Saturday, July 21, 2012

end-of-superhero-movie sequel teasers.

i'm talking about the scenes at the end of superhero movies that introduce a surprise element to give you a little tease for the sequel. they've become so routine that they are starting to feel obligatory. i'm going to trace them back as far as i can remember and rate their success level, from most awesome to most shitty. let's begin.

SPOILER WARNING: the following contains massive spoilers for every movie discussed.

x2: x-men united (2003)
director: bryan singer

this is the first instance i can remember of a sequel tease at the end of a superhero movie. it was before they started doing them post-credits. the movie ends with jean grey sacrificing herself for the team by drowning in a dam explosion while mind-lifting the x-men's jet to a safe height. the very last shot is a bird's-eye of the water where she died, and right before the credits roll, we can barely start to make out a shape forming beneath the surface-- it's the symbol of the dark phoenix, which is the villain that she is resurrected as in the comics. i doubt most moviegoers knew about that or even noticed the shape, but the comic book nerds noticed, and they crapped their pants. unfortunately, the promise of dark phoenix would go on to be realized by brett ratner in 2006's disappointing x-men: the last stand.

batman begins (2005)
director: christopher nolan

this one is my favorite, which is funny, because i don't think nolan was trying to do the whole bandwagon thing of superhero movie sequel teases. the whole bit is actually lifted from the ending of frank miller's graphic novel "batman: year one," which inspired a majority of batman begins. it's the last scene of the movie. lieutenant gordon uses the batsignal for the first time and talks to batman about the possibility of batman's presence creating a sharper breed of criminal. he cites an example; a new guy they're looking for who leaves a distinct calling card. he hands batman a small evidence bag. batman turns it over to reveal a playing card with a joker on it. batman responds, "i'll look into it." then they have another little exchange, batman takes off, and the movie ends. it was so thrilling to see this for the first time. the tease was perfect-- subtle, and flowing naturally from the scene. and nolan totally delivered on this setup with heath ledger joker in 2008's the dark knight.

x-men: the last stand (2006)
director: brett ratner

among other really stupid plot developments, x-men: the last stand sees the introduction of the "mutant cure," a single injection which magically and permanently turns any mutant into a regular human. during the titular battle, magneto gets stabbed with like five injections of it at once, so he loses his powers. the last scene is magneto in the park, just an anonymous old man playing chess. we see him holding his hand out toward a metal chess piece. the piece is still. suddenly, it moves a teensy bit. cut to credits. this was kinda cool, but there was never a sequel to follow up on it. there was also a post-credits scene where the voice of the slain professor x emanates from the body of a braindead coma patient; a weird payoff to a sly setup earlier in the film. this was not as cool, because what are we talking about? charles xavier is alive in some other dude's body? i'm not sure i would've liked to see that play out, although i'll be god damned if it doesn't make me curious as shit.

iron man (2008)
director: jon favreau

this was the gamechanger. tony stark reveals he's iron man, cut to credits, and then, in a post-credits scene, he is visited by nick fury, a character who was designed to look like samuel l. jackson in the comics, and who is now being played by samuel l. jackson in the flesh! fury wants to talk to iron man about the avengers initiative. this was the first step toward the marvel movie universe where superheroes can cross over into each other's movies, all culminating in 2012's the avengers, a milestone in superhero cinema. this was a good one.

the incredible hulk (2008)
director: louis leterrier

this one was post-movie, pre-credits, because they were afraid people would leave early and miss it. it was also a little curveball-- instead of nick fury visiting bruce banner, we get tony stark visiting general ross. i think this was because they were considering the incredible hulk as a potential villain for the avengers. moviegoers were still reeling from robert downey jr's excellent first outing as tony stark (the movies came out a month apart), so this one was pretty cool.

iron man 2 (2010)
director: jon favreau

this one was kinda dumb. iron man 2 already felt a little unfocused because of all the avengers nods. then the post-credits scene was agent coulson in the new mexico desert, calling in a mysterious discovery... which turns out to be thor's hammer. this isn't like flashing a joker card, okay? moviegoers had no frame of reference for this; it was total comic book nerd stuff. and worst of all, it had nothing to do with the movie it was in. whatever.

thor (2011)
director: kenneth branagh

this one was nothing special. the post-credits scene shows dr. selvig meeting with nick fury about a mysterious object (the cosmic cube/tesseract) that may hold untold power, and then it's revealed that the doc is under the mind control of an invisible loki. uh oh! this will be important later!

green lantern (2011)
director: martin campbell

oh my god. okay. this is the second-worst one of these of all time. so in this movie, sinestro is a good guy green lantern, just like he was in the comics before he became the yellow ring-wielding archenemy of hal jordan. throughout the movie, we see him suggesting to the guardians of oa that they should make a yellow energy ring so they can use the dangerous yellow energy to possibly defeat parallax. the guardians are like, no, stop suggesting that. then the movie ends, and during the credits, we see sinestro putting on a yellow ring and presumably becoming evil. DURING THE END CREDITS. this would be like if they introduced harvey dent in the dark knight and then had a mid-credits scene where acid gets splashed in his face. THIS SCENE IS KINDA IMPORTANT. we can also presume that the green lantern franchise will be rebooted long before they ever make a sequel to this piece of shit.

captain america: the first avenger (2011)
director: joe johnston

this didn't really have a post-credits scene. i mean, it did, but it was actually a teaser trailer for the avengers. at least they had the good sense to put it after the credits, so future viewers can skip it if they wish. when back to the future part ii came out in 1989, it included a PRE-CREDITS trailer for 1990's back to the future part iii that's a real bitch to avoid. at the time, they were thinking that people were going to be upset by ii's cliffhanger ending, and they wanted to assure audiences that there was an end in sight. i think it really lessens the impact of iii. may 2003's the matrix reloaded also came with a post-credits teaser trailer for november 2003's the matrix revolutions. it was nothing extraordinary. and as a post-credits treat for captain america, this was par.

the avengers (2012)
director: joss whedon

the avengers had two post-credits scenes. one i think was pre-to-mid credits. it had the bad guys meeting with the mysterious character who was like in charge of them, and we see that he's a scary alien guy. some comic book fans recognized him as thanos, but most people had no idea. then there was a post-credits scene paying off a gag from earlier in the movie, and it's so well executed that it is my favorite moment in the whole film. but i consider the thanos thing to be this movie's true "end-of-movie sequel teaser," because it teases about a thing that's gonna happen in a sequel.

the amazing spider-man (2012)
director: marc webb

this is the worst one of these of all time. and this is what i'm talking about when i say these are starting to feel perfunctory. in the post-credits scene of this movie, dr. curt connors is locked in his prison cell and a mysterious shadowy figure seems to apparate in the darkness. he asks connors if spider-man knows the terrible secret about his parents. connors says no. then the figure vanishes and that's the end. i believe the most sensible theory is that this is supposed to be norman osborn, the alpha villain of the spider-man universe who is only mentioned and never seen in this movie, but we don't know because the filmmakers are being evasive. so there's nothing to get excited about with this scene, because nobody in the world knows what's happening. the only thing the scene successfully does is remind us that the movie did nothing new with the spider-man mythos except introduce a mystery that is deliberately not paid off, so they can continue to tease us with it in the sequel. i don't even want a sequel. i thought this movie was a waste, and i hope sony comes to its senses and stops making spidey movies so that the rights will revert back to marvel, where they belong.

so that's my rundown. we certainly haven't seen the last of the end-of-superhero-movie sequel teaser. i think the key to its continued success, as weird as it seems, is for it to not be a thing. don't do them because you think you have to. they should be organic, like batman begins. but don't just rip off batman begins either. 2009's street fighter: the legend of chun-li tried to be the batman begins of street fighter movies, and it lifted (among other things) the ending, wherein gen shows chun-li a newspaper article about an upcoming street fighter tournament and says they should try to recruit this guy he's heard of named ryu. i was like, no. shut up.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012



CAROL FERRIS (14) walks up to the majestic daily planet building.

wow. the daily planet building! it's so majestic.

she starts to take pictures. suddenly, a malfunctioning unmanned weather zeppelin, displaying error messages, crashes into the giant daily planet globe on top of the building. the globe snaps off its base and rolls off the roof.

it plummets to the streets below, set to crush carol, who is only now looking out from behind her camera lens.

just then, SUPERMAN (tom welling) shows up.

pardon me, miss. it's awfully dangerous to stand beneath falling planets.

carol gasps. superman chuckles.

not to worry. i'll just fly up... and...

something comes over superman. he drops to his knees.

your... necklace...

carol's necklace has a green rock in the middle, just like lana lang's kryptonite necklace from smallville season one. she's paralyzed with fear. just as all seems hopeless, a MYSTERIOUS BOY (14) runs in, lifts her in his arms, and takes her inside the daily planet building. he then runs back and pulls superman to safety as well. the planet crashes down safely on the empty street.

the boy rips off carol's necklace and tosses it into a sewer drain. in a moment, superman is upright.

you saved me! and superman!

young man, i've never seen such a fearless act of heroism. maybe i should consider having a sidekick. what's your name?

the boy is about to speak when a voice cuts through the scene.



the boy is standing on the front lawn of coast city junior high school as a bus pulls away. a heavyset black woman approaches. this is PRINCIPAL AMANDA WALLER.

hal jordan! just because your father's a hotshot fighter pilot doesn't mean you have license to walk all over my grass.

sorry, principal waller.

get back on the sidewalk. and get your head out of the clouds. your destiny's not just gonna fall out of the sky.


SINESTRO, hal's weirdo best friend, runs up and sticks his fist in front of hal's face.

scope the new class ring, bro!

sinestro is wearing a class ring with a green synthetic emerald stone in the center.

whoa! sinestro, i thought you were gonna hit me.

i would never hit you, hal. you're my best friend.

anyway, i didn't order one.

what? i thought you were so excited to get this ring!

i was. but everyone was saying how it was lame to get a class ring, so i never ordered it.

by everyone, do you just mean carol ferris?

(looking down)
i don't remember.

you gotta stop being afraid of what other people think. fear is weak, bro.

HECTOR, a big jock, walks up with his arm around carol. they're both wearing class rings.

what's up, maggots?

come on, leave us alone, hector.

what did you say, jordan, you loser?


hi hal.

hey jordan, where's your class ring?

i didn't get one, okay!

no, that's not okay. i can't believe you don't want to show pride in your graduating junior high school class. you won't amount to a thing if you don't learn to be a part of something bigger than you.

hector punches hal in the stomach. hal drops some school papers and falls to the ground, gasping.

you're such a lame-ass, jordan. come on, carol, let's bail.

hector and carol walk away while making out.

i can't believe you're in love with that rich snob carol.

(catching his breath)
shut up, dude!

principal waller happens by.

hal jordan, pick up these papers! how do you ever expect to make something of yourself? you can't just sit around waiting for someone to die and bequeath you a great power.

waller storms away. hal gathers his papers and stands, watching all the students of coast city junior high walking past wearing their new class rings. he is the only one without one.

i'm never gonna have a cool ring.

(admiring his own ring)
it's nice, but i wish they went with a yellow stone.

that doesn't make sense. the school color is green.

i know, but i just think we should have yellow rings, that's all.



the room is decorated with airplane stuff, outer space stuff, and a big hot wheels track with car launcher.

hal walks in, tosses his backpack on the floor, and sprawls on his bed. he stares up at the glow-in-the-dark plastic stars glued to the ceiling. hal's father JACK pokes his head in.

hey hal. everything okay?


good. remember, i'll always be here.

jack leaves. hal sighs and stares at the plastic stars while dht's "listen to your heart" plays.

end credits.

Friday, April 27, 2012

chalkboards, markerboards, overhead projectors.

i work at an elementary school and all the boards are white markerboards. when i was little, all the boards were chalkboards. i used to notice how the teachers' hands were always covered with chalk dust, and it would make me feel bad.

there were black chalkboards and green chalkboards. what's the difference? is one better? i never knew. green seems more normal. maybe green was better.

clapping chalkboard erasers was a guilty pleasure because it would make clouds of chalk dust. but the absolute best thing about chalkboards was ERASING THEM. everyone wanted to be the lucky son of a bitch who got to erase the chalkboard. i actually used to FANTASIZE about having someone write a bunch of shit on the chalkboard for me to erase.

i think the first time i saw a markerboard was in my sixth grade english classroom. it seemed futuristic. from then on, schools seemed to have both, until i guess markerboards became the standard.

then there were some teachers who didn't even use the board. i had an 8th grade algebra class where the teacher just did everything with thin markers on an overhead projector. the whole period was her doing algebra problems until she filled the screen, then she would give it a quick spritz and wipe the marker off with a paper towel. i was so jealous that she got to wipe the screen all day and i never got to. wiping off that screen was my dream. sometimes, she would START to wipe the screen and stop halfway through while listening to what one of the students was saying. that drove me NUTS. finish wiping the goddamn screen! she did it often enough that i would wonder if she was doing it on purpose, to draw out her wiping gratification. then when she would inevitably finish wiping, the relief was incredible. she also used to switch between red, blue, green, and purple markers, and the variety gave me tremendous pleasure.

occasionally, when wiping the screen, she would miss a tiny marker line somewhere in the corner and it was ALL I COULD THINK ABOUT. this also happens with chalkboards and markerboards. teachers need to be aware of what they're doing to students when they don't completely erase something before proceeding with a lecture. i don't even think about it when i'm teaching at a markerboard. i instinctively erase every last line whenever i erase anything. i would sooner lose my mind than not erase something completely. the thrill of getting to erase the whole board has dulled over the years. it doesn't make my day or anything. but it is nice.

and when a kid asks me if they can erase the board, i always tell them no. because i get to. then i do it and it makes me feel good. sorry, kids. maybe you should give some thought to becoming teachers, like me.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

local honey.

i've been trying to eat this local raw honey to combat my allergies, but i hate it. i hate honey. it's too sweet. i've hated it since i was a little boy. i like sweets every now and again, but honey is too sweet! god dammit. god dammit i hate this honey. i hate it. i hate it so much and i don't want to eat it. fuck this honey. fuck this honey in the ass forever. honey is too sweet, okay!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

candy silo.

the other day, while scoping all the candy bins at the temptations chocolate factory in alhambra, my friend asked me a question:

if you were stranded on a deserted island like tom hanks in cast away and the only thing you had to eat for the rest of your life would be like coconuts and stuff, and whatever occasional wild boar or fish you catch, but then one day you find a silo, and in that silo is an unlimited supply of candy, but it could only be one type of candy-- what candy would you want it to be?

first, let's assume melting is not an issue. like, the silo is in the middle of a cool spring that keeps the candy fresh and edible.

obviously any fruit-based candy would be a waste, because there's probably fruity stuff on the island. so you want something chocolate-based. most any chocolate candy would be welcome.

except mounds. if i found mounds in there, i would go coco-nuts.

your basic hershey bar is simple and classic. maybe you'd think at first that a fancier softer chocolate, like lindt or dove might be nicer, but i don't think that would work in the long run. eventually, you would be craving the hard low-rent chocolate of your youth.

easter bunnies would be good, because you could give them personalities and befriend them to help retain the illusion of your sanity.

they say a dark chocolate is good for your heart, but i get sick of dark chocolate after a few bites. if it was the only chocolate i had for the rest of my life, i would cry every night. and white chocolate is not technically chocolate, so you'd want to forgo that, unless we're possibly talking about cookies 'n' creme.

and now we're getting into chocolate bars with crunchy things in them. like crunch, or krackel, or mr. goodbar, or something with almonds. i'd say go for it, because you wouldn't get tired of something like almonds. it's like an extra treat with your chocolate. nothing with toffee though, because then you just won't have teeth when you die.

you'd want to stay away from a chocolate bar that only has caramel in it. eventually, the caramel would drive you insane, and i mean beyond the level of insane that you already are just from living on a deserted island (the same goes, i'm sorry to say, for reese's peanut butter cups).

peanut butter? no. marshmallow? forget it. nougat? nougat is okay. what you want to avoid like the plague is any chocolate whose filling is primarily gooey.

but if there's something else in there with the goo, then you can consider it. like, twix would be open for debate, because it also has cookie. twix was one of my go-to candies for a time. snickers is a little heavy. i don't know if you'd want to deal with a rich, chewy snickers bar every time you want to have a chocolatey treat. then again, something with a lighter filling, like three musketeers, might leave you dissatisfied in the final analysis.

kit kats are solid all the way. you could definitely handle that long term, and the ritual of breaking them apart would keep you sharp and interested.

movie theatre candies? nix junior mints, because they break my deserted island candy silo rule of goo. goobers or raisinets? your call. though you mightn't want something that would always bitterly remind you that you don't get to watch movies ever again. milk duds? you'd have to be out of your goddamn mind.

and what about the slightly more unconventional chocolate-covered treats? that's definitely something to consider. you could go for chocolate-covered gummi bears (or "muddy bears") or chocolate-covered pretzels (or "flipz"). they're not my favorite, so i wouldn't, but i wouldn't kick them out of your mouth either.

so what would i pick? it's a tough question. ever since i was a little boy, my favorite candy bar was butterfinger. i liked that it touted itself as "crispetty, crunchetty, peanut buttery." i liked that its texture was weird, unlike any other candy bar when you ate it. i liked that it was always connected to the simpsons through advertising during the show's golden age. it was like part of my identity. if ever pressed to consider my favorite candy bar, i knew that it was butterfinger. but butterfinger would be a little too extreme for hypothetical silo purposes. so even though it's like tearing off my own arm and beating a loved one to death with it, i'd have to say no to butterfingers in my candy silo.

i think the answer is m&m's. and not just any m&m's. because most m&m's variants (milk chocolate, dark chocolate, peanut butter, and pretty much every limited edition flavor) are automatic disqualifications. and if you're wondering, something like almond, pretzel, or even the defunct crispy m&m's would be okay. but i'm talking peanut. peanut m&m's.

each m&m is a self-contained treat, so you can always eat as little or as many as you want. the different colors keep you engaged, which is great for after your mind breaks. you can try to calculate which colors are more plentiful or rare and ponder the limitless implications of your findings. you can fantasize that each color tastes subtly different. you get chocolate, you get peanuts, you get a crispy candy shell. you get that courier-style m on every piece, to remind you of civilization. and more often than you'd think, you get those weird mutant m&m's where two or three have kind of fused together. the party will never stop.

so what's your candy? have you worked it out yet? more importantly, has this exercise helped you realize how lucky you are to live in a world where you have access to all manner of untold varieties of candy? you could go to the candy store tonight and fix yourself a bag of sour neon gummi worms, peach rings, and chocolate malt balls. you could score yourself some smarties, sweet tarts, airheads and warheads. or you could just treat yourself to your favorite chocolate bar.

and to think, as you read this, that tomorrow you won't have to deal with a reality where you're marooned in a place where no one will ever again see you or know you, where you will struggle to survive as long as you can before finally succumbing to an all-too-soon death, alone, forever.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

spec pilot for burger king kids club gang animated series.


KID VID, a blonde caucasian boy wearing a digital visor, stands at a podium and addresses the gathered burger king kids club gang.

welcome again, fellow members, to another meeting of the burger king kids club. do we have any new business?

i do, kid vid.

JAWS, a tall black boy wearing a shirt with a picture of the planet earth on it, stands up.

go ahead, jaws.

well, guys, i have a problem. there's a small bit of swampland near my house where i like to go birdwatching, and i just found out the owner, mr. fisher, is going to tear it down this friday so he can rent the land out to business owners.

maybe they'll put in a video arcade!

no, kid vid, you don't understand. if those birds are displaced from their natural home, they might not have anywhere else to go.

SNAPS, a blonde caucasian girl holding a camera, stands up.

that is a problem. but i think we can help! why don't we put together a multimedia presentation for mr. fisher to persuade him to preserve the swamp as is? kid vid, you can make a slideshow on your tablet. i'll go to the swamp and take pictures of all the birds.

good idea, snaps. lingo, why don't you design some eye-catching signs and banners so anyone who supports our cause can be there for the presentation?

we see LINGO, a hispanic boy holding an artist's pallet.

with pleasure!

WHEELS, a caucasian paraplegic boy in a souped-up wheelchair, revs a small motor.

i'll start a petition and collect signatures so mr. fisher can see how many people like that swamp.

BOOMER, a redheaded girl in a sports jersey, leans over from her chair.

good call, wheels! i'll recruit the baseball team to help so we can cover more ground.

I.Q., a redheaded boy wearing glasses and a lime green lab coat, stands.

good thinking, boomer. and if mr. fisher's concerns are financial, perhaps there's a way to make that swampland profitable. i'll do some calculations in my laboratory.


J. D., a dog wearing skateboard gear, makes a dog sound and gives a thumbs up.

good work, everybody. now let's save this swampland!


the gang enters.

helping our community is hard work, so let's get some good food.

spirited electric guitar music plays over a montage of the gang laughing and having a good time as they order some burger king kids meals and eat them. they each get a cool toy and have fun playing with their new toys together. j.d. skateboards through the restaurant.


a demolition crew has paused before the swampland as kid vid finishes showing his presentation on a projector screen before a large crowd of artistic sign-wielding supporters.

and so you see, mr. fisher, this swampland is more important to this community than you may have realized.

MR. FISHER, a man in a business suit and hard hat, looks around.

i never thought of it like that.

boomer stands before her fellow baseball teammates.

we collected over a hundred signatures for our petition to preserve this beautiful swampland.

don't forget these!

we see that wheels has an enormous stack of signatures.

wow! that's a lot of signatures!

i move pretty fast.

mr. fisher, we know this issue is not just black and white for you, and we thank you for humoring our environmental concerns, but i think you'll find there's a great value in these swamps for you. i've created a filtration system that can turn the swamp sludge from these lands into clean-burning fuel for your car.

i.q. hands mr. fisher a mechanical contraption.

i'll have my men take a look at it.

hey, i.q., that's a pretty serious invention. you should try to patent it and take it to the auto companies. this could end the world's energy crisis and save the human species from global warming.

yeah, maybe.

mr. fisher, are we going to tear down this swamp or what?

mr. fisher looks out at the crowd.

no. there'll be no demolition today. this swampland isn't going anywhere!

the crowd cheers. everyone starts eating whoppers and fries. jaws turns to the kids club gang.

thanks, guys. i couldn't have done this without you.

that's what the burger king kids club is all about! helping each other, making a difference, great food, cool fun, kids only!

j.d. puts up his paw and kid vid high-fives it.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

the letter i sent entertainment weekly (that was not published).

on page 8 of issue #1199, jess cagle issues a clear spoiler warning before discussing the walking dead. i really appreciated that. but then on page 80, you slapped the spoiler with its very own GRAPHIC right in the middle of your pop culture bullseye. do you guys put this thing together in your sleep?

not everyone has the time or resources to follow a television show as soon as it airs. your bullseye is arbitrary and lame. its greatest impact on my life is that it has just ruined a carefully-crafted milestone in a show i love. unless you guys offer some indication that you care about readers like me, i will never read your magazine again.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

cereal premiums.

it's not incredibly difficult to come up with a successful premium for a breakfast cereal. just think of a good prize to put in the box. usually a cheap plastic toy. when the dark knight was in theatres, they put little toy batmans and jokers in cereal boxes. a couple different versions of each. i must've bought five tons of reese's puffs in my quest to collect them all. and i'm an adult.

the worst kind of premium you can do for a cereal is one you have to send away for. i can't tell you how many times in my life i opened a box of cereal and inside, there was only cereal. if it's too impractical to literally include the premium in the box of your cereal, there's only one solution-- change your premium. i don't care if it's the worst piece of shit in the world; when i open a cereal box, i expect to get a prize.

small toys or devices made of plastic are ideal. a tiny action figure is maybe the best. the most disappointing in-box prize i would say is flat stuff, like any sort of trading card or paper cutout, because you can always just include those on the back of the box. when i was little, cracker jacks used to come with tiny replicas of vintage baseball cards. i thought those were terrible then, but they were gold compared to the paper pictures that come in cracker jacks today. you're supposed to like cut it out and do an activity with it. i don't know any kid in the world who would see that and not immediately recognize it as garbage.

but you can also give a prize that creatively ties into cereal time. the best spoon i ever had came in a box of cap'n crunch. it was a red plastic spoon with the head of a tyrannosaurus rex. like, the spoon itself was the lower jaw of the rex head and on top was the upper jaw, which you could open and close on a hinge with your thumb. you could eat anything with this spoon (not just cereal), and it made everything better, because before every bite, the process of shoveling food onto the spoon made it look like the dinosaur was eating your food (and then you could eat it). pudding was especially fun, because then it looked like the dinosaur had pudding all over his face.

for a while, teenage mutant ninja turtles cereal came with teenage mutant ninja turtles bowls. and not tiny bowls either. regular-sized bowls. how did they fit regular-sized bowls into the box? they didn't. they strapped those fuckers to the front of the box with shrinkwrap. and when i say they were teenage mutant ninja turtles bowls, i don't mean they were bowls with turtles painted on them. each bowl actually WAS a different ninja turtle, with a head and appendages coming out of the side.

you could collect all four turtle bowls, and you didn't have to buy a million boxes to do it, because you could see the bowls outside the box, so you knew what you were getting every time. i can imagine some people not seeing the point in collecting all four, since they were seemingly identical in all but eye mask color. but each teenage mutant ninja turtle bowl was as unique and beautiful as a cosmic miracle. eating from a leonardo bowl was absolutely nothing like eating from a michelangelo, donatello, or raphael bowl. and if you knew one fucking thing about life or art, you knew that.

once you've opened a box of cereal and claimed your prize, you still have to finish all the cereal in the box. many days follow when you're just eating that cereal without any additional prizes. at the end of your life, those are the days you won't remember. just try to eat a lot of cereal whenever you can, so you can finish it and finally get a new box of something. and pray. that what will have been your favorite prize is in a box somewhere that remains to be opened.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


magazines. they're like periodical publications of written and visual content about specific areas of interest.

i like magazines. they're typically inexpensive, and they [ideally] contain lots of fun stuff to intermittently quench my voracious thirst for knowledge and art. i rarely get the opportunity to receive something exciting in my mailbox, so when a magazine comes for me, that's about as good as it gets.

and you can read a magazine anywhere. in your bed. at a restaurant. on the bus. in a bathtub. at the dmv. take it anywhere you have to go. if you have some down time, you get to read your magazine.

magazines are also great treats when you need to buy something to make yourself feel good. like, you feel an emptiness inside that only retail therapy can [temporarily] subside-- just get yourself a nice magazine. in strange places like airports or hotels, you can usually find a good magazine. or when you go to a bookstore and you just want to buy yourself a present without breaking the bank. magazines are there, in great supply.

the proliferation of the internet has endangered magazines. people get all their fun junk from computers, so a lot of written publications lose customers and have to go away. but the internet will never do for me the things a magazine could do. i cannot enjoy the internet whenever i want. i have an iphone 3gs with a modest data plan that i am forced to ration like a hobbit with a tiny sack of magic elf bread.

and the internet is a surging river of data that never stops or even slows down. there's a lot of gold to be found, but also a lot of crap. is this website any good? does this person know what they're talking about? oh, here's a hundred links to other sites. this link no longer works. this page just got edited. oh, i just got sidetracked and spent ten hours reading something stupid. with a magazine, you have a first page, you have a last page, and you have the other pages inbetween. it's an issue. a tangible, unchanging, singular work that you can revisit forever. and maybe sometimes it comes with perfume samples or trading cards or something.

i've read a lot of magazines in my life. here are the ones i read with some regularity:

highlights - a children's magazine that's been around since 1946. i guess it had a lot of activities and stuff designed to help kids develop their minds in simple ways. this magazine had a great many regular installments, but my favorite by far was goofus & gallant. this was an illustrated thing that showed two boys reacting to similar situations differently. goofus would act like a total fuckup and gallant would always do the decent thing. like, goofus shoves a girl in the mud, and gallant helps a girl walk around the mud. or, goofus drops a bunch of shit on the floor and just leaves the room, and gallant cleans a spill with a paper towel. what's interesting about this strip is that it never condemns goofus or praises gallant. it presents two moral paths and leaves the young reader to follow the one that makes sense to him, whether he's a good egg or a sociopath.

zillions - there's this magazine called consumer reports that has been around since 1936. they test various products and services and write comparative reviews of them so people can be responsible with their money. zillions was the children's version of this magazine. i recall many articles testing out different toys and things marketed to kids, teaching kids to be savvy consumers. they also mocked popular commercials aimed at children, teaching them to see through the bullshit.

this was so great for a kid to read, because we always instinctively knew there was something bogus about every commercial. something sinister about the kids in the commercials playing with action figures on elaborate sets filled with breakaway blocks that just didn't exist. that's not what playtime was like. but to read an article where kids bitched about the flaws in all your dream toys-- now there was a vicarious thrill. and at a time in your life when it was impossible to know what to believe in, if someone could tell you that the edible creepy crawlers set would give you guaranteed diarrhea, or that the pog maker was a cheap piece of shit, you could really trust them when they said the latest mighty max playset was worth saving your allowance for the next hundred years.

but that's just a for example. i kinda liked the pog maker.

gamepro - there were a lot of gaming magazines in the 90's. it was the only way you could know which video games were worth playing, and once you played them, what the cheat codes were so you could beat them. nintendo power was pretty big then. i think gamepro was a little more fringe. like, if you wanted something edgier, you went for gamepro. my brother was into videogames (the magazine) and egm. i asked him if he liked gamepro too and he said no because he didn't care for their game coverage.

i didn't really read gamepro either. my fascination with it stemmed from their annual april fools' day issue that contained fake stuff in it. i guess i just wanted to see something that would fuck with my reality. the magazine itself could have been about anything.

teenage mutant ninja turtles magazine - this was a pretty short-lived magazine from 1990 that provided a lot of diverse enrichment, all through the context of the teenage mutant ninja turtles. like, you might find articles about karate, or skateboarding or something. and then it also had stuff that was just straight up about the ninja turtles. i think this was an interesting lens through which to view pop culture, and i wish more kids got to benefit from it before its demise.

my life has never been more intensely about one thing as it was about the ninja turtles in the early 90's (garfield the cat notwithstanding). when i was in 1st grade, i changed my name to donatello and started signing my name as such on my classwork papers. i was genuinely shocked when my teacher dismissed this idea, as if my own identity was better than that of a ninja turtle. she clearly hadn't thought this through.

disney adventures - this was a digest-sized thing for kids that also premiered in 1990. it was your basic youth rag. letters from kids, articles, entertainment news, interviews. there was a section featuring all the latest slang of the time. i wonder how many kids ever tried to incorporate it into their vocabulary, and were subsequently rewarded with class popularity, or possibly shunned for being lame. i think it took more than a few buzzwords to secure peer acceptance in elementary school.

disney adventures also had plenty of comics. this was my least favorite part. you don't want too many comics in a magazine. because if you want comics, you can just buy comics. i suppose a small amount of comics is okay in a disney magazine. when the lion king came out, they put a preview comic in there showing the story through mufasa's death. that was pretty fucking thoughtless.

simpsons illustrated - this 1991-to-1993 gem had some nice articles about the making of the show, as well as the burgeoning simpsons mania that swept the nation for a few pretty hardcore years. the best thing about simpsons illustrated was their tendency toward in-universe inserts and gags. like, an issue might include a full copy of the springfield shopper, so instead of just reading about the simpsons, now you were reading their newspaper. or there might be an article or diagram written from the perspective of a character, like bart's private notes on how to fuck around at school, or lisa's dream house or something. for about a half decade, the simpsons produced some of the most creative and impressive expanded universe literature of any televisual or theatrical property. garfield was also pretty innovative, but not to the same degree.

superman & batman magazine - i never visited a real comic book store until i was in college. the only comics i read as a kid were whatever they carried on that stupid rack at eckerd. so when this magazine premiered in july of 1992, i jumped at the chance to gain even a secondhand entrance to the world of superman and batman.

this magazine was a strange thing. it wasn't about any specific incarnation of either character. it was just a loosely-defined catch-all about everything and anything to do with them. the art was mainly in the aesthetic of bruce timm's batman: the animated series, and a lot of the batman content was about this show as well. but i also saw content about the knightfall story arc that was happening in dc comics, where bane had broken batman's back and a new batman had taken over and made a new armored suit (i remember piecing a lot of this together from a haunting advertisement for a book novelization of the story).

they also drew superman in the bruce timm style, even though he didn't have a bruce timm cartoon at the time. his hair was portrayed as long, to stay consistent with the comics, where he had just returned after the death of superman and reign of the supermen arcs. i caught peripheral glimpses of the four supermen who'd tried to take his place. the early 90's sure had a lot of stories about people filling in for slain superheroes.

anyway, this magazine only ran for like eight issues. i would've liked to see them mine for content a little longer than that.

nickelodeon magazine - this one started in the summer of 1993, and it was one of the most fulfilling publications i read as a kid. the irreverent humor injected into the elaborate art and weird articles brought a welcome taste of anarchy into my typical button-down elementary school life. these guys encouraged mischief and celebrated the strange and aberrant. a publication true to its namesake. i remember many inserts of prank graphics that readers were meant to pull out and use on their loved ones. tutorials showing how to draw ren & stimpy. an ongoing comic strip about sentient pieces of fried chicken called "southern fried fugitives." i also remember an issue where the cover was a picture of bill clinton as a boy, and inside was a bunch of articles about the future as envisioned from the 1950's. nothing against national geographic, but THAT was educational.

tv guide - this digest-sized weekly listing of tv shows started in 1953. it was useful for finding things you wanted to watch, but i primarily enjoyed the articles in the beginning of each issue. it was like a mini entertainment weekly, written by what seemed like a society of obsessive tv-watching trolls.

in 2005, tv guide ditched the digest format and became the size of every other magazine. it also expanded its front section of tv entertainment-related articles, because the tv listings themselves became useless to people who had (1) cable boxes with easily-navigable guides, or (2) an internet connection. and that's just about everybody, except maybe some old woman in maryland.

maxim - i started reading this in 2001 after receiving a subscription as a gift. it's a men's magazine with lots of articles about hot chicks, cars, fashion, alcohol, sex, and violence. its core audience is douchebags, assholes, and dickheads. perfect for any boy still braving the voyage into manhood.

my favorite thing about maxim was how it objectified women. they would print interviews with female celebrities that were like three questions long, staggered over a bunch of full-page spreads of them in sexually enticing photography. there was never any nudity in maxim, but the message was clear-- women are things, to be used for sex. it's nice for guys to be able to think like this, because then women suddenly don't seem so scary. the articles often provided handy guides explaining how to talk women into threesomes and stuff. this didn't teach me too much about women, but i think i learned a lot about men.

every year, maxim printed an insert ranking the 100 hottest women of the year. i enjoyed cross-referencing their list with that of fhm and stuff, which were two other men's magazines of the day. i would read those titles too, depending on who was on the cover. the june 2002 issue of fhm had a cover i will never forget. it was a medium shot of jennifer love hewitt. her arms were raised above her head, and her otherworldly breasts were just hanging there in the lower half of the picture. she had this look on her face like she'd just been tranquilized. it's one of the most erotic and unsettling things i've ever seen.

entertainment weekly - this magazine has been around since 1990. i imagine it was way more interesting for those first five or six years before everyone had internet. it's supposed to be pop culture coverage, but it seems more preoccupied with letting you know what an authority it is on everything. "here's who SHOULD win the oscar, and here's who WILL win the oscar!" i actually don't need a magazine to tell me either of those things.

every issue is like 60% arbitrary judgment or praise, 15% lists and stats without any insightful purpose, and the rest is just pictures and other filler. but the amount of filler increases whenever they have special issues, like "the photo issue" or "the summer preview issue." this is the only magazine i currently have a subscription to. mainly because i enjoy the mild thrill of getting something stupid in the mail every once in a while. i read it with the same morbid curiosity i would devote to a bathroom graffito or back of a children's cereal box.

what i do like about entertainment weekly is that every issue is a snapshot of that moment in pop culture history. sometimes, i'll buy a random back issue off ebay and explore it like a time capsule. that is actually pretty fun.

various writing magazines - in the early aughts, i was very excited to learn more about the craft of screenwriting and explore what was happening in that world. i read magazines like creative screenwriting, scr(i)pt, and writer's digest. i stopped reading them for three reasons. one, they were too expensive. two, the articles in the screenwriter magazines were usually about movies i hadn't seen yet. and three, every issue of these magazines is basically the same thing. i get the feeling most of their readers are short term. but i think this is probably the case with most magazines that are about a specific activity.

wizard - so when i finally started reading comic books for real in college, this magazine was really cool. i learned a lot from it about all the characters, writers, and artists i would come to love or not love in the following years.

in recent years, i came to dislike aspects of the magazine. like, they messed around with the format and it became aesthetically unrewarding to my eye. i also didn't like it when they devoted space to things that were part of "nerd culture," but only tenuously related to comic books. just because i read real comic books with superheroes in them doesn't mean i'm also going to like the tv show "heroes." in fact, it probably means i'm not gonna like it.

wizard ceased publication in 2011. as far as i know, there are no other magazines about comic books. there are websites, but it's not the same. there was a real artistry to wizard, once. in the way certain comic book stores can inspire a tangible (sometimes disturbing) sense of community, reading wizard was like carrying around a comic book store with you wherever you went. now, if you want to get that feeling, you have to go to an actual store. while they still exist.

psychology today - this is the only magazine i read today with any genuine interest. a few years ago, i watched a conan interview with christina ricci where she said her favorite magazine was psychology today. that made me pick up an issue and i loved it. this magazine addresses all the weird things about humanity and then explains why they are. its goal seems to be to help people improve their lives through a better understanding of our minds and bodies. i get a lot out of it. almost as much as i got out of the teenage mutant ninja turtles magazine.

Monday, February 27, 2012

hard rain.

for the past bunch of weeks, it has weirdly been raining in los angeles, but only on mondays. and the rain seems to peak during my commute to and/or from work. this is annoying because my commute involves two bus rides and over a mile of walking (each way).

what could be causing such a rigidly-scheduled recurring weather pattern? does it have something to do with chick-fil-a closing on sundays? are chick-fil-a withdrawal spasms reminiscent of any native american rain dances? or could it simply be the curse?

when i was in college, it used to frequently rain whenever i had to walk to class or something. this was in florida, where it rains all the time anyway (because it's a swamp), so the argument could be made that it was all coincidence. but now i'm in california, where it's not supposed to rain (because it's a desert). i think the most likely thing is that i am the victim of a very real black magic.

my favorite rainfall in california happened something like a year ago. for some reason, it just started pouring rain every day. like, the average annual rainfall of california happened in a matter of days, over a series of dramatic torrential thunderstorms. during one of these storms, i was home alone, and i decided to watch hard rain on video.

hard rain is an action movie from 1998 that takes place all in one night during a heavy storm/flood in a small town. watching this movie while it was raining so heavily outside was magical. i couldn't tell if half the scary rain sounds were coming from the movie or outside. at one point, the real thunder was so loud that i had to pause the movie to make sure i was okay. it was fucking epic! the next time you're experiencing bizarre weather or some other intrusive environmental situation, i recommend pairing it with a complementary movie for an immersive experience that will stay with you forever.

maybe not the shining.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

my correspondence with spotify.

on tuesday, february 7, 2012, i submitted a message to the spotify website. what follows is that message and the ensuing email correspondence.


i signed up for the free trial of spotify premium and i meant to cancel it before being charged $9.99, but i was confused about the renewal date and the charge went through before i canceled it. i have no interest in paying ten dollars for this service as it is beyond my budgetary means. may i please be refunded this money in exchange for immediate suspension of my premium account? thank you.


Re: Contact Spotify Support
February 9, 2012 4:50 AM

Hello Diego,

Thanks for getting in touch.

I have checked your account and there is no record of you successfully cancelling your trial before you were charged on 03/02/2012.

When you started the trial you needed to cancel before the 30 days were up in order to not be charged. Since you didn't cancel within this time your account began a paid subscription.

Therefore, i'm afraid, we will not be able to issue a refund on this occasion as you have already logged in to your account in a Spotify application since the payment was billed.

However, I have checked your account and see that you have now cancelled your subscription renewal. Therefore, you will have Spotify Premium until the end of the payment month (03/03/2012) Then your account will revert to Spotify Free.

If you have any further queries, please don't hesitate to get back in touch.
Kind Regards,


Customer Service Cambridge

Re: Contact Spotify Support
February 9, 2012 10:24 AM

i am aware that i needed to cancel my subscription before the 30 day trial was over, and that that is why i was charged. what i am telling you is that i was confused about when to cancel the service. if i had known i could cancel at any time and still retain spotify premium for the extent of the 30 day trial, i would have done so the second i signed up. you guys are COUNTING ON people forgetting so you can get that first charge out of the users who do not wish to continue using spotify premium. if that weren't the case, the first charge would not be automatic.

you say you cannot issue me a refund because i logged in after the payment was billed. well, of course i did since i was NOT AWARE at the time that the payment was going through. i did not receive any sort of reminder from the spotify service, which is of course all part of your design. everything about this free trial is crafted to massage people into paying for something they otherwise might not have.

i tried spotify premium because i wanted to sample the service and see if it would be worth paying for. i was dissatisfied with its performance and did not intend to renew past that first 30 days. since i obviously canceled too late, what i would like is at least a partial refund of my money. this is what other companies have done when similar misunderstandings occurred. if you cannot grant me this, i will have to reconsider my opinion of your company.


Re: Contact Spotify Support
February 13, 2012 1:58 AM

Hello Diego,

I'm sorry you feel that way, it is not our intention to make people feel tricked into paying for something they don't want.
When starting the trial you have to enter payment details to be eligible, as a subscription to Premium is started along side the free trial. This is so that once the trial is over users that would like to continue with a Premium subscription don't need to change anything.

When starting the trial, we try to make it as clear as possible that if you would not like to start a paid Premium subscription after the 30 days you need to cancel your subscription. The charge for the Premium subscription is taken exactly 30 days after the trial is started, however it can be cancelled at any point during the 30 days.

If you have purchased access to the Spotify paid for service, you have the right to cancel the purchase and receive a refund within 14 days of purchase. Please note that if you log into the Spotify service within the 14 day period you will no longer have a right to cancel or withdraw from the purchase.

Best Regards,
Shining Knight
Spotify Customer Services

Re: Contact Spotify Support
February 14, 2012 7:25 PM

hello huntress or shining knight or potential third representative of spotify,

it may not be your intention to make people feel tricked, but it still happened.

i did not mean to allow my 30-day trial to lapse into a paid subscription. you have already told me that once i log in after being charged, i lose the right to receive a refund. but like i said in my previous email, i was not conscious of the fact that that the charge was going through, so it never occurred to me to NOT log in to spotify. and if a reminder email had come my way saying "your free trial is about to end and your paid subscription to spotify premium is about to begin. would you like to proceed?" i would have said "no. thank you for the helpful reminder." you clearly don't send that reminder for a reason.

i paid for a service that i did not want. when i became aware of it, i notified you immediately and asked to be switched back to spotify free. i am not trying to get away with anything. if i could log in to spotify free right now, i would. i just want my money back because i never meant to pay it in the first place. i quite enjoy spotify free, but i cannot afford to throw money away on something as useless to me as spotify premium. i made the decision to SAMPLE spotify premium, and i didn't think it was worth ten dollars. i never made the decision to pay for it. it just happened out of my own ignorance of how the site worked, despite how clear you made the instructions. i got confused. i'm human. but i really need that ten dollars back. do you understand?

because let's be honest-- you guys could issue me a refund at any time. it is your policy to administer as you see fit. you just don't want to. i wish you would say that. i wish you would say:

"hello diego,

we are aware that you did not mean to pay us ten dollars for this service. we have the ability to issue you a full or even a partial refund. but we've decided that the best policy for us right now is to keep all revenue, including that which is given to us inadvertently."

you guys can apologize all you want for making me feel used. you can also refuse to make it right with a gesture such as a refund. if that is how you want to make your bottom line. i would just like to know if that is the case. because i really need that ten dollars back. please give it to me. please.


Re: Contact Spotify Support
February 16, 2012 2:57 AM

Hello Diego,

I would Love to say:

"we are aware that you did not mean to pay us ten dollars for this service. we have the ability to issue you a full or even a partial refund. but we've decided that the best policy for us right now is to keep all revenue, including that which is given to us inadvertently."

But I am vey sorry. I can not. These are your words. Mine are:

I am sorry that my colleagues have applied our protocols without fully reading between the lines and understanding your intensions. We all forget or make little boo boos. So it seems unfair not to agree a refund. I have therefore carried it out. The funds will be winging their way back to you as you are reading this. The funds should reach you with in the next 3 to 5 working days.

I have also added your request for a reminder email to our feedback data. We what our service to be the best. Not just the best that there is available but the best that it can possibly be. I am sorry we fell short of this.

I hope that you continue to enjoy Spotify using the free service. Please let us know if we can be of assistance in the future.

All the very best for the time being.

Kind Regards and a friendly smile,

Elongated Man
Spotify Team
Customer Support

Re: Contact Spotify Support
February 17, 2012 6:51 PM

elongated man,

thank you so much. i really appreciate it. i love spotify and look forward to the day when my income allows me to pay for all the services you have to offer. until then, i will be singing your praises to all who will listen. thank you again and have a great weekend.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

super bowl xlvi commercials.

here's some thoughts on the commercials that ran during super bowl xlvi.

- there were a couple commercials announcing the new bud light platinum. i didn't like these, mainly because i didn't understand what bud light platinum was. like, what is it? does it taste better than bud light? is it better ingredients? sometimes companies are so in love with themselves, they forget what advertising is supposed to be.

- there was a car commercial where a bunch of draculas are meeting out in the dark woods for a party and one of the draculas is driving there in his new car. when he gets there, he incinerates all the other draculas, because apparently the headlights of this car are so good, they're like sunlight, and sunlight kills draculas. this was a dumb gag and i doubt it would accomplish anything toward convincing someone to buy a car.

- there was a commercial where elton john is a medieval king whose subjects are performing for him, and he decides if their performance is good enough for them to get a pepsi. lame concept, lame execution, lame flavor flav cameo at the end. it was as if pepsi was going out of their way to brand themselves as irrelevant. which, if deliberate, would have been funny.

- there was an m&m commercial introducing the new m&m character, a brown female m&m (was that vanessa williams doing the voice?). the gag was that the other m&m's thought she was naked because her brown candy shell looked like the chocolate underneath, and apparently m&m's can remove their candy shell like it's clothing. it's sad how many commercials sound like everyone just went with the first idea that popped into their head.

- there was a series of coca-cola commercials revolving around a bunch of polar bears, i guess watching the super bowl? didn't really "get" these. none of the charm of the original understated polar bear ads.

- there was a chevy commercial where a guy was driving through a landscape showing the aftermath of several simultaneous doomsday scenarios. he meets up with his buddies, but one of them is missing, because he bought a ford truck instead of a chevy and it couldn't stand up to the apocalypse. this one was great. best commercial of the night.

- there was a godaddy commercial involving body paint and a couple of hot girls, one of whom was fitness guru jillian michaels. didn't get it. why was jillian michaels there? godaddy commercials are dumb.

- there was a trailer for battleship, which involved a lot of fighting alien robots or something. why is the battleship movie about transformers? not every hasbro movie has to be literally the same thing.

- there was a budweiser commercial showing people celebrating the end of prohibition with a bunch of budweiser. not really sure what the point of this one was. to make me think about prohibition and what it did to america? it's so depressing.

- there was a commercial where a dog kept committing sinister acts, and every time his owner was asked about the bad thing the dog had done, the dog would bribe him with a bag of doritos to keep quiet. not a groundbreaking premise, but it was okay. why doesn't the man simply buy doritos, as they are inexpensive and abundant?

- there was one where this couple got their kid a minifridge or something as a high school graduation present, but they were standing in front of a new chevy car and the kid thought that was his present and was celebrating really hard over it. this one was good, but i was a little confused, because i didn't catch immediately what the real present was. like, i THINK it was a minifridge.

- there was something for g.e., which was like some guys talking over beers. unmemorable, especially on a televised event historically known for having lots of beer commercials.

- there was a short version of the trailer for disney's john carter. i really don't see the point in spending all this money and not even showing the full trailer.

- there was a trailer for dr. seuss's the lorax. dreamworks is really advertising the shit out of this thing. makes me not wanna see it.

- there was a commercial for vw about a dog who's too fat to go through his doggie door, so he embarks on a workout montage and then in the end, he's in good shape and he can jump through his doggie door. this was a nice commercial, but really had nothing to do with the car vw is trying to sell. if you make a car commercial, and it's not about the car, it will probably never cross my mind, as a viewer, to consider purchasing the car. then at the end, there was like an epilogue to the commercial, of ancillary star wars characters in the mos eisley cantina, watching and reacting to the commercial, and darth vader shows up and force chokes one of them. like darth vader would ever be hanging out in a shithole like the mos eisley cantina, like he's some ordinary asshole and not the malevolent ruler of the galactic empire. this is all because last year vw had a stupid commercial involving a little kid dressed like darth vader. who gives a shit.

- there was something where david beckham is doing some sexy modeling for h&m. don't know what that is.

- there was a thing where people are doing crazy stunts in a chevy sonic, like corkscrew flips and bungee jumps. that was kinda cool. but like, whatever.

- trailer for phantom menace 3d. it's always a pain in the ass to see 3d movie trailers in 2d, because it's just a series of shots specifically edited to show you how cool it looks in a 3d venue, which this is not. you have to watch it and PRETEND that it's in 3d.

- new trailer for the avengers. not the full trailer, but a chunk of it. stop making me go online to see the full version of your advertisements. it's either worth showing when the whole world is watching tv at the same time or it isn't.

- there was one for skechers shoes about a weird dog who wins a dog race because he's wearing little doggie versions of the shoes. and he moonwalks through the finish line to a tone lōc song. cute. not gonna buy the shoes.

- there was a doritos commercial where an old woman launches a baby in a sort of makeshift bungee catapult to snatch a bag of doritos away from some little shit who's taunting them about having the doritos. i didn't like this.

- the e-trade baby was talking to a guy about e-trade at the newborn viewing window of a hospital. at the end of the commercial, he sees another talking baby inside the newborn room, asks that baby what he's doing, and that baby says, "speed dating." that was fucking gross.

- trailer for g.i. joe 2. something this movie has going both for and against it is that g.i. joe 1 may have been the worst movie of 2009.

- they kept showing a thing saying how you could win a million dollars through this nfl fantasy game. nobody in their right mind seriously cares.

- there was a bmw commercial where a guy pulls into his driveway just as his car is reading him a text from his wife saying that her mother came for a visit. the man promptly pulls out of his driveway and drives off. where the fuck is he going? nice joke from the 50's!

- there was a thing about how beverage companies are all collaborating to provide lower calorie options for vending machines in schools and stuff. i liked this because i'm totally in favor of curbing this obesity epidemic that's destroying the country or whatever.

- there was a commercial touting the importance of fresh biscuits over frozen ones. i thought that was a good message. but then it turned out to be an ad for disgusting carl's jr.

- there was a commercial where madonna is in an elevator with jay leno, and we hear "like a virgin" start to play, so jay leno answers his phone. get it, because that's his ringtone. jay leno sucks the life out of everything, just through his very presence. he is the antithesis of everything comedy is supposed to be.

- then there was the madonna halftime show. i wish they didn't fill the performance with all these flavor-of-the-moment walk-ons. seeing a living legend perform her own music should be thrilling enough.

- there was a commercial where all the judges from the voice are battling each other kill bill style in a hotel as they race to discover who is belting out a song in the shower of one of the hotel rooms. when they all arrive, they discover that the talented singer is actually betty white. she says, "it's about time someone recognized me for my voice, instead of my body." wow, how did they ever get the idea to have betty white do something you wouldn't expect from an old granny? surely not from the past several decades of betty white doing ONLY that? at this point, i think the only way betty white could ever subvert expectations would be to act like a fucking normal old woman.

- there was something of clint eastwood talking about detroit or something. i think he said it was halftime in america or something? i wasn't really paying attention because i was recounting that stupid betty white thing to my friends who were out of the room.

- a time warner cable commercial that began with ricky gervais denying a friend request on his phone. then a bunch of other shit happened, but it was all way downhill from ricky gervais.

- there was a commercial where a coke zero deliveryman is trying to discretely buy a pepsi max at the supermarket and he ends up winning a big pepsi max-themed sweepstakes. it started with the song "your cheatin' heart," an homage to the original pepsi commercial this is based on, from super bowl xxx in 1996, which was of course far superior.

- a greek yogurt commercial with john stamos. he sure loves being greek.

- a funny car commercial where jerry seinfeld was figuring out ways to bribe this guy into giving up his spot as the first person to buy some new car. but then jay leno fucked up the whole thing by showing up and being a lame unfunny piece of shit. i think jerry is team leno. what a shame.

- then there was a sequel to that budweiser prohibition commercial that showed a nostalgia-fueled montage of all the decades since, with people i guess enjoying themselves thanks to budweiser. this just seems crass. you're not a fucking soft drink.

- a thing showing the evolution of football over the years. i've never liked football, and you're not gonna get me to start liking it with a stupid commercial.

- something for jack-in-the-box about a guy getting married to bacon. liked it better 100 years ago when pee-wee herman married a salad on pee-wee's playhouse.

- a car commercial where matthew broderick spoofs ferris bueller's day off. real gimmicky, doesn't tell me anything about the car. all i know is that in his entire career, broderick has never played a character quite like ferris-- and he's still got it.

- trailer for act of valor, a new movie starring active duty navy seals. glad they're not wasting their time over there.

- a metlife commercial with snoopy and a shitload of other cartoons. let's chat for a sec about target audience.

- a hyundai commercial where the front passenger apparently has a heart attack and the driver saves his life by accelerating and braking the car, causing the seatbelt to administer chest compressions on the dying man. really inappropriate. some of these ad agencies ought be ashamed of themselves.

- something where people at a party say "here we go" and a trained doggie fetches them beers. YOUR COMMERCIAL IS STUPID.

- the sandman goes into a bedroom and sprinkles magic sand on a couple, but he accidentally gives the man too much sand, so his dream gets really over the top, and at one point even breaks into the wife's dream. is that what would happen? i was thinking a magic sand overdose would simply put the man into a terminal coma. i think this was for a car. what is it about writing commercials that turns people into morons?

- careerbuilder commercial with an office full of chimps. because chimps... sorry, i lost interest.

- a commercial for samsung androids that made fun of people who wait in line for an iphone. doesn't make me want to get a samsung android. i have an iphone and i didn't wait in line to get it. i like this iphone. this commercial was boring and lame.

- a chevy commercial where bugs were climbing onto the grill of the car so they could enjoy the ride. whatever.

and that's about it. the super bowl itself was kinda dumb. toward the end of the game, the giants were trying to stagger their yardage so the patriots wouldn't have enough time to catch up once they got the ball. this resulted in the patriots clearing a free path to the end zone, and when the giants player was getting close, he tried to stop himself from actually touching the end zone, and ended up falling backward and accidentally scoring a touchdown with his butt. then the patriots' victory/defeat came down to a single hail mary pass into the other end zone that a hundred players from both teams all jumped up to catch. they missed it and the giants won. good. i really don't care about these or any other teams. except maybe the dolphins, because i grew up in miami. i heard that if peyton manning joins the dolphins, they could go to the super bowl next year. that would make me happy. otherwise, i don't care for football in the slightest.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

tumblr sucks.

here's the second-to-last post from the perfect brainstorm, the week-and-a-half-old tumblr blog i'm relocating here (the final post was a link to this blog).

originally posted on monday, january 30, 2012, this is a list of the problems with tumblr that made it impossible for me to enjoy blogging on there. i'm happy to say that every single issue i describe was neutralized simply by moving to blogger/blogspot. the only problem with blogger/blogspot that i can see is that i don't know what to call it. enjoy:

i've decided to move this blog off tumblr. i gave it a good go, but ultimately, tumblr just sucks too hard for me to continue blogging on it. here are the problems with tumblr:

- when you register your first blog, that becomes your "primary blog." any blogs you register after that are not granted as many functions as your primary blog. and there is no way to change which blog is your primary one.

- with no list of posts on the side, it's difficult to find old posts. i imagine in the future, if i wanted to find a specific entry, instead of being able to browse the post titles, i would be forced to manually scroll backward through every single thing i've posted. sounds annoying!

- yesterday i noticed a typo in my second to last entry, so i edited the post, and when i did, the entry was bumped up to the top of the page, like it was a new entry written on that day. i don't like that at all.

- the mobile app for tumblr is just awful. whenever i change the text in the body of a message, the entire screen scrolls wildly back and forth from top to bottom. seems like a bug worth looking into for a blogging app. and since my primary purpose for this blog was to write on the go, the mobile app should be a thing that works so i can use it and have it do the things i want.

maybe tumblr is great for users with different blogging needs, but it is simply incompatible with my personal sensibilities. i will post later with the address of my new blog. sorry tumblr. i hate you.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

the woman reading the book.

here's a good story from the perfect brainstorm, the week-and-a-half-old tumblr blog i'm relocating here.

originally posted on thursday, january 26, 2012, it's a true eyewitness account of something that happened in my presence, and i'm very thankful i noticed it because it means i can now share the story with you. enjoy:

i work at an after school elementary enrichment program. every once in a while, the company has these mandatory meetings where we go over company policies, classroom management; things to help us do our job.

sometime last year, i was at one of these meetings and i was sitting next to a woman in one of the back rows. i'd say she was in her 40's or 50's. while the head of the entire company was addressing the room, this woman was reading a book. someone from the company came over to her and asked her to put the book away and pay attention. she closed the book, waited a little while, then opened the book and started reading again. again, the person had to come over to her and tell her to stop. she insisted that she could hear what was being said, and the person responded. i think they might've told her she was being rude, or possibly pointed out that there's no fucking way she could be paying attention while reading a book.

after this second instance, the woman put the book down, but out of the corner of my eye, i could tell she was fidgeting, clearly pissed off that the people in charge of this meeting weren't letting her read her book. she wanted to read that book right now! after a few moments, she angrily started reading the book again. i was shocked. i surreptitiously peeked at the cover, because i had to know what was so important to this woman that she couldn't be bothered to put it aside during a mandatory work assembly.

the title was something to the effect of "what will happen in 2012?" i later heard this woman was fired.

Friday, February 3, 2012

snes memories.

here's another cool post from the perfect brainstorm, the week-and-a-half-old tumblr blog i'm relocating here.

originally posted on like january 24 or 25, 2012, it's a list of childhood memories of games i rented for the super nintendo entertainment system.

a writing teacher once told me i wouldn't get very far if i just wrote for myself, and not others. i disagreed with her then, and clearly, i disagree with her now. enjoy:

most people my age grew up with the original nintendo entertainment system, but not me. my first ever gaming console was the super nes. i don't remember when i got it, but it must've been around late 1991, which means i was like 9 and my brother was like 6.

i don't know what knowledge my parents must've had about video games of the day. i have no idea if they thought to get it on their own, or if i was asking for it, or if the guy at the toy store told them it was cool. my official guess is that my dad somehow knew snes was the best one, thus saving me from a childhood wasted on sega genesis.

our parents took us to toys r us to get it. it came with super mario world, and my brother was tasked with choosing a second game. this may shock you, but there was no internet back then, so there was no way to know which games were good or bad. unless you had a video game magazine with the latest game reviews, you were forced to make blind rentals-- or worse, blind buys. and the odds were not in your favor, because most games sucked. jandro ended up picking final fight, based, i'm assuming, on nothing more than the box and the title. this was perhaps the earliest sign that jandro was gifted with a sixth sense about gaming, because that turned out to be a great game.

super nes ensured that the next four years of my life would be a nonstop orgy of adventure. my brother and i had a solid library of games, and we rented games often from the video store.

some memories from my childhood renting games:

- i remember renting mortal kombat for the first time at video pursuit and jandro studying the manual in the car on the way home, so he could familiarize himself with the characters' bios. he probably doesn't remember that, but even today, jandro often delights in sporadically citing in-game historical facts, such as that sub-zero is not a ninja, but a lin kuei.

- one time we rented a tiny toon adventures game and the manual had been defaced with sexually explicit graffiti. like, someone had drawn genitals on buster bunny and written "male prostitute" above it. my mom complained to the blockbuster. i don't remember what they said or did in response. what's kinda fucked up is that i wasn't disturbed at all by the inappropriate imagery; i was mainly offended that someone had disrespected tiny toons, which i considered (both then and now) to be a really funny show.

- the games we rented multiple times without ever purchasing were f-zero and disney's aladdin. i vividly remember one night in particular when we had the aladdin game on the last night of our rental, but i couldn't play it because i had to do my english homework. making the situation ten million times worse was the fact that my brother was able to play it while i was doing my homework in the same room. it was like mildly traumatizing.

- one time, i went to a friend's birthday party. while all the popular kids were socializing and networking, i spent the whole time in the living room playing super smash tv. it was like a running man-esque game show premise where you have to travel through different rooms killing a bunch of guys or something. super hard game, but ultimately more rewarding than hanging out with popular kids in elementary school.

- a game i was always intrigued by was robocop versus the terminator. not for any reason other than the badass molded black plastic box on the shelf at blockbuster. it was perhaps too intimidating, because i never played it. but if that box was any indication, robocop versus the terminator may be the greatest video game of all time.

- i loved paperboy 2, but i never figured out how to play it. like, i never knew which houses i was supposed to deliver to or whatever. it was so hard. recently, someone told me that the color of the house indicated whether the resident was a subscriber or not. i need to play this game again immediately.

- there was an interesting clay aesthetic featured in some snes games. like, there was a game called claymates, where you were like a clay blob, and you could find these little balls of clay, and depending on their color, they would turn you into different clay animals with different abilities that would help you beat the level. i loved that. i think these guys went on to make the clay fighter series, which i guess was a spoof of the whole genre of insane early 90's fighting games, but i think most kids accepted it as a valid entry.

- some other games we inexplicably never bought: zombies ate my neighbors (i have no idea how good this game is, but i seem to recall having a positive experience with it), and krusty's super fun house. you could always count on simpsons-based games to be kinda not great, but weird enough to be worth every penny. perhaps the weirdest premise in a library that also included bart simpson traveling through nightmares and virtual reality worlds, krusty's super fun house starred krusty the clown (see, already it's weird) and the premise was that you had to get rid of an infestation of lemmingesque rodents. i remember this being nothing but fun.

- i never played spindizzy worlds, but i owned a bunch of archie comics that featured all the archie characters playing spindizzy worlds. like, it was just pages of archie and the gang sitting in a living room playing this game. i'm glad i never played it, because no way could the real thing ever compare to this lunacy (edit: it's possible i did play this game, but it was so bad, i completely blocked it out of my memory. maybe i should stop thinking about it).

- my first real taste of any mario game predating super mario world was our rental of super mario all-stars, which was a bundle of all the previous mario games from the nes. i remember looking through the manual with my brother at pizza hut. this might be one of the best memories in my head.

- a couple years ago, my brother put a thing on my computer called an emulator. it's basically like a program that simulates the super nes on your computer. it also has a library of like every super nes game ever made. if 9-year-old me knew i had this, he would be so happy. and if he knew how little i play with it, he would be just horrified.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

video store memories.

here's the first real meaty post from the perfect brainstorm, the week-and-a-half-old tumblr blog i'm relocating here.

originally posted on monday, january 23, 2012, this post is about my love of video stores. on sunday, january 29, 2012, less than a week after sharing this passionate ode, my local blockbuster video in glendale, ca closed its doors for rentals and embarked on a 48-day inventory liquidation. enjoy:

my generation is unique (and probably among other reasons) for being the last to see the dawning of the age of the video store, reap the fruits of its prosperity, and witness its crumbling demise. i wonder if future generations will have any appreciation for the tactile beauty of the brick-and-mortar video store, or if it will just seem an insane relic thankfully discontinued, like celebrity corpse viewings and lan parties. i have a deep love of video stores, as their golden age was exactly during my childhood. here's a handful of memories:

- my brother and i always went to two video stores. one was blockbuster video (then a behemoth) and the other was an independent store called video pursuit. we seemed to frequent both indiscriminately. i don't know what my mom's reasons were for ever going to one versus the other. today, video pursuit is long gone. i wonder how long it hung in there before it was driven into oblivion.

- blockbuster video had a phenomenal dedicated kids section. i rented the live action "my pet monster" approximately five hundred thousand times.

- i remember standing at blockbuster video and seeing the big cardboard ad for child's play 2 that had chucky about to cut off a jack-in-the-box's head with the tagline "sorry jack, chucky's back!" it freaked me out, but in kind of a good way. i guess this was the first sign of my future fascination with horror.

- i remember standing at video pursuit wondering why a kid my age was allowed to BE in the movie child's play, but i wasn't allowed to see it. movie ratings never ever made sense to me.

- video pursuit had an adult section blocked off with a black curtain. i'd love to know what kinda fucked up shit people were getting from there while i was in the kids section selecting my disney shorts.

- i remember one time they were playing tiny toon adventures on the tv at blockbuster video and an adult next to me laughed at one of the jokes. it blew my mind that something i liked was also funny to an adult. i know now that that is the true benchmark of quality children's entertainment.

- they used to show full movies on the tv screens at blockbuster video. i remember they were showing teenage mutant ninja turtles (1990) the day we rented it. do they do this anymore? i think they still do, but it's always some fucking computer animated dreamworks movie. and it's just one eye-level screen, instead of the old multiple ceiling-level screens. this is somehow not as good.

- teenage mutant ninja turtles was my life. i watched the cartoon every day and the live action movie became my instant favorite. when we rented it, my parents somehow recorded a copy of it on vhs. the video quality was terrible, but i don't recall that ever bothering me.

- as a child in florida, i would frequently hear about a guy named wayne huizenga, who was the owner of blockbuster video, the miami dolphins, the florida marlins, and the florida panthers. at one point, he opened like an arcade/amusement park known as blockbuster golf & games. i think i went there once. it was okay. for a series of video arcade memories, find a tumblr by someone slightly older than me.

- one time, some rented videotapes were stolen out of my mom's car in the parking lot at k-mart. she ended up having to pay like three figures in fines. videotapes used to cost a lot. today, they are worse than garbage.

- the transition from vhs to dvd was a weird time for video stores. i remember one time, we rented batman (1989) on vhs and superman (1978) on dvd. they felt as if from different worlds.

- it used to be, blockbuster movie rentals cost like 3 or 4 bucks and you could keep them for like 2 or 3 days or something. then i think at one point, possibly to compete with netflix, blockbuster let you keep the movies as long as you wanted, with no late fees. today, you can rent movies for 99¢ and keep them for like a week or something. i'm not really positive about any of these figures, so don't use this tumblr entry as a reference in your essay bibliographies.

- one summer, i was home from college by myself and starved for entertainment. my mom had a thing at our local blockbuster video where you pay $20 a month and you get to have two movies out at any given time. the blockbuster was walking distance, so i took full advantage. i watched so many movies. i remember being really bored by acclaimed documentary "the fog of war." i watched and hated "looney tunes: back in action," whose director, joe dante, had spoken with such disdain about the previous looney tunes movie, "space jam," which i find absolutely delightful. i watched "the butterfly effect" director's cut, theatrical cut, and again with commentary, all in one day (if you haven't seen it, watch the director's cut). but perhaps the best day was when i watched all four alien movies in a row, all for the first time. that was great. this blockbuster video has since been demolished and is now the site of a bank.

i haven't written anything about renting video games. but i'm gonna save that for my next tumbl.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

it would be the perfect brainstorm.

a couple weeks ago, i started a tumblr specifically for blogging on my iphone. it was called the perfect brainstorm. i thought the vast limitations of tumblr could potentially be a part of the blog's brutish charm, but almost instantly, as cuteness inevitably does, it became mega annoying. so i decided to move the blog here, brick for brick. but i had to rename it, because "the perfect brainstorm" was already taken, by some fucking moron who only wrote a single post in 2004. check it out.

i asked my brother to help me think of a cool new title for my blog. he gave me some ideas, but none of them were exactly right. i even considered variations on the original, like the perfect brainstorm 2. finally, the following morning, as he was leaving for work, i said, "for the road, one more blog title suggestion." he looked at me for a second and said, "the penny jar." then he left. i was like, that sucks. everyone hates pennies. but then i thought about it. a penny is money. money is valuable. by itself, a penny is the worst thing in the world. all my friends throw them away. but if you save a penny every time you get it, pretty soon you have a bunch. and a bunch of these worthless things, just all in a jar-- well, that's worth something. i hope the same can be said of my blog, which i intend to fill with seemingly worthless pennies.

it's not as interesting or cool as some of my friends' blog titles, like cyberblog 2000, i miss you all the time, or garbage truck to hell. but sometimes, you just gotta pick a blog title already.

the first order of business is to repost everything from the perfect brainstorm. here is the first of what would end up being very few posts:

i work about 17 miles from my apartment. that's not very far in a normal town, but i have to travel through the heart of los angeles during heavy traffic hours (something los angeles has a lot of). this means i spend about four hours a day commuting by bus. i used to spend this time listening to many many podcasts while playing games on my brother's nintendo ds. but over the winter holiday, i got an iphone 3gs. which means i am now always on the grid. so i decided to spend my commute doing something more useful. i'm going to write things for this tumblr. this tumblr is unique in that everything ever posted on it will have been written on my phone while i'm on the go. i want to do cool things with this phone. and i'm not gonna pay 99¢ for angry birds.