Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Butch

I got a phone call from my dad Sunday morning. It was business as usual (What did you do last night? Who did you do it with?) until he hit me with some pretty sad news.
"The kitty cat passed away last night."
I can only recall my dad calling our family cat, Butch, once and that was in a moment of frustration when he ran out of the house late at night.
The news of his death caught me by surprise because that cat had plenty of close calls in his life and was always knocking on death's door but that was due to his own general stupidity.

We got Butch in the year 2001, around the time of my younger sister's birthday. She picked him out and helped bring him home. I don't remember much about him at that time except he sneezed quite a bit. My dad wasn't impressed with the name Butch; he has this thing about giving animals names that men his age have: Dennis, Louie, Amil and Lyle (He likes that name for Aaron and Katelynn's dog). But Butch he was and it seemed to suit him as a name.
"Meow."

The first problem we had with him was that he was always trying to escape outside the house. And when we first got him he was fast. You'd open the door and he would bolt before you even knew what was happening. Of course we always caught him (We figured out his usual route and blocked off a part of the fence he liked to climb through) but it took a lot of coaxing and sometimes vanilla ice cream or watermelon.

Yeah, Butch liked watermelon. It was strange because we just fed it to him as a bit of a joke but he really liked it. From that moment on whenever he smelt my mom cutting it up he would move towards the counter and stretch his long body and legs to try and grab any bit of it he could. If that didn't work he would give my mom's leg a massage and quickly get a quick slice.
He also ate most of a banana once. My neighbor's grandson fed it to him and we watched as he licked/chewed on it for quite a while. Yet for some reason he wasn't a big fan of peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Whenever he came by and smelt one he would try and bury it.


"Where the watermelon be at?"

Butch was probably the most spoiled cat that didn't belong to a rich family. My younger sister got him into this stupid pattern that whenever he came back inside (We kept him on a harness attached to a leash) he would get a treat. However as time went on, Butch would get his treat and then beg to go outside again only to want to come back in a few minutes later. He wasn't as dumb as we thought.
Also every morning he would get a special breakfast from my mom. She would mix up a little bit of wet cat food with hot water and he thought this was the greatest meal ever. He would sit by the kettle while the water boiled and lick that shit up the the point where he was moving the bowl just with his tongue.
He got this every morning but on the few occasions my mom slept in, he would do his best to get her out of bed. If nuzzling her face didn't work, jumping onto my dad's dresser and knocking over all his medicine bottles would do the trick.

But as much as he liked to eat, he also liked to play. I don't know who started it but whenever I was going up the stairs from the basement, Butch would chase me and swat at my ankles. It's probably not wise to speak ill of the dead, but I think the little kitty bastard was trying to kill me. He knew I was the cute one and that if I was out of the picture, then he'd be the cute one.
So in retaliation I would rough him up a little bit. Have him try and out wrestle my hand and then chase him around the house like I was going to kill him. That cat could run but when he made a leaping jump off the stairs you could hear the impact all throughout the house.

He had a little lamb that he liked to play with. It was about half his size and he fucked it up. Ripped one of it's eyes out and tore some of it's skin. But he also liked to play with other animals. My neighbour's had a bunny rabbit named Blossom and if Butch saw him he went crazy. He'd meow and meow, trying to get the rabbit's attention but Blossom couldn't care less. Every once in a while he would come up to the fence and Butch would just give him a tap on the head, trying to get a reaction. Blossom would just blink and hop away. And I'm pretty sure Butch studied that hop and taught himself how to do it.
He also tried to get the attention of their cat too but Tigger couldn't care less about Butch. Granted I saw Butch give him a tap on the face and Tigger let out a big hiss like he was ready to replace the U in Butch with an I.
"Stop teasing me about my harness, Tigger!"

After I moved out my parents started to let Butch go out on his own, no harness, with the idea that he knew where home was and he knew that he got fed there. There had been some scary nights when he was out for a while but he always came back. Some time last year I was talking to my dad on the phone when all of a sudden he stops the conversation to scream, "Oh, Puss, you're favouring your right paw."
Dad hated the name Butch and would usually call him Puss, Pusser, Puss-Puss and Shithead.
After the injury, they kept him back on the harness for a while. He would like to go out at night and come back in just before going to bed. My dad said that in the last little while that he was sleeping a lot for a cat. It's his idea that Butch knew his time was short.

I like to think that too. I know it sounds stupid but maybe he thought he had a bit more time and decided to go outside for one last little adventure. He was found not too far from our backdoor and he hadn't been gone long because he was still warm. I get the feeling he probably wanted to make it to my parent's bedroom and sleep on his special towel at the end of the bed on my mom's side...but it was too late.

I haven't shed a tear over his passing but that doesn't mean I'm not sad. I'm going to miss not hearing him meow at late hours looking for someone to play with; watching him chase his own tail like a stupid dog or watching him get excited when he sits by the window and chirps at birds he hopes to eat. I'll miss hearing him meow and purr at the same time whenever he gets his special breakfast and those little massages he would give out at the oddest times.

However one thing I won't miss about him was his warped sense of humour in thinking that taking a massive dump on brand new sheets for my bed was a riot. Hadn't even gotten a chance to sleep in them and he's already defiled them with his stench. It was so bad my dad had my sister handle the sheets.

But there were plenty of more good times than bad with Butch and those are the times I'll remember best. I miss my kitty and I always will.

Butch Schweitzer: 2001-December 17, 2011

Sunday, December 11, 2011

My Favourite Christmas Themed Entertainment

Last year around this time I presented to you my list of The Greatest Christmas Specials Never, a list of Christmas specials that we sadly never got to see (My sister thought the Full House one was real). However this year, I think I'm going to go over some of my favourite Christmas themed episodes from TV series as well as movies that some people may not pay much attention to. So without further ado, grab yourself some egg-nog, sit down and enjoy my list of Favourite Christmas Themed Entertainment EVER!!!

1) Batman: The Animated Series-"Christmas With the Joker"
OK, if you don't like this show at all (I'm looking at you, Katelynn) then I have to question your sanity. And if you can't enjoy watching Batman and Robin trying to stop the Joker from killing three of our favourite side characters on Christmas eve, then you lack a soul.

One of the many things that made this series work was that they had an incredible cast of voice actors. Every voice suited the character it belonged to and no greater example could be made than Mark Hamill as the Joker. I'm sorry, a part of me still can't believe that freakin' Luke Skywalker voiced Batman's greatest nemesis. And Hamill just shines in this episode, from the opening scene where he escapes from Arkham Asylum (He waves goodbye to Charles Manson just before exiting-I shit you not) to when he uses a sock puppet to blow up a bridge that a train is crossing. You can laugh along with him and at the same time he has enough of an edge that makes you think, "Yeah, I'm not fuckin' with this dude."

Looking like this and still managing to be threatening is why Mark Hamill is the best Joker. Sorry, Heath

Apparently the Joker was originally supposed to kidnap some random family but the network had the writers change it to Commissioner Gordon and the lot because a random family might have been frightening to younger audiences. Look, I think I was six when this episode first aired and nothing about this show ever frightened me.

It's a great episode from a great series and the perfect way to put you in the crime-fighting mood this holiday season.

2) A Pinky and the Brain Christmas
According to my father, he came home from work early one morning, turned on the TV and caught and episode of the awesome Pinky and the Brain and was hooked. We watched it when it aired in prime time on Sunday nights and we loved it. So when we found out that there was going to be a full half-hour Christmas special, we knew that we had to tape it for him.

Going undercover as elves at the North Pole, our two favourite rodents bent on global domination attempt to have Santa plant a brainwashing toy in every house throughout the world. Of course things can't go right and that's where the episode shines in terms of comedy and moments that tug at your heart.

I watched this episode just yesterday and I can honestly say that near the end as the Brain reads Pinky's letter I was getting misty eyed.
Yeah, that show A) how emotionally screwed up I am and B) that this show truly was one of the best things on TV at the time. I haven't been able to catch it on TV in years and was lucky to find it online but if you're fumbling around cable and happen to see it on your program guide, stop what you're doing for 30 minutes and watch this because it is genius that's currently lacking in today's TV programs.

A quick note: When we watched this in 1996, the scene where Brain screams at Pinky, "Give me that stupid letter" caused me and my sisters to laugh and say, "That's Dad."

3) Batman Returns
This movie takes place around Christmastime and for some reason I really get in the mood to watch it around this time of year. I don't know, maybe it has something to do with a recent podcast I did with The Basement Vagrants but for the past few days I've had this movie on my mind.

Is it a perfect movie? No, not really but in a way it seems perfect for it's time and a good adaptation of the Caped Crusader. However it is entertaining and doesn't leave me bored. I remember being a little kid, begging my parents to let me see this movie. Sadly, at the time, they sucked as parents and said no. However that didn't stop them from buying me Batman toys and storybooks based on the movie that was apparently too violent and vulgar for me. Hypocrisy much, Mom and Dad?

PS: I think the Wayne Manor/Batcave playset is still in their crawlspace and for sale I might add. We shall start the bidding at $1000
I think I might even have the box this came in


4) Gordon Ramsay Christmas Specials
If food porn like this doesn't have you salivating for holiday meals, then I don't know what will. True story, last year when I was home for Christmas, I showed this video to my Dad, who immediately demanded I go out and by croissants and smoked salmon. This was Christmas eve but I was able to get it done cause I'm awesome. We made this Christmas morning just like Ramsay shows you and it was really amazing.


5) Almost Every Christmas Themed Sketch from Mad TV
I'm sure I've said it before but I'll say it again: During the mid 90's to early 2000's, Mad TV did stuff that would have me in stitches while Saturday Night Live was descending into the mediocrity it happily resides at today. It can't hold a candle to what Mad TV was doing and it's a pity that the seasons haven't been released on DVD yet. Anyway, there are so many sketches to go over so I'll just give a quick rundown of some of my favourite Christmas themed sketches from Mad TV.

A) Magic Johnson's Kwanzaa Special

Aries Spears is someone who could make my Dad laugh doing anything and he was in top form when parodying former NBA superstar and failed talk show host, Magic Johnson. While they could have gone the easy route and makes jokes about Johnson being HIV positive, Spears plays him as an illiterate idiot, being cancelled by the networks at every turn. I think what also makes this sketch work is Pat Kilbane as Al Gore. I can honestly see the former VP going up to Magic and saying, "As salaam alaikum".

B) Rooftop Memories

When I was younger, I would be the one who would heave to help my parents put up the lights around the house for the holidays. Now that I don't live there anymore, I don't know who helps or even if they bother to put up the lights. However, if they are still putting them out, I imagine this is how it usually goes.

C) Opening Christmas Presents from Mom

I'm not going to name names, but at least over ten years ago, I recall a girl I know being worried around Christmas because she was afraid she would appear ungrateful by not showing enough verbal excitement over what she was given. It had her worked up to the point of tears which made me want to smack the stupid out of her.

Anyway, this sketch reminds me of her. While everyone is opening up their presents they receive from the mother, despite the excitement over what they're getting, she seems to think that they hate their gifts. The sketch reaches it's comedy climax when Alex Borestein screams, "What is your problem, you rag bitch!?" This is a common line when opening Christmas presents at my house.

D) Holiday Fantanas

I've never had a Fanta drink in my life so I don't know if they are as good as this sketch claims. However Paul Vogt, the actor who plays Beth, apparently took inspiration for his character by viewing footage of my younger sister drunk on the Internet. He has her mannerisms down pat.

E) Santa's Real Workshop

Look, we all know that toys aren't made at the North Pole, so what would happen if a little kid found out where all of Santa's workforce comes from?
Plus, I wish I could be like this Santa. Just walking around all day, pelting people with sugar cubes.

F) Stuart's Nativity Play

What kind of Mad TV list would this be without an entry involving Stuart?
For as many people I know who love Michael McDonald's signature character, there are just as many who HATE this character. I think the people who hate Stuart are more upset that kids like him exist in real life and have parents that are just as doting and blind as Doreen. This is your average Stuart sketch, him being bratty, somehow getting down to bikini briefs and saying, "Look what I can do!" but at the same time, it's Stuart playing Jesus. You don't see that everyday.

G) Suge Knight's Christmas Album
Again, with just the simple motion of opening his eyes really wide with his with that our family come join his for the holidays, Aries Spears had my dad in stitches. The Eminem parody might be a bit off today but ten years ago that was dead on.

H) Paul Timberman, Christmas Tree Episode
The joke in my family is that this character is based on my Opa, who has had several injuries in his life but never quite to the extreme as poor Paul Timberman.

This was one of the few Mad TV sketches that was able to get the YouTube treatment with people making hundreds of copies of it. This was a hilarious take on those damned Tickle Me Asshole Elmo dolls which came out at the time. What surprised me about that video was the debates some people would get into about Emo's. Some objected to Emo having a My Chemical Romance sticker on his vest but who gives a shit. It's funny. Laugh, damn you!!!

6) Mickey's Christmas Carol
I remember having this on tape as a little kid and probably haven't seen it in over 20 years. It's a very faithful adaptation of the Dickens classic and shorter than I remember considering that they are able to cram it into a half hour short feature. A lot of today's younger generation probably won't recognize some of the characters from less familiar Disney features but they're bound to enjoy it nonetheless. The scene with Scrooge falling into his grave near the end always freaked the shit out of me.
Say what you want about Disney being for little kids, it's a hell of a lot better than that damn adaptation with Jim Carrey from two years ago.

7) The Muppet Christmas Carol
I was bored last weekend and decided to see if this was any good and despite being mostly marketed at kids, this was actually pretty well done and more faithful than the Disney version above. Plus, it's got frickin' Michael Caine as Scrooge and he's awesome in almost everything.
What I actually like about this is that there aren't any familiar muppets as the three spirits that visit Scrooge. In fact, most people compare them to Harry Potter characters than anything Jim Henson created. It's your usual Muppet tale with humans interacting with creatures like it's an everyday thing and stuff like fruits and vegetables talking (Who eats that stuff?) and was the first Muppet movie made after Jim Henson died.
I think he'd be impressed with what they did.

Speaking of a Christmas Carol, I was hoping to find the 1999 version with Patrick Stewart but all I can find is just trailers from YouTube. I'm a bit let down that people nerdier than me haven't uploaded it because it's fucking Captain Picard playing Scrooge. Who wouldn't love to see that?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Aliens

Like most people, if I think about something long enough it'll usually end up in my dreams. Last month I all of a sudden got on some big kick about Alien and it's sequel Aliens. While babysitting Lyle for Aaron and Katelynn that same month I was excited to come home and find that Alien would be on one of their channels. Imagine my disappointment when I discovered that the channel it would be airing on was unavailable on their cable package. Yeah, one of my favourite movies of all time was unavailable but thank God Katelynn had subscribed to the Oprah Winfrey Network so I could watch The Gayle King Show.

But yeah, I would have dreams that the Aliens (or Xenomorphs as they are commonly called) were attacking and I was usually caught in the middle. One dream they didn't even show up. There was some crisis on Earth, a massive Xenomorph infestation. Economies were in worse shape then they are today (I recall telling a person in the dream that the money he had would soon be worthless) and most people were armed just in case something came popping out of someone's chest.
I always thought this is what happened when you drank the water in Mexico...

The second dream was a lot more brief. All I knew was that I was in some sort of facility, working on a computer and all of a sudden there are a bunch of Xenomorphs in the room. While a normal human being would be pretty boned by the situation, I somehow managed to make it out and to a car where I promptly realized that the entire human race was pretty much screwed.

Two nights ago there was a non-alien related dream...though it was a bit related to a scene in Alien. I imagined I was in the crawlspaces of a massive spaceship. Every time I stopped moving, the shafts would start moving around, changing directions; almost like I was navigating a Rubik's cube that would change every few seconds.

The weird thing is that for some reason this dream has me wanting to watch Blade Runner for the first time in probably 10 years.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Cinemassacre's Monster Madness

If you've been on the Internet, chances are you've heard of James Rolfe, also known as the Angry Video Game Nerd. While I'm not the biggest fan of toilet humour, Rolfe seems to have this ability to make shitting on a bad video game hilarious to me. I can't explain it but something about taking a massive dump on the Nightmare on Elm Street video game always leaves me in stitches.

Every day for the month of October, Rolfe goes through the history of horror films and reviews one movie (On rare occasions will he review two in one day) starting with the oldest films he can find and working his way up to the modern era. Every year has it's own theme and this year he's been going over sequels. If you're a film buff, like movies or movie reviews, check out Cinemassacre's Monster Madness.

Yeah, nothing really funny in this post but I really admire Rolfe's work and think that good work deserves a shameless plug. Not that I'm gonna drive up his hit count or anything...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Simpsons Did It Last Week, Seth!!!

When I was a little kid, my parents were prudes and therefore, sucked at times. I remember being 10 years old and both of them denying me to watch The Simpsons. These days I do my best to prevent children from watching The Simpsons but that's for entirely different reasons which should be obvious to everyone.

However imagine my shock and amazement in 1999 when there was no objection to us watching Family Guy. Maybe my dad was starting to develop a sense of humour, maybe he was attracted by the  main character who may or may not remind others of him, who knows? But we used to watch it together and laugh...until it got cancelled.

What is the most commonly used phrase at the FOX network?

I was excited when it came back. However that excitement quickly faded when I saw that the episodes were...not bad (Not yet, anyway) but underwhelming. They just seemed focused on dragging scenes on and on with boring dialogue, repetitive jokes that didn't go anywhere and musical numbers that made it obvious the writers were putting little effort into what they were doing.

I haven't watched any episodes within the last two years because I got tired of the same jokes over and over and Seth MacFarlane singing. To me, it looked like they were going to keep milking this cow for as long as they could like The Simpsons did and he would do the same with American Dad and The Cleavland Show. It's not like a lot of creative process was going into the making of those shows anyway.
Do I need to go on?

So you can imagine my shock when I read this week that Seth MacFarlane was thinking about ending Family Guy. Now, this might have a lot of fanboys turning white with fear but I don't think you have anything to fear. Look, if he wants it to end, then he would have ended it. Don't be dumb like Larry King and think Seinfeld was cancelled; it went off the air because Jerry Seinfeld felt he had done enough and because he didn't want to do any more episodes.

So what's holding you back, Seth? Surely you read Internet message boards (Probably not) but even you have to know that the quality of the show has dropped big time. Talk to any fan and they'll most likely say that the stuff from the first three season were the best the show ever did.

Look, Seth, I know that people have accused you in the past of copying from The Simpsons but you're doing that right now. For the past two weeks there was all this talk about The Simpsons cast having to take a pay cut and whether it might mean the end of the show or not. Though given how often the show is on so much in syndication, they must be making royalties off of that (Occupy Evergreen Terrace, anyone?) and given how the show is shit these days, the pay cut is well deserved.

And all this talk about you wanting to bring back Star Trek to TV? Look, I already went into great detail about this on the last podcast I did for The Basement Vagrants, it's probably going to be a long time before we see Star Trek on TV and even then there's no guarantee it will succeed. Besides, you're already concerned with bringing The Flintstones back to TV (Cuz the 18-24 male demographic was begging for that) so just leave the 24th century alone.

And there might be some people who say, "Hey, he's a Trek fan and he also guest starred on episodes of Star Trek! Why not him?"

My response:

A) So what if he was a guest star on an episode? William Shatner was the star of the franchise and yet we still got the cosmic turd known as Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. And yeah, I know about the difficulties involved in making that film. I don't give a shit.

B) He was a guest star on an episode of Star Trek: Enterprise. And that's all I will say about that

In conclusion, I don't believe Seth when he says stuff like this. If he wanted to end it, he would have ended it or announced that this would be the last season. I personally think he's just making this up in a pathetic attempt to draw ratings. But if you are sincere in your claims, do it sooner than later.
What is the favourite activity of FOX animation writers?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Beware of Beware The Batman

I hate repeating myself but as most of you have gathered from my review of the graphic novel Batman: Year One, I'm a huge fan of the Caped Crusader. Hell, I can remember the first time I watched Batman: The Animated Series when I was a kid. It was an awesome series and set the standard for other superhero cartoons.

They tried to make other Batman cartoons after the DCAU (DC Animated Universe) came to an end when Justice League: Unlimited (A spin-off of Batman: TAS) aired it's finale in 2006. Warner Bros. animation started before that and aired a new series simply called The Batman in 2004. I watched a few episodes of it because I am an immature little man wanted to see what they would do that the first series hadn't done before. Giving the Joker dreadlocks was not one of the great decisions. I mean, if you want to give the Joker a new direction, dreadlocks are not the answer.

This picture pretty much speaks for itself

Some of the latest cartoon superhero shows have been pretty good. I've been watching Young Justice and that's a really cool show. I've always wanted to check out Batman: The Brave and the Bold but something about it just keeps me away. Maybe because I'm older, I want something a little darker and more character driven out of my superheroes and there's nothing like that for Batman. At least not yet. Cartoon Network recently announced that they would be launching a new series in two years with an interesting title, Beware the Batman.

Cool, maybe a different origin story like The Batman was but didn't succeed at. Darker incarnations of The Joker, Riddler, Two-Face with amazing animation and...
...What the Bat-fuck?

Look, I'm all for the evolution of animation but...CG animated Batman is not the way to go. My friend Aaron is a fan of the Green Lantern. I personally have no interest because his weakness is the colour yellow. So yeah, piss on him and he's useless. But when I heard that there was going to be a Green Lantern cartoon series, I thought it would be interesting to check out.

What turned me off from it right away was that it was CG animated. I'm sorry, when everything looks like something you'd see on a TV show for babies, it's not going to attract me as a viewer. The same goes for this.

And plus...is that a guy wearing a pig mask? I'll admit, I'm doing my best to follow DC's New 52 universe with some difficulty but is Batman fighting a man in a pig mask now? Plus I think that's a frog or just a messed up version of Killer Croc beside the pig. And...who's the chick with white hair? Wasn't she in Monsters vs Aliens?
Kinda looks like her...make her eyes darker and that's it

However if there's one thing that absolutely disgusts me about this, it's Alfred. You're probably thinking, "Gee, Schweitzer-Man, got something against the English?" Normally, no, but in this case, Alfred is what's going to ruin the show. You don't even have to be a huge Batman fan to know who Alfred is. The old guy, loyal butler to the Wayne family, always tidying up Wayne Manor, creating an alibi for his boss and tending to any wounds got on the battlefield.

So why in the hell did the creators of the show decide that they would make Alfred be wielding guns to help Batman fight crime. Now, let's look at this logically: Batman, who's own parents were murdered after being shot by a petty criminal, thinks that the best way to fight crime is to have a senior citizen going around and SHOOTING THE BAD GUYS WITH GUNS!? And those look like real guns. Most kids shows today just have the bad guys shooting laser weapons of some kind but those look like bullets coming out of Alfred's gun. That's just what Gotham needs; a near senile butler going around shooting people he thinks are criminals because they don't know where he can find Gold Bond at 2:30 in the morning.
"Do you want me to put a cap in your ass?"

I'd go into his sidekick not being Robin but instead some chick with a sword but I'm not going to. To sum it up, this looks like one big pile of Bat-crap. Let's just hope they don't get Frank Miller to write a few episodes.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

It'll Get Better

While I do my best to update the blog as often as I can, I do admit that last month probably wasn't my best in terms of blogging quality. Yeah, the 9/11 post was serious and I do like to do serious work every now and then but I hope that this month I'll still be able to do a lot more.

Lately most of my time has been occupied by sleep. Yeah, not gonna lie, I'm a lazy mofo. Working midnights blows, trying to find new work, new apartment and the time I usually have off is spent in dreamworld. Also I've been comitting a lot of time to doing podcasts with friends from college, as well as doing my own podcast for a boxing website I contribute to (Albeit, not consistantly). Last week I took part in a Star Trek podcast that took nearly three hours to get through. Not that I don't have a good time with them but even looking back at it now, I think, "Three hours...what the hell is the matter with me!?" That'll but up on the Basement Vagrants site some time soon.

Right now I keep hearing rumours about how Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore might be getting a divorce cause Kutcher is cheating. I remember being really annoyed at the couple when they first hooked up because I really didn't give a shit about their relationship and it made me realize that there are so many other celebrity couples that make a big deal about how in love they are and then break up shortly after getting married. I'll be making a list about that soon.

But anyway, thanks for the support. Each month has been better than the last in terms of hits and hopefully it will get better in terms of post quality and updates.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Batman: Year One

For some unexplained reason lately I've been on some sort of Batman obsession. If there's anything that might have sparked it it's the constant flow of speculation about The Dark Knight Rises. I've seen photos of what might be a Batplane, people are bitching about Catwoman's costume, footage of filming is being leaked and the rumours never seem to die.

What might also be helping is the reboot of the entire DC Universe. That's right, everything old that was new and became old again is new again. Batman's been fighting crime for only five years now or something...I don't know. I didn't follow the news that closely however I might go and pick up some issues since everything should be easy to follow. But instead I'll tell you what I thought of a Batman collection I'd been meaning to pick up for some time.
Relax, this was before Frank Miller directed 'The Spirit'

First off, if you're worried about being confused by comic book jargon, back stories and whathaveyou, you can relax. This story explains everything for those new to the Dark Knight although if there's one significant difference is that Commissioner Gordon has a son when most people know that his only child is his daughter, Barbra, later goes on to become Batgirl and then Oracle.

I really liked this book and have re-read it twice since I got it two weeks ago. If there's one thing that surprises me about the story is that it's more of Jim Gordon's story than it is Batman's. More pages seem to be dedicated to him than the Caped Crusader and he also seems to be doing more monologuing and at times it seems as if we don't know enough about Bruce Wayne, what he was doing for the past 12 years (He is 25 in the story meaning that he's been gone since he was 13) or how he revealed his plans to Alfred. Did the faithful butler know that his employer was out doing reconnaissance work when he got stabbed and shot or did he answer the bell at the end of the first chapter to find a bloody Bruce Wayne insisting that he not call an ambulance since it would jeopardize his future plans?
"You're young, rich and healthy...but instead you want to fight crime dressed as a BAT!?"

Then there's the issue of Selina Kyle who starts out as a hooker and eventually becomes Catwoman. Now that's all well and fine but I'm somewhat curious as to how many hookers know karate. I'm not joking either, when she attacks Bruce Wayne, he notes that she knows karate but just karate. Most hookers I've met use tazers or pepper-spray. That or just a kick to the nuts.

Her story seems...too brief. It almost feels like there was supposed to be a lot more in there but the editors cut it out. Hell, the last we see of her is just one small panel where she's bitching about she's being suspected of being Batman's accomplice. Jump to a month later in the story and not even a mention of her. Considering how much Frank Miller likes to write female characters who are whores or just parading around in their underwear these days, you'd think he'd have some sort of conclusion where her and Batman have some sort of detailed encounter where he warns her to stay away and hints that he might know her secret identity or something. I don't know, it just feels like there's no proper conclusion.


Wait, is this Catwoman or a dominatrix?

Also, there's not a lot of Batman in the final chapter of the story. The last action scene doesn't even involve Batman, it's just Bruce Wayne wearing a motorcycle helmet. Was it just not logical that it take place at night, during Gordon's day off? Plus, it would have been nice if we ended with a shot of Wayne in the Batcave (Something that was always mentioned but never shown) finishing up or halfway through construction of the Batmobile. I'm very curious how he was able to get from Wayne Manor to Gotham City and back all those times.

But does this mean that it's a bad story? Nope. It's a great story. A must read for any Batman fan or anyone who wants a superhero story that feels grounded in real life. It may have stuff that stick out as flaws to me but I only noticed because that's what happens when I re-read stuff for the third or fourth time. It doesn't take away from my enjoyment.

But also reading this makes you a bit sad. Given what Frank Miller has done creatively in the last couple of years (All Star Batman and Robin, The Spirit movie) you have to wonder what happened. Stories like Batman: Year One and The Dark Knight Returns are considered the best graphic novels of all time, right up there with Watchmen. And yet the most memorable thing he's given us lately is:
Seriously, Frank...why?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where Was I?

It was the second week of grade 10 for me ten years ago. I had just come from my first period English class and was headed to the first floor for second period History. There was a four minute window that you had to get from one class to another and while other students were entering I saw another teacher come in and say to my teacher if he had heard about a plane that flew into the World Trade Center.

Even though I had no idea what was going on, it immediately caught my ears however after a few moments I quickly dismissed it. Probably just some two-seater plane with an amateur pilot who had trouble and made a deadly collision. Tragic but nothing extreme, I thought.

Once that period was over it was time for lunch. I made my way to a pay phone to call my dad because he was to pick me up for lunch and at the time he had about as good a memory as his grandmother does today.

"Dad, you're supposed to pick me up today, remember?"

"Andrew, I'm sorry, I forgot. I've been watching the news. Do you know what's going on?"

"No, what?"

"Terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center. Both towers are gone!"

I suddenly got a flash of these two large towers on fire, being destroyed in the middle of a metropolis. This was something that happened in Tom Clancy novels and bad movies. As I waited outside for him to come pick me up I could hear more and more students suddenly talking about it.

As soon my dad pulled up I got in and we raced home, listening to news updates on the radio and once inside, watching it all unfold on television. A plane had flown into the Pentagon and another airplane had crashed somewhere in America. The endless loop of the second plane hitting the second tower and their final collapse was searing itself onto my brain. Constant flashes of "America Under Attack" sent a sickening feeling through my body.

I never expected to hear those words. In my life the words "Under Attack" was something that happened to Federation Starships or characters in a Schwarzenegger movie. You just never expected it to happen in real life.

I can't remember what I had for lunch (Or if I ate anything) or the rest of that day. However I do know when I first became interested in the world around me. Before then I had my sights on place: Hollywood. I wanted to be an actor and make movies for a living. But suddenly my life took a dramatic turn. I wanted to know what was happening in the world all the time. I started paying a lot more attention to American politics.

Before that, my generation never really had a "Where Were You When" moment. The closest we ever got to that was when Bill Clinton went on TV and admitted that he had lied about Monica Lewinsky. But there was never anything that got our attention and maintained it for a long time. Never something that shook us and changed us, whether or not we were aware or willing to admit it.

I remember being in one of my first days of college for journalism and leaving the Politics class. I can't remember what we discussed but I know that I talked a lot throughout it, like most of my classes and that the date was September 11, 2007. We had just come out and another student remarked to me, "Hey, you know a lot about politics."

"Yeah," I answered. "I've been interested in politics for the past six years."

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Magic of Podcasting

Last night I did a podcast with a friend from college and a friend of his. If you enjoy my work and would like to hear what I actually sound like in person, just listen to the latest podcast from the Basement Vagrants. Let me know if you like it and please, no comments telling me how much I sound like my father.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bringing Real Life to Sesame Street

Like a lot of kids, I watched Sesame Street when I was a little kid. By the time you're about four years old you've outgrown it but still, it's one of the first TV shows that you watch. And you can probably remember most of the characters: Big Bird, Snuffy, Grover, Elmo and of course Ernie and Bert.

Now, before I get into this whole controversy about the petition to get them married, let me just say that this never occurred to me until I was about 12. That was when Jerry Falwell was railing against the Teletubby known as Tinky Winky, insisting that he was a homosexual character. I remember a comedian suggesting that if Falwell go after any characters that were supposedly gay, he should go after Bert and Ernie.

Can you tell me how to get the hell out of this neighbourhood?

And yeah, everyone's joked about this but in all seriousness, come on, do you really think this stupid petition is going to work? They're fucking muppets, they don't have a sexual orientation. But I've seen things from the other side and thought, "Why should we stop with gay marriage for Bert and Ernie? Shouldn't this show cover other hot topic issues that younger audiences might care about?" I thought so and that's why I wrote a letter to Childrens Television Workshop, detailing some very interesting storylines which I'm sure views will enjoy.

1. Immigration-Maria and Luis decide to go on a cross country road trip but encounter some trouble when they enter the state of Arizona. It turns out that Luis has been living in the country illegally and now faces deportation! The residents of Sesame Street rally to try and get a good lawyer as well as teach children outside of North America how to keep a low profile while waiting for your fake green card to arrive in the mail.

Naturally I don't think this would work in real life because, I mean, come on, Sesame Street teaching kids to break the law? You're more likely to find an episode of Barney where he teaches those kids how to roll a joint.
This would attract the 18-39 demographic that always eludes them...

2. Hoarding-After black mold nearly kills him, Oscar the Grouch is confronted by the residents of Sesame Street about his lifestyle. It is revealed that Oscar has abandonment issues and fears losing everything of value which is why he holds onto everything...even if it really has no value. It is also revealed that Oscar hasn't bathed since the Truman administration.

This will be a great chance for Sesame Street to do a crossover with A&E's Hoarders. Plus, it'll teach children at an early age that no matter how bad you think your own life is, there's always someone on TV you can point to and say, "Holy shit, that dude's messed up!"


3. Narcissism-Elmo gets his ass kicked by people who are sick and tired of his dumb 'Tickle-Me' ass always speaking in the third person. He is encouraged to get well but also told that it will probably happen again unless he doesn't change his ways.

I don't care if I sound like a total asshole when I call for the beating and near death of a "beloved" television character. Would you want your kid to grow up always referring to themselves in the third person? No, it's annoying and you'd kick their ass if they weren't your kid. And if you say you wouldn't then you need your ass kicked.
Someone has to stop him...

4. Addiction-Everyone knows that Big Bird's best friend is Mr. Snuffeupagus, also commonly referred to as "Snuffy". But it is revealed that the nickname comes not from a shortening of his last name, but due to his addiction to cocaine. Snuffy is caught by Big Bird doing three lines of cocaine, each line a metre long. He insists that he can quit anytime but decides to go to rehab after nearly ODing outside Mr. Hooper's store.

This would be a great episode to show kids that it's OK to ask for help when you've really fucked up. And it would also show that if you care enough about your friends, you'll do anything you can to help them. Plus it would include special guest star Charlie Sheen as himself.


The way this guy spoke, you knew he was on something illegal

5. Facing Facts-I'm not sure about the rest of you, but sometimes when I was a little kid, I wasn't sure if Big Bird was a guy or just a really butchy female bird. Now it's obvious that he's a boy but since we're trying to cater to all audiences, why not just have Big Bird admit that he's a hermaphrodite?

Why not? Come on, everyone knows this one is true. You can have Big Bird admit that he's a hermaphrodite and have special guest star Lady Gaga do the same thing. That and have someone beat her up for her narcissism as well.

Oh you've gotta be kidding me. And I thought Paris Hilton was desperate for attention

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Damn Your Eyes!

This summer, most of my TV viewing has one way or another involved Gordon Ramsay. If I'm not looking forward to catching the latest episode of Hell's Kitchen, I'm watching last night's installment of MasterChef. Yeah, they're formulaic as hell (Especially Hell's Kitchen) but they're still enjoyable, mostly because the challenges are interesting, the contestants have personalities and because Gordon Ramsay is the last person you could describe as boring.

But lately, I've picked up on something on MasterChef that's just...really annoyed me. Was it the faked audition shots? Not in the least. Was it a contestant who I wanted to smack upside the head? No. In fact it had to do with one of the judges. Don't worry, Chef Ramsay hasn't done anything wrong. He's been his usual self. It has to do with one of the other judges, Joe Bastianich.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who's noticed this but the next time you turn on MasterChef, or watch an episode on YouTube, pay particular attention to the scenes where the contestants present their dishes to the judges. Joy, for whatever reason he's got, always feels the need to stare at the contestants while he's eating. I'm not joking, he will be looking them in the eye while getting the food on the utensil, navigating the utensil to his mouth, opens his mouth, chews and swallows; eyes are all the contestant.

Just imagine his jaw moving up and down...up and down...

Come on, Joe, surely you have better manners than that. I mean, yeah, I know some people might excuse it as an attempt to put the pressure on the contestants. But here's the thing, I think that trying to cook a perfect dish to reflect a certain theme with a specific group of ingredients within a certain time frame against several other chefs who may be equally or more talented than you while being judged by two highly acclaimed chefs and a well established restaurateur with such a lucrative grand prize at stake is pressure enough.

Plus, is that how you eat dinner when your wife makes you dinner or you eat at a friend's place? Do you sit across from them and stare at them like a really bad Bond villain? Sorry, but it just doesn't seem like good table manners. And I don't care if there isn't a table on MasterChef, the staring is just creepy.

"Are these scallops...undercooked, Mr. Bond?"

Men, imagine you're at a urinal. All of a sudden some guy takes the one right next to you and while he's bleeding the lizard, he stares at you. He's not looking at your dick, he's looking at your face. No emotion on his face, just big wide eyes, trying to size you up while he's pissing as well. You'd be a little uncomfortable to say the least.

Look, I have nothing against the guy, he's very knowledgeable and very successful. Just...stop looking at people when you're eating their food. It's like you're trying too hard to stand out and hope some executive at the Food Network offers you your own show. That or you're worries the contestants are going to take the food from you.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

When Star Wars Doesn't Make Sense Part III

Last month was a good month for the blog considering it got the most traffic since July of last year. It seems that a lot of people really like the Star Wars posts I do, so I thought I would do a third edition of things that don't make sense in Star Wars. This is partially inspired by clips of a RiffTrax I saw, making fun of Episode III that and I don't want to take a long time getting my next post out.
...I never had a bad thing to say about this franchise

1. Hey, Let's Fly Near the Bad Guys-Near the end of Empire Strikes Back, Leia, Luke, Chewie, Lando and the droids have escaped Cloud City in the Millennium Falcon and are being pursued by the Empire. Leia goes into the cockpit and points out to Lando and Chewie that there is a Star Destroyer close by. So naturally they decide to get the hell out by jumping to lightspeed.

But it turns out the Empire was two steps ahead of them and deactivated the hyperdrive before they left. Thus, no lightspeed. So while Chewie tries to fix things, Lando decides that the best place to take the Falcon is right next to the Star Destroyer. And I'm not kidding. There's a shot where the ship is about maybe two meters from hitting the Star Destroyer. Lando, you do know that the Empire wanted Leia, Chewie and Luke as prisoners and now that you've escaped and have no means of escape, you're probably going to want to keep a least a lightyear away from anything Imperial. And to think the Rebel Alliance makes this man a general someday.
Do not want!!!

2. Bring balance to the Force?-All throughout the prequel series, we kept hearing about how Anikan was supposed to be the "chosen one" and bring balance to the Force. But was it ever explained what the hell that meant?

They also said that it was part of the prophecy. OK, what prophecy? Who made it? How was it going to come about? You know, George, you could have done yourself some favours by secretly watching a few episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Whenever some prophecy was to come about, they explained who made the prophecy, who it involved, what was to happen right then and there. It didn't leave you guessing for a whole season and then never explain it.
Are you sure it wasn't 'bring blandness to the Force'?

3. Yeah, Obi-Wan and Yoda Were Full of Shit-Remember how in ESB Luke leaves Dagobah to rescue Han, Chewie and Leia from Darth Vader in Cloud City despite the fact that Yoda and Obi-Wan are insisting he complete the training. It's pretty clear they're making it sound like Luke is a boxer with just a few amateur fights who wants to fight Manny Pacquiao.

And they were right. Vader clearly outclassed Luke and eventually chopped off his hand. So it's clear that he needs more training. But first he rescues Han from Jabba in in Return of the Jedi. Once he gets to Dagobah he finds that Yoda is dying but he knows that he needs his help to finish the training. But then Yoda says, "No more training do you need."

Now I don't know what kind of training Luke was doing between movies; for all I know he picked up a copy of How to be a Jedi Knight in Just 16 Weeks by Kit Fisto. But either in the last movie or right now, it's clear that Yoda is full of shit. Last time he was almost on the verge of tears, pleading with Luke, "No, go you must not! More training montages we must complete!!!" But when he comes back he just brushes the training aside. "No better will you get now. Downhill from here your skills shall go."

So there really was no need to stay was there? I mean, yeah, Luke could have honed his skills a little bit but...it probably didn't make that much of a difference.
Kit Fisto, the only Jedi with a name that sounds like a foreign sex move

4. How to Train Your Jedi- And I'm sorry, what the hell was involved in Luke's training that got him up to speed in just a few days? Granted, we don't know how much time he spent with Yoda but...it sure wasn't a long time. Jedi training takes years of practice.

Look at Phantom Menace when the Jedi council believes Anakin is too old to begin training. Hell, Obi-Wan was probably in his twenties and still just a padawan. Even in Attack of the Clones we see kids who look like they should be in preschool already practising with lightsabers. Which probably makes the Jedi Council look like they have the same ability to safely raise a child as Casey Anthony.
Yeah, let's put the five year olds within arms length and have them swing giant laser swords which can maim or sever limbs.