Wednesday, July 9, 2014

It's Morphin Time!

I decided to take a week off from the Blog last week, what with 4th of July and editing the podcast (which you can find here...ahem...plug...cough...) and just being generally busy in LOLrealzlyfe.

I always try very hard when I write nostalgia pieces, to not just make a bunch of references to things. When you see something titled, "10 Toys You Remember from the 90s", that's all they are, and there's no insight to them. "Oh, look! Remember this? Ah... Nostalgia. ...Number 9!" Whenever I do a nostalgia piece, I try to come at it in a unique way, something that speaks to my own experience with whatever I'm talking about, but could possibly spark memories and feelings for other people as well. After all, nostalgia's not just about the references you make, it's about the memories that are associated with those things. And I'm all about the human experience. Because, you know, we'll be dead soon.

My nostalgia post today concerns six plucky teenagers from Angel Grove.

In case you were confused, I meant these six.
I always thought it would suck to be the Green Ranger, you're just standing there, in the center sure, but just directing traffic apparently.

The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was what some people would call "weird." But the amount of success, the amount of merchandise it generated, how it caught on and led to some, shall we say, interesting rip-offs, leads me to believe that somewhere in all its weirdness was some sort of interesting idea in there somewhere that worked, because it caught on with us, and it kept us hook for a while.

I know I held on well past my childhood's expiration date. But I've never been one to let things go. You're talking to the guy who still got up early his first couple years of high school to get in at least one episode of the original Pokemon series before rushing off to school to talk his way out of turning in the homework he didn't do.

The Power Rangers were fun, simple good vs. evil, with a familiar, formulaic episode format. Teenagers must deal with a problem typical teenagers have, are interrupted by a monster terrorizing....well, either the desert or an industrial factory, they go to fight it, not all together, and can't defeat it, until they are all together, and they defeat it. But then Rita would super-size the monster, so the Rangers call the Dinozords, battle the giant monster, and eventually defeat it. Sometimes, other Rangers or more special Zords have to be called in. Sometimes there's another superfluous plot twist masquerading as raised stakes. Then the Rangers return to real life and we seem them overcome their problem. Or no, wait, we don't. They just do.

Of course, I didn't think of all these things back then. Back then, I just thought it was awesome!
First of all, everyone on the show kicked ass. Even Billy, the Blue Ranger, allegedly the nerd (because glasses) was a class-A badass.
Nothing says badass like glasses that make you look like the face of a friend of Thomas the Tank Engine.
But seriously, Billy, like Donatello, could be kinda clumsy and socially awkward, but ultimately, no worse off than Jason or Tommy or Zach. The other guys weren't dumb though, certainly. I believe the only thing separating them from Billy was Billy boy's ability to read the panels in the command center that were only lights.

The show was bright and colorful, fast and flashy. Anything like lack of plot, character development, lack of continuity, terrible dubbing, formulaic episodes, all these nuances are lost on a child looking for a fun after school show. Some may have seen the show as nothing more than a huge merchandising ploy (I mean, the Zords were played by the toys that kids bought) and those people are pretty dead on, but the essential point is it worked.

Holidays made it especially apparent.
For Halloween in Kindergarten, (at least, I think it was Kindergarten. It could have been second grade. See, in first grade, I know I was definitely Aladdin. I feel like a second grade obsession with the Power Rangers, while not out of character for me, is something I might be in denial about) I was the Red Ranger. Despite the tv show featuring a diverse cast dressed in their most racially profiled colors, there was no Brown Ranger for the Filipino to play but it didn't matter because being the loudest of my friends, I was clearly the leader. Which made me Jason the Red Ranger.
I also had a mean Tornado Kick. I had the Morpher too, and the Tyrannosaurus coin was taped in there, because fuck the other coins.
Anyway, I was Jason. My best friend was Zach (he wasn't black. I was in Kindergarten. I didn't meet a black person 'til first grade). Another friend was Billy, another good friend was Kimberly, and a girl I think I had a crush on was Trini. Later, when Tommy got added, my friend switched from being Zach to Tommy, because Kimberly had a crush on him. The final minute before recess consisted of us creating a reason for why Zach wasn't there on the team anymore.
Our episodes usually consisted of re-enactments of the previous day's episode, unless we came up with something super cool, in which case we'd just throw ideas at each other on the fly.
It was tough to do dramatic scenes, like when we killed Zordon (years before the movie did it. Jerks.) or when Kimberly lost her powers and was going to die if we couldn't find her a new Pink Ranger coin. There were smaller patches of tree-covered areas that served for these quieter scenes, but like I said, we had to split our real estate with girls sitting and gossiping or boys plotting something devious (or later, just playing POGS).
For big fights, we took to the field. That was even more challenging real estate-wise, because we had to deal with the much older kids who were busy killing each other in football and soccer and couldn't be bothered to make room for our storytelling performance art, where we were killing imaginary Putties.

The other holiday was Christmas, of course. (No other holidays ever mattered besides Christmas and Halloween, and spoiler alert, that's still true.)
I know I definitely believed in Santa Claus well beyond when I should have (and beyond when my parents should have probably allowed me to). So I saw no consequences in binge-listing my Christmas wishes, as long as I was a good boy the rest of the year. Which I was. Mostly. Mostly.
Of maybe the 10 things on any given list during that 4 or 5-year span, more than half of them were Rangers related. You couldn't just get one Zord, you needed the whole set to build the whole damn thing you saw in that one episode. Look, the Ultrazord wasn't gonna build itself.
Actually, I know I never got the Titanus the Carrierzord, and I had it in my mind that I would eventually build my own out of several Erector sets I had.
Then I remembered I am terrible at Erector sets. And my Lego sets were in service of Space Explorations so no Titanus there either.

My younger cousins had several parts of the playset that I didn't, and I think this is what drives home the idea that nostalgia is about the experience. Because the three of us each had an incomplete set, but together we had one set, then, just like the Power Rangers themselves, we were stronger together. Together, we got to form the MegaDragonZord and take on Goldar. Or whatever.
Me and my cousins had a significantly harder time doing live re-enactments. A severe lack of female cousins, plus a severe inability to interact normally with our peers, forced us into our own unique trio of Rangers who went rogue and were defending the entire galaxy from threats.
It's probably why the three of us transitioned to Pokemon a lot sooner than my peer group.

Something that is especially prevalent now which we didn't really realize back then was the fact that on one side, this world is big enough that you can have any interest in the world and you will find a niche for it of people who like it too. On the other, kids are probably the most brutal to be around when you have interests that differ from theirs, because you can and will be ridiculed for it, and there's not a damn thing anyone can do about it. Because it happens with everyone. We all basically slut-shamed each other into hiding what we liked, unless it was Rugrats and even that took a while.
Your brain forming and learning its likes and dislikes combined with your peers pressuring you and influencing to like what they like (as well as dissuading you from not liking things you like) forces you to move from one thing to another very quickly. A year before Power Rangers, for me it had been nothing but Ninja Turtles, and like I said a couple years after this, Pokemon took over.
You can look at these things as positive or negative, I just take them as it is. You don't have to listen to every voice in your ear, and you can like whatever you like. When the things you like essentially tell you to stand up for what you believe in, no matter how cheesy (or colorfully...and spandexly) it's presented, that's the message that ultimately sticks with you, regardless of what other people will tell you. And hopefully that makes you sleep easier at night.

I slept with a Dragon Dagger under my pillow for years.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Gorilla Position: Who's Got Dat, Who's Got Dat, Dat Money In Da Bank!?

What a night!
Money in the Bank continues to grow in reputation, as evidenced by its Royal Rumble-style video package reviewing the statistics of the history-making evening. Nine years, seven new champions. It's truly changed the year of WWE events, because the evening essentially guarantees a major title defense at some point during the year, and statistically speaking, most likely a title change. And now, with only one unified title at stake, the Briefcase has become even more important.
I felt a little underwhelmed by the fact that the championship itself was being contested via ladder match too. I feel like that should've been a bigger deal. Perhaps because it was already up for grabs in a TLC match earlier in the year? Who knows, but the second ladder match lacked a spark the first one had.
Overall, I think this was a fun night and some really solid matches. The filler could have been a lot better, but every card can't be perfect, I guess. That said, I felt at least the championships were well-represented, and I felt like some real stand-out stars were made throughout the evening.

Here are the matches!

Jimmy and Jey, THE USOS defend their Tag Team Championships against Erick Rowan and Luke Harper, THE WYATTS

I think if you really want to kick off a Pay-Per-View strongly, open with a tag team match, and put something on the line.
The Usos have proved to be capable champions. They're faces, but they're exciting faces, which is more than can be said for a lot of the singles roster faces at the moment. Against Harper and Rowan, it's simple underdog, scrappy, high-flyer, little faces against big guy, ruthless, relentless evil heels.
I preferred Harper and Rowan's creepy music box version of "He's Got the Whole World" as their entrance theme. This one sounded more rock generic (though I guess it was an abstract cover of "He Got the Whole World", still?)
All four competitors were top-notch in this match, and considering that they have to compete with bigger matches with much more on the line, it's quite a bold statement, but I believe they very nearly stole the show. They got a "This is awesome!" chant early on and deservedly so. A lot of fun spots in there, including Rowan setting up an Uso to take a Harper dive through the ropes and a superplex to Rowan by both Usos followed by their trademark splashes. While it would be fun to eventually see a possible Wyatt Family tag team run, I'm content with the ending, especially with such great matches.
Score: 7/10

PAIGE defends the Divas Championship against NAOMI of the Funkadactyls
I mean, does no one else find it weird to have Naomi and Cameron still referred to as the Funkadactyls, and continue to come out to Brodus Clay's entrance theme, with no Funkasaurus to be found? Because I do. But, considering the state of the Divas division, I'm sure if they weren't called the Funkadactyls, no one would have any idea who they are.
Which is unfortunate, because I've actually started to really like Naomi. I for one couldn't look more forward to this split from Cameron they seem to be building toward, because I find Cameron to be absolutely useless, and after having her on commentary, I also find her exceedingly annoying.
I'm pretty sure the top rope setup for what was probably going to be a superplex was a botch, though I can't really tell by whom. I would think Paige was mostly in control by that point in the move, though I hesitate to blame her, because, you know, she's supposed to be the one who knows what she's doing.
Regardless of that, I really thought the match was great. Paige has been garnering steadily stronger reactions, and like I said, Naomi is proving herself a better and better worker. They're a ways off from deserving more time than they got, but they certainly made the most of it.
Score: 5/10

Look, this was the only worthwhile part of the match. Another chance for Damien Sandow to show an immense talent for characters, and to get in some straightforward heeling. Could he be doing more in the WWE? Quite possibly, yes. He was once Mr. Money in the Bank, and the only other unsuccessful cash-in besides Cena, which puts him in rare company, even though it's negative.
But with Wyatt and the Authority, I just don't think there's much at the top for Sandow, who is a great worker, but lacks any more of a compelling storyline. Perhaps if this ever turns into some sort of "disgruntled worker" angle where he refuses to dress up every week anymore, then his character will really heat up, but I for one am enjoying his character work, because there's not a lot of guys who can pull this off anymore.
Also, speaking of character commitment, I hate, I hate, Adam Rose. I find the gimmick endlessly pointless. I hate the Rosebuds, I hate the entrance, and I hate that he keeps going over. He's not good. And yeah, I'm sure he was just great before they gave him this Adam Rose gimmick, but I mean, I actually think Fandango is a damn talented wrestler. I don't see any of Rose's skill being showcased. It's boring, and it's aggravating. What a waste of time that could've been given to the Divas.
Score: 0/10

Unfortunately, we were not treated to the presence of the Intercontinental Champion, Wade Barrett. Thanks to Jack Swagger, yet another career was put on hold with the dislocation of Barrett's shoulder.
Look, we can say it was an accident, we can say that maybe Swagger is mostly fine as a worker. But that makes two absolutely dangerous accidents he's caused now. It was an accident, but it was an avoidable one. Swagger was fresh, and walked out to the ring to assault a tired Barrett. If it had been Ambrose who caused the dislocation following something in the two's match, that would've made more sense to me. But Swagger was uninvolved until he had one spot to do. And he botched it. He should know better.
On top of that, I remain unimpressed by Swagger, who since his debut, has done nothing that amazing to me. Name an unforgettable Swagger match, and I'll tell you you're wrong, simply because you are. How on earth he remains in high-profile matches like this one remains a mystery to me. Even more so, how on earth he is a former Money in the Bank winner and a former Heavyweight Champion confounds me to no end.
Now, on to the match.
These six guys put on a really worthwhile show. Like last year, in the "smaller" of the two Ladder matches, they really put everything on the line. We had a great spot from Kingston (a little more subdued than in years past, but I can't really complain, since they keep finding devastating ways every year to use these things) and the Rollins/Ambrose blood feud really helped add depth to the match. Normally, we don't have too much story going into Ladder matches, especially Money in the Bank, since there's enough at stake already, that's compelling on its own. Right off the bat, Ambrose set out to destroy Rollins, and it was a lot of fun. Rollins also later took a back body drop off the ladder on to another ladder by Kingston, which was thrilling.
Most impressive performances though, besides Rollins and Ambrose (who also stole the show with a superplex spot from the top of the ladder that looked devastating) were Rob Van Dam, who has quite a lot in the tank, and was particularly on last night, and Dolph Ziggler.
Now, I find this hard to admit, but I am not enamored with Dolph Ziggler. I think he's a competent worker, and a great seller. His cash-in is one of the best ever. All that said, I just am not that big of a fan. While others have complained of him being constantly passed over, of his win-loss record, his demotion from the championship scene, I really didn't have an opinion either way. If he'd continued on the push following his concussions, I would've thought, great. If he hadn't (which is what happened), I would've thought, great.
But last night, I saw a man truly give it his all, and he reached me. When he took Kingston down on that Zig-Zag and there was a moment as he was doing it that he knew full well he was also landing on the ladder, I bought it. For the first time, I bought Ziggler. He was impressive in his spotlight. And I truly believed for a moment they were going to let him win.
I also believed Ambrose had it. So Kane coming in to interfere legitimately surprised me.
Score: 8.5/10

I am still refusing to use the tag team name bestowed upon Axel and the Big Guy, because it is stupid. It is infinitely stupid. It sounds like diarrhea meds, and I hate it. And it's too bad, because the two have really impressed me as a tag team. Are they legit contenders for the belts yet? No. I definitely think Harper and Rowan have a better claim to that for a while.
I am also impressed by Goldust and the bizarre, bizarre Stardust. Look, love or hate the new gimmick, it's still Cody Rhodes. It's the talented, underestimated, underrated Cody Rhodes. And this Stardust gimmick is getting him noticed. The reaction to him is not unlike it was for Goldust in the Attitude Era. Sure, it's not as boundary-pushing now as it was then, but it's still quite off-putting, based on audience reaction. But then you see the two work, and you get it. I mean, to a lesser degree, it's the Macho Man formula. Randy Savage came to the ring with insanely loud, solid color tights that looked like the cover of a Tiger Beat magazine, ribbons on his arms like wings, painted sunglasses, and quite literally the most pompous music you could enter to, and you just couldn't take him seriously. But then he got in the ring, and he worked his ass off. You loved him. It's the same for the Rhodes brothers. They are off-putting, but they are absolutely solid workers, and this gimmick keeps Cody relevant.
The match wasn't as strong as the Usos/Wyatts affair, but we've also seen this match-up a lot as of late, both before the Cody/Stardust transformation and after. Which is terrible, because Stardust is only a couple weeks old. But all that said, it was a fun little match, and the Tag Team division goes 2/2 for the evening, which is more than can be said for the Divas...
Score: 6/10

RUSEV (with Lana) VS. BIG E
Sadly not given much more time than a filler match, Rusev and Big E put on a great hoss match. The two are awesome workers, deceptively agile big men, and while E seems an unlikely candidate to challenge Rusev on a USA VS Russia angle, the match more than makes up for it. Frankly, I'm more of a fan right now of Big E than of Rusev, though both are talented. And I also think I'm just bored with monster squashers. They seem to get way more interesting once their domination phase is over.
Score: 4/10

LAYLA VS. SUMMER RAE, with Fandango as Special Guest Referee
This is what I was talking about when I said the Tag Teams had one up on the Divas tonight.
What a waste. As I said about Adam Rose, I hear Summer Rae is actually very good. Clearly she's not getting to showcase it here, and Layla's just never been one of my favorites. Fandango, who I actually think is quite good despite a terrible gimmick, was relegated to being absolutely useless here.
On top of that, the storyline is insulting, both to women, and to people who like stories. Two people fighting over one person is a fantasy. Either way, it paints the women involved in a terrible light, and the men look like sleazeballs. No one fights over a single person. It doesn't happen. This is an invention of Hollywood.
On top of this, you could not have a storyline like this in the hands of worse storytellers. Whether this is their fault, or the creative's fault, I'm not entirely sure, but it led to a match with no stakes, and no logic. Why is Fandango the ref? There's no rhyme or reason to this call. He's not a valid official for this bout. Ken Shamrock reffed the match between Bret Hart and Steve Austin not because he used to be one of their friends and now was the other's. That would make no sense.
It would have only made sense if Fandango turned on Layla. Which he didn't. Hence, a waste.
Good timing on the "CM Punk" chants, WWE Universe.
Score: 0/10

Well, now that was fun.
Boy, they really didn't like the idea of Sheamus winning, huh?
Del Rio got featured more than Bray Wyatt, which is too bad, because I never thought he ever had a legitimate chance at winning.
Kane was there for filler, which was unfortunate too. I feel like he shouldn't have been used at all, and only gotten involved as a non-entrant. They didn't need him to interfere in the earlier match, Rollins could have found a way to do it himself. But WWE heeling 101, I guess: never do anything by yourself. Make yourself look as incapable as possible.
Reigns was impressive here, but I'm interested to see him work a lot more extended singles matches soon. The Shield was able to cover any deficiencies he had as a worker, with Ambrose and Rollins absolutely solid, and most of the matches Reigns has been involved in outside of The Shield have been battle royals and the Royal Rumble, again masking deficiencies. I'm not confident in him quite yet as a solo act. But I have no doubt he'll get there. I frankly was glad he didn't win this evening. I think the push that far would be premature. I'm also really liking the solo Shield's entrance music, unlike the Wyatts' recent change I mentioned earlier. They're all loosely inspired by the group's music, with Reigns' being the closest to it still, and it's really fun.
Cesaro looked impressive too, but I honestly think of the five heels involved in the evening's match, (yes, I'm counting Cesaro as a heel) Orton impressed me the most. I mean, you forget how good Orton can be sometimes, with his apex predator persona. He got color the hard way, and continued the match. And he was even better after the head wound! He looked dangerous. It was awesome to see. I thought he also had a legitimate moment at taking the titles.
But c'est la vie, John Cena stood tall at the conclusion of the match. And you know what, I don't mind. Most of the normally hostile Boston crowd didn't seem to mind either. Cena goes into his 15th reign, but we'll talk about just how long this reign will last...
Score: 9/10

The Aftermath
The Usos carry the titles for a bit longer, but I think this can only eventually end with the Wyatts winning. There's something enticing about the Wyatts eventually holding title gold, because it's something The Authority doesn't want and it's something none of the faces want. It could give us one of the more exciting storylines. The Wyatts winning might happen as early as Battleground, if only for the fact that I don't think a rivalry can be sustained to SummerSlam, though the lack of the division's depth may necessitate that fact.
Paige has no legitimate challengers in the forseeable future, short of AJ Lee coming back to take the title back. Then we'll have a pretty strong title picture going forward from there, with Paige chasing the champion.
Stardust is here to stay, and I think he made a better impact tonight than his debut. I don't think they'll re-enter the championship picture again, but they could hold over the division until a couple new teams get added.
You now have a legitimate star in Dean Ambrose, whom I am loving more and more every day. I hope something similar happens between Ambrose and Rollins, as happened with Sandow and Cody Rhodes with last year's Money in the Bank. I don't know if it will, but it'd be a lot of fun to see.
Cena is heading into the match of his life against Lesnar at SummerSlam. I can feel it. And we all know what's going to happen. Look, there's always doubt when it comes to Cena, and we've seen him beat Lesnar before, but this is now the Lesnar who conquered the Streak. Lesnar could very well be your next WWE Heavyweight Champion. And I for one, look forward to it.  

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Brief Return to Twitter Antics

As no one knows and nobody cares, I was on Twitter for about a year, and then decided to delete it, having had enough.
One of the brights spots that did come out of it though, was LiveTweeting either video games I would watch AJ play (Grand Theft Auto, Heavy Rain, BioShock Infinite, Persona 4, and Skyrim). One random night, AJ, Caleb, and I all decided to play a drinking game while watching a terrible movie. That movie was New Year's Eve, and I returned to Twitter for one night to LiveTweet it.
Some highlights, if you please:

It's tough to break a habit you never admitted to having, especially one as narcissistic as Tweeting.
But the one-night event quickly turned into a two-night event, when I made everyone watch the atrocity that is Battlefield Earth.
Luckily, everyone got a good shot in:

Thursday, June 26, 2014

15 Characters Most Likely to Die Next Season on Game of Thrones

In Game of Thrones, as in life, no one is safe. And we can see that that promise has been kept
throughout four tumultuous seasons with the show. We've had to say good-bye to characters both good and bad, unexpectedly and expectedly.
After some reflection, I think I've compiled a list of the next characters to go. This is in the order that they will most likely be dispatched of throughout the season, and as always I welcome discussion and debate.
But it's good to talk about these possibilities now, so that we are somewhat comforted when we finally do have to say good-bye.

The Next 15 Characters to Die on Game Of Thrones.

15.  Aerith Gainsborough
       of House Gainsborg

We start with one of the youngest entries on the list, because eventually, Game of Thrones will have to start killing off its youngest denizens, regardless of whether they reach maturity or not.
While she may not receive as much character development as some of her teenaged counterparts, you always have to worry about the brooding, quiet ones.
Expect Aerith's death to be swift and unexpected. It won't be during the heat of a battle, but in a quieter moment, like her praying in the castle's chapel, for instance.

14. Mallorie "Mal" Cobb 
       of House Miles

It's weird that in a show full of whispered, low-register British talkers, I find Mal's accent to be the most unintelligible. I'm not usually to throw this opinion around lightly, but geez, is there any Game of Thrones character you can think of that deserves to die more than this meddlesome harpy? At various times, she's been called the ruiner of heists, the spoiler of dreams, and the buzzkill of landing parties, and soon she'll be called the most justified death on the hit HBO show so far. I'm really hoping that with the character's suicidal tendencies, she just offs herself anyway, but they take up at least half the fifth season with a sort of murder mystery, where everyone could safely be framed for the death of Mal. But in the end, everyone just agrees that we're all better off without her anyway. I mean, after all, winter is coming, and if there's one thing we know Mal can derail more than anything, it's a retreat to a fancy ski lodge.

13. Jay Pritchett 
       of House O'Neill
I admit that I don't have much more evidence to go on other than the fact that Pritchett is like one of the oldest characters on the show. He's seen his fair share of wars, and he's raised two separate families: the Bundies to the north, the Pritchetts to the west. On top of that, besides Cersei Lannister, Jay has one of the most insufferable wives on the show. If stress and old age don't catch up to this geezer, then his spry young wife certainly will make him meet his maker. Plus, Pritchett's really only good for a one-liner here and there, and we already have Tyrion Lannister to fulfill that role. Despite a rough exterior, we see an soft spot and because of that connection to the audience, we know those characters don't last long in Westeros.

12. & 11. Noah Calhoun and Allie Hamilton 
                  of House Sparks

Despite their relationship most closely relating to the series title of "Ice & Fire", Noah and Allie just aren't a compelling love story. I mean, she doesn't even bother to remember it, why should we? I predict that they ship Noah off to rebuild the Wall by himself (he's good with his hands) and while he's away Allie will go off and marry someone else, as she is wont to do, and upon Noah's return halfway through the season, they'll sleep together and Allie's husband will kill them both in a jealous rage. Unless he falls out of the window of a tower. I mean, that tends to happen sometimes.

10.  Marcellus Wallace 
       of House Tarantino

It sucks to say good-bye to one of the most beloved and pretty much the only black character in all of Game of Thrones, but it's why it makes him a prime candidate for the Reaper. Add to that the fact that Wallace's soul, encased in a block of ice, is so constantly in the hands of other people, Wallace may get traded up to save another's life faster than you can believe it. I'm sad it didn't happen in the fourth season, but I'll certainly say that in the fifth, his ass goes down.

9. King Boo 
     of the Mushroom Kingdom

Even while the Mushroom Kingdom's forces are far from mobile, the threat of someone who already calls himself "King" is certainly a threat for any of the Five Kings (or is it Seven?)
But I mean, the bigger question is can a character who is already a ghost die? I actually don't know. But don't count out the unpredictability factor here. We don't know much about the Faith of the Seven, or the God of Death for that matter, so it's all up in the air, even for a character as loveable as King Boo.

8. Artax 
     of Fantasia

Animal deaths on Game of Thrones are few and far between, which is what would make this one especially shocking. Sure, you have that one horse that gets decapitated, but that's just a horse. Not Artax. We've gotten to love Artax as if he were a direwolf. And like I said, we're so rarely subjected to the deaths of animal characters, that this one will certainly be so depressing when it inevitably happens, that it will be drowning in a Swamp of Sadness.

 7. & 6. "The Cyclops" Scott Summers and "The Phoenix" Jean Grey 
                of House Xavier
Brett Ratner is directing the fifth season, so say bye-bye to these two lovebirds!

5. Dr. Gregory House 
     of House House

He already faked his death once, but there's so many people out there who want him dead for real, that as soon as "The Mad Doctor" rears his ugly head again, he will most likely meet his Maker. With his conscience in James Wilson succumbing and joining the other Dead Poets, House is a free agent and free roaming. With his extensive knowledge of medicine and human psychology, he is a dangerous liability to be kept alive and while it's plausible that one side will keep him alive to destroy another side, it is far more likely that The Mad Doctor will give everyone a common enemy to unite against for at least a couple of episodes or more. House has always enjoyed pulling the strings on those around him, but he doesn't realize that all those strings are burning.

4. Dr. Bernard Merrick 
     of House Bean

Speaking of Doctors, I can't help but feel like they have it in for this guy. Calm, cool, collected, and far smarter than anyone else on the Iron Islands, it feels like his eventual voyage across the sea will lead to his death, and most likely a gruesome one at that. A gruesome, graphic death, probably concluding the season.

3. Agent 006, Alec Trevelyan 
     of House Bean

If not Merrick, then it stands to reason that "The Two-Faced One" may face his comeuppance soon enough. A liar and manipulator, Trevelyan orchestrated many of the deaths and instigated many of the wars throughout the previous seasons. He's incredibly durable though, as we've already seen, and nothing short of an entire structure falling on him will kill him. But that's exactly how he goes. Get ready for it, folks.

2. Steward-Prince Boromir 
     of House Bean

Guys, stick with me on this. I really think House Bean is cursed. Mark my words, the Steward-Prince has no claim to the throne, but he is a marked man nonetheless. He is on a fool's errand to retrieve the power of something he doesn't understand, and he will end up paying the price for his hubris and ulterior motives. It may come later for everyone to hate him more, but don't be surprised if they manage to pull of a moment's worth of redemption right at the very end.

     of House Dragonheart
He has stated many times throughout the series that he is the LAST ONE. Draco is a proud and noble dragon, and you see where proud and noble characters end up. The same place lowdown, despicable characters end up. Dead.
Plus, who wouldn't want the honor of killing the very last dragon in all the Seven Kingdoms? Good-bye, Draco. It's been a blast.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Wonder WHAT?

Netflix has the complete series of The Wonder Years available to watch.

So I did.

It was a wonderful trip down memory lane. What a great series.

What I realized as I was coming up on the final episodes, was that I've never known who did the voice of older Kevin, narrating the series as an inner monologue.

So I kept the anticipation building until the very end of the last episode.

Then I finally allowed myself to look at the credits.

Voice of Kevin: Daniel Stern.

Daniel Stern.


I can't place this person.

So I looked him up on the internets.

This is the first picture.


My mind was blown, as was 12 year old me's mind. Two blown minds. How did I not know this!? I went through my life not knowing this!

So there you have it.

Kevin Arnold is a Wet Bandit.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

NYC-Made, NYC-Necessary: 8 Superpowers New York Demands of You

Over the past week or so, I've read three separate articles about possessing superpowers in New York. I don't know why it's a trend, but there it is. I'm hopping on to it for two reasons: I found most of them to be generic and ill-fitting to New York City. All three of them listed "Flight" as a superpower, as if that would improve our quality of life immensely. I get that it would, and I'm all for stretching the imagination to its limits, but "Flight" would help in other areas. And that's the second reason: The logic behind them was rather flimsy, only loosely associating them with New York.
Now, it can be supposed that many specific powers can be advantageous to many big cities around the world. But I wanted to see if I could get as specific as possible, and also bring the powers to a more believable level. Like, we could eventually achieve powers like this, if we really worked at it, whether psychologically or more likely, technologically.

Anyway, enjoy 8 Superpowers Required to Live in New York City

Instant Adrenaline
Look, New Yorkers drink.
You drank too much and have to be up early in the morning because you have work.
There's a lot to worry about here.
My biggest problem when I do that is just falling asleep on the subway, missing my stop.
You might wake up hungover, meaning you're going to work that way, and it's going to be a miserable eight hours, for you and everyone. But mostly you.
You might be late for work. Or running late. Or you'll be just barely on that cusp, you're cutting it close, but there's a good chance you can make this all work out.
But you've got to pull your shit together.
And that should be a superpower. Instant hyper-awareness, instant fight-response, and all cylinders instantly engaged. Even if you nap a second while on the A-Train, your awareness remains engaged, and you can feel the train slow, you hear the announcement, and your body can instantly tell you it's another 5 minutes. Imagine waking up from that 5 minute nap both engaged and at ease.
The adrenaline also outlasts your hangover, it outlasts all your drowsiness and tiredness.
You can push it too, until you get a reasonable chance to recharge (well, it's New York, let's be honest, you might not get that chance). But turning it off is like Bruce Banner reverting from The Hulk. You might be a little dazed and it's necessary to have some alone time.
Yeah, yeah, get over it, guys. Most superpowers are curses.

Subway Senses
Speaking of the subways though, you know what feels amazing? Walking down the stairs at your subway stop just as the train is pulling in to the station. It's even better when every train on your route does the same thing. I once grabbed a downtown Q, ascended the stairs at Canal St. just in time to take the J into Brooklyn, and the M shuttle was just about to leave when we got to Myrtle-Broadway. I didn't do anything, but it felt like I'd just accomplished everything.
Why wouldn't you want that feeling all the time!?
Subway Senses will allow you to be an Empath to trains. (Charmed? Anyone? No one.)
You'll know if they're delayed, you'll know if they're slow, and you'll know exactly when they pull into the station.
How about just for good measure, it can also tell you exactly where to stand so you will get a seat.

Subways are just a necessary part of life here in New York, and there are myriad apps attempting to make the system as accessible and accommodating as possible. But most of the apps that tout accurate subways times, even accounting for delays (I use one that's shooting at about 80% accuracy), are a ways off from being totally reliable. Even if they were, it's hard to check them underground, because there's no signal for vast stretches of the system. But that wouldn't be a problem for...

Self-Generating WiFi
What if your body just had an organ dedicated to making your body its own personal HotSpot? (Is the appendix doing anything?)
WiFi is becoming more and more accessible, and even the subway system is too, at the stations at least, and a lot of places are set up for it too.
But a lot of places aren't, or require passwords, or even paying for it.
I'm a big advocate of the free and open internet, and by free, I also believe it should be accessible to everyone and anyone.
But we're headed in this direction anyway, why not just be our own router. No spotty patches, no loss of signal, constant communication to the surface world, and no burdening other's bandwidths.
Imagine being the WiFi your music and pictures get sent back and forth from one of your electronic devices to another.
Ooooooooooooo...The Future!

Immune System Efficiency
This power is two-fold.
First of all, while still on the subject of subways, I feel like I'd stress out a lot less if I didn't have to worry about every pole and banister I have to touch throughout the day.
I successfully avoid most interactions with our metallic lessers, but not entirely. If I can't get a seat at rush hour (you don't get a seat at rush hour) but the standing room is also pretty full, I usually end up in No Man's Land, not against anything I can lean on, and nothing to grab onto. You're Charlie Bucket, floating up toward that giant on Fizzy Lifting Drinks. You gotta grab onto something.
Eventually, you're going to touch something that one million other people have touched. And 200,000 of those were kids who are the dirtiest little shits on Earth, and at least 100,000 of them were homeless people who most likely used their own hands to wipe their ass if they bothered to wipe at all.
New York's a damn dirty city. I feel gross if all I have to do is squeeze by someone on the stairs, and my bare arm scrapes the wall. I'm convinced most of those stains on the wall are blood, laminated by ejaculate.
Like I said, I try my best to avoid it.
If I can avoid it, I use my hip (subway turnstiles), I lean (on the subway), I sit on the edges of things and I don't put my hand down on it first (though I do a visual to avoid...moisture of any kind).
If I have to touch something with my hand, I use my sleeve.
If I do touch something with my bare hand, I make sure not to touch anything with that hand again until I wash them.
Like I said, I would feel much more at ease if I never worried about getting sick from anything.
Unfortunately, this power wouldn't keep you from touching shit. It just would prevent you from getting Hep-C from touching that shit.

The second part?
New York is a wonderful city of good food. Culturally diverse, you have literally thousands of options for any flavor you crave.
That being said, sometimes quality is a little sub-par. Sometimes, ingredients are not so fresh. Sometimes, something wonderful entering your body becomes a hellspawn upon its exit.
But what if you just had invincible stomach acids? Just perfect prevention of indigestion, food poisoning, and other graphic unmentionables?
Maybe I wouldn't default to pizza. (The pizza sometimes tries to kill you too.)
Yeah, I'd like the Wolverine of stomachs.

Accent Equalizer
One of the articles I talked about actually listed the power basically of a Universal Translator. That would be pretty fantastic, actually. One of the ones I definitely agreed with.
Personally though, I've found that most everyone speaks English, and pretty fluently. We've all settled on a single language, but unfortunately, not a single accent. And some are really hard to navigate.
Not so with this power. You hear everyone clearly, perfectly.
Maybe everyone understands you too, without having to do overly exaggerated hand gestures.

Hammerspace Bag
Hammerspace is the terms for where Bugs Bunny and other cartoon misfits pull hammers and other needed objects from seemingly nowhere.
They gave the space a name.
We need access to this dimension.
You know what I do miss about San Diego?
Having everything I would ever need in my car?
Too cold? Sweatshirt in the car.
Too warm? Shorts in the car.
Shoes get rained on, too wet? Sandals in the car.
Random snack break? Can of Peanuts in the car.
I didn't have to carry everything around on my back like an effing turtle.
I drove everything around in my car, like a much bigger turtle.
But if I could just have all that I could need in a day on hand when I needed, without having to carry everything, that would be amazing.
Imagine the weather turning around in an instant (it's not hard to imagine, it happens) and having whatever you need to change into instantly.
Imagine having the shoes you need. Or the keys you forgot. Or the ATM card you need. Or whatever. I don't need to keep naming examples, you understood how awesome this was when I said the word Hammerspace.

Odor Alteration
Another one that came from one of the articles I read had to do with odor elimination. We can't eliminate it. New York smells like garbage, because garbage lines the streets 3 out of the 7 days of the week, usually more. In the summer, it smells like 8 million unwashed people, sweating through their 12 hour days. Everything's gross. And it puts us in even worse moods than when we started.
I personally used to discreetly spray cans of Axe at odors of people that were displeasing.
And holding your breath is difficult when you're simultaneously gagging.
I think a more idealized version of odor elimination or shutting off your sense of smell, is basically aversion therapy.
If our brains were somehow wired to convert terrible smells into lovely ones, making every trip up 7th Ave like a walk down the Febreze aisle at Walgreens.
What's that, garbage? No, chocolate chip cookies.
Did someone take a shit in this planter? Nah, they just left behind some fresh spring rain.
Is that the raised armpit of a man who long ago walked away from deodorant? Nope. Linen.

Perfect Spatial Awareness
And finally, it's bound to happen.
At some point or another, you are going to have to traverse Times Square at some god-awful hour (all of them) and weave through the impenetrable traffic of quite literally everyone from Midwestern America.
"Ooh! Look, honey! The ground! Take a picture!"
People stopping, changing direction, walking in inappropriate formations, breaking flow of traffic, veering off indeterminately...the situation is harrowing. And you're late for work.
But imagine that scene in The Matrix, when Neo finally understands, he sees all the code. He can bend it to his will. Imagine being Sherlock Holmes (the Robert Downey Jr. version) and mapping out and anticipating an entire situation down to the letter.
And then imagine bobbing and weaving flawlessly through the sea of tourists, ducking errant gesturing arms, sidestepping wayward children, leapfrogging old people... right to your destination.
That shit would be awesome.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

New York City, man.

Seriously, despite sitting through the worst winter I've ever experienced, and the summer just gearing up to be unbearable, the expensiveness, the constant movement, the sheer number of people....
It really is the best city in the world.
Good job, good friends, best times, best view.
Soon to be: good jobs, best friends, girlfriend, best of the best times... still best view.

My hair was real "fuck-all" today.
I can't believe it's been over a year I've lived away from home, and in the city I always dreamed I would live in.
I can't believe I get to do some of the things I get to do, and I also can't believe some of the things I've done to stay here.
I've said both these things before, and they both ring true:
You think weird things when you're poor.
And you earn every minute here.


The homeless here are the hardest-working, most industrious population I've ever seen.

You get lost in the hustle and grind, but every once in a while you're afforded an opportunity to remind yourself why you're here. Sometimes it's artistic, sometimes it's therapeutic, and sometimes it's just chance to feel part of the world again and breathe. Up above the chaos and confusion, I'm reminded of how beautiful the city can be.

I mean, come on...