Archive for editorials

Thoughts on Labels

Triceratops!

When I was in middle school and the Power Rangers came out, I was faced with a moral dilemma. My favorite color was red, but the blue Power Ranger had a triceratops robot, and the triceratops has always been my favorite dinosaur. Also, the red Power Ranger was the leader, and I just always had a thing against flavoring the lead and most popular. I weighed my options and opted to have my favorite Power Ranger be Billy.

On the playground, people chose their favorite Power Ranger by their favorite color. It was the obvious, superficial choice, and I decided to go with the flow. It wasn’t a big deal to make the switch, but it is worth noting that to this day, my favorite color is blue.

What does this have to do with anything? Well, according to an article written by 3 fancy pants psychologists in 1990, Hogg, Turner, and Davidson, (and many other articles) this is an example of a pattern seen throughout time in which people conform to a group which is becoming most popular or is most popular. People like to be in with the in crowd, and often times to be part of that crowd they will alter their own perceptions or opinions to match that group.

Obey.

Obviously, people want to fit in. Even if you’re a punk rock, fuck the world, anti-conformist, you’ve conformed. Do you think every punk rock anti-conformist was born a punk rock anti-conformist? No way they were. What happened was they have a few things in common with the punk rock crowd, they got together with them, listened to some cool music, dissected the lyrics, and rewrote their own philosophies accordingly.

And I’m not here to call one group of people hypocrites. At least, not without calling everyone a bunch of hypocrites, too. Look in the mirror and ask yourself what makes you “you” and where that stuff came from. Many of us are familiar with the onion theory in which we are all like onions, with layers and layers of what makes us unique. But what about you haven’t you learned from someone else, someone with their own biases? Even your most intimate and unique qualities are just mutations of ideas and gestures picked up from friends, the media, or parents.

And as you peel these socially acquired layers away and move closer to the middle, you expect to find something uniquely yours, but all you find is one last layer that came from when you were a baby and your mom and dad taught you to talk the way they talk, and think the way they think. And after that, there is nothing. You are the onion, but you did not make the onion. You are a composite of ideas and values that have been taught you through family and friends and the media. Every “unique” idea you have can be traced back to something someone else told you.

So in a way, we’re all living by conventions that were given to us by other people, which makes us conformist in at least a small way. In a large way, we just conform. You conform to fit in at work, to fit in with friends, and we conform to fit in with ideals that surround us everyday. For example, anyone out there buying loads and load of “green” crap? Recycling? Anyone bringing their own bags to the super market? If you do anything to follow the green movement, have you done any research beyond Recycle Rex?

I’m not knocking you if you recycle. There is a lot of info out there that makes recycling make sense. There’s also a lot that does the contrary, so I don’t take part in the “green” movement. So, here’s what the conversation is like when I tell people I don’t recycle:

“Dude, why don’t you recycle!? That’s stupid.”

“Because studies have shown that you waste more energy than you save when you factor in running the factories, transportation, and all that, than you would spend if you just made a new bottle.”

“…whatever.”

Which leads me to believe that most people just recycle because all their lives they’ve been told it’s good for the planet. People need to start thinking for themselves. This statement, that we need to think for ourselves, is making a mountain look like a mole hill, I know. Basically, it’s like telling everyone we need to stop killing each other. This whole problem of people not thinking for themselves is so old that we see throughout the history of civilization. We see entire countries being taken over by one philosophy like in Nazi Germany or Caesar’s Rome. We see laws in countries that embrace democracy which encourage fair voting and public participation in government matters (responsibly, they hope) to try to boost the public interest in government affairs. Free thinking is the pillar that holds up democracy, and its absence has been the downfall of many a society.

Labels in American Government

Looking into American history, we find a quote from George Washington, warning against his country forming two rival factions. He expressed a great concern that two dominant parties would be intrinsically vengeful against one another and unable to work together, while citizens flock into each party looking for security and affirmation. This, he warned, could lead to the destruction of liberty in our country and promote a prevailing party member as a dictator.

After Washington’s second term, he died, and what was made of this country was just what he warned of. Today, we have Republicans and Democrats. You are one or the other. We get little books sent to us with just enough info to form an opinion, and off to vote we go. When voting it’s all spelled out for us: This guy is a republican and this guy is a democrat, in case you still didn’t know who to vote for. And when these people get put into office, we see little progress, and they still get paid.

It’s a joke.

People seem to think that they have to be one or the other. When I confess I am neither, most people don’t buy it and listen to my point of view so they can pigeonhole me.

“Well, if you’re pro-choice, you’re a democrat.”

“Well, if you don’t agree with the teacher’s unions and don’t want to invest more in public education, you’re a republican.”

No, I’m not. I’m a freethinking individual, the kind of person who started the Revolutionary War and made a country where freethinking people would be able to think for themselves and be rewarded for it with a powerful nation represented by those who agree with the majority and speak on their behalf. I know it’s easy to say I’m with them and just adopt and adapt until you fit the mold. It’s easy to not have to think for yourself and just vote for all the D’s or all the R’s on election day. I know this. But I’m not looking for an easy way out, and you shouldn’t be either.

Look around you. Turn on the news. There’s enough crap hitting the fan to make you want to duck, I know it. The national debt that is out of control with a president and a group of representatives that cannot come together to find a way out. We have elected officials making corrupt and immoral choices in our names daily. In California we’re dealing with a government that hasn’t been on time for a budget for as long as I can remember. I know there’s a lot going on and it’s hard to follow, but the more we conform to these labels of D and R, the easier it is going to be for these “representatives” to take advantage of us, steal our money, and not have to answer for it.

What is your triceratops?

What would make you change your principals, your philosophies, or in any other way alter your point of view? A favorite color is one thing, but you opinion on abortion, the death penalty, the budget, the environment, or anything else going on in the world around you shouldn’t have to be thrown aside because it doesn’t fit an existing mold.

Sure, all of us are who we are because of a little bit of conformity, but there is a line where human nature ends and horrors begin. The two party system has divided our country; our governments, both state and federal, seem to never be able to get anything done. There are no more Great Compromises being made, as party lines have grown so defined and so infected with hate that progress is being slowed to a crawl. And to make things worse, these labels have infected the system so deeply that no one, no matter how liberal a republican or how conservative a democrat, can vote the way they want to vote nor say what they want to say.

The idea of this article is not to make a point about the government as much as it is to make a point about your ability to think freely. When we bend to fit labels, we stop being individuals and start being part of a greater problem that I feel is ruining life all around us. I’m not a democrat, I’m not a republican, I’m not an environmentalist. I’m an individual with a lot of opinions that I would be happy to share with you. And if you’re not too tied to your labels and can speak freely, then maybe we can both learn something. But if you’re tied to some group with their own agenda, save it, because chances are you don’t know what their real agenda even is.

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Thoughts on Karma

Getting Punched in the Face

About 2 years ago I went to see the movie Where The Wild Things Are with some friends and my girlfriend. We were sitting in the theater and trying to enjoy the movie, but there were people behind us making a lot of noise, talking, and just being obnoxious. Now, we’ve all endured this, I’m sure, but I take serious offense to people who cannot behave in a movie theater. To me, there is no better way to tell the world that you’re a low life than to ruin a movie for 50 or more people at once.

So these guys kept talking and kept ruining the movie for everyone, and about 20 minutes into the movie people start shushing them. They’re response wasn’t to check their behavior, but instead was to shush people back. Of course, this pushed me to the edge.

While I am not a very big person in a way that would frighten someone (unless you’re made of chocolate), I know that I have a temper and at times I can be intimidating, and after looking around and noticing that a lot of the people watching Where The Wild Things Are on opening night at midnight were hipsters, I thought I had the upper hand. I figured I could stand up, and in my most angry tone tell the hipsters to “Shut the fuck up” and all would be scared into being right in the world.

I gave them a chance to shut up, and they didn’t, so I mustered up the courage to confront them, balled my fists, stood up, and yelled out a strong and loud “HEY!” as I turned and saw what was not hipsters. They were thugs. I was shocked, and thrown for a loop, but I was, at that point, committed to finishing my sentence. I couldn’t sit back down. That would have only made things worse. I still had a chance, I thought, of being intimidating enough to get my way.

“Shut the fuck up!” I said, and sat back down, fully expecting a fist to crack the back of my skull at any moment. But the strangest thing happened. There was some banter at first from the thugs, but after a few seconds they shut up. They shut up and stayed shut up for the whole movie. After the movie they exited the theater without any issue and people around me started to thank me for doing what I did. I felt like a hero. I had won.

As I walked out of the theater with my friends, the situation changed. Two of the young men from the group were waiting for me in the hallway leading to the lobby. I was trying to defuse the situation by walking away. Admittedly, I was making a few comments like “Get out of my way” and “I don’t fight with trash” but mostly I was trying to exit the theater without conflict. In fact, most the comments weren’t coming from me or the thugs, they were coming from on my friend’s date. A very small woman, she was saying things like “you’re not going to do anything” and basically calling their bluff. I was the only person telling her to shut up.

My only hope, I thought for a moment, was that these guys would kick her ass instead of mine. I made my way outside and my friend’s date finally shut up. These are my last thoughts before getting sucker punched in my face:

  • Good, she shut up.
  • Where’d those thugs go?
  • Where’s my friends?
  • What’s going on?

Getting punched in the face is strange. It hurts like you think it would, but the sound is funny. I’ve been punched in the face a few times in my life and it always sounds like a four square ball being bounced on a trampoline. I immediately tasted blood. Looking around, I couldn’t find the guy who hit me. He was backing up steadily, almost hiding behind my girlfriend if I remember correctly.

My friends were MIA for the most part. One of my friends picked my glasses up off of the floor and handed them to me. I wanted to fight, but I would have lost and my girlfriend was already scared pretty bad. I walked to my car and we drove to a 7-11 where my bloody face gave the employee there a scare. His reaction was the first sign that sunk into my head that I might have to go to the hospital. I was cleaning the blood off of my face and I found it kind of hard to breath out of my nose. My shirt was ruined. My bottom lip was busted open.

The Myth of the Karma Bank

I’ve always liked the idea that good things happen to people who do good things, and bad things happening to people who do bad things. So, that’s how I justified this in my head. These guys would get what’s coming to them. I didn’t get to kick this guy’s ass, but someone else will some day, or maybe he will just be a thug forever and never have much money, or whatever. I don’t know. I’m not sure exactly how it works, but I just rested on the fact that he would get his in the end

But when something like this happens, it forces you to really think about what you dismiss in your personal justification. The event lingers and it makes you try to figure it out. I walked through the scenario over and over. From my perspective first: I was in a movie theater. I told some loud people to shut up. I got punched in the face outside while I wasn’t looking and none of my friends said a word. Then from his perspective: Some asshole told him to shut the fuck up. He followed him outside and kicked his ass. My friends didn’t get a license plate number. They didn’t get a description of the people or vehicle. They didn’t get anything but ice for my face when I got home.

I’m not mad at my friends. They’re not the kind of friends who would get in a fight for me. I have friends who would, but these aren’t those friends. What really made me write this is something I came to realize a few months ago. See, I was content to think that these thugs were never going to be as happy as me in the future. I’m going to school, I’m getting a masters degree and I’ve decided to devote my life to helping others get a better education. These thugs would find some bullshit job somewhere, slave away for shitty pay, live in their broken down neighborhood, where ever that may be, and would live the lifestyle that they chose for themselves, as thugs, possibly gang affiliated and on drugs.

But then, a few months ago, something struck a chord with me. I couldn’t tell you what it was, but it made me reexamine the situation. These thugs chose that life style. They like it. They want to live in that shitty neighborhood. They want to drink and gang bang and use drugs. They don’t want to be anyone else, or live any other kind of life. They will be content making bullshit money at a bullshit job and living a bullshit life, making the world a miserable place and being obnoxious in movie theaters, teaching their many children to do the same.

The worst part is that after I get my degree and after I start working in education, I might not be making much more money than these guys, if I make more at all. I will probably be more stressed out since I will have a career and these guys will simply be working jobs that they could take or leave when they see fit. So, in the end, there is a much better chance that these mother fuckers will be happier than me at any given time in our lives.

This, of course, was a tough pill to swallow, and made me really look long and hard at my life choices. Maybe I’ve been in the wrong business. Maybe I’ve been living my life on the wrong side of the tracks. All my life I’ve done what I considered the right thing. I’ve never partaken in any illegal drugs, my first drink was when I was 20, only a month before my 21st birthday, and I’ve always taken my education seriously. I drink and, while I’ve had my nights, I’ve kept things under control for the most part. I have made some bad choices, but I think I’m a pretty good friend and I always try to be there when people need me. Bottom line, I’m responsible.

Why did I do this? I suppose a better question would be “Why didn’t I (fill in the blank)?” Why didn’t I make more moves on women? Why didn’t I take a hit? Why didn’t I stay out later? Why didn’t I go to more parties where I knew there would be drugs? Why didn’t I hang out with a riskier crowd? I thought about all that, and I started to regret a lot of the choices I had made in my life because it looked like I had invested in something that didn’t exist. It was something I had been lied to about for years by my parents, teachers, the media, you name it. This thing that isn’t real is what I call the Karma Bank.

The Karma Bank is simple: Put in a good deed, and a good deed will come back to you with interest in the future. Put in a bad deed and something bad will happen to you in the future, with interest as well. It’s bullshit. Bad things happen to good people all the time and good things happen to bad people even more often. The trick here, and what stings, is that this very famous outlook on life is basically telling you that you will be rewarded for your good deeds. The universe is watching, and you’ll get yours, good or bad!

Not only is this bullshit, but it creates a sense of entitlement that really made me flounder when thinking of the guys who hit me in the face. I kept thinking that these guys lived their lives on the edge, had way more fun, ended up punching me in the face, and are going to end up being happier than I will ever be. When am I going to win? When am I going to get what’s coming to me?

It took a while, but what I realize now is that I’m not going to get anything that’s coming to me, and neither are they, and neither are you. There is no Karma Bank, there is no one in the sky keeping track of my good deeds.  I will not be cosmically rewarded or punished for anything I’ve done. The question then becomes, “Then why do good things?” and the answer is simple: “Because I’m not an asshole.” I don’t do drugs, I’m a good friend, and I treat people pretty well. I have my regrets, but all in all I think I’m an upstanding and responsible person. And while I don’t claim to know what happens when you die, I know that there is one afterlife we can all be sure of, and that’s how people will remember you after your funeral. So, you can go around being a dick and talking in movie theaters so that people might tell their children that they once knew a terrific asshole, or you can not be a dick and try to help people through this shit storm we call existence and maybe have some people talk about how they once knew a pretty cool dude who told some a-holes in a movie theater to shut the fuck up.

Kim Kardashian: Jam (Turn it Up)

Kim, you’ve poisoned the world. All of it. You’re on TV.

I still can't understand why this is a show and not a children's book? Oh, maybe the people who watch this show can't read...Took me a long time to connect those dots. Still, it would make a good coloring book, no?

You’re on billboards .

Baseball? …I’d connect the dots if I could find them here…

You’re on TV selling salads from Carl’s JR.

Nothing sells salad like tig ol' bitties. Except maybe...nope, never mind. Tig ol' bitties is the way to go.

And then you flew too close to the sun.  Kim, Kim, Kim…what happened?  Did you think you were a musician?  Did someone offer you a lot of money to do this?  Did you really need the money?  Honestly?  How is that possible?

Here’s my theory on how this abomination came to be (the song, not Kim).  You see, some days I sit around and I get bored.  We all do.  And when we’re bored we have ideas and sometimes these ideas are good and sometimes these ideas are bad.  One time, for example, I had an idea to combine Halloween and Thanksgiving and have a giant party.  It was called Thanksween and it was going to happen in the summer, when there are no cool holidays aside from the 4th of July.  Lucky for me, I didn’t have enough money to make it happen and now I’m not known as that weirdo who invited everyone down to the Elks Club for candy, turkey, and costume contests.

Sadly for Kim, she has an endless supply of money, so even her most fucked up ideas come to fruition.  It’s like giving a monkey a machine gun and access to billions of people.  So one day Kim figures she’s already inflicted enough terror on her body in the form of plastic surgery and turns her forces toward the public.  Enter the TV show, the perfume, and the endorsements.

"Uh, yeah...Shape Ups did it...it was shoes...right...when do I get paid?"

And now we’ve got her new single.  Just how bad is it, you ask?  Really bad.  VERY BAD.  Even people who like her say it’s bad.  According to Servethesong.net, a site dedicated to song writing, there are three things that make a bad song.  Let’s go through them one by one:

1) Weak Chorus

Here’s the chorus from Jam:

“And they playin my jam(x4)
They playin, my jam (x4)
Turn it up, Turn It Up (DJ)(x10)
Turn it up, so I can rock the night away (away)”

I teach a writing class at the Boys and Girls Club, and I’ve seen middle school kids write better stuff than this.  Even the kids who don’t want to write and sit through my class so they can play games on the computer write better stuff than this.

"What do you mean my hook is weak? It's better than Kim Kardashian, right?! And she's a millionaire, right? Right?"

When it’s hard to tell when a verse stops and chorus begins, the chorus is considered “weak”.  The music is pretty much exactly the same through the whole song.  There is a pause before she starts repeating “They playin’ my jam” and “Turn it up” like 50 times, but that’s about it.  She sings monotone and autotuned through the whole thing also, so it’s hard to figure out what’s going on.  I have the T-Pain app on my phone.  I know that singing monotone does nothing when you add autotune.  So…her bad, i guess.

2) No Focus.

I’ll let the song do the talking for me:

“Imam burn it out tonight, its goin down
By live via satellite
And all I see is angels in my eyes
Buzz got me way up in the sky
Maybach in the front (the front)
Pick out any boy that I want (I want)”

I didn’t just take lines from random parts of the song here.  This is in order.  You could make more sense out of Naked Lunch.   That’s a book, for those of you wondering (I’m assuming I have new readers, here).

3) Too long

Do I have to make an argument for this one?  Any song by Kim Kardashian is too long.  It’s like the ice cream man that keeps the stupid music on even as you’re buying ice cream.

"Ok, I get it, the weasel went pop. Turn that shit off!"

I don’t blame you, though, Kim.  I don’t.  I blame the American public.  They created a monster, and it was you.  That’s not your fault.  Now, muchlike Victor Von Frankenstein, we are all going to be forever haunted by our past.  For now, every time we turn on our radio, we run the risk have to hear the horror that is this shitty song.  And that this is forever, people.  She is in the playlist with Crazy Town and Limp Bizkit.

It's like everyone hates me sometimes.

Oscar Winners: Reactions (based solely on their trailers and word of mouth since I didn’t see any of them)

So the Oscars were a few days ago, and I honestly don’t care, but a lot of people do.  Seriously, with the exception of Inception and Toy Story 3 I haven’t seen any of the movies that were nominated.  So let’s react based on word of mouth!

"Who am I wearing?...I think her name was 'It'..."

Oh, first of all, nothing makes me cringe more than the question “Who are you wearing?”  Just when I start to understand people’s fascination with what other people are wearing and who designed them, I snap back like a rubber band into reality.  Fashion is something I will never comprehend and something I’ll never believe in.  I apologize to all those ladies out there…and my friend Max.  He’s fancy.

The King’s Speech won best picture and that guy won Best Actor, too.  First of all, it’s awesome that Toy Story was in consideration for the best picture Oscar and it’s really weird that Inception was in there.  I saw Inception; it was confusing.  I’m usually really good at following story lines and stuff, and I think they told the story as well as it could be told, but it was still really confusing and really weird.  I honestly believe people liked it for a similar reason people like 201o A Space Odyssey.  They didn’t get it so just went with the reviews written by people who said they did.  No one did, though, and so here we are.

Anyway, the King’s Speech looks good.  I’ll see it on DVD when it comes out.  I like that the stuttering king has to kind of compete with Hitler in a way, but I do wonder why they really needed him to speak well.  I mean, during WW2, wasn’t Winston Churchill kind of the voice of the people for Great Brittan? He was only one of the best orators in the history of the world.  So…probably not a big deal then?

"No raspy-whispering? Uh...can I drop a chainsaw on someone?...do you know who I am?"

Christian Bale won best supporting actor for a role that really tested his ability as an actor.  As a drug addicted brother to a boxer from New England, it was impossible for him to justify his Terminator/Batman voice, but he pulled through.  Oh, GOOOOOOOD for him, I say.  I’m a little upset that whoever his date was didn’t slip him some speed and punch him in the face so his acceptance speech could be as golden as his rant against some tech on set.  Some guy walks on through his shot and we get a great impersonation of the Winnebago Man.  He wins an Oscar and we get the word “hell” one time and a pretty sweet beard.  It could have been better.

Natalie Portman pulled through with the Oscar for best Acress in a Leading Role.  But honestly, I think the person who really needs an award is Mary Vernieu.  Who is Mary Vernieu?  She is the casting director who brought us what I hear is one of the best girl on girl sex scenes ever.  I heard it was so good that Mila Kunis’ father walked out of the premier.  Probably because he had a boner (awkward!)

I'll take FTW for 800, Alex.

The only other thing I really want to talk about is that Alice in Wonderland won an Oscar.  I don’t care what it was for, it pisses me off something fierce.  The movie was so horrible, I don’t even know where to start with why this is such a travesty. The Oscars really did ruin their own credibility with this one.   But that’s Hollywood for you.  Always their own worst enemy.  Unless you’re Charlie Sheen.  Then you’re your own best EVERYTHING! The only thing he’s addicted to is “Winning”…and he has super powers.

Animals that Play Sports

So, since I just got my wisdom teeth pulled and since I have all this free time, I’ve decided to find some of the best videos of animals playing sports.  I found seven, and I’m going to put them in order of “Who Cares?” to “OMFGWTF?!”

7. “Dogs Playing Tether Ball!”

Grade: F

Seriously, the person who named this video was too excited.  Nothing about this warrants an exclamation point.  These dogs are only doing what they would normally do if they saw a ball.  You can’t call this playing sports.  You just can’t.

6. Funny Horse: Rowan playing soccer with the big purple ball

Grade: F

First of all, how is this soccer.  And second, HANDBALL!  YELLOW CARD!  Seriously, I typed in “horses playing soccer” and this was the best I could find.  You’d think that with all their power and ability to be trained and enslaved, someone would be able to get a good game of futbol going on.

5. AMAZING BASKETBALL BIRDS

Grade: C-

“Cant Touch This” is right.  Where the hell is the D?  Come on, people!  If you’re going to train your animals to do something and then exploit them on youtube, can you at least  make sure we’re not going to be subject to a game of Carmelo Anthony vs Carmelo Anthony?   More importantly, they’re birds.  Why aren’t they getting any air?

Oh, also, TRAVELING!

4.  Skateboarding Dog

Grade: A

I have known about Tyson, the Skateboarding Dog, for a long time now.  I cannot believe I found an animal that tops him.  If I could have any dog, it would be this one, at least one very similar.  He is freaking skating around.  And if you don’t think that’s impressive, he also skated a float in the rose parade.

I think the commentary sums up the awesomeness of this dog better than I could.  Suck it, Tony Hawk.

3. HALO THE POOL PLAYING DOG

GRADE: A+

This is how you do, Son!  Take video of that dog, edit the hell out of it, throw in some slow-mo, star wipe, add a phat beat, and you’ve got yourself a video worthy of an A+.  Oh, I almost forgot, THIS DOG FUCKING PLAYS POOL!  I usually don’t swear in here, but this fucking dog IS playing pool, AND he’s making shots I couldn’t even make.  Yeah, he’s not using a stuck, but I’m not going to doubt that teaching Halo to use a stick is next of his owner’s list of ways to make this dog an even BETTER best friend.  Also on that list is teaching him to hold casual conversation about what they want to do today, how to always put bro’s before ho’s, and also helping him make friends with every bartender in town.  Comped drinks?!  HALO!  You’re the man, dog!

2.  Real bears playing Hockey

GRADE: S

Can you say jkdfsjkgdsoperwfsjfkldsj?  Yeah, this is insane.  Bears are massive killing machines that can run, jump, and swim faster than humans, and are stronger than humans.  So, hey…I have an idea.  I’m not doing anything next weekend; why don’t we get together about 10 of those guys, put metal blades on their feet, strap sticks to their hands, dress them up some, and teach some bears how we play hockey in Russia!

I wish I was there to see this, but honestly, this will do.  In fact, had I seen this in person my head might have exploded.  I don’t even know where to start…who has this kind of time?  Why would anyone do this?  Are there other teams?  Who would agree to ref this game?  Are there penalty boxes?  If there are, who the hell has the nuts to put them in that box?  Who the hell would have guessed bears could skate or shoot hockey pucks?

Still, this is the second most awesome thing I’ve ever seen.

1. monkey on a goat on a cup on a tightrope

GRADE: S+

So, why did this win?  It’s not even a sport?  Yeah, well, it should be.  It should be an Olympic event.  Can you train your money to steer your goat on a tightrope onto a cup while said money executes flawless handstands and other gymnastic feats on the goat’s horns like a freaking Pummel horse for our amusement?  Then let’s get it on!  Because, frankly, there aren’t enough of these videos out there.  This is the only monkey on a goat on a cup on a tightrope video on youtube, and that’s a damn shame.

This is actually my favorite video on youtube.  Nothing comes close to how cool this video is.  First you think, no way that goat is going to turn around.  Then you think, no way is that goat going to get on that cup.  Then it spins and the monkey does a handstand, and you’re left with your brains coming out your nose because what you just saw WAS EPIC BEYOND ALL VIDEOS.

If you want to see other videos I like, my youtube username is “WordsAreLike”.

Thanks!

EA Hates You (If You Buy Used Games) or Ten Dolla Make Me Holla

EA has found a new way to rip off its customers.  Everyone who buys a used EA Sports game and takes it home must pay ten extra dollars to play online.  This comes as a result of the video game market being tapped by stores like GameStop who buy and sell used games.  The argument is that for every used game sold, the publisher and developer gets $0, where as if the stores did not sell used games, the publisher and developer would be making about $30 a pop since customers would be buying new games.

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I have a couple of arguments against this crock of shit position.

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First of all, people aren’t turning their used games over to GameStop for fun. They’re doing it for store credit- store credit they use to buy new games.  And why do people need to trade in their games to buy new ones?  BECAUSE THEY CAN’T AFFORD THEM!  A new game on the PS3 or the XBOX360 costs about $60 before taxes.  I can hardly afford that and I have a job.  I’m an adult!  There are tons of kids out there who love video games, and they want the new ones, so what do they do?  They trade in their old games so they can buy new ones, and guess what!  Game companies just made $30 off of GameStop’s tab.  Right?

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It works like this.  I spend my money at GameStop to buy a ton of games. Let’s say I buy five games.  That’s $300 GameStop just made from me, and of that $300, $150 went to the video game companies.

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I finish those games and I want a new one, so I trade them in.  Let’s say I get $5 back on each game (which is about right, believe it or not).  So I just made $25 back from GameStop (The video game companies still haven’t lost any money).

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Now, I put that money back into a new game.  GameStop makes another $60 and of that money, $30 goes back to the game companies.

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So, from my original $300, the video game companies made an extra ten percent because I traded in my games.

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Those games I traded in?  They’re old now.  No one really cares.  Some people do, but most don’t.  And here’s the thing about old used games: Most aren’t even available new.  Go to GameStop and look at the used games.  A lot of those games are only available used, so we don’t have a choice.  You can find copies of wonderful older games used, and if it wasn’t for that old bin of games, most people wouldn’t be able to experience what video game companies worked so hard to produce.

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Also, we’re talking about Xbox360 and PS3.  People can see what I’m playing from their dashboards.  Maybe they’ll start looking into these games, too.  And in an industry full of sequels and spinoffs, this is a good thing!  If I buy a used copy of GTA 3 and I see that 4 is coming out, I’m going to buy 4 new, if I liked the original enough.

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And that’s the key here.  If a game is below par, no one is going to buy the sequel used or new.  EA Sports is known for not doing much to improve its games. They take baby steps, and can you really blame them?  They’re constantly recreating the wheel.  Every year a new football game comes out, for example, that just set the bar a little higher the year before, and people are getting tired of paying $60 a year for a little bump in graphics and game-play.  This is why used sales of these games are so high.  People want to wait until the game is cheaper because they aren’t getting $60 worth of game  People don’t want to spend $60 on updated rosters, updated graphics, and some new gimmicks that probably aren’t that great.

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Maybe EA needs to look into updating their rosters online and just sticking with that.  This $10 charge to play online is crazy.  Especially since it also effects being able to acquire downloadable content.  That’s right.  If there’s a new driver in Tiger Woods 2011, I’m going to have to pay the $10 and the cost of the new driver to download it.  So a $3 item could end up being $13.  Good luck with that, EA.

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I’m pretty upset with this whole thing.  EA is one of the biggest publishers in the industry and they make way more money than I’m sure they need.  They’re just upset because they’re not making more, and that’s disgusting.  I know it sucks when people are out there making money selling your games used when you’re not making a dime, but think about it this way: does any other industry do this? Think about how many used cars are sold every year.  Does Ford or Honda go around trying to make money off of their used cars?  No.  They encourage it because it looks good. People are out their driving their cars just like people are out there still playing your old games, and it looks good when that happens.

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So, listen up, EA:  If people are talking about your old games and if people are playing your old games you should be happy, because if you keep releasing a product that people want, they’ll keep buying them and they’ll buy them new. But if you start putting out little improvements year after year, people aren’t going to give in, and you’re going to need to find something better to do than bite the hand that feeds you.

editorial: Backing into Parking Spaces

There are a couple of things that really get me pissed off…ok, maybe there’s more than a couple.  Today, I’d like to share one with you.  People who back into parking spaces.

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I know it’s like .2% easier to drive forward out of a parking space than to back out of one, but it’s at least 20% harder to back into a space (data supplied by my brain and figures I just made up) than to just do it right.  And usually, when someone does this they make everyone around them have to stop and wait  It’s never EVER worth it.
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This is especially annoying in a crowded parking lot.  As a matter of fact, what really inspired this editorial was an experience I had today in an Albertsons parking lot.  I was letting a car drive by so I could walk to my car, when it stops right in front of me only to back up into his space.  Then, I get in my car and start exiting the parking lot when some other idiot swerves in front of me, comes to a complete stop, and then tries to back into his space.  Since he needed 2 tries, it took a while.
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I don't care how cool your car is or how much you love to show off. If you backed into a space, you were probably in someone's way when you did it, and you're an asshole.

How much time does this save?  Negative 5 seconds as far as I can tell.  And I’ve never had that big of an issue backing out of a space when compared to forwarding out of a space.  This is for two reasons: First, there will always be the same cars and people in your way no matter which way you’re facing, and second I’m not retarded.

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What makes this whole thing suck even more is that it’s mostly men who do this. I’m a big proponent of the whole “women make bad drivers” movement, simply because 90% of all the people who piss me off on the road are women, but I have to hand it to the ladies, they never do this.  Maybe they just think they can’t do it, or maybe they just don’t care, either way, they’re making the right choice.
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Oh, another thing!  Stop backing into slanted spaces!  First of all, it’s illegal.  Second of all, IT MAKES THINGS WAY HARDER!  I swear, people are stupid.  I understand driving through to the space in front of you if they’re both empty and NOT SLANTED, but seriously, are you a moron?
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So, too all you idiots out there who suck, stop backing into spaces.  Thanks.
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Signed,
Mankind