Wednesday, November 26, 2008

This could make a great "Darkstalkers" game

So, why vampires vs. werewolves? That was the plot of the Underworld movies, and I understand that it's a part of the Mary Sue Meets The Teenage Vampires series that's sweeping the nation. Why can't we have other, more unique showdowns like...

...mummies vs. leprechauns?
...valkyries vs. John Henry?
...hobbits vs. zombies?
...Frankenstein vs. the Loch Ness Monster?
...centaurs vs. genies?
...yetis vs. griffins?
...cherubim vs. seraphim?
...chupacabras vs. the Creature from the Black Lagoon?
...Santa Claus vs. those Japanese things that the Koopas are supposed to represent in Super Mario Bros.?
...gnomes vs. Cthulu?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Ready-made sports nicknames

Inspired by Jack "The Throwin' Samoan" Thompson, Shane "The Flyin' Hawaiian" Victorino, and Kevin "The Crushin' Russian" Kouzmanoff, I offer the following:

• The Hurtin' Albertan
• The Playin' Bruneian
• The Blockin' Moroccan
• The Skiin' Judean
• The Shakin' Jamaican
• The Sweatin' Breton
• The Bowlin' Angolan
• The Buryin' Hungarian
• The Bonkin' Sri Lankan
• The Lugin' Perugian
• The Tearin' Canberran
• The Scurryin' Manchurian

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sitcom a clef

Ben Silverman was a young executive producer at Reveille Entertainment before he became a surprise pick for NBC's co-chairman position and moved to New York. During his tenure, NBC's ratings have fallen precipitously, and he's been surrounded by rumors of drug use and irresponsibility.

One of the shows produced by Reveille Entertainment is "The Office" (US). In that show, shortly after Silverman was appointed co-chairman, a young character, Ryan Howard, received a surprise promotion to regional manager. During his tenure, Dunder Mifflin's market share fell precipitously, and he was surrounded by rumors of drug use and irresponsibility.


(I actually figured this one out on my own before discovering that B. J. Novak specifically said he was going to pattern Howard on Silverman.)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The last paragraph is intended as bulletin board material

Rumor has it that they're trying to start a roller derby league in Iowa City. Frankly, I don't know if Iowa City is big enough to support a full-sized league: you'll probably need at least 30 girls and four refs for a league. If I were them, I'd look into having an IC-based team in the Cedar Rapids league.

My Iowa City readers (the total of which are dwindling daily) are urged to join, even though one of you is leaving at the end of the school year, one of you is a new mom, one of you is quite busy with orcs and wizards and so forth, and one of you is a twig and would probably fall apart like a G. I. Joe that hit the floor too hard the first time you got hip-checked.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I refuse to use the "v" word

Think you're qualified to serve in Obama's Cabinet? You'll (allegedly*) have to fill out this survey, according to the New York Times.

Highlights include:

Please list all aliases or "handles" you have used to communicate on the Internet. (Oh no, what if they find out I'm "Anonymous"?)

Please identify all speeches you have given. (Damn, I knew I should've kept track of my work in high school speech and freshman rhetoric.)

If you have ever sent an electronic communication... that could suggest a conflict of interest or be a possible source of embarrassment to you, your family, or the President-Elect if it were made public, please describe. (Meos tam suspicione quam crimine iudico carere oportere.)

Have you or your spouse at any time held property... the title to which contained any restrictive covenant based on race, sex, ethnic background, religion, or sexual orientation? (Of course, these covenants are mostly unenforceable anyway.

Also, points to you if you can spot the questions designed to weed out Jamie Gorelick, Barney Frank, Zoe Baird, and Charles Guiteau.

* In case you need a reminder that much of what you read in the paper is wrong, you can look elsewhere in the Times to discover that yes, Sarah Palin knows exactly what Africa is.

Yes, this post was shamelessly cribbed from the Wall Street Journal, but I only know of one of my readers who reads the Journal, so it's new to the rest of you.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Something you've always suspected, now confirmed

Clay Aiken's fans are batshit crazy drama queens, and while the North Carolina Court of Appeals didn't say that in so many words, it can be inferred from their opinion in Holleman v. Aiken.

Case summary: Carolina woman notes that the guy who sang at her daughter's wedding is now famous, writes 500+ page hagiography (with the same title as Orel Hershiser's book). Another lady who knew Aiken really well when he was growing up endorsed it. Aiken's mom, fearful of these ladies hitching a ride on the gravy train that is rightfully hers, posts on message boards saying Wedding Mom made the whole thing up. Wedding Mom sues for libel and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Moral: Want to be like Clay and see your dreams come true? All it takes is effort, hope, and ruthlessness.

Try our garlic bread

Assume, for the purposes of the following poll, that the pizza naming paradigm is limited to persons of various titles who all bear the proper name "Pizza."

Not that I have much invested in zombies

Simon Pegg editorializes that zombies shouldn't run. And yes, he uses the "z" word despite its ridiculousness.

Personally, I'm not all that scared of zombies. What's the worst they can do? Rip you apart? You're in terrible pain for a little while and then you're dead. Big deal. Now eternal madness and torment, like Jacob's Ladder, that's scary.

(An aside: when I went to look up Jacob's Ladder, IMDB gave me an ad for Quantum of Solace. My first reaction was "when did they get Rene Auberjonois to play Bond?")

(A second aside: Craig Ferguson was on "Red Dwarf?")

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

If I were a religious man...

Note: the following post was written while I was "off meds," so please disregard anything that does not advance my thesis and appears to be pure assholery.

A friend of mine is a Christian liberal and frequently expresses her displeasure for Christian conservatives who oppose expansion of social welfare programs, as she does in this here post.

Because I am naturally contrarian, I decided to try to put myself in the mindset of a religious conservative, and after I got over my mental roadblock against treating ideas like "belief" and "hope" and so forth as anything other than the main source of humanity's problems, I think I got something, and even got a quote to help me out. (Sorry, no parable.)

"Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's." Matthew 22:21.

The Christian liberal views social welfare programs as people giving of themselves to serve the poor, as God told them to do. But the Christian conservative views social welfare programs not as serving God, but as serving Caesar. Caesar doesn't necessarily distribute funds according to God's word (I think there's a Holy Appropriations Bill somewhere in Leviticus); Caesar judges applicants for funding based on his own criteria, which occasionally include the good of society. The programs could be considered an attempt by Caesar to muscle in on God's "helping the poor" turf.

Furthermore, there's some question as to whether a social welfare program to which you are forced to contribute scores you any moral points at all. My friend and I have the same career and will likely make similar amounts of money. We'll contribute similarly to tax-funded social programs over the course of our lifetimes. She'll care a lot about the people the money is going to; I won't care much for them. Are we now equally holy?

And, of course, there's the issue over whether Caesar actually does a good job of running his programs. Many Christian conservatives think that social welfare programs could be run more efficiently and effectively by state and local governments or by private charities. Some will say that the reason we're still fighting Johnson's War on Poverty is because the government isn't getting the weapons they need: others will say that it's because the government's forces are following the wrong strategy.

So, that's my attempt to pretend to be a Christian conservative for a while. I did this to prove a point: that like it or not, people who disagree with you might have reasons for doing so other than being evil, stupid, or hypocritical. If you think you've stumbled upon some insight which is such a zinger as to destroy their entire worldview, it's likely that they've had that insight too, and have come up with an answer to it. For instance, I don't suppose that if I wrote something like "How does Obama reconcile his goal of 'improving relations with foreign countries' with his goal of 'reinstating tariffs on the things they try to sell us?'", my Democratic readers would freeze up, realize their entire lives have been based on lies, and renounce their faiths. They'd just tell me there was some sort of rational explanation (or dismiss me as evil, stupid, or hypocritical, but that's another story).

Personally, I've spent the last few years making a concerted effort to care less about things like poverty and the economy and justice and war and so forth, and I think it's the best thing I could've done. My stress level is much lower, I've lost 15 pounds, and I've learned the value of humility. After all, if the greatest minds in human history have been working on poverty and the economy and justice and war and so forth for thousands of years, and none of them have come up with a satisfactory solution, then what chance do I have?

(Oh, by the way, Litigious, I'm not as in-touch with today's slang as you are, so if you could fill me in on what a "bafoon" is I'd appreciate it.)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Night Drinking Game

For Democrats: Take one drink every time you hear the word "historic."

For Republicans: Take one drink every time you feel like you need a drink.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Computing progress

The demo version of Football Manager 2009 is now available, and it's the first computer game ever to implement the coach meltdown, as this screenshot proves:

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Science of Comedy

Hypothesis: All good comedy troupes require one comedian who is very good at acting angry.

Data Consistent With Hypothesis: Monty Python's Flying Circus featured the anger stylings of John Cleese, who essentially spun off his "very angry man" character into Basil Fawlty.

SCTV had Dave Thomas. I suspect that when they were young, Bill O'Reilly and Keith Olbermann watched Thomas as Bill Needle and had revelations about their careers of choice.

Mr. Show's Bob Odenkirk is a pro at this, so much so that a roaring "GOD-DAMMIT" is practically his catch phrase.

Saturday Night Live has featured many very angry players over the years, ranging from Jim Belushi to Will Ferrell.

Data That Is Arguably Inconsistent With Hypothesis: The Kids in the Hall may not count. The best angry Kid was Kevin McDonald, but he didn't project the kind of rabid fury that you get from Odenkirk et al. - his anger was the impotent rage of Sir Simon Milligan.

Conclusion: Most good comedy troupes require one comedian who is very good at acting angry.