Bill Cosby Insults My Intelligence

I don't think I can do a humorous photo caption that won't offend the non-rapists reading this blog.  (Photo is in the public domain.)

I don’t think I can do a humorous photo caption that won’t offend the non-rapists reading this blog. (Photo is in the public domain.)

By now, my U.S. readers will have heard the “news” about the numerous rape allegations against Bill Cosby.  Although celebrity news usually insults my intelligence, this story is different.  After all, our country and its media held the controversy down for decades.  The delayed timing just goes to show that the American people will forgive the most horrific of sins as long as the sinner is pushing a pudding pop down their throats.  Bill Cosby is being taken down so late in life only because he can no longer stand proudly behind a towering pudding pop on TV.

So let’s shove rape allegations to the side when they mess with our fun.  Priorities matter.

It’s such a shame because this guy was admired as “America’s Dad” because of his iconic Cosby Show.  Obviously, we must now stop calling him “America’s Dad” unless he fathered enough children to have earned that designation through other means. With that in mind, I think we should now refer to him by the job he chose for his character on that famous TV show.

That’s right.  Bill Cosby is America’s Obstetrician.

Of all the medical fields he could have chosen, he picked a vagina-gazing specialty and America didn’t blink.  Never underestimate people’s willful ignorance.

Now, unfortunately, all women will suffer for his misdeeds.  So, ladies, the next time you’re spending quality time with your OB-GYN, try not to think of Bill Cosby.

Blogger’s note: I promise that the next post will be happier.  It would kind of have to be.

New Video Games Insult My Intelligence

Growing up, I spent tons of time in front of video games.  Now that I’m grown and unemployed, I wish I could still find some games of the type I used to love.

These are the old-school RPG’s.  Since many of you will only be familiar with the newer model, here’s a glimpse of the past:

That video highlights what used to be possible in a video game.  At the start, you could choose the job type (magician, warrior, etc.) of each character and all sorts of combinations were possible.  That meant you could play the game repeatedly and you’d always experience something new because you’d need a new strategy for the group you had selected.  The four white wizards in the video were known as the most challenging combination possible in the original Final Fantasy game; a lot of imagination went into devising the method of winning portrayed in the video.  (That was the game’s final battle, which is why the video’s ending is so surprising.)

In case you don’t remember what imagination is, look it up in the dictionary.   We don’t breed much of it these days.

And since RPG’s have always taken notoriously long to complete, the video game companies obviously saw a losing proposition.  You can’t have customers being happy with your product for too long or else they won’t need to buy anything new.  (I wonder if this is why cars break down so often…)  So the companies added more intricate storylines and, eventually, movies to the games.  Once you add this, the characters must always be the type that is portrayed.  Player choice becomes impossible unless the game companies start programming the myriad variations in stories and videos to accommodate a player’s options.

That’s going to happen, right?

And there died the ability to replay an RPG once you’ve completed it once.  Evil marketing genius, I say.

In fact, new games arguably revolve around around the movies and storyline instead of gameplay itself.  I liked the old-school RPG’s because I didn’t have to fumble with the controller and struggle with my less-than-stellar reflexes.  And then these games were unceremoniously transformed into first-person battle simulators that bore no resemblance to the original genre.  And now they’re becoming interactive movies that require neither reflexes nor anything else but the willingness to shell out large sums of money. (Well, I suppose they also require the ability to gaze into a screen for long periods of time.)  If I want a movie, I’ll buy a DVD or join Netflix and spend a lot less for it.

Nevertheless, the game companies get away with calling these offerings RPG’s.  In some cases (Final Fantasy, anyone?), game mechanics became unrecognizable in new releases even though the game title presents the new product as an installment in the longstanding series.

Just put a crappier car under the same nameplate and idiots will flock to the new vehicle, ignoring all evidence that they’re being sold nothing more than a name.  This isn’t the understandable evolution of a product.  Instead, it borders on bait-and-switch.

Granted, I don’t miss the hours and hours I used to spend repeatedly battling small monsters so I could build up my characters’ skills enough to progress in a game.  Nevertheless, it’s not too hard to program a game with more major tasks that are separated by smaller gaps in how far your characters have developed.

Oh, wait.  It is too hard.  Those huge gaps ensured that programmers didn’t have to design larger world maps and more enemies to fight and longer stories.

And there’s the irony.  Expanding the storytelling aspect decreases the quantity of story the programmers must devise.  A 15-minute movie clip often progresses a story less than a few brief shots of text, but the movie clip looks good and that’s all that matters with games.  Besides which, it takes fewer movie clips to make a “legitimately” long game.

Or perhaps I should say a legitimately long “game.”

Barking Insults My Intelligence

Once upon a time there was a cute little puppy…

Beagle puppy

Cute little puppy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Unfortunately, the puppy had no unique talents.  He knew how to pee and how to bark and how to fetch.  He also knew a few other doggy tricks that made his owners happy, but he didn’t know how to become famous.

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In his sadness, the puppy started howling at the moon and the racket woke up his neighbors.  Soon enough, their door opened and an old, tired-looking man started walking his way.

The puppy was scared.  Very scared.

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The old man also knew that the puppy had other hidden talents.  For example, the puppy knew how to hump a person’s leg.  “That’s perfect for your first concert tour,” the old man said.  “Just get up there and shake your hips and yelp and you’ll make a lot of people very happy.”

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And that, boys and girls, is where wealthy pop stars come from.

Horror Movies Insult My Intelligence

Yippee.  An evening in front of the TV and I’d rather be anywhere else.  Tonight we’re watching Spleen XVI: The Severance.  In case you’ve never heard of it, the photo above comes from its most iconic scene.

The two soon-to-be victims, and you just know they’re going to be killed because of the music, are preparing a meal in their restaurant.  Because horror movies don’t try for much symbolism or, really, for anything much beyond cheap predictable thrills, the food is typical chain restaurant fare.  Now, this is a movie called Spleen.  Would it have been too hard for the screenwriters to let these guys be cooking spleen before having their own spleens ripped out and mailed to the mayor?

Oops.  I jumped ahead in the story.  Where was I?  Oh yeah… foreboding music and SCREECH!, two dead men.  Like the image I posted here, the camera’s focus always remains on the men’s torsos.  They’re being objectified for their luscious, voluptuous spleens!  How much more sexist can this film get?

Anyway, the murderer removes the pulsating spleens and mails them to the mayor in an attempt to terrorize the town.  That’s because the entire town has to be terrorized; it would be hard to fill another seventy minutes of screen time unless the entire town is brought into it.  But then, this is America.  There are plenty of ways to terrorize the town with two perfectly good spleens.  In this country, we don’t eat a lot of the tasty and nutritious animal parts that the rest of the world does, unless of course they’re ground up into a hot dog.

Therefore, I think the film would have been better if the killer had opened a spleen restaurant.  That would have scared everyone in town and been much less predictable than what I had to sit through.  They could have even kept the rest of the movie’s formulaic plot: after being terrified by the killer’s actions, the population bands together and eliminates the villain (although not before a few of the townsfolk die off).  And then there’s happy music and cheering and dancing and a remembrance of the people who were despleened.  The story goes the same way in all horror films, so I wish the writers had given us something truly original.  If the killer had just opened the restaurant, someone could have run out screaming at the end:

“SOYLENT SPLEEN IS MADE OUT OF PEOPLE!”

Author’s note:

Yeah, I know that was a cheap ending.  However, it fits in perfectly with Hollywood’s standards.  Nevertheless, at least my alternate ending would have set up a more believable story for the next film in the series, Spleen XVII: Dinner for Tomb. 

iTunes Insults My Intelligence

Interesting fact: the music you are permitted to purchase on iTunes is determined by the country you live in.  (Amazon also does this for its MP3 downloads and they they judge your location by your credit card billing address.)  While Amazon lets you see foreign music if you go to the British (or other foreign) site, you can’t even see the listings for music you’re not allowed to buy on iTunes.

According to iTunes, this has to do with the contracts they’re able to sign with the various record companies; I would imagine that it’s the record companies who demand these restrictions.  It’s nothing new.  If you’ve spent much time in a foreign country, you know that DVD’s are programmed to run only in a particular region’s DVD players.   Before that, the same was true of videocassette formatting.  I’m sure the record companies are just trying to protect everyone from musical tastes that would be dangerous to the larger community.

But some stuff gets through and, very often, we are left with crap.  Do you remember the band Rammstein?  Rammstein is and always has been perfectly safe.  After all, they’re the group that did a music video out of clips from a Leni Riefenstahl film.  We didn’t get that information in this country because that would have made the band unmarketable here.  The only “controversy” we were informed of was that the Columbine killers liked the band.

Since I’m no longer so young, I like to categorize Rammstein as “Dr. Seuss Death Metal.”  This is what their lyrics seem like to me:

Would you kill your lovely wife?

Would you do it with a knife?

Would blood splatter here and there?

Would blood splatter everywhere?

I do not like green eggs and blood.

I do not like them, Sam, you pud.

When I was in Europe about a dozen years ago, I came back with CD’s of a similar band called Oomph! (The exclamation point is part of their name.  It’s not an indication of excitement on my part.)  When my brother heard this stuff, he accurately stated that they make Rammstein sound like sick little men, or something like that.  For one, these guys can actually sing.  And second, the music often has more than one or two chords per song.  And third, their lyrics rise above a second grade reading level.  iTunes carries all of Rammstein’s stuff but is missing a great deal of Oomph!’s.  The innovative stuff is absent, like the prozac album.  (I call it the prozac album because the band recorded a bunch of more cheerful songs and a pair called Dopamine and Seratonin.)

And then there are the bands iTunes doesn’t carry.  There’s a Finnish group called Northern Kings and the only song iTunes carries from them is the one that isn’t in English.  (The ones in English are all covers of American hits, mostly from the 1980’s.  You’d think that kind of thing would sell if it were offered…)  I encourage you to look them up on Youtube.  If you’re into lighter music, go for “I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight.”  “Take on Me” is a better introduction if you’re into heavier stuff.  Except for R&B and Gospel singers, the U.S. music industry doesn’t give us much authentic musical talent like this.  One of the Northen Kings’ singers has even released a serious recording of “Nessun Dorma.”  Can anyone picture Lars Ulrich or Ozzy Osborne pulling off anything remotely similar to opera vocals, or even being able to handle a full song in Italian?

I suppose iTunes and the record companies must think that they can keep selling us garbage if they just spoon feed us recommendations, leaving us to never experience what else is out there.  Just buy the stuff they advertise and everybody’s happy!

And if you think that sounds nefarious, ask yourself this: can you think of another industry where businesses choose not to offer their products for sale to the broadest possible market when it would cost them nothing extra to do so?  It’s not like iTunes doesn’t have all this other music stored on its servers already.