Archive for January, 2008

My thouMy thoughts on The Moment of Truth

Posted on January 23, 2008. Filed under: Me and only ME ranting, Reviews |

My thoughts on The Moment of Truth

There are questions that everyone wants to know.  But we keep some of our secrets to ourselves.  As honest as we would like to consider ourselves, as much as we’d like to think that our lives are an open book for anyone to read, there are things that we keep inside.  Those are our deepest, darkest secrets.  We keep them to ourselves to protect others and to protect who we are. 

There is a difference between living a lie and keeping a secret.  Living a lie is going throughout your day-to-day existence pretending you are something you are not.  Keeping a secret is not as destructive as perpetuating a lie and it’s not the same thing.  We all know someone who has confided in us and given laid out their heart to us, asking us never to tell a soul.  To tell someone else would be damaging to the relationship as well as to the individuals involved. 

And so enters The Moment of Truth (hosted by Mark L. Walburg).  Most people know I have a disdain for reality TV.  Some of it stems from the lack of reality it shows (people act differently when they’re on camera), some of it comes from the people that watch the tripe that comes on the screen, but most of it comes from the networks that push this reality-porn on a (now) writer-less, TV starved nation.  But this is actually really pushing the limits of any kind of decency for me.  A show where you win $500,000 if you don’t lie to very personal, often closed door questions is appalling. 

On this show a contestant is strapped up to a lie detector and is grilled with 21 questions.  While the audience sits and awaits the climax of this mental masturbation.  What is wrong with our lives that we need to sit and listen to the most hidden of people’s personal secrets to get some entertainment?  Either way a person answers, we know they’re going to be humiliated and someone is going to leave the show emotionally scarred (if you check out the message board on the official website, you’ll find one discussion about what people’s guesses are for the amount of breakups/divorces this show will cause.)

Survivor is one thing, Big Brother is another, but this?  This is just poor taste in recording and viewing.  Questions like “Do you wish you were still single?” and “Do you think you’ll still be married in five years?” are absolutely worthless questions.  As a married person myself, there have been times when I’ve answered yes and no to both of those questions.  No need to share those answers with the rest of the world so I can make a quick buck.  How about a reality show that puts the producers on trial?  “What won’t you do for advertiser’s money?”  “How many people are you willing to humiliate for a buck?” “How ‘bout we rake you over the coals and air your dirty laundry in front of the nation as we watch your family stare in horror?”

I may live a dull life at times.  You know what, that’s what makes me more than happy.  It makes me appreciate the interesting times more than if I was constantly on the go.  But I don’t need to watch the misery of others to make myself complete.  I don’t just blame the producers, I blame the viewers.  If there weren’t people out there who’s day wouldn’t be truly over unless they watched someone having a more miserable life than they are, the networks would stop making this vomit.  I’m going to do myself and the world a favor by voting with my remote.  This is why I have DVR and a DVD player. 

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Punisher War Journal: Vol. 2

Posted on January 16, 2008. Filed under: Reviews |

Punisher War Journal: Vol. 2 – A Comic Review

The Punisher has always been one of my favorite comic book characters. He’s ruthless, he’s intelligent and he doesn’t care what anyone thinks about him. He’s out to serve his own brand of justice. But it is undeniable, the Punisher is bad. He does things no comic book hero would do, he kills people on purpose. Punisher War Journal: Vol. 2 is truly no different.

In the story arc Hunter/Hunted, Matt Fraction (The Immortal Iron Fist: Vol. 2) brings the fabled vigilante back to the Marvel universe. The story is told mainly from Rhino’s point of view. After a bank robbery involving Rhino and a couple of street thugs ends up with a security guard getting accidentally killed, Punisher goes on the warpath. While Spider-Man and Punisher are trying to take Rhino down, Kraven the Hunter’s son enters the story. Interestingly enough, his name is Kraven the Hunter too.

The most interesting thing about this storyline is the fact that Kraven is going around collecting super-villains to put them into his own little zoo. That makes for an interesting idea, and the fact that much of the story unfolds from Rhino’s perspective as the victim of a dehumanizing process, this story should read fascinatingly. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. While the story is unique and imaginative, the delivery leaves a lot to be desired.

Punisher kills off your average bottom-of-the-barrel super-villains, while the bigger names get away to fight other heroes; same story, different issue. Even though Fraction weaves some humor into the story, I wish there were more. It definitely would have made this story go down easier. By the time I finished the story arc, all I could think was, “You’re kidding me. That’s it? This is what all the fuss is about?” It’s too bad really. There could have been so much more done to this book.

I am actually left to wonder why this book received some great/good reviews. The only reason I can come up with is that you read so much mediocre stuff that imaginative mediocrity really seems spectacular. But it does help to raise the question of why do we feel okay with the punisher waxing super-villains, while we would look with disdain on any author that turned Spidey or Iron Man into ruthless killers. Perhaps we are comfortable with him doing the things he does because of who he does it to.

Think about it, if Batman were to kill Two-Face, there would be a definite loss felt in the comic world. If Lex Luthor were to be utterly destroyed by Superman, a gaping wound would be felt in the side of the DC universe. You could say this for The Fantastic Four and Doctor Doom, the X-Men and Magneto, even the Silver Surfer and Galactus. We’re talking about characters, villains, that we’ve grown up with, who have been made complex and real in ways that Kincknack, Night Thrasher and Reaper never were (yes, those are actually super villains).

Often times this translates into real life as well. We find that as long as the bad guys are the bad guys and they can stay relatively faceless and nameless (while we do not necessarily condone killing them) we are more comfortable with them gone than we would with someone we actually knew. Every human life is important and every person is mourned by someone else. Every life in some way is important, this is why the bigger issues of the world should be a concern for those of us who are not faced with adversity on a daily basis. While there are at times so many causes to support out there that it can make your head spin, it is important to at least concern yourself with the welfare of others and maybe try making your best attempt at lending a hand. You never know, the next one to be cared for may be you.

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Metalocalypse – A Review

Posted on January 11, 2008. Filed under: Reviews |

Metalocalypse – A Review

Since High School I’ve been a fan of everything Metal. I was a fan of Metallica before the “Black Album”, I had a Sepultura logo sticker on my SUV and anything with double-bass made me shiver with Metal glee. Anyone who has been through a Metal phase (or is still going through one) knows exactly what I’m talking about. Almost like a drug you seek out the bands and the songs that are more brutal and more heavy hitting than anything that came before. With this in mind, Metalocalypse brings in the mother lode.

The brainchild of Brendon Small and Tommy Blacha Metalocalypse is a cartoon featured on Cartoon Network’s [adult swim]. Short in running time but long in laughs, these mini-episodes bring us the greatest metal band ever: Dethklok. An amalgamation of Scandinavian and American heavy metal band mates Dethklok is the largest and most successful band on the planet (the band itself is the 12th largest economy in the world.) Their fans are willing to go to any lengths to appease them and the band members are just as willing to appease, well, themselves.

Metalocalypse ingeniously parodies everything in the metal genre. Featuring Nathan Explosion on vocals, Toki Wartooth and Skwisgaard Skwigelf on guitars, William Murderface on bass and Pickles on drums, the band is the cartoon version of the Three Stooges.. The band’s enormous mansion, Mordhaus, seems as though it’s been ripped from an album cover in some obscure half-off sale dustbin in the back of a music store.

With obscure references (like a fast-food joint named Dimmu Burger, an allusion to the Norwegian band Dimmu Borgir) and guest voice over work from various musicians and singers (Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield from Metallica make appearances) there is something for fans from every point on the metal map. There is even a real Dethklok album for those who can’t get enough of Heavy Metal Coffee jingles and birthday songs (there’s even a Dethklok tour coming to an area near you.)

Now, one might wonder how another cartoon along the lines of South Park and Beevis and Butthead could even remotely have anything to offer an individual and society as a whole. Other than the laughs from the antics and entertainment you’ll get from the music, what can this show offer? Just like those two previously mentioned cartoons, Metalocalypse has more to say than you might see at first glance.

The fans of Dethklok, while amusing, serve as a reminder that following the pack and those that are leader can be a dangerous proposition if thought is left out of the equation. These people are obviously a parody of the mindless music fanatics that appear in every musical genre. From rap to country, from rock to folk music, there are those people who toss their minds out the window when it comes to what a group of people has to say about something. Music SHOULD stir the soul, music SHOULD put to prose new ideas and enlightening thoughts but the listeners of that same music SHOULD also think before they leap.

It’s very closely related to the issue of fans fawning over political or spiritual advice from actors and actresses simply because of their status in our community. There are professionals for that kind of thing. I don’t ask a carpenter for advice on how to write a review, I don’t ask a priest or a pastor how to prosecute someone on trial. Though these same people may have some background in it and they often times have their own strongly held opinions on different matters, theirs isn’t the advice that I would seek in those matters. As a people and a society who thrive on entertainment, we must constantly be willing to have ourselves challenged by the views expressed by the entertainer but also we need to engage that part of our intelligence that examines what is laid before us and dissect it for what it really means.

All told, Metalocalypse definitely isn’t for the faint of heart. It is not a cartoon that you sit and watch with your kids (or even if your kids are awake in the other room, wait until they’re at a sleep over or they’ve been knocked out for an hour or two). If you are easily offended by the offerings of the South Park gang, steer well clear of Metalocalypse. But if you have iron for skin and you wash your sensitivities with a pad of steel wool, I’d give this short cartoon a whirl. Whether or not you are a fan of this musical style, you’re sure to get some laughs.

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