Wherein unreasonably free time is dedicated to proving Jonah Hill is funnier than you.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

What Measure is a Trope?

In the vein of the last post, here are 5 TvTropes entries I like:[1]

  • You enter a dungeon, get past several devious puzzles, and avoid all sorts of nasty traps through your psychic powers and reflexes. As you you walk through the final door you find... your love interest lying on the ground and her kid brother on crutches mourning over her. How did they get there? They Took A Shortcut.
  • You can shoot fast-moving vehicles with you missiles, but can't attack stationary buildings. Some building time and resources later, You Have Researched Breathing, and you can do that. Also prone to happen in any other type of game with character customization or unlockables (you can't wear boots until you play enough...).
  • A seemingly trivial obstacle cannot be circumvented or removed with brute force. There are several variations of the Insurmountable Waist Height Fence, such as: The Adamantium Door,The Impassable Forest, The Gentle Slope of Unlclimability, and The Ledge of Instant Death.
  • No matter how urgent your quest is, you can always take your time achieving unnecessary goals before finishing the main one. On a smaller scale, even the most pressing, immediate tasks, such as rescuing a fellow character who is dangling off a ledge at five hundred feet in the air, can be done at one's leisure.[2]
  • Hot Skitty on Wailord Action (HSOWA). Any work of fiction in which two grossly dissimilar species are somehow capable of interbreeding. This pretty much misses the point of the term "species", which is supposed to indicate which animals can breed successfully.

My interest in the site actually derived from the HSOWA entry on Bulbapedia.

[1] In general I avoid TvTropes because it is the most sticky of wikis.
[2] But see: Timed Mission

The Good PokeShip Hippop[otas]

For a while I've considered The Muppet Wiki as the world's best fanwank after Das Trekkers' Memory-Alpha. But Fuck Yeah PokeMeme has me reading Bulbabedia a lot lately, and I gotta give those kids credit.

Following are my five favorite entries (ephhwiyi: I find these genuinely interesting p_^;;; )

How could you NOT love that? I mean, besides not being a dork. But, if you're not a dork, how'd you even find this? Mad suss, son...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Which Brat is Wurst? [See what I did there?]

The children of sailors and marines are more likely to be called "juniors" than brats, so I understrand their low numbers. But, why are there so many hits for "Coast Guard Brat" and so few for "(Air Force or USAF)" brat? I wouldn't have figured the former a more transient lifestyle than the latter. And "National guard brat"??? Don't they always stay in their home state? It's not like the kids go with them to the theater of war...right? o_O

Friday, December 4, 2009

In Which I Clearly Started With a Tumblr Post

[image via yeezy]

Fact: kanYe had 6 Grammy nominations this year, giving him 36 in 6 years.

Fact: Quincy Jones holds the all-time record* in Grammy nominations, with 79.

Assumption: ∴ kanYe will hold the all-time record for Grammy nominations by 2018.


N.B.: kanYe has won 12 Grammys. George Solti is the all-time leader with 31 wins. kanYe's never catchin' that LAWL

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Top Ten Tea Em

Google's new database of court cases is pretty sexy for those of us without WestLaw or LexisNexis. But even more importantly, it has some ridiculous IP-infringement cases.

Carson v. Here's Johnny Portables (6th Cir. 1983)
For all you kids out there, Johnny Carson was a more sedate (and successful) Conan O'Brien. Ed McMahon — he's was akin to an untalented Max Weinberg — would announce Carson's coming onstage, by saying "Hereeeee's Johnny!"

Well, as you may or may not know, "John" is another word for toilet[1]. So a portable-potty company took the name, and appended "The World's Foremost Commodian," in order to make "a good play on a phrase," which was the 80s equivalent of "see what I did there?"

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled it didn't violate ™ acts because nobody in their right mind would confuse a "Here's Johnny" chamber pot with the actual Johnny Carson (the same could not be said of Ed McMahon. Hi-ooooh![2]). However, the company did violate Carson's "right of publicity" which is a thing that was made up. Lawyers call that "common law."
Cher v. Forum Int'l Ltd (9th Cir. 1982)
This is actually a pretty boring case, something about magazines "exclusives." The ∆ again failed on "right of publicity." I'd just like to point out the document really listed just the one name for Cher. This is actually a good segue into...
Abdul-Jabbar v. General Motors Co. (9th Cir. 1996. [En Banc, bitches!])
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was a basketball player who converted to Islam back when it was cool. He didn't even have to go to jail first! About 30 years later, GMC aired an ad comparing its 88 Oldsmobile[3] Consumer Digest[5] award to Kareem's awards in college. But, see, Kareem's name wasn't "Kareem" then; it was "Lew." GMC figured when you change your name you lose your rights to it.

GMC lost on account of douchiness.
The New Kids on the Block v. [Star & USA Today] (9th Cir. 1992)
Two newspapers ran 900-number polls on which was the hottest New Kid. NKotB sued them both, arguing that it looked like they were sponsoring the newspaper polls. Judge Kozinski absolutely tore into NKotB, saying they were a "blitzkreig" trying to create a "hegemon," and proclaiming they don't have "the right to control their fans' use of their own money."

The case also cites a bunch of interesting ones I won't abstract, including the Kellog/Nabisco "shredded wheat" debate, the landmark Disney/Air Pirates satire case, and Nintendo's unsuccessful fight against the Game Genie.

FYI: USA Today and Star made a combined $2500 from the phone lines, and USA Today donated its profits to the Berklee School of Music. And people wonder why I hate NKotB.
Sid & Marty Krofft Television[6] Prod. v. McDonald's Corp. (9th Cir. 1977)
The makers of H. R. Pufnstuf sued Mickey Dees for stealing their aesthetic to make McDonaldland. Again, for the kids, H. R. Pufnstuf was like 'Saul and the Mole Men,' but sincere and, thus, more frightening. McD's ad agency had been calling the Pufnstuf people asking them to license the rights, then suddenly stopped, hired people that used to work on the show, and went ahead with the ad campaign anyway. The Pufnstuf characters were actually replaced by the McDonaldland ones in the Ice Capades.[7]

McD's tried to use the 1st Amendment as a defense! More like Mc'Dicks. Hi-oohhh!
Nat'l Comics Publ'n v. Fawcett Publ'n (2nd Cir. 1951)
Ohhh shoot, it's the mid-century 2nd Circuit, aka The Judge Learned Hand[8] Show!

Nothing really cool happens in this case. Basically Fawcett made a bootleg Superman called "Captain Marvel," so DC sued them. All Hand did was remand it because the District Court somehow didn't understand the concept of plagiarism. Eventually DC ended up owning Fawcett, leading to the awesome fight embedded at the right, and setting precedent for...
Warner Bros. Inc., v. ABC (2nd Cir. 1983)
During the 80's had a show called 'The Greatest American Hero,' about a man given a super-powered suit by aliens. How could they remake 'V' and ignore this Anyway, the 2nd Circuit affirmed a ruling against DC, which had felt TGAH was onein a long line of Superman bite-offs. It's likely the greenlighting of 'The Greatest American Hero' was precipitated by the cinematic success of the Christopher Reeves Superman films, but that'd be like if Fox sued Universal for making 'Battlestar Galactica' after Star Wars. Oh, wait, they did? NM lawl

Sidebar: The Greatest American Hero had The Greatest American Theme Song.
Parks v. LaFace Records (E.D. Mich. 1999)
Rosa Parks sued Outkast because they made the song "Rosa Parks." The court ruled that nobody would think she sponsored it, because, y'know, people don't sponsor songs. ...Yet. Roc Nation, get on that.
Universal City Studios v. Nintendo Co. (2d. Cir 1984)
Universal sued Nintendo because people it was afraid people would confuse Nintendo's "Donkey Kong" with movie character "King Kong." Because, of course, King Kong was about 10' ape that threw barrels at plumbers in succeedingly complex — yet always incomplete — architecture. Nintendo actually ended up suing Universal for licesning King Kong to Tiger to make a bootleg Donkey Kong.

At the end of the case, the court compares Universal's claim unfavorably to the Cowboys' against Debbie Does Dallas. So, if you wever wanted to make that connection in your mind, go ahead.

Finally we come to my all time favorite number one case[9]:
Univ. of Notre Dame Du Lac v. 20th Century Fox (N.Y. App. Div. 1965)
Notre Dame sues Fox for optioning a book involving the school's football team. Since Notre Dame lost this case, I wonder what happened to the film. I feel if it had come out, we'd all have heard of it. Here is the plot description:
The Muslim king of a fake Arab state sends his son to Notre Dame, but the kid doesn't make the football team. Lusting for revenge, the king, forms his own team to defeat the Fightin' Irish. He hires — and this is where it gets cookin' — John Goldfarb, a Jewish CIA operative on his way to Russia who accidentally lands in the kingdom. Somehow the king parlays this into blackmailing the State Department to send Notre Dame over. Once they arrive, the Irish are rendered sick by a meal of spiced mongoose and lose the game (which, for some reason, was being ref'd by the CIA's Director). A female American reporter on the king's side ends up scoring the winning TD when — at the last minute — oil springs from under the field and pushes her past the goaline.
You're going to sit there and tell me you wouldn't watch that? While I didn't find it on IMDb, I did find 1998's Goldfarb: "A team of high school idiots are hired by a suburban mad scientist to track down and destroy a rogue zombie." I can't decide which has the better plot, probably because both are far too fabulous for me to comprehend.

Sadly, the "50 Cent v. Mexcian Club Promoters" case is not in Google's database. Anyone with WestLaw can hit up 2008 WL 4648999 (S.D.Fla.)

[1] I'd tell you to look it up on UrbanDictionary but I imagine the first hit would either be about prostitutes or some disturbing sex act.
[2] Ed McMahon:Hi-Oh::Mike Meyers:That's What She Said. nOrly.
[3] For people from the future[4]: The 88 was not the year: it was the flagship "full-size" Oldsmobile. Oldsmobile was a line of vehicles that GMC bought in 1908 and phased out in 2004. GMC was a car company in Detroit. Detroit was a city in America. We now know America as the half of the Obama Socialist Kingdom of Kenya that allows slavery.
[4] I totally stole this gag from Bill Simmons. Sosumi.
[5] Who remembers
Zillions? I loved those CD/mutual fund/bond racetrack charticles.
[6] The Bluebook has abbreviations for "telegraph" and "telephone" but
not "television."
[7] About 20 years after first hearing about them, I now realize "Ice Capadaes" is a pun on "escapades." Like they said in the 80's that's "a good play on the phrase."
[8] Yes, that was his real name. One time he was cited by Judge Minor Wisdom, and it totally blew the minds of a bunch of Boalt burnouts.
[9] Not counting cases that involve "loss of consortium." ::giggles::

Thursday, October 15, 2009

When I Say "Sexy Robin" I Don't Mean Thicke

Hating on Halloween costumes is old hat. "Oh no, they made something not-sexy sexy. I can't believe how offensive that is." Still, I saw a few recently that really made me worry.*
I'm as big a fan of slash as the next guy, but this just ruins Wicked for me. Also, everyone knows Tin Man didn't have a brain, so imagine how much of a bimbo this person has to be.
Plus the Tin Man was made_of_tin. Tin Woman shouldn't be showing flesh; this isn't "Sexy Cyborg." Which reminds me, is Lee Thompson Young ever coming back to 'Smallville'?

2. Sexy Ms Voorhees**
From Supergirl to The Next Karate Kid to Episode II: Attack of the Clones, female-version films fare pretty poorly. However, the Friday the 13th franchise STARTED with a female villain: Jason's mom. Why not make "Sexy Pamela Vorhees"??
And since when did slashers walk around with logos like NACAR drivers? You know your costume concept is weak when you have include more labels than an editorial cartoonist. This outfit is closer to "Sexy Anaheim Might Duck."

They don't even have the guts to come out and say, "Sexy Judy Jetson" with this one. No, she's "adult." Now, there are cartoon characters that are supposed to be sexy, like Josie & The Pussycats. Some are supposed to be sexy but we're not supposed to be okay with that, like Lola Bunny. A few accidentally end up sexy, like Velma Dinkley. Judy Jetson fits none of those categories. Even "Sexy Pebbles" would be better, because you have the "Maybe they mean Pebbles Flinstone-Rubble" excuse.

Does Judy Jetson ever grow up? For all we know about the Jetson's timeline, the earth explodes before then. Anyone wearing this is doing nothing but advocating ephebophilia, at which point they just dress up as Miley Cyrus and get some social commentary value out of the evening.

...Never mind, this is legitimately hot. ::drools::

*I'm giving Sexy Wednesday Addams a pass because she has been depicted as a grown-up. Similarly, Sexy Robin isn't so shocking since the character has been a woman, but I can't help thinking about Seduction of the Innocent.
**Do you think Lark Voorhies had to endure ribbing when the Friday the 13th films got popular?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

On the Town to Stomp the Yard

Two things appear in 1949's On the Town that you won't find in any post-Moulin Rouge! movie musical:
  1. An — even then — egregiously inaccurate conflation of the Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras[1]
  2. Dancing-as-spectacle
Yes, there are heavily-choreographed sequences in movies like Enchanted and films focused on dance have proliferated since the success of You Got Served, the joys therein are kinetic rather than athletic. Even at the end of Stomp the Yard — when the IRL-accomplished dancers Columbus Short & Darrin Henson somehow end up dueling — we are prompted to be hyped by the crowd's cheers, drama of competition and rapid camera cuts more than we are to marvel at either performer.

In contrast, towards the end of On the Town, Gene Kelly has a daydream that recaps the movie plot in the form of a 7 minute ballet with a shot ν of ≈3.3dHz. His tap-pas de deux with Vera-Allen "When You Walk Down Mainstreet With Me," has a shot ν of ≈1.7dHz. The shot frequency of the final battle in Stomp the Yard is ≈50dHz; there are more shots in its first 30 seconds than in the entire mini-ballet. We are forced to focus on Kelly; the camera moves only to keep him in frame.

One big difference between On the Town and recent dance movies is that in it Gene Kelly was a huge star — and making his directorial debut — while most of this decade's dance leads were nobodies; Short, Channing Tatum, Garbielle Union and Jessica Alba[2] all had their first lead roles in dance flicks. You don't go out of your way to showcase nobodies. At the same time, since they can't sustain stories through star power, don't you need them to propel plots through performance? It's not like the dialog in Step Up has anything on On the Town's quips.

A lot more could be said about On the Town, including its coding of sex, its treatment of post-WWII gender roles, the potshot at fabricated celebrity (contra 'American Idol'), and the curiously inoffensive-yet-gag-presentation of NYC's minorities. The explorations of the Madonna/Whore duality and psychological-disorder as an epiphenomenon of modernization — in "Miss Turnstiles Ballet" and "Prehistoric Man," respectively — could launch a thousand theses.

None of those, however, would give me an excuse to post a picture of Meagan Good.

[1] A museum docent at "The Museum of Anthropological History" places both an unnamed sauropod and an Homo erectus ca. 6m BCE. However, the K-T boundary was discovered in 1943, before the stage musical On the Town was completed. While the Taung Child/Piltdown Man debate was still going on, no museum would expect even australopithecines to be 6m years old. Of course, this was an anthropological museum dumb enough to have a dinosaur.
[2] Of course, Alba was the star of 'Dark Angel.' Double-of-course, nobody really watched 'Dark Angel.'

Sunday, March 22, 2009

DJ Fro-yo Baggins Presents: An Introduction to Yeezy & Weezy

I got sick of one of my housemates hating on Lil Wayne and Kanye so I made him a mixtape to convince him the error of his ways. He was incredulous but we listened to this today while riding back from the zoo and I think it converted him:

Were he into hip-hop I might have respected his opinion, but he thought they were only capable of "Lollipop"/"Gold Digger"-caliber efforts; "Gifted" and "Georgia Bush" pretty much blew him away. By the time we got to "Prom Queen" he was suitably inured to give it a chance. ^_^

Plus, I just wanted to try out some Muxtape replacements. Mixwidget sounds the most promising but I wasn't in a programming mood so I went with 8tracks. The only downside to 8tracks is that they don't allow you to post the same artist more than twice, so I had to play around with the names...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Spoilers, Sex & Songs

Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" is the backing track to a love scene in Watchmen. Although considering it a sexual song is not a novel concept, there is now a very specific scene which I will forever associate with it.

• "Rock Lobster" - B-52's (Knocked Up)
— Near as I can tell, this song is gibberish (unless a "rock lobster" is some weird phallic reference), but it plays when Seth Rogen performs the titular act upon Katherine Heigl.

• "Faithfully" - Journey (Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby)
— Back before anyone was enchanted[1] by Amy Adams, she delivered one of my favourite movie-motivation speeches to Will Ferrell as Journey's "Faithfully" demi-diagetically plays in the background. It's not so much that this isn't a love song, but what Ferell and Adams do during it is...not quite romantic.

• "Street Lights" - kanYe ('Grey's Anatomy')
— kanYe's lamentations on his inability to reach a point in life that he's already paid his dues at which to arrive becomes an excuse for Sandra Oh to impersonate Marilyn Monroe.

• "Crazy On You" - Heart (Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle)
— Unlike "Faithfully," the manic meter of "Crazy on You" matches the fervor of the...affection...of this pair The scene merely happens to feature a gigantic, anthropmorphic bag of weed. One can debate whether more obvious choices would have been better.

• Honourable mention: "How To Say Goodbye" - Paul Tiernan (Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist)

[1] No level of irony can mitigate how horrible that was, so I will just apologize. (._.)

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Prestige

Wolverine! BATMAN!![1] Het Meisje met de Parel An All-Star cast comes together in The Prestige to rehabilitate the legacy of Nikolai Tesla. When the movie first came out, I considered it merely "That magic movie which isn't The Illusionist," but recently I was discussing the {meta}phyiscs of transporters in 'Star Trek' with a friend and she told me I had to watch it.

The movie was far more engrossing than I feared it would be[2], but the entire time I pondered the way in which film was framing the audience's approach to trickery. Cinema already has its own patented prestidigitation — movie magic — and most of what the magicians discussed could easily be applied to actors or people behind the camera:
  • Viewers can't believe the trick/film is *too* real because magic/movies are escapism
  • You can be better technically than a competitor and still not be as entertaining
  • "The secret impresses no one. The trick you use it for is everything."
For example, there are a few 'Patty Duke'/Parent Trap-style over-the-shoulder shots of doubles throughout the film. Some of these are used to depict tricks on the diagetic audience, and some are used to trick the film viewer. We are never meant to be fully fooled — it's more impressive to see Hugh Jackman convincingly play against himself than think either he has a twin or that he's all computer-generated — but we should not be distracted by the staging either. In grad school they call this "concealed artifice," in wrestling they call it kayfabe, and IRL it's called dating.[3]

[1] Jonathan & Christopher Nolan were the writer/director team behind both Dark Knight and The Prestige. Christian Bale's character in The Prestige has the same name as Michael Caine's character in the Dark Knight. This is still less trippy than the fact Heath Ledger's character in I'm Not There was an actor portraying Christian Bale's character in the same.
[2] The last 10 minutes or so involved too much exposition, but I am fond of the final shot.
[3] ZING! ^_^;

Monday, February 9, 2009

Yes Man

A couple years ago, I wrote a paper using Jim Carrey and Jerry Lewis as case studies of celebrity. Since then I've developed a certain fondness for Carrey, an actor capable of being more than a moron who seemingly can't find success as anything but. Based on that, I should feel sorry that last year's Yes Man was a retread of Liar Liar, except Carrey has to say "yes" instead of the truth (also, there was no magic (unless you count Zooey Deschanel's bangs)).

There is something worthwhile, however, to film's focus on opening oneself up to new ideas. We often convince ourselves we dislike things we're afraid of, but those are not mutually inclusive emotions. Going to see an upstart band, learning a foreign language, or taking a trip to an out-of-the-way locale might not dramatically change your life like it did Carrey's, but it is unlikely to be as upsetting as we imagine. Besides, even if it won't end with wooing that special She or Him, The Slightly Less Attractive Sibling is probably still single.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Perplexed by Per Mil

On a Mac, when you type Option-Shift-R you get the sign for 0.1%, which is "‰ "

The "%" sign is Shift-5. Option-5 gives the leminscate, otherwise known as the sign for infinity: "∞"

It would make sense for Option-Shift-5 to be related to a number, but instead it's "fi"

No, I did not just type "f" then type "i." Oddly enough, Option-Shift-6 gives you "fl"

How in the world did the R-key get roped into percentages? Option-R is the registered trademark symbol (®), which makes sense since it contains, y'know, an R.

Yes, I understand the concept of typographical ligatures, but what makes fl so special? We could have had a few more Greek letters instead.