Counter Culture LIVE: E3 2014

Paul “TVPaulD” Douglas and Tom “SteepInKline” Kline are back with another roundup of their thoughts on the Electronic Three…But this time, there’s Video. And it’s broadcasting LIVE. This manner of nonsense can only lead to trouble, and it’s all right here.

Movie Reviews: The Hangover Part II

the-hangover-part-2-banner-imageThe Hangover Part II was the highly-anticipated followup to 2009’s sleeper smash hit The Hangover, and the middle part in the inevitable Hangover Trilogy franchise. You probably know that. It was released back in 2011 (Which you probably also know), but I kept missing out on seeing it until now – after the third part has already left theatres. So now I’ve seen it, what did I think? Well…

The Hangover is a great movie. It’s shocking, funny and (despite its absurdity), it’s still relatively believable. And as a result, it’s also relatively relatable. Sure, not everyone has gotten into quite such dramatic all-night benders, but many of us have had nights where we’ve done crazy things while under the influence and most of those us who have also have nights with huge gaps in our memories. It’s got a generally brilliant cast, fantastic and actually surprising cameos, and it was an even better movie when you saw it in a packed theatre.

The Hangover Part II is probably also better when seen in a packed theatre. Unlike its predecessor though, that’s probably the only time it’s any good at all. What might surprise you is that I don’t dislike it for being a rehash of the original. In fact, that’s kind of what I wanted. Another spin on the “crazy night we can’t remember” wheel is what I was looking for with this movie. No, what I dislike about the sequel is what they changed. Reusing the same bones, that’s fine. The problems with the sequel relate to turning some of the weaker elements up to eleven and contriving to reuse utterly inconsequential elements (like plot coupons) of the original for no good reason.

I still get plenty of laughs out of re-watching The Hangover. But the sequel left me cold even on this first viewing. There are some decent laughs in it, but almost all of them (with precisely two – it’s so few I can count them) come from characters the movie seems convinced are less funny than “the funniest character of all time”, played by “the funniest comedic actor of all time”: Alan Garner, played by Zach Galifianakis.

As you’ve no doubt guessed, those assessments are not my own, but those (apparently) of the writers, director and producers.

I say that because Alan gets a whole lot of focus in this movie at the expense, once again, of Doug – played by Justin Bartha – who is written out of the majority of the action in a way so contrived it’s brushed over as quickly as possible. It’s also at the expense of the far more interesting character of Mason Lee’s Teddy (Stu’s soon-to-be Brother-in-Law). Alan is a classic example of a character from an ensemble piece who was well-received enough to be forced to the fore of a later entry in the franchise.

In the original movie, Alan is an equally divisive figure. Some people, I know, love his schtick and enjoy Galifianakis’s style of “weird for the sake of it” humour. I’m not among them. But the first time around, I was okay with it. Alan was funny in the original because he was used (relatively) sparingly alongside the other members of the franchise’s core trio – as well as the rest of the ensemble – and he acts as a plot coupon. He’s the wild card which sets off the chain of events the movie revolves around, and his presence is justified well in the plot.

That is…Not the case here. Alan is forced into the movie with the flimsiest possible justification: Doug’s wife twists his arm about letting Alan attend Stu’s wedding, so he twists Stu’s. Stu, justifiably, wants nothing more to do with Alan who is clearly a deranged individual, who drugged Stu and his friends te first time he spent any time with them. Stu has every reason not to want him there. But Doug convinces him (it’s not particularly well justified), so they go and get him.

What’s worse is, before they even get to Thailand for the wedding, Alan furnishes them with (at least) four perfectly good new reasons not to want him around. By the end of the movie, there are at least five occasions where he should have been punched in the face, and arguably even more where he should just have been left to rot. These characters have absolutely no reason to like Alan and no earthly reason for putting up with his nonsense, which includes the revelation that he drugged them again, information which should in fact have led to Stu and Phil beating the living snot out of him on a public street. Instead he is quickly forgiven, for reasons which never become apparent.

See, the thing is, Alan is not their friend and never was. He insists on the idea that he is, but the only possible reason for them going along with this fantasy is pity. And that just doesn’t cut it when you’re talking about a guy who’s now twice drugged them, causing them no end of problems. Especially since – in this case – Phil winds up getting shot, Stu’s fiancé’s brother (who is a cellistloses a finger and Stu himself unwittingly cheats on his future-wife with a prostitute and gets a crazy Mike Tyson Face Tattoo days before his wedding.

But instead of getting the asshole incarcerated, or beating him within an inch of his life, they forgive him as if all he did was lose their crate of beer. In fact, eventually they go ahead and treat him as if he’s a hero and they’re best buds. It all plays out as if the movie is begging us to love Alan, whilst also expecting that we already do. But I just can’t. He’s the least funny thing in a comedy in which he is a starring player, and he’s an asshole. No justification the movies offer excuses how much of a colossal jackass he is. He’s not even a loveable jackass. He ploughs clean across the edge of unsympathetic comedy protagonist territory and winds up a straight up villain protagonist.

What’s worse is, the only character who could conceivably be justified in pretending to like Alan is Doug, and he is once again sidelined! I’d have loved to have seen a The Hangover story where Doug makes it through the night with the others, and then joins them in their efforts to suss out what happened, because he’s a likeable character. My ideal rewrite of this script would have been to change it so that Alan’s presence was a surprise (like Mr Chow’s) and Doug joined them on the night out instead of heading off to bed early. Teddy could still have served as the lost member of the group, but the first act could then have been spent letting us get to know him better rather than wasting our time reminding us that Alan is a creep who nobody in their right mind would befriend.

And so now you’re saying “but then how would they have gotten into the mess without Alan drugging them?”

Answer: Who the hell cares? Any number of things could have happened. Why did it have to be the exact same thing as in the first movie? Maybe the bartender offers them the “house special” shot free of charge since they’re with a wedding party, and it turns out to have some crazy local ingredient in it which is a powerful hallucinogenic. Contrived? Maybe a little, but as contrived as Alan being there just to do the exact same thing again? No way.

What really bugs me is, when the focus is on the others, it’s actually pretty enjoyable. Ed Helms and Bradley Cooper are both very entertaining in their roles, as is Justin Bartha (when he’s given a chance). Mr Chow’s nonsense and the the zany denizens of Bangkok also make for an enjoyable ensemble. It’s a crying shame that filmmakers’ sad devotion to one character from a movie built on the back of at least a dozen fantastic performances ruined its chances of a worthy sequel.

Dismayingly, I hear the third one is even worse.

Christmas Letter 2012

20121222-225731.jpg

Seasons Greetings, Letter Recipients!

So here we are again, me writing a needlessly rambling and (allegedly) amusing recap of the year along with seasonal well-wishes in place of sending Christmas Cards; and you, [Your Name Here], rolling your eyes/skimming through it briefly/hunting out any fodder it provides to respond mockingly (Delete as Appropriate).

As you can see, the letter is mildly customisable this year, so…You know…enjoy that, I guess.

2012 sure was intense. I for one was concerned we’d all had it when that plane with John Cusack and Amanda Peet on it was engulfed by the pyroclastic flow from that volcano…

Wait that doesn’t uh…That doesn’t sound right…

That was the movie wasn’t it?

Crap.

Ummmmm…2012 the year was the one with the South Korean bloke dancing weirdly on YouTube, right?

Well that was pretty good too. And in an added bonus, in the year we all get to live, and not just the people who made it to the comically oversized and suspiciously well-hidden ships like in the movie.

And living was worth it, because we got to see Wiggo, Andy Murray, Jess Ennis, Mo Farah et al make this pretty much the best year ever for British Sport. If you’re from some other country you probably care less about that. I on the other hand thought it was awesome and I am clearly objective (he wrote, shamelessly wearing his Team GB London 2012 Tennis T-Shirt).

But if the very British Olympics is what caught our viewing attention this year, our musical tastes were captivated by some very different styles. There was the aforementioned fit of global insanity, Gangnam Style. To paraphrase a great movie, a million record sales isn’t cool. You know what’s cool?

A BILLION YOUTUBE VIEWS.

Oh mankind, your priorities are amazing.

But it wasn’t just crazed Koreans. There was the year’s other ear worm too, the anti-Friday, proving that if 2011 was a year of cynicism then 2012 was going to be about boundless, unashamed joy (perhaps because we were all pretending to believe there was even a tiny chance the world would end in December even though the reality is nobody’s actually that stupid).

Yes, Canadia have finally made up for Bryan Adams (For whom their government has apologised on a number of occasions) with Call Me Maybe. Which seemed perfect fodder for a One Hit Wonder, but then Carly Rae Jepsen did that song with Owl City and we all went “huh, I guess she’s sticking around after all…I’m okay with that.”

Yeah, it was a good year. The Newsroom debuted this year, The Dark Knight Rises AND Avengers Assemble came out over the summer and now we’ve got The Hobbit.

Myself, I turned 21. Which is…Weird. And I also finally made it to Walt Disney World, which is basically like heaven if you’re me, so…Yeah. Good times.

I was a bit worried things might have been taking a turn when the Yellowstone National Park Super Volcano erupted in Woody Harrelson’s face, but it all worked out.

Wait.

That was the movie again, wasn’t it?

…Uhhhh…

Never mind then.

So anyway, here’s to a great year, the year that was (and – for a little while longer, I suppose – still is) Twenty Twelve. I had a blast, so hopefully you did too.

Looking ahead to the new hotness of 2013, I have to go find an actual job using my training in TV Production and my particular skill in drawing attention to myself when in front of a camera.

…Oh boy, 2013 is going to be tricky, huh?

Eep. Well, anyway, to you my family/valued friend/casual acquaintance/random person reading this by mistake (Delete as Appropriate), I wish a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

And, in the interests of multiculturalism, Feliz Navidad.

Hah, you thought I was gonna say something politically correct like “Happy Holidays” or “Have a Happy Hanukkah; Kwazy Kwanza; Solemn, Dignified Ramadan etc.” or something like that didn’t you? Well I didn’t, instead I worked in a way to shamelessly add that I started learning Spanish this year for no adequately explored reason.

…And then I wound up saying all those politically correct bits anyway, huh?

Meh.

Your Pal/Relative/Acquaintance/Fellow Human Being – whether you like it or not (Delete as Appropriate)
Paul Douglas

I leave you with these very important parting words:
¡Por favor, manténgase alejado de las puertas!

Christmas Letter 2011

Season’s Greetings Friends, Family & assorted hangers-on!

It’s that time of year once again where many people choose to send each other nice simple Christmas Cards – short, sweet indications that they’re thinking of you at this, the most wonderful time of the year. And, as has become tradition, I am instead wasting your time with this, my annual Christmas Letter, in which I reflect at unnecessary length on the year that was and, of course, the festive season.

So here I am, sitting in the glow of the unnecessarily large Christmas tree in my bedroom with my (infamous, and only partially accurately named) Xmas in Pompey 2 Spotify playlist filling the room with the sounds of Christmas cheer. Which sounds incredibly cheesy, but I’ve always said* it’s not cheesy if you can think of something either as cheesy, or more cheesy, which is also less appropriate for the given situation. And I have:

A Margherita.

Now, with that out of the way, on to the reflecting on the year. And frankly I think nothing this year says more about our modern era than the way that godawful “Friday” song by Rebecca Black infected every facet of our lives over the course of about a month earlier in the year – and it already feels like it’s ancient history.

Either the years are getting longer or we’re finding more ways to do stuff in them. Luckily, Mark Zuckerberg has come up with a way to find out in Facebook Timeline, whilst Twitter continues to give us an avenue to voice our every trivial thought (And say bitchy things about the way candidates on The Apprentice choose to dress). And I for one welcome our new Social Media overlords. I’d like to remind them that as a trusted (Ahem) TV personality, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground sugar caves.

Speaking of TV, the has been a great year for TV and I can prove it in just ten words:

The Simpsons has been renewed through its twenty-fifth season.

There have of course been some downsides though. The X Factor has unfortunately not been canceled yet, Big Brother was (Unfathomably) brought back and the BBC decided to hand over half their F1 (More on that in a moment) coverage to Sky Sports, which was probably not the best idea considering that they did so right at the same time as the entire country was furious with Rupert Murdoch, News Corp & Sky over the flagrant corruption & use of phone hacking. As own goals go, the BBC pulled off a belter there.

Oh and while I’ve got you, I still say Germany should have won Eurovision again. Yeah, I’m still bitter about that. And what?

Anyway, I said I’d say something about Formula 1. Ignoring the fact Vettel made the whole season rather dull with his overpowered Red Bull car (I really don’t think it’s fair that he gets a car which gives you wings), this was still a cracking year with some all-time classic races, including the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix, the longest race in F1 history (A record it will hold forever as the rules have now been changed to prevent races running as long as that one did).

Also, over the two-year period since Jenson Button joined McLaren, he’s outscored Lewis Hamilton. At the risk of saying I told you so, I TOTALLY FRIGGING TOLD YOU SO.

Ahem…Anywho, I suppose I should say something about some other sports for the sake of balance, but they’re going to have to be eternally true platitudes because I barely pay attention to most of them so er…Manchester United are evil, cricket is dull & tedious, Rugby is vaguely homoerotic etc. etc.

Also if I don’t mention video games, the citizens of Giant Bomb (dot) Com will probably shoot me in the knee with an arrow. I don’t fully get that joke because I never played Skyrim (Too busy playing The Legend of Zelda IN THREE DEE on my 3DS), but they make references to it all the time on Reddit so I guess it must be pretty funny. The biggest thing in games this year for me was probably the return of Pokémon. Oh god how I played a lot of Pokémon.

So then, with that all out of the way, I leave you with this topical reference to both 2011 & 2012 in the form of a brain teaser:

If you ask Siri to schedule “the end of the world” for December 21, 2012, does that make you God if the world does end then**?

Have a
Merry Christmas,
Happy Holidays,
Helluva Hanukkah
Perfect Pancha Ganapti***,
Delectable Dies Natalis Solis Invicti***,
Dignified Quaid-e-Azam’s Day***,
Marvellous Malkh-Festival,
Kwazy Kwanzaa,
And a Happy New Year,

Your Pal,
Paul Douglas.

* Not true. I’ve never said that.
** No, no it doesn’t. That would be stupid.
*** Look it up.

On Final Cut Pro X: What Pro Video Editors Won’t Tell You

And the Pro Editors are hopping mad about it. You’ve probably seen the brouhaha all over the tech corner of the web, with Pro Video Editors fuming at Apple’s slick new upgrade for Final Cut Pro, Final Cut Pro X which EOL’d Final Cut Express and the Final Cut Studio Package, unifying Pro and Express and splitting the Studio Suite into three core Apps all available on the new Mac App Store. What’s got the Pro Editors hot and bothered? They’ll tell anyone who asks (And anyone who doesn’t) that it’s simply the fact that Apple has abandoned them, Apple doesn’t care about Pro any more because this App is “unsuitable” for professional video editing – it’s not Final Cut Pro, it’s iMovie Pro! (Note the irony here: the iMovie Pro name is supposed to demonstrate that Final Cut Pro X is not a tool for Pros. One would wonder then why it has Pro in its name even in this derisive nickname?)

Here’s the truth. That’s all a load of FUD. And I’ll tell you why: the reality is, the world of video has grown and changed. Pro Video Editors? They have not. They’re dinosaurs, stuck in a world of TV (TV Networks in general can be considered at least partially responsible for the dinosauric attitudes of the Editors owing to their cheapness and general unwillingness to upgrade technology – many still require masters on tape) and film in an era where video has shifted.

Simple question for you: where would you say you saw the most video content in the past 24 hours? For most of you I’d wager the answer is not “Traditional TV broadcast” and certainly not “in a movie theatre”. Nor is it likely to have been film or TV on DVD/Blu-Ray. For most of you, the answer is probably “the web”, or some variation of it – such as on-demand on a TV.

Apple’s aim with Final Cut Pro X was to produce a Pro Editing App for the modern era. Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere and even Sony Vegas are all built from he perspective of the past. And it’s one the Pro Editors love. It’s conservative, it’s heavily keyboard-driven, it’s bathed in dependence on timecode and syncing and preposterously complicated formats and drivers and encoders and decoders and tapes and format wars and piles of jargon-heavy windows with unusual and complicated interfaces. It’s built on a foundation of “you’re going to do x by doing y or else z is going to break unless you a b and reverse the c of n”. In short, it’s complex, hard to learn – harder to master – and inaccessible.

Existing Pro Video Editing Apps are built with the wrongheaded belief that you should be made to learn the App to edit the video. It’s My Way or the Highway with Avid and Adobe. Even FCP 7 was guilty of this to a certain extent.

And that was weird, because it’s not Apple’s way. Nor is it a credible way to design a video editing app. A lot of Avid Editors will scoff at the idea of someone using the new Smart Tools Avid added in the latest version of Media Composer. Know why? They use the mouse. Editors don’t like the mouse, they like the keyboard. Know why? Cos anyone can use a mouse, and video editors are special. But that’s their own hang up. If they want to prove you need to be a Pro to be great at editing, then the tools shouldn’t matter. A Pro should always be able to edit better than a consumer, regardless of the App, otherwise their training in editing theory was an expensive nothing.

The real reason the Pro Editors all hate FCP X so much is simple and twofold: it makes editing too easy and it’s not optimised from a conservative worldview.

Final Cut Pro X is optimised for an all file-based workflow. Do you know who uses all file-based workflows?

People like me. People like the folks over at Channel Awesome.

Oh sure, some independent web producers use tape or DVD in their workflow right now (I believe Cinemassacre do, or at least did until recently) but it’s more about that kind of work than any specific producer. I myself do use a tapeless workflow. And FCP X cures literally all the bottlenecks and hangups in my workflow. Better yet, it operates in such a way that editing is easy, the App gets out the way and lets you arrange the video and audio and export for the web with ease.

Independents like me and the other examples do need Pro grade tools – I couldn’t use iMovie for what I do – but that doesn’t mean we need Avid Media Composer. I’ve been professionally instructed in Avid and I still hate using it because it constantly gets in my way. Likewise Premiere Pro which I found to be mess of complications and incompatibilities – as well as being hideously ugly and suffering the worst UX of the big three (FCP, Avid and Adobe Premiere). The App being simple o use is very important in the era of democratised video:

Sometimes the editor is the talent. And the producer. And the cameraman. And the writer. And the director. Certainly that’s the case with me. In this era, we need pro tools which do not require speciality training in order to use.

Pro Editors hate all this because it means change which offends their conservative nature and it also means they might not be able to command such high salaries or face tougher competition. Unfortunately for them, that’s just the way it is.

About ten years ago, Apple heralded the birth of a new era when they claimed that home video production was about to be the next Desktop Publishing. Like the way desktop publishing took longer to evolve than assumed and wound up a very different beast (The World Wide Web supplanted the original vision of people printing their own newsletters, but had an all the more devastating impact on the traditional print industry because of its inherent advantages, including cost) Apple is being proved sort of right, much later than they probably planned.

The big growth in video is small operations – less than ten people on the whole production, often as few as one person or two people doing to the majority of the work – producing for the web. Final Cut Pro X was designed with that in mind. The response thus far has suggested it’s the answer to a question no one asked at best and at worst, the wrong answer to the question the pro editors asked.

The truth is, the Pro Editors were asking the wrong question. FCP X is the Right Answer to the Question the Modern World Asked.

Thoughts on Avatar

What follows is the stream of consciousness I wrote down on my recent watch of Avatar. I hadn’t seen the movie at all for around a year after it came out, primarily because I knew it wasn’t to my tastes and I refused to pay money to see a film I knew I wasn’t really going to enjoy. However, it became free for me to watch it, so I opted to see if I could at least figure out what all the fuss was about. I sat down, with TextEdit opened, and wrote down my reactions in real-time. Yes, I knew I wasn’t going to like it, but I was unprepared for just how much this movie annoyed and infuriated me. Read on to see my slow descent into madness.

But, do bear in mind, since this was written in real-time through the movie, I only had time to correct some of the more glaring typos and such, so a bunch may have slipped through. Try to ignore them.

It Begins:

Two and a half hours? This movie is two and a half hours?!? Fuck me.

Okay….Pretentious opening narration. Wonderful. I’m already regretting this. Okay….Joke about alcohol or something, I guess it’s supposed to be relatable? Just came across as forced, but whatever.

What the fuck is with the lighting? Everything looks like it’s the wrong colour. Is this supposed to be other wordily or some shit? It just looks weird. You’d think with all the money Cameron wasted on this thing he could have paid someone to colour correct it.

“Since your genome is identical to his”…You fail biology forever, movie.

Pandora so far looks like a cross between a quarry and a level from Halo 1.

In fact, now that I think about it, everything I’ve seen of this movie gives me a vaguely “Halo Ripoff” video game feeling…Microsoft, you might have grounds to sue. Just saying. It’s made quite a lot of money (for…some reason) so, you know…Might be worth thinking about.

Lemme get this straight, not only does the military not pay to repair its soldier’s wrecked spine even though such a thing is apparently possible, the human race has also apparently failed to improve on wheelchairs in any way. Indeed, they haven’t even given this pleb a motorised wheelchair. Why? What part of this makes sense?

Oh hey, cliched “grizzled military guy”. Wow James, you’re such an innovator in this industry.

…Wait…

Stop saying Pandora you hack, we know where we are. Lazy exposition is lazy. Oh hey, here’s Norm, (AUDIBLE COMMA) Spellman with more lazy exposition. I’m gonna call Norm AUDIBLE COMMA Spellman “Expo” from now on.

Why is nobody horrified or appalled at this? THis whole Avatar programme sounds at least as evil and insidious as openly attacking the Na’vi.

“Looks like you”. No, it doesn’t. It looks like a giant Cat-Smurf.

Wow, the far future and yet this prick is unfamiliar with a Video Log. Am I to understand it that whilst in the future we have failed to iterate on the wheelchair, we have so fundamentally changed human expression (WITHOUT losing the ability to speak English) that a video log is an alien concept to this retard?

Okay, font used for these subtitles wins the Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings Elvish Subtitles Award for Jarringly Out of Place Subtitles font.

Oh and here’s Sigourney “I’ll do anything James Cameron Says Because I Seem To Have Forgotten He’s Not The Only Reason I’m a Success” Weaver.

TWIN BROTHERS DO NOT HAVE THE SAME GENOME YOU FRIGGING MORONS. Lady, you’re a scientist, POINT THAT OUT TO THIS PLEB AND YOUR PROBLEM IS SOLVED.

Unobtabium. I knew he was gonna say it, but somehow I had always fooled myself into believing people were playing a massive joke on me. James, I know that’s supposed to be an inside joke, but dude…That’s the laziest, stupidest inside joke I have ever heard. You know the “suspension of disbelief”? The thing that made me believe that Liquid Alloy dude in Terminator 2, the last good movie you ever made? Yeah, you just ruined mine for this movie’s entire premise.

Unobtanium. UNBELIEVABLE. It’s like he went to TVTropes.Org and decided he just wanted to piss off everyone who ever loved that website.

Wow, this guy who is I guess the hero…He has made literally no impression on me. Arnie this prick is not.

Also, he’s doing a very bad job hiding his accent. It’s not so much that I can hear that he’s an Oz, as it is I can tell his dialogue is stilted and inexplicably gruff. Either that, or he’s a shit actor. I could go either way on this.

Well that “Hey guys” sounded both badly acted AND Australian…So I think it’s both.

This guy is not endearing, he’s a precocious asshole.

And he’s hideous! HOLY JUMPING CRAP! THESE THINGS ARE DISGUSTING! I thought someone said they designed these things specifically so that they were aesthetically pleasing? I recall hearing JC didn’t okay the design till every castmember said they’d tap a Na’vi? Are these castmembers the people with the worst taste in the universe or something? Every one of these Na’vi is horrendous to look at.

“Don’t play with that, you’ll go blind”? Okay, so there’s one good joke.

Incidentally, Sigourney Weaver as a giant Cat-Smurf is just wrong.

Oh hey, generic “tough-girl military type”. “Hi, I’m James Cameron and I am not a sexist. Just ignore, you know, the entire plot of my appalling Oscar-bait flick ‘Titanic'”.

I find the scars on this Space Marine Cliche guy incredibly stupid, distracting and unnecessary.

LET ME GET THIS STRAIGHT. They have GIANT MECHS. They have HALF-ALIEN SEMI-CLONES WE CAN CONTROL BY REMOTE. But they DO NOT have a way for this dipshit to WALK, or at least a more efficient way for him to move around than manually pushing two wheels?

Congratulations movie, you are officially a broken universe.

I’m sorry, really, BLUE people? This is stupid. Teddy bears can be blue. Birds can be blue. Tiny little freaks who live in toadstools can be blue, but giant freaking cat people? THEY SHOULD NOT BE BLUE.

Eye Candy of a Space Jungle I guess? See, maybe it’s because I happen to be one of the apparently few people who actually thinks earth is pretty great, but I don’t find this that impressive.

Oh hey, look, E-Ink. Colour E-Ink. We already have that technology you know folks, it’s just taking an inexplicably long time to come to market…They should really get on with it, they’d make a fortune off of idiots by making phoney Avatar technology.

HAHAHAHAHAAHAHHHHAHAAAAAA! Are you kidding me?! A Hammerhead Shark crossed with a rhino?! You’re serious!? The only thing more ridiculous than that is this – is his name Jake? The crippled guy. Him. His mid-nineties trash-talking is at least twice as ridiculous both in and out of context. I’ve heard more convincing smack-talk and use of the word “bitch” from 12 year olds on Xbox LIVE.

Man we are way deep in uncanny valley here. There’s something about this CGI world which is just slightly less than photorealistic and it’s making me slightly uncomfortable. Everything has a falsely textured appearance, and the edges are just slightly too soft.

Oh for crissakes, there’s two more hours of this crap.

Oh hello obvious love interest….You’re…Um…Hideous. And having seen the actress that plays you, they must have gone to some considerable effort to make the Na’vi ugly, because apparently they’re supposed to look like the people who play them and Zoe Saldana is anything but ugly.

Okay, I know this is an alien atmosphere, but I have seen more convincing fire in video games. And quite frankly, I’m giving a “You Fail Physics Forever” badge to those flames because they just don’t behave believably, or consistently.

“I’m TOUGH. You can tell be cause I said ‘God-Damned’. Did you know you can’t say that on TV? It’s true. But this is a movie. So I can say it. And I did, because I’m badass Space Marine. Yeahhhhhhh”.

I find this Na’v language annoying and off-putting. And no, I do not buy into the idea that me thinking that is xenophobic, these are fictional monsters with a a culture cynically stolen from real ethnic groups. If anyone was being racist, it was the filmmakers in exploiting cultures like that. And for what? to make an appallingly heavy-handed message which nobody who saw this movie actually needed to hear and a few billion dollars.

Assholes.

This sequence with Jake and whatsername played by Zoe Saldana is a good indication of why this lost out on the Best Picture Oscar. For one, it’s awkwardly written. For another, it’s a cartoon. A jumped up cartoon with ideas well above its station, but a cartoon nonetheless. personally, it being a cartoon doesn’t bother me, I love Disney Cartoons, and Disney Pixar cartoons. It does bug me that they pretend it ISN’T a cartoon, because it clearly is. However, my point was that the Academy never gives the best Picture to a cartoon, even if they should (Wall-E says ‘hi’). Speaking of, if Toy Sotry 3 doesn’t get it, the Academy can go to hell.

Why are these subtitles in Yellow? It’s really annoying.

ARGH! This guy is the most hideous Na’vi yet! And he’s all shiny, like an unfinished effect or something. He looks out of place amidst the just-slightly-too-soft-focused-and-textured rest of the movie.

Well info individual Na’vi are ugly, a crowd of them just looks preposterous. I can’t look at this crowd without sniggering.

“Me Big Chief Na’vi. Zoe Saldana go-em fetch’s firewood”.

Yes, I’m suggesting that the design of the Na’vi Chief is incredibly racist against Native Americans, an yes I’m aware it’s not a new opinion and no I don’t care. It’s jarring and annoying.

I don’t get it though, are the Na’vi supposed to be African, Aborigine or Native American? Did the filmmakers just rip off all three of those cultures and combine them? I can’y decide if that’s better or worse. I feel like it’s worse.

Why is this moron continuing to speak english to every Na’vi he meets when to our knowledge, only a few seem to speak it? Which in and of itself is a minor miracle, very few creatures possess the vocal chords etc. necessary to reproduce human speech. That’s why Chewbacca in Star Wars may be able to understand Basic, but doesn’t even bother trying to speak it – and vice versa for Han Solo with the Wookie language.

Oh please stop saying Unobtanium.

You know, I’m going to be controversial here and say the Na’vi are at least as much to blame for the shit that goes down later in this movie. All the humans want is to get at the…Let’s call it the Oil. Thats what it’s clearly supposed to be. SYMBOLISM!!!!!111!!!!11!OMG!!WTF!!1BBQ!!1one!! Anyway, if the Na’vi would just stop being so stubborn about the superiority of their culture (Which is, itself, xenophobic. In fact, the Na’vi are at least ten times as xenophobic as the humans, who are going out of their way to be gracious, when it’s been made clear they could wipe the Na’vi out of they felt like it) and let the humans grab the oil and go, there’d be no problem.

The humans have no interest in staying, they’d have to either become Avatars (Expensive) or wear masks (Inconvenient).

Uh-huh. She’s teaching him their ways, the others dismiss him as being incapable of learning. Xenophobia. Like I said.

You know, I liked Expo much better in Dodgeball (Yeah, I just figured out that’s where I recognised him from). Anyway, I see he’s, once again, expositing. Lazy writing is lazy.

You know, I still don’t fully understand what happens to the Avatars when they’re not being controlled…I mean they just seem to be able to dump them anywhere, asleep. Isn’t that dangerous? Even if they pick a “safe” place to sleep, it’s an inhospitable jungle. Anything could happen!

The Na’vi doesn’t choose the weird pterodactyl thing, the weird pterodactyl thing chooses the wizard…Wait, this is bleeding into the various other fantasy universes James is ripping off.

Hah. She calls him moron. Accurate.

Horses with extra legs. I’d like to speak to a biologist about the feasibility of that.

Okay, come on, I have to be missing something. I’m an hour into this, and I still have no idea what people find so captivating about this crap. Is my capacity to be impressed simply by “the shiny!” really that much lower than the general populous’s? I find that hard to believe, I’m a Mac and iPhone user.

Tribal tattoo on his arm? This guy is such a douchebag.

Training montages without kickass music suck.

Mystical energy which flows through all living things? You’re ripping off Star Wars. You’re ripping off a series which itself consists almost entirely of borrowed ideas. You sir, are a hack, James Cameron.

Okay, I find the whole “clean kill” thing, and the mystic crap and all this BS and the way he’s started buying into it incredibly annoying and it’s one of the many thing which makes me fundamentally dislike the Na’vi. They’re bigots. They despise anyone who doesn’t buy into their religion. And what really annoys me about this is the fact the movie expects me to side with them, to the point of even implying that their religion is technically truth. FUCK THIS MOVIE. Stop talking down to me, I’m NOT a racist, I’m a supporter of Hope not Hate. Quit cramming “primitive cultures are really superior” white liberal guilt down my throat.

Hmmm…Weird pterodactyl’s who choose the wizard…Is this the part with the flesh USB Port…Yes. That’s ind of gross. There’s a presumably unintentional sexual undertone and it’s freakishly unsettling.

This entire culture is stupid and pointlessly dangerous and complex. In what way is this superior? They were openly cheering on the idea that he might die completing this entirely pointless task to prove his worth. What a fucking awful message to send kids James. “Unless your proving yourself through incredibly dangerous unnecessary risks, you’re mot a real man, and any worthy culture knows that”. FUCK YOU.

THIS IS JUST SHOWY. This whole pterodactyl sequence is 3D Eye Candy. And I ain’t watching this crap in 3D unless I can do so on the 3DS. So this is entirely pointless to me right now. I hate pointlessness in any movie, let alone a movie which is OVER TWO AND A HALF FREAKING HOURS IN LENGTH.

Oh hey very brief scene consisting entirely of exposit….Oh, it’s gone. Back to the showy cartoon nonsense.

Bored now.

Not even halfway.

Sigh.

This movie’s pacing is really inconsistent. It was racing along for the first forty-five minutes or so and now it’s dragging along like a broken down train.

Oh goodie, a mercy mission. How exciting. I’m convinced they actually made this movie with the idea that we sit and watch this mercy mission be successfully completed, because this totally is an independent arthouse flick, and not glossy, shiny, mainstream, populist schlock.

Waitaminute…This is Avatar. Sorry, I was fantasising I was watching a different movie. Replace that description with its opposites.

Sorry James, it’s gonna take more than glowy tentacle porn to win me over on this movie.

Blech. These Cat-Smurfs have totally the wrong bone structure in their faces to pull off human emotions like amusement and desire.

AND HOLY FREAKING GOD CAT-SMURF SEX SCENE. EWWW. EWWWWWW. This is wrong, wrong on so many levels. Gross. Dude is a fucking xenophile. Sick dude. Don’t fuck creatures of another species, inexplicable half-alien clone which you inhabit by remote or no. It’s still YOU in the re being aroused you sick creep.

Oh look, the exact thing I said about this whole leave them sleeping where ever they drop malarky has come to pass.

Yeah…Ummm..I find it hard to believe that they wouldn’t know where the Avatars were at all times, or at least be able to identify them immediately, in case they themselves destroyed the damn things in exactly this way.

Oh hey, his Ozzie accent came back. I get it, he can’t emote and maintain his gruff American Marine voice at the same time. Ergo, poor casting.

I’m curious, what DOES happen if you interrupt a link in progress? Does the Avatar die, or the human or…What? I’m unclear here. Cos from what I understand of this movie’s plot going in, Jake goes back into his Avatar and goes native…So that means both he and it survive…So…Like…What’s the danger?

Electro-chemical communication between the trees? It’s a global network? Pseudo environmental crap! Hooray, I feel like I’m watching Fern Gully!

Wait, that’s a bad thing…

A deal can’t be made because the Na’vi refuse to move. It’s “move or die” and they’re not moving. Where is the problem exactly? They were given a freaking choice. I mean, I’m not saying the humans aren’t wrong to kill them, or aren’t incredibly greedy, I’m just saying the damn Na’vi are being pigheaded and doing little to nothing to help their own cause. If the humans are irredeemably evil, which seems to be the movie’s message, then the real message about the Na’vi is that they are idiots. Total fucking stupid savages. I think the message they WANT to send is that the Na’vi are noble and proud or some shit, but that’s real not what comes across at all. They’re just stupid.

Take Love interest’s angry reaction to Jake telling them:

A) You have to move on
B) I was sent here by them to learn your ways and convince you to move.

She, and the rest of the Cat-Smurfs are surprised and outraged by this news. WHICH WAS ENTIRELY OBVIOUS TO ANYONE WITH HALF A BRAIN. What the hell did they THINK he was doing there, sight-seeing?! Besides, he’s now CLEARLY trying to help. WHY ARE YOU SHOOTING HTE MESSENGER YOU SAVAGE FUCKING MORONS?!

These things are assholes, stupid fucking assholes. WHY should I sympathise with a people who SO CLEARLY want to die, or are otherwise too racist to accept help to prevent it.

They’re racists, they’re idiots or they’re both. Sure, the humans are racists and for the most part irredeemably evil (Incidentally, this many irredeemably evil characters? Bad writing James), but the Na’vi are hardly blameless.

Oh look, a token “I didn’t sign up for this shit” AWOL move.

Lazy writing.

You know, call me crazy, but these graphics really aren’t all THAT impressive. Sure they look great, possibly the best CGI to date in film, but they’re not SO MUCH better than other films recently. For the most part, excellent, but they’re incredibly uneven. Frequently I’m finding that the foreground looks almost real, but the background looks almost painted, or vice versa. It kinda breaks the suspension of disbelief.

Na’vi crying does not prompt sympathy from me. It’s just an incredibly annoying noise. And Love Interest anger is petty, and again, sounds annoying.

Turning don the colour on this sequence didn’t make it more dramatic James, it just made it look pretentious – and the shamelessly self-aggrandising dialogue did nothing to alter that perception.

Fifty Minutes left. How is it possible that the climax of this movie takes fifty minutes? Is James that and at directing?

Man, you’d think they’d have some kind of remote shut down for these Pelicans…Wait, this isn’t Halo…Sure looks like it…Anyway, you’d think they’d have remote shutdowns to prevent the expensive flying machines from being stolen like this…That kind of technology exists TODAY for crissakes, they have it in CARS.

“I don’t believe in fairy tales”. You’re in one, lady.

Now Jake just sounds British. This dialogue is dubbed, how can this possibly be the best take?

Hmm…WHile we’ve got time. I want to ponder why Sci-Fi universes always perceive other worlds as being mono-climactic and mono-cultural, when the only planet we know of with sentient life, earth, is the exact opposite.

In this context: why are all the Na’vi racist, xenophobic religious fundamentalists with an inexplicable technophobia?

Here comes the white man! The white man will save us!

For a movie dripping in white liberal guilt, this thing’s incredibly racist…The Na’vi can’t save themselves, and Jake makes a better Na’vi than the Na’vi.

Also, fuck the apostrophe in Na’vi. What the fuck is it for? What does it represent?

Spiritual crap. How incredibly offensive to those of use who are happily secular humanist.

SHE WAS SHOT. WE CAN HEAL BULLET WOUNDS NOW. They do not need to magic of some jumped up force knockoff to heal her. What a load of fucking bullshit.

…Haha, it didn’t even work. Awesome. I’m really loving this. Stupid Na’vi-loving prick. If you’d spent more time using medical science and less hauling her to a fucking prayer tree maybe you’d have been more successful at saving here you dick.

JAKE. You are NOT a Na’vi. I’m sorry, doesn’t anyone else find this sick? He has appropriated the cultural heritage of another race, indeed another species, as his own. It’s theft, horrible disgraceful theft. And not only that, it’s a terrible, awful betrayal of mankind. This guy is no hero, he’s an asshole. He has literally no redeeming qualities.

Good CGI on that water there though. Kinda pretty. That being said…WE HAVE WATER. ON EARTH. LOTS of it.

Wow, this movie seems to be implying that the soldiers sent into foreign territories collectively, uniformly, unquestionably support the thinking behind a given conflict. That is outrageously offensive to the military, who may do their duty, but that doesn’t mean they like it. Not every soldier sent to Iraq was in favour of Bush and Blair’s Oil-loving Islamophobic bullshit you know James.

STOP CALLING THEM SKY PEOPLE JAKE. They’re HUMANS. AND SO THE FUCK ARE YOU, ASSHOLE. You’re a fucking racist – against your own fucking people. There is nothing about you which is not evil and contemptible you detestable little shit.

Yeah…This movie sucks. Up to a point, I was of the opinion that it was merely “not good”, and that it was worthy of being hated purely based on the fact that a movie this expensive and successful ought to at least be good, and arguably ought to be mind-blowingly awesome. But at this stage, it has dramatically exceeded my expectations for sulkiness, and I knew going in it was unlikely I’d enjoy it. But I find myself hating every insipid, moronic, awful, offensive moment of it. This movie is an abomination. This movie sucks on a scale I haven’t experienced since Hulk. The Room may be incompetently made, but at least that movie just sucks. This movie sucks OFFENSIVELY. And unlike The Room, this was a vastly over-budgeted event film from a name director which went on to huge success.

The Room was an independent turd crapped out by some idiot which went on to obscurity outside of that little pocket of the internet that delights in watching crap.

Yeah, that’s sensible. Send your Commanding Officer right into the heart of combat.

This combat sequence is pretty, but I find myself distracted by the fact that the Na’vi are predictably going to win, because they’re the designated good guys…Despite the fact there is no credible way that a few thousand giant blue targets with bows & arrows, spears and the odd sword or gun could possibly beat an army packing rockets, machine guns and heavily armoured flying machines.

Stupid bitch, your hopelessly outnumbered and impossibly outgunned, Do as he says.

Oh look, hammerheaded deus ex machina. I hate lazy writing, so very, very much. Alas, it seems I cannot escape it.

Okay, now here, I’m pissed, the way they’ve made the Na’vi victory credible is to make all that mystical crap work. Now, fair enough you get to define the rules of your own universe James, but the Na’vi are a parallel for real peoples, here on earth, and they’re not even SUBTLE parallels for them. So that the solution to their inevitable destruction is “their pseudo-religion is right and hates the evil sky people”, is fundamentally the same as declaring western culture flawed, incorrect and basically unreservedly evil.

You’re basically saying “Fuck you” to the entire audience you asshole.

Oh hey you know, this Mech thing is like straight out of Killzone 2! Well at least James is being multiplatform with the games he’s ripping off. I’m sure there’s even something in here they knocked off from Nintendo.

Why does a mech that size have a knife.

Yeah, I know that should be a question mark. But I’m not gonna use one. Know why? BECAUSE THERE’S NO ANSWER.

There is no credible answer for what that Mech has a knife in its “hand”. If it needs to clear undergrowth or some shit, strap a chainsaw to its arm. This is bullshit, plain and simple.

About time someone asked him that General Asshole. I’m not saying you’re not as much of a prick as he is, you’re both evil pricks, but it’s about time Jake got a “What the hell, hero?” from someone. Though, quite frankly, I think it would have been better coming from someone who wasn’t so unrelentingly and obviously a villain.

Yeah, see, Arrow in you. That’s why you shouldn’t have opened the canopy, even if you couldn’t see.

Oh, yay! I think jake is dead! Well at least both the unrelentingly evil leaders in this movie have died. That shows some awarene…SON OF A BITCH. She saved him. Well, shit.

Oh god, seeing him with her as a human only serves to drive home how disgusting and wrong everything about Jake is.

And here he is, calling humans “aliens”. That’s not okay Jake. YOU ARE A FUCKING HUMAN.

EWWWWWW. GIANT CAT-SMURF IS KISSING ACTUAL HUMAN. THAT IS FUCKING GROSS.

Oh wow. It’s over. Good lord. That is one of the worst, most offensively appalling movies I have ever seen. I mean, jeez, I knew I wasn’t going to like it, but fucking hell…I mean damn, I knew I wasn’t gonna like Twilight either, and I came away from that with my opinion entirely unchanged. It sucks. Here, I went in expecting a movie which in no way justified its cost and popularity, with some plot holes and some lazy writing. What I saw was so much worse. It’s more offensive, and more…Simply BAD than I ever imagined, in its every facet and moment. There was literally five minutes total of this that I didn’t find either bad, offensive, stupid or some combination of those. It’s about ten minutes of spectacular imagery wrapped in two and a half hours of broken universe, plotholes, broken aesops, racism and a heavy-handed message its own makers seem not to have actually taken to heart.

I hated this movie. hated hated hated this movie. Hated every insipid, audience-offending minute of it. This movie is awful. This is everything which is wrong with modern filmmaking, and James Cameron can go to hell.

I am not open to opposing arguments on this. This is one case where I am invoking “Your opinion is objectively wrong” on anyone who tries to convince me this is a good movie. You can tell me you like it, you can even tell me it’s your favourite thing ever, and give me reasons why. But I will not hear any argument against the fundamental message of this Blog: this movie sucks. It sucks OUT LOUD.

Some Cliched Jokes And Why They’re Supposed To Be Funny (Or Never Were)

COMEDY! Now that I’ve got your attention, we’re gonna talk about…Well…Comedy…Um. Yeah. Anyway, as you may know, I am (Technically) a comedian. Note, I did not saysuccessful comedian. Technically, I am an internet comedian, otherwise referred to as “the lowest known form of life”. Nevertheless, I am taking it upon myself to take you through ten jokes which are totally played out and explain why they’re funny, why they’re supposed to befunny or, most likely, why they really aren’t.

“…And what’s the deal with airline food?”

Ah the airline food joke. The stereotypical last refuge of the hack standup comedian. You’ve probably seen this joke used more frequently for ironic purposes than as an actual joke itself. You all know the bit, there’s a comedian on the stage and the characters on some sitcom are watching him tell unfunny jokes, then he pulls out “And what’s the deal with airline food?”. It’s the quintessential cliched observational humour joke, the kind of thing you expect Jay Leno to come out with.

In fact, this joke is so famous amongst the comedy circles for sucking out loud and basically summarising everything wrong with hack observational comedians, you’ll frequently see it used (Again, ironically) in response to an example of an unfunny joke or standup routine – particularly on the internet.

But honestly, have you ever wondered, what are the comedians who originally started making this joke even getting at? Well to start off with, let’s name the guilty. It was Seinfeld. Jerry Seinfeld. He made this joke famous. Now, admittedly, when he told it, it was pretty funny. But that’s just because he’s Jerry Seinfeld.

The reality is, it’s a pretty lame joke even if it hadn’t become such a cliche. “The deal with airline food” is that it sucks. That’s literally the entire premise of the joke. This is an example of failed observational humour. The idea behind observational humour is, really, to notice something absurd and/or something we can all relate to but might not think about. Airline food…Yes, it sucks. We know.

Now yes, I know, technically this is just the setup to the joke and you’re supposed to go on and recount a story about how much airline food sucks or something. But answer me this. Is there a single person who is going to hear this story that isn’t going to be able to guess the punchline before it even starts.

NO! Because the punchline always boils down to “Airline Food sucks”. There’s no payoff to this joke! Speaking of which…

“You ever noticed that a white guy does X and a black guy does Y?”

Oh god, now we’re into the dregs. This my friends is the quintessential racial joke. Almost every hack comedian with a racial theme to their comedy will make a joke using this exact formula – and it’s (For some reason I cannot possibly fathom at all, no way no how) especially common if the comedian in question is black.
An example of this joke being mocked which you’ve probably seen is when, on The Simpsons, Homer watches a black comedian on TV pantomime how white guys and black guys drive. The black guys drive like they’re in a movie, the white guys drive like dorks making “dee-de-dee” noises. Similarly, Homer himself tells a very poor example of this joke in the episode where Mr. Burns is trying to make himself popular:

“You see, white people have names like Lenny, and black people have names like Carl!”

The sad part is, that’s about as funny as these jokes get. The problem here is the joke is playing off a pretty well-known stereotype – black people are cool, white people are dweebs. And yes, there’s an element of truth in it.

But the fact is, it’s just not that rich a vein for comedy. I think at this stage, just about every contrasting stereotypical mannerism of white people and black people has been hauled onto a stage by some hack comedian standing in front of a faux-brick wall. Oh don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of great racial comedy still to be harvested, but this formula is just dull.

There’s plenty of ways to make fun of white people without resorting to this tired old joke. Look at Deon Cole, one of Conan O’Brien’s crack team of scribes, for an example of innovation in this field.

“Did you know Rap Music used to have a C at the beginning?”

Okay, now this joke is just straight up dumb. This is obviously just idiots trying to be clever and take the piss out of rap music, but it just comes across as idiotic. We get it, Rap Music is divisive. Could you honestly not come up with a funnier way to express that? I mean, seriously.

All you have to do is read out the lyrics to most rap songs in a deadpan voice, with no rhythm, and it’s automatically funnier than this.

Also, Empire State of Mind is one of the greatest songs ever recorded and 8 Mile is a fantastic music-themed motion picture. So FUCK YOU rap haters.

“How do you get Pikachu on a bus? Poke ‘im on!”

Oh haha, very funny. This is possibly the lamest pun in the history of the universe. Unfortunately, it’s spread like wildfire. It’s a corruption of the same humour found in the favourite joke of maths students the world over:

“Why is six afraid of seven? Because seven eight nine!”

Now that joke’s legitimately funny. And so is the Pikachu Joke…At first. But unlike the Seven Joke, the Pikachu Joke has no staying power. Once you’ve heard it, it stops being funny, and it becomes more unfunny the more you hear it. The problem? People tell it all the time. It’s a safe bet no comedian would ever bother pulling this out on stage, but unfortunately non-comedians use it at every opportunity.

The Seven Joke enjoys the same ubiquitous status, but is somehow timeless. Much like South Park’s “Funniest Joke In History” candidate:

“Would you like some fish sticks, sir? What? You would? What are you, some kind of gay fish?”

Get it? Fish sticks sounds like fish dicks!

…It’s funnier out loud.

“So a bear walks into a bar…”

There are a lot of jokes which start in a similar manner. The infamous “A priest, a rabbi and a Scot” (And variations thereof) have ascended to the heights of “most overused premise for a joke ever”. Everyone has made up a joke using this premise. And almost all of those jokes involve either a bar, a genie, or god. And the punchline is always the third guy coming out better than the other two.

But there’s another version of this joke, which usually goes a lot like this:

“A bear walks into a pub holding a newspaper. He saunters up to the bar and takes a seat whilst the other patrons, terrified at the sight of him, edge slowly towards the door. He lays his paper on the bar and orders a beer and a packet of crisps (Chips to you Yankee Doodle Dandies) and the terrified barman charges him £10. The bear sighs, lays down his money and begins reading his paper. Tentatively, the barman observes ‘we don’t get many bears in here…’ to which the bear sighs, laying down his paper, before replying ‘Well at these prices I’m not surprised!”

This version of the “people walking into a bar” joke is infinitely funny and has unlimited scope for re-purposing. Family Guy ably showed it being used as a joke on a sitcom. The great thing about this version of the joke is that the humour is one, seemingly innocuous, detail and not really the “elephant (Well, bear) in the room” which you expect it to be.

Another great version goes thusly:

“A man walks into a bar and sits down, ordering his drink. He sits there, drinking it, then he suddenly hears it…A small, squeaky voice telling him how good he looks and what a great guy he is. He looks around for the source of the voice and is surprised to discover it appears to be coming from the bowl of peanuts. Unnerved, he heads to the toilet to splash some water on his face. Once there, he hears a gruff voice hurling abuse at him. To his (Semi) amazement, the voice is coming from the hand dryer. He heads back to the bar and the barman asks him if he’s okay. He reports these oddities to the barman who responds, easily ‘Ah, yes, well…The hand dryer is out of order, but the peanuts are complimentary.’”

Technically, that’s just a cheap double pun. But the execution is what sells it. All that buildup really bulks up the payoff. So, next time you wanna make a “some guy walks into a” joke, use the premise for something a bit cleverer than “these two kinds of people are idiots and this other kind of person is smart”.

“Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side!”

It’s a crying shame that so few people get this joke. Because it’s actually really really funny. When I was first told it, it was framed as “the first joke ever told” and had an additional punchline tacked on – “I guess people used to be a lot easier to please”.

But this joke is actually exactly the kind of humour which is popular these days. The problem is, it became so ubiquitous so fast most people stopped thinking about why it might be funny and began fixating on the fact that it’s supposed to be un-funny.

So, would you like to know why this joke is so funny?

Because of course that’s why the chicken crossed the road. What other answer is there to that question? Millions, literally millions, of idiots have spent years trying to re-write this punchline to “make it funny again” (“to get away from the KFC”, “because he saw a black guy coming” – seriously, someone’s made that one, “because Oprah told it to”, “because the duck did it first and it wanted to fit in” ). It’s not necessary!

The joke is, the person asking is asking a stupid question and your inability to supply the simple answer makes you looks silly. Here’s the reason so few people got it: it’s on the listener! “Why did the chicken cross the road?” is one of the earliest and best examples of making the audience the butt of the joke in an entirely good natured way, as opposed to, say, this next gem.

“A moronsayswhat?”

Not being a moron, I couldn’t tell you, however, mumblemumblemumble.

Mrs. Santa Claus Review

Paul “Jensonb” Douglas celebrates the Christmas season by sitting down to partake in a favourite hobby, watching trashy Christmas movies. Alas, his choice of trashy Christmas movies may have been a bad one in this instance. See what happens next as Jensonb takes on the 1996 Made for TV Musical, Mrs. Santa Claus, starring Angela Lansbury!

Christmas Letter 2009

It’s that time again folks.

Yes, it’s the time of the year when, in lieu of sending Christmas cards (Because sitting and writing someone’s name then my name then someone’s name then my name over and over and over is the kind of thing which will eventually drive me over the edge and thus cause me to go on the psychopathic rampage which the majority of you are still expecting of me), I write out a long, winding look at the year that was and what lies ahead, with characteristic sarcasm and comical faux-hipness. Because I’m “like” “with it”. Er…”dawg”!

So then…To business!

Ah what a year it has been. For me, terrific. Wonderful things have happened over and over again (Green Day – the best band in the world seriously don’t even argue, turning 18, the computer I’m writing this on, Disneyland which is like heaven for me and of course a certain Mr. Jenson Button winning the World Championship).

But as with any year, 2009 has had it’s fair share of flaws. Yes, for every Barack Obama becoming President, there has been an unfortunate but inescapable Twilight Saga release. In the future, they will look back on years like this as the beginning of the zombie apocalypse which is still speeding on its way to destroying our world as we know it, presumably within the next 5 years.

For those of you about my age over here in the UK, this year has also probably begun your association with the most unspeakably horrific torture device known to man. Yes, I speak of UCAS, which dominates your life for months at a time stressing you out about filling in a form, getting Personal Statements & References written and all this as soon as humanly possible rush rush rush. Then it immediately turns into the most insufferable waiting game ever devised – it’s like an ironic punishment in hell, it taunts you for your previous desire to slow things down by going to the other extreme.

Cruel and unusual.

If you’re like me (To those very few of you, you have my sympathy) you mostly measure a year’s worth on the quality of the entertainment put out that year. On that front, New Moon aside, 2009 is a standout success. We’ve had brilliant movies like The Hangover, Role Models & Zombieland as well as amazing TV shows making their debuts (Such as FlashForward) or re-launching (The fantastic Scrubs Season 9 (Med School)).

In more good entertainment news, word reached us this year that Channel 4 will not be buying any more seasons of Big Brother, ending its run on the channel in 2010. Every reasonable person in the country is delighted by this news. In less welcome news, ITV (Continuing its downward spiral into being the most vulgar unappealingly cheap and tacky network on Television) has ordered more seasons of The X-Factor. Which means 2010 will be another year in which the Christmas Number 1 will go largely un-contested…

Eff you ITV. You ruin everything.

In the world of video games, Killzone 2 released this year and overshadowed all other First Person Shooters. Honestly can’t think of a single other significant one. None at all. Nope. Modern What 2? Never heard of it. It’s the biggest entertainment release of all time? Oh that Modern Warfare 2. Why didn’t you say so?

In more interesting video game news, The Beatles: Rock Band released this year, broadening the appeal of Rock Band-like games as well as of The Beatles’ superb music. As if Harmonix, makers of Rock Band, hadn’t done enough to make me love them, they recently announced that next year they will release another game. Green Day: Rock Band. Thereby immortalising my two favourite bands in their own games.

Less fortunate this year were those Activision guys. Tony Hawk: Ride is the punchline to every video game joke made from now until Project Natal releases.

On a more universal note, the economy has started to recover! That’s good!

But VAT in the UK is going back up. That’s bad.

But it’s not going up to 20%! That’s good!

But the Tories will probably put it up to 21% (That’s bad) as soon as they get in (That’s bad).

Potentially far worse news from the land of politics is that the BNP got into the European Parliament. Which is both a disgrace and nonsensical. How can a party who think anything and everyone from outside the UK is sub-human represent us in Europe? It’s a logical absurdity!

And on that note, we come to “Climategate”. I’m going to put this to rest once and for all: The world is getting warmer. We’re at least partly to blame through CO2 emissions. Get over it and help us start fixing it.

Jeez, is it that hard to stop burning things left and right?

So then, what lies ahead, in (As weirdos call it) The Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Ten (Or as the hipsters call it “Twenty-Ten”)? Well how the hell should I know, I’m not psychic. I do however have some predictions for your amusement:

1) The Tories will win the General Election and ruin the country, but idiots will still claim things have improved.
2) A celebrity will die and the whole world will overreact.
3) Someone, somewhere, will have sex with somebody else. This will piss off a third party who will throw a hissy fit about it and/or go to the press.
4) A man will discover the Meaning of Life and start trying to tell people it. Nobody will listen.
5) Britain’s Got Talent will still suck.
6) The X-Factor will suck even more.
7) Twilight Saga: Eclipse will suck even more than James Cameron’s Avatar clearly does. Dan Berry will not notice due to his guy crush on Robert Pattinson/Taylor Lautner/Dan, seriously what the hell.
8) Kanye West will continue to be a douchebag.
9) Sarah Palin will, on at least 4 separate occasions in each case, fail to spell her own name or even the word “a” correctly.
10) I will write another Christmas letter.

Now, let’s see how my predictions form last year did:

1) Sky will stay blue (Correct!)
2) Music will continue to dominate culture (Correct!)
3) Economy will finally begin to rebound (Correct!)
4) Summer will be hot (Correct!)
5) Spring will suck just as much as ever (Correct!)
6) Someone, somewhere, will be inappropriately offended by something they know was not meant in that way – they will proceed to destroy someone’s career over it despite being aware they meant and caused no actual harm (At least half-correct!)

Wow! Maybe I am psychic! On that bombshell, I’m off to make a killing gambling on sporting events!

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and of course a Happy New Year!

Yours,
Paul “Jensonb” Douglas