Friday, May 25, 2012

Happy Geek Pride Day! Live Long and Let the Force Prosper with You

Today is Geek Pride Day! A day where it is acceptable to show up to work dressed as Gandalf, curse out your coworkers in Klingon, and stock up on purple pants in preparation for an unexpected case of  "Hulking".

May the Force Live Long and Prosper with you All.

Celebrating Geek Pride, I pose a question to the world of nerdelicious fandom:

Jango Fett: Awesome, or Awful?

Jango Fett is the... father*... of Boba Fett, everyone's favorite bounty hunter.

*to be technically correct, Boba Fett is a perfect clone of Jango in the same manner that Hubert Farnsworth Jr is a clone of the Professor.
Clone, sometimes eaten by Brett Blob
Clone, sometimes eaten by the Sarlacc Pit

Like father, like son: we can only assume that they both share the same soft spot for disintegrating targets.

Jango Fett was introduced in the middle prequel, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. This unfortunate placement in the timeline warrants immediate skepticism on just how awesome he is. After all, Jango Fett IS the clone that generated that still ridiculous movie title.

That being said, Jango Fett is probably one of the more bad-ass characters in the entirety of Episode I-III. Boba Fett's role in the original trilogy was notoriously mysterious and subtle, so Jango's role as the genetic foundation of the clones (and hence, all future Stormtroopers) binds his existence more fundamentally to the space opera's story arc. But maybe it was all just a tacky way to include a successful  merchandising product.

So which is it? Was Jango Fett a badass narrative predecessor to Jango Fett, or the "Poor Man's Boba"? Let's see how they do head to helmeted head:

Jango Fett vs. Boba Fett: Showdown

1. Character Introduction

Jango: Assassinates his own assassin to protect his secret identity.... but uses a rare dart that can be traced back to him to do it.
Boba: Technically introduced in the Star Wars Holiday Special, the lost Holy Grail of Star Wars collectibles. Later introduced in The Empire Strikes Back while being briefed by Darth Vader to hunt down Han Solo and crew.

Jango, what's with the middleman? Using a subcontractor was just asking for trouble. And while the Star Wars Holiday Special was notoriously awful, it's also mysterious.

Winner: Boba Fett

2. Awesomeness of Death

Jango: head cut off by Samuel L. Jackson, wielder of the only purple lightsaber in the galaxy.
Boba: accidentally kicked by Harrison Ford (still blind from his recovery from carbonite freezing) into the Sarlacc Pit to die a horrible death.  
Unless you read the Extended Universe.... but that's silly.

Sorry Bobba, but that death is the pits.

Winner: Jango Fett

3. Armor & Fashion Sense

Jango: wears shiny new armor; he clearly takes care of it, but he also can't be using it to its full potential
Boba: wears basically the armor, but with the obvious signs of heavy use. Armor was made to be used and useful.

As much as it's great to leave collectable Star Wars armor in its original packaging, it becomes even better when it's taken out for a spin into battle

Winner: Boba Fett

4. Vehicle

Jango: cloaking ship named "Slave 1"
Boba: cloaking ship named "Slave-1"

While we see more of the ship in deadly action when Jango is flying it, it's always the same stealthy craft

Winner: Tie

5. Fight Scenes

Jango: has an intense fight with Obi-Wan Kenobi, and then later with Mace Windu.
Boba: more active as a stalking bounty hunter, he provides some extra security and menace at Jabba's Palace.

Winner: Jango
Showdown Winner.... A TIE!!!

With Boba Fett being a clone of Jango Fett, they easily conflate into a guy with a  sweet helment, a blaster, and a jetpack. 

This is the real reason cloning humans isn't ethical: it ruins competition. Plus we'd need a Clone Pride Day next, and that's just silly.

Happy Geek Pride Day!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Monday Moustache: We're Dealing With a Moustache Over Here

This marks the fortieth post in a recurring segment on moustaches.

Today's (bad-ass) moustache:

Neil deGrasse Tyson

In case you've been living on the former planet known as Pluto, Neil Degrasse Tyson is a badass.

Tyson is both touted and defamed as the reason Pluto is not a planet at all anymore, because, you know, science. He claims he was simply the "getaway driver" in the crime of robbing Pluto its high esteem.

Neil stared the Roman God of Death in the face and did not blink. Hell, he probably told Pluto that it was spinning the wrong way, like he did with the Daily Show Earth (unnoticed for years and years).

Is it any surprise that "The World's Sexiest Astrophysicist" rocks a cosmically classy 'stache under his nose? Neil deGrasse Tyson puts the "bang" in the Big Bang.

The Internet swallowed Mr. Tyson and spit him out as a meme as well. It really has nothing to do with anything other than the hilarity of his gestures and respect for Isaac Newton.
This Black and White meme makes good use of Neil's moustache

The former pupil of Carl Sagan has truly blossomed. As a former collegiate wrestler he now tackles the mysteries of Dark Matter with the ferocity  he brought to the mat. He advocates for advancing science funding-- particularly for space exploration-- because if we don't continue on that frontier, as he would say, "then we're headed right back towards the cave." His recent opponents: the anti-scientific religious community, Bill O'Rielly, and ignorance as a whole.

As if that were not enough, Neil has given us one more heavenly gift: the gift of knowing "The Most
Astounding Fact About the Universe:

In time, the obviousness of the truth will be revealed: The Universe revolves around Neil deGrasse Tyson's moustache.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Third Strike Presents: Michael Bay Ruins Your Childhood, Part 1.

Yes, yes. Michael Bay is plotting to ruin our childhoods one classic nostalgia series at a time. That's old news. The "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle/Aliens" rage long ago subsided, replaced by the standard, lingering bad taste Michael Bay's signature has always produced.

...Old Bay Seasoning?

That's not all, of course. The most boring board game Mom ever packed for a summer road trip is getting its time on the silver screen too, courtesy of Hasbro... the creators of Transformers.

That's right! We still have Battleship to live through. Although it's technically not a Michael Bay film, you can tell by the trailer that the summer film is channeling his essence.
Expectations of Liam Neeson barking "I sunk your battleship, BITCH!" are at an all-time high.
Box Office.... HIT!

None of this is particularly new information. But what IS new is the recent er... discovery by Third Strike! After the Alien-Turtles film, Michael Bay will be moving on to another classic cartoon created to sell toys and make bundles of money from an ever-amnesic public.

Lucky for Third Strike, a promotional poster has leaked to the web. Behold, in all its glory!

A Michael Bay Film
Showing in 3D!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Lockout: The Movie

The online nerd world is counting out the early summer science fiction film Lockout, coming April 13th. I, for one, am going to see it for one reason alone: this sweet tattoo.

Points: outside face-teeth, outside of his normal teeth! Cool. I want to get this and show up for work on Monday.

Negative points: using "he's the best there is, but he's a loose cannon" in the trailer:

Come on. Lethal Weapon has already used those silly tag lines for four movies, and I'm getting too old for this shit.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday Moustache: Nothing Matters

This marks the thirty-ninth post in a recurring segment on moustaches.

Today's moustache:
Ambrose Bierce

"Bitter Bierce" wrote The Devil's Dictionary, a satirical take on all things human. Basically, the Earth: The Book for its day.
Bierce's motto was that "nothing matters."
...He was probably right. Later, folks.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Monday Moustache: Moustache Will Always Love You

 This marks the thirty-eighth post in a recurring segment on moustaches.

Today's moustache:
Latif Yahia

Before diving into who this guy is, Third Strike would like to give respect to the passing of the legendary recording artist, Whitney Houston. She was a genuine talent.

With her in mind, and (in some small way) to honor her passing, Third Strike began looking for a famous Bodyguard with a notable moustache. Kevin Costner, of course, did not live up to scruffy scrutiny.

And then it really turned out to be hard to find. Well, kind of hard.

....the theme song for the search was about to become "I Have Nothing". At least that's one good Whitney reference. But we won't admit defeat!

Third Strike eventually compromised our illustrious standards in two ways.
First, this Monday's recipient shows up as having a beard, something we find as an unneccesary and undesirable distraction from stache grandeur.

Second, Latif Yahia wasn't exactly a bodyguard... he was a body double. A body double for one of Saddam Hussein's sons, no less... putting him in close proximity to another dangerously infamous moustache.

Excellent Cliche Bodyguard!
So while he might not be exactly what we hoped for, Latif Yahia is an interesting guy worth writing about.
In fact, a recent a film starring Dominic Cooper was made to tell the story. Check out this trailer (FULL of moustachey goodness):

As often happens, the fictitious version of the moustache is superior to the reality. This is why the Third Strike spends as little time in reality as humanly possible.

Allegations have come out since that film was released that Yahia has exaggerated.... well... everything... and actually impersonated Uday Hussein to pick up women. People to dispute the story include Yahia's ex wife. To use the Newt Gingrich standard of journalism, that means we should immediately stop asking questions and ignore her!

It's pretty clear that this guy's judgement is a bit off, whether his stories are true or not; it's pretty well confirmed that Uday Hussein was a scary, psychotic guy. Impersonating him (and allegedly getting arrested for said impersonation in 1990) probably isn't a fantastic idea. Nor would it be a good idea to work for/with him. But growing a moustache IS a fantastic idea, so... things kind of balance out.

Now that we've really fallen down the rabbit hole, I think it's time to concede that this is the most bizzare and inappropriate way to honor Whitney Houston. Oh well. I Have Nothing.

Friday, February 3, 2012

What's So Great About The Grey? Liam Neeson Punching Wolves!

It took a few days, but after seeing the initial ads for The Grey, I started thinking: every movie, ever, should just be Liam Neeson punching wolves. From now on. It's Liam Neeson! Punching! Wolves!

I'm a big fan of Taken, and I love seeing Neeson use his "very special set of skills" on deserving baddies. And, hell, wolves have a pretty bad reputation throughout human history, something that oversensitive modern day environmentalists gloss over.

So last weekend I trekked out to the movies with some friends... and saw the film. And loved it. In fact, I got so excited about The Grey that I went on a fervent Facebook/Twitter spamming spree with wolf-punching jokes. See the following:

Apparently I'm the only person who thinks these are hilarious... no retweets and a single Facebook "like". Whatever. I guess people don't want a reinvention of "Chuck Norris jokes". Fine.

But to be honest, all the wolf-punching jokes are ultimately a big fake out, because that's not what The Grey is actually about.


The Grey is really an exploration of survival in a world without God. It's a battle not against literal wolves, but figurative ones that represent a vicious, unrelenting threat from nature. It's about our humanity and the struggle to... have humanity. It's about finding the reasons to survive in a nihilistic world. It explores the darkest corners of our hearts and the better angels of our nature.

It's truly a surprising film, especially given how it was marketed. Stunned by the ending, I joked walking out of the theater with friends: "... So... the real wolf Liam Neeson punches was the one in his heart."

Let's dive into The Grey.

The very beginning of the film shows a tired and cynical John Ottway (Liam Neeson) working for an oil company in a remote world of outcasts. He visibly distances himself from other bar folk, downing some "last meal" whiskey before leaving a brawler-filled tavern with his rifle. From there, he goes out into the cold and prepares to shoot himself with his rifle; he narrates a letter to a love-- obviously lost, but mysterious as to how. It is here we first hear the poem that is repeated through the film, a poem we eventually learn was written by his father:

Once more into the fray.
Into the greatest fight I'll ever know.
Live and die on this day...
Live and die on this day...

In a bit of cliche film irony, Ottway hears wolves howling in the distance and, interrupted, opts not to commit suicide. The very wolves that incidentally save Ottway become the force that will try to kill him. And what's more, the wolves will activate Ottway's survival instinct.
We also see the tender side to Ottway, when he shoots a wolf (as is his job requires) to protect the oilmen. He rests his hands gently on the dying wolf and seems to show a melancholic respect for both the wolf and death itself.
From there, we go to a plane headed back to civilization. Ottway again shows his emotional and communicative walls towards the other men on the aircraft, electing to sleep rather than socialize. Ottway always dreams of the same scene: lying in bed with his love (wife?), with her telling him not to be afraid.
Of course, the plane crashes, killing most of the passengers and jolting Ottway out of the dreamland escape where he gets to be with his one-and-only. Ottway has literally crashed into reality.
Here the film is formulaic; Ottway/Neeson shows his natural leadership and bands the survivors together. One of the survivors is soon to join the ranks of the crash victims, and Ottway is gently (but bluntly) honest with the man, mirroring his earlier treatment with the wolf. He tells the dying man that yes, he is going to die... and that he should put his mind to those he loves. It's a kind yet shocking confrontation with unavoidable, assured death; Ottway doesn't humor the man with platitudes, and he cuts to what he thinks matters most as we depart this world. This is his gift to a man in his last moments, and it's powerfully unexpected.
Internal group conflict arises when a scumbag survivor attempts to loot cash from dead passengers; he also snatches a digital watch that he hopes will send out a GPS signal. The Ottway-Neeson-Jedi does not approve of the wallet thievery, and he stands the man down with uncanny bad-assity. Judging by horror film formula, we think that the wallet looter will probably die next. Horror films typically have a linear sin::punishment structure that's easy to predict.
Then come the wolves; Ottway is the first attacked while fending a wolf off of a dead victim of the plane crash. He makes it away with just a small bite wound, but the camp of survivors first face the glowing eyes of a huge pack of wolves. The suspense here is palpable, and we first see that these wolves are not meant to be taken "seriously". These wolves operate as narrative villains: forces of nature and the untamed brutality that lies outside of civilization. The imagery is startling and incredibly effective.
After the wolves take down their first plane crash survivor (random dude that's not the wallet-looter, but makes the classic horror film mistake of taking a whiz) the group realizes that they'll be in danger staying put. Ottway fears that they have crashed in the "kill zone", a radius too close to the wolves' den wherein they will defend the territory mercilessly. With this the plot-wolves are given their excuse to be unrelenting. Ottway, in a refreshing moment of "I don't know" uncertainty decides rashly to head to some distant trees, and the men follow his leadership. The wallet-looter mocks Ottway's uncertainty but seems to be dealing poorly with the futility of their situation himself. He prefers drinking the liquor mini-bottles salvaged from the aircraft.
In another moment of irony, Ottway decides that they group should actually collect wallets.... to provide them to the families of the deceased. The wallets will remain a theme for the rest of the film; they are a symbol of identity, permanence, and the reasons to survive.
As the group approaches the woods, the comic relief character (Joe Anderson from Across the Universe, The Ruins, and The Crazies) gets picked off. This character had been fairly central to the story thus far, so his death is a big surprise. His wallet gets added to the collection, and the group tumbles down an incline to escape the wolves. In a Survivor-like challenge, the group creates a fire before the wolves close in.
Unseen (but heard) the wolves have an internal struggle of their own: a challenge to the Alpha Wolf, who puts the threat to his leadership down. Analagous to the wolves, Ottway and the wallet-looter (OK, fine, his name is Diaz) argue; Ottway puts the challenge down, just as the Alpha Wolf did, making Diaz the Omega of the group. Appropriately, the Omega Wolf (the outcast) approaches the encampment and attacks Diaz, at which point the humans kill it and earn their first victory. In a defiant and pragmatic display, they cook the wolf, eat it, and Diaz vengefully cuts off its head and throws it back to the wolves.
In an artfully disturbing response to the Omega Wolf decapitation, the wolves circle the camp and howl ominously. The echo through the camp is incredibly eerie, and Diaz is cowed by the unexpected consequence.
The men hike on and brace for an incoming blizzard. It is during this time we see the gentle side to these wild men. The group share their reasons for going on-- one, Talget, misses his daughter. Diaz regrets his latest female conquest. Ottway reveals his father, a stereotypical drunk Irish fighter, had a poetic side: this is where his poem comes from. On a darker turn, both Diaz and Ottway reveal their atheism, although Ottway is sad to do so; they feel that this reality is the one with which they should be concerned. Talget, contrarily, expresses his feelings that faith is important.
When the blizzard hits, another of the group (having suffered continually from altitude sickness) freezes to death.
To speed up the synopsis, the group continues to whittle down. Talget, the man who missed his daughter (and loved her hair brushing his face) hallucinates that he sees her after he falls from a tree/rope the group was scaling. In fact, the "hair" is actually that of the wolves that are killing him. This is a subtle display of the film's atheistic tone. A man who believes in faith meets his end with a hallucination, blind to the horrifying reality surrounding him. And perhaps that really is a better way to go-- maybe it's a better reality, even if it's not real. 
Diaz, the would-be wallet thief, has survived down to the final three, but after injuring his knee and reaching complete exhaustion, decides that his life is not worth living. He convinces the remaining two that he is satisfied-- a beautiful scenic background is as good as it will get for him. He gives Ottway the GPS watch for "luck". Then as Diaz sits, and as the wolves approach, he quietly whispers that he is not afraid. He meets his end not as the jackass that meets his karma. He is a character that apologizes, seeks redemption, and meets futility with scrapped dignity.
With the remaining two alive, survivor Hendrick confronts Ottway about the night that he planned to kill himself. He tells Ottway that he saw the look of deathly acceptance on his face-- the same look Diaz had-- when he left that bar with his rifle. Hendrick admits that he did not think he would ever see Ottway alive again after that night. Ottway shrugs it off, and tells Hendrick that it doesn't really matter now.
Two wolves rush at the men, and Hendrick falls into the water and gets his foot caught. He stupidly drowns just inches from the surface as Ottway tries to save him.
At this point, the film reaches its philosophical precipice. Ottway crawls out of the water, stares up at the sky in despair, and demands that God give him a sign. Why go on? Why continue? Faith is not enough at this point; Ottway feels the need for some genuine, tangible deliverance. He demands it! And his shouts go unanswered. God does not respond. The vacant, unchanged sky is a depressing reinforcement of Ottaway's new found solitude and humanity's loneliness.
It is here that the film reveals its atheistic and borderline nihilistic undertone. There are no answers to prayers in this film's reality; there is just the constant struggle to go on. Ottway ultimately decides "f*** it, I'll do it myself." Much in the token of absurdism, we continue to fight to survive in a godless, meaningless world.
As Ottway staggers on, he eventually falls to his knees. He takes out the wallets, placing them in a cross shape on the snow. As he opens them, he receives his salvation: the beauty in the lives of the men who have died can be found in their photographs: wives, children, lovers. Memories of love.
At this moment of rapture, Ottway looks up and finds himself surrounded by wolves. He's found himself on his knees in the one place he had been attempting to flee. "It's the f***ing den." he says, ruefully.
So now, at the moment of final suspense, with Ottway on his knees and the wolves creating a perimeter, the Alpha Wolf approaches. We see a glimpse of Ottway's wife, and a fleeting glimpse of a hospital IV-- his wife was dying, and he was lying beside her. "Don't be afraid" she said....
 Here we reach "the decision"; Ottway will fight. He puts on the GPS watch, "luck", quickly tapes liquor mini-bottle shards to his knuckles and a knife to his other hand.  Ottway recites the poem one last time, and lunges to the wolf.

And that's that. End film.
Oh, there is an after credits scene of the back of his head resting on the wolf, breathing heavily much like the wolf that Ottway shot at the beginning of the film. Is Ottway resting? Dead? We don't know.
I admit that the last scene gets me emotional; the implication with Ottway's wife hits close to home, and reminds of a time not so long ago. Whether Ottway's lover survived is not clear, but the implication is certainly not; thus Ottway's letter is not really for her to receive physically, but written for her all the same.
Ottway has lost his lover. He lost his fellow survivors. He is alone in the universe, abandoned by God and Man. But not his love. Not his humanity. The love in Ottway's heart survives, and the love of the men in his group who did not make it found in their wallet pictures. He won't give up without a fight. In a world where nothing is permanent but the fight to survive.... Ottway will fight to survive. Just to continue. It's a valiant ending to an unexpectedly smart film.
I still think wolf-punching jokes are funny though.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday Moustache: 9-9-Moustache

This marks the thirty-seventh post in a recurring segment on moustaches.

Today's moustache:

Herman Cain
Herman's moustache has been staring Third Strike in the face for months, taunting the Monday Moustache series for not posting it.

Herman's moustache is just like a Godfather's pizza: it's always fantastic, but it's even better when you're drunk at 2 a.m..

At hours earlier than 2 a.m., we've learned about the man behind the moustache over the past several months.
Herman's rise and fall in the Republican Presidential primaries has been one hell of a journey. The man rose from pizza-producing prominence, poor polling, and political punditry to the leader of the Presidentail primay race. All to soon after, allegations of innappropriate behavior during his restaurant days led to his quick exit to the race. Too saucy, Herman.
Still, the story of the Cain Train is one that will go down in the books. From his 9-9-9 tax plan, his proclivity towards quoting Pokemon songs, and his (late) endorsement by Stephen Colbert, Cain is nothing if not memorable. Now he has endorsed Newt Gingrich and we will see if that has the same influence as his 2000 endorsement of Steve Forbes.
The most tragic part of Cain's exit from the primary race is the resulting lack of diversity-- not a single candidate left has a moustache!!! C'mon, GOP!
Herman Cain's representation of the elite moustache community showed real character in an age with so few leaders sporting 'staches. What's more, Herman Cain advanced other moustaches; Cain's campaign manager Mark Block had a smokin' stache, seen in the infamous online ad.
So carry on, Herman Cain.... You might have forgotten your policy on Libya, but you will never be forgotten.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday Moustache: Moustaches of Steele

This marks the thirty-sixth post in a recurring segment on moustaches.

Today's moustache:

Michael Steele

Monday Moustaches have returned! And it's about damn time. The months have rolled by and the Third Strike has been... indisposed to write. Moustaches came into the media, with Movember making national news and Heineken commercials celebrating the handlebar 'stache. Obviously word got out about the glory of grooming a fuzzy facehugger... terribly timed for Third Strike.

But that intermission is over, and just like Newt Gingrich it's a second wind. Or is it, appropriately, the third?

Just like a Newt Gingrich candidacy, you can't keep a good moustache down. Michael Steele may have been unceremoniously tossed out of his Republic National Committee chairmanship, but you know what? I still see him on the news a lot more than his replacement, Reince Priebus. Not only does Reince violate the "I before E Rule", but he sufferes a severe moustache deficiency.
The Daily Show has featured Michael Steele regularly as the soup-rejecting customer Muppet. Ironic, of course, since he has an outstanding soup-catcher of a 'stache.
Michael Steele, feeling blue after losing his position
Let's hope Mr. Steele stays in the spotlight. 2011 was a year full of magnificent moustaches, and with his help we can elect to keep 2012 the same!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year... New

The Third Strike isn't dead. It has been in Carbon Freeze, hanging in Jabba's palace for all to see. 2012 is a new year.... perhaps it shall resurrect?