sunday, May 13, 2012

      On Friends

      The more and more time I spend alone with my friends, the more I come to the conclusion that we should just not be allowed around humans.

      Or small dogs, for that matter.

      Basically, anything you'd consider "alive" but wouldn't want to eat.

      Saturday, May 12, 2012

      Scopolamine: The Most Terrifying Zombie Drug Ever

      If you don't have the stomach to sit through the whole video, skip to the last five minutes after reading this:

      It's a roofie. Except you're completely conscious and appear normal, but completely susceptible to any suggestion. You will empty your bank accounts, wallet, apartment, anything they ask you. Then the next day, you remember nothing.

      Now watch the last 5 minutes with that nice motivational/cautionary speaker. Let him become the most pants-wettingly horrific gangster you've seen since before you realized Scarface was just a movie.


      Now here's a question: What if this drug just made you really, really generous?

      What if there was a drug that gave you a terrific sense of ecstasy and brotherhood with all things, but more than that instilled in you the impetus to actually do something about the inequality and poverty and dearth of good will in the world, and you just of your own volition gave away everything you realized you didn't have an immediate need for?

      ALT Text: "Yeah, it's pretty much
      the worst, cats and kittens!"
      I hope Ryan North doesn't sue me.
      He's a pretty cool guy with Fair
      Use. I just wrote stuff that sounded
      like it needed to come out of
      T-Rex's face. Wow, that's long ALT.
      Just, like, ignore the parts where people get beaten and raped and die.

      The world would be a pretty alright place if we had all that without the last part, huh?

      But that last part's pretty bad.

      Friday, May 11, 2012

      What We Talk About When We Talk About Agent Coulson

      Alright, it's been a week since The Avengers came out. Typically, I would follow the etiquette of twice that length before openly discussing major plot points, however:

      A) I'm not waiting a week to discuss this minor epiphany I came to after creating that Raymond Carver-inspired title up top. And

      B) In it's first week it's already the 37th highest-grossing film ever, making it the quickest to hit multiple dollar marks. So, frankly, if you were going to see Avengers, and it really meant that much to you to do so, you've most likely already seen it and like me you're about to go back for seconds.

      Therefore, for the seventeen East Filipino natives who have yet to actually see the film due to illness, remote location, or a tardy significant other, but are otherwise still intent on doing so:


      Now here we go.

      What We Talk About When We Talk About Agent Coulson

      Let us address the great tragedy of Phillip Coulson up-front: Joss Whedon did that thing he does to at least one fan-favorite supporting character in essentially everything he's ever done.

      "I am a leaf on the wind. Watch how I s

      You saw the spoiler warning. He's dead. He died graphically, through the chest as usual, and he was interrupted by it in the middle of saying something cool.

      Here's the part where I defend Joss by saying it was the right call for the story, that no other character was equal parts expendable, mortal, yet lovable. Then I argue as Joss so recently noted, that Coulson's death was part and parcel for his agreeing to direct, a set-in-stone plot device he was told had to happen along with big explosions and plenty of Robert Downey, or that even actor Clark Gregg agreed it was necessary.

      Looks like I just did that, so moving on.

      Why the hell did we care? Only Whedon fanboys or Whedon detractors (read: "disenfranchised fanboys") know the director's little hallmarks well enough to half-expect these maneuvers, so for the moment, let's ignore that minority argument of "it wasn't as surprising."

      Somewhere along the line, we started caring about Coulson. Why?

      He's a high-level flunky, but he's a flunky. A nothing. He's a slight man in a black suit who worls for the government. He's paid to be a generally nonthreatening liaison. He works for the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division. He knows some stuff he doesn't talk about, but that's about it. He doesn't get his hands dirty and he's not important enough that he doesn't have to schlep across the country to pick up a package. He's not a superhero.

      "You guys seen the new Dark Knight Rises trailer?"
      "Looks pretty sweet, right?"
      Which is why we love him.

      He's just some guy in a suit with a receding hairline. His suit isn't cybernetic, it's wool. He's not the "master assassin" or spy, that's what Natasha and Clint are for. He's Nick Fury's "good eye." He babysits the fresh supers until they're ready to be integrated with the rest of the class. He's very understanding, but stern. He can manipulate other normal people very easily, because he's gotten a glimpse of the larger scope of things. Still, there's not much he could really do about it. Dodge a heat blast, run from the exploding car. Lecture Stark about being self-obsessed, try not to miss "Supernanny." In a room full of normal people, he's pretty cool, but on a helecarier, he's still a dork.

      Avengers does a terrific job of humanizing Coulson more than any other appearance. Fitting, as we should ideally learn and care about him more right before they take him from us (thank you very much, Alfred Hitchcock):

      Pepper Potts reminds us that "Agent" Coulson's first name is Phil. And while Tony's been out saving the world, Phil was dating a cellist. Phil gushes to Steve Rogers, admitting a little too much that he is as big a fanboy as the rest of us. Even the other top S.H.I.E.L.D. agents think it's a little silly how proud he is of his complete set of Captain America trading cards. But those suckers are near-mint. Every huge nerd in the audience loved Coulson a little more when he heard the big NR. (Note: that was most of the midnight audiences, everyone in costume, and, yes, that was almost entirely a male population.)

      Coulson was us, watching all these heroes grow into their own. He personally brought them all out. The only Avenger he didn't personally meet was Hulk–but wait! Phil sent Tony Stark to meet with General Ross at the end of Incredible Hulk, just so the General would refuse an asinine request S.H.I.E.L.D. was goaded into making to put the Abomination on the team instead of Hulk.

      Coulson's kind of the man. Just a little bit. Sweet lines, cool job, just a little badass about it. I'd hang out with that guy. Hell, I want to see his trading cards. Coulson's the type of Cool Guy Secret Nerd every nerd wants to be, except he probably doesn't know the real elite spies kind of think he's a dork.

      Doesn't matter, he's the highest suit they've got. He's a field agent. Intelligence. He's swank and has Level 7 clearance. If there's something you don't know, he knows and he has a list of everyone else who knows on the planet, and he's authorized to kill you for asking about it.

      "Funny, she doesn't look Asgardian."

      But after all that, he's just a guy who watched superhero reels growing up. He had his lunchbox and he collected his cards, grew up, got a job, and did it well until he went home. He wasn't irradiated or an extradimensional being, he didn't get into a horrifying accident or some terrible situation that scarred him emotionally at a young age,thus transforming him into a vicious killer. He's not even a remotely decent killer after training. The guy's probably pretty good in a bar fight if it ever came to that, but he doesn't seem the type to use his S.H.I.E.L.D.-issue Krav Maga lessons at a servesa joint.

      Alrights, Coulson's a little Crouching Tiger.

      Still, there's no way Coulson was going to keep up in a theater of metahuman war. Even Black Widow and Hawkeye were only narrowly useful, and there were two of the pinacles of human achievement in the art of short- and mid-range killing things. They're what nerds call "peak human condition," or "Batman." Like the caped crusader, these people are the best at erasing the best of the best from history, quietly and thanklessly. If you expect to beat them, you better hope to have superpowers.

      Coulson does not. Coulson has a big gun and he doesn't really know what it does. (Okay, I'm sure he did and was just being cute.) That's why Coulson's death was tragic. There's a flying aircraft carrier full of metahumans, and one asshole with a grudge and a head start is running murderous circles around all of them. He's got Thor trapped in a cage for the Hulk, the Hulk smashing a plane outside, Iron Man in a turbine, and Captain America learning to be an electrician.

      And Coulson steps up with a gun and a big mouth.

      It was a suicide run. Even when he got off a shot it didn't do kill Loki. Coulson knew he was borked but he stood up to be the hero as best he knew how, because it was the right thing to do. And he was right. He was also right when he said the team wasn't going to work, that they needed a personal reason to fight in all this. His death, he knew, could be that element, so he was not sad. It was an honorable death and one that achieved something, making him a part of the team.

      I do not mourn Obi-Wan Kenobi's death. Or Harry Potter's, or Aerith in Final Fantasy (but I don't think anybody really did). These things were necessary. (Mostly.)

      I do not mourn Phillip Coulson, I honor his life and contributions to the world. And if I ever need to see him again, I'll look into my heart and see what greatness he ushered into the world.

      Or I'll just pop over to The HUB and watch him on "Ultimate Spider-Man." Clark Gregg's gotta eat.
      *THWIP THWIP* Petey.

      Then again, Nick did lie about quite a bit, and until Avengers 2 there's always the rumor that Hank Pym is going to build Ultron of of leftover Coulson bits. I wonder if Clark Gregg likes steak.

      Thursday, May 10, 2012

      On Pronouns

      Following the tragic but not altogether unexpected death of MCA of the Beastie Boys, I've been on the lookout for other celebrity death news.

      Instead, today, I found something quite a bit happier:

      Tom Gabel, of punk-rock band Against Me! has acknowledged that he is transgender. He will begin to dress and live full-time as a woman, begin hormone therapy, and legally change his name to Laura Jane Grace.

      Tom acknowledges that she has been very unhappy with her body for a very long time, feels a legitimate sense of body dysmorphia, and is seeking to become comfortable in her own skin. The hardest part? Worrying how her wife would handle it.

      Tom and her wife are going to stay together. They have a child together, a two year old. They still love each other, Tom just needs to change something in herself. She makes no reference to sexuality, merely her own gender identity expression. Laura's going to make the same music, just maybe she'll sing the high-end now. That's about the only real change here.

      This is just wonderful for two reasons, immediately in that a prominent individual came to the conclusion that he was unhappy and was able to honest with himself and his loved ones, and those who surround him about what he needed to do to be happy with himself. Tom Gable did not kill himself or spiral into self-loathing and hatred, ultimately pushing away his loved ones and dying miserable, likely well before his time. So far, I have not read anything negative, only supportive, caring reports honoring Gable's bravery to openly transition. That attitude, that this is something uncommon but not so much so as to be out of the realm of the normal and acceptable, leaves me elated. Truthfully, I'm more accepting of this than I am liposuction.

      What gets me even more excited is that the above article, admittedly on HuffPost, doesn't miss a beat in immediately referring to Gable as "her" in the third person. That's amazingly thoughtful, if the author did it on purpose, and heartsoaringly joyous if it was carried out without a moment's thought.

      If Gable says she's a she, HuffPost isn't one to disagree with her. Not their place or their job. For my money, Tom was a guy and he got a he, until he realized he wasn't and he shouldn't. The she was a she.

      Yeah, it makes past-tense a little confusing, but just pretend English is like any other language where pronouns are superfluous to verb conjugation. And while I'm sure there will be plenty of aggressively abusive responses to this story as well, it pleases the libertarian English major in me that the first place I read about a story is the place that respects the subject matter by swapping something as seemingly inconsequential as pronouns.

      Because I really don't think it's inconsequential to Tom.

      Wednesday, May 9, 2012

      On Blatant Pandering

      Every now and then, usually when I cant think of anything better to post, I go into what I very diplomatically call "Reader Appreciation Week." This is where I figure out what's been drawing in readers over the last few months, then provide more of the same.

      It's kind of a cop-out, kind of a sell-out, but a solid 15% of it is just making fun of the ridiculous crap people look for before ending up on my site. I have no problem with this. Hell, if I increased page views by about, oh, let's see … 10,00,000% I could live off this scheme. So no, I don't really have a problem with pandering ever so often.

      Then again, if I were to do that this week, this post would be nothing but photos of Chris Evans as Captain America, the Baby Bullet, and butterfly jokes. Historically, though, there should be about 50,000 images of "girls fat asses."

      Still not sure how that one keeps redirecting, but I'll take what hits I can get.

      Tuesday, May 8, 2012

      What Vodka Makers Are Actually Advertising

      Smirnoff: Some kind of pseudo-European/Arabian sheik decadent orgy.

      Stoli: Communism, obviously. But if you look closely, there's subtle undertones of orgy.

      Svedka: Sex robots.

      And no, not a sex robot orgy. They worked really hard to make you fall in love with this one particular sexbot. In 2033, homo-robol marriage is defined as one man and one gynoid.

      Monday, May 7, 2012

      The Joys of Havign A Flu

      People don't usually give a flu the recognition it deserves as a dogooder, namely because, historically, it tends to just kill a large percentage of the people it infects.

      But in the last hundred years we've done some really good work with beating this little collection of monosyllabic diseases back. Like botulism, we have found ways around the more lethal aspects of this bug and and turned it to good.

      For example:

      Not really eating for two days means you're body is going to consume some of your excess fat. This is a pretty sweet deal, as you already have an excuse to sit around and get no exercise, but still not want to eat. For a skinny guy like me, it's a really fantastic offer. I don't have a lot of body fat to begin with, so between the weight loss and the insane ab workout I'm getting from all this coughing, I'm going to look ripped for a couple weeks. I've been meaning to get back into working out, actually, much as I hate it, so this is really a solid kick-off party.

      Also, it's my understanding that if you get bird flu, you gain the power of flight like Warren "Angel" Worthington of the X-Men. And flying is pretty sweet.

      Sunday, May 6, 2012

      "Spit on the Dick of Life"

      So last night, for Cinco de Mayo, we went out to the bars, where a street festival was in progress. We chose the town with the highest Hispanic population, for maximum authenticity.

      And we went in a limo. Because we're baller, apparently.

      I wasn't feeling that great, but friends have been telling me lately to "spit on the dick of life." Personally, I'm not fond of this expression. It implies I'm about to be the very receptive partner in this exchange. Ideally, I'd like life to be doing the graphic, metaphorical lubrication.

      However, we have since decided that if life's going to fuck us anyway, we might as well make it easier on ourselves. Hence a limo into a dive town bar crawl at midnight when I'm sick.

      Then I got shit for not drinking all night and trying to get an earlier ride home. I felt like the hypochondriac mensch of the group.

      Well, luckily, in my favor I woke up this morning with a 102.4 fever and all the symptoms of a heinous flu, thus making my last night way more hardcore, insofar as I didn't pass out at any point.


      Saturday, May 5, 2012

      On Haters

      Haters gonna hate. Do what you do and love it.

      Or, go to sleep after posting an odd photo because you yourself had an inappropriate order of fun last night and it was far too late to post anything fancy.

      Good morning! Well that was a good sleep. I dreamt this blog got a mostly-positive write-up in some magazine. I think it might have been Time, so that felt good. I also liked the part where a gorgeous brunette was laying across my lap as we casually flipped through catalogs.

      I also came up with another method to deal with my deviated septum that's even more dangerous and more expensive that going to a professional doctor, but less embarrassing than effectively getting a nose job:

      I could always just get addicted to cocaine.

      Friday, May 4, 2012

      The Avengers: All the Non-Spoilers You Need to Watch For

      *Disclaimer: The following are non-spoilers*

      What follows will contain no references to events or plot development, only subtle gags and blink-and-you-miss-it throw-aways. If you don't even want those, bugger off.

      Okay, first off, what everyone always needs to know: Yes, you need to sit through the credits. 

      All the credits. There's– there's no easy way to say this. Joss Whedon must have awoken from a dead sleep sweating and panting with his own brilliance, because he did two. Well, sort of. One and a half. Look, just sit in your seat until the lights come up, okay?

      Now then, let's move forward. Other items to watch for:
      • Stan Lee: Yes, he's there. Yes, speaking; one line. Late in the movie.
      • Thor Easter eggs: Yes, a few of them come up.
      • Coulson: Adorable.
      • Joss Whedon Dialogue: Amazing.
      • A certain tower.
      •  Grand Central Terminal. Related: a quiet moment therein.
      • "Puny God."
      • Schwarma.

      Listen, I pretty much went into this deciding that no movie on Earth could possibly live up to all the hype surrounding it. I also preemptively decided this movie did.

      I wasn't wrong.

      Thursday, May 3, 2012

      On Hockey

      I just went to a bar expecting trivia. It usually starts around 10, but 10:30 is more often the reasonable estimate. Tonight, it was expected to begin a little later, as soon as the Rangers game ended.

      The game went into triple overtime.

      Apparently, a normal hockey game, if a tie, will immediately go into a single, five minute OT, wherein the first team to score wins (and receives 2 points for the rankings, while the losing team receives one). Should neither team score, there is a shoot-out.

      In the playoffs, overtime is twenty minutes, the same as a regular period, and there is a sixteen minute intermission between. There are also no shootouts. Only a goal can end the madness.

      These guys effectively played two games tonight, with a little breather in between. Several of them were cut up and stitched back together in whatever haphazard way got them back onto the ice quickest. At one point, the camera panned over a blood splatter.

      And there was no fighting; they couldn't waste the energy.

      Once again, everything that's wrong with basketball is right with hockey, and vise versa. In hockey, it's just way too hard to score. I think part of it comes from having grown up watching The Mighty Ducks. Or just that this is a game so difficult you have to run on sharpened knife shoes and hit a rock with sticks to win. Either/or.

      Then again, the Capitals definitely had far better control over the puck, ran actual plays, and it seemed almost blind luck at moments that they didn't win quickly and decisively. At one point, they actually Gordon Bombayed it: the puck bounced off the side rail. "A quarter of an inch!" Indeed.

      Wednesday, May 2, 2012

      On Suicidal Tendencies

      Let's be clear, I'm keeping this conversation far away from actual self-destructive impulses. It's more in the vein of the vintage LA Skate Punk above. Or, possibly in even closer parallel, if you're a pop-alt fan, maybe you'd prefer Motion City Soundtrack's "Let's Get Fucked Up and Die."

      It's just recognizing the poetry of a satisfying ending in a well-told life story. As much as it might seem sad for a few years, how awesome would it be to die an old man, exactly on your birthday? It's so … even. People would be amazed after passively, accidentally passing by the tomb stone. A person at one funeral, unsure of what to do or how to feel, or how to act so as to not seem like he is unsure of what to do or how to feel, might notice it, and find a simple joy or even enlightenment in a miraculously improbable set of dates scrawled into my adjacent limestone marker.

      Or perhaps I just mean that desire when looking out over a perilous height and sense the almost overwhelming impulse to jump (High Place Anxiety). Again, not in the truthful sense. I frequently consider jumping in front of a moving bus or some other such decidedly fatal notion. So long as it still seems a gross overreaction and ineffectual solution to any predicament, I can rest assured that I am safe, mostly sane, and still at least desirous of continued living.

      More simplistically, today I felt a slight impulse to not post a blog update, in fact to never post again.

      Because I had 1,221 entries already posted, and that's such a nice, linear palindrome.

      Again, it's the bus. Obviously I'm posting something, likely something half-assed and weak, since I tend to write around midnight. However, the facts that I wish to continue my blog, to earn revenue from it, hell, just to continue an uninterrupted line of over one thousand blog posts all still seem pretty reasonable.

      So you get another post about digital career suicide. And some fun music.

      Tuesday, May 1, 2012

      The Wilhelm

      The Wilhelm is a highly specific sound effect in movie making, iconic is its undulating terror at imminent, certain pain. You will hear it frequently, most often when someone goes flying or is otherwise thrown into the air. Frequently, it is a long drop. George Lucas included it in Star Wars and Indiana Jones, and I just heard it a few minutes ago in Captain America. It certainly takes a nerd of out the movie for a split second, but it's usually a rather enjoyable moment, a nod from one sound designer to a few, well-versed fans in the audience.

      Originally, the Wilhelm was "man getting bit by an alligator," though the name comes from the death of an enlisted man two films later.

      And when I was in 10th grade Global History, when on a test I couldn't remember Otto von Bismark's name and, after failing to con my teacher into revealing the answer, it was also the best guess I had. Still wrote an A paper, but that certainly explains the B+.

      Ah, well. Still a cool name.