Sunday, January 22, 2012

The 5 Best Dinosaurs

Guys, I am a dude who has spent a lot of time thinking about dinosaurs. Dinosaurs are awesome, and if you don't agree, you are a communist. And not, like, a real communist like Leon Trotsky, who was probably a pretty sweet dude. I mean a STRAW MAN COMMUNIST that is clearly WRONG. Dinosaurs were awesome, this is a universal truth. In fact, they are so awesome that we, as a culture, have been obsessing over them since the first American dinosaurs were discovered in the 1850's. I wasn't alive at that point, and I do not currently have a time machine, so I've only been obsessing over them since I was 3. And while I may be more than a century behind culture when it comes to 'obsession duration', I have more than made up for that when it comes to 'effort put into said obsession'.
As such, I feel qualified in saying I know more about dinosaurs than most people who are not, in fact, paleontologists that study dinosaurs professionally. That's why when people say their favorite dinosaur is "Tyrannosaurus Rex!" I just scoff at them and think they're Dinosaur posers. T-Rex can eat a dick, and I don't even think dinosaurs had those. Here's my list of the 5 best dinosaurs, which I'm giving to you because everyone else is wrong.

5. Deinonychus

If this doesn't look awesome to you,then you are mistaken.

Okay, so you all saw Jurassic Park, right? So you remember the Velociraptors, yes? They found that raptor skeleton in the Badlands of South Dakota when the movie started, and then they turned into the main antagonist dinosaurs at the end of the film? Well, those weren't really Velociraptors at all, they were really a dinosaur called Deinonychus.

Not pictured: Velociraptors. No, seriously.

In the late 80's- when the novel ‘Jurassic Park’ was written- there was a push by some in the dino community to reclassify Deinonychus- a 6-foot tall America Dromaeosaur killing machine- as a subspecies of Velociraptor- a 4-ish foot tall Chinese import Dromaeosaur that wasn't nearly as awesome as Deinonychus. Much like the whole "T-Rex can't see you when you don't move" bullshit, by the early 90's everyone had decided this was stupid, and best left ignored. Unfortunately, the movie was based on the novel, and the dumb-80's-crap-science made it into the film.
Deinonychus is almost as awesome in real life as his movie-fied version made him out to be, though. That claw was just as hardcore, and they likely did hunt in packs. Though the cheetah speed and the smarter than dolphins stuff is a little embellished, they really were pretty close to the lizard hellspawn murder machines of the movies. If tigers were more lizard-ly and used switchblades, they'd be almost as cool as Deinonychus.

Velociraptor is the blue one, Deinonychus the green. The orange one is Utahraptor, who abandoned stealth tactics to costar in a fairly successful webcomic by a Canadian.

The only reason that Deinonychus is all the way down here at number 5 instead of making it to the top of the list is... well... science sort of made them less cool a few years ago. It's long been known that birds are evolutionary descendants of dinosaurs (most encyclopedias and scientists these days actually call birds "non-avian dinosaurs", so take that, extinction! Dinosaurs aren’t dead after all!). But fossil evidence has now pretty much proven that Deinonychus also was feathered. Like, head-to-toe.

Suddenly, considerably less impressive.

So, Deinonychus kind of looked like a giant chicken, which knocks him down a few pegs on this list. But to be fair, your precious Tyrannosaurus may well have been feathered too. Think about that, for a minute. No really, think about it. Suddenly he kind of looks like a 42-foot-long pussy, doesn't he?

Yes. Yes, he does.

Imagine a Triceratops. You know what a Triceratops looks like, don't pretend you don't. Okay, now imagine what would happen if a Triceratops got drunk, fucked a tree stump and got it pregnant, and no one ever gave the tree stump an abortion to put the little bastard out of its misery. Then, once it was hatched, they gave this horrific match of dinosaur and tree DNA a wicked sweet name. You have just imagined the ridiculous amazingness that is Pachyrhinosaurus.

Nothing says "socially retarded" quite like that expression.

Look at that thing. Nothing that ridiculous should have lived. Ever. It's got tree stumps coming out of its nose, probably with broccoli boogers. Then they added a parrot’s beak and horns growing out of its head, because apparently god is an angry child who just said "fuck it" and threw everything together at the last minute (see: platypus, duck-billed). Yet, somehow, she looks like a fucking badass, doesn't she? Would you fuck with something that looked like that? I submit that you would not.

"Dude, I will seriously fuck you up!"

Then there's the name, which might actually be misleading, because Pachyrhinosaurus was considerably larger than any rhinoceros you've ever seen. If the Mesozoic era was Sin City, then Pachyrhinosaurus was Marv. Ugly as shit, something was seriously wrong with its face, but shit dude, I wouldn't piss one off.

Whether or not it fed Elijah Wood to his own dog remains one of science's great mysteries.

Kentrosaurus was Stegosaurus' little brother who grew up reading too many early 90's comic books. After watching Heavy Metal and Mad Max films one afternoon, he decided that leather and spikes are two things that you can never have too much of. After looking at Stegosaurus and seeing his tail, Kentrosaurus went "Four spikes? Fuck that! Why don't you get a matching sun dress for that girly little tail?" Then, because he certainly wasn't trying to compensate for anything (of course not), Kentrosaurus went out and covered his back half with EIGHTEEN spikes.

Shoulder spikes, you guys. He is primed for shoulderbased combat.

Guys, Kentrosaurus was INTENSE. Look at that, his ass was undefeatable. If that ass came up to you, you would shriek in horror, and not just because a large reptilian creature was mooning you. It looks like some supervillain designed that tail! There are two foot long spikes covering the whole god damn thing!

This is not a creature who believes in the concept of 'overkill'.

What's awesome here, by the way, is how deviously brilliant this is, from a sciencey stand point. Stegosaurs like Kentrosaurus here were actually pretty stupid. Like, dumber than cows kind of stupid. A lobotomized goldfish could ring circles around Kentrosaurus in an IQ test, is what I'm saying. If you were a predator, it probably wouldn't have been very difficult to sneak up on a dinosaur this dumb.
But it didn't matter, you see, because the part of himself Kentrosaurus couldn't see was basically all murder-mace! Just by casually swinging his tail, Kentrosaurus probably killed more innocents than Ted Bundy. This dinosaur was 15 feet long, and exactly half of it was a certified war crime. Are you really going to mess with something cow sized that has a Shaquille O'Neil death stick attached to its tail? Probably not.

Whether or not he could slam dunk is a different matter.

At this point, you might be wondering why I've called T-Rex a big 'ole pussy a couple of times in this article. Why must I crush your childhood like that, you ask? Well, because I can, mostly. Famed paleontologist Dr. Jack Horner has described T-Rex as basically a big vulture, maybe even going so far as being colored similarly. Kids, when I was 6 I wanted to BE Jack Horner, and I bow to his superior wisdom.

'Vulture' as in the scavenger bird, not the Spider-Man villain.

T-Rex had tiny arms, made its kids do all the leg work, and was probably ugly on top of it. The only reason it's famous is that it has a badass name, and the only reason it got its badass name is that it was discovered first. However, there is a dinosaur with all of T-Rex's awesome parts and with way less sucky things. She's called Carcharodontosaurus, and she is terrifying.

It's name means "Sharp toothed lizard." This is a factual name, you guys.

Bigger. Meaner. Probably faster. Less evidence of being a scavenger. Carcharodontosaurus is everything you're 8 year old self wanted T-Rex to be without all the bullshit. We don't know for a fact (yet) if her arms were pathetically tiny, but why assume they were? She’s not as big as Spinosarus, but Spinosaurus probably just ate fish, and that is lame as hell.

Spinosaurus is kind of a flashy dinosaur.

This is a 45-foot long, 15 ton monster who could swallow Buicks whole. Everyone who thinks T-Rex is the best dinosaur is wrong, because Carcharodontosaurus is, in every way, T-Rex PLUS. They either a.) don't know about Carcharodontosaurus or b.) are racists, because T-Rex lived in the USA, and Carcharodontosaurus was North African. And racism is wrong, brother.

I don't know about you, but I am not a dinosaur racist.

1. Apatosaurus

Pictured: One sweet dinosaur.

Okay, confession time. The best dinosaur isn't something I can prove with science and awesomeness, like the four before it. The best dinosaur is personal, and I can't even really explain why. But I've always known what the best dinosaur is, and I will never be convinced otherwise. Because the best dinosaur is Apatosaurus.
I've known that since I first learned about dinosaurs. Apatosaurus is my favorite, and he could murder my own grandmother in front of me and I'd still say that. I don't really know why I think that, but I wonder if has something to do with the naming nonsense going on with Apatosaurus.
When you ask someone who doesn't really know dinosaurs what their favorite dinosaur is, they usually say "Tyrannosaurus Rex!" I've already proven that they don't know what the hell they're talking about. So, the next most frequent answer is probably "Brontosaurus." The problem with this answer is that "Brontosaurus" is not a dinosaur that ever existed. Scientists thought it was, until they realized that "Brontosaurus" wasn't a new species, but was actually the exact same animal as Apatosaurus, discovered 2 years earlier. And this realization? It was made in friggin’ 1903. That was 109 years ago, you guys. Brontosaurus hasn't been a real dinosaur for OVER A CENTURY and people still say it's they're favorite. They are wrong, because their real favorite must actually be Apatosaurus.

I would so ride one of these if they weren't extinct.

But wait, it gets weirder! Because I was a dinosaur nut as a kid (still am), I have a lot of books on dinosaurus, and when it comes to pictures of Apatosaurus, most of them are wrong. That's because, despite being discovered in 1877, no one discovered an Apatosaurus skull until the late ‘70s.
Apatosaurus is a Sauropod dinosaur, and as it turns out, sauropod skullls are fragile and don't fossilize easilly. For over a century, no one really knew what the shape of Apatosaurus' head looked like, so they always just substituted the skull from a Diplodocus or Camarasaurus instead. Which was hilarious if you were in the know, because Diplodocus and Camarasaurus look nothing alike.

You may have noticed that there are some fundamental differences here.

Once the real skull was discovered, artists could use that to base their Apatosaurus drawings off of, but a whole lot of dino-drawings before that got things dead wrong. On top of that, it wasn't until the late 90's that computer imaging was used to discover that sauropods like Apatosaurus couldn't raise their necks like giraffes to reach the tops of trees. They'd literally break their necks trying such a feat. The problem with this knowledge, of course, is that pretty much every drawing of sauropod dinosaurs ever has depicted them doing EXACTLY THAT.

It's a nice painting, Mr. Knight, but could you possibly make it more factually accurate?

Maybe I just like controversy? Because a new study suggests that the Brontosaurus debate may be coming back. Not in a "Brontosaurus is a real dinosaur" kind of way, but in a "10 different dinosaurs may really be the same one after all" kind of thing. One of those dinosaurs? Yep, it's Apatosaurus alright. The argument is interesting, but as yet unproven. We'll see what the scientists have to say in 20 years or so.
The one thing I can be sure of, though, is that whatever its name may be by then, Apatosaurus will still be the best dinosaur. And if you disagree, you are a COMMUNIST.

Known fact: Communists do not drink water.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Justin and Kiri Talk Theatre: Romeo and Juliet

Justin and Kiri have a lot in common, probably because they’re brother and sister. One of those things is that they were both theatre kids. The big difference, though, is that in college Kiri went on to major in theatre, and Justin went on to major in reading comic books and playing Final Fantasy VII. This leads to some... colourful debates.

KIRI: Today we’re going to talk about Shakespeare’s classic tragedy, Romeo and Juliet.

JUSTIN: I don’t want to do this, Kiri.

KIRI: What do you mean?

JUSTIN: I don’t... I’m not talking about this fucking play.

KIRI: Don’t leave me hanging here, Jay.

JUSTIN: But Romeo and Juliet suuuuuccckkkksssssssss!

KIRI: Yes! I know!

JUSTIN: Then why are we talking about it? Because it sssuuuccccckkkssssss!!!

KIRI: We’re talking about it to prove to everyone that the entire planet has the story all wrong, and that they’re all missing the entire point of the story.

JUSTIN: Grumble.

KIRI: Also... it’s the first of these articles, and I thought we should do something everyone is sort of familiar with. Also, Hamlet’s plot is kind of involved.

JUSTIN: Your mom’s plot is involved!

KIRI: … I don’t know whether I should respond to that or not. It would probably just encourage you.

JUSTIN: Whatever, let’s just get this stupid thing over with. So, the play is set in Verona, a particularly violent part of Little Italy, especially in the 1920s, when this play takes place. There are these two rival mafia families, and-

KIRI: That is not where or when the play is set, and there are no mafia families. Stop trying to screw this up.

JUSTIN: I’m not. I am totally serious!

KIRI: *glares*

JUSTIN: Look, if you were going to do a revamp of Romeo and Juliet without all the frilly bullshit, and you knew you couldn’t get Harold Perrineau for-

KIRI: The guy from Oz?

JUSTIN: Yes, the guy from Oz.

"AKA the movie’s saving grace"

JUSTIN: So, if you were doing a modern revamp without Harold Perrineau, setting it as a mafia piece in the 1920s would be totally perfect!

KIRI: … I hate you, but that’s actually a really good idea.

JUSTIN: I know. So, there are these two mob families, the Montagues and the Capulets, and shit do these guys hate each other.

KIRI: The play opens with a full out street brawl! You should totally be into it!

JUSTIN: Yeah, yeah. Anyway, yes, it opens with a street brawl. And yes, I genuinely really like the “Do you bite your thumb at me, sir?” back and forth. It is genuinely witty.

KIRI: See? And you said you hated this play.

JUSTIN: Liking selected dialogue does not equal liking the play as a whole. Anyway, there’s a gang-war flair up, until The Man shows up and the fighting stops. Anyway, two of the dudes shooting Tommy Guns at each other are Benvolio and Tybalt, who are, respectively, Romeo and Juliet’s cousins.

KIRI: You are getting oddly specific in your ‘modern interpretation’ description.

JUSTIN: Quiet, you. Benvolio goes to tell Romeo all about the sweet street brawl, but Romeo is being a total buzzkill because some chick named Rosaline dumped him. Despite never being actually seen in the fucking play, Romeo will continue to bitch and moan about this girl until halfway into Act 2.

KIRI: Are we skipping to the party scene already?

JUSTIN: What? No, of course not. We have to do Act 1 Scene 4 first.

KIRI: Again, you are getting oddly specific about something you supposedly hate.

JUSTIN: Silence! I’m synopsifying! Romeo continues to be an annoying, whiny child-

KIRI: Well, he is something like 14.

JUSTIN: When finally, our leading man finally enters, Mercutio!

KIRI: ...

JUSTIN: … What? Aren’t you going to complain that Mercutio isn’t actually the leading character, at least according the pesky things like “the script” and “scholarly analysis”?

KIRI: Actually, no, I’m totally with you on that.

JUSTIN: … Oh. Alright then. Mercutio is a totally sweet dude, who may be a little crazy, or possibly a drug dealer or something.

KIRI: You’re thinking about the Oz guy again.

JUSTIN: Probably. Anyway, tired of Romeo bitching all the time, he says some sweet stuff like “If love be rough with you, be rough with love; Prick love for pricking, and you beat love down.” So you know he is all about S & M, which is clearly shorthand for “I’m a badass”.

KIRI: That’s not what he’s actually trying to say. Also, how does saying “I like rough sex” make someone a badass?

JUSTIN: I think the more important question, Kiri, is how could it not?

KIRI: That-

JUSTIN: So Mercutio really wants Romeo to stop complaining about his break up with little miss does-not-appear-in-the-play, and tells him as much by making one of the most awesome speeches Shakespeare ever wrote.

KIRI: You’re not going to recite the entire Queen Mab speech, are you?

JUSTIN: No, but only because I am a gentleman, and also because that fucker is like a page and a half long. Suffice it to say, it is pretty rad, and also the ultimate proof that Mercutio is completely insane.

KIRI: Just like all of Shakespeare’s best protagonists.

JUSTIN: Hamlet, Lear, Othello, Richard III, Mac-


JUSTIN: Nice save, and my bad. Anyway, Mercutio also invites Romeo to come along with him to this party he’s going to at the rival gang’s house, but it’s a masked ball or something, so it’s cool. And we’re on to Act 2.

KIRI: What about the scenes at the Capulet house in Act 1?

JUSTIN: Jesus, Kiri, they’re getting ready for a party. Who cares? No one gives a shit about the preparations, they just want to skip to the party.

KIRI: But these scenes introduce Paris, and that’s the actual party scene, and the love-


KIRI: *Sigh.* So Mercutio sneaks Romeo and Benvolio into the Capulet’s party. I should probably point out, because Justin didn’t, that Romeo is actually the son of the head of the Montagues, and Juliet is the daughter of Lord Capulet.

JUSTIN: If the audience didn’t know that going in, I just do not fucking care. And also, how the hell did they pass Freshman English?

KIRI: A valid point.

JUSTIN: Also, despite going to a sweet party, Romeo is still crying over his invisible ex-girlfriend at this point.

KIRI: He is, yes.

JUSTIN: “If love be blind, love cannot hit the mark.”

KIRI: Stop getting a boner for Mercutio’s dialogue. Pretty much nothing happens in 2-1, other than Romeo for some reason hiding from his friends in the Capulet’s gardens.

JUSTIN: This is never really explained, other than the fact that he is a whiny bitch.

KIRI: I’d argue with him, but he’s mostly right. In Scene 2, Romeo is stumbling through the gardens, avoiding his friends and feeling sorry for himself, when suddenly Juliet appears, and he falls head over heels for her INSTANTLY.

JUSTIN: This is because he is a stupid 14 year old. I was once a 14-year-old boy too, and they will fall madly in love with every vaguely hot chick they see. Science fact.

KIRI: He goes into all kinds of ridiculous, mushy soliloquies over Juliet, despite being madly in love with Rosaline 20 minutes earlier.

JUSTIN: May I ask a question?

KIRI: You just did.

JUSTIN: How is it that Juliet recognizes that it’s Romeo who’s trying to sneak a peak up her dress? Like, have they met before, and just not gotten boner crazy or something?

KIRI: Have they met- You... Did you even read Act 1 Scene 5?

JUSTIN: The what now?

KIRI: The central party scene that has set the entire love story of the play? That also sets up the rivalry between Romeo and Tybalt?

JUSTIN: Was Mercutio in it?

KIRI: No, he wasn’t.

JUSTIN: Then probably not.

KIRI: It’s central to the entire play!

JUSTIN: Look, I’ve seen the movie, and I’ve read all the cool parts, but Kiri, I seriously only care about one character in this play, and he is Mercutio.

KIRI: The party scene was in the movie!

JUSTIN: Well, I don’t know what scene number it was! Look, I know the basics of the damn plot, but when it comes to reading this horseshit, I basically am just skimming the scenes until Mercutio shows up, and it is precisely at that point when I start actually reading, okay?

KIRI: Justin, I don’t like the play any more than you do, but you can’t just call a work by English’s greatest writer “horseshit”.

JUSTIN: A Winter’s Tale?

KIRI: Justin.

JUSTIN: The Merry Wives of Windsor?


JUSTIN: Measure for Measure?


JUSTIN: I’m just saying, even Spielberg made “1941”. (Also, “War of the Worlds” and “Indiana Jones 4”.)

KIRI: I like ‘1941’.

JUSTIN: And you’re a dirty slut.

KIRI: …Romeo and Juliet fall in love instantly, because as Justin has pointed out, they are idiot teenagers.

JUSTIN: Technically, Juliet’s only a ‘tween’, because she’s actually 12.

KIRI: Agreed. Seriously, can we stop talking about the balcony scene? Every shitty romance novel ever has probably quoted it, and it is nothing but sentimental ridiculousness.

JUSTIN: I have no problem with that. Romita and Juliet agree to marry each other. Like, tomorrow, and otherwise, fuck this scene.

KIRI: You said ‘Romita’, not Romeo.

JUSTIN: I did? Maybe that’s because the only way I’d care about this scene is if famous Spider-Man and romance comics artist John Romita was drawing it.

See, if Romeo and Juliet looked more like this, I’d actually give a shit about it.

KIRI:.... Moving on, in Scene 3, Romeo goes and visits Friar Laurence, who is apparently the local Friar, and the go between for Romeo and Juliet.

JUSTIN: He is also a man who apparently sees no problem with secretly marrying the children of two rival mafia families after meeting only the day prior.

KIRI: Stop giving away the plot. But yes, this is the scene where Romeo asks Friar Laurence to marry him and Juliet. Sort of.

JUSTIN: He doesn’t exactly agree to do it here, does he?

KIRI: I thought you just skimmed over this part?

JUSTIN: You got offended last scene, so I’m trying to skim better. But he never actually says yes.

KIRI: He agrees to help him...

JUSTIN: Quote: “ROMEO: Thou chid'st me oft for loving Rosaline. FRIAR LAURENCE: For doting, not for loving, pupil mine.”

KIRI: Stop quoting out of context! Yes, he says that, but at the end of the scene he says “In one respect I'll thy assistant be; For this alliance may so happy prove, To turn your households' rancour to pure love”.

JUSTIN: *ahem* “Is Rosaline, whom thou didst love so dear, So soon forsaken? Young men's love then lies Not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes.”

KIRI: Ugh. Scene 4.

JUSTIN: No, I wanna talk about this. Laurence is totally in on the fact that Romeo is just a horny teenager, right?

KIRI: I... Okay, yeah, probably.

JUSTIN: Yet, he’s hatching a plan to have these two moronic teenagers who met LAST NIGHT get married, in the name of uniting their households.

KIRI: Congratulations, you understand the plot. In your own words, he’s trying to stop a gang-war.

JUSTIN: So he’s a manipulative jackass, and thus the play’s true villain!


JUSTIN: This dude, a man of the cloth nonetheless, is well aware that Romeo is just a stupid teenager thinking with his dick instead of his brain. He’s in on the joke. But despite that, he agrees to marry these two stupid kids, which ultimately leads to their deaths. If he had just said “Stop thinking with your dick, you stupid kid” and smacked Romeo in the back of his head, Romeo and Juliet wouldn’t have killed themselves, thus avoiding the tragedy.

KIRI: He was... he was trying to avoid a gang-war?

JUSTIN: Holy shit, I’m totally right!

KIRI: Oy! Whatever, Scene 4.

JUSTIN: God damn, I am so awesome.

KIRI: And so humble. Anyway. Mercutio is actually in this scene, so you really read it, right?

JUSTIN: Of course. “Alas poor Romeo! he is already dead; stabbed with a white wench's black eye; shot through the ear with a love-song; the very pin of his heart cleft with the blind bow-boy's butt-shaft: and is he a man to encounter Tybalt?”

KIRI: So apparently Tybalt has sent a letter to Romeo challenging him because Tybalt figured out Romeo was at the Capulet’s party and Mercutio doesn’t think Romeo is up to the challenge.

JUSTIN: Because Romeo is a whinny momma’s boy. And probably a coward. “More than prince of cats, I can tell you-”

KIRI: Stop it, this is my act to review.

JUSTIN: “Without his roe, like a dried herring: flesh, flesh, how art thou fishified!”

KIRI: Sigh. Romeo comes back from the gardens, and he and Mercutio have a hilarious witticism contest.

JUSTIN: “I will bite thee by the ear for that jest”

KIRI: Seriously. Getting annoying. Mercutio and the Nurse get into a vague argument that no one cares about, and they all leave.

JUSTIN: The Nurse is basically Juliet’s nanny.

KIRI: Which they’d know if we’d talked about the Act 1 Capulet scenes.

JUSTIN: Fuck you too, Kiri.

KIRI: Scene 5 serves little point, beyond Juliet and the Nurse bonding over thoughts of Romeo.

JUSTIN: Agreed.

KIRI: And Scene VI has Friar Laurence marry the two children to avert further gangland violence. I guess.

JUSTIN: Ethics? We don’t need no stinkin’ ethics!

KIRI: You’re not as funny as Mel Brooks, no matter how hard you try. So, I guess.... Act 3?

JUSTIN: Awesome. Because Scene 3-1 is the best fucking scene in this fucking play. So, Mercutio and Benvolio are hanging out, right, just chillin’ at the speakeasy, because remember, it’s the 1920’s in Little Italy, and that is what you do when you work for gangsters in the 1920’s.

KIRI: You are such an idiot.

JUSTIN: Just then, Tybalt kicks the door in, because like most of the cast, he’s an asshole. Mercutio provokes the shit out of this twat-

KIRI: Justin, don’t say “twat”.

JUSTIN: -mostly because he is a witty motherfucker, and none are safe against his wittiness.

KIRI: Mercutio’s entire character concept is he has a way with words, and has a mercurial temper, in case you hadn’t figured that out.

JUSTIN: Romeo enters, and Tybalt decides to go bitch at him instead of Mercutio, mostly because none can withstand Mercutio’s rapier-wit.

KIRI: Aren’t you the guy who hates this play?

JUSTIN: Yes. But I also think Mercutio is one of Shakespeare’s top five best characters.

KIRI: … Fair enough.

JUSTIN: Tybalt, the second most interesting character in the show-

KIRI: We haven’t talked much about Tybalt, have we?

JUSTIN: I guarantee that is about to change.

KIRI: You know, if we’d done Scene 1-5-

JUSTIN: Stop talking about Act 1 Scene 5! Tybalt then proceeds to say the single greatest line in the play that isn’t spoken by Mercutio: “Romeo, the hate I bear thee can afford No better term than this,--thou art a villain.”

KIRI: That's... Really?

JUSTIN: There is no way that line isn’t awesome.

KIRI: Just because he calls him a villain?

JUSTIN: THAT’S WHY IT IS AWESOME! Think about it, calling someone an asshole or a douchebag, that’s just saying that someone is a hole that people poop out of or a container of water that will later be shoved up into someone’s colon.

KIRI: That’s not really a positive thing. Nor is that where a douchebag goes…

JUSTIN: Of course not, but think of the word “villain”. No matter how you cut it, a villain is an antagonist. A badguy. The EXACT opposite of what Romeo is supposedly supposed to be in HIS OWN DAMN PLAY. Tybalt is actually calling out Romeo for being the bullshit protagonist that he truly is. In the middle of the damn play that is named after him!

KIRI: You realise that Shakespeare invented the idea that ‘villian’ is an insult, right? In his time, it just meant that the person in question lived in a villa.

JUSTIN: You’re just jealous that I give such an amazing analysis of the play and am so incredibly handsome.

KIRI:... Have you been drinking?

JUSTIN: Yes I have.

KIRI: I’m going to hurt you.

JUSTIN: So Tybalt wants to fight Romeo. Romeo doesn’t want to fight Tybalt, because he just married Tybalt’s cousin Juliet, and also he is a coward. Mercutio calls bullshit on this, and decides to duel Tybalt himself. And by duel, I mean shoot tommy guns at him, because remember, it’s the 1920s. Romeo is okay with this, because again, coward, so having his friends fight for him is awesome. Tybalt gets a lucky shot in, mostly because tommy guns are automatic, and he fatally wounds Mercutio before Mercutio can get off a shot.

KIRI: I know I shouldn’t enjoy this, but Romeo and Juliet with tommy guns sounds way more interesting than the script.

JUSTIN: I know, right? Tybalt flees, cuz, you know, gang-war and the police and what not, and Mercutio lays dying in Romeo’s arms.

KIRI: You’re not going to quote every line Mercutio says as he dies, are you?

JUSTIN: No. Because again, GENTLEMAN. But they are all awesome. As he dies, Mercutio curses both the Capulets and the Montagues, which I’m sure is not a dramatic turning point, foreshadowing the end of the play.

KIRI: It totally is.

JUSTIN: It totally is. Finally showing some fucking balls, Romeo is SO ANGRY about Tybalt killing Mercutio, that he hunts down Tybalt and slays him. Thus does our tale end: Romeo realized all too late the importance of his friendship with Mercutio, and he slays the murderer out of revenge.

KIRI: That’s not how the play ends.

JUSTIN: I beg to differ.

KIRI: This is a five act play. You quit in Act 3 Scene 1. There are 4 more scenes in this act alone.

JUSTIN: Who cares? The protagonist was killed, and then avenged. End of the god damn story.

KIRI: I know that you know the play doesn’t end here.

JUSTIN: True. But the end of my “giving a shit” does. Christ, Kiri, the only character (Mercutio) I really cared about is dead, and the only character I have a vague interest in (Tybalt) is dead after killing the character I routed for. Seriously, this is the perfect place for an intermission, so that I can leave and not care about the other characters.

KIRI: You are not leaving me to finish this show.

JUSTIN: No, really, I am. Because the rest of this play is bullshit.

KIRI: You have a valid point, but it’s wrong. But I can’t demonstrate that unless we finish the play!

JUSTIN: *sardonic look* Fine. But you better end this shit quickly, because I seriously want to just quit here and look at porn or something.

KIRI: Okay, short version from here out. Romeo gets exiled from Verona because he killed Tybalt.

JUSTIN: You mean Little Italy.

KIRI: Be quiet! Before leaving for the desert or whatever, he sneaks into the Capulet house to consummate his marriage to Juliet.

JUSTIN: I know when I get exiled, the first thing on my mind is getting laid.

KIRI: Romeo then flees. Juliet’s dad decides she needs to marry Paris-

JUSTIN: aka Mister Forgettable.

KIRI: Which causes much upheaval in the Capulet household, since Juliet is secretly married

JUSTIN: (And consummated)

KIRI: to Romeo.

JUSTIN: (Damaged goods, everyone...)

KIRI: Chauvinist. Juliet tries to keep this marriage from happening, but her parents are abusive, so that’s a no-go. Juliet goes to Friar Laurence, who, ugh, if you remember is responsible for all this bullshit. He gives her a drug to basically simulate being dead for two days.

JUSTIN: The Catholic Church, everyone!

KIRI: Laurence sends a message to Romeo to let him know what’s going on, but Romeo never gets the message, because the messenger, who is apparently as drunk as Justin, tells Romeo that Juliet is really dead.

JUSTIN: Turns out that the game “Telephone” is a pretty shitty way to convey a message.

KIRI: Romeo returns to Verona just as Juliet’s funeral is wrapping up, kills Paris-

JUSTIN: Oh right, that forgettable character no one cares about.

KIRI: - and proceeds to poison himself while lying next to Juliet’s corpse. Then, as he dies, Juliet wakes up, sees that Romeo is dead, and then stabs herself with Romeo’s dagger because she can’t live without him. And.... everyone who isn’t dead learns an important lesson, apparently?

JUSTIN: See! This play is retarded!

KIRI: That’s insensitive, and also you are wrong.

JUSTIN: Much like the Fonze, I don’t know what that word means, at least when it is referencing me.

KIRI: No, see, you’re right about Mercutio being the character who is the central protagonist.

JUSTIN: Obviously! Tybalt’s a douche, Laurence is a manipulative asshole, and everyone else is lame as fuck.

KIRI: But this play isn’t about the protagonist.

JUSTIN: That.... wait.

KIRI: This is a play about how stupid our emotions make us, and about how stupid teenagers are.

JUSTIN: ...I refuse to tell you that you’re right.

KIRI: This play happens over the course of four days. These stupid god damn teenagers, meet, fall in “love”, decide to get married, and then their rash and ridiculous decisions lead to their deaths. In four days. This is not a play about unrelenting love like everyone on the planet thinks it is. This is a play about how EVERYONE WAS STUPID AS HELL WHEN THEY WERE TEENAGERS.

JUSTIN: … I’m intrigued.

KIRI: Shakespeare wrote it around the same time that he was writing Midsummer: a play about sudden shifts in emotion and devotion. Again, the central characters are teenagers, looking to get laid. If anything, this is his period of social critique concerning the fickleness of youth.

JUSTIN: Go on.

KIRI: That’s.... That’s it. Do you really need to me to explain this further?

JUSTIN: Well, not really, because yeah, that’s pretty spot on. But we’re, like, 13 pages in, you can’t just be done now. Our readers will feel like this was a whole bunch of build up to nothing.

KIRI: That’s not my fault. This is a shitty play after Act 3 Scene 1. I’m just saying, everyone has the wrong thoughts on what the play is about.

JUSTIN: … You’re a bitch, you know that?

KIRI: Yeah, well, you’re a prick.

JUSTIN: And yet, I had fun with this.

KIRI: We should do Lear next!

JUSTIN: Eye-gouging is always entertaining!

*If you, the audience, have suggestions, please let us know. We may or may not listen, because, honestly, your opinion means mostly nothing to us. But if it doesn’t suck, maybe we’ll talk about it?*

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year’s Eve Star Trek Reruns: A Drunk Column

Does it ever feel like there are just too many holidays all around the end/beginning of the year? Between Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, New Years, Boxing Day, the Winter Solstice, Epiphany, David Bowie’s Birthday, and Wookie Life Day, honestly, it can get pretty overwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, I love holidays. Hallowe’en is awesome. Lying and manipulating your friends and relatives on April Fool’s Day? Hilarious. Lighting shit on fire on July 4th? Sign me up for that! But for about two weeks there, when almost every day is one or several separate holidays…. Oy. When every day is a holiday, they just get boring.
So this year, when New Year’s Eve came around, I decided NOT to go party. I’d had my fill of partying for at least a week and a half. Instead of partying, I would do what you’re supposed to do on New Year’s (if you’re not partying), looking towards the future. And for me, the future is clearly Star Trek. So, using a bullshit mathematical equation I just made up, I randomly selected 5 Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes to watch and drunkenly review. What? Just because I said I wasn’t partying, I never said I wasn’t going to get drunk.

Episode 3-5: The Bonding
The aliens are called “Koinonians.” Oy. I’m too sober for this. Guys, I know my Next Gen. And this episode is not a good start to the night.
Okay, so on a standard archeology mission, something goes wrong and the lead scientist is accidentally killed. She has a ten year old kid who lives with her on the Enterprise. And all of this reminds Wesley Crusher that when he was, like, 4 or something, Captain Picard had to tell him about his father Jack Crusher’s death. Except that I still maintain that Picard is secretly Wesley’s real dad. Blah, blah, blah, some Klingon mystical stuff with Worf. (Shut up, Troi.)Data tries to understand the nature of loss, and oh man, NOTHING is happening in this episode!
Troi wants to talk about Worf’s feelings. I’m sorry kids, I just can’t take this episode seriously. It’s so obvious that nothing that happens here will ever come up again, I just don’t care. Worf tries to console the kid in his own, Klingon way. God, Troi just will not stop talking about people’s feelings. Grr. Oh, and when someone asks Wesley to actually do anything at all, he just WHINES about it.
Just about then, the writers remember that this is Star Trek, and that something insane needs to happen. The planet they’re orbiting releases some energy field or something and the kid’s dead mom shows up in his room. Because why the hell not at this point?

Everyone you love is dead, you little asshole.

Worf stumbles on this, and decides things are just getting too stupid for words. The “alien-posing-as-mom” wants to take the kid back to the planet. The Enterprise crew thinks that’s a really bad idea (because it is).The kid is in grief (and also stupid as hell), and doesn’t realize that this alien is, in fact, not his dead-as-hell mom. Then dead-mom-alien uses its alien energy powers to somehow recreate the kid’s home on Earth inside his Enterprise living quarters. I feel stupider just writing that sentence. And seriously, how sucky are Troi episodes? I mean, really?
Bad news, we still have 15 minutes to go. Geordi manages to magic away the alien. Alien attacks the Enterprise (somehow) and magics itself back. The alien(s?)(it’s never quite clear to me if this is one energy alien or several) apparently feels bad about the whole accidental-mom-death thing and wants to make it up to the kid. Picard talks logic and sense to the alien. Wesley bores everyone half to death. Kid freaks out a bit.

I can’t say I blame the kid on this one.

The alien leaves. Worf and the kid do some Klingon bonding ceremony to make each other family, but again, none of it matters because we’ll never see this kid ever again ever. Credits

1-8: Justice
Fuck you. No. I’m not doing “Justice” after that last episode.
*Checks with the editor*
Shit. Okay. Fine. Apparently I have to do this one. So here it is: “Justice” is a shitty episode except for the end where Picard has a really great speech. I remember that speech being pretty sweet and compelling. Anyway, you don’t care about the characters and neither do I. Every one of the girl extras are vaguely hot and nearly naked (yay!) but with bad 80’s hair (boo!). The male extras, meanwhile, are even more nearly-naked and all pushing 45 (extra boo!). Wesley breaks some stupid rule on the planet. It’s a really, really, stupid rule, trust me, and he is going to be put to death because of it. Dr. Crusher is mad about all this, and tells Picard to save their secret bastard love-child. There’s some nonsense threat to the Enterprise too, but whatever. I’m just watching this episode for the side-boobs and end speech. Also, I’d like to point out that the outfits are really silly, side-boobage aside.

Seriously, guys, this is what nearly everyone wears on this planet. It’s ridiculous.

The alien threat is to the Enterprise is the natives’ space-god or something, and it’s using its space-god powers to keep Wesley from just beaming back up to the Enterprise. Then Picard decides o talk to space-god and…. That… That end speech was better in my memory than in actual fact. But whatever. Through the power of Shakespearean skills and diplomacy, Picard talks space-god out of killing them all, day is saved, yada, yada.

At least the natives were vaguely attractive, I guess.

5-8: Unification, Part 2
Oh, thank you, Ghost of Gene Roddenberry, I thought I should know only suffering after those first two, but this episode is pretty great. Obviously this is the second part of a 2-parter, so, the story so far….
Ambassador Spock is missing! People think he’s defected to the Romulans! Spock’s dad (and Picard’s bro) Sarek has died from being, like, 205! Picard and Data sneak onto Romulus to find Spock! Dressed up as Romulans! (Being an Enterprise Captain and pretending to be a Romulan has a long, rich history in Star Trek) Stuff explodes! The Romulans know Picard is on Romulus! Picard and Data find Spock! And that’s the story so far!

“We are Romulans!”

Well, Spock’s not defecting, obviously. That would be stupid. Spock’s really there because he knows of some Romulans who want to work at reuniting the Vulcan and Romulan peoples after centuries of hatred, hence why he came to Romulus. Picard tells Spock about his father’s death, Spock handles it well (‘cuz, you know, he’s a Vulcan). Spock is working with a Romulan Senator named Pardek who he thinks he can trust, and he won’t leave. Picard won’t leave without Spock, so Spock begrudgingly agrees to let Picard and Data help him.
Meanwhile, the Enterprise crew visit a space bar out of “Cantina scene” envy. It’s more complicated than that, obviously, but the important part is “Cantina scene!” Back on Romulus, Pardek and Spock meet with the new Romulan Proconsul (think Prime Minister or something), and he tells Spock he’s all for reunification with the Vulcans. After Spock leaves, though, we find out that the Proconsul was a lying, scheming manipulator (i.e.: a Romulan) and is in league with Romulan Commander Sela.
Now, a moment about Sela for the uninitiated. Sela is evil. We’ve met her a few times before. More than that, though, Sela is the adult daughter of an alternate universe Tasha Yar. In our universe, Tasha Yar was an Enterprise Security Chief who died in the line of duty. But in an alternate universe, she was an Enterprise Security Chief who was sent back in time, captured by (our universe’s) Romulans, forced to marry a Romulan Senator, had his baby (Sela), and then was killed while trying to escape. And Sela looks just like Tasha, because, you know, same actress. I know this all sounds completely insane, but it’s honestly par for the course on Star Trek.

Also, that hair cut? It’s never looked good on ANYBODY.

While Picard and Co. don’t trust the Proconsul, Spock wants to move forward with their plans, even if it’s unsafe. Data and Spock become buds. We get another Cantina scene (why not?). Spock, Picard, Data and Pardek all meet, and Spock WITH LOGIC deduces that it’s a trap. Just then, Sela springs said trap, and Spock reveals, THROUGH LOGIC, that Pardek has betrayed them despite 80 years of friendship. Logic is kind of Spock’s thing, you guys. Also, Romulans lie about everything.

“I am the boss, you guys. The boss of LOGIC.”

Sela wants Spock to help her invade Vulcan, Spock says no because he’s not a douchebag. Spock and Data team up to break them out and to warn the Federation of the Romulan invasion. Data does the Vulcan nerve pinch on Sela for fan service. The invasion is thwarted and the day is saved. Picard and Data are ready to leave, but Spock refuses. He still believes in reunification, and he still wants to stay on Romulus to help the underground movement work towards it. Picard basically says okay, because his 44 minutes of episode time is up.

3-7: The Enemy

“Does anyone know where to find a good dry cleaning place?”

Hey editorial, can we skip this one? Unlike “Justice”, it’s not like anything is wrong with it. It’s just that it’s kind of a mundane Romulan episode, and we just did a better one. Can we just move on to something else?
We can? Awesome. I sure hope this doesn’t come back to bite me on my ass.

7-20: Journey’s End
God. Damnit.
There’s only one fucking Wesley episode in Season 7. Which episode is it? This one. OF COURSE. Fuck. Fine. So the Enterprise picks up Wesley fresh from Starfleet academy, and he’s being a dick, because, I don’t know, being 22 is hard or something? Is this the most douchey Wesley episode ever? Yep. He’s gone from being a whiney little teenager to being a dickish college student. It’s not an improvement, TRUST ME. God, just look at him. His (illegitimate) dad is a man’s man’s man. But Wesley? What a whiney little shit.

I don’t blame Wil Wheaton, really. He can only work with what the writers give him.

Ahem. Moving on. A new treaty has been established between the Federation and he Cardassians, and part of that treaty swaps some planets around in the new DMZ. Because of that, the Enterprise must evacuate a colony of Native Americans (yes, really) because the treaty is giving their planet to the Cardassians. So yes, this episode is about space Native Americans being forced off their space land. You have no idea how sorry about this I am, you guys. Worse yet, they keep calling them “Indians”, despite none of these people being from, you know, India.
Anyway, the Native Americans don’t want to move, for reasons that, you know, if I really need to explain to you, maybe go pick up a history book or something. Wesley keeps being a dick, even at a party the Enterprise throws to try to win over the colonists. But just then, Wesley runs into a “super awesome Indian dude” named Lakanta who tells Wesley that he’s awesome. With “Indian magic”. Because that’s the sort of thing Native Americans really do all the time, you guys. Obviously.

“I see no way how this plot could be seen as offensive to anyone, ever. Also, I am an Indian. From America.”

Dr. Crusher tells Picard that Wesley is being a dick, and she needs his help with that. Picard’s all like “Nope, I’ve ignored my paternal duties to this kid for 22 years, I’m not about to start now.” When Picard once again tells the colonists that he has to remove them, they tell him that he won’t follow through with his orders. They say that one of Picard’s ancestors was all about slaying their own ancestors. Picard’s all like “Say wha?” and the Native Americans are all “Remove this stain!” And then the Cardassians show up. Because they’re dicks.
Wesley learns from the Native Americans by going on a vision quest, because it’s the only part of their culture white people can ever remember. While being space-drugged, Wesley space hallucinates his dead dad (the one who raised him, not Picard), and decides that removing these colonists is EVIL. Without any understanding of the bigger picture, Wesley tells every colonist he meets that the Enterprise is here to force them off their land. What a douche. When confronted about this on the Enterprise, Wesley resigns from Starfleet, and tells everyone he had an “Indian vision” of his dad. I’m sure that was the most tolerant way to describe that moment, Wes.
The Native Americans refuse to recognize Starfleet’s treaty and capture every Cardassian on the planet. The word “Indian” gets repeated, like, 17 more times. Then, Lakanta, who has spent the whole episode telling Wesley how pretty and special he is, reveals himself to ACTUALLY be the Traveler, a cosmic dick who’s been telling Wesley how pretty and special he is since, like, episode 4. I hate that guy.

Seriously? Fuck you. Fucking “Mozart reincarnated” Deus ex Machina bullshit.

Stupid shit happens. The colonists decide to stay on the planet, only under Cardassian rule instead of the Federation. I’m sure that won’t ever back fire on them or something. Wesley goes off into time or something, and then comes back, saying he’s going to begin his training as a magic angel baby with the Native Americans. Picard and Dr. Crusher say good bye to their bastard child, and fuck I hate this nonsense.
You know what? Fuck this. Next time I do drunken Star Trek reviews, I’m picking the episodes. This random crap is bullshit. Peace out.