Monday, August 30, 2010

Superpower: Superdickery

Today, I am posting my first link to another site: And it's for a good reason. This is revealing something that the Pro-Superman comic book community has been trying to hide under the carpet for years and years.

Superman is kind of a dick.

Most people know that Batman is kind of a dick. He even had a sidekick named Dick Grayson. Coincidence? I think not. Batman is a paranoid, humorless, vengeful guardian of Gotham City who trusts no one. And since his paranoia usually serves him to be right, we all love him for it.

Superman, on the other hand, represents America: strong, patriotic, invincible, and well-intended--fighting for the morally just.. at the expense of always planning ahead effectively. While he may get beaten from time to time by a bald guy with no powers (just because he is able to think and plan), to criticize Superman kind of feels like criticizing America.

But then you have incidents like this:
What the hell is that all about? Jimmy is giving Superman a present and (for some reason) Superman has decided to use his heat vision to show his contempt for the gift. Don't they have manners of Krypton? Just ask if he has a gift receipt if you don't like it!

There are more examples of this kind of general fiendishness:

As you can see, this isn't just an isolated incident! highlights an entire portfolio of Superman picking on people. It also has a section on monkeys in comics. You can't spell "capes" without "apes"!

As Superdickery kindly points out, you don't really need to stick up a library at gunpoint. They pretty much let you take the books for free.

Superman's unbridled behavior is clearly a sympton of a larger problem: those with superpowers get drunk with power and begin acting superior, picking on those without.

Could this be a problem for the real superpower, America?

Monday Moustache

The third post in a recurring segment on moustaches.

Today's moustache:

Chester A. Arthur

Abraham Lincoln was the first President to rock the beard... with no moustache! But he openned the facial hair door to men like Ulysseus S. Grant. But it was Chestur A. Arthur who pioneered the beardless Presidential Moustache-- and he did it with style!

He kept light mutton chops, probably at the request of his wife. Because what wife wouldn't want to not only be married to the President, but have a husband with mutton chops?

We may never know why he kept them; he was famous for saying "I may be President of the United States, but my private life is nobody's damned business."

...Bill Clinton should have remembered that precedent. And grown mutton chops too.

Additional Note: Chester A. Arthur was accused of being born in both Ireland and Canada during his electioral seasons. Ironically, he was in fact a Kenyan Muslim who conspired with newspapers to alledge a Hawaiian birth!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Real-Life Zombies

We have all seen the classic moment in a zombie horror film: the first infected person falls dead. The corpse is taken to the hospital and declared… dead. The body is taken to the refrigerated morgue area and covered by some plastic sheet while the mortician is distracted by, oh, say... a sexy intern at the morgue. Or, more probably, a phone call from a much-less-sexy detective.

Morticians are most often the creepy, awkward guy in the movie; the one obvious  exception is Linda Fiorentino in Men in Black—a film with no zombies….

...unless you count that bug-in-a-man-costume guy as a semi-zombie. Technically he was an alien, but he certainly had some characteristic zombie traits. But I digress.

The creepy mortician is still looking away. The covered figure rises—and… ATTACKS!

This is a classic moment in film, oft repeated in several different genres for a spooky, death-defying scene.

What scared me to learn is that this scene actually has a basis in truth!

There is a medical phenomenon known as the Lazarus Syndrome: the spontaneous return of circulation after failed attempts at resuscitation. According to the mighty Internet, it has occurred 25 times in medical literature since 1982.

Note to uber-Nerds: this is not to be confused with the Lazarus Pits that Ra's al Ghul uses to extend his longevity and fight Batman.

A 61-year-old woman from Delaware was once declared dead with no pulse before being discovered in the morgue alive and breathing. This is by far the most interesting event to ever occur in Delaware.

There are other incidents of this happening in Colombia, Belgium, Missouri, and the UK: people with no pulse rising up and (in some cases) suffering no side effects.

I think the implications of this are clear: zombies are real! Some of them may very well be walking amongst us now.

I know some of you might be skeptics. You might say "come now, just because people are strangely resuscitated doesn't make them members of the undead!" 

Let's see what the nay-sayers say when they don't survive the Zombie Apocalypse.
Come to think of it... you'll probably say something like "braiiiiiinnnnnns", because you'll be a zombie. So the joke is on me.

Some alternative theories on the ability to rise from the dead:

1. Secret Android Robots living amongst us
2. Human Puppets

3. Biblical stuff
4. Increasing popularity of Romeo & Juliet death-like-coma potions

Lastly, let me use this time to mention this: in Baltimore, Maryland, a cult member agreed to cooperate in a prosecution under the condition that charges against her would be dropped if her son (who died due to her negligence) rises from the dead. There is even a stipulation that he would have to come back as himself. Not as a potted plant or in a corn chip.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Cold Shoulder

Q: What do the Cold War and Breakups have in common?
A: Absolutely Everything.

Anyone who’s recently seen the cinematic travesty Salt knows that all kinds of breakups are hard—Angelina Jolie and her sleeper-agent buddies left the USSR years ago and still have strong feelings for Mother Russia.

This got me thinking—the Cold War era is long over, but the lessons that it taught us about “saying sayonara” are as relevant today as ever.

Breakups and the Cold War have EVERYTHING in common. They have different strategies. There are plenty of opportunities for passive (or active) aggression. Cubans gets involved and complicate things. I know you two are NOT JUST friends, Russia!

Most people know that the U.S. and Russia used to be in bed with each other during World War II. Then they had a messy breakup that is typically known as the Cold War due to the legions of Abominable Snowmen that Russia stationed on the ice-planet Hoth.

After several decades, Russia ran out of alimony and made up with the United States when it needed to borrow some cash for rent—they are now just good friends, although Russia acts awkward whenever the other members of NATO are around. They forgive, but they don’t forget.

As Teddy Roosevelt famously said, “The lessons of history help us re-write history until we win it. Look at Fox News!”

Here are some of the breakup techniques that were used throughout the separation:

The Iron Curtain: No returning calls. No returning emails. Be a brick wall to any confrontations that may occur.

Pro: Impenetrable defense!
Con: The kids get caught in the middle. (Kids: noun. Children. See also: Germany & Berlin)

Scorched Earth: Pictures get burned. Digital Photos get deleted. Teddy bears get drawn, quartered, and fed to Fluffy the Rottweiler.

Pro: It’s a great excuse to make fire. Burn baby Burn!
Con: There is probably money in the Valentines Day card that makes it into the pyre.

Arms Race: Going to the gym for 3 hours a day in post-breakup workout frenzy.

Pro: Check out these guns! I can kick your new hubby’s ass!
Con: Whoops. No I can’t.

The Nuclear Fallout: And you thought Scorched Earth was bad? This is also known as “mutually assured destruction”.

Pro: No one is going to make it through this breakup happy, dammit!
Con: Radioactive mutants.

Glasnost and Perestroika: This translates to “openness” and “restructuring”. Usually includes civilized conversations, honesty, and make-up sex.

Pro: Mr. Gorbachev, tear down those emotional walls and let me in!
Con: Makes for a decade of weak plots in action films.

Monday Moustache

The second post in a recurring segment on moustaches.

Today's moustache:

John Waters

John Waters brings something very new to the world of facial hair. His 'stache is thin and sleek-- just like a puma. And it is just as deadly.

For those of you who don't know, John Waters was the creater of Hairspray. He also wrote/created several other crazy and sexual movies and voiced Homer's gay friend in an episode of the Simpsons.

As you can see, his moustache loses none of its potency when animated.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Battlefield Mirth

In 1953, L. Ron Hubbard incorporated three churches into what soon became the Church of Scientology. 39 years later, the Church of Scientology received tax exempt status from the IRS, a major milestone for recognition as a legitimate religion.
Because if anyone knows about spirituality—it’s the IRS… they specialize in damnation.

Plenty of people can stand on their soap box and complain about Scientology:
  • Sure, L. Ron Hubbard was a failed science fiction writer.
  • Sure, he was quoted several times to say “The way to make a million dollars is to start a religion."
  • Sure, Hubbard included his “Space Opera” involving the genocide of aliens on Earth in the religion's belief system.You have to pay your way to gaining access to that information. Thankfully, the Internet is full of disenchanted leakers.

But at the end of the day, as questionable as any of that is, (and it gets more interesting—more to follow) if it makes people happy… eh, what the hell? More New Zealanders declared themselves to be Jedi than Buddhists or Hindis in a 2001 census. What’s the difference?

Still, to most people, Scientology is a cloaked spaceship of mysteries. So what information is really out there?

Here’s a (true) summary of Scientology and its beliefs

1. In 1950, L. Ron Hubbard began his self-help system, not actually intended to be a religion. Dianetics was developed as a non-scientifically-tested consoling technique. His ideas were first submitted to the Astounding Science Fiction magazine. Key word for potential believers: “Fiction, noun/adj. Def: Not factual.”

2. Hubbard wanted his consoling technique to be medically accepted by the Journal of the American Medical Association. It wasn’t.

3. When some Dianetics practitioners came to Hubbard believing they had experiences that occurred in past lives, he went with it. He developed the idea of a thetan. Like a soul, but it's an alien! 

4. In 1951 Hubbard introduced the “e-meter”--metal handle bars that read thetan levels... or small amounts of electricity that it runs through your body. Whichever.

5. In 1957, the U.S. IRS grants tax-exempt status, but begins reexamining the decision the next year. Imagine the Monday meeting the next week: you gave WHAT to WHAT???

6. In the mid-60s, faith and membership was not based on doctrine (which sometimes conflicted with itself… not that that happens in other texts…), but on following Hubbard himself. You have to wonder if there were any awkward moments if he ever made a joke. "Do we write that part down?"

7. In 1963, the FDA seized “e-meters” as equipment illegally being claimed as medical devices. “Science” is legally required for doctors. E-meters now carry a disclaimer that they are religious artifacts. Disclaimer: this yamaka not a medical device.

8. In 1967, the IRS removes Scientology’s tax-exempt status since it operated commercially to benefit Hubbard. 25 year litigation begins and ends in favor of the Church. Who do people root for: the IRS or Scientology?

9. In 1979, the FBI’s Operation Snow White leads to the arrest of eleven senior members of the church for a number of crimes relating to the effort to purge unfavorable records about Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard. It would have been funnier if they only arrested 7 people/"dwarfs". The FBI has a terrible sense of humor.

10. A break-off group called “Free Zone” starts as a separate faith. It’s founded by Hubbard Scientology Flagship Apollo Sea Org Captain “Bill” Robertson. I want that title.

11. In 1993, the cosmology of Scientology, usually kept exclusive to high-up members, is released to the court and makes its way to the Internet. This involves the description of Xenu:
  • Xenu was the dictator of the Galactic Confederacy

  • 75 million years ago, he brought billions of people to Earth on DC-8-like spacecraft and killed them near volcanoes with hydrogen bombs

  • The “souls” lived on as thetans, which were then captured, forced to wear 3-D glasses about “misleading data” (all other religions, e.g. Catholicism). And I thought Avatar was preachy.

  • Those souls attached to humans and are what make us sad.
Hubbard has been documented to be drinking a lot during the stage of his life where he wrote this, and also taking several stimulants and depressants at the same time.

Some people get extremely upset that there is an entire religion devoted to something that sounds like the kind of thing Jar Jar Binks would follow. Some people follow the doctrine zealously and use it to try to improve their life.
But both groups are ENTIRELY missing the point! Think of the new freedoms that this opens up!
With the right resources, following, and lawyers, we can have any of these types of tax-exempt churches:
  • Devotion to the worship of Google.
  • All hymns are Vanilla Ice songs
  • The spiritual drink is from Jamba Juice
  • Following the Will of Samuel L. Jackson
  • Brett Favre's permanent retirement will bring about the Apocalypse
  • Survival of watching one full season of The Vampire Diaries is a Rite of Passage

Monday, August 16, 2010

Monday Moustache

Today marks the first post in a recurring segment on moustaches.

Moustaches are known as a "mustache" in American English, but the old-school spelling keeps the "o", which stands for "OMG check out that guy's mustache".

Today's moustache:

Yosimite Sam

Look at this guy. His whole body is one half moustache. His moustache has creeped all the way up his face and also combines into a unibrow in an unprecedented 'stache-takeover. No question, Yosimite gets the award for moustache of the week.

Eat, Pray, Love, KILL!

This weekend I witnessed baffling explorations into different aspects of the human psyche in cinema… and I’m not even talking about Inception again.

In ancient Greek mythology, a young man named Tiresias found two snakes getting it on, prodded them with a stick, and immediately transformed somehow into a woman

I am not making this up.

After ten years living as a woman (and even having kids), he nudges the banging snakes again and turns back into a man. Zeus then asks Tiresias which gender has more fun during sex.

Again, not making this up. Seriously!

Tiresias answers that women have it better, so Hera (Zeus’ wife) gets angry and blinds him. As a consolation, Zeus gives the sorry guy prophetic foresight.

I went through a similarly cathartic experience this weekend. First, I was invited—by a woman—to see the film The Expendables, which features every good action hero since 1975 sans Carl Weathers, who is philosophically obligated to never be in action films again after playing an aged golfer in Happy Gilmore.

Come to think of it, Steven Seagal and Jean-Claude Van Damme need to fire their agents. Or learn how to act a few decades into their careers.

Then, as a “double feature”, I viewed the new feminist journey Eat, Pray, Love starring Julia Roberts, a non-stoned James Franco, and the guy who kills people with a cattle bolt pistol in No Country For Old Men.

The Reviews:

The Expendables may qualify as a psychological bait-and-switch. Going into this movie, my inner monologue was screaming with excitement “Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, AND Bruce Willis can’t all have signed on for a bad movie!" I tried to ignore the thought that Stallone sometimes misses the “good idea” target. Ok, let’s face it, Rocky V was like aiming a missile at Iran and hitting Paraguay.

As the movie began, I slowly realized that I had been duped by my love of timeless classic flicks like Die Hard (Bruce Willis), Sin City (Mickey Rourke), and Spy Kids 3: Game Over (...Sylvester Stallone…) into seeing a bizarre smorgasbord of awkward dialogue, 2-dimensional characters, “fourth-wall” breaking jokes about Schwarzenegger wishing he was President, and Rocky Balboa’s probable need for a wheelchair ramp up to the Philadelphia Museum of Art the next time around.

The film never allows itself to amount to much more than 80’s action-movie nostalgia porn. All that being said, death came to the bad guys in all manner of explosion, incineration, shooting, stabbing, and neck-breaking, which is what the audience is there to see. The gladiators onscreen did not fail to deliver what they were ultimately there to do: kill Eric Roberts.

Pro: Lines of dialogue that allow “bullets” to make targets explode.

Con: The film is like an entire Chinese buffet that’s been put into a blender and served as a milkshake: the ingredients are delicious but the combination isn’t.

Speaking of Eric Roberts, his sister was the star of the other film, Eat, Pray, Love.

Eat, Pray, Love is a journey through a discontent female writers’ decision to go on an existential journey after her divorce by travelling to Italy, India, and Indonesia (she was on an “I” streak in more ways than one).

Of course, having just wrapped up The Expendables, my most immediate thought was exactly this: “Good lord. What’s the point of a film with no explosions?” Unfortunately, I am not a soulless, and true to form I eventually got sucked into the emotional journey the protagonist was experiencing, and even salvaged a vague taste of whatever the spiritual thoughts presumably are in the book. Italian food looks delicious, toothless old men from Bali are cute, and movie audiences have malleable emotions. There were tears, sighs, and even a few kids who quickly bolted out as soon as they realized that it wasn’t Scott Pilgrim Versus the World in this theater.

Pro: Javier Bardem has a better haircut

Con: James Franco doesn’t fight Spiderman

Final Thoughts
In the end, it’s hard to say which one of these two films was better. Ultimately I think that the hardcore action-movie aficionados are harder to please than the romantic comedy filmgoers. So Eat, Pray, Love probably has it a little easier than The Expendables to please its target audience.

Crap. Now I’m blind.

Monday, August 9, 2010

How to Infiltrate a Book Club

Lots of people want to be classy, articulate individuals with an abundance of wise and clever opinions. But that takes lots of time, work, and avoiding cable TV. And there are so many good reruns of That 70’s Show! that haven’t been seen a dozen times. So there must be some sort of speedway to skip to the land of refinement, right?

Absolutely! Joining a Book Club is an instant way to say “Hey! I must read. I’m in a club that says I do! Look at the books that I’ve not only claimed to have read, but have also discussed! We talk about things like themes, literary techniques, and whether or not the character was a Christ figure!”
HINT #1: When in doubt, just say s/he was. Presto! Conversation will abound. Jesus is Book Club gold.

Of course, joining a Book Club is itself an obstacle. Think of membership as the gate that keeps the riff-raff out of the magical land of politesse, where people drink tea, eat scones, and swap recipes with CEOs of Goldman Sachs.

I know what you are thinking. “Can joining a Book Club really help me rub elbows with the elite? Just ANY Book Club? What about some slovenly meeting in the basement of the YMCA?”

The answer, of course, is yes. Stop asking questions, you’re wasting valuable cable TV-watching time.

HINT #2: If still lacking something substantive to say, suggest that the character has closeted sexual feelings, and that is the driving influence to all of his/her action. It might have nothing to do with anything, but people will think you’re some sort of analytic Freudian and will spend the rest of the meeting discussing your revelation.

So how does one vault over the snobby barrier of Book Club exclusion? Follow these fool-proof steps to infiltrate the intellectual circle.

Step 1: Purchase & wear a fancy hat. The fanciness of one’s hat subconsciously sends the message to other readers that you protect your head with something that is just like your brain: select, privileged, and incapable of common work. See the chart below:

As you can see, if you wear a crown, members will assume that you are attempting to administer absolutism over the Book Club. The goal should be to follow your role model, Mr. Peanut: classy, relaxed, and quiet, but deadly to your enemies.

Step 2: Wear a tweed jacket. No explanation needed.

Step 3: Find a bookstore. This doesn’t require reading, just Google searching. By the way, Google & SparkNotes has all the literary analysis you will ever need. And it uses the eighth miracle of the world to deliver information: Bullet points.

Step 4: Walk around different sections of the book store, loudly criticizing the selection for everyone to hear.

“You call this a travel section? This is Zagat of Barcelona is from 2006! How will I know if I should summer* there?”
(*Summer: verb. To spend parents’ money on a yacht nearby)

“Where the Dickens is the…. Oh. Ah of course. Under D.”

“I see that Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue has sold out."

“The help could really use this book on eastern medicine, they've been looking miserable!”
(*Help: noun. Common folk who are not members of a Book Club. This may include your family, spouse, servants, friends, and business associates)

“Excuse me sir, I was wondering if there were any new publications on 17th century agrarian economics.”

Step 5: Find someone with a fancier hat than you. Clearly, that individual understands the value of wrapping their cranium with indulgent luxury.

Step 6: Ask that person if they prefer the “classical” interpretation of whatever selection they are exploring/reading. This will help you seem like an old-school scholar on any subject from architecture to rock and roll.

Step 7: Following a short answer, the person should quickly be willing to extend a preliminary guest invitation to his/her Book Club. If they are not members of a Book Club, tell them that you “misjudged the book by its cover” and then walk off knowing that although your time was wasted, you had a witty zinger.

Step 8: For your first preliminary meeting, be sure to read the books cover jacket beforehand and use the aforementioned hints. Also, instead of reading the book, cite the critic whose blurb was on the back, and ask if you noticed any comparisons to that author’s work. Remember to be vague, in case that author is used in the future.

Step 9:

If the group is unimpressed: announce that you are a mole for the government and you were exploring to see if the club was up to anything sinister. You’ll be kicked out, but at least it will be for being a spy. Start back at Step 1 and repeat as necessary.

If the group is impressed: Slowly learn the groups’ mechanics and begin to climb society’s ladder as you move towards dominating the group with your iron fist. Think of the club as a high-stakes poker game: you mightn’t have read a book in your life, but make THEM call that bluff!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Dating Do's, Don'ts, and Doh!'s

Unlocking the mysteries of the opposite sex can be as difficult for a heterosexual man as figuring out what the point of Lost was.

Men have long pondered profound questions such as—“why is my girlfriend angry that I shot her with a paintball when she wasn’t on my team?”—with few results.

Women on the other hand have managed to successfully distract male attention from hours-long Halo 3 tournaments, and often don’t need as much help to keep men’s attention.

Warning to women: the longer the writing sample on one’s t-shirt, the longer men will have their eyes aimed at chest-level.

Second warning to women: certain bra sizes may slow reading speed

Let’s be honest: western women solved the puzzle of seducing men ages ago with the invention of the fig-leaf push-up bra. The ladies who prefer the identity-cloaking burqa presumably rely on the imagination of their suitors.
I supposed some men prefer to close their eyes and point to a menu when ordering—I don’t pretend to quite “get it”.

In fairness, I admit that I don’t truly have a full grasp on the American/western woman, aside from what can be gathered from reading a few Cathy cartoons.
An insatiable obsession for chocolate?

But in my humble and meandering experience, I think I have picked up on a few dating “do’s”, “don’ts”, and (al la Homer Simpson) “D’OH’s”.

Do: Bring flowers to an important date.
Don’t: Bring fake flowers to anything.
D’oh! These roses have the Wal-Mart markdown sticker on them still?

Do: Mind your grooming.
Don’t: in polite company, indulge in body sounds. Or smells.
D’oh! Is it laundry month already?

Do: Talk about interesting and relatable topics.
Don’t: Monologue.
D’oh! Generally Accepted Accounting Principles aren’t good table talk?

Do: (Eventually) show your lady where and how you live.
Don’t: Tell women about your man-cave. I don’t know a whole lot about women, but I know this—women don’t like caves.
D’oh! This is my Dungeons & Dragons room…

Do: Show your sensitive side.
Don’t: Cry during Bambi.
D’oh! Sensitive Brendon Frasier from Bedazzled.