Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sweet Zombie Jesus! Another Post!

Yeah, I'm posting regularly again, I'm aiming for twice a week, we'll see how that goes.

On the matter of Howie Mandel…

Alright, so, Deal or No Deal. Is it groundbreaking television? No. Is it a revolution in game show programming? No. Is it an extremely difficult game of knowledge, strategy and skill? Hell no. But is it damn entertaining to watch? Yes. Watching someone’s hopes and dreams for the future slowly build up only to be crushed instantly by a combination of pure chance and their own bad choice is absolutely priceless. It’s like being a high school guidance counselor, but in convenient half hour episodes, twice daily on weekdays, once on weekends.

There is, however, one point in the show in which I absolutely despise. Usually, getting close to endgame, at around the 23 minute mark of the show, Howie Mandel turns to the contestant and utters what is quite possibly the most idiotic line in the history of television.

“Alright, [insert contestant’s name here], you’ve played a really good game…”

You have played a really good game. Of Deal of No Deal. Where to begin? I can play a really good game of hockey, or soccer, or even golf. That is to say, there was something I did of my accord, in which I overcame the circumstances and nature of the game to do well at it. It even applies to other game shows, you can play a really god game of Jeopardy! Or Wheel of Fortune. Both of which, though determined in the most basic sense, by chance, there is still some inner working of the brain which manifests itself in a stratagem or skill being employed which, if successful, can result in victory.

And I realize, al lot of you out there are saying “but there clearly is some skill involved, you can make a deal at a time which maximizes your chances of leaving with the most possible money.” True, in theory, but not in practice. The concept of basic laws of averages and knowing that luck will bite you in the ass if you continually play against it is definitely a good bit of knowledge to have, but is it a skill? I think not. Here’s a general rule, if my 8 year old cousin who is just learning multiplication in his Grade 3 class can make the right call on when to make the deal, it’s not a skill.

Nonetheless, Howie asserts, a good game has been played. Let me explain to you, what playing a good game of Deal or No Deal equates to. Suppose I take 26 bottlecaps, and number them 1 to 26, and arrange them on a table. At this point, I whip out my dick, and start pounding it against the table repeatedly. Some of the bottlecaps flip over, and are therefore removed. It is then my choice whether to leave, or to continually pound my dick on a table. This is the equivalent of playing a good game of Deal or No Deal.

At which point someone else walks into the room, and the conversation goes something like this:

“Some of the bottlecaps aren’t turned over.”

“Yeah, I got tired of the game, plus it’s kinda starting to hurt.”

“Well, you played a good game…”

Friday, November 13, 2009

My sincerest apologies...

Alright, so I am fully and completely aware of the fact that I haven't updated in an entire week now, however, I have been busy writing my second play, entitled: "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Electric Chair." Therefore, with any amount of luck I should be back to regular posting by Monday or possibly earlier, and I'll also have entries dedicated to the play and the progress thereof. Yay!

Friday, November 6, 2009

On the matter of film critics…

Years ago, while attending Nuit Blanche, Toronto’s premier outsider art/pretentious asshole festival, I happened to catch sight of a man wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with one of the most commonly uttered pop culture phrases. Since it’s inception in the early 1990’s, I feel nothing has captured the imagination of the general artistic audience as that uttered by fictional film critic Jay Sherman:

“Nietzsche is pietzsche, but Sartre is smatre.”

To which, Homer Simpson famously replied:

“Oh yeah? Well Scooby-Doo can doo-doo, but Jimmy Carter is smarter.”

A phrase clearly intended to highlight the somewhat diminutive intelligence of Homer Simpson, but let’s really take an in depth look at what is being said here. I’ll pick apart Sherman’s statement first.

Friedrich Nietzsche was a 19th century German philosopher who advocated nihilism, a philosophical school of thought that dictates that all life is devoid of meaning and purpose. In many of his works, Nietzsche famously lamented that “God is dead” a statement which he said encompassed the loss of religion in European society, and therefore destroyed any meaning, value, and objective truth to be found within. After going mad from syphilis and suffering three separate strokes, Nietzsche died at the age of 56, alone, and crazy. So, was Nietzsche really all that “peachy?” I think not.

Conversely, Jean-Paul Sartre was a 20th century playwright and philosopher who was the driving force behind the existentialist movement. Existentialism, basically promotes the idea that it is the responsibility of the individual to determine exactly what the gives their own life meaning, and thus fulfill that meaning. Existentialism certainly had a profound effect on the world of philosophy, but Sartre can hardly be given all the credit, other philosophers including Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and even Nietzsche himself.

Sartre was great and all, but really, smarter than Nietzsche? I don’t think I can philosophically agree. Nietzsche’s thoughts were so profound that his work can be identified as one of the main causes behind World War II. All Sartre’s work ever did was influence the movie Blade Runner. Don’t get me wrong, I love Blade Runner just as much as the next person, but it hasn’t really shaped the world as we know it today.

In 1969, Hanna-Barbera Productions premiered its latest cartoon as part of the CBS Saturday morning carton line-up, entitled “Scooby Doo, Where Are you!” The show featured a cast of four human characters who travelled alongside a talking dog named Scooby Doo. In addition to somehow being able to speak and comprehend the English language, Scooby Doo also enjoyed eating a wide assortment of human foods alongside his best friend Shaggy, and had a knack for accidentally catching the villain in each episode and solving the mystery. Despite his questionable character aspects, one thing is clear. Scooby Doo is biologically a canine, and therefore must, as his biology dictates, “doo-doo,” despite said action never being seen on the show.

Lastly, Jimmy Carter was the 39th president of the United States who served between the years of 1977 and 1981. During his presidency, Carter took on several key issues including the energy crisis, gay rights, and worked to improve relations between the United States and the USSR. Carter would later go on to receive a Nobel Peace Price in 2002. While Carter was seen for many years after his presidency as one of the most famously unpopular presidents, he is currently experiencing a slight resurgence of fame.

So, was Jimmy Carter on of the greatest presidents of all time? No, I wouldn’t say so. Is he smarter than an animated dog who runs away at the slightest thing and managed to mess up each and every one of Fred, Daphne and Velma’s well laid traps in every single episode of every show he has been in for the past 30 years? Yes, I would like to think so.

The takeaway from all of this? If ever you run into a stupid artsy prick who actually feels the need to express this clearly false sentiment; feel free to inform them that Nietzsche really isn’t all that pietzsche, and Sartre ain’t smatre; however, truly Scooby Doo can doo-doo, and Jimmy Carter is smarter.

My sentiments exactly.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

On the Matter of Garth Brooks...

While attempting to decide what I was going to dress up as for Halloween this year, a friend commented that I should attempt to dress as Garth Brooks’ short lived alter ego Chris Gaines. Upon researching the idea, I realized that the costume would be relatively easy to pull off; however, I would run into the same issue that I encountered several years ago with my Criss Angel costume. A costume is only good if you don’t have to explain to people what it is, hence why Chris Gaines wouldn’t work. And then it hit me. Garth Brooks, Chris Gaines, Me, Criss Angel. The truth was right there in front of me:

Garth Brooks is Criss Angel.

I know this sounds outlandish to all of you, but once you start looking into the details, it all makes prefect sense. After the abject failure of Brooks’ short run as the Chris Gaines persona, he needed to come up with a new gimmick to try and fulfill his crazed obsession with trying to make people believe that he’s someone else. Let’s look at the timeline here.

August 10, 1967: Birth date of fictional Australian born musician Chris Gaines.
December 19, 1967: Birth date of (supposedly) real illusionist Criss Angel.
1999: Release of album “The Life and Times of Chris Gaines”
2001: Garth Brooks exits the public eye, citing a need to be with family.
2005: Criss Angel: Mindfreak premieres on A&E.
2008: Criss Angel: Believe premieres at the theatre at the Luxor Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.
2009: Garth Brooks comes out of retirement and reveals he will be performing weekends at Steve Wynn's Encore Hotel in Las Vegas.

Look at it, it all checks out, the two fake identities share the same year of birth, and the two have never been in the public eye at the same time. I mean, come on, Criss Angel’s official profession is listed as “Illusionist.” Perhaps Criss himself is the illusion. Also note that Criss Angel sings his own theme song. It would appear that even in disguise; Garth Brooks can’t help but keep singing. On top of that all, Google Maps estimates the travel time between The Luxor Hotel and Steve Wynn's Encore to be roughly 8 minutes. With an 8 minute travel time, compounded with his already clearly established illusionist skills, Brooks/Angel could quite easily pull off the illusion of being in both shows at the same time. So tell me, did I just blow your mind?

Coincidence? I think not.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Newspaper Article Preview!

Alright, because I'm too lazy to write two things. Here's my upcoming article for the next issue of The Mike Newspaper. It may have to be edited if the Leafs get better, which I doubt will happen.

The Real Problem with The Maple Leafs (crappy title, gonna change that).

The day is May 1, 1993. My parents have let me stay up late past my bedtime. Why? Because the Toronto Maple Leafs are playing the Detroit Red Wings in the divisional semi-finals. After a long and hard fought series, the two teams had taken each other to the very limit, and now, here they were, game 7, tied 3-3, overtime. The first two minutes are a blur as the teams take turns controlling the puck, but then, with the Maple Leafs pressing hard in the Detroit zone, it happens; a moment that will forever be etched into my memory. Almost in slow motion for me as I watched it on television that fateful night, Doug Gilmour picks up the puck just inside the Detroit blue line, and throws a pass over to defenseman Bob Rouse, who puts a shot on net. The shot is wide as it slides past the skate of Detroit goaltender Tim Cheveldae, but within that second that the puck eludes Cheveldae’s grasp, right-winger Nikolai Borschevsky tips the puck into the wide open Detroit net. The Maple Leafs win, and move on to the divisional finals against the St. Louis Blues. At the time, I know nothing of the history of the Maple Leafs, or the long time absence of a Stanley Cup in Toronto, or really much of anything about the NHL. All I knew was that right there in that moment, feeling the joy of that victory, that I would be a Toronto Maple Leafs fan for the rest of my life.

Well, here we are, 16 years later, and despite three more trips to the Conference finals following that epic 1992-93 season, the Maple Leafs are still without a Stanley Cup. The team has not made the playoffs in five years, and now, as the worst the worst team in both the league and in franchise history, it doesn’t look like things are going to improve anytime in the near future. Now, I could take the time and debate the individual players, and who to bring up from the minor leagues, and which rosters and lines work best, but if you want that, you can change to any one of the six all day sports channels in existence. I’m a student of philosophy, and I’ll explain to you what, philosophically, the problem with the Maple Leafs is.

You see, recently my Maple Leaf fanhood was called into question because I remarked that I had “given up” on the Leafs this season. This was in no way an admission of ill will towards the team, and you will not see me sporting a Canadiens jersey anytime soon, it was simply the fan equivalent of washing my hands of whatever happens this season. To me, it seemed completely acceptable for a longtime fan to sit back and say “I still love my team, but I refuse to watch them this particular season.” Well, apparently I was wrong, and was immediately accused of being a “bandwagon jumper” because apparently, you’re not a real fan unless you’re willing to spend your time and money watching a team that sucks.

Therein lies the philosophical problem with the Maple Leafs. In Toronto there exists this core group of so-called “die-hard” fans who have actually convinced themselves that a bad team is still worth watching. I don’t watch the Leafs just to see them win; I watch to see them compete, to see some excitement and hockey skill. Watching a team that can’t stay out of the penalty box for more than three minutes at a time and a goalie that lets in an average of two crappy goals per game is not my idea of good hockey. Yet these fans still walk around with an air of superiority, believing that they can criticize all other fans because they still pay money to go watch the worst team in the league. It’s saddening, and more than a little annoying, because these fans are the reason why the Maple Leafs will never win a Stanley Cup.

In the land of happy butterflies and magical fairywinkles, a team can win a Stanley Cup because the fans believe that they will. But here in the real world, things don’t quite work out that way. I submit to you this evidence: October 17, 2009. In Toronto, the Maple Leafs, going into a game against the New York Rangers with a dismal 0-6-1 record, had an attendance of 19,295 fans. Toronto would go on to lose the game 4-1. Meanwhile, just over 3,500 km away in Glendale, Arizona; the Phoenix Coyotes, with a respectable 5-2-0 record, hosted the Boston Bruins. 9,162 fans, less than half the number of that at the Leafs game, watch the Coyotes win 4-1.

Other teams in the NHL would give just about anything to have even one quarter of these so-called “die-hard” fans cheering for their team. While they have to actually try to put together a winning team in order to attract fans, the Maple Leafs can rely on their “die-hards” to always make a profit. With several teams in financial trouble and the recession hitting the NHL particularly hard, Maple Leafs fans don’t realize just how good the have it, but I can assure you that team owners at Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment do. You see, this year has served as the ultimate proof of what most veteran Leafs fans already know; that even if the team puts the absolute worst product available out there on the ice, there are always people loyal (or stupid) enough to go watch them.

As for me, I’ll always treasure that goal in 1993, I will never give up hope that maybe one day I’ll get to see the Maple Leafs win a Stanley Cup, and I will never, ever, get rid of my Tie Domi jersey; but I stand by my “giving up” on this year’s team. As for the die-hard fans, you can criticize my view of things all you want, and go ahead and watch all the games, go to the arena, and cheer for a losing team to your heart’s content. The fact remains that until fans show that they really care for the team by making a dent in MLSE’s ever growing wallet, the Maple Leafs will never win a Stanley Cup. No matter how much we “beleaf.”