Sunday, November 2, 2014

This Open Letter to America

Dear America,

You aren't going to catch Ebola. Let me repeat that. You are not going to catch Ebola. So do yourselves a favor and calm down. Turn off the news, take a deep breath, and stop freaking out. Because, I can't say this enough, you aren't going to catch Ebola.

I know, Ebola is a scary sounding disease. Someone who contracts Ebola should be scared, because it can kill you in nasty ways. It does have a scary mortality rate for those who have it. However, let me remind you that you won't catch it. You're not going to get it. This is not an impending pandemic.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Best Guardians

With Guardians of the Galaxy hitting theaters, I thought I would look back on several other groups who called themselves Guardians. Because really, is there any better name for a group of heroes than Guardians of [insert name here?] It's a perfectly fine name for a group of heroes as far as I'm concerned, which is why I think we should take a look at other groups who've used that moniker.
Guardians of Childhood
(from Rise of the Guardians)

If you're looking for heroes, who better than the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, The Sandman, Jack Frost, and of course, Santa Claus. These five legendary figures do more than deliver holiday presents, take teeth, and give you sweet dreams. They also protect children from the dark dangers of the world.

After all, Santa only works one night, what's he doing the rest of the year. Apparently, slaying monsters. While I like the idea of a tatted up Kris Kringle, I just hope he doesn't start experimenting with gauges. That would just look silly on that jolly old elf.

While the movie itself was a bit underwhelming, the book series is worth checking out. (And for a great alternate take on what these icons of childhood are really up to, I highly recommend The Discworld book Hogfather. Or the movie, which is utterly fantastic.)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

This Open Letter to Liberals and Progressives

Dear Liberals and Progressives,

I want you to know that I think it's a very good idea to bring attention to the issues of misogyny, rape culture, still-present racism, class warfare, equal pay, and many other problems we still face today. As our nation and world moves forward into the 21st century, we need to understand that these issues don't just go away if we decide ignore it. We still have some big fights on our hands, and that's what I want to talk to you about.

You need to stop talking about the Duke Lacrosse case. Immediately.

I know that a lot of you immediately latched onto the story back in 2006. The story of the black stripper who was allegedly gang-raped by the Duke Lacrosse team had everything: sex, race, class, privilege. It seemed like a clear-cut case of white, male privilege run amok. It was a rallying cry to bring attention to the plight of rape victims on college campuses. (An issue that is still very relevant today.) It was also a chance to take a look at the continued mistreatment of black females in our culture. (Also still relevant today.)

Sunday, May 4, 2014

This Open Letter to the Clerk I Berated

Dear Clerk I Berated,

I get that you were just doing your job when you said have a nice day. You didn't realize that you were actually oppressing me. But that's what you were doing. By refusing to validate my sacred holiday, you metaphorically slapped me in the face. And I won't stand for that. Today is not just a "Good Day" or a "Happy Holiday." No, today is May the 4th. National Star Wars Day.

So no, I didn't let it pass. Your ignorance of the ways of my people is simply intolerable. In this day and age, you should know better than to assume that this days is just another day. No, this day is the day in which I and many other fans of Star Wars celebrate the fact that your lives have never been the same since the writings of our sacred text first appeared in the stars: "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away."

Monday, March 31, 2014

How I Met Your Mother: "Last Forever"

Quick Review: At long last, Ted finally finishes his story.

Episode Synopsis: In the series finale, Ted tells his children the conclusion to the tale of how he and their mother finally became a couple. -tvguide

Spoiler Alert. Of course, this series began with a spoiler. It's even the title of the show. You know how it ends, so why should I bother with a spoiler warning? Am I irrationally clinging to tradition? Am I trying to make my reviews seem more important than they are? Do I really like writing in bolded, red font? Perhaps. But the truth is that all we know is the end result: Ted meets The Mother. We don't know the "How" part of the title, not completely. And if there's one episode you will forever curse yourself for getting spoiled on, it's the one you've waited nine years to see. And be careful with those curses, the last thing you want is to accidentally turn yourself into an undead horror forever cursed to stalk the night and consume the flesh of the photogenic. That would definitely put a crimp in your social life.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Final Episode Moment

As you may know, How I Met Your Mother's final episode is less than a week away. (Unless you're reading this from the future. Hello to the world of the future! Do we have hover boards yet?) Final episodes are a bittersweet experience, especially if you've been watching the show since the beginning. You're sad to say goodbye, but if done right, you leave with a wonderful sense of closure.

One factor of a good final episode is that moment, the Final Episode Moment, that can't occur in any episode except the series finale. It's a moment that signals a definite end to one story, and perhaps the beginning of another one. It's a moment the show's been building towards, even if you didn't realize it. It could be something out of left field, something completely surreal, or even fourth wall breaking. There's no one rule for what makes a good Final Episode Moment, only that we know it when we see it.

So as we anticipate the Final Episode Moment of How I Met Your Mother, here's a list of eight other shows that had fantastic Final Episode Moments.(And sorry, Breaking Bad isn't on the list. Not because it didn't have a great final episode, but I'm still catching up and haven't seen the ending. My apologies, internet.)

Oh, yeah, spoiler warning.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

How I Met Your Mother: "The End of the Aisle"

Quick Review: For a big event, it's a very personal and satisfying episode.

Episode Synopsis: Half an hour before their nuptials, Barney and Robin both suffer panic attacks, while Marshall and Lily take the occasion to rewrite their original wedding vows. -tvguide

Spoiler Alert. Look, at this point in the series, do you really want to get spoiled? I know, you aren't the same viewer you were in 2005, or whenever you began watching the show. And the show is not the same as it was in 2005. That can be hard to accept, especially when the 2005 season is right at our fingertips, be it through Netflix or the DVDs on your shelf. But while it's nice to go back and relive those early days, it's important to realize that we can't live in the past. We have to accept that the show moved on, for better or worse. So what I'm saying is that this is the next to last time I've got a spoiler warning for you. Why not watch the show and then get back here. Otherwise, I'll be forced to make awful puns at you, and you will have never known such suffering. (Unless you've been through some actual suffering.)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

This review of Muppets Most Wanted

Quick Review: A worthy entry to the Muppet movie franchise. It's fun, funny, and will entertain children of all ages.

Full Review: The thing about nostalgia is that it only gets you so far. 2011's Muppet revival managed to thread the needle between nostalgia and making the Muppets relevant to the 21st Century. This collection of shorts and television appearances culminated in the amazing movie that was The Muppets. The movie's story was a classic: we need to get the gang back together. At the end of the movie, of course, we see that the gang is indeed back together. Credits roll. The end.

But it wasn't just the end. It was the beginning of an entirely new Muppet franchise. And therein lies the problem. Once the Muppets were back, what happens then? Where do they go from there? The first movie didn't have to answer that question. It didn't need to, as it was mainly focused on celebrating the past and letting us know that these characters are still relevant. The sequel, however, has to do the heavy lifting of continuing on from there.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

How I Met Your Mother: Gary Blauman

Quick Review: A cute premise with great fan service

Episode Synopsis: The wedding-day arrival of enigmatic Gary Blauman throws the gang into an uproar as they all recall their various encounters with him. -tvguide

Spoiler Alert. I know, I do this every time and it probably was never neccesary. But I remain committed to warning you about the spoilers that lurk below. I will not shirk that duty, not even in my antepenultimate spoiler warning. You like that word? I like it. I'm also a fan of penultimate, and I might even use it next week. Honestly, both of those words are far too underutilized in today's society. That's not to say I haven't seen them pop up from time to time, but those instances are few and far between. I think it's time for a revival of these words. Of course, that might take some time. What will take less time is watching the episode before continuing on, in case you want to avoid being spoiled.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

How I Met Your Mother: "Daisy"

Quick Review: A superb episode, finally ending one of this season's long-running plots.

Episode Synopsis: Marshall recruits Ted and Barney to help him to get to the bottom of the mystery of where Lily disappeared to when she bolted in the middle of their argument.  -tvguide

Spoiler Alert. I know, every week I keep telling you that there are spoilers ahead. And that's because these reviews are a lot like Lily - they can't keep a secret. Seriously, if it happens in the episode, there's a good chance this review will say something about it. That's why you don't want to tell this review any of your secrets, because it's going to blab them. It's a great review in many other ways, I've gotten to know them over the past 3 years, but that doesn't mean I trust it not to spoil things for you. So if you have any secrets you feel you have to get off your chest, don't tell it to my review; that information is not safe.

Monday, March 3, 2014

How I Met Your Mother: "Vesuvius"

Quick Review: A weightier episode than it seems

Episode Synopsis: Lily and Robin have a wedding-day disagreement; Barney is fit to be tied over what suit to wear; and the gang screens a film Ted told them not to watch. -tvguide

Spoiler alert. Trust me, you don't want to ignore this one. I know, you didn't ignore the spoiler alerts when you read the reviews of Doctor MD and Police Cop. That wasn't a big deal, though, because those were terrible movies. However, I know you regret getting spoiled on the big twist of White House President. Everyone was talking about how their minds were blown, but you went and spoiled yourself and had to pretend to be amazed. And now you walk around, wondering if people know you were just faking that amazement. It's a heavy burden, I know, which is why I'm telling you to think very hard about getting spoiled for this episode. I worry about you.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

How I Met Your Mother: "Rally"

Quick Review: A very funny start to the final set of episodes.

Episode Synopsis: On the day of his wedding, Barney is suffering from a horrific hangover, and the gang tries to concoct a, wait for it, legendary Stinson Hangover Fixer Elixir, but finding the bizarre ingredients proves to be a challenge. -tvguide

Spoiler alert. I realize that there aren't that many of these left to give. I'm starting to get a little emotional thinking about how this is one of my last spoiler warnings. This show has really gone by in a blink. It seems like only yesterday I was reviewing season seven, and now we're on the final run of episodes. But that won't stop me from my duty of warning you that there are spoilers beyond this point, so think twice before proceeding. I'd hate for you to get depressed and go an an epic binge and then vow never to do that again. It won't be pretty.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Comedy Advice (part 1)

Everyone once in a while, I talk to people who are interested in writing comedy. They have funny ideas, but don't know where to start. (And I can tell you from experience, trying to eat the heart of a clown is not the most efficient way to get better at comedy...despite the shoes those guys are really, really fast.) Since clown cannibalism is pretty much out of the question, we have to realize that there is no one, easy way to learn how to be funny. So here's my advice on how to work on improving your comedy skills.

First, you need to find funny people and spend time with them. Humor is one thing that can be absorbed through osmosis, sort of. One of the best ways I got better at being funny and writing comedy is spending time with people smarter and wittier than me. It forced me to keep up, to train my brain to have an ear for comedy. It took a while to get the hang of it, but eventually I was able to make people laugh with a casual comment, and that's helped my writing.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

How I Met Your Mother: "Sunrise"

Quick Review: A good theme, nice character moments, but perhaps a bit too packed.

Episode Synopsis: On the day of the wedding, a tipsy Barney goes missing, and while out searching for him, Ted and Robin recall Ted's former relationships. Meanwhile, Lily and Marshall clear up their on-going issues; and Barney imparts his women-meeting wisdom and techniques to two young wannabe ladies' men. -tvguide

Spoilers ahead, so you might want to hold off on reading this review until you watch the episode. You know, it's hard to believe that there are only seven episodes left of the series. And here you are, squandering those last moments with spoilers. Is that really how you want to end this experience, being spoiled on a fairly good episode? It's your choice, obviously, but is this a choice you're going to regret. I've seen those old yearbook pictures. Trust me, you're going to regret a few of those. Especially when your kids find them.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Harry Potter and the Hindsight Bias

I will proudly declare my love of the Harry Potter novels. I got into them well before the first movie came out, back when there were only 4 books. What began as a lark, wondering just what everyone saw in these British imports, quickly turned into a literary addiction by the end of the first chapter of the first book. I was hooked, and those years between novel releases were long. (Of course, Harry Potter readers have nothing on fans of the Dark Tower or Song of Ice and Fire sagas.)

As a writer myself, I am hugely envious of what J.K. Rowling was able to accomplish. She crafted an amazing seven volume series, which is already becoming a classic staple of English literature. Generations of children will tear into the world of Harry Potter much the same way previous generations enjoyed the Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and the Chronicles of Prydain. Not only are these books good, they inspired a love of reading into a generation of children. It's hard to argue with that kind of success.

Except now, seven years after the publication of the final Harry Potter volume, Rowling regrets one of the biggest plot points of the series. (I should warn you that some spoilers will follow. If you haven't read the books and want to remain unspoiled, I suggest you log off the internet entirely, lock yourself in a secure bunker, and read all seven books. Because otherwise you will be spoiled.)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

How I Met Your Mother: "How Your Mother Met Me."

Quick Review: One of the most hauntingly beautiful episodes of the entire series.

Episode Synopsis: Recalling what has been going with Ted's future wife over the past eight years before Robin and Barney's wedding weekend. -tvguide

Spoiler Alert. No, seriously, I mean it this time. If there is one episode of the entire series you want to watch unspoiled, this is it. I mean, you can pretty much figure out what it's going to cover by the episode title, but trust me, you have no idea what's to come. There could be a bear juggling chainsaws, and rather than be surprised by the surprise appearance of said bear, you'd know it was coming and it would ruin the surprise. That was just an example, there is no bear juggling chainsaws in this episode. It's way more awesome than that, and if you've ever seen a bear juggle chainsaws, then you know where the bar is. So yeah, please watch the episode first.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

How I Met Your Mother: "Unpause"

Quick Review: A lot happens in this episode. A lot.

Episode Synopsis: After imbibing a bit too much, a woozy Barney spills some long-held secrets to the opportunistic Ted and Robin, while Marshall goes to extreme lengths to dodge a fight with Lily. -tvguide

Spoilers ahead, and seriously, seriously, there are some major things happening in this episode. You might have disregarded all my other warnings, much like you might disregard a sign reading "Beware of Ring-Bear." I understand that you might have thought all the other "spoilers" were no big deal. Trust me, tonight's different. Of course, I can't stop you. You are free to traipse along your merry way and get good and spoiled. Just remember, you can't pause your eyeballs. All right, you can pause them. You can close them, and that's pretty much like a pause. But then people will ask you why you're reading a website with your eyes closed, and won't you look silly.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

How I Met Your Mother: "Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra"

Quick Review: While not the best "Slap" episode, it's still pretty good.

Episode Synopsis: In their ongoing slaphappy "Slap Bet," Marshall plans to land one final smashing blow to soon-to-be-married Barney. -tvguide

Spoilers ahead. Now, you might think yourself capable of handling what's ahead. Perhaps you think you have the strength of will to read the review and yet resist the spoilers. Fool! You lack the training, the discipline, and the fortitude that will enable you to resist the oncoming spoilers. Perhaps if you go on a quest to seek the great Spoiler Master, you will learn the ways of remaining spoiler free. But until then, know that if you proceed any further, you will be spoiled.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

What do you call a group of leprechauns?

No, this isn't a riddle. It's a serious question. All right, fine, it's not a serious question. But it is a question that demands an answer. We have names for all sorts of groups: a pack of wolves, a flock of seagulls, a murder of crows. But what's the proper designation for a group of leprechauns? For those of you wondering what you should call such a group, here's the answer: