Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Random Nonsense

As found on Twitter, the world is just a cat playing with Australia as a toy.  Vancouver doesn't come off great in this situation, but given the Canucks' recent record...


I went my whole life without really knowing anything specific about the premise of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and I'm stunned to learn that it involved five robots joining together to form a larger robot.  Originally I thought that the creators of Voltron would have license to sue the MMPR people into the ground, but hold on!  My friend Craig informed me that the Voltron animated series we all (?) knew and loved from childhood was "actually based on clips cut from more than one earlier Japanese cartoon as a sort of mash-up.  So Voltron likely wouldn't be able to sue anyone for this idea, since it wasn't their idea to begin with."

Wait, so the Voltron series ITSELF was several cartoons joining together to form a larger cartoon?  This is getting pretty meta.  This is like learning that Bob Kane dressed up as a bat to fight crime.


I have seen the original Ghostbusters movie at least 100 times, yet I only just now realized that during the end credits, Janine is the woman who hugs Egon when they’re all leaving the haunted/trashed apartment building.  I am observant!


I love that a) Bert from Sesame Street has a Twitter account, and b) he has "RTs do not equal endorsements" in his bio.  Typical cautious Bert, he won't let himself get hijacked by any memes!

Speaking of Sesame Street Twitter accounts (and I may literally be the only one who speaks on the topic), I'm happy to report that the Count has been steadily continuing his tweeted journey to infinity since September 6 of last year.  Perhaps not coincidentally, my last post calling out the Count's latest unexplained Twitter hiatus came on September 5, so I like to think that I shamed him into action.  Interestingly, the Count has been tweeting multiple times per day as of late, so perhaps he's either making up for lost time, or maybe he's speeding up to reach a specified number by a specified date.  Or maybe the Count knows something that we don't know.  Is doomsday approaching?  Is that doomsday for humanity, or just a vampire-centric end of days?  (i.e. the moon turns to garlic)


In other updates from past posts, you can add "Coco" to the list of movies that made me actually cry.  That final scene with the boy and his grandmother was just phenomenal....a good three-quarters of the theatre was openly weeping.  Let me tell you, it's very hard to properly see a screen when you've got 3D glasses on AND you're trying to wipe tears from your eyes.

The full list is now Coco, A Monster Calls, Up, Rudy, and E.T.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Hot! Live! Music!

Postmodern Jukebox, "Teenage Dirtbag"
Oh man, major high school flashbacks on this one.  The video even starred Mena Suvari and Jason Biggs, which is about as Y2K as it gets.  I give a lot of credit to the singer here, who is one of the few vocalists capable of singing in a Joplin-esque style without sounding breaking the try-hard scale.

Robyn Adele Anderson, "Lose Yourself"
RAA here has performed with the Postmodern Jukebox in the past, but now seems to be doing...basically exactly the same kind of performances, except on her own YouTube channel.  I stand by my theory that there was some huge schism between RAA and Postmodern Jukebox that led to this neverending rivalry for old-timey cover song supremacy.  Maybe Scott Bradlee pointed out that she'll always be the second-most famous singer named a) Robyn, and b) Adele, and RAA just became enraged.

Bastille, "Good Grief"
This seems like one of those acoustic performances that probably didn't need the whole band, yet all four were brought in to save any hurt feelings.  All you really need is the singer and a bassist, or maybe just a singer and a percussionist, or maybe even just the singer myself on the keyboard.  Having four instruments along with the vocals makes it sounds less stripped-down than it probably should be, given the effect they were trying to achieve.  Also, why they aren't all dressed like Charlie Brown?

U2, "The Little Things That Give You Away"
Quite a few U2 live performances on talk shows or whatnot fit into the "should be more stripped down" category, as in Larry and Adam don't have much to do.  I feel there's some interesting potential in just Edge and Bono performing the songs....but it's not nearly as all four of them playing at peak awesomeness, a.k.a. this song and its extraordinary build and climax.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Lea Thompson Joke

I wish I could do this more justice, but The Lea Thompson Joke's legend may, in fact, only grow due to the fact that I can't directly remember the circumstances.  All I remember was that my co-worker Ken recently made the single funniest possible Lea Thompson-related joke that anyone has ever made.  NAY, the funniest possible Lea Thompson-related joke that anyone WILL, in all likelihood, EVER make again.  Even better, it was perfectly safe for work --- while I love a good dirty joke as much as anyone, the fact that The Lea Thompson Joke was clean makes it even more impressive, in my opinion.  It didn't need any smut, it was just an absolutely perfect bit of wordplay that relied on a few things…

a) knowledge of Lea Thompson.  Now, I'm assuming that everyone reading this knows who she is, but just in case, here you go.  *pause for cries of OHHHHH, HER and possibly forehead slaps.* 

b) knowledge of Lea Thompson's roles.  Obviously, "Back To The Future."  That's the gimme.  There's also "Caroline In The City," which is still relatively obscure despite being on the air for four (!) seasons and its place as the go-to reference as one of the many lame shows NBC tried to build as a timeslot hit between Friends and Seinfeld.  That said, I knew of the show and Ken knew of the show, hence another reason why the joke landed as it did.  Also, the genesis of the joke began somehow by discussing "Howard The Duck," which is incredibly probably Lea Thompson's third-best known role.  Which leads to...

c) knowledge of Lea Thompson's rather poor career choices.

Okay, so, the joke began with Howard The Duck.  Yes, this movie actually existed.  I've never seen it, but all I know is that it was a huge bomb and that Lea Thompson was involved.  This, by the way, was her follow-up film after breaking out in Back To The Future.  Yikes.

After a few twists and turns and jokes about Lea Thompson's awful roles, it eventually led to me saying that her career had gone so wrong that she was working as a temp at some building in New York.  I want to say FedEx since we had mentioned FedEx in some oblique way earlier.  So, I go, "she's actually working as a temp at FedEx now.  Tough break for Lea."

Ken's reply?  "Well, she is In The City."

And that just killed me.  As I said, it was the perfect storm of wordplay, a clever joke and an audience that both knows the subject and LOVES groan-worthy puns.  And it will go down in history as the greatest possible Lea Thompson Joke.  How would it be matched?  Who would possibly even attempt to match it?

I am fully aware that just reading it on the page, it doesn't sound funny whatsoever.  Whatever.  I'm sure reading about the moon landing, today's kids are like, "whatevs*, astronauts on the moon, I'm over it."  Admittedly I'm not doing the joke justice simply by relating just the last line of the setup and then the punchline, but really, you simply had to be there.  The Lea Thompson Joke will stand forever.  Respect.

* fun fact: 'whatevs' auto-corrects as 'wharves.'

Thursday, February 22, 2018

NBA Play-Ins

Bill Simmons has been blabbing about the "Exciting As Hell Tournament" for years, and now there's actually a chance some version of it might happen.  The NBA is reportedly actually considering a play-in tournament (between the seventh-eighth-ninth-tenth teams in each conference) to determine the final two seeds in each conference's bracket.

For those of you who aren't readers or listeners of Simmons, he proposed this idea over a decade ago as a way to help the league curb the idea of tanking, as his version had EVERY non-playoff team in a March Madness-style single-knockout tourney.  I believe some version of his idea also had the four winning teams also earning the top four picks in the NBA Draft, which would've definitely provided incentive for every team to try hard.

My biggest issue with the idea is simple --- the last thing we need is 'more' NBA playoff rounds.  This is already the most predictable tournament in sports.  There is no such thing as a true Cinderella run in the modern NBA.  You can get an upset in a single matchup, sure, but you never get a low seed actually making a run at a title.  The closest you get is something like the 2011 Mavericks or the 2003 Pistons, but those were high seeds that just surprisingly beat bigger favorites, rather than true "wait, how is this happening" teams on a miracle run.  I think the Houston Rockets' second NBA title team from the mid-90's was also kind of a low seed but they were hardly an "upset" given that they were the defending champs who seemingly just took it easy in the regular season.  You can make a better case that the NBA should eliminate a playoff round before they should expand their bracket.

Looking at today's standings, the proposed play-in tournament would give us matchups of Trail Blazers/Jazz and Pelicans/Clippers in the West, and 76ers/Hornets and Heat/Pistons.  Frankly....who cares?  Seeing the likes of Dame Lillard, Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin, and Philly's young stars in, ahem, "big" games may appeal to basketball junkies like Simmons, but ultimately, why go to all this extra effort to determine the teams that will surely get waxed by the Warriors, Rockets, Raptors*, and Celtics in the first round?

* = assuming Kyle Lowry doesn't again forget how to play basketball come playoff time

In regards to the anti-tanking element, I'm also not sure tying high draft picks to this tournament would be the best way to solve the problem of teams throwing seasons.  Simmons and others had made the reasonable point that it doesn't help the league to have its future stars getting drafted by consistently incompetent franchises, though you never know.  Today's incompetent franchise is tomorrow's NBA champion, given that it can sometimes take just one major star to turn a team around.  Also, if this idea was in place for this year, just imagine the hilarious outrage if the 76ers (the poster children for "the Process") ended up with another top pick just for being okay enough to squeak into the playoffs.

Also, I'm against the idea in no small part because it would raise Simmons' already-high smugness quotient to completely unbearable levels.  I'd only get on board with the plan if we could arrange to have the lower seed upset the Celtics for the next decade. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

(More) Crazy Ex-Bloopers

Another season, another set of bloopers.  Well, okay, it's actually been two more seasons of the show now, but I only just saw this gag reel now.   NSFW, needless to say.

In fairness to the actors, I myself have referred to "the hilarious Rebecca Bunch" several times when talking up Rachel Bloom.  At least pick different initials, come on!  Or pull a Tony Danza.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Green Lantern's Name

Time normalizes many of the dumbest ideas, which brings me to the fact that "Green Lantern" is, objectively, a pretty nonsensical superhero name.  For non-comic readers, Green Lantern gets his name from the fact that he (and the rest of the Green Lantern Corps members throughout the universe) all have to charge their super-powered rings from a lantern-shaped power battery.  The rings only operate based on the wearer's willpower, but even the strongest-willed person around can't get anything out of a GL ring unless it has first been charged.  It's like how you can have the best race car driver in the world behind the wheel, but it won't matter if the car doesn't have any gas.

Anyway, the "Green Lantern" name makes some sense once you know the whole backstory.  From a marketing and branding perspective, however, there are tons of flaws.  To wit...

* Who actually knows this backstory?  Pretend Green Lantern existed in real life.  One day, a green-suited superhero actually shows up and starts helping humanity.  While there would undoubtedly be intense speculation about the nature of his hero's powers (and speculation about everything about the hero in general), the public would know that this guy could a) fly, b) have green energy all around him and c) could use that green energy to create objects and whatnot.  So, naturally, having "Green" in the name makes a lot of sense given the colour motif.  The problem I see here is that the average person would have no idea where the "Lantern" part is coming from.  Example:

Random person: Wow, thanks for rebuilding our dam and saving the town from flooding, mysterious superpowered stranger!
Green Lantern: Think nothing of it, just helping out those in need!
Person: Wow, whatever do we call you?
GL (with hands proudly on hips): The Green Lantern!
Person: ….uh, what? 
GL: That's right, the Green Lantern!  See, there's a little picture of a lantern here on my chest.  I didn't draw the logo myself but still, it's pretty cool.
Person: Wait, what does a lantern have to do with anything?  That ring you're wearing seems to be pretty clearly be your main deal, shouldn't we call you the Green Ring?  Or Ringman, possibly?
GL: Nope, it's Green Lantern all the way. 
Person: But that makes no…
GL: Look buddy, I fixed your damn dam, just go with me on this, okay?

I mean, it's possible that Hal Jordan/John Stewart/Guy Gardner/Kyle Rayner/any of the several earthlings who have held a GL ring at one time or another actually publicly explained the name and the whole power battery thing.  Except…that makes no sense either, since why would you reveal your power source like that?  Wouldn't your enemies then focus on finding this power battery and thus completely robbing you of your abilities? 

Forget "the colour yellow" being a Green Lantern's weakness, which is stupid enough in itself --- the real weakness is that a Green Lantern is a completely mortal person who is totally reliant on the power battery in order to operate.  By contrast, Batman is only incrementally less dangerous without his suit and utility than he would be in street clothes.  Iron Man without his armour isn't much of a threat, except at least Tony Stark himself is still a technological genius who can whip some kind of makeshift device or weapon in a pinch.  A Green Lantern without a working ring, however, is essentially useless.  Why call attention to your biggest weakness in your very name?**  Or, if the GLs just never explained their name, did the entire DC Universe collectively decide to just not ask about it since the Lanterns were being so cool about saving the world and whatnot?
* Who is supposed to be impressed by the name "Green Lantern"?  It isn't intimidating, like Superman or the Hulk.  It isn't descriptive, like Spider-Man or the Human Torch.  As noted, it's a name that requires a lot of explanation, which immediately makes it a non-starter in terms of striking fear into the hearts of criminals.  It doesn't even pass the bouncer nickname test.  Say you're in charge of hiring a bouncer for your nightclub and you're told that your final two candidates have nicknames.  One guy is known as 'the Punisher.'  Yikes, that sounds like a guy who can take care of business, no question.  The other guy is known as…you guessed it, 'Green Lantern.'  What, does he shine a bright light into people's eyes to try and calm them down? 

* If you're going to name yourself after your gear, why this piece of gear?  As noted earlier by some random person, "Ringman" or "Green Ring" are more sensible names for a Green Lantern.  Sure, you're again calling attention to the ring as the main source of your power, but in that case it's hard to avoid --- Green Lanterns in the comics are always pointing their rings at the bad guys to blast them with energy or what have you, though given the ring's wide scope, actually pointing your hand in the right direction seems redundant.

Naming yourself after your signature weapon is fine, in and of itself.  "Green Arrow" is a perfectly decent name for an archery-centric superhero.  "Doctor Octopus" has six mechanical arms, that checks out.  Hell, I'd argue that Aquaman would be perceived as much less of a joke to the general public if his name was actually "Trident."  But you're getting just a bit too obscure with "Green Lantern" especially when the actual lantern-shaped battery itself is rarely actually called a 'lantern.'  I haven't read a ton of GL comics over the years but of the ones I have read, the power battery is just called….the power battery.  Though it's a little abstract itself, I'd even consider that a better superhero name --- I'd be scared of a bouncer known as 'Power Battery,' wouldn't you?

If a new superhero called the Lightbulb or Captain Florescent was introduced today, we'd laugh it out of the building.  Green Lantern is just as dumb a name, but it's been grandfathered in by 70 years of history.  Green Ring forever, man. 

** = This was going to be a footnote but it ran so long that I just stuck the whole thing at the bottom of the post as a dessert course, if you will.  I've always been intrigued by the idea that comic book fans have a much wider knowledge of a character's powers than the characters themselves.  How would you properly 'scout' a friend or foe in this world?  Everyone would know that, say, Superman is hella-strong and can fly, but are lesser-known powers like the super-breath a known quantity?  Like, you're a minor hero teamed up with Supes at some point and he just busts out a freezing-cold gust of wind to stop an oncoming tidal wave or something.  You'd be like, "holy crap, where did THAT come from?"  Fans can feel this way too, as I think everyone was pretty surprised during the old Christopher Reeve movies when Superman could suddenly a) erase Lois' memories with a kiss, b) throw a giant saran-wrap S from his chest emblem and c) somehow turn back time by flying around the earth so fast that it "reverses the rotation," which even in comic-book science is an affront to the physics.

Anyway, it would seem to be a superhero's benefit if they didn't make all their powers so publicly known, in order to give them an edge in battles.  Green Lantern's odd name may actually help in this sense, provided that he never explains its origin.  Interestingly, in modern comics, the hero with the best sense of keeping secrets about himself is Batman.  I would presume that relatively few DC Universe characters actually know Batman doesn't have any powers, since he's so good about keeping up the mystique.  One of my favourite character details of the old Grant Morrison Justice League comics was that the younger heroes (Green Lantern Kyle Rayner and the Wally West Flash) were kind of intimidated by Batman, despite his being their teammate and the fact that either of them could decimate Bruce in a second if it came right down to it.  This is just more reason why Batman is the coolest.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Jam Session

Two things I always do when making a peanut butter-and-jam sandwich...

* sing the "de-de-DE-de-de, JAM" hook from the old NBA Jam commercials
* say "ooooh, jambon!" in a cartoony voice, even though I know full well that 'jambon' means 'ham'

Two things I don't do, oddly, are break into a rendition of Bob Marley's "Jammin'" or any songs by Pearl Jam.  In theory, "Yellow Ledbetter" would fit since it sounds kind of like peanut butter, and the butter (or margarine) I'm using on the spread is yellow.

This has been today's glimpse into my odd life!

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Oscar Effects

A cool compilation of every film that has ever won a special effects/visual effects Oscar.  Quite the evolution (sometimes a very quick evolution) of how technology has developed over time, though it is funny how "2001: A Space Odyssey" is just a giant quantum leap ahead of everything beforehand, and is then immediately followed by the very schlocky-looking space adventure "Marooned."  (Though in fairness, it seems like nothing really catches up to 2001 until at least the 90's.  Fun fact: that visual effects award was the only Oscar Stanley Kubrick ever won.)   

Sunday, February 04, 2018

The Superb Owl

I mean....there's just no way Philadelphia is winning this game, right?  Am I missing something?  A team led by Nick Foles is supposed to overtake the mighty Patriots?  Foles isn't even that bad a quarterback but let's be real, people.  My mom isn't even wearing her notoriously unlucky Tom Brady jersey today, which extinguishes any hope an Eagles fan might have.

That being said, here are five reasons a Philly fan might have hope:

1. I almost turned that earlier sentence into a joke of "Foles isn't even that bad a quarterback but let's be real, people, he's no Eli Manni....hey wait..."  Maybe the Patriots' Super Bowl kryptonite is facing a mediocre quarterback, whereas they've beaten all of the good ones they've faced --- Kurt Warner, Donovan McNabb, Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan, pre-Crisis Jake Delhomme.  Ok, the presence of Delhomme diminishes my argument a bit, but still.

2. Carson Wentz blowing out his knee and forcing Foles into the starting job isn't quite the same as the Drew Bledsoe/Tom Brady scenario, but it's close enough to merit a raised eyebrow.  It would be kind of poetic if the Patriots were topped by another team pressing its backup QB into action.  Just imagine the offseason discussion in Philly if the Eagles did somehow win this game, and then had to decide between selling high on Foles or (gulp) even Wentz in a trade.

3. Basically the only chance the Eagles have is if Brady gets injured during the game, which leads to two more ironic karma points.  Firstly, Brady getting hurt at a crucial juncture in the same season that he's gone whole hog on his TB12 magical rejuvenation health kick. 

4. Secondly, Brady going down and the Patriots being forced to deploy Brian Hoyer just a few months after they bit the bullet and finally traded Jimmy Garoppolo. 

5. The NFC was a much better conference than the AFC this season, dominating in head-to-head play and just basic eye-test common sense.  The Steelers and Jaguars were the next-best AFC teams behind New England, and both of those teams were majorly flawed.  If I'm ranking the ten best teams in the NFL this year, the Pats are the only AFC team in my top five, with the Wentz-led Eagles, Vikings, Saints, and probably the Panthers as fifth.  I'd be very open to listening to arguments for the Rams over Pittsburgh or Jacksonville.  Hell, you could talk me into the Garoppolo-led 49ers.

So keep these five points in mind as the Patriots are wrapping up their inevitable 27-20 victory later today.  Whatever happens, this still won't be the wildest scenario in Eagles Super Bowl history since, remember, they were the Dolphins' opponent in "Ace Ventura."  If Tom Brady were kidnapped during the week but made a stunning return at halftime, it would be funny if Belichick kept him on the bench. "Well Tom, you did break team rules by missing practice..."

Friday, February 02, 2018


I'm kicking myself for a) not posting this every February 2nd, and b) not scheduling this post for 6am.