Monday, October 14, 2019

Departure Suite

It's technically Thanksgiving and all, but October 14 is also the day of the Sudden Departure, so....bit of a downer.

btw, most beautiful musical score in TV history?  It's got my vote.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

NBA Predictions

Hey, the Raptors are the reigning NBA champions!  Isn't it wild that that actually happened?  Turns out that the Raptors' win didn't cause the universe to collapse into itself, so they're going to go ahead and have another NBA season this year, and thus I have to make a new set of picks.

*obligatory "the conferences are absurdly lopsided, the West is ten times better than the East" comment*

I will say, this is the first time in ages (ever?) when I've actually had to put some thought into NBA predictions.  The league is so often ruled by a superteam that it's been very easy to just phone in a provisional pick of the Warriors, Spurs, Heat, or Lakers for the better part of the last two decades.  This season?  At least a half-dozen teams look like potential title contenders.  So into this brave new world, I'll go out on a limb and choose....the team who had the best record last season.

(stars indicate wild card teams)

Pacific: Clippers, Warriors*, Lakers*, Kings, Suns
Northwest: Nuggets, Trail Blazers*, Jazz*, Thunder, Timberwolves
Southwest: Rockets, Spurs*, Pelicans, Mavericks, Grizzlies

Central: Bucks, Pacers*, Pistons, Bulls, Cavaliers
Atlantic: 76ers, Celtics*, Raptors*, Nets*, Knicks 
Southeast: Heat, Hawks*, Magic, Wizards, Hornets

West finals: Trail Blazers over Clippers
East finals: Bucks over 76ers

NBA finals: Bucks over Trail Blazers in six games

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

I Know What I'm Doing

Folks, I'm sure you read this blog week after week and think to yourself, "wow, Mark is just the coolest, most with-it guys there is."  And while you're correct, even a perfectly wound clock is wrong twice a day....wait, that's not how that goes....ok, maybe I'm wrong three times a day.

The first two errors, a.k.a. examples of the ongoing cloud of stupidity that hangs over my head at all times, took place last week.  I was making dinner one night and cooked up some rice using my legendary recipe.  First, I pour a cup into a bowl.  Then, I pour a cup of water into the bowl.  Then, I put the covered bowl into the microwave for five minutes to cook, and then leave it in there for five minutes longer to let the water entirely soak in.  (Why the good people at Michelin haven't seen fit to award me at least one star is anyone's guess.)  So for this latest meal, I prepared my usual routine, and after ten minutes I headed downstairs to the kitchen....only to discover that I had forgotten the water.  So it was just a bowl of very hot, uncooked rice on my hands.

No matter, this was just ten wasted minutes of my life.  The second error was a bit more bothersome.

It involved doing the laundry, and as per routine, I simply dumped my clothes into the washer and headed upstairs to wait out the wash cycle.  (There isn't a Michelin Guide for laundering clothes, as far as I know, though I will modestly admit that my technique isn't anything special.)  After an hour, I went downstairs to move my clothes into the dryer.....only to realize that my clothes were *already* in the dryer.  Yes, that's right.  I'd dumped a load of dirty clothes into the dryer, tossed in a batch of Tide powder, and then walked away like a dope.

On the bright side, at least it wasn't liquid detergent.  That would've caused a much bigger problem than my actual, still-annoying problem, of having powder all over the place.  Well, it was nothing a quick once-over with the vacuum cleaner couldn't fix, and the only lasting damage was to my pride.

And now you know the truth, folks.  Your humble narrator isn't perfect.  It must be a hard thing to realize after all these many years, but look on the bright side.  At least you didn't spend ten minutes of your life vacuuming out a laundry dryer.

Monday, October 07, 2019

Diner Lobster

SNL just made a new batch of their old sketches (well, "old" as in a couple of years old) on YouTube available to international viewers, and the list of material includes....DINER LOBSTER.  One of the true laugh-out-loud, instant classic, "what the hell is going on?" sketches of in recent SNL history.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

NHL Predictions

Hark!  A new hockey season is upon us!  Now that the Blues and Capitals have each ended their long Stanley Cup droughts, could another team be next?  Say, a team from Toronto? 

"Oh, did the Marlies get promoted to the NHL?"

Quiet, you.

CENTRAL DIVISION: Avalanche, Predators, Jets, Blues*, Stars*, Wild, Blackhawks

PACIFIC DIVISION: Golden Knights, Flames, Sharks, Coyotes, Oilers, Kings, Ducks, Canucks

ATLANTIC DIVISION: Maple Leafs, Lightning, Bruins, Panthers*, Canadiens, Sabres, Red Wings, Senators

METROPOLITAN DIVISION: Capitals, Hurricanes, Devils, Penguins*, Islanders, Flyers, Blue Jackets, Rangers

(the stars indicate the wild card teams)

Western Conference finals: Golden Knights over Jets
Eastern Conference finals: Capitals over Bruins (I'm sorry, I just can't pick the Leafs until it actually happens)

Stanley Cup finals: Golden Knights over Capitals

See, just like I said, another long-suffering franchise will finally get its first Stanley Cup.  Enjoy the title after three long years of waiting, Vegas fans!

Monday, September 30, 2019

Good Neighbor's "Toast"

The Kyle Mooney and Beck Bennett Era on SNL has been pretty entertaining, and a lot of their video material has been close to the tone of their older work as members of the "Good Neighbor" comedy troupe.  That said, none of their SNL stuff has come close to this epic, which is about three sketch ideas in one and gets increasingly mind-blowing as it goes on.  It's possible they could re-use this for the show some day but a) this is already legendary enough in its current form and b) they'd just have to shoot another video since this would be a beast (not The Beast) to shoot live.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Without A Clue

Clue makes no sense.  Most board games don't have narratives --- you're just trying to drop checkers in a row like in Connect Four, or going on a quest for self-actualization by stealing the identity of another in Guess Who, or whatever the hell Sorry was about.  Clue, however, takes things to a higher level by actually building a story around its premise and while some might admire their fortitude in board game innovation, I'm just going to write a snarky blog post about it since I'm a Guy On The Internet.

If you're going to build a narrative it should be a logical one, and here's where Clue falters.  Put yourself within the game's world: pretend you're Madam Peacock, a posh upper-class woman staying at a country manor. Suppose that your host, Mr. Boddy, ends up dead. If we go by the old-time mystery novel trope of the manor somehow being inaccessible to and from the outside world and the guests have to solve the crime themselves, then that accounts for the need to identify Boddy's killer. Obviously, if some maniac is killing people within the mansion you're all stuck within, you need to find that murderer post-haste, but other aspects of the game get a bit sticky.

For one, needing to discover the location of the murder. Now, this does make some sense within the context of the suspect search, since if Boddy was killed in the hall and someone saw Professor Plum skulking around the hall earlier, that would be an important piece of information. But though there's a storyline reason for KNOWING which room Boddy was killed in, there's less of a reason for the characters to SEARCH for this information in the first place. Again, put yourself in the position of an actual guest in this mansion who's found Boddy dead. Where did you find him? Was it in a specific room? Was he found on the stairs, a.k.a. the middle of the board? Unless there's a clear reason to guess otherwise (like, 10 trails of blood leading from the body to every room), you'd just presume that Boddy was killed whenever he was found. To think otherwise is to presume that an old lady like Madam Peacock or a svelte bombshell like Miss Scarlet was lugging a corpse around a mansion in the dead of night.

Now, the weapon. Put yourself back to the moment of discovering Boddy's, er, body. If the guests are able to discern that he's been murdered, then there should be a clear indication of that fact on his person --- after all, if Boddy was just found dead without a mark on him, the natural guess would be that he'd suffered a stroke or heart attack or something. Murder most foul wouldn't be the first conclusion. If you're able to identify that Boddy has been killed, then the weapon itself should be guessed at fairly easily. Like I said, poison isn't an option so we don't need too complex here. No ligature marks on his neck? Couldn't have been the rope. No gunshot wound? Couldn't have been the revolver. No stab wound? Couldn't have been the knife. No big ol' bump on the head? Couldn't have been the wrench, lead pipe or candlestick. This seems to be a bit of a plot hole....unless Boddy was found with ALL of these marks on him. Like, he was found hanging from a noose with a stab wound, a bullet hole and three separate gaping dints in his head. This would explain the question over how he died, though one might also assume that the actual method of murder wouldn't be weighing so heavily on the minds of the guests. If this poor Boddy was found butchered like Rasputin or Vigo the Carpathian, then it doesn't really matter WHAT method killed him, just that he's dead at all. If he was found shot, then one could think, "Hmm, Colonel Mustard is an expert marksman, he is the natural suspect" but if Boddy has all of these wounds on him and you don't have a CSI kit handy to determine the cause of death, then it's kind of a moot point.

And, finally, while it's an inevitable problem of the character process, it's always struck me as odd that one player can identify themselves as the murderer. Like, the person playing Ms. White is free to accuse Ms. White in the library with the rope or whatnot.  Within the game story, are we to assume that Ms. White's guilty conscience overcame her and she just interrupted the entire investigation to admit her crime? Maybe it was meant as a lesson for the kids who might play the game --- sometimes it's best to just come out and admit it when you've done wrong, children. No matter whether it's taking the last cookie from the kitchen jar or savagely murdering a millionaire in his country manor, it's best to just admit guilt and take your punishment. Clearly, Clue has no respect for the criminal defense system.

Most useless game pieces ever, by the way, were the actual murder weapon game pieces in Clue.  You know, when you accused someone in one of the rooms, you also had the cute little metal candlestick there, just to really bring the scene to life.  (Some poor sweatshop worker has been cranking out little metal revolvers for years, which is bound to create some psychological issues.)  There's another narrative gimmick that made no sense; why do you need the weapon present to accuse someone?  "You stabbed Mr. Boddy with THIS knife, Mr. Green!"  Why are you moving the evidence around?  Don't you know not to touch anything before the police arrive?  Mr. Green just got off on murder charges since the evidence was tampered with, you idiot.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Wedding Etiquette

For years now, one of my go-to Facebook moves has been to post the "Somebody's Getting Married" number from The Muppets Take Manhattan on the walls of soon-to-be-wed friends on their wedding day.  It seemed like a fun and fitting thing to do, plus anything that helps people remember the vastly-underrated TMTM* just seems proper.

* = I watched this movie at least 100 times as a kid, to the point that it probably influenced everything I know about New York City and/or staging plays.  Also, my cousin and her husband bear a strong resemblance to the young couple that fall in love in this movie, so maybe it influenced them as well.

Anyway, it has been mentioned to me that posting this video is a mistake, as it implies a connection between the bride-to-be and Miss Piggy.  I should note that this criticism came from a third party -- the video has never been welcomed with anything but 'likes' by the actual couples themselves, as far as I know.  Frankly, I think the criticism isn't warranted.  Firstly, my sheer laziness in posting the same video for EVERY couple should be evidence enough that I'm not making some snide sub-tweet comparison of one particular bride and some vain swine.  Secondly, I can deal out sarcastic jabs with the best of them, but I'm not the kind of monster that would bust out, "hey, you're basically a pig or a neurotic frog!" on one's wedding day.  Thirdly, who's to say that being compared to Miss Piggy is even an insult?  Pop culture icon!

I feel I'm totally in the right here. 

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Poor Ross

UPDATE: There are apparently easter eggs in place for every Friends character, not just Ross.  Search at your own amusement!

Our overlords good friends at Google have come up with another clever searchable easter egg.  Google "Ross Friends" or "Ross Geller" and click the couch icon at the right side of the screen.  You can do it a few times for added mirth.

Ol' Ross has taken a beating in modern times for being....well, kind of a creepy weirdo in hindsight.  Or, a very creepy weirdo.  But, it's a testament to David Schwimmer's acting ability that it took 15-25 years for everyone to really realize that Ross was a creepy weirdo!  And, his legacy is secure, as I'm sure every person who has tried to move furniture upstairs in the last two decades has made a "PI-VOT!" joke at some point.

Top five Ross moments!

5. Fake crying, followed by "FINE BY ME!"
4. "It tastes like feet."  (The italics to signify the wonderful voice he uses)
3. Joey and Ross have great naps together
2. "PI-VOT!"
1. "Poor Ross," which isn't actually from the show, but from the blooper reels.  It's just such a perfect summation of resignation that it made me laugh like Lisa Kudrow when I first saw it.  (Also, Lisa Kudrow has maybe the best laugh ever.)

Anyway, that sums up this completely out-of-nowhere recollection of a long-ago sitcom character.  It isn't at all based on the fact that I recently completed in a Friends pub trivia night, wherein my team finished a cool 19th out of 25 teams.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

One Rudd, Two Ferns

Have I already watched the Between Two Ferns movie? Yes. Did I start watching, like, ten minutes after it was uploaded to Netflix? Yup. Would I have started it even earlier, except I had to use the washroom? Absolutely.