Mr. Bill George Presents

Posts Tagged ‘The Skeptic’

Yell-O Submarine

In Society on September 27, 2009 at 6:42 PM

Prologue

You know the old saying that your mind is like a steel trap? Have you ever had the pleasure of the ole’ proverbial trap getting rusted shut? Writer’s block. I thought it didn’t exist, merely a shield to hide behind when your writing was as interesting as the latest iteration of the Saw franchise. But I’m here to tell you that it does exist. My hours of staring blankly at assignment after assignment have easily proved its existence to me. Maybe I was uninspired writing fake news articles for a journalism class. So what follows is hopefully a rebirth of mediocre, relatively obvious critics of the world as I see it.

Love,

the_skeptic

Yell-O Submarine

I was already down. I was taking a look at the netbook selection at my local Best Buy when my parents call. They had bought a MacBook Pro (something I had always wanted) for themselves, with a student discount because I (their son) am a student. So, thanks to me, they got what I wanted. At least now when I go home I can pretend that it’s mine. (If I can drown out the chorus of “Where’s right click?” and “so command is control?”.)

After all of this had played out I walked into Barnes and Noble, where I saw it: Glenn Beck’s new book, Arguing with Idiots. http://www.glennbeck.com/content/books/ (the reviews are particularly intriguing.) I began to think…about how anger, argument and (my personal favorite) yelling have taken the place of all logical civil discourse in the world.

Remember in the children’s movie Beethoven, when the dad told the evil scientist that he was going to “kick his butt”? Remember how powerful that outburst of anger made you feel? Do you ever feel like that when you watch Glenn Beck, Keith Olbermann, Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, and any other show that squares off two or more “experts” against each other about issues which the success of our country and well-being are discussed, yell at each other? How could you? They yell about health care, they yell about Obama, they yell about each other yelling about Obama and health care… and don’t get them started about Iraq, Afghanistan, or Iran.

How long can this go on? Can people really continue to get their information from such clearly biased, clearly clueless windbags who were chosen for their jobs for their ability to yell rather than reason? Neither side is exempt from this by the way, left or right, blue or red or whatever stupid way you want to say it, everyone’s guilty. (Just so everyone’s clear, I’m not yelling as I type this, or hitting the keys very hard, my temperament would be “inquisitive and vexed” if this was the mood line on my MySpace page.)

George Washington had it right from the beginning. As he was giving his farewell address as the first President of the United States, he said (and I’m paraphrasing) “I’m going to retire now, but before I go, remember these words: this whole political party thing people are talking about, try not to do that, I don’t think it will work very well. Well, see ya later.”

Just remember this kids, if someone is talking about an issue and you don’t agree with them, question them, listen to them, and give them your side. Don’t raise your voice, and don’t use any wild cliché hand gestures either. Your point might just be absorbed instead of redirected toward you in the form of more yelling by the other party. Don’t believe me? Picture a microphone. When you speak with a normal tone into it, it carries your voice to others who can absorb and interpret your words. Now, if you yell into a microphone, the words get distorted, crackly, and if you yell loud enough it might just feedback, at which point the audience will cringe, cover their ears and start yelling back. Then we’re right back to the Cro-Magnon era. Right Glenn?

So TIAW loyalists, how’d I do? This is easily the most I’ve written in months. Give me your feedback…but please, don’t yell.

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SQUlifeARED

In Technology on July 24, 2009 at 12:04 AM
The square. What a perfect shape. Four equal sides and a perfect receptacle for information to be contained. Confused? Allow me to enlighten you.
My digitized life is now really all contained inside of squares. I bought a Nintendo Wii seven months or so ago, and really loved the “Channel” concept it had to offer. All my favorite things kept nice at neat in little squares just a quick little point away. (Yes Bill, I know the Wii channels are slightly rectangular and have rounded edges but roll with me here.) Then one day as I was surfing the internet a little Google at popped up asking me if I wanted to try Google Chrome. I like Google. Chrome is shiny. Where could it go wrong? So as began the download I began to wonder what this “Chrome” was really all about.
If you haven’t tried Google Chrome. Try it. Now. It’s stripped down, it’s quick and it doesn’t try to kid itself with what it is. A browser. A smart browser that when opened is eerily reminiscent of the Wii Channels. Except the little squares contain not Super Mario World and Sonic, but 9 of my most visited websites. I happen to really love Wikipedia and YouTube, so Chrome has search bars for both sites built in so you don’t need to go to the actual site. Genius.
Is this a review for Google Chrome? Kind of. You see, Chrome isn’t just a browser, it’s a way of life. It says I’m busy, but I’ll make busy cool.  The way I see it there’s a Big 3 of Web Browsers. Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer.
Firefox: Firefox users are usually tech-saavy, Mac loving types who, at least in my experience will defend Firefox until the point of coming to blows. I know this post has to yield at least one angry comment for a user. FIIRRREEEFOOOXXXXX!!! It could be our generations FREEEEBBBIIIRRRRRDDDD!!!!
Internet Explorer: Usually people who are not very internet centered. Facebook is usually their homepage and They keep updating Internet Explorer only because its friendly and familiar, like that animated paper clip that Microsoft used to have.
Chrome: I’m not going to fill this one out. Try Chrome for yourself and join us. (I think this might have been what Lennon was talking about in ‘Imagine’) I’ve converted at least 20 people now, and hopefully a few more after this post.
So flame away, do your worst TIAW readers. I can handle it. And damn it I’ll say it, its just so hip to be a square.

The square. What a perfect shape. Four equal sides and a perfect receptacle for information to be contained. Confused? Allow me to enlighten you.

My digitized life is now really all contained inside of squares. I bought a Nintendo Wii seven months or so ago and really loved the “Channel” concept it had to offer. All my favorite things kept nice and neat in little squares just a quick little point away. (Yes Bill, I know the Wii channels are slightly rectangular and have rounded edges but roll with me here.)

Then one day as I was surfing the internet a little Google ad popped up asking me if I wanted to try Google Chrome. I like Google. Chrome is shiny. Where could it go wrong? So as began the download I began to wonder what this “Chrome” was really all about.

If you haven’t tried Google Chrome: try it. Now. It’s stripped down, quick and doesn’t try to kid itself with what it is – a browser. A smart browser that when opened is eerily reminiscent of the Wii Channels. Except the little squares contain not Super Mario World and Sonic, but 9 of my most visited websites. I happen to really love Wikipedia and YouTube, so Chrome has search bars for both sites built in so you don’t need to go to the actual site. Genius.

Is this a review for Google Chrome? Kind of. You see, Chrome isn’t just a browser, it’s a way of life. It says, “I’m busy, but I’ll make busy cool.”  The way I see it there’s a Big 3 in the world of Web Browsers: Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer.

Firefox: Firefox users are usually tech-saavy, Mac loving types who (at least in my experience) will defend Firefox until the point of coming to blows. I know this post has to yield at least one angry comment from a user saying, “FIIRRREEEFOOOXXXXX!!! It could be our generations FREEEEBBBIIIRRRRRDDDD!!!!”

Internet Explorer: Usually people who are not very internet centered. Facebook is usually their homepage and they keep updating Internet Explorer only because it’s friendly and familiar, like that animated paper clip that Microsoft Office used to have.

Chrome: I’m not going to fill this one out. Try Chrome for yourself and join us. (I think this might have been what Lennon was talking about in ‘Imagine.’) I’ve converted at least 20 people now and hopefully a few more after this post.

So flame away! Do your worst TIAW readers. I can handle it. And dammit I’ll say it: it’s just so hip to be a square.

Chrome Logo

Can You Feel That Beat?

In Music, News on June 26, 2009 at 12:43 AM

Michael Jackson is dead.

As I look at that statement it still seems surreal. How could someone go from so high to so low. The King of Pop has had one of the most meteoric falls from grace that any star has had. Most starts fade away as their careers wane, but his was inescapable and his every move has been a headline.

But the real question is, does the world know what it has lost today? I consider myself a relative newcomer to Michael Jackson’s music. My roommate and I nearly wore out a copy of his #1 hits, (Mario Kart 64 and brown liquor also aided in our quest). But after the first couple of times listening through it, I realized that I had never actually given MJ a chance. I didn’t just listen…

And you know what, I think that a lot of the world stopped listening. Many of MJ’s fans were justified in abandoning ship once the first child molestation accusations came out and even more so after wave after wave of embarrassing, sad, and downright puzzling news came out about “Wacko Jacko.” In the coming days I think many people will know what a true genre-jumping genius that Michael Jackson was. From working with Eddie Van Halen on Beat It to create the penultimate rock track, to the soulful Rock With Me, to the bluesy-pop Billie Jean, the King of Pop moniker really doesn’t do him justice.

As his persona changed so did the world’s view of him. The new generation of kids only will know Michael from episodes of South Park and Scary Movie and his infamous mugshot. In many ways Michael brought the fallout on himself and I think each of us knows that the man must have been battling some of the most serious demons ever constructed.

More ominously in my mind was his recently announced “comeback” tour. But does anybody know what it was due to be called. “This is it.” When I read that four months ago I thought to myself, “This is it, the end.” I honestly thought to myself that he would end his life. It seemed destined. In the coming days I would not at all be surprised to find out that his cardiac arrest was brought on by some outside supplement, not from high cholesterol. (Although a stress related heart attack isn’t that unbelievable.)

That said, it is now time to reflect on Michael’s career as a whole. He is more widely known than any other artist (quiet down McCartney, you’re the one who sold him the Beatles rights and you’ll probably get them back) and Thriller being the best selling album of all time is a testament to that. He’s been parodied by “Weird” Al making him accessable to even more people. He was the star of his own videogame on Sega Genesis. (Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker. Play it, it’s a must experience event in your life.) If that’s doesn’t define legend I don’t know what does.

Ride the Boogie Michael… I know you would want us to do the same.

George Carlin. Richard Pryor. Barack Obama?

In News, Politics on June 13, 2009 at 10:21 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdTsd668K8I

Guess what. I smiled the other day… more specifically at this video which aired on ABC News (and probably every other station on the planet). This video shows President Obama writing an excused absence note for the daughter of a man who was attending Obama’s town hall. The man’s daughter’s name was Kennedy. How perfect. Or… too perfect?

A lot of people have been clamoring that this whole thing was a fake, an attempt at the ultimate PR move. A President who is hip, who can roll with the people and dare I say be down to Earth. Now a lot of things lead me to believe that it was in fact genuine, (the shakiness of the Dad’s voice, Obama’s speech pattern, etc) but even if it’s not: Who cares?!

Maybe Obama isn’t cut out to be Richard Pryor at his town meetings, but he’s not supposed to be. At least it’s a step away from the fear mongering, brash, overconfident, town halls that Curious George (W. Bush) used to run. Remember those? Where he said that, “Human beings and fish can co-exist peacefully.” I am all for an administration that’s a little more out in the open, not one where Dick Cheney records captain’s logs from the bridge of the Starship PacemakerPrise.

But enough about Vice Presidents who shoot their friends in the face, let’s face facts: At the very smallest level, Obama gave this little girl a story that she will forever cherish, even if it was drawn up by Obama’s “people.” It takes a lot these days to even get me to watch the news, and based on the Big 3’s ratings a lot of people share my sentiment. But if there is a little glimmer that there’s some little bit of humanity in this world, particularly from our elected officials, I’m more apt to pay attention to the state of the nation.

Don’t take this post as pandering support for Obama, becuase I could care less who you voted for. Take it for what it is, a nice little story. Or maybe you would rather hear what Joe the Plumber/Welder/Barstool/Sixpack’s latest move is?

Do The Loco-Motion(Plus)

In Video Games on June 9, 2009 at 9:29 PM
Wii MotionPlus is finally available and I just happen to have my self the shiny new gadget and a copy of Tiger Woods 10. First of all, let me just say that I know many of you are crying foul and that big, bad Nintendo is nothing but a money grubbing company who “lied” to everyone about the capabilites that their new “Wii” machine had. The Wii has quickly gone from apple of the gaming world’s eye, to sell out, meaning they have gone outside the gaming worlds normal audience and tried and succeded to bring in new people to gaming. Ladies and gentlemen…MotionPlus.
In true Nintendo fashion the MotionPlus comes with two instruction manuals, both of which outline nearly the same thing. The nice folks at Nintendo also throw in a new Wiimote jacket that accomodates the added length of the MotionPlus. Once you spend the few seconds assembling the device, the Wiimote now feels like a little more serious piece of equipment. After all 1:1 response is a very serious matter is it not?
You may be thinking to yourself, “How can the_skeptic be qualified to review MotionPlus, Tiger Woods can’t possibly be that motion intensive?” Your right, in fact you have the option to completely bypass the whole thing altogether, but, the guys at EA Sports added a new game…within the game that is the perfect vehicle to examine the greatness of 1:1 control response. Disc Golf, or “Frolf” is a seperate game within Tiger Woods 10 that I’m quite sure was thrown in just to show off the accuracy of MotionPlus. I tell you, it IS just like throwing an actual Frisbee. There is no lag, no glitch, no nothing.
But here within lies the problem. It’s perfect, almost too perfect. Have you ever played Frisbee with someone who can’t throw it straight, meaning it curves and sails wildly and unexpectedly because they can’t grasp the concept of the “wrist flick”? These woes with be perfectly recreated when they play disc golf. I think the biggest problem that people will have with MotionPlus is that it still has a learning curve. 1:1 doesn’t mean that everything gets easier, it means that if you stink at golf, tennis, baseball, darts, or anything in real life, you stank will be perfectly captured in a digital environment. Ain’t that great.
I forsee MotionPlus getting many mixed reviews because it does require a fine touch, something not too many video games have. Gone are the days of button mashing and in are the days of maybe video game…practice?!?!?! I won’t go that far, but i will say this Nintendo gave us everything the Wii was promised to be and then some, at what I see as a reasonable price of 24.99. Once you use it for a minute or so the games will be infinitly more fun if you are willing to work at them a little longer.
The Bottom Line: (To steal a review tatic to Wii-abandoner MrBillGeorge)
MotionPlus absolutely is worth it, and will probably be necessary for most Wii games in the near future. So swallow you pride, and experience the Wii the way it was meant to be.
Grade: A+

Wii MotionPlus is finally available and I just happen to have my self the shiny new gadget and a copy of Tiger Woods 10.

First of all, let me just say that I know many of you are crying foul and that big, bad Nintendo is nothing but a money grubbing company who “lied” to everyone about the capabilites that their new “Wii” machine had. The Wii has quickly gone from apple of the gaming world’s eye, to sell out. Meaning that they have gone outside the gaming world’s normal audience and succeeded in bringing in new people to gaming.

Ladies and gentlemen… MotionPlus:

In true Nintendo fashion the MotionPlus comes with two instruction manuals, both of which outline nearly the same thing. The nice folks at Nintendo also throw in a new Wiimote jacket that accomodates the added length of the MotionPlus. Once you spend the few seconds assembling the device, the Wiimote now feels like a little more serious piece of equipment. After all, 1:1 response is a very serious matter is it not?

You may be thinking to yourself, “How can the_skeptic be qualified to review MotionPlus, Tiger Woods can’t possibly be that motion intensive?” You’re right. In fact, you have the option to bypass the whole thing altogether, but the guys at EA Sports added a new game within the game that is the perfect vehicle to examine the greatness of 1:1 control response. Disc Golf, or “Frolf,” is a seperate game within Tiger Woods 10 that I’m quite sure was thrown in just to show off the accuracy of MotionPlus. I tell you, it IS just like throwing an actual Frisbee. There is no lag, no glitch, no nothing.

But herein lies the problem: It’s perfect… almost too perfect. Have you ever played Frisbee with someone who can’t throw it straight? Meaning it curves and sails wildly and unexpectedly because they can’t grasp the concept of the “wrist flick?” These woes are perfectly recreated when they play disc golf. I think the biggest problem that people will have with MotionPlus is that it still has a learning curve. 1:1 doesn’t mean that everything gets easier, it means that if you stink at golf, tennis, baseball, darts, or anything in real life, your stank will be perfectly captured in a digital environment. Ain’t that great.

I forsee MotionPlus getting many mixed reviews because it does require a fine touch, something not too many video games have. Gone are the days of button mashing and in are the days of maybe video game… practice?!?!?! I won’t go that far, but I will say this Nintendo gave us everything the Wii was promised to be and then some, at what I see as the reasonable price of $24.99. Once you use it for a minute or so the games will be infinitly more fun if you are willing to work at them a little longer.

THE BOTTOM LINE (To steal a review tactic from the Wii-abandoning MrBillGeorge):

MotionPlus is absolutely worth it and will probably be necessary for most Wii games in the near future. So swallow your pride and experience the Wii the way it was meant to be.

Grade: A+

Do Not Go Gently Into That Average Evening

In Society on May 31, 2009 at 12:39 PM
Are you there god? It’s me, the_skeptic.
Well it finally happened today. I realized that despite my best efforts, I’m getting old. While I can find some solace in the fact that my generation aging right along with me, it’s just not enough. I’ll tell you where I realized it. I was at the mall, in Spencer’s, looking at the t-shirts. And among all the profane, smutty, and death metal t-shirts was a section dedicated to icons of the 90s. Ninja Turtles, Super Mario, Pokemon, Power Rangers it was all there, staring right back at me. I had to ask myself, “Who are they marketing these to?”. I know that me and my whole generation know of these icons, but to the younger kids, they are hip and trendy, things that harken back to a simpler time. I now ask myself, “Will I be able to tell this younger generation of my greatest accomplishment in life, completing all 96 levels in Super Mario World on all three files.” Or will these young whippersnappers in their cool shirts just look at me and say “Tell me another one you geezer”.
I could have brushed off the incident at the mall as my mind overreacting a bit. But no, there’s more. On my way home from the mall I was flipping through the stations on the radio dial, and heard a talking head saying he was going to spin Kid Rock’s “Only God Knows Why”. On WPYX, Albany’s finest CLASSIC ROCK station. Now a band from my youth is in with Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rush, Journey and Aerosmith, the perpetual radio geezer trifecta from hell.
But the horror didn’t end there. I thought about the car I was sitting in. A 1998 Toyota 4Runner, with 176,000 miles on it. I think it’s a nice car, but then you think about it, its 11 years old. Now it’s a car you see at crappy little dealerships on every street corner with ads like “Good Winter Driver!!!” emblazoned on it and the salesmen is willing to throw in his youngest daughter in with the deal just to get the rusty bucket out of his sight.
CD Players now belong in the Smithsonian rather than in every kids backpack, VCRs seem like some weird internet abbrevation that no one knows the true meaning to, and let’s face facts 90s kids Pogs really weren’t as cool as we all thought they were.
But fear not, there is still hope for us as we slowy retire into the real world. Only we know the true joy of an episode of “Rocko’s Modern Life” brings (the_skeptic has them all on DVD tee-hee) , the primal rage of conducting a fatality on your opponent in Mortal Kombat II, and that is just fine with me. Let us be a generation that can keep up with the times, but never forgets where our roots lie. It’s time to accept that we are getting older, so the next time you have a “mall moment” like I did, don’t think “damn I’m getting old”, think “I’m gonna buy this shirt and proclaim to the world…TURTLES DON’T DO DRUGS!!! http://www.spencersonline.com/product/mutant_ninjat_turtles/

Are you there God? It’s me, the_skeptic.

Well it finally happened today. I realized that despite my best efforts, I’m getting old. While I can find some solace in the fact that my generation is aging right along with me, it’s just not enough. I’ll tell you where I realized it. I was at the mall, in Spencer’s, looking at the t-shirts. And among all the profane, smutty, and death metal t-shirts was a section dedicated to icons of the 90’s. Ninja Turtles, Super Mario, Pokemon, Power Rangers; they were all there, staring right back at me.

I had to ask myself, “Who are they marketing these to?” I know that me and my whole generation know of these icons, but to the younger kids, they are hip and trendy things that harken back to a simpler time. I now ask myself, “Will I be able to tell this younger generation of my greatest accomplishment in life: completing all 96 levels in Super Mario World on all three files?” Or will these young whippersnappers in their cool shirts just look at me and say, “Tell me another one you geezer.”

I could have brushed off the incident at the mall as my mind overreacting a bit. But no, there’s more. On my way home from the mall I was flipping through the stations on the radio dial, and heard a talking head saying he was going to spin Kid Rock’s “Only God Knows Why,” on WPYX, Albany’s finest CLASSIC ROCK station. Now a band from my youth is in with Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rush, Journey and Aerosmith; the perpetual radio geezer trifecta from hell.

But the horror didn’t end there. I thought about the car I was sitting in. A 1998 Toyota 4Runner, with 176,000 miles on it. I think it’s a nice car, but then you think about it, it’s 11 years old. Now it’s a car you see at crappy little dealerships on every street corner with ads like “Good Winter Driver!!!” emblazoned on it and the salesmen is willing to throw his youngest daughter in with the deal just to get the rusty bucket out of his sight.

CD Players now belong in the Smithsonian rather than in every kid’s backpack, VCRs seem like some weird internet abbrevation that no one knows the true meaning of, and let’s face facts, ‘Pogs‘ really weren’t as cool as we all thought they were.

But fear not, there is still hope for us as we slowy retire into the real world. Only we know the true joy of an episode of Rocko’s Modern Life brings (the_skeptic has them all on DVD, tee-hee), or the primal rage of conducting a fatality on your opponent in Mortal Kombat II, and that is just fine with me. Let us be a generation that can keep up with the times, but never forget where our roots lie. It’s time to accept that we are getting older.

So the next time you have a “mall moment” like I did, don’t think “damn I’m getting old,” think “I’m gonna buy this shirt and proclaim to the world…TURTLES DON’T DO DRUGS!!!

TMNT.jpg

People Suck

In Society on May 26, 2009 at 12:33 AM

Elaine: I will never understand people.
Jerry: They’re the worst.

Something struck me the other day: People suck.

While I’ve known this fact for a long time it is good to see that I’m slowly bringing others down with me. My lovely girlfriend, we’ll call her Mrs. X, is getting the same bitter temperament that I have had for quite sometime. Yesterday we pulled into a local convenience store for a beverage when one of the local hillbillies decked out in full Harley-Davidson garb lighting up a Marb red commented on her car, and what nice shape it was in. Once out of earshot, Mrs. X leaned in an said to me, “Did I just get hit on because of my car?” (a 1991 Toyota Camry mind you). I had to say yes. And that hurt me. I ask you: isn’t there be a 6 tooth minimum when trying to hit on a girl? And I answer: a resounding ‘Yes.’

But, the incident has inspired me. I have come up with 4 (I like even numbers) things that I hate about people.

1. Courtesy (or lack thereof)

People have no sense of what common courtesy is anymore. Taking screaming brats into a nice restaurant, texting/talking on the phone in unacceptable situations (toll booths, drive throughs, etc), not waving when you let them pull out in front of you, acknowledging you when you hold a door et al. The little things. It’s a big world out there folks, don’t think that it all revolves around you.

2. Driving

The rules of the road aren’t what they used to be. I have already covered a few of these in the previous section but it deserves a part of the list all for itself. Have you ever played this tug of war? You and another motorist arrive at the same parking space but you got there noticeably sooner. The other person take this as a challenge and bangs through the gears to get into the space. It’s a parking lot, not the NHRA Nationals folks.

Also: not using blinkers, leaving high beams on, driving too slow, tailgating, drifting within lanes, stupid vanity license plates. People always seem to know just how to get your blood boiling on the road and it’s almost inescapable. At one point I got so frustrated with a woman who couldn’t operate her blinkers correctly I accused her of being a whale and her flippers were the cause of the problem. When my girlfriend pointed out how callous I was, I admitted maybe it wasn’t her flippers…it was the big horn coming out of the front of her face, that Narwhal.

3. The Internet

People on the Internet are the worst (this blog excluded obviously). Particularly on YouTube, ESPN.com, and AOL.com. Really, anywhere that someone who sits in their dimly lit house all day waiting to start an unnecessary argument can find you.

YouTube made me realize that no one is accepting of anything in this world anymore. AOL.com commentators can take the simplest article and turn it into the most torrid maelstrom of hate, religion and politics that you will ever see. ESPN isn’t that far behind.

You may say, well these people are just trying to seem crazy to make their point heard. I realize that, but at what point does arguing what Bible verse points out that Democrats are the anti-Christ seem a little bit juvenile?

4. Inside the Box

Remember that phrase “think outside the box”? Guess what, it’s actually a really good sentiment to live by. People in today’s world don’t strive to try new things. “Aerosmith is the best band ever I don’t care what you say and I’ll never listen to anything else.” “Spiderman is way better than Batman.” “Kix are better than Cheerios.”

You name it, someone has passed premature judgement on it. People strive to classify every single facet of their lives. Endless ranking, rating, and competing. Can’t we all just try and do something different?

I realize that this is only a small sampling of reasons why people suck. Please leave comments and add to this list. A wise man once said “Yes we can…find the root cause of human annoyance and stupidity.” –Barack Obama and the_skeptic.

Read This… If You Hate Reading

In Literature on May 20, 2009 at 2:18 AM

You know what? I hate reading. Yeah I said it. And as much as I hate reading, I hate reading about people reading. There was an article in “The Republican,” Springfield’s finest newspaper, today written by some 8th grade overachiever who was singing the praises of reading. First of all, reading ain’t all its cracked up to be. People make the association that just because a kid has his nose in a book that they are far and above kids who… aren’t.

When I see a child, or anybody for that matter, reading a book I think one of three things: 1. The kid has no friends and is crying out for someone to hang out with. 2. The kid is brown nosing or attempting to appear more intellectual. 3. They are following a trend that no one knows how got started (Twilight, Potter, Joel Osteen).

Do we realize how ridiculous this is? Just because someone is reading a book doesn’t mean that they’re going to be the next Niles Bohr, especially if it’s about vampire love triangles (or whatever the hell Twilight is about). Is someone strong just because they are in the gym? Is someone stylish just because they shop at Hollister? Is someone from Alabama just because they listen to Kenny Chesney? No. So kids are certainly not advancing themselves just because they are reading rather than watching TV or anything else.

I (the_skeptic) am known as somewhat of a Renaissance Man. I obtained my knowledge not from the pages of a book but from years of absorbing information from all places. In 3rd grade a teacher was talking about musicians and if anyone in the class knew a famous violin company. I said “Stradivarius,” much to her amazement. And do you know where I heard it? The Three Stooges episode “Disorder in the Court.” But enough about me.

My little overachieving friend at the Republican built her argument on the notion that reading has something for everyone, which it does. But so do video games, and movies, and department stores, so I don’t really see the correlation. If it’s that using your imagination to paint the pictures to go with someone else’s words, spare me. Everyone interprets every piece of art differently. Some people will tell you Will Ferrell is really funny, others won’t. It’s just like reading, some people like 1,000 page novels about wizards and full page articles about how people dress up and wait outside for the book to be released, some people like Dilbert. To each his own.

I will leave you with this my loyal followers (because I clearly can’t say readers after all this). This is my favorite quote of all-time, and it came from a big, burly mechanic on the old TV show Monster Garage.

“I like to spend my time doing the things that people write books about.”

Now that’s the most profound thing I’ve READ in a long time.

Be A Society Hero

In Music, Video Games on May 11, 2009 at 10:32 PM

I have a headache, and do you know why? I don’t know what the word “hero” means anymore. No, this isn’t a long, political filibuster about the way things were in the good ole days; it is a call to action for all of us to just say no… to rhythm based video games.

Wait, did I really just try to put down the multi-zillion dollar industry that has been created by the game Guitar Hero? You’re damn right I did.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not condemning the whole organization but I am saying enough is enough. Do you people realize how close we were to getting a Guitar Hero: Prince? (Prince had the dignity to decline and say kids would turn out as well adjusted individuals if they played actual instruments.) But I guess it makes sense, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith was a huge hit, the only thing it was missing in my mind was unlockable wheelchairs and walkers for Steven Tyler to use as he shuffled around stage. But enough about my dislike for Aerosmith, I’ll try and spell out it out for you a little more clearly.

Since 2005 when Guitar Hero burst onto the scene there have been 8 games that have come out with 3 more due out this year. Not including the Rock Band franchise which people still pretend is somehow different or more advanced than Guitar Hero, that’s around 1.6 games every year. That’s faster than MADDEN people! I do believe that the fine folks who program these games know that they are running out of room to make these games because in the 2009 lineup is a game called Band Hero. Probably up after that is Group of People in Close Proximity Making Noise Hero, or is that just another name for Aerosmith? Burned.

Basically what I’m driving at is that our whole media industry is far too consumed with reproducing something until its returns are so diminished that it ends up in the bargain bin at Dollar Tree. Don’t believe me? Toy Story 3 is in the works (I know it’s in 3D MrBillGeorge, relax), a new Beverly Hills Cop, a new Jurassic Park, a new Rambo for God’s sake, he (*spoilers*) DIED in the first book. Somewhere the carnage must end.

But there is in fact no end in sight. Activision is coming out with DJ Hero, which I’m absolutely sure will spawn a line of niche games in this vein. Maraca Hero, Slide-Whistle Hero, Nails on a Chalkboard Hero: Aerosmith, Triangle Hero and people will probably eat it up.

I put it to you America, play these games, but don’t discuss that Buddy Rich style drumming got you through ‘Hot For Teacher’ on drums. Be a society hero, go out, socialize, bang on a real drum or two, you just might find that not everything needs a USB port to be worthwhile.