Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Internet Goodness: Calvin and Hobbes Shoes

These shoes are the best thing I ever saw. And they're cheaper than most shoes you'd find at any store. More info at Gamma Squad.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Here is what I learned from Rise of the Planet of the Apes:
  • If you have a super-smart ape, make sure it only ever meets nice people or it'll flip the fuck out and lead a giant ape revolt.
  • Don't live next to James Franco and/or John Lithgow or your life will turn to shit and terrible things will always happen to you (seriously, that guy cannot catch a break).
  • Don't try to cure Alzheimer's. Or if you're going to try, don't use apes as test subjects. Use bunnies or something.
ROTPOTA is a movie about a bratty ape who flips out after seeing like three mean people and decides to up and lead a rebellion against the human race. Seriously, you guys, when are we going to learn to stop parading the shittiest human beings imaginable in front of every species with the potential to kick our asses? James Franco's dreamy and all, and John Lithgow is so lovable I wish I could bring him home and keep him in my living room to dole out advice and shout at me when I get bad grades in school, but even when you combine them into some sort of lovable dreamboat sandwich they still can't stand up to the parade of assholes that ROTPOTA throws at its simian protagonist, Caesar. I mean honestly, in addition to Franco, Lithgow, and Franco's Useless Girlfriend, Caesar's human interactions are limited to the staff of the Most Evil Ape Sanctuary on the Planet. Why Franco would choose to drop Caesar off at a facility run by William Stryker and his son, Draco Malfoy, is absolutely beyond me.

Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed the movie. It's just that there was a LOT of Stupid that I had to put aside in order to go with the story. Every "evil" character in the film is so ridiculously over-the-top evil that it becomes hard to believe. Draco Malfoy spends his evenings drinking with his friends while tormenting the apes, William Stryker only ever does something nice when he's bribed, and Franco's boss is the Company Man Who Only Cares About the Bottom Line ("What? These apes aren't immediately making me money? KILL THEM ALL! Unless they're going to make me money, in which case I love them and want to hug them to pieces."). Am I living on the same planet as the people who wrote this movie? Do people this shitty actually exist? It's almost no wonder that the apes rebel, when this is their only experience with humanity (one of the apes' only characteristic is that his face is scarred to hell because he's spent so much time being experimented on in labs).

Caesar's motivation in the movie also gave me pause. It's all well and good to want to rise up against your tormentors, but when you think about it for a minute he's actually kind of a bitch about it. Like I said earlier, he meets like three mean people and that's enough to go bat-shit crazy, turn a bunch of other apes smart, and lead them on a violent rampage across the city. You could argue that he does this in the least violent way possible, but that's not really true, is it? Why did they have to flip every goddamn car they saw? Couldn't they just sneak out of town? They're apes, for God's sake; stay in the fucking trees instead of climbing buildings like you're recreating King Kong.

Overall, it's a fun movie with pretty awesome special effects and an iffy plotline. Hell, with the state of film these days, that should qualify it for an Oscar. I say it's worth it just to see the dude from Breaker High play an ape wrangler and to think about the fact that every time any of the cast members had a scene with Caesar, what they saw during filming was this:

Honestly, it's amazing that anyone could get through a take without breaking.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Rant: The Lies of Big Brother

I know I said I was going to steer this blog away from reality TV as no one cares at all about it, but something happened this week that I feel like addressing, as I think it highlights one of the primary problems with the genre (if, in fact, reality TV could be called a genre).

One of my guilty pleasure shows during the summer is Big Brother. Actually, "guilty pleasure" is the wrong choice of words, as I don't actually take any pleasure from watching it. Let me rephrase: One of the shows that I hate but can't stop watching and so continue to follow in order to feed my rage and give me something to yell at three times a week is Big Brother. For those who have never seen it (congratulations), 12-15 people are locked into a house for three months, allowed no contact with the outside world, participate in various competitions, vote one houseguest out each week, and generally act terrible. Part of the reason that Big Brother is so amazing is that the people chosen to be on it are generally some of the worst human beings on the face of the planet. Each season inevitably has at least one racist, homophobic, or otherwise offensive outburst from at least one houseguest, and that's what I want to talk about now.

This week, Jeff Schroeder got into an argument with fellow houseguest Kalia Booker about Harry Potter. Specifically, Jeff had just found out that Dumbledore was gay (a fact revealed by J.K. Rowling after the last book had been published), and he immediately took issue with it, going off on one of the more offensive rants that has ever been heard on the show. He pointed out that Dumbledore "doesn't have any gay tendencies," and then announced that "He's in school with little kids! You don't want to make that guy gay!" Kalia pressed him for clarification, and Jeff went on to say that "I don't think it's the right thing to have a kids' book, and to have the headmaster that's locked away in this magical land, to be gay. That isn't the right kind of writing to do." Kalia (who revealed that her sister was gay), asked Jeff to explain himself, as this is a ridiculous viewpoint to take, at which point Jeff exploded and started cursing her out.

Now, aside from the fact that Jeff's opinion (which seems to be that gay men are pedophiles who should be kept away from little kids) is insane, offensive, and stunningly ignorant, the issue I have is with the way this is going to be presented on TV; or rather, the way it won't be presented on TV. Here's the thing: Jeff is a returning houseguest, and he's considered one of the favourite guests to ever be on the show. He's portrayed as eminently likeable, has an adorable girlfriend (also on the show with him), and is generally someone that you'd want to root for (if you didn't know anything about things like this). See, this rant was captured on the live feeds; it hasn't been aired on one of the prime-time shows, and I can almost guarantee that it won't be. Every time something like this happens, the producers gloss over it; in fact they've edited these arguments in the past to make the bigoted houseguest look like the good guy. In his first season, Jeff got into an argument with another houseguest and ended up yelling that the guy was "a faggot." This argument was aired, because CBS does love drama, but the way it was edited, it made it look like Jeff was the victim, and that he hadn't done anything wrong. In fact, he came away looking like a hero, when in fact he'd revealed himself to his housemates to be an ignorant asshole.

This type of editing skews the entire show for the viewer. Certainly the rest of the house will hear about Jeff's rant, and this will permanently affect the way they feel about him. However, since this won't be shown on TV, we'll be presented with a different story. So far, Kalia has been portrayed as an insufferable bitch; she describes herself as "the real life Carrie from Sex and the City", which made me want to throw the remote through the goddamn TV when I heard it. Jeff, on the other hand, is still being painted as the likeable everyman; in some cases he's almost viewed as a hero. If this fight makes it on TV, I'm almost certain that Kalia will be shown as being the bad guy, as impossible as it might seem. Those of us who only watch the prime-time shows, and not the live feeds (either the 3-hour live show every night on Showtime or the subscription feeds available online), only have what the producers give us to go off of. The only reason I've heard about this is that the story made the rounds of the various entertainment news sites that I follow; if I hadn't read it I'd have gone on liking Jeff, and been confused if and when some of the other houseguests treated him differently. In the past, after a racist rant that was shown on the live feed but was never shown to the prime-time audiences, when reference was made to the argument, it was just confusing to the viewer, as we had no proof of what was being said; someone was being called a bigot, but we'd never seen him acting like a bigot, so it simply made his accuser look crazy, despite the fact that she was 100% correct.

I guess my point here is simply that I find it offensive that CBS seems to think that we can't be trusted with this sort of information. They're taking what's supposed to be reality TV and trying to give it their own storyline, and when anything happens that doesn't exactly fit their blueprint, they gloss over it or edit it out completely. Personally I think it makes viewing the show a completely different exercise now; rather than just following what happens, I'll be trying to see what (if any) repercussions Jeff will be faced with from his housemates. CBS offered a half-assed statement about the incident, but it's really just to cover their asses in case people complain that this sort of thing appeared on their live broadcast. I'm sure people will complain, but in my opinion, those people are idiots. This is reality TV, folks; these idiots knew what they were signing up for, and if they are ignorant bigots, they should be exposed as such. Part of what makes a show like this interesting is that we are supposed to be seeing what these people are really like, and what they will do after being locked in a house away from everything they know for such a long time. CBS should not be covering up their prejudices, and they certainly shouldn't be telling us a different story simply to maintain the status quo for their "fan favourites." If they're worried about offending people, bleep out the offensive statements, but don't just pretend like this shit never happened. If I wanted to watch a scripted show, I would watch a scripted show; I'm watching reality TV for a reason, and I just wish they'd let me do that.

/Rant. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Review: Horrible Bosses

As I've mentioned before, writing comedy is really hard. Evidence of this can be found in the dozens of shitty "comedy" movies that Hollywood pumps out every year; movies with rehashed premises telling the same jokes we've heard a hundred times somehow get greenlit and make millions of dollars, because people are goddamn stupid. If you're going to use an idea that's been done before, you have to bring something new to the table, whether that be in putting an entirely new spin on a familiar story or simply by casting the right people in the right roles. Horrible Bosses falls precisely into this category. Yes, the premise is nothing new, but the cast is fantastic, and they manage to keep things fresh for the entire running time. It's certainly not without its faults, but it managed to keep me laughing, which is all I really ask from a movie like this.
Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day are Nick, Kurt, and Dale, three friends who hate their jobs and decide they need to kill their bosses. Think Strangers on a Train, but more ridiculous. Charlie Day was the entire reason I wanted to see this film, as I'm a huge fan of his work on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (if you're not already watching that show, do yourself a favour and start), and he certainly didn't disappoint. The bosses are played by Kevin Spacey, a psychopath, Colin Farrell, a coked-up asshole, and Jennifer Aniston, a nymphomaniac who inexplicably wants nothing but to have sex with Dale, despite the fact that he's got a voice like a strangled puppy and constantly acts like an idiot throughout the movie. Teaming up with a "murder consultant" named Dean "Motherfucker" Jones (played by Jamie Foxx), they bumble their way through the plot. There are no real surprises in the movie, so director Seth Gordon relies entirely on his cast to get laughs out of the audience, and definitely came through.
As surprising as it is (since I've never seen her in anything that I liked), Jennifer Aniston was the high point of this movie for me. There's something amazing about seeing Rachel from Friends spouting some of the filthiest shit you've ever heard to a stunned Charlie Day, and his reactions are priceless. Sudeikis and Bateman perform about as we've come to expect (with Bateman being the straight man in the movie, and Sudeikis getting the odd laugh here and there, although his inability to resist any woman becomes tiring quickly).
The movie suffers a bit from the fact that there are no surprises; you know exactly where the plot is going and how it's going to get there. Charlie is almost overused; it's like someone realized he was really good at the screamy rants, and so tried to have him do nothing but those. The final act should have been presented in a different order as well; narratively it would have made more sense. These are all minor nitpicks, however, that are quickly forgotten as soon as you think about Charlie dancing in the car while he's supposed to be keeping a lookout, or Colin Farrell (with an amazing combover) saying goodbye to the ladyboy masseuse leaving his house.
Overall, Horrible Bosses could have been better, but it also could have been much, much worse. As it is, the cast saves this movie. If you're a fan of Sunny, you'll like this, and if you're not, then I hate you. Get away from my blog*.

*I'm kidding. Please keep reading.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Epiphany

I've come to a realization about my writing, and it's left me with a bit of a puzzle. The realization is this: if I'm writing something, and I discover that no one is reading it, then I stop writing it. Unfortunately I've never been the type of person to write simply for the pleasure of it. The truth is I write in an attempt to entertain, which is why I've tried to put a comedic twist on everything I've produced over the past year (I'm speaking specifically about the material I've written for this blog). The problem is that I have continually written about subjects that no one gives a shit about (reality TV, in particular, but I've also realized that recapping TV shows, unless you're intending to make fun of them, is kind of a pointless exercise; if people want to know what happened on a show, they'll watch it themselves).

So where do I go from there? The obvious solution is simply to pander to my audience. It's worked well for many authors (*coughStephanieMeyerscough*), but how do you maintain your integrity if you're just writing what other people want to read? And what, exactly to other people want to read? I've got a wide base of friends (and to be honest, at this point my only readers would be my friends), and their interests are incredibly varied. It'd be difficult to pick one topic to satisfy everyone. Also, if I write strictly for others, how do I maintain artistic integrity?

The answer? I don't care. Who am I kidding; I don't give a shit about artistic integrity. I want to write whatever will make people read me (and in turn will get them to pay me millions of dollars). Don't get me wrong, I certainly hope that it turns out to be something I'll enjoy writing. While comedy is really hard, it's definitely enjoyable, and the payoff when someone tells you they got a laugh out of your work is well worth the stress of trying to find exactly the right words to get your joke across. It's just that for me, my readers' positive reaction to my work is far more of a payoff than any satisfaction I might take from the writing process itself, or from the knowledge that I've told a good story.

I'm not sure what the point of this rambling is, other than to inform you, Dear Reader, that (for now, at least) I am back, but that there will be changes to the format of this blog. I'll be keeping things light around here; my objective is to make you laugh (or if not that, to at least make your day at work a little more tolerable as you read what I write). I'll post random links I find (the "Internet Goodness" portion of Undiscover This is the one part of this site that I feel should remain a staple), funny stories, and random thoughts (most likely about how stupid other people are). I'll definitely try to post at least once a week, but knowing myself, I don't want to make any promises.

So stay tuned, Dear Reader, and together we'll set out to solve the Ultimate Mystery: can Ryan be funny on a semi-consistent basis? ONLY TIME WILL TELL.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

RECAP: The Amazing Race - "Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen (Switzerland)"

Probably the most frustrating part of the second-last episode of this season of TAR was the fact that, even though the teams were racing through Switzerland and all of the locations they visited were incredible, I was unable to enjoy it because I was too busy yelling at my TV every time Kent and Vyxsin showed their goddamn stupid faces. They've officially overtaken Mirna and Schmirna (Charla and Mirna from Season Whatever) as THE MOST ANNOYING TEAM IN AMAZING RACE HISTORY. CONGRATULATIONS. BULLET POINTS.