Meanwhile, in the Grammar Crisis room....

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Why I shouldn't watch TV, exhibit 342

Has anyone else seen ads for the movie "The Astronaut Farmer"? Doesn't the title alone piss you off beyond all comprehension?
I mean, if naming films is an art, whoever named this one is the guy who paints those precious scenes for local motels. I mean, could you be less imaginative in naming a movie? Hell, even old B-movies had more class than this - back in the day, if they had a movie about giant ants, they didn't call it "Giant Ants," they called it "Them!"
And don't you wish we lived in a world where, if someone went into a film producer's office and pitched a movie called "The Astronaut Farmer," he'd get his ass kicked?
Remember a while back, when I said "The Good Shepard" was quite possibly the worst film title ever? Well, looks like we have a new winner. Have fun in space, Billy Bob!
By the way, I'm just going to go ahead and give the "Halle Berry's career memorial award" (awarded each year to the actor or actress who goes from winning/being nominated for an Oscar to doing complete crap) to Virginia Madsen. Congratulations, Virginia! You went from the critically-popular-yet-highly-overrated "Sideways" to utter drek like "Firewall" and "The Astronaut Farmer." Old Halle "Catwoman" Berry couldn't have done better herself.
(pic courtesy of

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Archival material re: Valentine's Day

Last year, I posted a spoof of "A Modest Proposal" regarding Valentine's Day. Seeing as I'm still single (and still bitter about it), I've decided to re-post it.

It is a melancholy object to those who wander drunkenly through the streets of our fair country on February 14th, to see the ravaging effects that Valentine's Day inflicts on the general populace. It enrichens greeting card companies and the candy-industry barons, while depleting the vital beer-money stores of people across the nation.
This problem is only likely to get worse: increasing expectations yield ever-higher standards for giving, an unsustainable arms race of Valentining. This problem is especially hard-felt in the poorer segments of the population, those who can least afford it.
I shall now humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection.
We may find the salvation of this holiday from another saint: Saint Patrick. His holiday engenders naught but the highest praise; it is a beacon to which all lesser holidays flock.
I therefore propose we eliminate Valentine's Day, and replace it with Saint Patrick's Day, thus splitting Saint Patrick's day in twain (like Kill Bill, but without Uma Thurman killing everyone).
I believe the advantages by the proposal which I have made are obvious and many, as well as of the highest importance.
First, I believe this would restore the beer money of the nation to its rightful purpose: the procurement of alcohol.
Secondly, this would not take away from the primary benefit of Valentine's Day: the expression of love (or lust, at least). On the contrary, it is often that alcohol prompts the highest proclamations of love (including the "I love you guys" pledge, the screaming of one's name from outside of their apartment, and other such acts of devotion).
Thirdly, the act of gift-giving would be improved tenfold: alcoholic beverages are the best gift of all.
I profess, in the sincerity of my heart, that I have not the least personal interest in endeavoring to promote this necessary work, having no other motive than the public good of my country. I have no brewery by which to hope to profit from this proposal, and my own beer stores are pitifully low.
The End
(PS: It's a wonder I'm still single.)
(PPS: Uma Thurman killing people would make a terrific holiday.)

Jesus, it's been a long time

Seeing as I haven't updated in about four months, I figured it might be time to do so again.
For some reason, I can't stop watching Scrubs. I never really got into the show over the years, because it was either on at the same time as something else, or the fact that I avoid NBC whenever possible.
However, since the series has been syndicated, it's been on like 12 times a day. Seriously, I set my DVR to record episodes and, were it not for some judicious deleting by yours truly, I'd have filled that thing like five times over.
Thing is, it's probably the most manic-depressive sitcom ever made - it's like the creators of the show want you to wish for suicide between the laughs. Every episode, they have at least one montage designed to make you say "man, that sucks." Were it not for John C. McGinley's insane rants (really quite impressive, they are), the whole production would be more depressing than a clown's funeral.
(By the way, the actress who plays Elliot Reed deserves a place in the "All-time really damn cute sitcom girl hall of fame." That's my opinion, at least.)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

From the archives: Nutrition conference snarkiness

(Introduction: When I was a college student, I went to cover a health conference for a journalism class. The conference was (to me, at least) utterly ridiculous. I wrote the original story you saw here, looked at it, realized my professor would fail me if I handed it in, and wrote a wussy version instead. As I'm short of blog material, here it is for your amusement!)

It is a conference room like any other, devoid of significant distinguishing features. The chairs at the circular tables that populate the room are arranged so that they face the front of the room. The stage is appointed with chairs for an expert panel, a podium and a large projection screen.
It is in this room that the Third Annual Nutrition and Health Public Forum is being held.
The panel, hosted by the Program of Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona and Columbia University’s Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Program for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, is aimed to solve the question, once and for all, what good food is. The panel was composed of Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Marion Nestle, organic chef Dan Baber and Dr. Joan Gussow.
First to speak was Nestle, who, it must be noted, has a hilariously inappropriate name for a nutrition specialist. Dr. Nestle is the Paulette Goddard Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, and, predictably, took an ill view of processed foods.
“When you choose foods, you’re voting with your fork,” said Nestle. Senior citizens in Florida appear to have problems with that voting mechanism, too. “We live in an environment that is conducive to eating unhealthily.”
She recommends eating less, moving more, eating more fruits and vegetables and not eating too much junk food. All of which places her at about the level of the moms of America when it comes to nutritional expertise. She also states that one should never buy food from the center aisles of a supermarket, nor should one buy a product with more than five ingredients, with unpronounceable ingredients, or comes in a box. Coincidentally, her book, “What to Eat,” happened to be coming out that week.
Next up was Dan Barber, who is an executive chef at Blue Hill and serves on Harvard Medical School’s Center for Health and the Global Environment. Barber does not have much to say, really, besides providing an anecdote about almond carrots.
“The ultimate nutrition secret is that there is no secret,” said Barber. He failed to mention why, if there are no secrets, the audience needed three professors and a chef to tell it what’s healthy. He did say that, when it comes to organic eating, “elitism is a big issue.” When asked about the price of organic foods, he made note of the price of cable, which is now in most American households, and said “it’s a matter of priorities.” You should, presumably, make it your priority to eat food that tastes like dirt, was grown by hippies and costs four dollars more than the less rotten version on your supermarket shelves.
Dr. Joan Gussow of Columbia University spoke next. She believes that getting food from distant locations is one of the primary drivers of global warming, because shipping companies use a great deal of fossil fuels. This proves, once and for all, there is no subject on earth that cannot be more obnoxious by mentioning "global warming."
“What we eat has more effect on climate change than any other factor,” she said. “Only radical solutions can save us.”
So what is Gussow’s solution? Food supplies should be localized. She’s a strong proponent of growing one’s own food. This is good, as most Americans have been pining for the return of agrarianism. After all, who doesn’t miss the days of backbreaking labor and low life expectancy?
The final speaker is Dr.Andrew Weil, director of the program of Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine. Weil spoke about the relatively new field of nutritional medicine. The field, he says, has two main thrusts: optimal eating, and dietary change to prevent disease. He claims that, because of the relative health of New Yorkers, residents of the city have a “warped view” of nutrition, and that the rest of the country is in poorer shape.
Weil also had some harsh words for the fast food companies.
“When American fast food goes to foreign cultures, it becomes instantly popular, despite the presence of good food,” Weil said. “There is an analogy with the tobacco companies.”
(The analogy? "Tobacco is to hideously overblown health nut cause as fast food is to, well, hideously overblown health nut cause.)
While it is impossible to say if the conference made any effect on society in general, it made a profound effect on me. I immediately went to the nearest McDonalds franchise, and ordered the biggest damn burger I could find.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Apparently, MSN is a lot more interesting over there

So, I was browsing through my Statcounter stats (because I honestly have nothing better to do), and I saw that a full 9 people have reached my blog while searching Google for "msn bitches" (they got sent here, in case you're curious). I was, as you see, using the word "bitches" as a synonym for "complains," but apparently, people were searching for MSN-themed pornography. Who, exactly, finds MSN hot enough to fantasize about is beyond me, but I've been getting them left and right.
It gets weirder: all of the people who searched for this are from Europe.
This leaves only three possibilities:
  1. Microsoft is synonymous with "sexy" in Europe.
  2. MSN means something completely, completely different over there.
  3. My European fanbase is bigger than I care to admit.
Some people may accuse me of using the phrase "msn bitches" again simply to draw more hits, but veteran bloggers know there is only one thing you can mention to draw in hits like no other:
P.S.: Campusfood, Campusfood, Campusfood, Campusfood, Campusfood, Campusfood, Campusfood, Campusfood.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Episode LXXVI: Mike buys Final Fantasy XII

Let me preface this by saying I dislike the Final Fantasy series. In fact, for a time, I damn near despised it. The turn-based battles always seemed like the height of absurdity to me, the plots were melodramatic and slow-moving and the lead was always some androgynous male (look at Tidus from Final Fantasy X and tell me that's not the chick from Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place). FFX was, to me, the ultimate low point - I hated the protagonist, I hated the love interest (worst. voice-overs. ever) and *spoiler* it turned out the guy you were playing was the dream of a dead civilization (good lord, is that god damned stupid).
That said, I kinda like XII. The story makes sense (so far - I am waiting for that moment when it turns out everything's caused by space cows or something). The combat has changed, ending those "dear-god-kill-me-with-a-spork" random battles. Sure, the main character looks like a woman, but he seems to be less of an asshat than the previous protagonists (say "previous protagonists" three times'll sound like an idiot).
That said, I'm still pretty sure I'll get to that point where I get pissed off at it. Games where you level up always start to seem like work. I know I'll get to that one boss I can't beat unless I pick a fight with 700 more spider/rat/wolf things, and I'll quit. Doing that just totally kills any narrative drive.
P.S. Is it asking too much of a Final Fantasy protagonist to wear a complete goddamn shirt for once?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Long-awaited sequel to "Oh God, it's another video game post!"

More than a week ago, I promised to finish a feature comparing sports fandoms to videogame fandoms (yes, possibly the nerdiest premise ever). This took me so damn long because I couldn't think of a fanbase to compare Nintendo fans to.
I'm just going to go with my first instinct here and say Nintendo fans are Cubs fans. Both are past-obsessed (NES; Wrigley Field). Both always seem poised for success before the season (console generation), but find some way to muck it up (though Nintendo's been bucking that trend recently). But despite their losses, both are totally ingrained in the hearts of their fans. These fans are obsessive, as opposed to some Yankee fans (keeping with the metaphor, Playstation fans) who merely like the team because of its recent prominence.
Now, as to why those people who buy all consoles are pantywaists: imagine console gaming as betting. The goal is to find the contestant with the best chance of winning (providing fun games). A person who successfully chooses a winner receives the most for the least cost, and enjoys the added bonus of feeling prescient. People who bet on all sides also receive the maximum benefit, but expend the most. They have announced their failure to pick the winner and, indeed, a failure to even attempt to do so.
In short, people who buy all the consoles deserve to be treated with the same disdain as those who bet on both sides of a prizefight.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A few random thoughts that occurred to me while watching "The Departed"

  • Man, that "300" movie looks good. Finally, a movie that combines Spartans, yelling, insane CGI and Frank Miller in one shiny package.
  • I'm watching an ad for an "American Pie" spinoff in a theater crammed with old folks. Imagine watching "American Pie" with your grandparents. Now, multiply that by about 100, and that's what I was going through. By the way, who decided "American Pie" was worthy of two sequels, and (thus far) two spinoffs? I mean, the original was ok, not classic. The series has been on a downhill slope since then. Why make more?
  • "The Good Shepard" - has like 200 Oscar winners in it, and the worst title in recorded history. Did you guess that the movie's about the founding of the CIA? Yeah, me neither. They could have called it "Pancake Assassins," and it would have made as much sense.
Movie itself:
  • Holy crap, Jack Nicholson totally redeemed himself (Note - I had originally written "found his balls again after the travesty that was 'Something's Gotta Give,' but removed it for fear Nicholson would kick my ass. That's how good he is in this movie).
  • Ha! I've totally been there! (Thought this about 20 times during movie. Seriously, seems like movie is one big Boston in-joke)
  • Martin Scorcese keeps trying to sell me on the idea that Leonardo DiCaprio can play an Irishman/Irish descendant. Still not convinced.
  • Jesus, Damon's laying that "Bahston" accent on thick. I know that's the character, but it was noticeably irritating; his accent seemed overly exaggerated throughout. He's not the only culprit, but the most egregious.
  • Wahlburg's awesome in this movie. I think this is the first role of his I liked.
  • Movie is seriously funny (like that's not an oxymoron). This movie is funnier than at least 10 recent comedies I can name off the top of my head (hint: "Little Man" is tops on that list).
In conclusion, go see the damn movie.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Oh God, it's another video game post!

A few days ago, Gamepro called the next-gen console race in favor of the Playstation 3. Nowadays, though, seeking Gamepro's advice about videogames is a bit like asking Kevin Federline about the electoral college - you're not likely to receive a comprehensible answer.
Why bring it up, you ask? Because it serves as a flimsy pretext to rant about the new consoles. Tonight, I'll be answering that most ineffable of questions: why are PS3 fans so damn annoying?
You may have seen these folks on the internet, typing out grammatical-error-laced tomes about how the Blu-Ray drive is the greatest thing since sliced bread, how Sony invented videogames and how $600 is not a lot of money. You may ask yourself: how can these people be so damn irritating?
I'll tell you why. It's because Playstation advocates are Yankee fans.
Not literally, of course, but metaphorically.
Think about it: a fanbase that obnoxiously starts listing recent successes whenever criticized (Playstation fans list their two successive dominant systems as proof of infallibility; Yankees fans list their World Series wins). The fans are both advocating very expensive products (Playstation 3: $600; Is there still a number as high as the Yankee payroll?). Both believe past successes have made them utterly incapable of losing. And both are led by a executive who might be insane (PS3: Riiiiiidge Raaacer!; Yankees: Steinbrenner).
Xbox fans seem like Red Sox fans: we bitch about the Yankees payroll, but we fail to notice how ours is second-highest. Indeed, this team (console) has a very "second place" feel to it. The team is good, and the console has good games, but it needs a lot of luck (and something cancelling out the PS3) to win it all.
Tomorrow: the thrilling conclusion, and why those who fail to choose a side are pantywaists.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

I'm back, baby!

And you thought disappearing for two months and moving to another state would deter your least-favorite blogger.
Got a new job (at a small Vermont paper), new digs and the same old mental defects.
Today, I'm going to hate on Madden '07 for the Xbox 360. I know I had previously criticized some for complaining about having both a Xbox 360 and Madden to play on it, and I can only say mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
Everything about the game just feels so cumbersome, though it's hard to explain why - cumbersome is the word that pops into my head whenever I play through it. Navigating through the menus feels like using a jackhammer to do open-heart surgery.
The tragedy about Madden is that it's not necessarily a bad game. You can still have a hell of a lot of fun playing through the game. It's just that Madden has hit it's "superstar" period, where it realizes that it can phone in performances for the rest of it's life and people will buy it up like candy. Just like George Lucas.
The game has become like eating Lucky Charms just for the marshmallows, especially if you dislike the regular pieces. You know you like the marshmallows, but the regular pieces temper your enjoyment. Every bite of marshmallow is mixed with something distasteful.
And can I call for the end of the challenge system in Madden? Quite frankly, I always thought it was a bad idea. Since the computer creates the universe in which the game is played, it has an intimate knowledge of it: it knows when a player is in-bounds, out-of-bounds, is down or has fumbled. In order for the challenge system to work, the programmers had to have the computer make calls it knows is wrong in order for the player to have any successful challenges.
Think about that for a minute.
In other words, the Madden system wasn't created to change wrong calls, wrong calls were added to make the system work.
If that isn't the definition of idiocy, I don't know what is. And it serves as a perfect example of the dysfunction that infests Madden today.

Friday, August 25, 2006

A strange interlude with a phantom

I had a strange experience while driving the other day - while going home, I passed a "Phantom Gourmet" truck.
For those of you not from the Boston area, the Phantom Gourmet is a restaurant critic. The brand has expanded to include radio bits and a TV show. However, the "Phantom" in the fellow's name implies he wishes to keep his identity secret. In fact, here's an excerpt from the Phantom Gourmet website:
The Phantom Gourmet is an anonymous restaurant critic who dines in disguise, never revealing his identity and always paying his own bills. That way, he serves up the most honest and trustworthy restaurant reviews possible. Other recognizable critics frequently get special food and service. Phantom forgoes these perks so that his restaurant experience will be similar to yours.

We are to assume, I guess, that driving around in a truck marked "The Phantom Gourmet" doesn't affect his anonymity. I wonder if he doesn't also wear a sandwich board poster saying "Yes, I am a restaurant critic."
Apparently, this Phantom's conditions on anonymity are nowhere near as good as those of the ghost-who-walks.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

MSN bitches about commercials, too

Apparently, I'm not the only one who complains vociferously about commercials: MSN has a piece up about the best and worst commercials of 2006.
Never mind the fact that we're in the middle of August (August, last I checked, was the 8th month, not the 12th), the writer names the "Headon" commercial as the worst of the year.
Really? Headon? Remember, this year saw the release of "Little Man." The ads for "Little Man" would ruin the appetite of a starving man.
Also borne from this year was the Taco Bell clown. That ad destroyed any chance of my ever eating at a Taco Bell again. In fact, I intend to purchase a franchise for the sole purpose of shutting it down. Stuff that in your pipe and smoke it, you goddamned clown! (That is, if the clown owned a pipe, and if my rage could somehow manifest itself into a rank chunk of tobacco.)
Sure, the Headon commercial may annoy with repetition ("Headon! Apply directly to the forehead!"). It may even rankle some with its poor production values.
But is it a genuine sign of the apocalypse, like the face of a Wayans brother appearing on the body of a child? I think not.
MSN, consider yourself schooled.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Would a just and merciful God allow sequels to Jim Carrey movies?

Well, they finally went and did it - a second sequel to Ace Ventura: Pet Detective may be on the way. And without Jim Carrey. Apparently, Hollywood never learns. What makes this movie even more likely to suck is the fact that Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls was absolutely horrible. Everything that made the first movie funny had been removed (well, except for Carrey), and the entire experience is painful.
Apparently, I'm not the only one who though Snakes on a Plane was worth a blog posting: both Taylor Long and Brian Drew have recountings of SoaP screenings. However, mine is the only one that mentions bees, so I win!

Bees? Plane? Samuel L. Jackson?

As we all know, Snakes on a Plane is now in theaters. However, the Wall Street Journal recently had an article about bees swarming planes and causing problems in the Southwest. Apparently, this real phenomenon occurs with the Africanized bee, commonly known as the "Killer Bee."
Does anyone else smell sequel?
A swarm of bees would be more than enough to draw the ire of Samuel L. Jackson, causing him to become goddamn sick of these mother-f'in bees! Bees are also naturally creepy, just like snakes!
Additionally, the movie would be able to use the based on true events tag, previously reserved only for movies about people from the wrong side of the tracks rapping their way to the top, or dedicated high school teachers who teach tough inner-city youths to learn, while simultaneously learning to be more "street."
Hollywoodland, call me!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Dead Rising - About a week later

Bought the new 360 Game Dead Rising last week, but decided to let it age a bit before I posted about it.
What's good:
  • Zombies. And plenty of 'em. There are simply a ridiculous amount of zombies in the mall (what the hell is it, Christmastime or something?). This is really the first game that gives you anything close to the scope a full-scale undead outbreak would entail.
  • Weapons for eviscerating zombies. You are given an almost unlimited arsenal, and it's up to you to decide how you want to get rid of the zombie infestation.
  • Cool graphics. Frank and pals look real and, though the individual zombies are unremarkable, the mere number surely makes up for that.
What's bad:
  • Save system. Oh dear god, the save system. Hoofing it to a save point every time you want to save is a disastrous misstep on the part of the designers. I won't say too much about this one, as it's been done to death on the Internets.
  • Small text on SD TVs. Once again, has been a repeated complaint across Internet.
  • Sheer size of mall. Yes, the mall has to be huge to prevent the game from lapsing into repetitiveness, but given that most of the missions involve escorting civilians out of harm's way, this is a severe drawback. Also makes the save system even more intolerable.
What's odd:
  • Lack of quality control in Frank's world. Seriously, a lead pipe shouldn't give in so easily. Is there a complaints department in the mall?
  • Why does Frank use a wooden bat? Certainly, his traditionalism is welcome in a world obsessed with efficiency, but you have to think an aluminum bat would increase his chances for survival.
  • Weird nudity. It turns out one of Frank's shirts has a pic of a topless gal on the front. What's odder is I picked this shirt, and yet never noticed the pic until someone on the Internet posted it out, especially given that I can point out toplessness from three states away.