Wednesday, July 28, 2010

There he is! But why?

Here in the U.S. of A. there is one person that is possibly the most widely sought of anyone in the world. I'm willing to bet that you have spent at least some measure of your life looking for this man, and no matter how many times we find him, he always manages to hide again. We have followed him around the world, but somehow he never manages to stay found. Somehow, wherever he goes, he always manages to keep everyone asking "Where's Waldo?"
That's right. This guy:

A tricky fellow indeed, but have any of us really ever stopped to question why we are searching for him in the first place? What has Waldo ever done to merit so many people looking for him? Come to think of it, I'm not even sure what Waldo does. He travels, and I'm sure there's some story behind it, but heck if anybody ever reads the little postcards up in the left corner of the page. As far as any of us are concerned, the books have no words; just a skinny nerd hiding among thousands and thousands of people in hundreds of locations. An ongoing game of extreme hide and seek. Even though we have absolutely no reason to look for him, he still hides and insists that we find him. Heck, sometimes he even has the audacity to make us track down his travel gear as well, or even his friends (Wenda, Wizard Whitebeard, and... the dog... which I'm sure has a name that starts with a 'W'.) And the saddest part is, we keep doing it! We keep looking for him even though we've never had any reason to. At least Carmen Sandiego is a wanted criminal so we have a reason to look for her, but, as far as I can tell, Waldo is just a traveling nerd.

Here's what I think:
Waldo is incredibly insecure and is desperate for attention. He's smart enough to know that most people will drive themselves mad in the name of a challenge, so he hides, and challenges us all to find him. We spend days foaming at the mouth in desperate search for him, our thoughts fixed upon only one thing: finding a striped dork. It's a foolproof way to get millions of people to think only about you, if only for a brief period. This attention-seeking behavior really seems to have gotten out of hand -- eating up all of Waldo's finances, and landing him in plenty of sticky situations -- but all attempts to help him overcome this have been in vain. His therapist has tried, but whenever it comes time for their appointment, Waldo is nowhere to be found, leaving only a note with a general location of where to find him. His case is pretty near hopeless; every time someone else starts looking for him, it reinforces his obsession, but nobody is ever going to stop looking for him because of their own selfish obsessions. Humans can't turn down a challenge.

Waldo is a very sick man, and you're just making it worse.
You should be ashamed of yourself.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Worthy Aspirations

It's interesting to think how a single revelation or discovery can change your entire outlook on life as well as you life's goals and aspirations. It only takes a few seconds to change you forever.
I had such an experience yesterday when it was revealed to me by my cousin that you can buy bulk glitter in buckets by the pound.

In. Buckets.

In a single moment, all my life dreams of being a movie star, a superhero, a famous writer evaporated to be replaced by the singular desire to dive naked into a pool full of glitter.
My life will never be the same again.

Friday, July 16, 2010

To My Unwelcome Guests

To the colony of baby spiders that has taken up residence in my room,
This is just a note to voice my disapproval about our cohabitation. I understand that you are young and you have not yet been able to get on your feet yet -- your mother has tragically passed on by now so you can't get any help from her, and your father... well... she probably ate him, so he's not much help either -- however, I don't tolerate freeloaders, and since you aren't even paying rent, I'm going to have to ask you all to pick up and move out. I can't afford to house all five billion of you, and I'm feeling a little cramped, not to mention the fact that your manners are atrocious. Civilized roommates do not swing from the light fixtures and leave their webbing all over the place. I had assumed you would begin taking the hint yesterday when I started taking the initiative to forcibly "remove" a good number of you with my thumb, but it seems as though you have not yet gotten the message. Let me put it simply for you: I want you out. Tomorrow I get out the vacuum, and then if all of you still aren't out by the time you start getting big, I'm going to start spraying. It's your choice.
I'm sorry it had to be this way, but as I said, I do not tolerate freeloaders. However, I am not completely heartless. I have managed to secure some positions for the lot of you in the pest control department of the garden. My father is the manager, and he would be happy to accommodate you. I can only hope you choose to take this opportunity over the alternative.

Do Not Touch

Today the family and I went to a cave, which was pretty cool. At the beginning of the tour, the guide instructed us that we were not to touch the walls or rocks. I have never, in my life, wanted to touch a rock so badly. I am positive that if the guide hadn't told me not to, then I wouldn't have wanted to. I'm not the only one who wanted to either. You could see the aching desire clearly written onto the faces of each of my family members, and the yearning had us all on edge, so much so that we all became livid if anyone even came close to touching the wall, such as in the case where my three-year-old nephew accidentally hit his head on a low hanging structure and every single one of us turned and hissed at him that he was not to touch the walls. By the end we were all half crazed and it was apparent that this madness was tearing us apart. The tour guide had to have known of this; in her hundreds of tours through the cave, she must have, at least once, noticed the wild-eyed twitching of her charges.

Shouldn't this sort of thing be taken into account when leading a group of humans through anything, be it a museum, cave, or what have you? There is no better way to get an entire group of people wanting nothing more than to put their hands on something than if you tell them not to.

My only guess is that the guides have become bitter for having lead group after group of annoying tourists through the same sequence of rooms, giving the same tired out speech about the same things week after week that they have finally begun to take revenge by driving every member of the tour completely mad. There is no way to prevent this madness. Those tour guides are a sneaky bunch.
Be strong, readers. They revel in your pain; don't give them the satisfaction.
Do not touch.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tales From the Lab Assistant's Desk

I work across the hall from the foreign language TA offices at the university. I'm the computer assistant, so I guard the copy machines, tell students it's not my job to lend them dry erase markers or help them pay their parking tickets, and pretend I'm doing something useful for 5 hours or so every day; it's a pretty sweet gig. I learn a lot of things as well, like lately I've been learning that the secret to making somebody really REALLY uncomfortable is to stand way too close to their desk with a group of your fellow TAs and converse in a foreign language while occasionally casting sideways glances at the lab assistant in question and laughing (It's apparent that I need to learn Italian and pay a visit to the Asian Studies TA office sometime soon.)

Another thing I've learned is that the title of Teacher's Assistant doesn't necessarily make you any more logical or competent than, say... the average 5 year old. At the risk of sounding like any more of a jerk, I'll just let the following recent conversation between me and one of the TAs speak for itself:

TA: Hey, I think there's a problem with one of the computers in the lab.(Insert vague rambling description of problem that eventually equates to "it's acting weird".) I think it's a virus. It corrupted my flash drive. Can you fix it?
Me: (After getting up and taking a look) Well, if it's a virus, I can't really do anything to fix it. How about I give you the number for tech support and have you call them to explain the situation?
TA: No, I can't. I'm not a TA this semester, only winter semester. I just stopped by because of the computer.
Me: What? Never mind, I just need you to call tech support because it would be better if you explained the situation to them than if I tried to relay it.
TA: But, see, I'm not a TA this semester, I'm only here because--
Me: That doesn't matter. You're here, and you know the situation better than I do. It would be better if you explained it to the tech guys, cause I'm not really familiar with the situation like you are. I can even call them on my desk phone and do most of the talking, I just need you to explain the actual problem to them.
TA: But I can't, I'm not a TA this semester, I'm just here cause I'm worried about the computer.
Me: So... why does that prevent you from talking to tech support about a situation you understand better than me so we can fix the computer?
TA: Because, I only work winter semester. I'm just worried about the computer.
Me: Just... never mind. I'll call them, you go... not be a TA somewhere else
.... Hello, Tech Support? SI lab. We've got another vague situation up here.
Tech Support: Language TA office?
Me: Yup.
Tech Support: Just hang tight, we're on our way. Jimmy! To the tech mobile!

... Turns out I just had to turn off the computer and switch it back on and the Deep Freeze would fix the problem, so unfortunately, that makes me the moron here, but you get the picture. It helped me learn that I don't need to be intimidated by TAs because apparently it's my job to explain to them that they are still capable of being of use to the human race even if they're off duty. It's sort of like how I stopped being afraid of professors after the second or third time I had to help one of them understand why their word processor was covered in red squiggly lines.
Like I said, I learn a lot in this job.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Intellectual Immaturity

I'm really immature, there's no getting around it. Don't believe me? I challenge you to march on over to my house, ring the doorbell, and say the word "nosegay" to me and see if I don't start sniggering like a thirteen year old boy. Of course, the one thing that does set me apart from a thirteen year old boy is that I'm an eighteen year old girl. Oh, and also, my immaturity is all quite reasoned and analytical. I rather enjoy discussing why dumb things are funny with my similarly immature peers so that there is some semblance of rationality when we start laughing at something stupid. It was through such a conversation that my brother-in-law and I were recently able to determine that "butt" is the funniest word in the English language (even funnier than "nosegay".) You can pretty much insert the word into any situation and it immediately makes it funny. And what kind of blogger would I be if I didn't provide you with examples? Probably a mature one, and we can't have that, now can we? Here you go:

On The Simpsons, after Bart narrowly escapes yet another attempt on his life by Sideshow Bob, his family rushes to him and Lisa proclaims her relief that everything is okay. Bart's reply?
"Well, not everything. Apparently someone switched your face with a butt."

Simpsons again. Homer and Lisa are having a Daddy/Daughter night at Homer's office. They decide to prank call Moe by asking for a Mr. Eura Snotball. Moe repeats it, and Homer pretends to take offense.
"What? How dare you! If I find out who this is, I'll staple a flag to your butt and mail you to Iran!"

In Sons of Provo, a movie probably not many of you have seen, A character's nephew gets frustrated with his uncle and storms off, but not before giving us this gem:
"Don't be a butt, uncle Will!"; a site that if you haven't checked out, you should. A flashback shows a young Strong Bad waiting eagerly for his little brother to set up their new printer because...
"Hurry up, Diaper Stripe! I wanna print out that butt I made out of hyphens and dollar signs!"
as an added bonus, here is that butt:

Another Homestarrunner. Strong Bad at a comic book convention runs into his brother who corrects him when he says the year is 1997 by telling him it's 2005. Quoth Strong Bad:
"It might be for you, but {pause} you're... a butt. {smiles}"

Pixar seems to know the effectiveness of this word, as they use it a lot especially in Finding Nemo when Nemo and his three schoolmates swim out to the drop-off and see a boat.
"I know what it is! Sandy Plankton told me! He said it was called a... a butt!"

"Wow... that's a big butt..."

"Look at meee! I'm gonna go touch the butt!"

"...He touched the butt."

Not to mention all the jokes that come at the expense of the land form known as a "butte" as well as the city of Butte, Montana. This includes such moments from Toy Story 2 in the airport when Buzz Lightyear winds up with a sticker on his rear that says "Butte," as well as in Cars where Lizzie slaps a sticker that says "Nice Butte" onto the bumper of a passing tourist. The best though came from Whose Line is it Anyway, where the contestants were having to make up examples of rejected songs for U.S. cities, and Ryan Styles gave us this:
"We call it Butte (not Butt) Montana!"

Okay, you get the picture, it's a great word.Comic gold. (Either that or I'm just really easily amused. Both could be true.) Only problem is, my mom doesn't like the word, and she reads this blog, so I'm going to get in trouble if I don't steer out of this downward spiral pretty fast. Fortunately, there are many synonyms for use in referencing the hindquarters that are all equally as hilarious. I would make my own list, but why should I when Strong Bad has a perfectly good one already?
Strong Bad's list of "Okay for Mom" synonyms:
back parts
boat take
(It is implied that there are many more, but this is all we ever get to see. My mom loves this list.)

So there you go, readers, the secret to entertaining at least 3/4 of the population at any given time, even if your mom is reading over your shoulder (this is going on my theory that most people are secretly really immature. The other 1/4 of the population is your mom.) At any rate, thank the heavens that stupid things are hilarious, cause otherwise, I wouldn't have much of anything to analyze and my life might become meaningless. As it is, intellectual immaturity is a very satisfying practice that I fully endorse, and if you ever feel the need to come by and discuss why the words "bumfuzzle" and "diphthong" are funny or why you still laugh at stupid cartoons, my door is always open.


Intellectually Immature Sites on Which to Waste Time:
Homestar Runner (you know you want to)
The Oatmeal - Dumb Jokes that are Funny
Inherently Funny
More Cowbell
Hark, a Vagrant
Manly Guys Doing Manly Things

Feel free to post your own as well.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Simply UnBEARable

Yesterday my father linked me to an article on my University's news page about how the campus Ad Lab recently teamed up with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Ad Council to create a new video about fire safety featuring Smokey the Bear. You remember Smokey, right? Smokey was awesome. He was pretty much the coolest mascot ever besides Tony the Tiger. In fact, if Smokey and Tony joined forces, I can bet you that we'd all be sitting around safely contained campfires eating Frosted Flakes instead of doing whatever other lame things we're doing right now. But I digress. Apparently the folks over at the Forest Service wanted to re-imagine Smokey for the younger generation. My father insists that the only way to effectively re-imagine a mascot is to have it rap, but Smokey has already rejected that idea because he knows rap sucks and will not stoop to the lowest common denominator, as evidenced here:
Click here to watch
(This is the old Smokey, of course. You can tell because he's so manly that he could put out a fire just by folding his arms and looking sternly at it. It's times like this that I wish I was a lady bear.)
However, for the NAC, "re-imagining" apparently means 3D animation, and because they didn't want to do it themselves, they decided to turn to college students as a clean, legal source of cheap labor. Now, BYU has a fantastic animation program, and in the highly capable hands of the animation students, any project is bound to flourish. Sadly, nobody informed the NAC of this when they came to BYU in want of an animated educational video about Smokey the Bear, so they gave the project to the BYU Ad Lab.
Long story short, this happened:

I don't know who was the supervisor for this, or how long they were asleep for, but I'm pretty sure they need to be fired. Another person who needs to be fired is whoever gave the okay for this to be released as an official video for the U.S. Forest Service. I mean really, this is just bad. The whole thing looks like it was written, animated, and voiced entirely by one bewildered Freshman with a beginner animation program. Of course, I might have been able to leave the video alone -- just walk away and brush it off as another bad educational video -- had it not been for this article, which praises the project highly, making it sound like a brilliantly crafted piece of educational media. It is this alone that stirs in me an intrinsic desire to tear this video a new one.

Now, as much as I dearly wish to talk about why the video is terrible, I really have no idea where to start, so I guess I'll just go from the top and work my way down:
The opening was fine; just some clouds. Pretty standard stuff for something like this. It wasn't until I encountered the sheer baby-eating terror that was the character models that I began to worry. I tried to be fair. I told myself that the students worked hard on this video for seven months and it wouldn't be fair for me to make fun of it. I asked myself "What if this were my project?" and tried to put myself in the place of the creators. Of course, as I did that, the very next thought into my head was "Oh, wait! If it were me, I would make sure my character designs weren't terrifying before I let it see the light of day." After that I felt justified.
And now, some bullet points:
  • Once upon a time, it was the 80's and animation looked like this.
  • Bad writing + Bad voice acting = terrible characters
  • Aryan male is the hero, girl and black boy are na├»ve simpletons, Latino boy just wants to torch the forest. Oops. Attempt to give characters diversity: Failed
  • Hitler Youth can talk to trees. Why? Nobody knows. They never speak of this power again. Plot hole status: Gaping
  • Worst animated bunnies ever. Project is officially sunk.
  • Smokey has a depressing backstory. The past was drawn in crayon; ask your grandparents
  • "In Soviet Russia, forest burns you.”
  • Smokey is intensely creepy. After much deliberation, I realized it's because he has no fur. Also because he has no soul and wears suspicious jeans.
  • Don't worry. Smokey followed safety regulations and put the fire out properly after roasting those kids.
  • Creepy dad is creepy. He is definitely an accomplice.
  • Creepy dad and Smokey hit the gay bar after hiding the evidence.
  • Rule #1 of fire safety “Only you can prevent wildfires” isn't a rule, it's a slogan. Get it off the list.
  • Cousin Eden says: What about wildfires caused by lightening, diptards?
  • Hey kids! Always annoy every random bearded stranger you meet in the woods about fire safety and a bear in a hat will give you a shiny ranger badge. “Go go, Forest Rangers!” *guitar solo*
  • Ranger Lupe has no purpose. Her existence is a hollow lie. Please to be giving her a purpose, or cutting her from the movie. Thank you.
I don't really know what else to say except for that I hope nobody on the outside ever finds out that this video was made by BYU, or we've lost our reputation forever. Heck, even the target demographic (ages 5-8) isn't going to be fooled into thinking this is good animation. They've grown up with Pixar for pete's sake! Of course, I don't think that this one is really the fault of the students at the Ad Lab. I've seen what the Ad Lab can do. So, what, I ask you, happened here? My theory is that somebody on the NAC wrote the script and the poor Ad Labbers were dragged kicking and screaming along with it. My other theory is that the Ad Lab isn't the animation department, and so they should not be making animations (this theory is not quite so solid; more of a hypothesis really, but I think it has good potential, so I'm seeing if I can get it approved by the committee.) As you can see, I'm doing my darndest to pin this one on the NAC because I respect the competence of my peers. I know how hard it is to have to complete a project in an unfamiliar medium. Until proven otherwise, I'm going to assume that they were held at gunpoint for the entirety of this project.
My final word: The NAC needs to try harder, writing should be left to the writers and animation to the animators, and those members of the production team of this unfortunate creation should seriously consider releasing it under the name Alan Smithee.
As for Smokey, he doesn't need a re-imagining. All he needs is a shovel, a deep, manly voice, and that good old song:

"Smokey the Bear, Smokey the Bear.
Prowlin' and a growlin' and a sniffin' the air.
He can find a fire before it starts to flame.
That's why they call him Smokey,
That was how he got his name. "

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Goody Two Zoos

My family and I went to the zoo yesterday. Is it just me, or is the zoo getting awfully preachy? I mean, really; we went to an animal show, the advertisement of which professed that we would be shown animals, learn about them, and then get to see them up close and pet them afterwards. Awesome, right? You must know that when I say "my family," that includes at least six children under the age of five, so we were happy to have a break where somebody else could entertain the spawn for a while. Unfortunately, the entire show consisted of four animals -- A hedgehog, a python, an armadillo, and a tarantula (so technically I suppose it consisted of three animals and a soul-devouring nightmare beast a tarantula) -- but then the keepers spent almost the entire time running their gums about the environment and habitats instead of the actual animals.

I get it. The environment is awesome. The environment is where we live. The environment cured your hernia. Heck, the environment even bought you a flatscreen tv and it wasn't even your birthday. Can you please just show us the animals now? I can't tell you how little I care about deforestation when the bored three year old on my lap is making a desperate effort to escape.

The thing is, the zoo is where we go to see and learn about the animals. Sometimes we're even interested in their natural habitats, but it is not the time to get uppity about saving the environment on us, because we paid to be entertained. I love the Earth and I'm doing what I can to save it by reusing plastic bottles and walking the five miles to the grocery store, and I really don't want a plug on how I'm destroying the ecosystem when I just want to see the blasted howler monkeys. I will donate to your zoo, and you can use it to save whatever rainforest you want, but tell me about the hawk, not about the pollution that's killing it. Heck, you can even tell me how many owls die every year from poaching, but talk about the animal, not the environment, and then maybe you'll have time to show us more things we're actually interested in during your half hour of allotted time.

There is a place and time to preach to us about the environment, and it's not when we're dragging six or seven young children around who desperately want to see the birds, and won't sit still for a sermon about going green. It's frustrating; please just do your job. When we get home, we will see the pictures on the internet of pelicans drowning in oil and have our hearts wrenched from our chests and be inspired to be more environmentally conscious, but when we're at the zoo and we're holding restless children by the ankles as they flap through the air above our heads, we'd greatly prefer if you gave us what we paid for, cause your preaching is annoying even when we're not trying to keep six toddlers quiet.

Of course, while I just want to see the animals and not hear about how to save them, please don't misunderstand: I want the animals that are in your zoo to be treated with love and respect. They don't belong there. They're far away from home in a strange place where people stare at them all day, and they can't understand why; it sucks. Be nice to them.
And please, zoo patrons, for the love of all that is good, DON'T TAP ON THE GLASS. I'm going to have to start following some zoo patrons home and tapping on their windows when THEY'RE trying to sleep.

Also, for those who run the animal shows and ask for volunteers, be sure to scan the audience and sort out the kids who are calm and smiling from the kids who look as though they are going to explode if they don't get chosen. I don't think you quite understand the fiery hell you're unleashing on the families of the latter by calling on the former.

Finally, "orangutan" does not have a 'g' at the end. Stop pronouncing it like it does. It sounds silly.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Twitard alert level: Red

Eclipse comes out today.
The fans are going to be insufferable. Best watch yourselves comrades.
Keep on your toes.