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Mike Reyes, aka Mr. Controversy, has considered himself a writer ever since he was a child. He wrote for various school publications from about 1995 until 2006, and currently runs both The Bookish Kind and Mr. Controversy, which is an offshoot of the regular column he wrote in High School. He's also a film journalist/critic for Cocktails & Movies and CinemaBlend, as well as the author of several short stories such as "The Devil v. George W. Bush". Any inquiries for reprinting, writing services, or general contact, should be forwarded to: mikereyeswrites@gmail.com

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Friday, May 30, 2008

My Abusive Relationship with Hollywood, Episode 2: The Misbegotten Offspring of SNL

Before the venom flows today, I'd like to take a moment to mourn another tragic passing of a talented star. Harvey Korman, 81, has passed away. I was awoken last night by my father, who had just read the news on the Internet. To us, he was nothing short of sidesplitting in History of the World Part I and his guest spot as Heinrich Von Zeppel on F Troop. This comedic legend will forever live on thanks to several Mel Brooks movies, as well as The Flintstones and The Carol Burnett Show. I'm too young to have seen most of his work from during his heyday, but I'm greatful for work of his I have seen. Count DeMonet, Hedley LaMarr, the Great Gazoo...all iconic characters in the Comedy Lexicon, all will be fondly remembered. No one knows what Heaven looks like or if it surely exists, but if it does then it's sure as Hell going to have a great comedy club.

Which leads into a topic that's connected to this rant about my continuingly abusive relationship with Hollywood: comedy. By no means is it an easy art, and by no means is it a safe art. Careers have thrived and died by its tenets, and in the end you either sink or swim. Now, there are very basic rules to comedy: Keep it short, keep it simple, setup and timing are your Gods, and leave them wanting more. These are rules that are simple and easy in learning, but difficult as anything to execute. You've gotta have talent in order to make it work, and talent is something Saturday Night Live, the once mighty juggernaut of late night sketch comedy, is running short of.

What was once a place where jesters from all walks and cultures could gather to ply their trade and produce a "Not Ready for Prime Time" laugh fest, is now to quote Wes Mendel from the tragically deceased "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip", a "...prissy, feckless, off-the-charts, greed-filled whore-house...". Skits are written not for jokes, but to capitalize on possible "franchise characters". That's right: remember when Wayne's World was a funny sketch, which turned into a funny movie and still funny sequel? (Suck it, doubters.) That lead to A Night At The Roxbury which was a funny sketch, but turned into a shitty movie. Which in turn lead to Superstar, which was a lukewarm sketch, and turned into a disaterous movie. Do I need to mention The Ladies Man? Good, because I didn't even bother to see it, and chances are neither did you.

Now tell me something, would Mister Robinson's Neighborhood made a good movie? Probably not. Would The Wild and Crazy Guys made a good movie? Not if you like your precious "memories", those silly things. Would Coneheads...wait, I actually kinda liked that one. (Again, silence from the doubters, please.) The point is, it's a rather hit and miss approach, that of adaptation of a work from one media to another. But what's even riskier is when you write a movie solely for the "talents" of one person, or one comedy team.
It's worked in the past: Tommy Boy, Brain Candy, Happy Gilmore; all tailor made for their respective stars involved, all funny. But where there's a Tommy Boy, there's a Black Sheep. Where there's a Brain Candy, there's nothing for several years before a kick assed reunion tour. And where there's a Happy Gilmore, there's a Billy Madison and You Don't Mess With The Zohan to ruin your life. SNL movies were the hallmark of horrible things to come from the brainchild of Lorne Michaels. We only needed to tune them out, and we'd be able to enjoy the show for all it's worth. Then Will Ferrell left, and the Dark Ages began yet again for SNL.

As if the infamous 1980-1981 cast wasn't bad enough, Will Ferrell's departure opened the gates of Hell, which in turn gave us some of the stupidest cast members. Particularly, The Dukes of Hazard (and when I say Hazard, I mean Asinine Comedy) Andy Samburg and Jimmy Fallon. The charges against these two are great and unforgivable injustices to comedy, and they should be punished with obscurity and their memories stricken from the record of Pop Culture. Instead, these two meteoric mediocrities have made a killing off of killing comedy.

I can hear some people saying, "But Andy's young, he's yet to prove himself. Give him time." Well, alright. We can give him time...but does that mean we had to give him this?
What ever happened to starting with a cameo or supporting role in a small film, followed by some more supporting work in big films, which were THEN followed by a small film with you as the star? Someone had it in their mind that a mindless comedy with the "right talent" would be able to light the box office on fire, no matter how much experiene they had under their belt. With the wild success of the SNL Digital Shorts (which are, for the most part, teh lame), Mr. Samburg's star was rising, and they thought that Hot Rod would have been the perfect way to send it shooting towards Pluto. Well, they got it wrong. Hot Rod flopped, and yet Andy Samburg prevailed. Hot Rod looked like the type of film that would bomb, but retain cult following; much like Black Sheep did after Tommy Boy's release. (The cop car scene from Black Sheep was still pretty funny though.) And as if this offense wasn't painful enough, let's not forget how a similar film with similar intentions happened to garner similar, if not undesired results...

Oh, it burns, does it not?! I'd be mighty surprised if ANYONE remembered this disaster. I wonder, does he turn and laugh at the audience throughout the film when he thinks a joke is funny? Because that's what he did MOST OF THE DAMN TIME on SNL. And as for Mr. Samburg...well, his digital shorts smell of nothing but shit.
However, even the funniest of SNL are not immune to bad film choices...



One bright side to all of this, at least they aren't the only ones killing comedy out there. And until he's dealt with, SNL will be safe...for now.

Don't laugh...he can't see us if we don't laugh.

I'm Mr. Controversy, and I'll see you all on Monday, if I survive the Sex and the City crowds that'll flood New Jersey along with all the Benny's. Pray for daylight...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Remembering 1998

1998 will always be one of those years I can't help but remember. I was 15, in Middle School, and ready to move onto High School. I was between nursing a huge heartbreak from my first girlfriend and I eventually would try to get back together with a friend whom I was on again, off again with. The eighth grade class of Howell Middle School North (known back then as only "Howell Middle School") was in New York to see a production of The Sound of Music, following a lunch at Charlie Brown's Steakhouse. (Though I remember wanting to see the play "Art" instead, because I had a strange draw to the dramatic gravitas that was Alan Alda, Victor Garber, and Alfred Molina all on one stage.) While at the steakhouse, I wandered over into the giftshop adjoining the restaurant. I was looking for some sort of cheap souvenir to bring home, just because I loved (and continue to love to this very day) New York so much. At that phase in my life, I was an Entertainment Weekly reader, and what did I see on the cover that week but Frank Sinatra, my at the time recently deceased idol. I purchased the issue straightaway, and to this day still have it sitting along with my other magazines I've collected over the years.
I was reminded of 1998 last week, by the anniversary of Frank Sinatra's passing. At the age of 83 years old, the Chairman had finally retired from the boardroom. I was also reminded of this particularly tragic year, because we had also lost Phil Hartman. While both passings were somber and equally saddening, the loss of Phil Hartman was one that was all the more devistating. I remember being at my best friend's house, hanging out, and a news bulletin of some sort had come on: Channel 2 news announced that Phil Hartman had died. I didn't hear the cause, I didn't hear who or what did it, I just knew it was sad. I had a vague recollection of his name, but did not remember him at first. I later realized, he was my favorite character on NewsRadio, as well as Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz on the Simpsons. I still remember first seeing the SNL "Best Of" show they put together in his honor, and laughing at all of the bits I'd never seen, but enjoyed nonetheless. At that period in my life, I was also a big pack rat. Newspaper clippings, TV Guides with special covers, stuff that would probably not increase in value anytime soon but that I had an interest in. To this day, I still have all of the articles and tributes to Phil Hartman I had saved from around that time.

Thinking back, on the tenth anniversary of both passings, I realize that the world could have used them now more than ever. Whether a really good laugh from the bottom of your chest, or moment of sheer entertaining prowess, Frank and Phil both pulled through in aces. This must read like a huge rambling, but my intent was to honor two of my boyhood idols. Both are men who's careers I look up to, and would love to in some ways emulate. Both are men who have had hugely successful mass appeal, and both should never be forgotten as the great entertainers they are. May history remember them only in the fondest of manners.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Children's Storytime: A survivor's account of the Sex in the City premiere in New York.

Warning: This is a work of fiction, but I wouldn't be surprised if it ever happened. I posted this cautionary tale on Aint It Cool News's message boards for the film, and I decided to expand upon this tale of horror to maximize the message. The review that inspired this is at the following address: www.aintitcool.com/node/36892. If you're not into "message pieces" then just read the following statement/plea for decency: Guys, prevent Hollywood from making a sequel to the Sex in the City movie and refuse to take your significant other to see this film. Failure to do so will bolster their ticket sales, seeing as you're paying for TWO admissions to a shitty film, and in turn will boost the opening weekend's grosses. We have the power to stop this. Do it for the good of the nation, and the good of your reproductive organs.

It was a beautiful evening in New York. All of the stars were out to premiere a lackluster film with a pink carpet, instead of a red one. Though, if anyone had prior knowledge to what was about to happen, they'd have stuck with a red carpet.

The director and cast stood in front of the audience, making small talk about the film. All of a sudden, SJP herself seemed seized with some sort of evil spirit, she began to speak in tongues. Her aged compatriots joined in her madness. The evil SheDemon then commanded all the women in the audience to seal the "chamber" and to offer a sacrifice to them. She demanded every man's scrotum, so that they would be silent during her "masterpiece". Chaos ensued as every woman in the room, under the spell of this singularly headed Hydra proceeded to separate the poor men from their manliness, and leave them to lie in freshly castrated heaps. A mighty roar was unleashed, and SJP used her Hulk arms to rip off the director's genitalia, his screams were predictably effeminate and ineffective. As all of the women chanted in sinster sounding Latin, the Head Bitch herself screamed, "BLOOD ORGY!"

Suddenly, the doors burst open, and on horseback were George Clooney, Jack Nicholson, and Harrison Ford. The Crusaders of Manliness were here! With a triumphant yell, George had lead the charge to slay the SheBeast known as Sarah Jessica Parker. Just as he was about to decapitate her with an Epic Martini Glass, she grew 50 feet tall. As she laughed horrifically into the night, Jack threw a vine made of the film about to be shown into the audience and Harrison Ford caught it. He swung up to the top of the SheBeast, and as he reached her head he punched her square in the nose. A loud rumbling emanated from her face, and her wails of pain started to fill the room, breaking the spell of all the women present. They ran out of the theater, dragging those they dragged to the theater straight away from it. SheBeast shrank back down to her normal height, and started sobbing. She was ready to be taken away and incarcerated for her crimes against humanity.

But she'd never stand trial, because a headshot from Kiefer Sutherland would deliver all of the justice needed in the world, as it always has and as it always will.

The End

The lesson of today's story: Epic shit like this that masquerades as feminism triggers my male juvenile reflexes, and causes me to write a story of epic violence and hero worship. Replace the violence with slut sex, and you have the Sex and the City film. I know, I already bitched about this once before, but the world keeps turning and this film continues to exist. So, my hatred of it will continue to exist.

P.S. Big Dies. Sex and stupidity follow for the remainder of the TWO AND A HALF HOURS you will be sitting in a theatre, and I just saved you your money. Now go see Indiana Jones again.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

In Memoriam: Goodbye Sydney Pollack...

On a somber note, rest in peace Sydney Pollack. I'm not terribly familiar with his works, but I have been exposed to some of his work, both in front of and behind the camera. What I do know, however, is his career spanned decades, genres, and an impressive catalog of stars that most directors dream of. The man challenged himself, and he made the world of cinema all the better for it. It's sad to say that in Death, his works may gain even more popularity; but it's pleasing to know that at least he would receive even more positive acclaim by generations to come.

Mr. Pollack, you were amazing in Michael Clayton, and George Clooney was correct in his sentiments for you...I think the world would reflect them with little trouble at all. You were the only good part about Made of Honor, and you helped me sit through that shitfest like a best friend. I look forward to better familiarizing myself with your career's work, and I regret that I did not do it sooner. So thank you, for a career of excellence and the ability to class up the best, and even the most horrid of films. You will be sorely missed.

A moment of silence for fond rembrances of this great man.

Keith Olbermann, Professional Ass Kicker

Sometimes, you have to go out there and speak out against stupidity. But sometimes, someone else does it in such a fitting manner, you have to just back them up and let their message ring the loudest. This is what the news used to be like, and this is what the news is missing today. Mr. Olbermann, I'm not very familiar with your track record or your career, but I do know that this impassioned speech you've imparted to the partisan America we live in today is one of the greatest gifts the news media could ever give to the nation, or the world.

Fuck Hillary, bring on the Obama nomination already, and kick the Republicans a new asshole in November. Do what must be done.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Mr. Controversy's Day Off

Sorry I didn't get to make a post yesterday, I was home from work yesterday. I'm afraid there won't be a post today either, because I'm actually terribly busy at work today. So busy in fact, that my normal amount of vitrol and venom for things is distracted by the task at hand. I'll try to have something up for tomorrow. As a reward for those who actually have read my first regular week of commentary, a treat. You might have seen the Bill O'Reilly video, which showed how he once flipped out while hosting Inside Edition, but you probably haven't seen it like this...http://youtube.com/watch?v=5j2YDq6FkVE. A warning, this contains vulgar language...heavily repeated and set to a "hot dance beat". Don't be surprised if you hear this in the clubs this weekend. One last thing before I go, does anyone else find it hard not to laugh at him when he starts shouting? Until next time, have a good one.

Friday, May 16, 2008

My Abusive Relationship With Hollywood: Episode 1, Diablo Cody is a Pretentious Douchebag

WHAT IN THE BLUE FUCK, HOLLYWOOD?! I suffered through the existence of Ashton Kutcher, I suffered through Grey's Anatomy and Sex in the City, and I even plan to suffer through the third Mummy movie you're shoving down my throat directed by the guy who brought us such classics as xXx and The Fast and the Furious. But THIS?! This is purely unacceptable.

To allow Diablo Cody to continue to work in Hollywood is a slap in the face to any aspiring writer, anyone with a shred of originality, and more importantly to everyone who has to watch the shit and listen to people rave on and on about it like it's gold. I remember the first time I saw the trailer for Juno. I won't lie, I actually wanted to see it. It looked funny, it looked like it had just the right amount of wit, and I'm a sucker for JK Simmons, Allison Janney, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, and Michael Cera. I was on the fence about Ellen Page, but I like how she scared me in Hard Candy, but then went on to become quite hot in X3...which really was one of the only saving graces of that film. (Besides Beast.)

Fast forward to this past February. I bought tickets to the Best Picture showcase at AMC theaters, and I went with two of my friends and my girlfriend to enjoy 12 hours and 15 minutes of cinematic delight. My friends liked Juno, and told me that I would probably enjoy it. I was actually looking forward to getting a good laugh out of the day, seeing as it was the only comedy in the pack. Wow...was I wrong. On top of feeling sick that day, I ended up hating two of the movies I most looked forward to. There Will Be Blood was the first one, and of course the second was Witty McPreggers herself.
"But why did you hate Juno, Mike?" Glad you asked, Mr. Rhetorical, I'll tell you! In fact, here's the top five reasons I HATED Juno:

5. The soundtrack, for the most part, was concentrated EAR RAPE! With the exception of Buddy Holly, The Kinks, Cat Power, and Sonic Youth (at least, that I can remember off the top of my head) this soundtrack sucked. Particularly the opening and closing songs, and from what I could remember anything Kimya Dawson contributed to the musical "score".

4. The criminal mis/underusage of Michael Cera and Jason Bateman. They turned Michael Bluth into a perv, and they turned George Michael into an emasculated male. The twist that Jason Bateman was going to hit on her was an obvious one, but turning Michael Cera into a simpering love slave to Juno was incredibly insulting. He should have dumped her ass when she first rejected him.

3. The completely unrealistic dialogue of the "Junoverse". I'm not saying that teenagers are dumb, but believe it or not, some of them actually speak English. ESPECIALLY the ones that are iconoclasts like Juno. You don't need to replace "God" with "Blog". I mean when someone says "Honest to blog", I think, "Really? You're going to swear to something that's so obviously biased and never guaranteed to be the 100% truth. You're going to place your faith on something that changes like the wind? God, you're stupid." Or, I'll think, "I wonder if anyone's read my blog today."

2. The fact that the film permeated itself with this manufactured hipster air about it. Wanna be cool kids? Get knocked up, shun the father, buy a hamburger phone, flirt with a married man, give your kid to someone who really wants them, and cut off all attachments to the child whatsoever in your life. Then, set yourself up to do it again!! There ya go kids, I just saved you the pain of watching Juno.

1. Juno herself. She was a bitch. A stubborn, self righteous, elitist hag who is the most developed character in the movie, and unrightfully so. All others need not apply, Juno was the star of the show. The opening titles for this film did the film justice, everything around her is drawn horribly and she's the only thing in frame that has true definition. Just like the rest of the fucking movie.

Now, normally we learn from our atrocities. If they are to be perpetrated again, it's usually by someone else and in a slightly different manner. But this time, it looks like there's not going to be a Nuremberg for the bad guys. Nope, because Diablo Cody won an Oscar, and is currently making her second movie. Yep, Jennifer's Body is lensing right now, and they're already planning a sequel because she, "...like sequels especially when they're done well..." If you choose to read the rest of that horrific reality, here you go: www.shocktillyoudrop.com/news/topnews.php?id=6106. While you're there, check out the "set visit preview", just to get your ire up. Basically, a spunky, sassy cheerleader gets posessed by a demon, starts killing guys left and right, hangs out with her friend "Needy" (that's actually the name of the character) and probably listens to shitty music. Ms. Cody said in an interview about Jennifer's Body, "Not to sound like a pretentious douchebag, but it's a horror movie made by filmmakers, by people who genuinely love film." She then goes on to "geek out" about Grindhouse films that'd compliment this film as if it were a fucking wine list for the evening's main course. Unfortunately, last time that I checked there's no wine that goes with "Shit salad a la Cody".
I defy you to read her column, "My Oscar Weekend", from a previous issue of Entertainment Weekly. I defy anyone to read this and not think she's a "pretentious douchebag", or a serious case of arrested development.
The fact is, Ms. Cody, you ARE a pretentious douchebag. You've taken a sect of individualism and marketed it to death. I'm not surprised you once were a stripper, you dress like one and most certainly act like one. As for your "Geek Cred", I'm afraid it's sadly deficient. I know geeks, I am a geek, and you ma'am are certainly no geek. You're just some mildly attractive woman who saw geekdom, thought a passing interest in it paired with your "looks" could get you some attention, and were sadly proven right. You need to stop now while Hollywood is still in tact, because law of the land is "You're only as good as your last picture", and your last picture totally dia-blew. Do us all a favor and either turn your binge thinking into binge drinking or stop playing dress up and write a real movie. Prove me wrong. It wouldn't be the first time, and it won't be the last time it's happened, and if you write a movie that proves to me you're not the female equivalent of M. Night Shymalan, then I will proudly shut the fuck up.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

War and Monsters

I was watching the news with my dad last night, and this story came up on Channel 7 news.

First off, I feel sorry for the reporter who has to talk to Elmo like a real person. Thinking the same interview technique that is used for George Clooney or President Bush is also used for this little red reject just makes me weep for journalism. But I'm not here to talk about journalism. I'm here to talk about children's television.

Once again, The New Era of Sesame Street (I refuse to call it plain old Sesame Street. That would be a slight upon Jim Henson.) takes it upon itself to teach children about the woes of the world, via preachy themed episodes. Yes, the same people that brought you an AIDS infected Muppet have sent poor Elmo's dad to Iraq. He's being redeployed soon, going back into the Middle East. Elmo's personal journey in dealing with his father's absence will serve as a springboard for real children to deal with their parents being away in Iraq.

Now, I'm not being negative about the subject itself...children need some sort of outlet for their fears and inquiries about life. Not to mention, Sesame Street handled this pretty well when Mr. Hooper had passed away. But this?! This is just a little too much in my book. I really think The New Era of Sesame Street has just jumped a little too high to reach the cookies this time, and now we're all gonna get crumbs dumped on us. And who's going to be dumping the crumbs on us?
That's right, America...Elmo, the world's first retarded Muppet, is going to help kids learn about Stop Loss, GitMo, and Abu Ghirab...oh, wait...he ISN'T?! Oh, well I just assumed that since they were going to teach children about the War in Iraq that they'd go the full bore and explain what got us there, why we're there, and why Daddy has to leave so soon after he came home? I mean, c'mon MTV made a film about Stop Loss for god sake! If we can explain it to teenagers, we can explain it to children. It seems rather logical.

"Daddy, why are you leaving? You just got home."

"Well, son, unfortunately the Army needs Daddy back for just a little while longer. There aren't enough soldiers, and Daddy made a promise that if they needed his help, he'd go back and help out."

See! It only took two sentences, and you've explained Stop Loss to a child. The fact is, as educational as Sesame Street and its shallow imitator are, the original handled a delicate subject matter for children with genuine respect. Whereas The New Era of Sesame Street seems to be aiming to tackle everything that's in the headlines today, merely because they feel its their responsibility to the children.

It's not. It is a parent's responsibility to decide how and what to tell their children about the world outside. It's their responsibility to make sure their children are equipped for the world and its harsh realities. Somewhere along the way, the Children's Television Workshop got it in their minds that it was their responsibility to educate children about more than just scholastic knowledge. Now they're teaching children about AIDS and redeployment, and I have a feeling it's going to be in a simplistic and incorrect way. Not to mention, those in control are just going to cherry pick the issues they feel kids should know about.

Children's television today isn't what it used to be. Sure, we're not pandering around issues like we did in the early days. Howdy Doodey and Captain Kangaroo are no more, hell Dumbo Circus is a thing of the past too. Even good old Fred Rogers seems outdated to some, though it should be considered blasphemy to think so. Mister Roger's Neighborhood would never, ever have survived if it started out in the present day. It isn't marketable, it isn't flashy, and it would come off as too preachy to all the cynics and smartasses our culture breeds today. Yes, I know I'm a cynic and a smartass, but I have a heart too damnit! While Mister Rogers didn't try to act "with it", he instead acted as a mentor. The kindly old man who talked to you like a normal person, who tried to teach you things with as little treacle as possible, and who always welcomed you back with a smile and a song.

True, children's television has indeed modernized and grown up, but there's also a dumber side. A MUCH dumber side, and Elmo paved the way. With his high pitched voice, squeaky singing, and very limited mental capacity; Elmo is no Big Bird, the often forgotten predecessor who introduced generations of children to their letters, numbers, and various bits of knowledge. But Big Bird had to compete with an upstart...someone who opened the door for dear old Elmo.

Barney! Everyone remembers this purple monstrosity, and how he mesmerized a generation of children with his simplistic songs, his dimwitted cohorts, and his signature "I Love You, You Love Me" attitude. Needless to say, in my eyes, Barney is the Charles Manson of children's television. After eliminating Big Bird, Barney took over and spewed forth his messages that while educational, seemed watered down and sugar coated, even by kids tv standards. But the message isn't what truly had me hating this Mesozoic bastard...it was his business. Anything you could slap his visage on and get parents to buy, he was on it. Bottles, sneakers, home videos...the works. He and his friends invaded the public consciousness like Hitler in France, and parents capitulated in order for peace to prevail.

Now we have Diego and Dora, the "lovable" pair of bilingual adventurers who roam the land with grating, high pitched voices and silent animal companions. Before you could say, "Mas Rapido, Mommy", you had a craze that looked educational, but lead to the prerequisite ice show, stuffed animals, and direct to DVD films that children now expect and parents now expect to provide. The only education this all really provides is that, "children are our future, so we must give into their demands."
Even if it poisons them, both in mind and in body. You WILL purchase the Diego fall collection of merchandise, Mommy! Then you WILL pay for my Hannah Montana tickets and iPod when I reach Junior High, Daddy! And I hope Grandma and Grandpa have been saving their Social Security money, because they WILL pay for my abortion and/or princess wedding when I turn sixteen and fuck my whole life up (eighteen if you're lucky). Well, Ms. Cyrus, and all others of your ilk...it's on. You've thrown the gauntlet, and I hope to God my generation picks it up and combats your evil influence on children. I hope Big Bird turns out to be a Phoenix and rises from the ashes Elmo perpetuated upon The Street, only to slay you and your contemporaries down in a great, bright firestorm! Most of all, I hope kids TV brings itself back to actually balancing out teaching and entertaining, instead of doing one or the other and sucking at it.

Children's culture today is scary, and children's television certainly isn't helping. So parents...please talk to your kids about children's television. And children's television...please stop cherry picking and sugar coating the world and all of its glories/misfortunes. Just...stop. Jim Henson, Fred Rogers, and Mr. Hooper; wherever you all may be right now, on behalf of the human race I say, "I'm sorry."

And to think, future generations will probably never get something as original as this...http://youtube.com/watch?v=jSFLZ-MzIhM

Goddamn you, Elmo.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

"I believe you have my" life

Yeah, it's another one of "those" days. One of those days you aren't so proud to have a job. I mean sure, at first it was great and everything was fun and in its place, but now you've just grown so numb and indifferent to the bullshit that it frustrates you to even go to work in the morning. When instead you could be reading, sleeping, playing video games, blogging (which I really shouldn't be doing at work, but it's so slow around here for obvious reasons that I find time to do it somehow). For some of us, work prevents us from being as cheery, optimistic, and outgoing as we usually are. However, there manages to be at least one person in the office that smiles a little too much, speaks with a voice a couple octaves too high, and does everything they are told. This person, and anyone else like them, should be drug tested immediately, following a full psychological evaluation. You know, just to make sure they don't go postal and ruin everyone else's productivity.

I hate to say it, but "big corporate culture" in America almost completely sucks. Everything a team effort, hampered by company policies infused with inherent redundancies and paranoia that have grown into the big business mindset ever since "Enron", and executed in the name of the stockholder. Oh sure, fool yourself into thinking you're working for your own personal benefit, or even the customer, with whom you're supposed to have an unhealthy obsession of pleasing every little whim they throw at you. Just in case you didn't notice. Be it office work, retail and fast food slavery, or even good old fashioned temp work, there's always the managerial hive mind looming above you, making decisions that are "for the good of the company". Sometimes you can believe them, sometimes it's a load of shit.

Case in point, I was once told by a higher up that I was in line to be transitioned into a new corporate unit that was being set up to replace the current corporate unit I was at. He basically resigned at the Christmas party, and explained how he was starting a new company and 'taking everyone with him', which lead to an air of professional uncertainty for everyone. No one knew who was staying or who was going, but on his last day in our office he flat out said to me "You know I'm taking you over with me, right?" At that point I was relieved, and glad that I didn't have to look for a new job just yet. I could ride it out for a little longer, keep doing what I was good at and at the same time look casually for a new job opportunity. That lasted for a month.

The next month I was told that my department was not in the budget for the new business unit. There was no room at the inn, money wise, and the boss of my department and I were paying for it. I wasn't being "taken over", I was being pushed out. Why? I honestly don't know, but I doubt the budget was the thing. Sure enough, several other people were told they weren't going over as well, only most of them were eventually placed in the company somehow. Was it a miracle? Was it fate? Or was it him giving jobs to the people he liked? In either case, you know you're being insulted when someone who does less than you do for almost twice as much pay gets a job, while you're forced to fend for yourself to find a new job. It's even more insulting when that person is the human resources manager of your office, and she'd rather balance her checkbook and chat with friends on the phone than help you track job leads in corporate. What probably sucks the most is that I'm supposed to help aid the smooth transition of work and personnel from this office to the next. In other words, I'm supposed to help build the ark, only to get left in the flood.

Which leads me to here...sleep deprived, working, and fluctuating between miserable, indifferent, and somewhat satisfied about my current professional situation. I know I'm not the only person that has had to deal with this, and I know this isn't the only time this could happen to me in my life. I know I should be thankful for having a job and a decent salary for someone my age, but you know what? Knowing all of this stuff that "should" be known, it doesn't help the fact that I feel forgotten and thrown away by the old management. Though, it could be worse, and I am truly thankful for the current management and their help with possibly finding me a job. That's one of the bright spots about this whole situation. Plus, it's given me this motivation to try and break into what I truly love, while comfortably employed for the time. The clock is still ticking though, and if you think being miserable about your current job is bad, wait until you become miserable about not being able to get out of it and into something you feel you'd be more suited for. But that's another rant for another day...until next time, fight the machine.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

"Carrion, my wayward son", or "If this is were the true nature of sex, I'd become a monk."

So...the fans of Sex and the City are angry. Why? Because London got to see Sarah Jessica Parker and her fellow fugly nymphonecrotized playmates go and ruin yet another TV show as a motion picture. The only catch...the TV show was shitty to begin with. So, once again the Law of Diminishing Returns comes for a visit, in for form of four women whose vaginas are probably resembling beef jerky by now. Dried, shredded, horrifically maimed beef jerky. Now that I have that image in your mind, I ask you, WHY would you want to see Sex and the City the Movie?

The answers to that question would range from, "Because I loved the show so much and want to relive the 'magic' of four single and fabulous women past their stereotypical 'prime' still knocking boots with hot, younger men." to "Because it's empowering to see four single and fabulous women past their stereotypical 'prime' still knocking boots with hot, younger men." Some might even say that they saw the trailer in front of The Golden Compass, and figured that if they liked a neutered, anti establishment film featuring a rambunctious little girl and her quest against original sin; then they'd like...say it with me folks...a film about four single and fabulous blah blah blah, all drivers to your cars please.

Now, I don't think of the people who read this as idiots. I think the people that choose to read this have their own reasons, and I'm not going to question what they may be. (OK, so I will, but only because I'm curious, not because I'm profiling.) I think people have either stumbled upon this site by sheer accident, or my own penchant for self promotion. Neither of which could allow me to endorse anyone seeing this movie. I'm sorry. Those of you thinking I was going to say, "Why not? It's just a movie. As long as you have fun with it, have a ball.", you thought wrong. In fact, it's not "just a movie". It wasn't ever, "just a show". It's become a way of life, and an enabling crutch for so called "empowered women" to sleep with any guy they want and have no regrets about it in the morning. When the Cosmos have dried up, and the mascara has run off, they want to feel fabulous, instead of slutty.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that just because people watch the show it means their easy. In fact, the stereotypical male would like to think that, because the title includes the word "Sex", and anything including the word "sex" to them is either license to laugh or is an invitation to much more serious physical overtures. What I am saying is that I think it's shameful that some women are following this television show/film as a bible to sleeping around in the 21st century and not having to care. The truly empowered woman is not the woman who sleeps with anything that moves and forgets about her insecurities; she is a woman that understands herself and respects herself for who she is. A truly independent and empowered woman does not need a man to make themselves feel fulfilled in life. Of course, don't tell Carrie Bradshaw that...she'll launch into an off camera voice over that will bore you to tears about how relationships are fabulous and you just need to keep fucking until you find your very own Mr. Big.

So anyway, Sex and the City is shit because it embraces a lifestyle that is detrimental to the sexual relations of the entire world. Anyone, anywhere may suffer uncalled for heartache, stress, and any other distress (be it emotional or physical) because the Bradshaw gang deems it necessary in order to be label "fabulous". I again apologize to the fans of this show if they do not agree with me in saying that you don't need to be a codependent, nymphomaniacal alcoholic in order to make your life worth something. And that is why I am hoping Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull trounces this film.

Sure, it's fantasy that's centered around a male figure of authority, but it also includes a strong willed female who is his equal. I am, of course, talking about Ms. Marion Ravenwood, played by the still beautiful Karen Allen. If anyone remembers their Raiders of the Lost Ark, they remember the first time they saw Marion Ravenwood. She was drinking a room full of men under the table, standing up against Nazis, and kicking ass along side old Henry Jones Jr. True, through the movie she did have moments where she played a damsel in distress, and true she had moments where she swooned over Indiana. But she still used her wits to try and escape Rene Belloq, and she survived the Ark of the Covenant's fury. Carrie Bradshaw not only looks like she's suffered part of the the Ark's face melting power, but she also dresses like the cliched "lovable, but not all there upstairs" character Hollywood loves to shove down our throats.

Yes, a massively geeky digression, I know, but I'm going somewhere with this. I don't know where, but I'm getting there in record time.

Basically, my view on the Sex and the City is that it cheapens women, and cheapens sex. We all love sex. We pursue it, we talk about it, some even watch it for a nominal fee on their computer screens. It's nothing to be ashamed of, but its certainly not something to be taken lightly. Especially between all of the unwanted pregnancies in the world, the possibility of an STD, or just good old fashioned awkwardness between people because they have to deal with a reality they may not have foreseen before they hit the sheets. While it can be fun and enjoyable, it can also be something scary and life threatening if not engaged in properly. And these painful realities are thrown out the window in order to entertain a select group of people, who go forth into the world and perpetuate the gospel of sex without remorse and without thought, all because a bitch wearing an acorn hat told them to.

And just imagine, if this shit does well enough, you'll get a string of shitty sequels. Enjoy, America! You brought this on yourself. http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/d142e76468
Until next time, this sucks, and I'm leaving!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Speed Freak

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you...The Mach 5. An instrument of precision, speed, and true badassedness, this car can do amazing things. Bulletproof glass, re-inflatable tires, traction spikes to climb up icy cliffs, a jump boost feature, and safety foam protection systems...just in case you wreck the thing. Yes, the Mach 5 has it all, and it's pretty fucking sexy. And so is Speed Racer, the IMAX experience.

This past weekend I took my brother and my girlfriend down to Atlantic City, just to see Speed Racer in IMAX. In the past couple of years, I've made it a habit to go and see at least one movie a year in IMAX, and it hasn't done me wrong yet. (Though, for the record, the movie least improved by an IMAX showing is Poseidon in my opinion. NOTHING could save that ship.) For the uninitiated, IMAX is a larger format than the traditional movie theatre. The screen IS one of the walls in the room, it fills your field of vision, and it's got kick assed surround sound. Now imagine a hypercolorized, adrenaline addicted film being shown in such a venue, and you have an idea of how I spent part of my Saturday night.

I'll admit, seeing the trailers made me excited to see the movie, but it wasn't something I obsessed over. I left the obsessing to Indiana Jones and The Dark Knight. (Which will also be in IMAX.) But when I heard it was in IMAX, I leaped at the chance to see it. (Especially since I've been kicking myself for not having time to see Shine A Light in IMAX.) I planned on taking my brother, Lewis (the middle brother of the three of us) and my girlfriend, Danielle, to go see this movie and our schedules aligned this weekend. An hour and ten minutes after departing, we got to the Tropicana Casino, valet parked the car, and made our way to the IMAX theatre house in the French Quarter. Three tickets and around an hour's wait later, we were seated in the theatre, and after some decent trailers (I actually want to see Kung Fu Panda now.) the screen burst out with a kaleidoscope of colors. Michael Giacchino's score swelled up, and just as the opening logo revealed itself, I knew I was going to like this movie. This movie is one giant cartoon, a living, breathing, amazingly entertaining cartoon. It's a film heavily dependent on your inner child, and whether or not they're stuck at summer camp for eternity, or if they're sitting in the living room reading comics and drawing cool designs for rocketships. I don't have to tell you which one will enjoy the film more.

One of the best things about that night however wasn't the movie, but the reaction my brother and I had to it. My brother is fifteen now, and he's in that phase in his life where teenage rebellion has set in, and he's not as easily impressed or wowed by things. Gone is the little lad who would talk to me with his Eeyore, and here is the kid who's playing his Bass to AFI and New Found Glory. It's an adjustment when you see the ones you love grow up and seem to put away their toys of childhood, and it's a hard one at that. You keep half expecting them to pick up their stuffed animals and play again, but you know it's not happening and you try to find some other level to connect on with them. I've found that level with Lew, but sometimes it's not easy to maintain. That night though, his inner child met my inner child and our jaws hit the floor. The nine years between us left the room, and we were both six, reborn in the UberTechnicolor glow of The Mach 5, Royalton Industries, Casa Cristo, and The Grand Prix. When Speed raced through the final finish line, in a brilliant explosion of light and sound, there were no words for how amazing it was.

In case you were wondering, Danielle enjoyed the movie as well, but not on the same level as us guys. The whole evening's experience was amazing, because for a night, I saw Lewis geek out. For a night, my brother and I weren't separated by our ages and differing generational views on pop culture, we were both geeks. I intend on taking my best friend and both my brothers to see it, because Lewis and I are dying for a second lap. Plus, we'll get to once again marvel at the awe inspiring beauty that is Christina Ricci as Trixie.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Hillary's March To The Convention, or Letters from Shewon Quita

The phrase of the week kids, "Pyrrhic Victory"
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyrrhic_victory, for all you inquisitive minds out there.)

In short hand, a Pyrrhic victory is a situation in which you win, but in a devastatingly negative way. Scorched earth, and nothing less. Now who in the world could be trying to achieve such a victory? Who in their right mind would sacrifice all credibility and integrity they have (or, "had") to ensure a victory that would only mean something to them personally, but could all but destroy all around them? Oh, that's right...Hillary Clinton. I was going to say Barack Obama, but then I remembered...I like him! Senator Clinton on the other hand is leading the most devastating march the South has ever seen since Sherman decided to make some stops along his way to the beaches of Savannah, Georgia. In fact, looking at General Sherman's letter to his rivals, it looks much like HilRod's very own letter, which requests that Senator Obama push for the Michigan and Florida delegates to be present at the convention.

The following was copied from Wikipedia's entry on Sherman's March to the Sea, which can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sherman%27s_March_to_the_Sea. I'm not into stealing history, folks, but it's nice to use it.

"I have already received guns that can cast heavy and destructive shot as far as the heart of your city; also, I have for some days held and controlled every avenue by which the people and garrison of Savannah can be supplied, and I am therefore justified in demanding the surrender of the city of Savannah, and its dependent forts, and shall wait a reasonable time for your answer, before opening with heavy ordnance. Should you entertain the proposition, I am prepared to grant liberal terms to the inhabitants and garrison; but should I be forced to resort to assault, or the slower and surer process of starvation, I shall then feel justified in resorting to the harshest measures, and shall make little effort to restrain my army—burning to avenge the national wrong which they attach to Savannah and other large cities which have been so prominent in dragging our country into civil war.
– William T. Sherman, Message to William J. Hardee, December 17, 1864, recorded in his Memoirs"

Now, with a little rewriting...

"I have already received votes that can at best delay your candidacy and the unification of our party, cast as far as the heart of out nation; also, I have for some months held and controlled various delegates by which the people and the officers of the Obama campaign can be supplied, and therefore I am justified in demanding the surrender of the Democratic candidacy, and its required delegates, and shall wait a reasonable time for your answer, before opening with heavy ordinance. Should you entertain the proposition, I am prepared to grant liberal terms to your staffers and your proposed cabinet, should you have one already mapped out; but should I be forced to resort to assault, or the slower and surer process of slandering your campaign and winning surely not enough delegates to secure the candidacy, I shall then feel justified in resorting to the harshest measures the media can provide, and shall make little effort to restrain my husband - bitching to avenge the national wrong which he and I attach to your campaign and other political figures which have been so prominent in dragging our party into civil war."

- Hillary Clinton

P.S. John Edwards is a little bitch."

(Note: Hillary's actual letter can be found here, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/m.s.-bellows/clintons-open-letter-to-o_b_100861.html. Just in case you were wondering.)

See folks! Using the same cutting edge technology that turned Dead Poets Society into Mona Lisa Smile, we can see just how history tends to repeat itself, while at the same time demonstrating the Law of Diminishing Returns. Senator (HA! You only lived in New York for as long as the minimum residency requirement dictated before you ran.) Clinton, I have something to say to you, and I think some Americans might agree with me.

Dear Ms. Clinton,

Ma'am, you are not your husband. You are not William Tecumseh Sherman. You are not even Lucy from Peanuts. You're just an angry woman with a vendetta and a hard on for media attention. You've lost. Give up, and retract with a slight shred of dignity. Hey, maybe you'll get a cabinet post...maybe you can even become a pundit on cable news. But you're not going to be president, you're not even going to secure the nomination. It's mathematically improbable, nay impossible, you're going to be running for president...at least with your party's approval. If you chose to go ahead with your harebrained scheme, then I cannot guarantee the American public will pay attention to Senator Clinton, the candidate for the "Raging Bitch" party...they certainly didn't when Paris Hilton ran on that ticket with Nicole Richie back in '03. (Though, it might have been because the election was in '04...still, no one cared.)

Drop out, shut up, and goodbye,

Mr. Controversy

P.S. Need a new campaign manager? I think I know someone you'd get along with REALLY well...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CuuTRuKcLrg

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Re: From One Culturally Disgruntled Blogger to Another (An Appeal)

Well folks, I got a response, and it's good to know I'm not a copycat or plagiarizer. This is further proof that Chez Pazienza truly understands his fans as well as the media of blogging. Something CNN should have kept in mind before they fired him. Oh well, their loss. If you like what I'm about to start writing here, or if you're just fed up with pop culture in general, go to http://www.deusexmalcontent.com/.

From: Chez Pazienza
To: Me

Michael --

Trust me, there's no reason to shove any respect in my direction. Thanks very much for all the virtual genuflection -- kind words are always nice. That said, I think it's safe to assume that airing personal opinions on pop culture -- particularly on the internet -- isn't exactly my exclusive domain, so you don't have to worry about anyone comparing you to me or anyone else. You'd need years of drug use, an immolated career and about a dozen really bad relationships behind you before I'll start drawing major parallels between the two of us.

In other words, you don't need to get my approval -- but you've got it anyway. Go with God, my son.


Thursday, May 1, 2008

From One Culturally Disgruntled Blogger to Another (An Appeal)

From: Me
To: Chez Pazienza

Dear Mr. Pazienza,
Forgive the formality, I'm only trying to be respectful. I've been reading your blog for a while now, and I've tried my hand at blogging myself. I used to write mock late night monologues about recent events, and for a while it worked. Eventually though, it just wasn't as easy as it seemed and I found myself launching tirades against a usual gang of targets. (I know Paris and Britney are fun to mock and all, but I felt I was running out of ideas.) Not too long ago, I started reading your column, Deus Ex Malcontent, and immediately thought, "That's what I want to be when I grow up." It reminded me of the rant columns I'd write and print in the high school paper, and it reminded me of how much I enjoyed writing, especially when it was voicing my opinion and looking for the next venomous barb to plunge in the heart of popular culture. I'll cut to the point, because right now I must sound like a major kiss ass: you and your blog have inspired me to start my own blog that shall resurrect my old rant column. You're probably wondering, "Why should I give a shit?" Well, I know you've got your column out there and I didn't want you to think that I was trying to cut in on your turf. I'd like to think I'm witty, but your barbs are seasoned with the years of experience and culture you've pushed through, whereas I am a "young little shit" trying to somehow break into the big time via his own highly opinionated blog.
In short, I come before you dear Godfather, for a blessing. A blessing that I indeed am not ripping you off, or if I am I'm not doing it so badly that you feel your work is somehow lessened by it. I'm not asking for an autograph, though I'd gladly accept one. I'm not asking for you to drop my name with Arianna Huffington, or to publish a favorable piece about my blog in your blog, but I would be flattered as any person would. Really, I'm just making sure I'm not stepping on your toes, because you're one of the only people who has the cutting prose of sarcasm to rely on, as opposed to drawing on pictures of celebrities and bragging about hooking up with John Mayer. I shall be posting some of my past works soon, so feel free to read them and provide your judgment. If I seem to be a poor imitation of your writing instead of my own fresh, bitchy voice, then please tell me so that I may change.

I now include the linkage to my blog, and hope that you at least laugh a little bit.


Michael Reyes, aka Mr. Controversy

P.S. Do you mind if I print your response to this letter, if indeed there is one? I just think it'd be cool.

Here's hoping I get an answer! Fingers crossed.