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.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Blinded By The Light

I mean, was there any doubt I’d go see Blinded By The Light?  Would any true Bruce Springsteen fan possibly skip this movie?  Some observations…

* first things first, the title is very helpful in establishing to people that “Blinded By The Light” is actually a Bruce song, not a Manfred Mann song.  I guess I can understand the confusion, though the fact that Springsteen is a bigger star than Manfred Mann by multiples of 1000, you’d think it would be a more widely-known fact.

* Javed’s new-wavey friend Matt?  Played by none other than King Tommen Baratheon himself!  He survived that fall off the balcony just in time for the fall of late-80’s synth pop.  It’s probably for the best that we never actually got any scenes of Matt’s band in action, since that would’ve tipped the scales into outright comedy.

* okay, so my main source of confusion with the film, and perhaps those more well-versed in British music culture can let me know about this.  Javed’s Springsteen fandom is seen by many as something of an anachronism, with the Boss representing “old” or outdated music that only someone like Matt’s manchild father (oh man did I laugh when I realized it was Rob Brydon) would still be into.  But…..the movie is set in 1987.  “Born In The USA” had been released just three years earlier, to monster worldwide acclaim.  Even the Born in the USA tour ended not even two years prior to when the film is set, a tour that included no less than six big shows in the U.K. itself.  And “Tunnel Of Love” was released in 1987 itself.  Hell, that album even had a bunch of synths, Matt would’ve been enthralled!

I guess my point is that it seems odd that Javed and Roops are seemingly the only two young Springsteen fans at their school, nay, in the whole movie.  It’s even played for laughs that Javed rushes to the HMV to get concert tickets***, only to learn that he’s the first one to even ask.  Wasn’t Springsteen still a big deal in the U.K. in 1987?  I’m not even sure what the modern equivalent would be, given today’s fractured musical climate, but in terms of a huge-selling modern act who is perceived as appealing more to older audiences….maybe Adele?  But if you made a movie set in 2019 about a teen who finds inspiration in Adele’s music, would their classmates be all “Adele?  Who?”  or “Adele?  She’s nobody!”

*** = man, did this ever bring back some memories.  “Standing in line at a record store the day tour tickets go on sale” is one of those definite generation gap moments that young people today simply have no concept about.

* anyway, quibble with the premise aside, I guess it did relate to the general idea of how music can make you feel like a band is singing to you, and you alone.  The film is entertaining and a good watch, if a tad cheesy and predictable in spots.  Probably could’ve done without the goofiness of Javed actually dressing himself up like Springsteen, as if a teenager would ever do something absurd like dressing as one of their pop idols in real life!  On a totally unrelated note, we just recently passed the 20-year anniversary of my wearing large fly sunglasses throughout much of the 12th grade in order to emulate Bono.

* needless to say, this movie is full of great music.  Acoustic “Promised Land”?  Hell yes.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Delusional Merch

Standing in line at the grocery store today, I noticed the guy in front of me wearing a commemorative t-shirt about the Minnesota Timberwolves' 2017 NBA championship.

Wait, what?  The Warriors won the title in 2017.  The T-Wolves went, as records indicate, 31-51 and missed the playoffs entirely.

I took a closer look just to make sure I wasn't reading things incorrectly, and as one tends to notice when someone is staring at you, he caught my glance and chuckled.

"Cool shirt, huh?"
"I'll say.  I must've missed that NBA Finals."
"I'm a T-Wolves fan.  I figured since they'll never win, hey, might as well get a shirt!"

As a fan of truth, logic, and universal order, his attitude is shocking.  But as a fan of random's kind of amazing.  He gets to walk around proudly repping his team as if they were the ones who, say, drafted Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, or Draymond Green*, and then ridden that core into becoming a modern sports dynasty.  The majority of people will just walk by and not take a second glance at his t-shirt, yet those that do will laugh at the absurdity.  It's the perfect conversation-starter of a garment.

* = fun fact!  The T-Wolves had both the fifth and sixth overall picks in the 2009 NBA Draft, and addressed their dire need for a point guard by doubling up at the position, taking Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn.  The Warriors, picking seventh, took Curry.  Oof.  Minnesota had the #2 pick in 2011, Thompson's draft year, but took Derrick Williams, long before Klay came off the board with the 11th pick.  Double oof.  It looks like the Timberwolves dealt their pick in the 2012 draft so they couldn't even get any chance of Green before he went in Golden State in the second round.  Oof x3

This takes the old idea of a crossover sports jersey (i.e. a Tom Brady Red Sox jersey, or a Sidney Crosby Steelers jersey) to the nth degree.  This is creating a complete alternate reality of events.  It's so crazy it just might work.

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Hot! Live! Music!

Postmodern Jukebox w/Rogelio Douglas Jr., "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For"
Man, it took PMJ long enough to finally get around to a U2 song.  You know, after years of including Postmodern Jukebox videos in Hot! Live! Music! posts,  it occurs to me that they aren't exactly live -- I mean, they're all taking place in a studio.  Have I been undermining my own post gimmick without knowing it?  Looks like I still haven't found the post gimmick I'm looking for.

Bruce Springsteen, "Ramrod"
Aha, now here's a live song.  It's at a concert, there are people there, it says "live" right there in the YouTube video title.  Also, if "Hot Live Music" had a dictionary entry, I'm pretty sure there would just a picture of the Boss.

David Byrne and St. Vincent, "Road To Nowhere"
I might need to see some DNA evidence before I believe that St. Vincent isn't actually Byrne's daughter.  Though it's actually cooler in real life that they were both like, "hey, we're so clearly cut from the same weird musical cloth, we should tour and make albums together."  It is a drastic oversight that I don't have their album.

The Killers, "When You Were Young"
I'm probably a little late to the party on this considering the building is almost 150 years old, but man, the Royal Albert Hall seems like a great venue.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

NFL Predictions

Well why not, let’s double down on this nonsense.

NFC East: Dallas, Philadelphia, Washington, New York
NFC West: Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, Arizona
NFC North: Green Bay, Chicago, Minnesota, Detroit
NFC South: Atlanta, New Orleans, Carolina, Tampa Bay
NFC wild cards: Seahawks, Saints

I’m only very hesitantly omitting Carolina because if Cam Newton’s shoulders are ok, I think they’ll win the division.  There’s just too much injury uncertainty for me to make that prediction, however, and we all know that my picks are always based on airtight factual analysis.  For instance, I’m picking against teams like the Rams, Bears, Saints, and Eagles for the not-at-all-nebulous reasoning of “it just seems like they missed their chance.”  L.A. and the Saints still make the playoffs on pure talent alone, but I don’t think either have what it takes to get over the hump.  Minnesota will never win as long as Cousins is their QB, and the Cowboys can win their sorry division but can’t go further as long as their coaching staff is such a trainwreck.  Which opens the door for the Packers!

AFC East: New England, New York, Buffalo, Miami
AFC West: Kansas City, Los Angeles, Denver, Oakland
AFC North: Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati
AFC South: Houston, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Tennessee
AFC wild cards: Steelers, Browns

Part of me feels the Browns are absolutely this year’s overhyped preseason favourite who lays an egg, except since I already have punditry darlings like the Eagles, Chargers, Bears, Vikings, and Panthers missing out, Cleveland might as well get in.  Besides, the Browns were my dad’s favourite team growing up, and since his old football jersey number was 54 and this year will mark Super Bowl 54….I’m not saying there’s karma, but there’s karma.  Anyway, the AFC is even trickier to figure than the NFC, since I could certainly see a case for almost any of these teams (minus the Dolphins, Raiders, and probably Bengals) to make the postseason.  But amidst this uncertainty, the boring old Patriots will win again.

NFC championship game: Packers over Rams
AFC championship game: Patriots over Chiefs

Super Bowl 54: Packers over Patriots

Yeah, why not.  The Aaron Rodgers roaring rampage of spite takes everyone by storm, as the Packers actually resemble a team with a playbook from this decade.  It ends with Rodgers hoisting a Super Bowl trophy while Mike McCarthy watches from the breakroom of the gas station he is now managing.