Archive for August, 2016
It was a school night but Madeleine Price was already bored. She had already used her super speed to do all of her reading assignments in a fraction of the time. Of course, she had to slow down when she was actually writing out her assignments and do them at regular person speed. If she dragged her pencil along the paper at full speed, she would probably cause a fire from all the friction. In fact, she had lost a book report two years earlier that way. Homework was boring enough doing it one time, having to do it several times over was definitely torture. Homework was boring because it was too easy. If the teachers threw out a challenge on par with foiling a bank robbery now and then, Maddy would be more than happy to do a little math or read Romeo and Juliet.
So instead of doing homework or engaging in extracurricular activities, Maddy was laying on her bed and listening to police scanners. It was still a restless way to spend time but the local police were all stirred up and on the lookout for Quick Lass. Foiling the convenience store robbery was fun but it had put the cops on alert for super fast vigilantes. So, Maddy had bugged her sister Jan for a solution. She needed something to do before she started just going out and running laps in a field somewhere. If she was considering going on a run, she must be really, really bored. Thankfully, Jan had come through yet again. There was a reason that Maddy automatically gave the girl a percentage of her allowance. The genius girl made Maddy feel dumb but instead of leveraging that, Jan liked acting like Maddy’s Q. At least, she seemed to enjoy it when she was not working on her own secret projects.
Jan had developed a device that could tap into police and emergency frequencies from other nearby cities. She had it shuffling around, trying to find something to do outside of her jurisdiction. While she was happy she had not heard any big emergencies, she was getting bored. She had no other hobbies outside of fighting crime. Before her powers developed she had been way into video games but now they were an exercise in frustration. She was able to move her fingers way faster than current technology could keep up with and she had busted a controller at one point. There were few people at school that she felt like she related to. Most of the people she had gotten along with were anti-social and spent their time looking for space for tags at the trainyard or under bridges. She was stuck with fighting crime as her hobby but she could not do that if there was no crime to fight.
The scanner clicked over to Drake City and all of a sudden the dispatcher sounded like things were far more urgent. “Calling all cars. There is a 132 at Drake Nationa Bank. 51st and Cable. Be advised, suspects are armed and one them has some sort of ice projection powers. Surround and contain, SWAT has been deployed.”
Maddy jumped off the bed in surprise and excitement. A “132” was code for an armed robbery which meant that this was an honest to goodness bank robbery. Usually, she only got to bank robberies after the criminals had gotten to their getaway car. Most successful bank robberies were in and out and then they were speeding away from the scene of the crime. That’s usually when Maddy caught up to them and pulled them one by one out of their car. It was fun and the robbers usually looked really surprised. The kind of surprised that made a crook never want to try a robbery again. That is how things usually went but now it was a police siege with the criminals inside and armed and possibly with hostages.
There had also never been somebody with powers at the scene of the crime. Maddy hardly knew what to do with herself. On the one hand, she had never met anybody like herself before. She had always felt separate from the world around her although she suspected that Jan might have some sort of brainiac powers. She wanted to see somebody else with powers and talk with them and share all of her experiences. But the person at the bank would not be interested in that. They were a criminal. Not a vandal or a shoplifter like some of her friends but a real potential threat. Maddy could not imagine hurting innocent people with her powers and the thought suddenly angered her.
The superhuman icicle jerk would have to be stopped. She jumped to her feet and opened her window. There was no time to get caught by her mother or bargain with Jan to cover for her. The police were not equipped for this sort of thing. Somebody was going to get hurt if Maddy did not get to the bank and it was already fifty miles away. She would have to run fast but she would be there in minutes. She did not know if she would succeed but she also knew that there was no time for fear or doubt. Maybe this was why she had been given super speed abilities. Maybe this was her higher calling.
She changed into her costume with a press of a button and jumped out of the window. She started running the instant she hit the ground. As soon as she could, she pointed herself toward Drake City. She caught glimpses of shocked faces and startled drivers who must have seen her only as a blurred streak. She smiled to herself. They were all amazed by her and they had every right to be. In this costume, she was allowed to be special and now she was going to show the world again. She was on her way.
The Nice Guys
As I stated in past editions, I have wanted to see this since I saw the first trailer. Early reports from friends said that the movie was great and that everyone should see it. I never lived through the seventies so it only lives for me in social studies textbooks, movies and stories from my parents and friends who were there. This makes it (and several other iconic eras) kind of magical to me because they are largely fictional and exciting. Buddy detective films are a great formula as well. I mean, the lone detective is good but you get a lot more actual dialogue when two characters are on the case. So we get a Russel Crowe who (surprise surprise) is able to beat people up but is uncharacteristically sheepish. Ryan Gosling is a deadbeat private detective with a heart of gold but hilariously bad habits. What trailers will not tell you is that Gosling’s character has a daughter played by Angourie Rice who steals the show several times in the movie in the best ways. One thing that I should say is that the trailer presents the film as being much more high energy than it is. While it has a lot of awesome action scenes, there is a lot of actual detective work as well. This is actually better because there is more room for comedy and a great story to go with great characters. I definitely recommend it.
My dad recommended this to me a long time ago but that was when this show was only on network television. There is always a ton of things to watch and since I do not have a DVR, I tend to gravitate towards things that are On Demand or on Netflix. Recently as I was working on my homework for Accounting 101, I wanted something new to binge while I worked on all of the math. The Gods of Netflix provided for me and several seasons of The Following were available. I am angry at myself for not watching this earlier. I thought about saving this entry for Halloween but I have already watched a season and a half. I kind of feel bad waiting until October. The show follows a Detective dealing with a cult created by a notorious serial killer. In a lot of ways, it is a lot like how the FBI would deal with The Joker if there was no Batman. In fact, the villain is almost like The Joker mixed with The Riddler. There is also a lot of Edgar Allen Poe imagery and allusions which always makes me happy. Kevin Bacon is fantastic as the detective with a vendetta.
The Usual Suspects
I am way late to this one. Unfortunately, quite a bit of the meat of it was spoiled for me a long time ago in the same way that the Sixth Sense is spoiled for people now. It is completely my fault, I should have seen the movie way earlier because it comes highly recommended. I am pretty sure that all of my friends back in high school saw this one. Hell, I am sure they all saw it in Middle School. This was made during the period where it felt like Kevin Spacey was in everything. Kevin Spacey will always be good in stuff even if he is playing Lex Luthor. Stephen Baldwin is in it at the height of the heyday of the Baldwin Dynasty. Benicio Del Toro was great as well. We also get a great appearance from Kevin Pollak who is great at playing a prick. There is even a great cameo from Clark Gregg. It was directed by a younger Bryan Singer long before he did stuff like the X-Men franchise. A lot of the movie really felt like a Tabletop RPG campaign. Each of the characters had a specialty and different connections and knowledge. It had the feel of instant togetherness even without working together long. I recommend the movie if you are one of the few who have not seen it and especially if it has not been spoiled for you.
Music of the Week:
Descendents – I’m the One
– I’m into Season 4 of Person of Interest now
– I watched a lot of The Following. A lot.
– I continued to watch Dark Matter and it just gets better and better
– I watched some Criminal Minds with Mark Hamill in it
– I picked Castle back up
– This week’s theme is “Detective Work”
Where would you go in a time machine?
I am kind of split on this question. By the time I got into high school, I had the show business bug bad and I worked on a lot of theater. First, I was a volunteer and then after college, I worked professionally. Through high school, college and beyond, one name that constantly came up was William Shakespeare. Without looking it up, I would say that I have done at least ten different Shakespeare plays and I enjoyed each one. So, one of the times that I would go back to is the time of Shakespeare to see what it was all about. I would definitely attend a Shakespeare play and a Marlowe play as well (probably Doctor Faustus). I would see what it was really like when Kings and Queens still ruled the land before more advanced systems of government formed. However, as I have been studying the law and following the recent elections, a sudden thought has been sparked. They say that Democracy was first born in Greece. I would love to go back and see that Senate in action and compare it to today’s legislative bodies. To see legendary philosophers plying their trade as things we read about in textbooks are taught from the horse’s mouth. I could also see some ancient Greek theater as well which would be absolutely fascinating.
Which super power would you like to have?
As a guy who grew up reading comic books and watching genre movies and television, I have thought about this question for a long time. When I was really young, I was totally undersized due to a medical abnormality that I was born with. I was the shortest kid and that included being shorter than every single guy and girl my age. In fact, my brothers quickly overtook me in height and are both still taller than I am. So, I dreamed of having super strength. The idea of being able to benchpress a car was attractive for somebody who was so small. While I really did not get bullied much in school, the idea of using that strength in gym class and wowing people was a nice idle fantasy. Later, I wanted the power of flight because I was a frustrated teenager. I wanted freedom. I do really well on my own and the idea of being able to go wherever I wanted without a car was really attractive. Finally, near the end of high school and into college I was walking a lot. While walking is a nice activity, sometimes it can just take too long to accomplish. I want super speed. Even today I would love to have super speed powers. It would save me all the time in my mundane tasks and leave me more time to do all the thinking tasks. I want to be the fastest man alive.
Pepsi or Coke?
This is a hard one and in order for me not to pick a cop out answer, I will attempt to actually make a decision between the two. I am one of the few people who likes both. Now, lately, I have been shocked to talk with people who absolutely hate Pepsi and love Coca-Cola. I can understand brand loyalty. When I was little, a Coca-Cola was a treat and I felt happy when I got to drink one. My family is from the American South where Coke is king. We come from Georgia originally which is the heart of Coca-Cola’s global kingdom and most of our family never moved north of the Mason-Dixon line. So I grew up drinking Coca-Cola and I can’t remember when I first tasted Pepsi. I think I do not remember it because I was so underwhelmed. I was not underwhelmed with the product itself but I could not tell a significant difference. In the leaner times, we had replaced Coke with Shasta and I could definitely tell the difference there. For me, Pepsi tastes a little bit sweeter but is mostly just like Coca-Cola. So when waitstaff asked me if I minded drinking Pepsi at restaurants I would cheerfully tell them that it was more than acceptable. In college, Rutgers had a distribution deal with Coke so there was not a choice and I often had a bottle of coke within arm’s reach. After college, in the wilds of New Jersey, I started buying bottles of Pepsi and mixing it with orange soda. I really liked that. Where I live now, there is a Pepsi distribution plant within walking distance so the Pepsi symbol is a friendly sight I associate with home. However, now that I think about it, Coke feels more like home to me. It makes me think of my family heritage and where we came from.
Consuming everything in the world of Sports Entertainment is hard and one of the ways I keep abreast of everything going on and learn more about my hobby is through podcasts. While I feel obligated to throw a shout out to the #OG538 and Rough House Podcast, I learn also learn a lot from listening to Talk is Jericho. Chris Jericho is an old hand in the business now but was just reaching fame when I started really watching. While I was not there for his emergence into the mainstream, I have been a fan for a long time. I have also read two out of three of his books and I am a regular listener to his podcast. So let us take a little look at Chris Jericho (Drink it in, maaan).
I was a latecomer to being a Chris Jericho fan. I was a huge fan of the WWF during the Attitude Era. It hit just when I was old enough to really get into it. I had first become a fan during the cartooniest era of the WWE and while I liked it, it was hard to admit that I liked it in public. When the Attitude Era hit, like a lot of people, I became the biggest fan of The Rock, Mick Foley, Degeneration X, The Brothers of Destruction and Stone Cold Steve Austin. Like I have said before, I did not watch a lot of World Championship Wrestling at the time. So my first look at Jericho was on WWF programming. The new millennium was on its way but mysteriously, a clock started to show up during every WWF show for weeks and it was counting down. The problem was, it would reach zero before New Year’s Eve. So, the mystery was what the clock was counting down to. This was during a time before the Internet knew everything before it happened and I was genuinely clueless.
So, several weeks later on Monday Night Raw it was time for the clock to hit zero. However. I forgot about exactly when it was supposed to hit zero even though it had hours and minutes on it. The Rock hit the ring and was delivering one of his patented awesome promos that I loved. The Rock was the ultimate ingredient in sports entertainment. Whatever you added him to was automatically better and I was always pumped to see him talk and fight. So I was absolutely shocked when the clock appeared right in the middle of his promo and a siren loudly blared as the clock was dangerously close to hitting zero. The Rock paced the ring like an angry tiger and, even behind his sunglasses, you could sense that he was glaring at the stage. The clock hit zero and some of the most awesome entrance themes I had ever heard blasted over the speakers. Then a weird guy with blond hair and a big mouth strutted around the stage. He went word for word with the Rock and later I saw that he was dynamite in the ring.
As the weeks went on, I started to get more and more sold on Chris Jericho. He feuded with Chyna at a time when a lot of guys refused to do so. He went toe to toe with Kurt Angle and it was clear that this Y2Jericho guy was talented and fun to watch. Kurt was (is?) a legend and the two were both on fire as they definitely showed me that my old favorites were not the only game in town. He feuded with his good friend Chris Benoit after that. I know Chris Benoit is a sore spot in the business but he was a legend in the ring and that can never be denied. Anyway, facing Benoit and Angle gave Jericho a chance to show off all of the aspects of his style. He was a high flier, a technical expert, a brawler and pretty much whatever else you needed him to be. Jericho trained in the Mexican Lucha style, worked in Germany, learned the Japanese style in WAR and even worked for Jim Cornette for a little before joining WCW. Of course he was going to be good!
Jericho was consistently staying at the top of the heap and was facing the biggest names in the company. Finally, it was time for Jericho to get a serious shot at the Heavyweight title. The thing was, at the time there was two of them. Jericho became one of the biggest talkers and combatants in the infamous Invasion angle which I really should talk about at some point. He fought hard against his old foe The Rock while spending a lot of time verbally jousting with Stephanie McMahon. He was hilarious and a serious bright spot for the business in those years. He was a force to be reckoned with and it was obvious that the fans were behind him a hundred percent. Finally, he won both heavyweight titles in one night and became the first ever Undisputed Champion (the WWE likes this storyline a lot). Finally, he was honored with what was technically the first heavyweight belt of his career. He had gotten the Cruiserweight title in the WCW and the European, Tag and Intercontinental belts in the WWF but it just isn’t the same.
He stuck around as champ for a while. He formed a tag team with Christian. He entered into a feud with Shawn Michaels where he claimed he could do anything that Shawn Michaels had done in his career. He went about proving it and he entered the Royal Rumble to replicate Shawn’s beginning to end Royal Rumble victory. They ended up screwing each other over and eliminating each other. Jericho kept his eye on Michaels and vice versa even as they fought other people. Finally, Jericho fought Shawn Michaels in an awesome Wrestlemania match that got intensely personal and left room for a feud down the line. Jericho set his sights on the championship again and competed in the third Elimination Chamber match of his career (and the third one ever). Not satisfied with that, he invented the Money in the Bank ladder match even though he lost the very first one and has yet to win one. After feuding with John Cena he was kayfabe fired.
Eventually, he left the company to tour with his band Fozzy and explore new opportunities. I have come to love Fozzy and I really love Jericho’s vocals. Jericho is not a bad actor but he never really got a breakout role like The Rock got and his charisma in the ring never fully translated. So it was not a huge surprise when Jericho returned. He had left a heel but he came back a babyface and it was very refreshing. However, a pivotal moment in Jericho’s career came a little later. Jericho had taken acting classes and rubbed elbows with professional actors in his absence and now he had a lot of new ideas. He started to berate the audience and spoke in overly verbose promos where he removed a lot of what had made people love him before. In those days, he evolved from great performer and pretty good heel into an awesome heel. He wore suits and acted like the biggest jerk in the world. It was great.
Now? Well, Chris Jericho tried to be a babyface again but it is clear that he was just born to be an awesome heel. At his age, he was too goofy and hokey as a good guy. He came off less as a threat in the ring and more like that uncle you had who was in a band. He was dubbed Cool Dad by the fandom and, although he was still great, it was clear that he was just not clicking as much in that position. Finally, we got the heel turn we needed him to have. He embraced the darkness and went heel again by feuding with the “Phenomenal One” AJ Styles. Now, he is still one of my favorite parts of WWE Raw. He has embraced the role of the silly heel. He still kicks the crap out of babyfaces but he also throws fits, lies horribly and hurls childish insults at his opponents. While I know I take him for granted somewhat, he puts a smile on my face with his antics all the time. Lately, he has teamed with Kevin Owens and I can’t wait to see how that goes.
I did not really know what to expect from this movie but I have a deep and abiding trust in Disney by this point. In fact, I really should trust Disney a little more than I do because even when I doubt them, they deliver. I doubted the teaser trailer for this movie but I should have learned from Frozen. I think Disney just makes horrible teaser trailers (except for Moana, I guess). When I found out that this movie has a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes I knew I just had to see the movie. I mean, I see all Disney movies anyway but I really wanted to see this one. The day I went to see it in theaters it was sold out and so I saw 10 Cloverfield Lane instead. I am so glad I finally got to see this. For one, it stars Ginnifer Goodwin who was one of the coolest things about Once Upon a Time. It also has Jason Bateman doing a really great job too. God, the animation just gets better and smoother with each movie. The story of the movie actually speaks to a lot of interesting themes like prejudice and affirmative action. This had every possibility of just being a lazy story about a city full of animals. They could have told a story that any human movie could have told but they told a story that really uses the fact that the characters are animals but also resonates with our lives. I do not want to spoil any of the movie. You should just go out and see it.
So, for a while, I was watching every single Pixar release and I would not miss one for the world. Of course, after Cars 2, I decided to skip Planes and Planes 2 but they are the only ones I have not seen now. Finding Nemo was a very touching story about the love of family and the lengths we will go for love. The breakout star was Ellen Degeneres who stole the scene over and over again. The movie ended up being kind of America’s apology for kicking her to the curb for being gay earlier. She is a great comedian and, it turns out, a great voice actor. So we get this sequel starring Degeneres’ character who was actually the saddest and darkest part of Finding Nemo. So I go into this a little tentatively, knowing Disney and Pixar can make me cry. Degeneres was on fire again, possibly even better than Finding Nemo. Ed O’Neill played a really great grumpy octopus. Everybody returned from Finding Nemo and turned in great performances. Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, Ty Burrell, Kaitlin Olson joined the awesome cast along with a lot of great bit parts. It really looks like Pixar might have really gotten over the stumbling blocks in the past. The story was touching and inspiring. It was a story about how we never know what we can do until we try. It also explored the memories we make and how they shape us whether we realize it or not and accepting our flaws as part of us. It was a beautiful movie and I definitely recommend it.
There is one reason I had been avoiding this movie and his name is Phil Collins. Phil Collins makes some of the whitest and blandest music in the world and yes I meant that as an insult. I used to have a friend (RIP Billy) who loved Phil Collins and he used to tease me about me not liking Collins or Genesis. I decided it was finally time as I recently made it my mission to watch every Disney animated film (or at least the theatrical releases). Tarzan was a major one that I had missed and I figured it was way past time to tackle it. When I played Kingdom Hearts, I got pretty familiar with the story and settings so, unfortunately, some of that was spoiled for me. The first thing I will say is the animation is really cool. There is one sequence where you watch Tarzan grow up and it was so smooth that I could not tell if Tarzan was steadily growing or if there were cuts edited in. The musculature of Tarzan and the movement of the animals was really awesome looking as well. The acting was pretty good but the real standouts were actually Rosie O’Donnell and Brian Blessed. Brian Blessed was a perfect deep-voiced villain, right up there with Scar and Jafar. Rosie O’Donnell was a little annoying at first but when I found out that her part had originally been male but was gender bent based on her audition, I had a lot of respect. The movie was really good in spite of my low expectations and I was impressed with the amount of detail they put in. The only downside was the music. It was not as bad as I expected but it was all sung by Phil Collins instead of the characters in the movie. It was a little off-putting but I do recommend the movie despite that.
Music of the Week:
– This week’s theme is “Animals of Disney Animation”
– I’ve got a new favorite show to talk to you about soon
– I watched more Dark Matter and I love it
– I actually watched more Shannara Chronicles and it gets better
– Watched more Olympics though I’m kind of done with it
– If you pay attention, I started to rank what I saw each week. First is best, last was worst or not as best
– If all goes well, I am taking my final exams for the semester today
– I’m almost done with Season 3 of Person Interest.
Everybody is big on the Olympics lately. I myself have watched some of the events because the Olympics can be a little inescapable, especially when my mother is so excited about them. I have enjoyed watching Gymnastics events, Diving, Volleyball and Football. I loved watching the US Women’s soccer team fight it out in the trenches. I loved watching Simone Biles winning along with Aly Raisman and just enjoying each other’s victory. I even loved the Williams sisters getting smoked in the first round because it meant a passing of the torch. I also loved Fu Yuanhui’s surprise at having won a medal and not knowing because of less than stellar eyesight. There have been a lot of great moments so far.
To a certain extent, I have also enjoyed watching Swimming. I especially enjoyed Simone Manuel’s genuine reaction to winning her gold medal and her comments afterward. However, there is a lot of stuff that has surrounded the sport of swimming that has annoyed me. Most of them surround one name because, unfortunately, when you discuss Olympic swimming you must eventually talk about Michael Phelps. While many might assume that because I am a proud Baltimorean that I would support Phelps. Not automatically true. As we learned with Brock Turner, being good at swimming does not guarantee that you are a good person. While I don’t actively hate him, I have come to resent several stories that have surrounded him.
First up in the Phelps round up is the stupid Chad Le Clos story. I did not see the first airing of the incident that launched a million memes. However, it was interpreted that Le Clos was messing with Phelps and Phelps was glaring at him in return. A few minutes of research told a different story. The two guys have had an off and on friendship and constant rivalry since Phelps’ return to the sport following his “dark period”. Le Clos has lashed out at Phelps a little but only in the way most athletes trash talk their opponents. Why Le Clos was jiggling in front of Phelps, we may never truly know. It looked like he was trying to be funny and Phelps was trying to concentrate and not get distracted. What we do know is that Phelps has said that after the Olympics he is visiting Le Clos in South Africa for shark cage swimming. This was such a non-story that it was kind of ridiculous.
<img src=”https://queerty-prodweb.s3.amazonaws.com/content/docs/2016/08/09033344/michael-phelps-670×377.jpg” alt=”Maybe he was just trying not to laugh?”>
However, that annoyance pales in comparison to the stupidity that I really want to discuss. Let us talk of cupping. Cupping is an ancient Chinese “therapy” that leaves Phelps and other gullible athletes looking like they lost a wrestling match with a squid. It is the act of lighting fires in cups pressed to a person’s skin. The fire causes a vacuum to be formed in the cup and skin to be sucked up into the cup. This causes the characteristic circular bruising and, on some people, also causes the skin to be burnt. The Chinese said that cupping promotes the flow of chi. Now, Chi is supposed to be energy flowing through the body but that energy has never been observed by science. When cupping took off in the Western world, they dropped the word chi and replaced it with blood. However, cupping does not promote blood flow. By bruising you, it actually disrupts blood flow by damaging blood vessels.
<img src=”http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/files/2016/08/MichaelPhelpscupping.jpg” alt=”Losing a fight to a squid would be more acceptable.”>
Somebody believing in pseudoscience is something that is regrettable and should be cured by proper scientific education. However, people look up to these athletes. They assume that since these people are amazing physical specimens with athletic skill, that they know stuff about the human body. This is not necessarily true. This problem is compounded by the media who tries for a “balanced” look at things. Instead of looking for the truth, they present both sides of the debate equally which gives undue credibility to the pseudoscience. The problem here is shortcuts. Everybody loves finding shortcuts and there is certain manic pride in finding one and sharing it with others. This also applies when you think you have found a shortcut that isn’t one. These people think that because this “therapy” has existed for thousands of years, that it is a shortcut to enhancing their bodies. Instead, they are damaging their body and they just look foolish.
So, while you’re watching the Olympics this year, remember to think for yourself. Remember to do your research before you spread myths and rumors. Enjoy the awesome moments because those are way more fun than the manufactured ones. Also, choose your heroes wisely because some of them might be really gullible.