Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"All the things that make us, Laugh and Cry!"

And now, a break from our incendiary political assaults…………..

Of course, we all watch the shows that makes us “Laugh and Cry!”, but that strong artistic spirit in the artists who watch the shows always ask themselves, “Why is this funny?” They wish to ascend to and become their favorite artist, and so, digging into the structure and possibly the psychology behind their favorite shows (or other pieces of art) is a necessary process. And even for people who don’t wish to be artists, seeing many works by the artist enable them to see patterns and things not first noticeable.

The last two days, I’ve wasted time away by watching 6-hour marathons of “Married…With Children”. It’s an old show but retains the same structure as a lot of hit comedy shows today, like “Family Guy” and “The Simpsons”. Years ago, when it was a primetime show on T.V., I thought it was gut-wrenchingly hilarious, even when I didn’t understand some of the jokes (I was like 13 or 14 or something like that and it’s an adult show). I think all of these shows are gut-wrenchingly hilarious, and some of the best written comedy ever.

The shows I’ve listed in this paragraph all share that one obvious component: a dysfunctional family. On top of this, the subjective approach to these families usually includes content that is exaggerated and suggestive more than anything. And it’s from that content that the humor stems.

In Married...With Children, conflicts are all over. This is mainly because all of the characters hate each other, and still find time to center even more hate and disrespect on the central character, Al Bundy. Conflicts range between being within the family, to people outside of them, to their surrounding environment.

The show centers on a lower-class family in Chicago who must deal with the absence of necessities as well as each other’s depravities on the daily basis (but that lower-class status is sometimes suspended at the cost of the reality of the story, see way below).
-Al Bundy is a chauvinist pig whose family life is torture, next to constantly dealing with fat women who complain to and about him at his lowly and desolate shoe store.
-Bud, their son, is a mischievous coming-of-age kid who is always taking cash from family members to protect secrets from other family members whilst trying desperately to unvirginize himself with girls at school.
-Kelly, their older daughter, is a reckless and promiscuous teen who is always bringing men from jail and tough bikers home, not to mention ones she barely knows.
-Peggy, the wife and mother, watches Oprah Winfrey and Phil Donahue all day long and takes the little bit of money Al makes and spends it on herself instead of buying things like food for the family or paying bills.
Family Guy also has the character roles that conflict, but the show itself is more about turning those conventional societal roles inside out. It is about the life of the typical nuclear, suburban family in Providence, Rhode Island. But since everything and everyone has been flipped into their much, more perverse and unusual identities, there ends up being nothing typical about the town or people what-so-ever.

-So Peter Griffin, the father of the family, is expected to be the working, brave leader but instead is a bumbling, childish idiot who is usually the reason the family gets into their episodic problems.
-Lois, the wife and mother who is expected to know only about the kitchen and bedroom while being sexually repressed, is actually a sagacious, vibrant woman who usually gets the family out of their problems and has quite the sexual zest.
-Meg, the daughter who is expected to be the beautiful growing teen that stays at the top of the popular crowd in high school, is actually afraid to be looked at by everyone on earth and is the butt of every joke and victim of every circumstance.
-Chris, their son, is supposed to be the mischievous deviant but is actually quite friendly and harmless, and as dumb as his father.
-The dog Brian is, instead of some furry, primitive beast kept around for entertainment, a very mature and cultured being who sips martinis, walks on two legs and smokes cigarettes.
-Last but not least, Stewie, who is, on the surface, an adorable, lively infant (and the most popular character on the show), is actually a super-intelligent, megalomaniacal arch villain who speaks with an encyclopedic, Oxford accent and lives for not much more than to kill Lois.


Both comedies exaggerate to get their point across, and it’s usually all for the sake of the joke. Trying to remain realistic is where it would become garbage, mundane crap, or another words, like the rest of the comedies on T.V. and in theaters today. There have been countless times on Family Guy where Peter has had limbs severed (a few of which he did himself), yet, in every new episode, he appears whole and fine. On Married…With Children, they cannot pull that kind of thing off since they aren’t animated, but Al continually talks about how inhumanly fat Peggy’s mother is (“Why is it that your three sisters take up one bed, but your mother alone takes up three?”). In reference to them being ultra-poor, there was one episode where, for breakfast, the family had to sip chicken soup out of M&M shells. But on a side note, Al’s reportedly super low salary (below $10,000) is questionable when there have been plenty of episodes where he’s given the family money when they asked, still lives in the house with running electricity and water, and can afford to go bowling and to strip bars although no one else in the family works.

The stark contrasts between everything in both shows is the driving point of the plotlines, which sometimes gets lost and ceases to matter due to the shows being so joke- and punchline-laden. There’s the contrast between Al the chauvinist and Marcy, their neighbor, who is a staunch, upper-class feminist. The contrast/conflict between Bud and Kelly, who are the ever feuding siblings. Between Al and Steve, Marcy’s husband, who brushes his teeth, works at a bank where he is a great and orderly employee and has a respectable wife and car, and still finds things in common with Al, who hardly ever has clean clothes on his back, rarely brushes his teeth, insults the customers at his job and has a wife who sucks the happiness clean out of his life.

Family Guy also talks about itself, being aware of its existence as a T.V. show. In the end of a particular episode, Peter talks about how networks should be ashamed of themselves for showing violence and sex on T.V. and the government should regulate what broadcasts. After being warned by Lois that he should quit while he’s ahead or the budget for their show will get cut, he continues to criticize Fox network (the channel they’re on in the U.S.), and then walks away in cheap, choppy animation (indicating the budget has been cut).

I think “That 70’s Show” also had the main conflicts within the family, but I didn’t follow that show as closely, so I can’t go into details. The Simpsons also had the conflicting roles and extreme wackiness. But, much like “Family Guy” and “Married…With Children”, love always held them together. The structure in all of the shows will probably remain to be same in the future, but this is irrelevant. It is all about the mastery of the details.

See also: The Graphic Novel series “Transmetropolitan”. It’s science fiction and political, but has the same humor.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Presidential Debate


I know, lately a large portion of this blog has been devoted to talking about Barack Obama and John McCain. And I don't wish to beat the one or two people who read this blog over the head with the same stuff again and again, but this is a very important subject at a very important time. And if I wish to do my part to draw attention to it, I must voice my thoughts and speak out somewhere.

Now, the two Presidential Candidates had their first debate last night on, about, 6 channels including CNN, MSNBC and some others. They had small graphs at the bottom of the screen measuring the audiences reaction as the Candidates spoke. I suppose they thought this would determine who the people favored.

For the most part, the audience favored McCain. Whenever he spoke, the red bar soared over the green line (Undecided/Independents) and the blue line (Obama). When Obama spoke, the blue line just barely peaked over the others. But does this really mean Americans want McCain? No. The debate took place in Mississippi, a red state. They were Democratic a long time ago, when Democrats had conservative values, but now they are strongly Republican. McCain could've came on T.V. wrapped in a confederate flag, shooting up crystal meth and farting as a response to all of Obama's statements and the crowd would've liked him anyway.

Within the actual debate itself, people are complaining about Obama saying "You're absolutely right, John.", or a variance of, about six times during their back-and-forths on certain issues. The Republican party is talking about this being some sort of edge or advantage over Obama because it shows that fundamentally Obama is supporting McCain. This goes to show how idiotic and dense the Repub party is.

Obama spoke on things that were agreeable with his beliefs. What, just for the sake of a controversy-hungry public, Obama was supposed to say "That makes no sense!" or "I don't agree with that at all!", only to turn around and repeat the facts that he actually agreed with? No, you asses. Obama was merely pointing out the few aspects of John's rambling that he agreed with. Yes, as McCain said, spending in Washington has gone way out of control (as he repeated numerous times, showing that his speech advisors gave him that to show that he was aware of a world outside of himself), but NO, this will not be solved by putting a freeze on earmarked money = national budget which is frozen now but will be handed to corporate conglomerates later on. That was an insipid solution on all kinds of levels. Obama suggested taking those millions, and using it to help the people like me and you, who have to work and pays bills, who are hit the hardest everytime the government misspends our taxes.

Besides the fact that McCain did not look at Obama at all even though Obama addressed him directly like a gentleman and a scholar is supposed to, besides the fact that McCain lied numerous times and worked to bully and take over the conversation with his narrow-minded rhetoric, this image of being an independent-minded President did not work.

He proposed that we continue trying to resolve this Sunni/Shiite thing and continue to send $10,000,000,000 a year to the military for this campaign in Baghdad and Iraq. But the military already has about $90,000,000,000.

$90,000,000,000!!!!!!

The $10,000,000,000 of next year alone could revive this economy, if placed in the correct parts. The thing being, if the budget has to be stretched, you support the infrastructure (education, jobs, transportation, environment) first. Also, cut the taxes for the middle and lower classes so that they are able to partake in the local economy and the thriving of the country altogether. This is not for a quick bit of money in everyone's pocket, but to ensure that they're in a cyclic, productive economy that keeps money incoming as well as it goes out. But McCain prefers to further the failings of Bush.

McCain's example of his kind of solution to the terrible economy created by his tyrannical presidential antecedent is to open up 45 new power plants, which will [read: AS A SIDE EFFECT] give about 400,000 more jobs by the year 2030. That's nice......except who the f*&% said everyone has to work in a fu***n' power plant??!????? Or: why is everyone being forced to work in a f*****' nuclear power plant?? How about we open up jobs all over the country? What, are you going to tell me that that's "clearly" what McCain meant? No, the f&%$ it's not. In making that statement, McCain has shown that he is not interested in working, taxpaying people of this country whatsoever. He's out to stuff lobbyist' pockets.

Obama showed me exactly what I expected from him: maturity, policies that are well thought out, effective and sensible theories based on facts (he even tackled the Iraq and Iran issues, which used to be McCain's strong points). McCain showed me that we should re-consider even letting him still be a citizen of this country.

What? He served for our country in the military? Guess what: so did Joe Biden. So did thousands of immigrants, teenagers and combinations of both. Can they be presidents too?

Please stay tuned, I have to speak on Palin and address the Lipstick Pig's supporters with a point we should all pay attention to.............................

P.S. According to polls after the debate, Obama won the debate and a small percentage of people had a better view of him, by the way.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Petcka the asinine

Please click to enlarge and take a few minutes to read, although not necessary.
I'm supposing the readers that came across this article dismissed it with a scoff or a laugh or whatever and went back to work or house chores or just turned to the next page in the newspaper. I don't read the paper as much as I should; I'm usually too busy with some piece of fiction or playing dominoes or anger at my insipid, incompetent bosses. When I do read the paper I come across the usual:

-A store clerk is shot in robbery gone wrong
-A wife drowned her infant while baptizing him
-More idiots have fallen for McCain's trickery
-Lindsay Lohan was seen with this new Fendi dress while kissing Ethan Hawke at a Starbucks somewhere.

The usual stuff which makes me, once again, believe I can go without reading the paper for some time, since all the new articles are just old ones remixed by P. Diddy. When I came across this one, however, my brain started to flare up with images.

Accordingly, 6 foot 2 inches tall footballer Joseph Petcka felt threatened by his ex-girlfriend's cat, Norman, after he woke up from napping (which was, in turn, after a drunken fight with said ex) and found the cat biting into his knuckles. At some point in an ensuing fight, the cat reportedly lunged, with claws out and teeth barednote below, at Mr. Petcka. So, in his own defense, he tossed the cat across the room and delivered hard steel-toed kicks to the "ravenous" creature's body. Norman was later found dead with injuries I may punch my comp monitor whilst mentioning but are listed in the newspaper clip above.

Others at my job simply said "That's terrible." or "I hope that guy gets jail time. That's just fu**** up." I, on the other hand, was thinking of summoning Mr. Alighieri back from the dead to help create in additional 15-20 extra torturous circles of Hell just for Joseph Petcka. We can also throw deer and animal hunters in there to be precise.

Don't I think I'm overreacting? Nope, not at all. People need to get off of their biological hierarchy and stop putting themselves before anything everything else. We have intelligence and a much deeper understanding about the world then animals do. This does not mean they're subject to our pleasures and sadistic wills. This, in relation to terrestial property, also does not mean they are beneath us. And if you are thinking of quoting from the Old Testament to support the contrary, please save it for your local conservative, racist, irrational bigot preacher. I would introduce debate for a theological perspective, but that's a blog post within itself.

We should be using our faculties to help conserve their health, habitat and kingdom. We're supposed to have a respect for all life, not just human's. Contrary to Mr. Petcka's extremely asinine analysis, animals do not sit, draw up plans on maps and plot out preemptive strikes on people. They only have the capacity to act in nature. So where is there room for a grudge or anger toward a creature who doesn't "know" what they're doing. We have the ability to understand their nature, so we should at least try to.

I say that we should respect all life, but to be honest, as time passes and I read things like this, I find it harder and harder to have sympathy for the bad turns in life humans take. And no, this is not the genesis of my history as a brand new eco-terrorist. But this is a prime example of ignorance=evil.

noteThe cat was declawed, hence the title of this post. Now, if Mr. Petcka was lying instead of actually imagining the cat had claws, I shall require Dante to throw in an extra 15 circles of Hell.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Gaming Attractions

So.........it's been a little while since I've spoken on what's going on in the gaming world. Mainly because I've been pissed that these waves of idiots are actually falling for and following this monstrous tumor of a potential vice president named Sarah Palin. Also because of idiocy at my job, researching and trying to finish a short story, and just being generally tired (as you can see from me not posting as regularly as I used to). However, there are two games whose releases I particularly have my eye on in the upcoming months.

This one is called Legendary, a first person shooter and potential "BioShock" killer based on a world being destroyed by a corporation who owns and unleashes the monsters in Pandora's Box. Destructible environments, vast array of enemies and smart, realistic A.I. Looks to be a new big-budget hit for Microsoft.







This next one is Bionic Commando, a sequel to the 8-bit version that came out on Nintendo years ago. This third-person sandbox title follows a government operative who, after being betrayed by the government, imprisoned, and put through a nuclear blast, takes his bionic arm (hence the title) and works to get to the bottom of what's going on. Looks like a pretty open and detailed world. But as I've said before on a previous blog, I hope the controls can convey the free-moving and acrobatics properly. For promotion, a game called "Bionic Commando Rearmed", which is the old side-scrolling game with a hefty face and gameplay-lift, was released a little while back. This trailer effectively shows the evolution in between all three.







Good stuff.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Memorial Ploy

Don't get angry with me. I don't look at it that way. I see it is a proper, honorable burial for the passed-away. Yesterday, aired on CNN for the anniversary of that historically pivotal day in 2001, A was memorial erected at the Pentagon where a group of benches were covered with blue canopy. Removal of the canopy showed the names of all the victims on special benches. Interspersed in between the benches is planted a tree, the symbolism of the victims lives continuing in our hearts, a symbol that we begin lives anew. This is all good and fine, but I can't help but to think that it's also a media event to reinvigorate siding with the Republicans.

Don't be angry, I'm not trying to reduce the memorial into simple, political ploy. To me, 9/11 showed that the cycle of violence, of political and cultural bigotry, of wars between self-inherent religious truths and which country is strong and weak, of fear, needs to stop. But watching McCain, Bush and Rumsfeld speak at the podiums in New York and Pennsylvania, it feels like they are trying to recreate that fear and cultural hatred prominent during the actual attack to insert their own meaning and direction into American citizens.

When talking about 9/11, words like heroes, victim, enemies, remember, American, honor, life, death, love, God, terrorism and freedom are continually recycled and used constantly. It's possible that they can't be escaped, but they, the Repubs, will always take the opportunity to attempt to use these words to stir negative, emotional but narrow minded feelings within the American public. I can only hope the people aren't fooled into letting McCain continue the destruction of our country that Bush administered.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Read.

So, you're a fresh reader. Your vocabulary is not as extensive as you'd like it to be yet, you struggle with terms and objects and places in other countries/planets/dimensions, and you're not familiar with terms like Bildungsroman, Grandfather Paradox, or foil character. Do you only go with the books you understand now, or do you pick something that looks interesting but will be difficult to get through? Of course, there are people who stay the way they are and only go where they see fit. Like a co-worker of mine. He'll struggle to spell the word "sci-fi", much less put himself through a whole book of it. So he instead sticks with books like these:

True to the Game
Shaqeesha's Baby: The Trilogy*
Straight From Da Hood, Yo*
Memoirs of a Crackhead, as written by the person he stole them from*
Get Off My Government Cheese!: The Prequel*
Rick James, Bitch!: The official biography of the Bitch Rick James was talking about.*

*not real books

These are Urban books, or "Hip-Hop Literature" as Wikipedia would call them. And to add to what I put above, there are plenty of people that read these things because they want to, and not because they can't read anything else. With that said, these novels often appear absolutely idiotic to me, but to each their own.

I remember seeing things like the Lord of the Rings books selling millions of copies (at the time of the film release) and wanting to read it before the film came out, so I borrowed the trilogy from a friend. I could not, for the life of me, make heads or tails of what the hell was going on in certain parts. I'm a person that envisions what I read, and so all the passages with environment and nature talks of this kind of tree and that ridge above this creek drew blanks for me. If I were my other co-worker, I would've given up and stuck with being entertained by stuff like Max Tucker. But this didn't make sense.

Contemplating putting the book down made me feel like I couldn't go on to anything else because I quit that one. "It's too hard to read, no one's going to like this./But millions of people have already read and enjoyed it, so what are you missing?/well, what did they understand? Did they understand?" And it's not about the book itself, but the feeling like my intelligence has limits.

This was when I first started taking literature seriously. I eventually finished the book(s) and went on to other stuff that looked like it would challenge me. I've never wanted to just stay with what works for me. you imprison yourself in ignorance that way. I wanted to be able to read anything from classics to sci-fi to espionage. From a Doctor who trades his soul for mastery of the Dark Arts, to a boy playing in his poor Venezuelan park, to a CIA agent getting permission from Quantico to dig up files about a secret Indo-Vietnamese War.

My point is that I think it's better to make the mind adapt to the literary world, not to just stay with what you know. That's no good. Books are supposed to teach you, not tell you what you already know.

This same thing goes with writing. If I imagine something, I want to be able to portray it as realistically and accurately as possible in words. Note: realistic does not mean imitate the surface of life (only what meets the naked eye). It means the components of your story must interact with each other as they logically would given the totality of whatever properties you create for them. Whatever disorders and powers you give to somebody or something, you must imagine, in detail, how life would be for them. So, do not, as so many people have stupidly done, have a character suddenly be able to cause earthquakes or read people's minds and just go straight to thinking about how to use these powers without first being shocked that such powers exist.

At any rate, the truism of reading or writing what you know holds true, but that doesn't mean to only stick with what you know. This is pride in ignorance at its finest. Anything that you want to write about, you get to know. Any word you don't know, you look up. Reading maybe difficult for you now, but it's only because your mind is being cultured and your interests are widening. Many people have said this and I don't remember which or who, but "intelligence is the refining or strengthening of the soul". In researching, you may find that whatever work you're approaching goes deeper than you thought.

(Dis)Honor?

I was flipping through the newspaper the other day and landed at the first page of the obituaries.

There, I found the story of Yuri Nosenko, 81, ex-KGB agent (a soldier that works for national defense in the Soviet Union during the Cold War).

During the height of the Cold War (nuclear arms threat battle between the U.S. and the Soviet Union), he went to Switzerland and defected to the U.S. in 1964. After years of being interrogated and held in various prisons lest he's a double agent (someone pretending to be a traitor but is actually a spy), he was finally admitted into a U.S. intelligence agency. He submitted crucial Russian dossiers and documents that helped the U.S. gain an edge against the Soviet Union.

He died last week, a month after CIA director Michael Hayden sent him a flag and a letter of thanks.

Yes, he helped this country, but he betrayed his previous one. Isn't that a bit immoral?