Darth Wonka: Strange Search Terms (April ’12)

May 17, 2012

You want bigger Wonka Vader? You click that shit.willy wonka meme chewbacca: Oh, you made a snarky meme? Please tell me all about it. Anyway, Darth Vader inexplicably dressed at Willy Wonka… just ‘cuz.

anal, canada, true north: This is a nicely condensed version of the lyrics of our national anthem. They left out “Strong and free” but you get the gism. I mean fist. Dammit. Gist, you get the gist.

chad kroeger shaved: Some things cannot be unseen. Especially when they’re images you’ve conjured in your head after reading a search string. I’d hate to make you to imagine Chad Kroeger’s prickly taint hairs growing back in but, well, there you go.

angelina jolie real photos: “That skeletal harpie is not Angelina Jolie, Google. I said give me Angelina Jolie photos!”

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Episode 146 – Avenging Avengers of Vengeance

May 10, 2012

Click to listen to Avengers Podcast

I should have hated The Avengers. By all rights it’s a film that should have sank under its own bloated, overly ambitious weight. It should have been a complete mess.

This collection of heroes don’t even seem to belong in the same film. They each operate by their own set of superhero rules. Some are merely “costumed heroes” (Iron Man, Black Widow) and others are literally gods (Thor).

Conventional wisdom would say you can have one or the other in a film, but not both. You wouldn’t have, say, Batman or Spiderman fighting Cthulhu or Jesus for instance (but maybe that’d be awesome).

Even the two Avengers given superpowers through scientific intervention, Captain America and The Hulk, are at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Assuming you can swallow the basic concept that some super rays can make a dude super strong, the way it’s done with the good Captain is at least vaguely believable. He’s still a man. An enhanced, super man, but just a man. It’s a pill, but it’s still small enough to go down without choking you (and by “you” I mean “me”).

In contrast, The Hulk is just patently absurd. And even if I can swallow this big green (why green?) pill in his own film, when he’s standing beside these other heroes he just looks silly. Though not as silly as the guy dressed up in an exotic dancer’s idea of a viking costume.

The Hulk simply raises a few questions in my mind. Why is he green? Why does anger trigger his metamorphosis? Why is he green? Why don’t the physical laws of conservation of mass apply to him and his pants? And why is he green?

All this is to say, the movie should have been too hard to swallow. But here’s the thing.

Joss Whedon is a freaking wizard.

He can take a bad idea (like giving the absolutely worst character from Buffy The Vampire Slayer his own show) and spin it into gold. With his twin superpowers of witty banter and ensemble dynamics—possibly the same superpower—it almost doesn’t matter what the subject matter is, he can suck you in and make you care about absurd characters in ridiculous situations.

His unique wizardry can make you forget:

  1. Loki is a completely lame villain with completely nonsensical goals. Why does he want to rule a planet that he seems to hold nothing but contempt for? Near as I can tell it’s because he can do a maniacal grin fairly well. When that’s your only salable skill, you might as well try to take over some planet or other.
  2. The film doesn’t really have any plot to speak of. There’s a threat. A team is assembled to neutralize the threat. They neutralize the threat in a fairly linear fashion. If there wasn’t witty banter to tie all the predictable plot points together, it would have been… well, it pretty much would have been a Michael Bay film.
  3. Samuel L. Jackson has completely forgotten how to act but has become very adept at phoning-in his performances. A skill he no doubt picked up on the set of Star Wars. Seriously. I’m convinced the L stands for Lethargic. If not downright Lazy.
Whedon’s trademark humanistic approach to the supernatural makes you forget that what you’re watching  is essentially just another cliché summer blockbuster. Because instead of superheros battling the forces of evil, you’re watching a group of people learning how to live with each other; you’re watching a series of universal human moments everyone can relate to.

Ultimately, you could excise all the action sequences from this movie and still have something worth watching.

Try doing that with Transformers.

Star Trek Voyager Voyages: Season 4

May 8, 2012

Season 4 of Star Trek: Voyager starts off on a good, although ridiculously high-heeled, foot.

Episode 69: Scorpion Part 2

Voyager must pass through Borg space, but the arrival of a new species causes problems. Janeway and Tuvok work with the Borg and meet Seven of Nine as they work on developing a weapon against Species 8472 in exchange for safe passage through Borg space.

Seven of nine as Borg

The Seaons 3 cliffhanger, “Scoprion, Part 1”, was all about the vaguely absurd Species 8472. “Part 2″ is all about Seven of Nine who hits the ball out of the park within two seconds of appearing on screen. Even if you can’t help but speculate that surely The Borg would have amputated those cumbersome bosoms. C’mon now, they’re just not efficient. Neither is that steel thong and camel-toe combination. But there’s just something riveting (pun intended) about the character, even before she begins the journey of regaining her humanity.

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Episode 145 – Snail Mail

May 4, 2012

Click to Listen to Nerd Hurdles 145

Remember letters? Remember writing them until your hands cramped and then you had to fold the paper with your cramped hands and stuff it into another piece of paper which you then had to write multiple address lines on?

Yeah, all that sucked. But luckily here are:

5 Things That Killed Mail

1. Email. This is the obvious culprit. Not only is email instantly delivered, you don’t have to lick any stamps or envelopes. I have noticed that lately (as in longer than I can remember) I don’t write email letters either. I treat email like a text message, just a couple lines to ask or answer a question. And it’s not like I’m getting sent any email letters either. Aside from missives from my mother, I think in the last year I’ve received exactly two email “letters”.

It seems that Email has also been a victim of…

2. Facebook (Twitter, G+, etc.). Most of the letters I’ve written in my life were to friends that I wanted to keep in touch with who’d moved to other cities or countries. Now if I want to know what someone’s up to, I creep on their Facebook. If I want all my friends back home to know about something I’ve done, I’ll post about it. A lot of the time I don’t even need to Facebook stalk someone because I’ve already been kept up to date by their Tweets or sometimes I catch people on Google IM and we have a chat.

I have absolutely zero need to write a letter to anyone.

In the episode I mention a couple pen pals I met at a summer arts program in the pre-Internet days. We still keep in touch. On Facebook. And those two email letters I received this year? That’s right, neither of those people have Facebook accounts. Out of everyone I know and remotely care about: two people.

3. Internet forums. A few times in my life I think I wrote letters purely as an outlet to spout my ideas about pop culture to like minded people. I met Peter Demmon (of Mediasaurs.com fame) in college writing classes and we kept up a correspondence for a few years that was essentially a slow motion version of an Internet forum. We sent a small forest’s worth of nerdery and ranting through the mail.

Now if I feel the need to share something with him, I send him 140 characters on Twitter. If I have something lengthier to say about Nolan’s horrible Dark Knight movies, I hit up the forums at Simply Syndicated.

4. Amazon. Of course, mail can be more than the mere written word. The “care package” was a big part of the romance of the postal system. Receiving treasures from across the country, decorating the package with stickers and doodles, finding the perfect collection of weirdo oddities to send…  it was a magical experience.

Now anyone with Internet access can find any conceivable oddity for themselves. And it’s just a lot easier to get it delivered to them direct from Amazon.

It’s also a lot cheaper than…

5. Canada Post. This could be a uniquely Canadian issue, but sending anything through the mail is prohibitively expensive and brutally slow. It’s hard to imagine anyone opting to send something through the mail unless they absolutely, positively have got to.

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