Stuff I Dislike: “Shippers”

I know the whole concept of wanting two fictional characters to start messin’ around with each other has been around for a while (probably since the days of when soap operas were on radio), but it’s really only been since I’ve become a member of communities of those who enjoy certain works of fiction (Harry Potter, Star Trek, &c.) that it’s really come to annoy me.

The main crux of my issue with it is this: those who are “shippers” completely miss the point of the canon and the characterization. They forego enjoyment of the emotional, yet not romantic, bonds (or, in some cases, forego acknowledgment of a lack of emotional bonds entirely) between the characters in order to fulfill some infantile urge to see them go and date and stuff. For example, all of the Harry/Hermione shippers (hell, those in the Ron/Hermione camp as well before Rowling made that part of canon) pretty much gave up looking at our three heroes from Gryffindor House as having an incredibly strong friendship, constantly growing in the face of greater and greater danger, so that instead a couple of them could make kissy-faces at each other. (Also, yes I said kissy-faces and I stand by its use!) The only thing that’s worse in the HP world are “Dramione” shippers (tangentially related – can we just stop making portmanteaus for couples? That’s really gotten on my nerves), who seem to be Team Edward/Team Jacob rejects with an IQ slightly higher than some Twilight readers (honestly, people? How can you possibly come to the conclusion that calling Hermione anti-Muggle slurs is some sign that he secretly pines for her? Like, what the hell?).

This post has gotten far too nerdy, even for this blog, so I suggest you head over to Tumblr for this type of stuff. I’ll see you all tomorrow for the Top 5. In the meantime, enjoy my cover of M. Ward:


Stuff I Dislike: People Waving on While on Cell Phones at Televised Sporting Events

So you’re behind home plate at a baseball game; the game’s on TV (most are, especially if it’s a major league game or like last night’s Cyclones game, which I was at and which was the impetus for this post), and as a result, you’re on TV. Now, you could just do the smart thing and watch the game, or – realizing that you’re behind home plate before you go – tell your friends that you’ll be on TV and tell them to watch it or record it or whatever. Same goes for being in the end zones at a football game, or near the penalty box or behind the benches at a hockey game, or court-side at a basketball game (you rich sonofagun, you).

But noooooo, instead you’ve got to call your friends and family every damn half-inning telling them that you’re on TV.

Like these morons.

While the people who are sitting next to you (ideally not also calling their friends and family telling them that they were on TV) have to listen to every damn one of your conversations, ’cause they paid for that seat and aren’t leaving ’cause of some jerk. And that’s not even a hugely major achievement or anything, being on TV at a sporting event. You’re not interviewed (unless you’re Jerry Seinfeld, in which case you get to do freakin’ play-by-play), you’re not really mentioned unless you catch a foul ball or something, you’re just there, a face in the crowd. Do you have to wave and call your friends if you’re on the news? (No, you post video of it on your blog.) So therefore you don’t have to at a sporting event. It makes you look like “that guy,” and frankly, I hate “that guy.”

Stuff I Dislike: Michael Scott

World's Best Boss

(Image by Flickr user Kumar Appaiah.)

Let me start by saying I don’t hate Michael Scott. He’s generally well-meaning, he cares about his employees (well, some of them, anyway), and in the end he runs a branch of Dunder Mifflin that pulls their own weight while still having a strong esprit de corps. But when he (and the man who portrays him, Steve Carell) leaves tonight on The Office, I probably won’t be crying or anything. If anything, last week’s episode, “Michael’s Last Dundies,” felt like a nice send-off episode with that wonderful “Seasons of Love” quasi-rewrite the office did for Michael, and was the most emotional. This week I doubt I’ll have the same reaction.

I’ve never really loved Michael Scott, largely because of the main show structure utilized on The Office. This structure generally begins with Michael doing something kind of stupid, with another character (generally Jim, Pam or Oscar, although at times it’s a recurring character like David Wallace or Charles Miner) countering him. After being downsized or upstaged (or both), he sulks and acts like a child before finally learning the error of his ways. It’s just been done so many times by the show’s writers and is simply grating from its very use.

Even with the character himself, though, I’m not a fan. He’s incredibly bumbling and uneducated, and when the series began he tried to be comedic but ended up being insulting (this was especially the case with Pam). He tries to be everyone’s friend while at the same time not being especially nice to folks like Kevin and Toby (the latter of whom Michael has a stupid vendetta against because Toby reported to corporate and not to him). Simply put, I don’t think he’s a good boss. However, he is good at heart (though at times misguided, impulsive, and just plain childish) and I hope that in our fictional universe of Dunder Mifflin, he has a good life in Colorado with Holly.

Stuff I Dislike: Hype Movies

You know those movies that build up so much hype because they have awesome commercials, really pretty actors and a famous name attached to them, and then fail so badly that you leave the theater and you don’t even laughter at the amount of failure you just paid upwards of 15 bucks for? Yeah, those are movies that I really, really hate. Here are some of the most recent movies that fooled me into thinking they were worth paying to see:

4. Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland

I was so unbelievably hyped for this movie. Come on, Johnny Depp playing the Mad Hatter, Tim Burton being the creature of Wonderland and Colleen Atwood creating the costumes! How could this possibly go wrong? Well, somehow it did. Very, very wrong. An enormous amount of amazing dialogue that appears in the book was cut from the script and replaced with very simplistic dialogue that robbed the characters of their depth and charm. The Mad Hatter wasn’t nearly as crazy and witty as I expected Burton or Depp to make him. Most of all, there was this weird sexual tension between the Mad Hatter and Alice that was just all sorts of wrong! (And let’s not even talk about the Mad Hatter’s spasmodic attack to end it all) Seriously Burton, I expected so much dark beauty to be exposed and there was just nothing.

3. Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s Howl

From the very first whispers of its creation this film gave off a chill Indie vibe from its content and cas. James Franco as Allen Ginsberg = amazing combination. But that’s the only thing this movie had going for it. There were weird interjections of an animated version of the poem that didn’t really explore the subtext. The storyline didn’t follow any form of chronological order and Franco seemed overly depressed. Overall I didn’t even finish watching it.

2. Miguel Arteta’s Youth in Revolt

I must admit I have a bit of a thing for Michael Cera’s characters. So needless to say I was excited to hear he was doing another movie where he would play the outcast kid (but this time with an evil twin). I neglected to watch any trailers for this movie assuming that it would be, at the very least, okay. It wasn’t. The never-fail dorky boy going after and eventually catching not-so-dorky-yet-kinda-dorky-girl storyline was totally ruined. Nothing that happened made any sense at all! There was even less depth to Nick Twisp than Cera normally has when acting. Everything seemed outdated and dry, like the entire movie just needed some rain. There was just nothing good about it at all.

1. Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right

I tried really hard to like this one. I wanted to so badly. I just couldn’t. I missed The Kids Are All Right when it played in select theaters in the Village and ended up buying the dvd with a friend. It started pretty good. Normal family drama stirred up by children going behind the backs of their mothers to find their biological dad. The dad was chill; very earthy, very scruffy. Then it got a little unsettling when there was an unclear relationship between the daughter and her newly found dad. Then it got boring. I wanted so badly to feel for the characters as they got caught up in the escalating drama, but I couldn’t. The most interesting parts were too short and the dry (but brutally honest) parts dragged on. I left the movie confused about the children. Was the daughter’s heart broken by her father? Was the son gay? (The movie truly should have paid his situation more attention) One good thing? The soundtrack. Oh and Mia Wasikowska who plays the daughter. She’s an amazing actress who just needs to land some more roles.

Stuff I Dislike: “Glee”

Actor Neil Patrick Harris at the Time 100 Gala...

Neil Patrick Harris: Awesome dude. (Image via Wikipedia.)

Now, don’t get me wrong: the music on Glee most of the time, is actually kinda good. I have two songs from the show on my iPod. (However, they both feature guest stars – namely, Neil Patrick Harris with Matthew Morrison on “Dream On” and Idina Menzel with her younger doppelganger Lea Michele on “I Dreamed a Dream,” so I don’t know what that says about how much I enjoy the singing abilities of the actual cast of the show.) But I can’t stand the show for two reasons: first, for when the music isn’t kinda good, and second, for the show’s constantly flimsy and, frankly, boring plot.

First of all, the music on the show is either good or god-awful. I’m talking Kidz Bop god-awful here – completely sanitized, vapid, banal performances. This isn’t a lack of talent – with folks like Morrison, Michele, and Jane Lynch, there’s enough star power to make up for the fact that Kevin McHale was in a boy band before the show began – but, it seems, a lack of heart. The Lady Gaga episode – the episode that I couldn’t get through when I tried to watch the show – and Britney Spears episode exemplified this. For the latter, it was perfectly explainable – the performances, with the exception of the final performance of “Toxic,” were redux performances of Spears’s music videos – but for the former, for me it was confusing. I mean, it’s not like there isn’t a lot to work with regarding Lady Gaga, but they performed the songs as if they were animatronic robots at Chuck E. Cheese’s.

But the fact that these theme episodes actually exists leads to my second point – the plot is second to the musical performances. Continue reading

Stuff I Dislike: Top 5 Worst Things of 2010

John Cleese in May 2008.

John Cleese, a bright spot in one of the 5 suckiest events of 2010, the Eyjafjallajökull explosion. (Image via Wikipedia.)

For me, this year has been, on the whole, The Year of Awesome. However, there’s been a pretty good deal of world suck in the past year; frankly, there’s way too much to choose from. Obviously, there’s the fact that the vast majority of the world is still not on track to meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 (get on that, UN!), especially the goal to reverse the spread of HIV and malaria, which still effects hundreds of millions (if not billions) of people in the world. Of course, there’s the fact that Osama bin Laden is still in hiding…somewhere, and al-Qaeda still has its roots in places around the world. Those are numbers 1 and 2 every day, as they have been for the past decade, and I’m not including them on this list of made-of-suck things in the past year. Rather, I’m limiting it to events within the past year, and here they are:

5. Eruption of Eyjafjallajökull (14 Apr. 2010)

Compared to the rest of the list, this is fairly minor – I could easily have included the earthquake in Chile instead of this – but the eruption of the Icelandic volcano no one can say (just remember the song!) cost the air travel industry around $200 million and brought commerce in Europe to a relative halt. On the other hand, it was the impetus for one of my favorite stories of the year – John Cleese’s Oslo-to-Brussels-to-Paris-to-London excursion that included a 932-mile cab ride – so, again, definitely not the worst thing that happened this year.

4. Crash of Polish Air Force Tu-154 (10 Apr. 2010)

This was not only more made-of-suck than the Eyjafjallajökull eruption, but also took place around the same time. The flight was carrying Polish president Lech Kaczynski and his wife, the president of the National Bank, the deputy foreign minister, 12 MP’s, and other members of government, the clergy, and the public (including relatives of victims of the Katyn massacre). The flight was doomed due to lack of visibility, but ultimately led in a tragedy of epic proportions for the Polish people and a huge hit to the Polish governmental infrastructure.

3. Continue of recession/Euro crisis (All of 2010)

Greece was probably the worst hit by the economic crisis, as they were the first of entire countries that needed to be bailed out (leading to them being the butt of jokes on Weekend Update, not the worst thing in the world, but still), which in turn led to another general strike among the Greek people (protests also occurred in France and in England, the latter leading to this priceless picture). Ireland, Portugal, and Spain (who had one of the best moments of the year, which I’ll discuss on Sunday) are still in a crisis, making our bailout of GM and Chrysler seem like peanuts (the bank bailout, on the other hand, was still a heist…sorry, saw Inside Job at MoMA yesterday – best. snow day. ever).

The two worst things of 2010 will have a hugely lasting effect, as they’re…

T1. Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill (20 Apr. 2010)

Wow. That’s all I’ve got to say. The explosion itself killed 11 people, but the spill (which lasted from April to mid-September) will obviously effect wildlife, tourism, and commerce in the Gulf of Mexico (already battered from Hurricane Katrina, five years later) for years to come.

& T1. Haitian earthquake (24 Jan. 2010)

The only good thing that can be taken from the Haitian earthquake is that, hopefully, there will be a surge of building and formation of infrastructure in the poverty-stricken nation. But 250,000 dead, 300,000 injured, and over a million made homeless from over half a million buildings collapsed or otherwise destroyed is very, very tough to temper with that – especially considering that the efforts to rebuild and recover from the quake have since come up for naught.

As noted, I took the day off yesterday – I went to MoMA and was pretty damn exhausted thereafter – so Top 5 songs and albums will be seen on Thursday. Tomorrow, Top 5 most interesting people of 2010.


Stuff I Dislike: Wind Chill

Self portrait Wind Chilled

I'm just posting the funny pictures that come up from now on. (From Flickr user Seth Anderson, a.k.a. swanksalot.)


Now, to be fair, it’s not the fact that there exists a measurement to find the wind chill factor (which, for the record, can be found here). It’s just how wind makes things colder. A pleasant, 40-degree day (that’s Fahrenheit, for all you European and Canadian readers, if any) can turn into feeling as if it were sub-freezing within a few minutes. Of course, that’s compounded by the fact that in places such as Manhattan, the buildings cause the wind do fluctuate pretty wildly from street to street.

Now, I’m pretty glad about my latitude, considering I could be living in Minneapolis (or Europe) right now, but in New York, it can still feel pretty cold. And it really sucks when you’re walking down the street, thinking, “well, this isn’t too bad today,” and then you turn to one of the streets on the way to wherever you’re going, and you’re like, “Holy crap! I’m in a wind tunnel!”

And, getting back to the temperature/wind-chill thing, what the hell is RealFeel? I hear it cited all the time, and the only things I can find on it are write-ups from AccuWeather and the local TV stations that use it. I realize that it’s probably a trade secret, but could you allow us to glean a bit more information about it? I mean, judging by their standard, the RealFeel could just as well be a qualitative measure, like “Cold,” or, in the case of a cloudy day at sea level where the temperature is 20 degrees and the wind is blowing at 30 mph, “Really Freakin’ Cold.” Also, how are they supposed to know how it feels at the precise point of where I’m standing? It’s not like they have sensors for wind and weather everywhere. That’s like using Google Maps to find out what I have in my pockets. Which, frankly, is a little scary.

Stuff I Dislike: Queens Local Trains

Looking across the tracks at Woodhaven Bouleva...

The only time I like to see the Woodhaven Boulevard Station: going straight through it. (Image via Wikipedia.)

It’s kind of a blessing that the train line I generally take to get from my folks’ house in Queens to my current abode in Manhattan is the E train. (Well, the E to the 6, but who’s counting?). The E train is quick and skips over those pesky stops like 65th Street and Woodhaven Boulevard (which is especially funny because Kelly has to take the train to Woodhaven Boulevard).

(Also, it should be noted that my other train is the F train, which does basically the same thing but has completely different termini.)

Except when it doesn’t. Like on late nights and weekends, when the M (and before that, the V) isn’t running (in northern Queens, anyway) and the E replaces both the M and the R in making all local stops. It’s just really grueling having to deal with 12 additional stops and the time it takes for people to get on, people to get off, &c. In that case, taking the subway there and back (which at this point is a bit less common for me) really, really sucks. I mean, at that rate, I’d just take the rail-road, which would cost, at most, $5.25 (and at the least, $3.75 on weekends). But when that’s impossible, boy, does that suck. I mean, other local trains are a bit annoying – the local 7, if you’re going to a place that’s on an express stop (man, that trip’s going to be even longer and more crowded if they extend it to Secaucus), for example, or the G train (G for “geological ages”, which is how long it takes for it to get there) – but generally there’s something good to come from it (from the local 7, awesome views; from the G, donuts from Peter Pan). There’s nothing good about stopping at Grand Avenue, not even Queens Center. (Don’t get me started on Queens Center.)

But what’s even worse is when you get on the train, on a weekday, during regular hours, and you think it’s an express train going through Queens – and you generally know you’re on an express train going through Queens, they’ve got those cool new cars with the spackled floors and screen flashing ads and crap and the map of the line, which shows it running express (which, by the way, is one of the reasons I’d rather take the 2 train in Brooklyn than the 3 when I have to get to the central library – the cool map and stuff) – but then, when you get into Queens Plaza or Roosevelt Avenue or whatever, the conductor comes on and says, “Attention passengers, this E (or F, or whatever) train will be running express between Queens Plaza and Roosevelt Avenue (or Roosevelt Avenue and 71st Street-Forest Hills, or both, or whatever).” And then you’re thinking, “Crap! I get on what I thought was an express train, and it’s a local train. Now I’ve got to deal with the folks from Steinway Street (or 65th Drive, or whatever).”It just brings what’s generally a nice day right down.

Stuff I Dislike: “SNL”‘s Political Sketches

Now, it’s not like most of the other sketches Saturday Night Live does are especially golden in one way or another; a lot of the time, they fall flat, due to sexual jokes or whatever. (I mean, the “Vincent Price Halloween Special” sketch they did with Jon Hamm relied on two tropes – Liberace was gay and JFK had sex with lots of women. It got, like, two laughs out of me, and generally the Price sketches are hilarious.)

But the political sketches (outside, of course, from Weekend Update) continue to be, well, bad. I like Fred Armisen (I still think his Joy Behar is gold, even though that’s nothing like Joy Behar (though in the past she has said, “So what? Who cares?”)), but his Obama is not nearly as good as, say, Dana Carvey’s Ross Perot or George H.W. Bush. Further, the sketches are simply not funny. They try to lampoon a part of the week’s news (last Saturday’s opening sketch was a press conference between President Obama and Hu Jintao, with the bit largely devoted to Hu Jintao’s sexual deviancies), and it’s either (a) too close to the truth to the point where there are no laughs available, or (b) they just recycle the same bit over and over again (President Obama being calm, Harry Reid being unlikeable, Joe Biden being crazy, Nancy Pelosi being crazy, &c.).

They just take that dead horse and beat it, over and over and over again. Take Christine O’Donnell, for example. They had three sketches in the first two weeks, all dealing with the “I’m Not a Witch” thing. I mean, if they just did the commercial parody itself, fine, but they just had to do it multiple times, to the point where it wasn’t funny anymore. (In contrast, Auto-Tune the News’s songified “I’m Not a Witch” ad was tremendous.)

You know what they need more of? Jay Pharoah. He’s been absolutely tremendous in the few roles they’ve put him in. Will Smith? Spot-on. Denzel Washington? Okay at first, and then last week (in a parody of Unstoppable, with Chris Pine played by Taran Killam, who has also shown a few impersonations, the best being Michael Cera, and host Scarlett Johansson going off again and again about the Chrysler Building), spot-on. Eddie Murphy? Absolutely tremendous. This guy needs to be promoted from the B-team, and soon.

Stuff I Dislike: Tuesday

I don't like mondays

Now, her face says "I hate Mondays," but could it in fact be "I hate Tuesdays"? Image by Flickr user Celeste.


For some reason, within recent memory, I’ve never been able to stand Tuesday. I think it’s largely because I’ve had a short day on Mondays during all four years of high school and now in my first semester of college, and the transition to Tuesday really sucks. But it seems as though things go wrong more often on Tuesday – the alarm is set to PM and not AM, I forget my lunch, I run out of orange juice for breakfast, that sort of thing.

It always sucks, coming back to the week. Wednesday is generally alright, Thursday for the past few years has been great (especially this year), and Friday…well, Friday’s Friday.

But, for all the “I hate Mondays” vibes many people give off – some more pervasive than others – Monday’s not the worse thing in the world. You get to tell your friends and colleagues about the fun stuff over the weekend (that is, if you did fun stuff over the weekend – if you didn’t it sucks even more) and it’s just one day. Now, on Tuesday, the gravity of things – that if you’ve got 3 more days of this crap – really starts to take hold. I don’t see why more people don’t hate Tuesdays with a passion – I mean, I’d pitch in for the “I Hate Tuesdays” coffee mugs on Zazzle or something. Honest. Say the word and I’m there.